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BY JOSH rOgerS
n the history of community activism, it might go down as one of the quickest battle victories of all time. Although the “war” over the South Street Seaport’s proposed 600-foot tower is far from over, the city appears to have taken the advice of Just Press Pause and put the project on hold as of Jan. 29, a mere 16 days after the advocacy group announced its formation to try and halt Howard Hughes Corp.’s development plans. Robert LaValva, the co-founder of Pause who was out of town when the news came out, called the decision “a complete victory for the Seaport and East River waterfront communities, as well as the city at large, representing a new direction in economic development.” Continued on page 3
PaUL Lee, who LoVed & FoUGht For chInatown, dIes
BY JOSH rOgerS
Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony
aul J.Q. Lee, a Chinatown activist who seemed to relish in uphill fights against the establishment, died Jan. 18 at age 63. Lee suffered a heart attack in the subway on the way to work Jan. 15, and died three days later at Beth Israel Hospital, said Keith Leung, who thought of Lee as a second father figure. Lee and his family owned the 32 Mott Street General Store for over a century before he had to close the business in 2003, citing the loss of traffic from the N.Y.P.D. security closure of Park Row. He became one of the leading voices in the neighborhood to reopen the thoroughfare, which passes under police headquarters and links Chinatown to the rest of Lower Manhattan. Lee was also an actor with over a dozen film credits including small roles in Continued on page 8
Karlin Chan, who now trains lion dancers for Chinatown’s Lunar New Year parades, said when he performed in the ‘70s, it was a “free for all.”
Chinatown’s wilder Lunar New Year days remembered
BY SAM SPOKONY
ith the Lunar New Year and its colorful costumes, pounding drums and exuberant lion dances starting this week, Chinatown’s cultural leaders are preparing for yet another celebration through the streets. But even as the fanfare of those symbolic dances continues to evolve and grow in the 21st century, there are still those around town who remember a different time — one in which old-school tradition ruled the day, and proper practice of the most minute rituals
meant the difference between public disgrace and hard-earned respect. Longtime neighborhood advocate Karlin Chan fondly recalled those days as he sat within the 211 Canal St. headquarters of the New York Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club. Chan, 56, is now the elder — essentially, the figurehead — of the Freemasons Club, which was established in 1956 and is Chinatown’s oldest surviving organization that still performs lion dancing on the New Year, along with other cultural events throughout the country.
5 15 CANAL ST RE ET • N YC 10 013 • C OPYRIG HT © 2013 N YC COMMU N ITY MED IA , LLC
“Back then, there wasn’t much for Chinese kids to do around here,” Chan said of the 1960s — the decade when he immigrated to New York from southern China with his parents at the age of 3. “All of us school kids would play with firecrackers, and after a while, we said, ‘Hey, let’s get involved with [the Freemasons Club],’ because they were in charge of the firecrackers during New Year’s celebrations.” So he first joined the club in 1970, at age Continued on page 16
January 30 - February 12, 2014
sounded more like wishes than hopes. One was the D.O.E. offices morving out of Tweed entirely for school space and the other was 66 John St., where the city plans to move a criminal court over neighborhood objections.
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We had a nice chat with Community Board 1’s George Calderaro this week, and he mentioned the 4,000-square-foot Battery Park City space in the Poets House building at 6 River Terrace, which could potentially be available for a new use. The spot originally housed Mercy Corps’ Action Center to End World Hunger, but when the group was starving for money in 2011, it closed the center down. The B.P.C. Parks Conservancy started using the space temporarily, but Calderaro, who like many neighbors is a big fan of the conservancy’s work, said it may be time to think about a new non-profit use, possibly for child care. Who knows, with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña looking for pre-K space in every nook and cranny Downtown and the rest of the city, could the space get on the administration’s radar? Perhaps it just did. This week, de Blasio said the city would be ready to expand to 53,000 ful-day pre-K spots this September if Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Albany cohorts come up with a reliable revenue stream to pay for it, as in de Blasio’s city tax plan, which requires state approval. Lower Manhattan won’t be an easy place to find more space, but one place probably already on the mayor’s list is Tribeca’s P.S. 150, which this year had room to add a kindergarten class to help P.S. 234’s overcrowding, although 234 ended up having enough room. Paul Hovitz, Board 1’s Youth Committee co-chairperson and one of the Downtown leaders in the fight for more schools, agreed with us that P.S. 150 is a good possibility and he suggested a few others. He thinks one answer may be under Farina’s nose at Dept. of Ed’s headquarters at Tweed, which currently houses the Peck Slip School, although Principal Maggie Siena (coincidentally P.S. 150’s former principal) has previously voiced strong opposition to subdividing the rooms there — Hovitz says the rooms were subdivided before and acoustical barriers should be able to overcome Siena’s concerns. He thought 22 Reade St. was also possible and he threw out two more, although they
The Battery Park City Authority this week turned to a woman with extensive law enforcement and city operations experience to be its new president and C.O.O. Shari Hyman, once a prosecutor under Robert Morgenthau, is currently commissioner and chairperson of the city’s Business Integrity Commission, ensuring that the commercial carting industry is on the up and up. In separate interviews, Anthony Notaro, chairperson of Community Board 1’s B.P.C. Committee, and George Calderaro, the committee’s co-chairperson, used words like “strained” and “deteriorating” to describe the authority’s relationship with neighbors. Both said it had been months since the authority showed up to their committee, but they took Hyman’s hiring as a positive sign. Calderaro added that the authority’s recent hiring of neighbor Robin Forst, a former C.B. 1 member who has been working on community relations Downtown for years, was also a most welcome development. Calderaro has heard about other changes he sees as positive, namely that staff recently got cost of living raises after years of waiting, and that the staff size is back closer to its old levels after former B.P.C.A chairperson Bill Thompson sacked 19 people a few years ago in a cost-cutting move. We hope Calderaro is right about more openness coming to the authority, although we don’t see signs yet they’re singing “let the sun shine in.” Chairperson Dennis Mehiel and Hyman, who starts Feb. 10, declined interview requests through authority spokesperson Kevin McCabe. Hyman did say in a prepared statement that B.PC. was a “magnificent part of New York.”
the speaker listens to…
New Council Speaker Melissa MarkViverito this week named nearly three dozen city and community leaders to advise her on her transition to what some say is the city’s second most powerful office. On the list were a few Downtown notables including Chinatown power broker Virginia Kee, a founding member of the Chinese American Planning Council, Jennifer Hensley, executive director of the Association for a Better New York who cut her professional teeth at the Downtown Alliance, and L.G.B.T. activist Alan Roskoff, who may have been the chief nemesis of Mark-Viverito’s predecessor, Chris Quinn.
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
City wants pause on Seaport tower, Downtown leaders say Continued from page 1
He added in an email to Downtown Express that he looked forward to working with all of the city officials and local politicians to “chart the right course for the future of New York’s oldest commercial district.” Catherine McVay Hughes, Community Board 1’s chairperson, in announcing the shift at the Jan. 29 meeting, said “the Howard Hughes Corp. plan to date will not go forward as presented…. Any future milestones are on hold until a comprehensive community process has taken place.” The corporation, which has no ties to the C.B. 1 leader, announced last November its redevelopment plan to build a tower just outside of the South Street Seaport Historic District, and the proposal has drawn overwhelming opposition in Lower Manhattan. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver confirmed in his written report to the community board Tuesday night the “good news…that the city has now agreed to put those plans on hold.” Hughes said a “community-driven” task force is being formed to include community board members, Silver, Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. In a prepared statement, a Hughes Corp. spokesperson, declared that the firm “is continuing to move forward with its proposed plan for the long term revitalization of the Seaport in collaboration with the community
Rendering courtesy of Howard Hughes Corp. Downtown Express photo by Josh Rogers
The proposed Seaport tower and a Just Press Pause sign on Jan. 13, the day the group announced its formation.
and stakeholders. The process has not stopped, and we are discussing the formation of a community advisory board as a continuation of that approach to complete our plans before we begin the upcoming ULURP [land use application….] “We firmly believe that a collaborative process involving the community… will result in a plan …that will inspire locals and visitors to return to the Seaport.” Precisely how the city’s Economic Development Cop., which owns the South
Street Seaport, told leaders the plan was on hold is unclear. It looks as if E.D.C. — which did not comment for this article — may have reached out to the two city officials, Brewer and Chin, since their spokespersons declined to comment on the matter, but Board 1’s Hughes and an aide to Silver both said that they did not hear about the change directly. Brewer, Silver and Chin all released statements praising the decision. “The Seaport is a priority of this office and
I believe that community input is essential to any development there,” Brewer said. “I am … heartened that the city Economic Development Corporation is working with us to facilitate this. I am committed to ensuring that the project not move forward until this comprehensive community dialogue has occurred.” Speaker Silver said the new task force “will ensure that the people who live in the Seaport play a key role in determining the future of this critically important historic area,” and Chin said it will help “make sure any plans moving forward address ongoing concerns and reflect what residents want to see in their community.” Hughes executives told Downtown Express a few weeks ago that just before Mayor de Blasio took office, his aides told them that the proposal would be better if it included affordable housing. John Fratta, chairperson of C.B. 1s Seaport Committee, said luxury housing is not the problem with the plan. “The tower will destroy the whole concept of the Seaport Historic District,” he said. “There is no compromise on the tower if they want to build a tower just find another location.” For many years, he and the rest of C.B. 1 have backed extending the historic district to include the New Market Building, the proposed tower location, but those requests have been rejected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
— WITH REPORTING BY SAM SPOKONY
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Police are investigating a new scam operation that most recently targeted a Financial District restaurant on Jan. 9. An unknown person claiming to work for Con Edison made a telephone call to an employee of French Cafe Gourmand, at 9 Maiden Ln., that day, and falsely said the restaurant’s power would be shut off if new payments were not made immediately, according to cops. The scammer told the employee to purchase two prepaid cards — specifically, a Green Dot Money-Pak card — and put a total of $1,970 on them. The restaurant employee, thinking that Con Ed needed the utility payment through those cards, then provided the scammer with the cards’ authorization codes — in effect, wiring all of that money directly to the perpetrator, who remained anonymous via phone calls.
Police are also investigating a string of four overnight burglaries that took place in Soho over the past week, which they believe are all connected. Sometime during the late-night and earlymorning hours between Jan. 22 and 23, unknown burglars gained access to the front lobby of 141 Wooster St., and then took an elevator up to the fourth floor and entered an office of a book publisher called Overlook Press, cops said. The thieves made off with $600 in cash, as well as three credit cards — one of which was later used to make a fraudulent purchase. Between Jan. 25 and 26, burglars broke into 3NY, a fashion outlet at 448 Broome St., and snatched up seven women’s bags and four jackets, collectively valued at around $5,000, police said. Between Jan. 27 and 28, a pair pried open the front door of the Ugg Australia shoe store, at 79 Mercer St., and made off with 12 pairs of boots, collectively valued at around $2,000, police said. According to video surveillance tapes that cops recovered from the store, one of the intruders acted as a lookout while the other stole the property. And then, between Jan. 28 and 29, burglars also broke into Palmer Trading
Company, a menswear store at 137 Sullivan St., police said. At presstime, it was still unclear what exactly had been stolen, and the investigation into that incident was still underway.
A daring robber made off with around $6,000 from a Chase Bank near the World Trade Center on Jan. 25, police said. The man, about 25 to 30 years old, walked into the 101 Barclay St. bank around 11 a.m., and passed a teller a note stating that he had a gun and wanted $10,000 cash, cops said. Even though the bank only handed over a portion of that money, the robber took his bag and fled, and was last spotted heading east on Murray St., eluding police for now.
Police arrested a 36-year-old man early on Jan. 22 after they say he beat up an elderly woman on a subway train. The woman, 67, told cops that she and the attacker got into an argument while they were both riding a northbound 2 train around 3:30 a.m. — and as the train was pulling into the Park Pl. station, he reportedly punched her in the face. The victim was taken to St. Luke’sRoosevelt Hospital and subsequently released after being treated for minor injuries, and the suspect was apprehended on the Park Pl. station platform. He was charged with assault.
A sneaky thief got away with around $33,000 worth of jewelry after tricking a Tribeca store employee on Jan. 16, police said. David Yurman Design, at 24 Vestry St., was preparing to give the 13 pricey rings to a delivery man for a fashion photo shoot that day — so when the thief entered the store and apparently knew all the details of the delivery, he was given the goods. But the store later learned that rings never made it to the planned destination, and subsequently reported the crime to police on Jan. 22. Police said the suspect is around 35 years old, and while they know the name he gave to the jewelry store while claiming to be the
delivery man, they believe it may have been an alias used to aid in the theft.
Bumped and swiped A woman was targeted by a jostling thief on a Downtown subway platform on Jan. 27, police said. She told cops she was walking towards a 2 train inside the Fulton St. station around 4 p.m., when an unknown man bumped into her, said “I’m sorry,” and walked away. Moments later, the woman realized that he iPhone had been lifted from her coat pocket.
Garbage man impersonator arrested
Police arrested a 52-year-old man two days after they say he and an accomplice stole cash from a Tribeca bar while pretending to be city sanitation workers. The suspect and the other man, who is also believed to be in his 50s or 60s, showed up outside Cricketeer Arms, at 57 Murray St., around 8 a.m. on Jan. 17, before the bar had opened for the day, police said. There was only one employee present at the time, and the two men convinced him that they would write the bar a summons if he did not come outside and clear garbage from the front of the establishment, police said. While the employee was outside cleaning up, one of the thieves dashed inside and stole $710 from the bar’s cash register, after which they fled the scene. One was later arrested on Jan. 19 based on descriptions provided by the employee. He was charged with burglary. Police said they believe that the two were also responsible for an almost identical burglary — including their bogus sanitation worker act — that took place on Dec. 30 at Fresh Salt, a bar near the South Street Seaport.
senior is bloodied
Police arrested a 24-year-old man on Jan. 15 after he alleged attacked an elderly man in the Financial District. After an apparent dispute on a side-
walk near the corner of Fulton and William Sts. around 2 p.m., the attacker reportedly punched the 74-year-old man in the face, leaving him with a cut on his nose and causing him to break his ankle as he fell to the ground, police said. The victim was taken to nearby New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital and treated for his injuries. Upon his arrest shortly afterwards, the suspect told cops that the elderly man had “disrespected” him — and police said they believe that, in this case, the aggressor may be mentally ill. He was charged with assault.
Two thieves got away with stealing more than $1,600 worth of tooth whitening products from a convenience store in Battery Park City on Jan. 19, police said. A man and a woman, both believed to be their 20s, walked into the Duane Reade at 325 North End Ave. around 1:30 p.m., according to the store’s video surveillance footage. The pair quickly snatched up 26 boxes of Crest Whitestrips before dashing back out, police said.
Gym locker thefts
A slick, lockpicking thief is believed to have to stolen from two different Downtown gyms on the morning of Jan. 16, police said. First, a man who was working out in Planet Fitness, at 25 Broadway, around 7:30 a.m. told cops that his gym locker had been broken into, and his wallet was gone. Although it was clear that a theft had occurred, his combination lock was apparently still in place when he returned from his workout, and there were no signs of forced entry to the locker. Then, another man who was working out in Equinox, at 14 Wall St., around 8:30 a.m. told cops an identical story — although he lost much, much more. This time, the lock had again been cleanly picked, and the thief made off with the victim’s laptop and 10 checks that were collectively worth around $10,000, police said.
— SAM SPOKONY
Beware of new phone scam, cops warn The N.Y.P.D.’s First Precinct is warning the Downtown community about a new scam using prepaid debit card, often a Green Dot Money-Pak. Police say criminals are using each of the following tactics: 1) A caller informs the victim that they own back taxes to the I.R.S. and must make immediate payment with a Green Dot Money-Pak. 2) The victim’s family member had a car accident and the caller threatens physical violence unless immediate reimbursement is made with a Green Dot Money-Pak. 3) The caller poses as representative of a utility company and demands immediate payment by Green Dot Money-Pak, stating that your electricity or gas will be turned off if no payments are made.
Crime Prevention Tips —Be suspicious of callers who demand immediate payment for any reason. —Remember that anyone who has the number on a Green Dot Money-Pak car has access to the funds on that card. —Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you unsolicited. —Never wire money, provide debit or credit card numbers or Green Dot Money-Pak card numbers to someone you do not know. —Utility companies and government agencies will not contact you demanding immediate payment by Green Dot Money-Pak. For more info, visit www.nyc.gov/nypd or text “NYPD” to 22828 to join the mailing list.
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Downtown Express photo by Milo Hess
Downtown Vortex A recent scene on Tribeca’s Pier 25 said it all as Polar Vortex induced temperatures have been dipping below 15 degrees with regularity the last two weeks. Weather.com says Lower Manhattan and the rest of the city are due for a brief respite with the thermometer going into the 40’s over the weekend, but by the end of next week, predictions are for a return to the teens.
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
Morrone’s side: Disability is legit
Hoping for Section 8 money
BY SAM SPOKONY The former Southbridge Towers president who stands accused of stealing more than $100,000 in federal disability benefits will make his next court appearance on Feb. 7, when prosecutors will likely begin revealing their evidence against him. Joseph Morrone, 60, is currently charged with second degree larceny and fourth degree criminal facilitation — both felonies — and was indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney on Jan. 7. Prosecutors say he received the Social Security disability checks between October 2009 and June 2013 after fraudulently claiming to suffer from psychological illnesses. Morrone was president of Southbridge’s board of directors in the late-1990s and early2000s, and currently serves as president of the Southbridge Adult and Senior Citizens Activities Center. He was charged as one of 106 people who were allegedly involved in the bogus disability benefits scheme. In a phone interview, Morrone’s lawyer, Vincent Licata, said that his client has, in fact, suffered from legitimate medical conditions. “Mr. Morrone has had documented illnesses over a 10-year period that made him qualify for Social Security disability benefits,” Licata said Jan. 22, although he has not yet been able to review his client’s full medical records. “But right now, he hasn’t done anything wrong, and it’s all just allegations,” the lawyer said of the charges against Morrone, which collectively could carry a sentence of more than
BY SAM SPOKONY The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development is hoping to get at least $400 million in new federal funding as a result of the recent budget deal in order to prevent revoking some of its current Section 8 housing vouchers, an H.P.D. spokesperson said last week. The spokesperson said rescinding vouchers would be a last resort, but that a baseline level of new funding will be required for H.P.D. to maintain the current status quo for its Section 8 program, which has already been significantly scaled back due to budget cuts. H.P.D’s Section 8 program provides vital housing subsidies to around 30,000 lowincome residents in New York City, including nearly 1,200 who live in the East Village or Lower East Side. If vouchers are rescinded this year, some of those people — who, on average, make around $15,000 per year — will probably lose their homes. The budget deal recently approved by the U.S. Congress has made $17. 4 billion in new funding available for the renewal of Section 8 vouchers nationwide. The decision of how to distribute that money to local agencies will be made by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has until mid-March to announce its allocations. After taking a $35 million budget cut due the federal sequester, H.P.D. scaled down
15 years in prison if he were convicted on both counts. Licata said that he expects to see at least some of the prosecution’s evidence following next week’s hearing, after which he will be able to begin planning his client’s defense. As of now, Licata said he has only seen the D.A.’s indictment, which does not provide detailed information about Morrone. Meanwhile, there is gossip about Morrone and his case brewing within the halls of Southbridge — and some of it may be politically motivated, according to a source at the complex. Morrone is part of a faction at Southbridge that is against privatization of the middleincome complex, which is currently part of the state’s Mitchell-Lama housing program. For many years, there has been much tension between Southbridge’s pro- and anti-privatization groups, and although Morrone’s charges are unrelated to Southbridge, some residents could be using his alleged criminal activity as an opportunity to attack him as part of that ongoing debate. “It’s seems pretty clear at this point that [Morrone’s] friends are being supportive of him, but people with political differences are venting against him,” said one longtime Southbridge resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Morrone’s brother currently serves on the Southbridge board of directors, but he has not faced any backlash over the case, according to that source.
Section 8 last July by forcing voucher holders to either pay a greater share of their rent or move to smaller apartment. Although the move was — and continues to be — criticized by housing advocates and elected officials because it places a heavy burden on many struggling families, it did the job of preventing the agency from having to rescind any vouchers. The $35 million cut equates to approximately 2,900 Section 8 vouchers — nearly 10 percent of its citywide total — according to H.P.D. If the agency had never scaled down the program last year, it would likely have had to rescind that many vouchers. And since H.P.D. did scale back the program by forcing some people to pay more, it never had to take that step — that “last resort” — which probably would have caused even greater anger among housing advocates. But H.P.D. may not be able to hold on any longer if it doesn’t receive the additional $400 million for this year, in which case cutting down the number of voucher holders could be the only option, the agency spokesperson said Jan. 22. At this point, it’s simply a waiting game for thousands of Section 8 residents across the city, as HUD still has nearly two months to decide how much money out of that $17.4 billion will come to New York City’s H.P.D. — and, essentially, how many low-income families will be able to keep their homes.
Chin gets Aging Committee
By Martin Hernandez
Downtown Express photo by Sam Spokony
Councilmember Chin, left, Jan. 5, a few days before Melissa Mark-Viverito was elected to be Council speaker.
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Days after starting her second term, Councilmember Margaret Chin on Jan. 22 was appointed chairperson of the City Council’s Committee on Aging. On the same day, the Council’s Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee — which was established in 2002, to help revitalize the area following the 9/11 attacks, and which Chin had chaired ever since taking office in 2010 — was officially dissolved. She told Downtown Express last year she would ask the new speaker to close the committee. New Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in effect, replaced the Downtown committee with the Recovery and Resiliency Committee, which has been established in order to deal with post-Sandy efforts and planning to mitigate future natural disasters. Chin was not appointed chairperson of that new committee, though she will serve as one of
its members. Instead, the Resiliency Committee will be led by first-term Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents a part of Brooklyn — including Coney Island and Bensonhurst — that was particularly hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. In a statement, Chin, who is 59, said she’s looking forward to her new role on the Aging Committee. “I am both humbled and proud to serve on committees that will make solid, meaningful change in the day-to-day in the lives of New Yorkers,” Chin said in a prepared statement. “I am committed to ensuring that our seniors have the resources, support and dignity they deserve. We must build a city where all of us can age in place, without the worry that we will be displaced by increasing rent or cuts to essential services.”
January 30 - February 12, 2014
City will take over Downtown’s construction center BY SAM SPOKONY After some initial uncertainty, it’s now become clear that the city’s Department of Transportation will take over the roles currently filled by the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, once the command center is dissolved at the end of February. Nicholas Mosquera, a D.O.T. spokesperson, confirmed last week that the city agency will soon take the reins from L.M.C.C.C., which oversees and coordinates public, private and street construction projects south of Canal St. “The D.O.T. has always been closely involved with the work of the L.M.C.C.C. and will be assuming their role in the community outreach process,” Mosquera wrote in a Jan. 22 email to Downtown Express, which first reported the story last week. He added that D.O.T. will also host and conduct project coordination meetings once the command center is phased out of existence. The command center, which was established in 2004 through executive orders issued by ex-Governor George Pataki and exMayor Michael Bloomberg, has been working on this transition for several months, ever since it became apparent that those executive orders would not be renewed by the end of 2013.
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In addition to the uncertainty over which city agency would take the lead in its absence, it was also unclear for some time when exactly the center would shut its doors. First, it seemed like the command center
‘D.O.T. has always been closely involved with … the L.M.C.C.C. and will be assuming their role in the community outreach process,’ said a Dept. of Transportation spokesperson.
might not make it into 2014, and then a lastditch effort by local elected officials allowed it to remain in operation through the first several weeks of January. Now, the date of dissolution finally seems to be set. “I’m planning to hand everything off by the end of February,” said Joseph Simenic, L.M.C.C.C.’s executive director, in a Jan. 22 phone interview. He explained that it made sense to let D.O.T. take the lead going forward because, in addition to its constant presence at
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L.M.C.C.C.’s current coordination meetings, the agency already plays such a central role in construction due to its regulatory power over the permitting process. Simenic also said that he is already in
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the process of providing D.O.T. with his agency’s contact database, as well as explaining how to go about doing public outreach Downtown. “D.O.T. has watched us do it, and now it’s just a matter of coaching them,” he said. After 9/11, the Bloomberg administration set up D.O.T.’s Lower Manhattan borough commissioner’s office to help coordinate the massive amounts of repair and construction work underway Downtown, and the current head of the office, Luis Sanchez, has remained in office under Mayor de Blasio.
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WeDNeSDAY, FebRUARY 5, 5-7pm Knitting & Crochet Fellowship All knitters and crocheters and those who wish to learn are encouraged to attend. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl, Library
SUNDAY, FebRUARY 2 & 9, 10am Discovery: Revelation - Prophecies that Provoke Feb 2: The Rev. Dr. James Cooper: “The Battle of Good and Evil” Feb. 9: Revelation: Community Bible Study 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Parish Hall
MONDAY, FebRUARY 10, 7-8:30pm Reading and Book Signing With Sara Miles Miles reads from her new book City of God: Faith in the Streets. Charlotte’s Place
MONDAY, FebRUARY 3 & 10, 1pm The Broad Way A weekly, informal Bible study focusing on the Gospels. Led by the Rev. Deacon Robert Zito. Bring your lunch. 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Parlor
an Episcopal parish in the city of New York
SUNDAY, 8am & 10am St. Paul’s Chapel · Holy Eucharist 8pm · Compline by Candlelight
MONDAY—FRIDAY, 12:05pm Trinity Church · Holy Eucharist
btwn Rector & Carlisle Streets The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector The Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, Vicar
For its part, D.O.T. is expecting a smooth transition — although officials have not yet decided the details of how it will work. “D.O.T. will continue to work closely with all relevant agencies and the community at large, as it does across the city, and we don’t foresee any effect on the coordination and outreach processes that Lower Manhattan has benefitted from in recent years,” said Mosquera. Meanwhile, Robin Forst, who currently serves as deputy executive director of L.M.C.C.C., already has a new job lined up. Starting on Feb. 3, Forst will join the Battery Park City Authority as its vice president of external relations. That move was announced by B.P.C.A. Chairperson Dennis Mehiel on Jan. 13. In a Jan. 22 phone interview, Forst told Downtown Express she will still make herself available to L.M.C.C.C. throughout February in order to aid in its transition process. “I’m happy to work on whatever shape this transition takes,” she said, “and I’ll do anything I can to help make sure it’s smooth, in terms of moving L.M.C.C.C. from where it is now to where it has to go.” A longtime Battery Park City resident, Forst has been with the command center since 2005, before which she had served as former-Councilmember Alan Gerson’s deputy chief of staff.
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Paul Lee, 63, a fighter for Chinatown Obituary
Continued from page 1
“Big”(Executive # 4) with Tom Hanks and “Year of the Dragon” (Jackie Wong’s son), which was set in Chinatown, his home for all of his life. Geoff Lee, a childhood friend who is unrelated, said Paul was known in the film industry as the “go-to man in Chinatown” and helped get jobs for him and others in the neighborhood, particularly for “Year of the Dragon” which was actually shot in North Carolina with a realistic set of New York’s Chinatown. Photographer Corky Lee, also unrelated, remembers Paul brokering a meeting for him with “Dragon” director Michael Cimino to look at his photos of Chinatown. Lee said Paul knew when to interject during the meeting, and even though Cimino didn’t end up buying any photos, Paul was able to get work for many others on the film. “He was the Chinese-American Al Sharpton,” Corky Lee added. “He’d say things that needed to be said that no one else would say.” In 2004 when the city suggested moving Chinatown’s Chatham Square plaza without a plan to save the memorials to Chinese veterans, Paul Lee told Downtown
Express “You’re in for a fire fight. I’ll get on the barricades with [veterans groups]. As a community member I’m not going to let my people be disrespected.” Indeed Lee, a gregarious man who was quick with a joke, was always a staunch defender against any slights to the Chinese community, but he also had an independent streak a mile wide, never worrying about his popularity. He passed on supporting ChineseAmerican candidates for Lower Manhattan’s City Council seat at least three times. “I even gave him an out and said ‘I don’t want to give you a problem with your community,’ but he stuck with me and stayed ‘til the very end,’” said John Fratta, who received Lee’s endorsement for unsuccessful Council campaigns in 1991 and 2001. Fratta said “Paul loved Chinatown, but he also felt it was important to build relationships between all of the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan.’ Last year, Lee endorsed Jenifer Rajkumar in her unsuccessful effort to unseat City Councilmember Margaret Chin. “I get a lot of hostility because I’m not supporting Margaret,” he said after Rajkumar’s announcement last year.
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Paul Lee, circa 1988, in his 32 Mott Street General Store.
He said he thought Rajkumar would fight harder to reopen Park Row to general traffic. He confided that he expected Chin to win the neighborhood convincingly, but he just wanted to help her opponent “get a piece of it.” He was often frank about his chances in seemingly quixotic battles. When he and neighbors convinced a judge to order the N.Y.P.D. to reopen a public park it had taken over for parking, James Madison Plaza, Lee said he was “shocked… . “I had all these plans, but none of them were predicated on us winning. I was saying if we lose, we can do plan B or C or D.” “Lots of times Paul fought the fight because no one else was doing it,” said Geoff Lee, his childhood friend. Lee was also not afraid to acknowledge agreement with his opponents. He had epic battles with the Bloomberg administration on the street closures, but in ’03 he expressed support for Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to replace primaries with non-partisan elections. The position also put him on the side of a community activist he often opposed, Margaret Chin, but at odds with almost all other local Democratic leaders. “Nothing else has worked for Chinatown,” Lee said about the ballot referendum, which was later defeated overwhelmingly. “I don’t think we’re getting 10 percent of the attention we should.” Leung, a surrogate son, said he was always inspired by Lee’s fights against tough odds. Leung’s father got him the job at Lee’s store at age 14 to help avoid the neighborhood’s gangs. Now 30 and an advertising artist,
Leung said Lee helped out many neighborhood kids like him. Lee’s college roommate, Jonathan Atkin, said he took many professional headshots of Chinatown teens who got acting work through Lee. Atkin, who met Lee at Lake Forest College in Illinois where Lee headed the Asian Students Alliance, said he was always amazed by the variety of Lee’s efforts — helping run the family business with lots of sideline efforts, all while staying active in politics and helping out neighborhood kids. In the ‘80s, Lee promoted visits from China of table tennis and women’s basketball teams. Atkin, said he went to J.F.K. Airport one time to photograph a Chinese team’s arrival and was stopped by the N.Y.P.D., but the Chinese security detail quickly smoothed things over by saying ”he’s with Paul Lee.” Lee also arranged bus tours to Atlantic City and Atkin remembered anther incident when a white casino official spoke to Lee in pigeon English. Lee made his roots clear in a profanitylaced response. “How dare you use this racist language with a person who’s a full-blooded American and New Yorker,” was the essence of Lee’s reply, said Atkin. Paul Lee, a middle child, was born to Peter and Mildred Lee March 19, 1950. “He learned to play handball on the walls of the Tombs,” Atkin said, referring to the Downtown jail’s nickname. The “J.Q.” initials abbreviate his Chinese name, and he adopted them as Continued on page 9
January 30 - February 12, 2014
was a borough coordinator. Through his setbacks, he often persevered with passion and humor. He was the first speaker at a 2003 meeting with city officials that neighbors thought was a public hearing to get input on a possible unwanted traffic change, but they learned hours later that the change was already approved. Perhaps sensing that there was no chance to stop the plan, Lee had simple advice to the speakers who would follow him: “Be loud.”
Continued from page 8
an adult to distinguish himself from other Paul Lees. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1966 before heading off to Lake Forest to earn a degree in history in 1972. He then went to work at the family business. Lee’s grandfather, Lee Lok, opened the 32 Mott St. store, Quong Yuen Shing & Company, in 1891. It imported goods from China, reselling some to stores in other U.S. cities including Boston and Philadelphia, Lee said in a 2004 interview with Downtown Express. At the time, immigration laws prohibited Chinese women from entering the U.S., so the store also served as a social center for bachelors. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, Paul ran the store with his father before taking over in the mid-‘80s. Paul eventually changed the name to the 32 Mott Street General Store, and sold Asian giftware. Behind in rent, he closed in 2003, but he still lived on the same block. When Lee watched the store reopen the next year under a new owner he said, “It’s very, very painful. To lose the store — that was my family’s business for 113 years. It’s very shameful, very painful.”
VISIT DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM TO READ MORE OF PAUL LEE’S WORDS.
IN PRINT OR ONLINE
Four years later in 2008, his wife of 29 years, Janny Lee, died of cancer, a loss which friends say he took particularly hard. Lee, who had no children, is survived by his older sister, Patricia Farley, and his younger brother, Warren Lee.
True Light Lutheran Church at 195 Worth St. held a wake and funeral last week. Friends and family request donations be made to the church. Lee worked his final years at the New York City Housing Authority, where he
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
Feds try to use torture video in trial of Stuy’s ex- librarian BY SAM SP0KONY Before his arrest last April, a former Stuyvesant High School librarian accused of planning to rape and kill women and children owned a disturbing video that depicts two men brutally torturing two women, officials said. Now federal prosecutors hope to use descriptions of that video as evidence against him at trial. The so-called “Pain 35” video was recovered by investigators when Robert Christopher Asch, 62, a former Stuyvesant High School librarian, was arrested inside his Village apartment in the Saint Germain, at Greenwich Ave. and W. 10th St. The video, which had been stashed in Asch’s home, shows the two nearly naked women being tortured with heinous items, including nipple clamps, a leg spreader, a riding crop, rope, handcuffs and needles, according to federal prosecutors. Officials have also said that experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation believe that the women in the video are not actors, and that they are actually being painfully tortured. Asch is accused of conspiring with Richard Meltz, 65, to kidnap, rape and murder multiple people — including the wife, sister-in-law, children and step-
daughter of an alleged co-conspirator, Michael Van Hise. Meltz has already pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in a conspiracy to commit kidnapping — the same charges Asch faces — but Asch’s trial began Jan. 27. In a Jan. 8 letter to the federal judge handling the case, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said prosecutors do not actually aim to play the “Pain 35” video in front of the jury, but are instead seeking the judge’s permission to provide a description of the video. In doing so, the prosecutors hope to show that Asch used the video as a “howto guide” for restraining and infl icting pain on his victims, and to show that he was not simply fantasizing about the plans. “The ‘Pain 35’ video has substantial value in proving that Asch was intent on kidnapping the victims…and was not simply roleplaying,” Bharara’s letter states, although he also wrote that the video’s contents will “undoubtedly be shocking and disturbing to the members of the jury.” Asch’s lawyer, Brian Waller, responded with his own letter to the federal judge, hoping to stop prosecutors from describing the video because he claimed its “shocking and disturbing” nature would unfairly influence the jury. “Such evidence can deeply prejudice a
jury against a defendant, for reasons having nothing to do with that defendant’s guilt or innocence,” Waller wrote. It’s also now known that Asch possessed a video and images of child pornography when he was arrested, and that he is a member of the North American Man/ Boy Love Association, a.k.a. NAMBLA. But prosecutors have said they don’t plan to address those facts during the trial — that is, unless Asch testifies and they are brought up as part of his testimony. Prosecutors have also said that they don’t plan to mention that Asch had been arrested in 2009 and charged with inappropriately touching male students during his time at Stuyvesant High School. Those charges were later dropped. Asch was arrested last April after federal agents found out about his alleged plans while they were investigating the infamous “cannibal cop,” Gilberto Vale.
IN PRINT OR ONLINE
Federal Terror suspect Robert Christopher Asch
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 30 - February 12, 2014
TRANSIT SAM thurs., Jan.30–wed., feB.5 alternate side parking is suspended friday for asian lunar new year What does the Super Bowl have to do with Lower Manhattan? Well, as we all know Downtown is the place to party and we’ve got the venues. So Saturday night expect very slow going along South St. and the West Side Highway as the hippest of the hip party at Downtown’s Pier 36 and Pier 40. The ESPN Party will bring VIPs to Pier 36 at South and Montgomery Sts., and the Super Saturday Night party will be hosted by Jay Z and Eli Manning at Pier 40 at Houston and West Sts. They will party late so don’t expect relief until well after midnight. Happy Lunar New Year! The Year of the Horse brings celebrations to Chinatown and the Lower East Side this weekend. The Chinatown Youth Parade scheduled for last Thursday was rescheduled because of snow to this Friday. It will close many streets in Chinatown and the Lower East Side 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday. Affected streets include: Canal, Mott, Bayard, Elizabeth, Pell, Doyers, and Mulberry Sts. Expect delays in getting on or off the Manhattan Bridge. The 15th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade & Festival will close numerous streets in Chinatown 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Affected streets included parts of Mott St.,
Hester St., Canal St., Bayard St., Pell St., Mosco St., Worth St., St James Pl., Oliver St., Chatham Square, East Broadway, Eldridge St., Grand St.,and Forsyth St. A burst water main on Greenwich St. between Clarkson and Leroy Sts. is under repair. In the meantime, Greenwich St. is closed between Clarkson and Leroy, as well as between Houston and Clarkson. Eastbound traffic is allowed through on Clarkson. Follow me on Twitter @gridlocksam for news on when the street reopens. In the Holland Tunnel, one New York-bound lane will close 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday. That’ll slow down late-night inbound traffic. Nassau St. will close periodically between Ann and Beekman Sts. 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.weekdays. Theater Alley will close also between Ann and Beekman Sts. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Leonard St. is closed between Hudson and Varick Sts. through late March. Chambers St. will close between Broadway and Church St. 9 p.m. Tuesday through 5 a.m. Wednesday. Washington St. will close between Laight and Hubert Sts. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through mid-February. Northbound traffic will be rerouted to Hudson St. Pine St. will close between Pearl and Water Sts. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. On Trinity Pl. between Rector and Liberty
Sts., crews will perform work on the west side of the roadway, while keeping open two lanes of travel. This work will continue for several months.
from the mailBag: Dear Transit Sam, I’m traveling on I-78 to the Holland Tunnel to Williamsburg Bridge this coming Sunday, around late morning to noontime. What is the best way? Map programs have me driving through the city, which can’t be the way to go. Should I take the Westside Highway to
the F.D.R.? Scott, New York Dear Scott, Yes, you can skirt the crosstown slog by heading down to the Battery and up the F.D.R. As you get out of the Holland Tunnel, take Exit 1 toward New York 9A/West St. south to the Battery Underpass (not the tunnel) to the F.D.R. to Houston St. Take Houston to Essex and follow the signs to the Williamsburg Bridge. Transit Sam
MEETINGNotice NOTICE Public PUBLIC Meeting
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
Racquet Club happy to rub salt in its Sandy wounds
Photo courtesy of N.Y.H.R.C.
The new saltwater pool at the New York Health & Racquet Club’s Whitehall St. location.
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BY SAM SPOKONY More than a year after Hurricane Sandy, there’s still saltwater inside the New York Health & Racquet Club on Whitehall St. But it’s not East River overflow; instead, that water — along with swarms of happy members — now fills the gym’s beautifully renovated pool. The 60-foot saltwater pool and its accompanying whirlpools, which reopened several weeks ago in their original underground area, were part of a $3 million-plus reconstruction that has marked the club’s many-faceted triumph over the trials of Sandy. “It was kind of heartbreaking at first,” said Kim Manocherian N.Y.H.R.C. president and C.E.O., recalling the 20 feet of flooding that rocked the Whitehall gym — a disaster compounded by the fact that previous renovations to that location (one of the club’s nine total in Manhattan, and which first opened in 1987) had taken place just a year prior to the storm. “But after Sandy hit,” she continued during a tour, “there was never a conversation over what we should do, or whether we should stay or leave. We knew we were staying, and we knew we just had to get started on rebuilding.” Although the weights and workout machines on the upper floors had been left unharmed, that flooding badly damaged its three lower levels — not only the bottomfloor pool area, but also the ground-level locker rooms, and the sauna, steam room and showers just below. It was going to be a big job, but planning began almost immediately. And before the actual rebuilding even took place, the center initially reopened its doors just eleven days after the storm, allowing members to continue their workout routines upstairs while using converted squash courts as temporary locker rooms. In addition, non-members who needed a place to charge their cell phones or laptops were also welcomed into the space. “We did that because it’s a real community here,” said Debbie Newell-Antler, the Whitehall club’s general manager. “It was a great feeling for so many of the members to
come here each morning, even after they’d been displaced from home or work, to see their friends and regain some sense of normalcy in their lives after the disaster.” In the months following, the gym worked with architect Frank Denner — a frequent partner of the club, and one who has designed numerous other health clubs across the U.S. — to begin the long road to recovery, with Manocherian and Val Paese, the firm’s V.P. of facilities and construction, overseeing the job. The locker rooms, sauna and steams rooms were completed this past May, with plenty of style and a number of fresh upgrades. But additional months of painstakingly detailed work went into the austere-yetimpressive, white-tiled pool area, which with Manocherian hoped to instill a “feeling of old New York.” And the saltwater in the pool is certainly an upgrade as well, since it offers a more natural, less irritating experience than chlorinated water — and, fortunately for those fashionable New Yorkers with colored hair, it doesn’t bleach. The pool finally reopened in January, to the delight of members. And for Manocherian, who carries forward the “members first” vision that first took root when her father founded N.Y.H.R.C. in 1973, putting in that extra time and effort was never up for debate. “You either do it right, or you don’t do it at all,” she said. “There’s no in-between.” And thinking ahead to resiliency against future storms, Manocherian — whose family also owns the 39 Whitehall St. building — said that the building has since invested in a $200,000 “Aqua Fence,” which can be deployed around the structure as a barrier against flood surges. Some other firms in Lower Manhattan, like the Howard Hughes Corporation, have pursued similar protective measures over the past year. Meanwhile, the celebration of post-Sandy success isn’t over yet for the Whitehall club’s 5,000 members. The location will, in honor of the complete reopening, host a “Day at the Beach” party on Feb. 12, featuring food and other festivities.
SOUTH FERRY ENTRANCE ONE PROPOSED DESIGN CLOSED DOORS
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Feds release funds for Downtown subway repairs BY SAM SPOKONY A big boost in federal funding is coming to aid repairs to the Downtown transit hubs that were most heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Jan 24th that it awarded around $ 886 million to the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority for rebuilding its Sandy-impacted equipment and facilities. That money is a newly released portion of the $3.8 billion in total funding that federal officials had initially allocated to the M.T.A. for disaster recovery. U.S. D.O.T. Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press conference that the majority of the new funding — $535 million — will go towards repairs to the M.T.A.’s three underwater subway tunnels that were wracked by Sandy, including the Montague Tubes, which connect the R train between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Image courtesy of NYC Transit As many frustrated commuters know, One possible change to the South Ferry station includes entrances with doors that could be sealed closed before a storm. the Montague Tubes are currently shut down, and the R train connection is currently not scheduled to reopen until portion of that funding will be funneled of redesigning it in order to make it more Broad St. October, according to the M.T.A. directly into renovation work at the South resilient to future storms. Other portions of the new federal PROJECT NAME: South Ferry Terminal Complex (Street Entrance Flood Protection) Another $32 million will go towards Ferry subway station, which serves the The M.T.A. also is planning to increase funding will go towards repairing DATE: vari-11/1/2013 repairs to M.T.A. station facilities — No. 1 train line. storm protections at five other Lower ous elements of the M.T.A’s Long Island RENDERING: PROPOSED ENTRANCE 1 (GATE-CLOSED) and in Friday’s press conference, M.T.A. The South Ferry station is currently Manhattan stations: the two Rector St. Railroad and Metro-North C.E.O. Tom Prendergast stressed that a open, but the M.T.A. is still in the process stops, Bowling Green, Whitehall and Railroad lines.
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FEBRUARY 25 Discipline: Setting Limits, Saying No & Accepting No NANCY SCHULMAN
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
High school looks up (to the roof) for space B y H e at h e r D u b in Things are looking up at the NYC iSchool in Hudson Square — that is, to the building’s rooftop. The school recently held a meeting to spark fundraising efforts for a plan for a newly designed roof. The high-tech high school shares space with Chelsea Technical and Career High School in a 100-year-old school building at Sixth Ave. and Broome St. Speaking after the Jan. 15 meeting, Isora Bailey, principal of NYC iSchool, said that for the past five years, the students have been involved with plans to better utilize the roof. The school lacks a gym, and the auditorium, which is outdated and slopes, is mostly used by Chelsea Tech, while the cafeteria cannot accommodate the full student body at one time. At the meeting, students who worked on the design led the presentation for a group that included the parent association, Gale Brewer, Manhattan’s borough president, and Renee Schoonbeek, the vice president for planning and capital projects at the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district. “It started as a class,” Bailey explained, “that developed into an afterschool project, where kids spend time learning about [building] code, how to fundraise, and worked closely with architects.” Students from all grades have worked on each phase of the project, and a former graduate returned to the school for the presentation. There is an e-mail list with project updates circulated to alumni students. The current design calls for an indoor classroom space, outdoor meeting spaces and a rooftop greenhouse. “The stairs actually access the roof,” Bailey said. “The students have done research on this. But the roof was originally built as a playground. There’s access up there — it needs to be updated so that we can use it.” The architects are pro bono, but fundraising is needed to continue the project. “If we can connect enough people,” she said, “we’ll get it done.”
Gale Brewer speaking at a Jan. 15 meeting about the NYC iSchool’s new rooftop project.
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Lower East Side park to get $2.5 million BY SAM SPOKONY Capping years of community effort — and perhaps coming full circle in his own life — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has helped secure $2.5 million in funding to revitalize the Lower East Side park where he once shot hoops as a kid. Luther Gulick Park, just south of Delancey St. between Columbia St. and Bialystoker Place, received the money as part of a larger grant distributed by the state’s Department of Transportation to support similar enhancement projects throughout the state. As he has previously in other situations, Silver had heartily advocated for the park to be one of the 63 statewide sites chosen for the new funding. Planned improvements to Gulick Park — which have been conceived by local residents in association with the city’s Parks Department — include the construction of new sidewalks, lighting, bicycle parking, greenery and landscaping. D.O.T.’s $67 million funding push was announced by Governor Cuomo on Jan. 15, and Silver put out his own statement the next day. “I am thrilled that we are able to make these vital improvements to Gulick Park, a treasured part of our Lower East Side community,” Silver said in a statement. “In a neighborhood that has long suffered from a lack of open space, Gulick Park serves an enormous need for our children and all of our residents
ns o i t w lica t. o N pp en a g llm in nro t p e ce for c a
on both sides of Delancey St…. I remember playing basketball there as a boy, back when it was called Sheriff St. Park.” In addition to the overall dearth of parkland on the L.E.S., many residents have been particularly fervent in their efforts to get new funding for Gulick Park because it has been largely neglected for many years. The Friends of Gulick Park, a communitybased group, has advocated for the space on behalf of residents for the past four years, and was the local organization that actually filed the application for the new $2.5 million, alongside the Parks Department. In addition to the other enhancements, the Friends also hope to revitalize the park with new and improved play and picnic areas. According to the organization, the new state funding nearly doubles the total cash available for the work, and only around $500,000 now needs to be raised in order to fully fund all of the planned construction. “On behalf of the Friends of Gulick Park and our Lower East Side community, I want to thank Speaker Silver for his important leadership and perseverance in obtaining funding for the restoration of this park,” said David Bolotsky, a Friends member, as part of Silver’s Jan. 16 announcement. “Located in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, Gulick Park provides an oasis and gathering place for neighbors on both sides of the bridge and from all walks of life.”
Schematic of the new design for Gulick Park.
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
Lion dancer recalls Chinatown’s wilder days Continued from page 1
12, as an “extra” — someone who held poles or flags alongside the performers. Over the next year, he studied under older mentors to become a lion dancer, first by learning the precise kung fu stances that were required of a trainee before he could even touch an actual lion “head” (the large, colorful apparatus used for the routines). “At that time, I knew that if you wanted to get into lion dancing, your kung fu better be good,” he said, with a chuckle. And so it had to be, because in the ‘70s the role Chinatown’s dancers went much deeper than the Lunar New Year parade itself. The skills of organizations like the Freemasons Club were frequently tested by local shop owners — often those affiliated with rival kung fu schools — in elaborate public rituals. Chan recalled one of those tests, in which a shop owner would place a head of lettuce, surrounded by a circle of seven tangerines, on the ground outside his door. “And if you just walked up and grabbed the lettuce, people would laugh at you because they could tell you didn’t know what you were doing,” he said. Instead, the lion dancer — in full garb — would have to prove his skills by dancing around the arrangement of food several times, then circling back once and ceremonially “sniffing” the offering, and then accepting the tangerines one at time before finally snatching the lettuce. “These days, you don’t see that too much,” said Chan. “The tradition is still there, but a lot of those old customs are gone, at least they’ve evolved.” After undertaking his first actual lion dance at age 13, he went off into the rough and tumble world of New Year festivities — and several years later, he saw just how rough those rituals could get, in a time before the Police Department played an active role in overseeing the street parades. “The city would just close down the streets around here for the New Year, and since every [dancing] group was on their own, it was basically a free for all,” he said of the ‘70s. “And there were some fights,” he added. Yes, in three consecutive years — 1973, 1974 and 1975 — street fights broke out among rival organizations during their celebratory parade routes through Chinatown. The reason? Again, tradition. “If there are two different groups coming down the same street, they’re both supposed to bend down low with the lion head, as a sign of respect while passing each other,” said Chan. “And if one of the groups decides to raise their head, that’s a real public insult, because it basically means that they’re looking down on you. “Back in the ‘70s, all the groups were really strutting their stuff, wanting to show off their school of kung fu,” he continued, “and at the slightest sign of disrespect, boom, that was it.” Chan acknowledged that he and the Freemasons Club were in fact involved in one of those brawls, but didn’t want to go into specifics about that. “Why bring up old wounds?” he said, with
Photos courtesy of the Freemasons Club
Karlin Chan as a lion dancer in the 1970s.
another laugh. After those incidents, cops decided to take over and establish set routes that separated certain groups. Now, decades later, aside from the fact that the fire behind old Chinese rituals has certainly cooled off, the parade groups of each local organization are staffed by two police officers for general safety and streetcrossing purposes. “So you can’t get away with fighting now,” Chan noted, “although groups generally still observe the tradition of going low while passing one another.” After those “glory days” of passion and punches on the street, he would go on to dance for another decade, recalling that his final appearance with a lion head took place in 1984 at a cultural convention in Baltimore. Now, Chan serves mainly as an advisory figure for the Freemasons Club, and works with local Chinatown organizations to promote the traditions he loves, while also overseeing the younger club members who train kids — now, he notes, of all races and ethnicities — who want to learn the art of lion dancing.
And besides its role as a showpiece for tourists these days, that dancing is, by the way, an act that’s symbolically meant to drive away evil spirits on the New Year. Historically, those fireworks that young Chan loved to play with served a complementary purpose on the holidays — by driving away demons. Now that it’s not quite legal to shoot off fireworks in the street, that job of scaring demons is now accomplished — who knows how effectively? — by “party poppers” and other more innocuous noisemakers. Police do allow limited firecrackers in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, but Chan said he still misses the ones in the streets, even though he understands the importance of safety restrictions. “I would just love to see the fireworks come back,” he said wistfully, “at least in some controlled way, because they really add to the celebration.” One new effort that Chan is happy to see underway — since it’s also one that he’s already supported — is the push by Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other elected officials to
declare the Lunar New Year an official public school holiday for the city. “It would be great, and it just makes sense,” he said. And as he prepared to take to the streets this Friday for the Year of the Horse, 4712, Chan did also mention his disappointment with the turnout for last year’s street parades. Chinatown just wasn’t packed the way it historically has been, and he wasn’t sure why. Maybe that “evolution” of Chinese tradition — or perhaps more like an erosion — is finally taking its toll on the magnitude of these rituals. But maybe not. In the end, Chan remains optimistic. After all, he’s still here, living on Mulberry St. and showing up to that old Freemasons Club haunt on Canal. “Hey, even while some people around here are moving away to the suburbs, there are always new immigrants coming in to reinforce the culture,” he said. “The traditions are still here.”
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Lunar New Year events Celebrating the Year of the Horse We may have recently celebrated the start of 2014, but our calendar’s Jan. 31 will ring in the new year of 4712 on the Chinese calendar. This will be the Year of the Horse — an animal which represents the seventh out of the twelve zodiac signs. Famous birthdays in past Years of the Horse include those of Jackie Chan, Paul McCartney and Teddy Roosevelt. Chinatown will be full of free Lunar New Year celebrations in the coming days, and here are some great events to check out around the neighborhood:
Volume 25, Number 19
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Friday, Jan. 31 (11 a.m) A firecracker ceremony, hosted by local leaders, will take place in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, at the corner of Grand and Forsyth Sts. Friday, Jan. 31 (1 p.m.) The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association will host a New Year’s celebration at its 62 Mott St. headquarters.
Thursday, Jan. 30 (7 p.m.) The Hester Street Collaborative will host party at its 113 Hester St. headquarters to celebrate its seventh annual installation of Lunar New Year lanterns, created by local children from M.S. 131 and the Chinatown Y.M.C.A., which will be displayed in Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
Sunday, Feb. 2 (1 p.m.) Chinatown’s 15th Lunar New Year Parade and Festival will start at the corner of Mott and Hester Sts. The parade will travel south along Mott St. and then east along E. Broadway, where it will then go north along Eldridge St., and finally shift to Forsyth St. before ending at the corner of Forsyth and Broome Sts. A festival booth will be located in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, at the corner of Canal and Forsyth Sts.
Friday, Jan. 31 (all day) Ceremonial lion dancers and drummers, representing the neighborhood’s various cultural organizations, will strut their stuff and follow traditional rituals by going door-todoor at shops throughout Chinatown to ring in the New Year.
Sunday, Feb. 2 (1 p.m.) Pace University’s Confucius Institute, in association with the New York Chinese Opera Society, will host its annual Lunar New Year party in the Schimmel Theater at 3 Spruce St., featuring lion dancing, a martial arts demonstration, Chinese hip hop and a prize raffle.
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SNAKES & DRAGONS
Downtown by Milo Hess Downtown Express file photo Express by Milophoto Hess
Last year’s Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown.
Chinatown celebrated the Year of the Snake Sunday with its Lunar New Year parade down Mott St. See P. 16 for more photos of the parade and the firecracker celebration a week ago.
Two plans pushed to save Pier 40 ﬁelds youth leagues is that the pier would be opened up to increased use for sports fields, which now includes even more field space than it originally did. The field expansion could mean playing time for children in neighborhoods like Tribeca and Battery Park City, and parent leaders further Downtown are beginning to sign onto the Champions plan. The rival concept for Pier 40 is by Douglas Durst, former chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park, in partnership with Ben Korman, who formerly ran the pier’s parking operation. It would utilize the pier’s existing shed structure for a mix of high-tech office space and retail, along with parking. Durst is not an advocate for housing either on Pier 40
B Y LINCOLN ANDERSON ith two competing proposals recently floated for Pier 40, Community Board 2 will hold a forum on Thurs., Feb. 28 on the ongoing, contentious issue of how best to redevelop the sprawling West Houston St. pier. One of the plans is by a coalition of local youth sports leagues called Pier 40 Champions. Their proposal calls for the construction of two residential towers sited just east of Pier 40 on parkland within the Hudson River Park. Revenue from the towers would help fund repairs and redevelopment of the 15-acre, three-story pier, which needs tens of millions of dollars to fix up its corroded steel support piles and eroded concrete roof. The payoff for the
or anywhere in the park. Allowing housing in the Hudson River Park would require the state Legislature to modify the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, which prohibits residential use. Meanwhile, the Hudson River Park Trust appears favorable toward the Pier 40 Champions plan, with its residential component, as a solution for helping save both Pier 40 and the entire 5-mile-long park, yet, at the same time, is also interested in the idea of parking stackers, as contained in the Durst plan. The park is suffering a serious cash flow problem, which will only worsen in coming years, according to the Trust, as state and city
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B Y TE o B B n City, s the Ba betwee 2012 w on his His Park chance most o their v harsh t Sev
January 30 - February 12, 2014
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“Seaport fight to come” (news article, posted Jan 16):
I don’t believe one word that the Hughes representatives say... develop, develop, develop... all over the City of New York and especially downtown where there are water views. No schools in the plan, no senior center, no affordable shopping, no reasonable shopping center... only a tower reaching to the sky and blocking citizens views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge. Does the Hughes Corporation really care about residents in the Seaport and Financial Area? Ouch! My foot! D Fabrizio This is an excellent article as far as it goes, but it doesn’t probe deeply enough: it begins with the assumption, promulgated by Hughes and EDC, that this is simply another neighborhood and another development site. It frames this as a two-sided fight between a greedy developer and a local community that wants the same things other communities want and need: schools, libraries, parks, etc. But that ignores the Seaport’s uniqueness as a historic site of national — indeed international — significance. This special place — New York’s oldest historic district, the birthplace of the great Port of New York, and for hundreds of years, the city’s market district — isn’t just another development site, and doesn’t belong solely to the local community. Madeline R
greatest thing I could possibly imagine. People should remind themselves that everything old is new again.
up questioning authority — and THEN doing something about it, when they sensed injustice. You did him right — Thank You. Jan Lee
Bob I have lived on Fulton St for several years and attended the Town Hall meeting, I’m glad to report that there is a far larger group of supporters for this project that include young families, small businesses, and residents of the area. The Seaport has been a neglected area for years and it was brought on by poor Museum leadership combined with a retail model that quickly became outdated. Can you name for me other cultural institutions that have gone through multiple leadership changes in such short time spans? Not likely — because the museum model was doomed from the start. The romantic vision of a Nantucket village preserved on the East River does nothing to actually convey the history of this jewel of a neighborhood. The Town Hall meeting was a sham, a gathering of …assorted obstructionists that fear change so much they are fighting a fight based on misinformation. The fact is love or hate the designs shown — the Seaport needs a huge change, something only private investment can deliver. Giving more time to supposedly review these plans will only allow this forgotten area to fall deeper into despair. Although I can only assume that’s what the opponents want — no change at all.
I was blessed to receive Paul Lee’s mentorship during the last year of his life. He taught me to never be afraid to stand up for what is right. He gave me my Chinese name. He helped me learn the most important struggles in the community. I will never forget when he took me to visit a family business on Mott Street, and the entire family came out, from the grandfather to the grandchildren, all smiling and hopeful for a better future for their small business. I will never forget Paul bounding down Mott Street in the afternoons, excited about making positive change in the City, and armed with jokes to liven the day. “You did good, kid,” he told me. To honor his legacy, we must aspire to fight the tough fights for our community just as bravely as Paul, and with just as much energy and good humor. Jenifer Rajkumar I want to thank Paul for fighting the good fight(s) and for speaking truth to power — for helping us organize after 9/11 and demanding justice for our community. Most of all, I want to thank him for being my friend. Danny Chen
Doris on Fulton
I’m a rare new yorker in that I both live in South Street Seaport, my business is here, and I own a boat and fish in new york harbor. I’m also Italian American and following on a 100 year tradition of fishermen in new york. I can’t wait to be able to walk down to the water and have my boat there. This is the
“Paul Lee, who loved & fought for Chinatown dies” (Obituary, posted Jan. 22):
I learned so much from Paul about politics and “how to get it done,” he stands as a shining example of his generation, those who grew
He was the “People’s Mayor of Chinatown”. Local activists and neighbors will move forward to rename a street in honor of Paul JQ Lee. Will need lots of signatures, so grab a pen.... Corky Lee
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Pete Seeger remembered Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger performing in Madison Square Garden in 1968. Seeger, who died Monday at the age of 94, was best known for protest songs like “We Shall Overcome” and “If I Had a Hammer” but he was also an active presence Downtown most of his life. He often participated in the Great Saunter, an annual walk around Manhattan originating at the Seaport, and was a champion of the Hudson River, bringing his environmental group and its Clearwater ship to Lower Manhattan’s harbor frequently.
Downtown Express is published every week by Community Media LLC, 515 Canal St., Unit 1C, New York, N.Y. 10013 (212) 229-1890. The entire contents of the newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2012 Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.
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Downtown Express file photo by Jefferson Siegel
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Gay appointments no longer big news BY DUNCAN OSBORNE As David Dinkins, the last Democrat to run City Hall, was taking over in 1990, the chatter among queer politicos was who would be his liaison to the community. The position was first created by Mayor Ed Koch, also a Democrat, and held by Lee Hudson for six years by the time Dinkins won the mayoralty in 1989. There was significant competition for the job. To some acclaim, some consternation, and some resentment, Dinkins selected Marjorie Hill, who was overqualified for the liaison position. Hill later ran large units at the city’s Health & Hospitals Corporation and the health department and eventually took the helm at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the AIDS services organization. At that time, other Democratic officeholders also had gay liaisons. Rudy Giuliani, the Republican who took over City Hall in 1994, abolished the constituent offices including the gay liaison position, which caused a brief outcry. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio, the first Democrat to hold City Hall in 20 years, has not named a liaison, but he did appoint Kyle Kimball to head the city’s Economic Development Corp., which oversees important Lower Manhattan projects including the proposed redevelopment of South Street Seaport. Kimball married Douglas Hecklinger in 2005, according to an announcement in Plymouth Magazine, a publication of Plymouth State University. Kimball was first named to the agency by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Emma Wolfe, an out lesbian, is de Blasio’s director of intergovernmental affairs and Wiley Norvell, who is also out, is his deputy press secretary. There are other senior appointees in the de Blasio administration who are known to be gay or lesbian, but all of these people were introduced with no attention paid to their sexual orientation. In 2014, it appears that the gay community expects that qualified queers will get jobs and that they get those jobs is so unremarkable that de Blasio does not need to announce their sexual orientation when they are appointed to the administration. “We’ve become normalized, that is over time we’ve become increasingly integrated into the Democratic coalition in New York City and into the more general political world,” said Ken Sherrill, a professor of political science at Hunter College. “For an administration so publicly committed to diversity and outreach, they don’t appear to celebrate it much when they do it. I guess that’s good.” It is a striking evolution from 20 years ago that the community –– with one notable exception –– is not demanding that openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or
Rob Bennett/ Office of Mayor Bill De Blasio
Emma Wolfe at a meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom she serves as director of intergovernmental affairs.
‘They’re hiring people who have careers that qualified them for these positions and never felt the need to be fully closeted or fully out.’
Rob Bennett/ Office Of Mayor Bill De Blasio
Wiley Norvell on the day he was appointed the new mayor’s deputy press secretary.
transgender people be appointed to jobs in New York City government. “They aren’t hiring token gays because there have to be gay people in the administration,” Sherrill said. “They’re hiring people who have careers that qualified them for these positions and never felt the need to be fully closeted or fully out.”
But on January 6, the Lambda Independent Democrats, the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, and the Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club of Queens published an open letter to de Blasio asking, among other demands, that he create “L.G.B.T Liaison positions within a number of key city agencies and
the Mayor’s office.” Some might suggest that the jobs the three L.G.B.T political clubs are seeking are little more than patronage. Michael J. Mallon, president of the Queens club, disagreed. “I believe that these liaisons can be very effective tools for the administration provided they hire people who have the necessary knowledge and who are willing to work hard,” he said. As of January 21, the de Blasio administration had not responded to the letter. Without commenting on the request made by the political clubs, Sherrill said that anyone in the community who was looking for a patronage position was at a disadvantage because they are competing with skilled L.G.B.T people who are routinely placed in senior positions in city government. “It’s bad for people who are looking for patronage jobs, but there is an increasing pool of out people who are highly qualified,” he said. That trend was also evident in Bloomberg’s City Hall. In addition to Kimball, Bloomberg hired Anthony Crowell as his counsel and John Feinblatt as his criminal justice coordinator. As with the de Blasio administration, these gay appointees had easy access to the mayor. Bloomberg presided over Feinblatt’s 2011 wedding to Jonathan Mintz, who headed the city’s consumer affairs department under Bloomberg. For some, this close proximity to power for the L.G.B.T community is not without its downside. Increasingly, the community relies on the belief that having a voice in government means that government will respond as the community wants. That may not happen. “There are many issues that are not getting enough concern, for example, sex and AIDS curricula, housing,” said William Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian. “When all the community business gets done during the day and in offices, it’s hard for anybody to get in on the deal and even understand what’s happening.” For Dobbs, the reliance on appointed and elected L.G.B.T officials means they set the agenda, not the broader community and that may not be to the community’s benefit. “With L.G.B.T matters, there’s no New York City agenda and nearly all community business is done by elected and appointed officials and L.G.B.T non-profit organizations,” Dobbs said. “The grassroots, ordinary L.G.B.T people, have gotten pushed aside, with many believing that everything is fine with politicians taking care of it.” Duncan Osborne is associate editor of Gay City News, a sister publication of Downtown Express
January 30 - February 12, 2014
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January 30 - February 12, 2014
Voices from the Black Box Real dialogue grist for gripping drama FILM CHARLIE VICTOR ROMEO
Written by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels and Irving Gregory Co-Directed by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels and Karlyn Michelson 80 minutes In 3-D Through Feb. 11 Screenings at 1, 2:45, 4:30, 6:15, 8 & 10pm At Film Forum 209 W. Houston St., W. of Sixth Ave. Visit filmforum.org Courtesy of Collective: Unconscious
R to L: Nora Woolley, Irving Gregory, Sam Zuckerman and Patrick Daniels.
BY TRAV S.D. Charlie Victor Romeo” may be the most cost-effective disaster movie ever made. Longtime Downtown theatre fans are well familiar with this pocket-sized but ambitious show, which started at Collective: Unconscious’s tiny Ludlow Street storefront theatre in 1999, with later incarnations at P.S. 122, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and 3LD Art & Technology Center. Performances at the latter venue were shot (in 3-D!) in 2012 and form the basis of the film. Shows this small don’t usually stay alive for fourteen years (and counting), but then, most of them don’t offer a journey as compelling or as harrowing as “Charlie Victor Romeo.” The title is aviation jargon for “cockpit voice recorder,” a.k.a. the black box that investigators always scrutinize in the wake of an air disaster. The script of the theatre-piece (and now the film) is drawn from transcriptions of the moments immediately prior to six airplane crashes that occurred between 1985 and 1996. One of the disconcerting things about the experience is the number and variety of things that can go wrong — sometimes fatally — when you’re flying hundreds of miles an hour ten thousand feet off the ground.
Thousands of factors are involved in getting you safely to your destination, and stuff can go catastrophically wrong with any one of those factors: glitches in manufacture, maintenance, pilot error, bad weather. The six stories in “Charlie Victor Romeo” hit all the major areas, helpfully clarifying the chaotic events with diagrams, charts, data and the verdicts of FAA investigators. As theatre, there is precedent for Collective: Unconsciousness’s “documentary” approach in the work of Anne Devere Smith and others. Obviously not all reallife dialogue is grist for great drama, but I think I am not alone in finding “Charlie Victor Romero” among the most riveting ninety minutes or so I have ever spent in a theatre. Expertly acted by a cast of seven, it took you on an emotional hellride ranging from grim concern to fear to despair to moments of light, thoughtless chitchat (which in some ways are the most terrifying moments of all — think about it). The main virtue of the film is that now these terrific performances are preserved and can travel beyond the confines of tiny New York and Fringe theatres. When I first heard it had been made into a movie,
I had visions of a full adaptation, with real planes and special effects, or perhaps green screens providing a sky and clouds outside the cockpit window. But instead, this is a full-on documentary record of a theatre performance. (I was startled to learn in the credits that it was taped before a live audience, because, tellingly, you can hear a pin drop.) Normally, “filmed theatre” is sort of a drag, the kind of thing you see on PBS. Occasionally it can be effective, depending on the strength of the performances, but graphically it can be unbearably static. Because of the singular nature of this piece, however, that potential pitfall doesn’t apply here. While the set is literally comparable to the cockpit set Ed Wood used in “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” we are so drawn into these moments and performances and so into the character’s heads that it comes close to being like listening to radio theatre (and the sound design is one of the many strong points of both the theatre piece and the film). But the expressions on the actors’ faces are so crucial, too. The performances, simple and unadorned by any nonsense, are all uniformly terrific.
There is lesson here that I hope Hollywood learns. With very little set and no special effects, we have a movie that is all thrills, the equivalent of the climaxes of six disaster movies — and in many ways, more effective. I don’t need any CGI; the sweat rolling off a pilot’s worried forehead affects me just fine. The ultimate benefit of the film may come from a home video release, if it gets one. When I saw the live stage production about a decade ago, when it was over I definitely wanted to hang on to the experience, ask questions, rewind it and watch certain crucial, elusive moments again. It’s easy to get obsessive about “Charlie Victor Romeo.” Trav S.D. has been producing the American Vaudeville Theatre since 1995, and periodically trots it out in new incarnations. Stay in the loop at travsd.wordpress.com, and also catch up with him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, et al. His books include “No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous” and “Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and its Legacies from Nickelodeons to YouTube.”
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Strong words from Tin House
Pen Parentis Literary Salon helps keep writers on track By SCOtt Stiffler Put those deadlines on hold, ditch the kids for a few hours and head to the Andaz Wall Street hotel — for a provocative and stimulating night that just might become your new regular thing. Once a month, the Pen Parentis literary salon hosts readings by authors who’ve remained prolific, while raising a family. Their tips, plus ample time for schmoozing with other parents dedicated to staying on creative track, will help you realize your own goal of writing — while providing the opportunity to come home with a few books that don’t rhyme, pop up or ask you to pinpoint Waldo. The salon’s February installment features three authors from Tin House — a publishing imprint whose irreverent magazine contains works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as columns on food and drink. Brooklyn resident Elissa Schappell, a founding editor of that magazine, will read from “Blueprints for Building Better Girls.” Joining her will be Cari Luna, whose
debut novel “The Revolution of Every Day” was published last October — and Matthew Specktor, whose “American Dream Machine” is currently in development for a series on Showtime. After their readings, the authors will talk about their writing and parenting lives in an informal roundtable. Brian Gresko and M. M. De Voe, from Pen Parentis, host and moderate. On March 11, “Authors Discuss Their Passions” features Ann Hood, Rick Moody and Max Watman. April 8’s “Authors on the Verge” welcomes Sara Lippmann, Ben Tanzer and Caeli Wolfson Widger (with special guest host Julia Fierro).
Photo by Darius Suziedelis
Elissa Shapelle, seen here at a previous Pen Parentis event, returns (along with Tin House colleagues Elissa Schappell and Matthew Specktor) to the Feb. 11 salon.
Monk-in-Motion PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
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Saturday, February 8 at 7:30PM $25 / students, seniors $15 In 2013, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana became the first woman to ever win an instrumental Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Crash Trio also includes Pablo Menares (bass) & Francisco Mela (drums). Call 212.220.1460
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Tues., Feb. 11, at 7pm. In the lobby of the Andaz Hotel (75 Wall St., enter from Water or Pearl Sts.). Free, and open to the public (21+ only; Happy hour specials on beer and wine). For info, visit Penparentis.org. RSVP recommended: email@example.com. Visit facebook.com/penparentis. Twitter: @ penparentis.
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Jazz-tinged pop, funked-out rock and a few divine basslines Tribeca singer/songwriter’s latest marked by sheer eclecticism BY SAM SPOKONY Halfway through the title track of his new album, “Hereafter,” Sean Sullivan imagines himself in the afterlife, taking a scat solo in the presence of God. “Is that OK Lord?” Sullivan asks of the biblical creator, who is apparently playing bass in a band led by Moses, which also features Jesus on saxophone. Well, God seems to dig the solo, while of course reminding the vocalist that “music is the answer and love is gonna set you free!” Aside from the existential implications of picturing this situation — God isn’t even playing a melody instrument? — it certainly illustrates the kind of free spirit and engaging sense of humor that Sullivan brings to all of his work, alongside his strong-yet-nimble vocal presence. At every turn, “Hereafter” is marked by the sheer eclecticism that the Southernborn, Tribeca-based singer/songwriter brings to the table in all aspects of his performance. Including the down-home-bluesy title track, the record features eight originals that move back and forth between the chilled out, ethereal vibes of “Don’t Get Me Started” and the backbeat stomp of “Ready,” as Sullivan’s jazz influences come through
in his fluid phrasing, tonal precision and ability to push a big, swinging band forward with every line. The album also shows off Sullivan’s strength as a thoroughly passionate interpreter of tunes, and, among its four covers, highlights include a beautifully embellished ballad version of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain,” and a similarly rich and contemplative take on Stevie Wonder’s “Until You Come Back To Me.” Overall, the album is a joyful romp that is by no means short on serious talent — and it’s clear that the singer is having just as much fun as his listeners. It’s all made even better by inventive solos and interplay by the 10 piece band backing Sullivan, as well as the efforts of renowned jazz producer Matt Pierson, whose experience has helped to shape the record’s full, balanced tone. “Hereafter,” which was released on Jan. 21, is available online. To purchase a copy, visit seansongs.com. Listeners should also check out the site this week to find out when the singer will be playing his CD release show, which will likely take place in his home neighborhood of Tribeca.
Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Just Do Art B y S COt t St i f f l e r
PIG IRON THEATRE COMPANY’S “TWELFTH NIGHT, OR WHAT YOU WILL”
The rough and tumble (and quite possibly insane) thespians from Pig Iron Theatre Company proudly boast of their inability to sit still. But you’d be mistaken to connect the unconventional ensemble’s perpetual motion with an inability to focus on the story at hand. In fact, a dutiful fidelity to the source material weighs heavily on the frontal lobe of director Dan Rothernberg — who says this Philly company is poised to deliver a “rough, wholly American” version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” without “deconstructing the thing.” That’s good news, because the Bard’s much-interpreted tale of mistaken identity and misdirected love is wicked funny as written — making it a perfect match for Pig Iron’s exuberant fusion of clown theater, cabaret and dance (and, in this case, a Balkan-inspired score performed live by members of the West Philadelphia Orchestra). Feb. 4–7, 12–15 and 19–22 at 7:30pm. Feb. 8 at 7pm. Feb. 9, 16, 23 at 3pm and Feb. 19 at 1pm. At Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St., at Pitt St.). For tickets ($30-$40), call 212-
Photo by Josh Koenig
Pig Iron Theatre Company’s take on “Twelfth Night” has exuberant physicality and a Balkan-inspired score.
352-3101 or visit abronsartscenter.org. Also visit pigiron.org.
“THE HOUSE OF CONNELLY”
Founded in 1931, The Group Theatre burned bright for just a decade. But co-founder Lee Strasberg’s “method act-
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ing” technique, as well as the ensemble’s commitment to realism and relevance over diversionary fluff, left an indelible mark on the likes of Brando, Dean, Pacino, De Niro and Streep — all of whom underwent training at the Actors Studio (founded by Group members
Cheryl Crawford, Elia Kazan and Robert Lewis). Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner and Clifford Odets also did some pretty good post-Group work — but other than Odets’ “Golden Boy” (revived last Continued on page 26
January 30 - February 12, 2014
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Continued from page 24
year on Broadway to great acclaim), The Group Theatre’s work is largely unknown to contemporary audiences. For the past several years, The ReGroup Theatre Company has been calling attention to the Group’s “lost” plays — by publishing three collections and bringing long-dormant works such as “Big Night” to the stage. Their current effort reconsiders “The House of Connelly,” by going with playwright Paul Green’s original “jaw-dropping conclusion” instead of the more optimistic ending imposed upon its original 1931 run. In doing so, ReGroup acknowledges that for all its ambition and integrity, even The Group Theatre’s inaugural production (directed by Strasberg, with Adler
and Odets in the cast) was not immune to leavening harsh reality with a little hope. Still, regardless of which tone dominates at curtain time, there’s plenty to chew on, in this tale of a wayward heir navigating his Old South legacy while assessing the motivations of a potential love interest. Through Feb. 9: Mon. and Thurs.Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 3pm. At The Barrow Group Theatre (312 W. 36th St., third floor; btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For tickets ($35), call 212-8684444 or visit smarttix.com. Also visit regrouptheatre.org and thehouseofconnelly.com. At 2pm on Fri., Feb. 7(also at Barrow Street Theatre), ReGroup will present a staged reading of Green’s adaptation of the Richard Wright novel, “Native Son.”
Photo by Daniel Mccarthy
The ReGroup Theatre Company revival of “The House of Connelly” restores playwright Paul Green’s original ending.
Buhmann on Art BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN
FRANK STELLA: RECENT WORK
Marking the acclaimed artist’s second solo show with the gallery, this installation features 14 works from two series: “Scarlatti K” and “Circus.” Both reflect Stella’s career-long engagement with expanding the means of abstraction to create and redefine space. The works are made of entwined central resin forms (made using 3-D printing technology) with seemingly tensile metal pipes and rods that provide an overall sense of dynamism. While “Scarlatti K” pays homage to the work of musicologist Ralph Kirkpatrick (1911-1984), the “Circus” series, Stella’s newest body of work, is an ambitious contemplation of a world somewhat dreamlike and playful. Through Feb. 22, at Peter Freeman, Inc. (140 Grand St., btw. Crosby & Lafayette Sts.). Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am-6pm. Call 212-966-5154 or visit peterfreemaninc. com.
Curated by Jim Osman, this show features six sculptors, who all utilize color to express form in distinct and personal ways. They draw on a range of sources from tools to landscape and architecture. Monti and Porcaro add color to their casting materials. Beach and Doyle apply paint to built forms. Salmanson and Urkowitz turn to materials that have inherent color. Through casting, painting and found color, these artists find innovative ways to leverage hue and form into unified works of art. Through Feb. 23, at FiveMyles (Take 2, 3, or 4 trains to Franklin Avenue. Walk two blocks against the traffic on Franklin, then ¾ block to 558 St. Johns Place.). Hours: Thurs.-Sat., 1-6pm. Call 718-783-4438 or visit fivemyles.org.
Image courtesy of Peter Freeman, Inc., New York
Frank Stella’s “The Big Flea Achterbahn” (2013; paint on TUSK Solid Grey 3000, aluminum and stainless steel; 110 x 130 x 96 inches | 279.4 x 330.2 x 243.8 cm).
January 30 - February 12, 2014
Image courtesy of the artist & Miguel Abreu Gallery
Dustin Hodges’ “Late Stick Style” — on view at Miguel Abreu Gallery through Feb. 23.
DUSTIN HODGES: LATE STICK STYLE
The title of the show refers to a fictional “late” moment of a 19th century tendency in American wood architecture. The Stick Style refers to a loose agglomeration of ideas, values and tendencies. Along these lines, the exhibition features a constructed kiosk for example, whose outside walls are made of freehand observational paintings of houseplants. In addition, a series of “Ruler Drawings,” following the logic and precision of architectural drawings, and “Oyster Style Drawings” that are calligraphic and expressive in nature, are on display. Through Feb. 23, at Miguel Abreu Gallery (36 Orchard St., btw. Canal & Hester Sts.). Hours: Wed.-Sun., 11am6:30pm or by appointment. Call 212-9951774 or visit miguelabreugallery.com.
THRUSH HOLMES: ALL LIT UP ON WINE
Splaying wood panels with exuberant spray paint and slapdash neon tubing, Holmes’ radical methods invigorate otherwise rather traditional subjects like still lifes and reclining nudes. While gesture and crystallized forms dominate the compositions, keyed-up frames in fluorescent hues and brilliant lights add a post-Pop touch of extravagance. In Holmes, the banal receives an almost fetishistic make over worth rediscovering. Through March 1, at Mike Weiss Gallery (520 W. 24th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am-6pm. Call 212691-6899 or visit mikeweissgallery.com. Image courtesy of Peter Freeman, Inc., New York
At Peter Freeman, Inc. through Feb. 22: Frank Stella’s “K.56” (large version; 2013; paint on Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and stainless steel; 114.2 x 106.3 x 82.7 inches | 290 x 270 x 210 cm).
Image courtesy of Fivemyles
Six sculptors are featured in “Color Formed,” on view through Feb. 23 at Brooklyn’s FiveMyles gallery.
Image courtesy of Fivemyles
An installation shot from “Color Formed” — at FiveMyles through Feb. 23.
January 30 - February 12, 2014
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