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Take me to the river, p. 16

VOLUME 4, NUMBER 40

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER

Late Civil Rights leader still building bridges BY ANDY HUMM When Bayard Rustin died in 1987 at age 75, he was most renowned for organizing the 1963 March on Washington — but the wider legacy of this man (who called Chelsea home for a quarter of a century) is still coming to light. Just as a new book of his letters, the 2003 documentary “Brother Outsider,” and a host of events marking his March 17 centenary will call attention to the scope of his legacy, the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects Rustin’s twin concerns of economic justice and civil rights. In the foreword to “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters” (edited by Michael G. Long), Civil Rights leader Julian Bond ticks off the many facets of Rustin’s singular achievements beyond that famous march — including his role as “a master theorist and strategist for Martin Luther King” and the movement itself, “an activist opponent of racial discrimination since he was a child and a support of gay rights as he grew older,” his lifelong advocacy of “nonviolent direct action,” the fight against nuclear weapons, the struggles for prison reform, trade unionism, an end to colonial rule in Africa and pacifism in the face of war. Bayard Rustin did not just talk the talk, but walked the walk and paid dearly for it whether beaten on a bus he was trying to desegregate in Nashville in 1942 or imprisoned during World War II for resisting the draft and later for opposing British colonial rule in India and Africa. He was mentored by giants such as labor organizer and activ-

MARCH 7 - 20, 2012

Park advocates’ table talk BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK On the weekends, in the warm weather months, members of Friends of 20th Street Park can be found at their usual spot on the northeast corner of West 20th Street and Seventh Avenue with a table full of informational material and a petition, talking up their campaign for a park in east Chelsea. On a rainy Saturday, March 3 morning, the group found shelter at the Historic Districts Council’s 18th Annual Preservation Conference, “The Great

Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Spaces,” held at Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square. “The invitation from the organizers to set up a table is another example of how word is getting out about this little lot,” stated Matt Weiss, president of Friends of 20th Street Park. “This little lot” — the abandoned Department of Sanitation (DOS) administration office building and adjacent parking lot at 136

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Sergeant in Chen case faces court-martial BY ALINE REYNOLDS The first of eight soldiers implicated in the apparent suicide of 19-year-old Army Private Danny Chen will be tried in military court beginning in early April. Sergeant Travis Carden, 25, from Fowler, Indiana, will appear before a general courtmartial, the highest level of military court, to face charges of violating lawful general regulation, maltreatment and assault. The trial will be held at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, close to where Chen was deployed at the

time of his death. Article 32 hearings of the seven other soldiers have also been completed, and their trials will be scheduled once their charges are formally referred to a court-martial. While Chen’s family and advocates was pleased to hear the news, they’re still adamantly demanding that the army to hold the trials on U.S. soil. The Army is holding Carden’s trial in Afghanistan because that is where Chen’s unit was deployed and contin-

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Photo by Walter Naegle

A quarter century after his death, Bayard Rustin’s call for change still resonates.

ist A. Philip Randolph and pacifist A.J. Muste. In turn, he mentored Dr. King and peace activist David McReynolds. A native of West Chester, PA, Rustin was already longestablished in the peace and civil rights movements when

he was invited to be one of the original cooperators in Penn South in 1962. The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), which built the sprawling project, wanted to make sure that it was integrated from

the start — according to Walter Naegle, Rustin’s surviving partner. “At the dedication of the complex,” he said, “President Kennedy was there as was Eleanor Roosevelt. It

EDITORIAL, LETTERS PAGE 8

BEYOND THE HORIZON PAGE 27

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Bayard Rustin Centenary special for Chelsea Continued from page 1 was affordable housing” built by the labor movement, with which “Bayard was very friendly.” Penn South also became home to Rustin’s mentor, labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph — who built the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, led the 1963 march that Rustin organized, and co-founded with Rustin the A. Philip Randolph Institute in 1965 to continue their work for social and economic justice. Naegle met Rustin in 1977 and became his heir when Rustin adopted him, a way for gay couples to establish a legal relationship in the years before domestic partnership and now same-sex marriage. “If we could have been married, we would have,” he said. He keeps Rustin’s flame alive as executive director of the Bayard Rustin Fund. Naegle recalled some of the Chelsea life of Rustin. “He was a regular at the flea market on Sixth Avenue at 25th and 26th

‘While Rustin’s activism took him all over the globe, he did involve himself in local issues — including the school strikes in 1964-65 for integrated schools,’ Naegle said. ‘They set up Freedom Schools.’

Associated Press photo, from “Brother Outsider,”courtesy of the filmmakers.

Bayard Rustin, with Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Street,” he said, of those open lots long usurped by development. “He collected religious art, African art, Asian art, Native American jewelry, tribal jewelry from other cultures and historical items from the Civil Rights movement. He once found a wooden relief of a Pieta in bad shape. He cleaned it up and it sold for considerably more than he paid for it.” Rustin also collected walking sticks. “He was never without his stick,” Naegle said, “except on the day I met him. Even though I was very interested in the Civil Rights movement, I wasn’t sure it was Bayard Rustin without his stick.” Some of Rustin’s Chelsea haunts included El Quijote on West 23rd, where he loved the paella according to Naegle — and the long gone San Remo Italian restaurant on Eighth Avenue between 29th and 30th “that started as a lunch counter, grew larger, and had a large room upstairs where we could have meetings.” Rustin was “a very big walker,” Naegle said, often to the Village where “he spent a lot of time in antique shops on Bleecker that are no longer there. He would chat with the owners over wine and cheese and talk about the events of the day and local politics.” While Rustin’s activism took him all over the globe, he did involve himself in local issues — including the school strikes in 1964-65 for integrated schools,” Naegle said. “They set up Freedom Schools.” And he was involved in CORE’s strikes at the World’s Fair of 1964 in Flushing Meadows, calling for “a ‘Fair World’ ” through the hiring of more people of color. In the later bitter controversy over local control of the schools, “He was a strong supporter of the union in Ocean Hill-Brownsville,” Naegle said, causing a split with some other African American activists. “He was arguing for due process in the firing of teachers. He felt that without that, it would be more harmful to black teachers than white teachers in the long run.” Today there is a Bayard Rustin Education Complex on West 18th Street.


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Advocating for trials to be moved to U.S. soil Continued from page 1 ues to serve, according to Army Spokesperson George Wright. The military, he said, has yet to determine the location for the other trials. “The goal is to conduct a fair and speedy trial,” said Wright. “Because Afghanistan is where the witnesses are, that’s where the first case will be tried. When Chen’s unit redeploys to its home base in April, any unresolved legal matters will have to be resolved where that unit is, which is Alaska.” Elizabeth OuYang, president of the New York chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA-NY), the group leading the effort in the Chen case, has sent a letter to Commanding General James L. Huggins, Jr. requesting that the trials be held in Alaska, where Chen was based prior to deployment, and is launching a nationwide campaign to bolster the plea. In an effort to sway the Army’s decision to hold Carden’s trial in Afghanistan, the advocacy group has posted videos on YouTube and solicited more than 1,300 signatures on the organization’s website, and is pointing to the fact that trials tied to the suicide of late U.S. Marine Harry Lew while he was stationed in Afghanistan, are being held in Hawaii where his unit was deployed. “The community is disillusioned; there’s a great deal of distrust,” said OuYang. “The only way to regain that trust…is to have a transparent process by having these trials in the U.S.” The Army has advised the family against

Photo by Corky Lee

City Councilmember Margaret Chin (left) with members of OCA-NY and the family of late U.S. Army Private Danny Chen display a banner with the words “We Are Danny” at a press conference on Tuesday.

traveling to Afghanistan for the trials because it is too dangerous, according to OuYang.

“The family needs to participate in these trials — they will go to Alaska, but not to Afghanistan,” she said. OuYang also criticized the Army’s recommendation to drop charges initially held against four of the five soldiers of involuntary manslaughter. These soldiers have been charged with negligent homicide, which entails only three-and-a-half years of jail time. “The army is saying these individuals did not intent to kill or injure Danny, that they’re not culpable,” said OuYang. “We know this is not true, and that repeated action and assault by these soldiers caused Danny’s death.” “It’s not right for me to make a judgment at this time if [the charges] are right or wrong,” said Danny Chen’s father, Yan Tao Chen. “We hope the Army and prosecutors do the utmost to bring the case to a rightful conclusion.”

Carden’s trial is set to begin April 4. If convicted, Carden could face maximum punishments ranging from demotion, expulsion from the Army or a six-and-a-half year jail sentence. The forwarding of Carden’s charges to court shows a “good-faith effort” by the Army to move these cases forward, OuYang said last week. As part of OCA-NY’s national campaign, OuYang will be organizing workshops and panel discussions at universities around the northeast including Yale Law School and Boston University to publicize Chen’s case, garner more support for the domestic setting of the trials and educate college students about hazing in the armed forces. “Everywhere we go, whether we talk about this case in New York or California, we are bringing this banner, ‘We are Danny,’ [so that people can] sign it and express their thoughts about this case,” said OuYang.

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Helping kids ‘come out’ about their gay families BY MAJA T. CASTILLO A few months ago, I took Marcella to the dentist. We hadn’t seen this particular dentist in the practice before. When Marcella stood up at the end of the visit, the dentist said to Marcella, “You’re so tall! Is your daddy tall?” I, of course, jumped in with that upbeat, nonchalant tone I have developed for just these situations: “Oh, Marcella has two mommies!” There was that awkward beat and then the dentist recovered and continued on with her praise of Marcella’s nice teeth. Situation resolved. At four years old, one of us is generally still around to help Marcella with her answers and model ways to act when the topic comes up. However, more and more, Marcella will find herself in situations where she will have to learn how to speak for herself — and though living in New York City definitely skews the odds in her favor that the “gay family” thing will be received positively, she will still surely have both positive and negative experiences that will help her learn to “come out” in her own way. Most of us feel that if we are open and honest with our children about how their families are unique, surround ourselves with like-minded individuals and even live in the “right” neighborhood (like Chelsea), our children will grow up well-adjusted and proud of their gay families. We forget that at some point we lose the ability to control all of our children’s experiences. Eventually teachers, peers, the media and even strangers on the street will begin to shape the way they see themselves and their gay family. These experiences may begin sooner than we think and may even be happening without our children sharing them with us. Abigail Garner’s book “Families Like Mine” collects the stories of many children

If they feel that there is a threat to their parents’ safety, be it real or even just perceived, children will learn to act in ways to protect themselves. raised by gay parents. She describes how children make up stories, avoid situations and even ask only one parent to come to school or sports functions so that others do not know about their gay families. She tells the story of gay fathers who felt their children would always have “pride” about their family only to find out that one of them had invented a tale at summer camp about who his “dads” were. Instead of being hurt or angry, the fathers realized that he needed to do that to feel safe in that situation. The author goes on to say that gay parents should understand that children do not respond in these ways because they are ashamed of their parents, but because they need to develop their own age appropriate responses to

Photo by Clarissa Macaya, courtesy of the NYC LGBT Center (gaycenter.org)

homophobia. From early childhood, children identify with their parents and know that their safety and well-being is directly tied to the safety and well-being of their parents. If they feel that there is a threat to their parents’ safety, be it real or even just perceived, children will learn to act in ways to protect themselves. As part of her own experience, Abigail describes how her early exposure to media coverage of Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign caused her to be careful of who she told. “As a five-year-old…I feared someone was going to find out my dad was gay and come to take me away to ‘save me.’ ” Hopefully, today’s children will never experience any media so directly homophobic as in the “Save the Children” era — but I can see how media coverage of debates over gay marriage rights, gay adoption and other current topics could leave children confused about the stability and acceptance of their families in our society. Indirect homophobia can also influence children of gay parents. One young adult talks about how indirect gay slurs by classmates was what led her to stop being open about her family: “My perspective changed when I finally figured out that the ‘gay’ used in schoolyard slurs was actually referring to my dad. The understanding that the rest of the world was not necessarily accepting of my dad and my family came as a surprise. This did not cause me any shame, but a great deal of loneliness and sadness as I felt I couldn’t be ‘out’ about my family as a child.” This is not to say challenges like these are unique to the children of gay parents. I can vividly recall tenth grade, when a schoolmate who I was very friendly with said, “I hate those spicks” (not knowing that my father was Puerto Rican). My heart raced

and I felt myself turn red — but I didn’t say anything. Internally, I decided that she and I wouldn’t be very close. Today, as a mature, self-assured adult, I would have handled the

situation differently. But that is kind of the point. It is through these types of experiences that over time we hopefully learn mature coping strategies and confidence about who we are in the world. Most gay adults have had years to “work on” coming out. We have had a multitude of experiences that have taught us when, how and to whom we will come out. Some of us may have taken our time, others may have been open from day one. Some of us may have found that it only takes one or two negative reactions to make us gun shy, for a while at least. For all of us, we have done it our way and it is an ongoing process that we have adapted to. Now, our children must learn these skills as well. We may aspire to imbue our children with all the knowledge we have learned along the way and thus prevent them from going through the difficult or painful parts of the journey. However, the hardest part of parenting is knowing that life’s best lessons are learned on one’s own. We can do our best to anticipate issues and prepare our children for them, but in the end we can only give them our love and our support even when they don’t necessarily handle situations in the ways we would wish, and know they will find their own way to the truth. Maja T. Castillo, MD is a physician with Tribeca Pediatrics and an Assistant Attending Pediatrician at ColumbiaPresbyterian Hospitals.


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Photo by Dr. William Pace

Mr. Jerome Neuhoff conducting the Freshman/JV Big Band.

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BY SCOTT STIFFLER The prize is $175,000 in scholarships — but the more tangible and lasting reward up for grabs is an opportunity to grow as performing artists. Hopefully, as this weekend dies down, some local students will be making their return trip from Boston with a little bit of both. Chelsea’s own Xavier High is sending students to compete at Berklee College of Music’s 44th Annual High School Jazz Festival. The largest of its kind in the U.S., the event will feature over 3,000 students from 200 bands and vocal ensembles. Even those familiar with Xavier might be surprised to learn that the Catholic Jesuit allboy’s school with the strong military background has a robust music program devoted exclusively to jazz. That fact, which we admit has thus far eluded us, was brought to our attention by a Berklee College publicist eager to shine a well-deserved spotlight on Xavier’s dedicated musicians. With minimal investigation, we found an even more impassioned advocate in the music program’s director. “When I got there,� says Dr. William Pace of his arrival at Xavier five years ago, “there was one big band.� That band was soon expanded into a comprehensive jazz program comprised of two afterschool big bands (one varsity, one for beginners) as well as daytime classes in which students are required to master an extensive repertoire, and encouraged to learn multiple instruments. This being a jazz program, however, attaining a mastery of scales and familiar

scores is the starting point — not the end game. “When one learns jazz,â€? Pace notes, “the key is improvisation. A jazz solo is a spontaneous composition.â€? Although nurturing the instinct to think on one’s feet is necessary, Pace says the ability to play more than one instrument is equally essential. Rock bands can squeak by with just guitars and drums — but big bands need a multitude of sounds. So versatile artists who don’t arrive at Xavier born that way, get made. “We don’t necessarily get tons of people playing trumpet, trombone or sax,â€? laments Pace, “so we have to make our players. People come in playing guitar or bass. They continue with that, but we have them add a horn. Once they’ve learned a second instrument, it’s not that hard to learn a third and a fourth. We have students who play meaningfully good piano, sax and trombone.â€? That versatility is vital, says Pace, for anyone with ambitions to excel at composition and sound engineering. “If one wants to write music,â€? he reasons, “it helps to have experience on multiple instruments. If you don’t play trumpet, you may not give them enough breathing room or range. So it helps to know how to write for that particular instrument.â€? The Xavier ethic of nurturing disciplined (and cross-disciplined) artists is not just a matter of pride‌it’s one of necessity. Those guitar and bass players who arrive at Pace’s door must diversify in order to populate, as he puts it, “two properly sized big bands.â€?

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At Preservation Conference, park advocates plead case Continued from page 1 West 20th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues — is causing a big to-do. Park advocates envision the 10,000-square-foot, one-quarter acre as green space, while housing advocates and Community Board 4 (CB4) have slated it for affordable housing. “It is exceedingly rare that there is any cityowned public open space left,” said Weiss. “That is why we are fighting so hard to transform it into a public park. We are happy that HDC recognized our little group and gave us space to explain our story and grow our petition numbers.” At the table event in the gallery adjoining the conference auditorium, Friends joined about half a dozen other invited community groups, like the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, to garner support for their cause. Friends members Sally Greenspan and Pamela Wolff answered questions, provided literature, explained with posters and charts why a park is essential and added many more signatures to the more than 3,000 the group has already collected. “Everyone here is into open space and landmark buildings preservation, so we have a captured group,” observed Greenspan, who lives on West 19th Street. “I think it would be totally irresponsible to sacrifice the very last piece of land in Chelsea to buildings. Chelsea has been the most aggressively developed residential area in the city with absolutely no addressing the infrastructure, not just open space. But we know it’s an uphill slog,” Greenspan added. “I have had my eye on that parking lot for

‘I think it would be totally irresponsible to sacrifice the very last piece of land in Chelsea to buildings. Chelsea has been the most aggressively developed residential area in the city with absolutely no addressing the infrastructure, not just open space. But we know it’s an uphill slog,’ Greenspan added. Photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

Pamela Wolff envisions a park, where four cars are parked.

decades,” admitted Wolff, a 56-year resident of the 200 block of West 21st Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. She related that she raised her kids and grandkids with no park space from 14th to 26th Streets, from Fifth to Eighth Avenues. “So many of our elected officials and people who serve the community made a different choice for this piece of property. Now our task is to find a way to convince them there is a better choice to be made that can provide a winwin situation, which is to identify locations

Photo courtesy of Friends of 20th Street Park

Cardboard advocacy: sign makes the case for play space.

for affordable housing.” As of now, the group has identified 29 alternate potential sites for affordable housing, which they have submitted to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who represents Chelsea. “I have been in contact with her close advisors, her chief of staff, her CB 4 representative, but we have yet to calendar

a meeting to sit down with her to address all the alternative sites,” Weiss said. “I know the speaker wants to achieve a positive outcome, but the lack of a meeting is frustrating for our supporters, who have inundated our elected officials with hundreds of letters,

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EDITORIAL Chelsea Market plan should be stopped before ULURP Some rezoning plans require repeated trips to the drawing board before they’re worthy of certification by City Planning. Others are fundamentally flawed at their core, no matter what accommodations might be made. Jamestown Properties’ plan to vertically expand their iconic Chelsea Market property by adding 240,000 square feet of office space and a 90,000 square foot boutique hotel is one of the latter. It cannot be fixed and should be stopped before damage is done. We call on all elected officials, and most particularly Chelsea resident and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, to make it known to the Bloomberg administration that Jamestown’s application should not be granted Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) certification. The fact that most projects that are certified into ULURP come to fruition in some form or another makes it especially important to halt this project before countless hours and taxpayer dollars are wasted shepherding it through the arduous public review process. Aesthetically ridiculous and with serious and negative effects on this mostly residential community, Jamestown’s plans for Chelsea Market are simply development for development’s sake. Chelsea does not need another boutique hotel or office tower. There are four large hotels and three small hotels, with over 1,100 rooms, within 10 blocks of the site. There are huge commercial projects underway at nearby Hudson Yards and further south at the World Trade Center. According to real estate sources, the overall vacancy rate for Manhattan Class A office space is 9.1%, and there are over four million rentable square feet of office space vacant in the Midtown South submarket, and over seven million vacant in the Downtown submarket. The impact study paid for by Jamestown is of dubious merit, particularly where it claims that 1,200 new office jobs will be created by its new real estate. Real estate houses office jobs, but it is not clear it creates them. We suspect these “new” jobs will be moving laterally from elsewhere in the city, and maintain that the tech and media sectors are doing just fine in New York without the need to locate a tiny portion of their activity on top of Chelsea Market. The one-time donation of $17.2 million to the High Line Improvement Fund in exchange for the construction of a building that will impose shadows on the High Line’s green space itself, sadly pits the interests of the High Line against the community. The High Line has recently been the recipient of several large private donations from the Falcones, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, and the Tiffany and Co. Foundation. The High Line should not align itself with Jamestown, or any corporate entity, for a one-shot deal at the expense of alienating a community whose support has made its very existence possible. Jamestown is primarily a real estate investment trust (REIT) whose economic model calls for it to buy properties, improve them, and sell them to benefit their investors. There is nothing wrong with REITs, but once the property is flipped, the temporary construction jobs a memory and the High Line donation long evaporated, what will be left for the community? Several visually jarring floors of glass stacked atop one of New York’s greatest surviving industrial buildings — and little else. If granted, Jamestown’s proposal will compromise the Special West Chelsea District’s integrity, and almost certainly embolden developers to make the case for their own vertical expansion projects. If allowed, this project will cast a long, lasting and unwelcome shadow on all of Chelsea. Speaker Quinn and City Planning Chair Burden, we have never called on you to deep six a project before ULURP certification. Please tell Jamestown Properties that this project does not have enough public good in it to go through ULURP, and that they should find another property to work their REIT calculations on.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Quinn must deny Rudin To The Editor: This month, the City Council finally gets to approve or deny Rudin Management’s application to build luxury condos on the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site. Will Speaker Quinn stand up for her district and do the right thing for historic Greenwich Village by denying the application, or will she kowtow to Big Property? After a long and thoughtful process involving countless public hearings, Community Board 2 spoke for the community in strongly recommending against approval. But we’ve been comprehensively ignored — first by Borough President Scott Stringer and then by the City Planning Commission. CB 2’s objections are reasonable and carefully considered. The upzoning that Rudin seeks for the site is absurd. St. Vincent’s was permitted its extreme bulk because of its unique community function. Rudin’s high-rise luxury condo development serves no public purpose, and claiming the same rights as the hospital is pure chutzpah. Making an exception for Rudin to build bigger would be an unconscionable abuse of protective zoning laws that would create a citywide precedent for further depredation. CB 2’s recommendations also include denying a condo parking garage on 12th Street that would make the block between Sixth and Seventh Avenues the most heavily garaged in Downtown Manhattan; insisting that the Reiss building on that same block be preserved and reused, and denying retail windows on 11th and 12th Streets — all have been ignored. So will Christine Quinn stand up for us or cave? And how should her actions inform us when she runs for mayor? Trevor Stewart Stewart is chairperson, Protect the Village Historic District

NYU risks rotting the core To The Editor: Re “NYU has a right to build, but must scale back plan” (editorial, Feb. 22): Yes, NYU has a right to build. And we have existing zoning laws to cover what it may build on land it does own. But the university seeks to control land it does not own as well, land that belongs to the public. It also wants to change the zoning designation of the superblocks, the city zoning law text and even to get additional waivers beyond that. These are changes that may well set a precedent for the rest of the city — so be careful what you ask for. “Half?” Why are you expecting NYU to have a change of heart, when for more than a year as it developed this plan, it refused to yield to the community by even a fraction. When it gave up on the “pinwheel” hotel, it was only because of the embarrassment to NYU by I.M. Pei’s public rejection of the proposal — not because of any compromise with the community. The superblocks’ existing zoning is a restriction on development agreed to first in the 1950s and again in the ’70s. Why would a deed restriction on land transferred to the city for a public school now in 2012 have any more meaning than the existing deed restriction on the superblocks created in past agreements? What happened to “a deal’s a deal”? Should past agreements be thrown out each time NYU wants more? The wide support for the plan at the city level offers an opportunity to spread NYU’s growth throughout the

city more widely. Opposition to this plan does not reduce the possibilities for job growth. On the contrary, it has the potential to spread jobs throughout the city. And the university’s strength would not be diminished by such a spread; rather, it would enhance it. Consider the fact that NYU thrives now and is in several locations around this and other cities. Perhaps that’s precisely why it is thriving. NYU’s need to expand should not be fulfilled in its core. Expansion there will only serve to rot the core. Jeffrey Rowland

Behemoth is back for more To The Editor: Re “NYU has a right to build, but must scale back plan” (editorial, Feb. 22): NYU has always had one plan: world domination. Witness the recent expansions in Asia and the Arabian Peninsula, similar to those of banks, luxury-goods purveyors and other multinationals. Regarding NYU’s “new plans,” this newspaper’s editorial board has chosen to fall on the wrong side of history. There are several questions that must be asked. Why does a corporate behemoth with a “yearly membership” tag of $60,000 per student continue to pay no taxes? What is the community at large receiving (other than false and broken promises) for the privilege of hosting this voracious developer in its midst? Education? It’s only for the cast that can afford such tuition: transient scions of the global one percent — actually, much less than one percent. Students educated at NYU don’t stay in the community. I am a notable exception, but I was here before studying there. Most only milk the area for its cultural worth, burden it with their carousing and leave with their degrees. If their rich families are socked with hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs, it’s no biggie. NYU’s only concern is self-aggrandizement. How great to be part of it, if you are an administrator, tenured faculty or a rich student whose family can pay the ticket. Meanwhile, the university’s promises to the community remain undelivered, as your recent reprint of thenCouncilmember Carol Greitzer’s 1970 talking point made clear; the promise (now rehashed and much-reduced) of a school was made to obtain a variance to allow the Coles gym/Silver Towers superblock to be developed. Now the behemoth is back for more, with more promises that are instrumental to getting its way; it’s nothing but lip service. If Bloomberg and his henchmen intend to deliver a large chunk of Downtown’s most vital area to a questionable entity, let them try to override the community’s opposition. Sante Scardillo is a member, Little Italy Neighbors Association, and a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (Class of ’85)

E-mail letters, not longer than 300 words in length, to scott@chelseanow.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to Chelsea Now, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal Street, Unit 1C New York City, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. Chelsea Now reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Chelsea Now does not publish anonymous letters.


March 7 - 20, 2012

9

COMMUNITY CONTACTS (To be listed, email info to scott@chelseanow.com.)

THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER

COMMUNITY BOARD 4 (CB4)

FRIENDS OF HUDSON RIVER PARK Visit fohrp.org or call 212-757-0981.

CB4 serves Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. Its boundaries are 14th St. on the south, 59/60th St. on the north, the Hudson River on the west, 6th Ave. on the east (south of 26th St.) and 8th Ave. on the east (north of 26th St.). Call 212-736-4536. Visit manhattancb4.org or email them at info@manhattanCB4. org. The board meeting, open to the public, happens on the first Wednesday of the month, at 6:30pm. The next one takes place on April 4, 6:30pm, at Fulton Auditorium (119 9th Ave., btw. 17th and 18th Sts.). Visit nyc.gov/mcb4.

At 208 W. 13th St. (btw. 7th and 8th Aves.). Visit gaycenter. org or call 212-620-7310.

Their mission is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Main headquarters: 224 W. 35th St., Suite 1102. Call 212-222-3427. The Ali Forney Day Center is located at 527 W. 22nd St., 1st floor. Call 212-206-0574 or visit aliforneycenter.org.

SAVE CHELSEA

COMMUNITY BOARD 5 (CB5)

GAY MEN’S HEALTH CRISIS (GMHC)

CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CHRISTINE QUINN

CB5 represents the central business district of New York City. It includes midtown Manhattan, the Fashion, Flower, Flatiron and Diamond districts, as well as Bryant Park and Union Square Park. The district is at the center of New York’s tourism industry. The Theatre District, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, the Empire State Building and two of the region’s transportation hubs (Grand Central Station and Penn Station) fall within CB5. Call 212-4650907. Visit cb5.org or email them at office@cb5.org. CB5’s board meeting, open to the public, happens on the second Thursday of the month, at 6pm. The next one takes place on April 12, at Xavier High School (30 W. 16th St., btw. 5th and 6th Aves., 2nd fl.).

At 446 W. 33rd St. btw. 9th and 10th Aves. Visit gmhc.org. Call 212-367-1000.

Call 212-564-7757 or visit council.nyc.gov/d3/html/members/home.shtml.

HUDSON GUILD

STATE SENATOR TOM DUANE

Founded in 1895, Hudson Guild is a multi-service, multigenerational community serving approximately 14,000 people annually with daycare, hot meals for senior citizens, low-cost professional counseling, community arts programs and recreational programming for teens. Visit them at hudsonguild.org. Email them at info@hudsonguild.org. For the John Lovejoy Elliott Center (441 W. 26th St.), call 212760-9800. For the Children’s Center (459 W. 26th St.), call 212-760-9830. For the Education Center (447 W. 25th St.), call 212-760-9843. For the Fulton Center for Adult Services (119 9th Ave.), call 212-924-6710.

Call 212-633-8052 or visit tomduane.com.

THE 300 WEST 23RD, 22ND & 21ST STREETS BLOCK ASSOCIATION

Visit hudsonriverpark.org or call 212-627-2020.

THE ALI FORNEY CENTER

THE CARTER BURDEN CENTER FOR THE AGING

Contact them at 300westblockassoc@prodigy.net.

This organization promotes the well-being of individuals 60 and older through direct social services and volunteer programs oriented to individual, family and community needs. Call 212-879-7400 or visit burdencenter.org.

THE WEST 400 BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at w400ba@gmail.com.

HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST

LOWER CHELSEA ALLIANCE (LoCal)

Contact them at savechelseanyc@gmail.com.

MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT SCOTT STRINGER Call 212-669-8300 or visit mbpo.org.

ASSEMBLYMEMBER RICHARD GOTTFRIED Call 212-807-7900 or email GottfriedR@assembly.state. ny.us.

CHELSEA REFORM DEMOCRATIC CLUB The CRDC (the home club of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried) meets monthly to exchange political ideas in protecting the rights and improving the lives of those residing in Chelsea. Visit crdcnyc.org or email them at info@ crdcnyc.org.

At 147 W. 24th Street (btw. 6th & 7th Aves.) THE SYLVIA RIVERA LAW PROJECT works to guarantee

This group is committed to protecting the residential blocks of Chelsea from overscale development. Contact them at LowerChelseaAlliance@gmail.com.

THE GREENWICH VILLAGE-CHELSEA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

PENN SOUTH Visit pennsouth.coop. The Penn South Program for Seniors provides recreation, education and social services — and welcomes volunteers. For info, call 212-243-3670.

that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. Visit srlp.org.

FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for FULTON YOUTH OF THE FUTURE

Call 212-337-5912 or visit villagechelsea.com.

Email them at fultonyouth@gmail.com or contact Miguel Acevedo, 646-671-0310.

Community Empowerment) builds the leadership and power of bisexual, transgender and queer youth of color in NYC. Visit fiercenyc.org.

WEST SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE

QUEERS FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE is a progressive

Visit westsidenyc.org or call 212-956-2573. Email them at wsna@hcc-nyc.org.

organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. Visit q4ej.org.

CHELSEA COALITION ON HOUSING

THE AUDRE LORDE PROJECT is a lesbian, gay, bisexual,

Tenant assistance every Thursday night, at 7pm; at Hudson Guild (119 Ninth Ave.). Email them at chelseacoalition. cch@gmail.com.

two spirit, trans and gender non-conforming people of color center for community organizing. Visit alp.org.

THE MEATPACKING DISTRICT INITIATIVE Visit meatpacking-district.com or call 212-633-0185.

THE BOWERY RESIDENTS’ COMMITTEE: HOMELESS HELPLINE If you know of anyone who is in need of their services, call the Homeless Helpline at 212-533-5151, and the BRC will send someone to make contact. This number is staffed by outreach team leaders 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. For more info, visit brc.org.

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515 Canal St., Unit 1C, NY, NY 10013 Phone: (212) 229-1890 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.chelseanow.com E-mail: news@chelseanow.com © 2012 Community Media, LLC

Member of the National Newspaper Association Chelsea Now is published biweekly by Community Media LLC, 515 Canal Street, Unit 1C, New York, N.Y. 10013 (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. Single copy price at office and newsstands is 50 cents. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2010 Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, 145 Sixth Ave., First Fl., New York, N.Y. 10013.

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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.

PUBLISHER & EDITOR John W. Sutter ASSOCIATE EDITOR / ARTS EDITOR Scott Stiffler REPORTERS Lincoln Anderson Albert Amateau John Bayles Aline Reynolds EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

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BUSINESS MANAGER/CONTROLLER

Vera Musa PUBLISHER EMERITUS Elizabeth Butson SR. V.P. OF SALES AND MARKETING Francesco Regini ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Allison Greaker Colin Gregory Julius Harrison Alex Morris Julio Tumbaco

ART / PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Troy Masters SR GRAPHIC DESIGNER Vince Joy GRAPHIC DESIGNER Christina Entcheva CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. Marvin Rock DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION Cheryl Williamson

CONTRIBUTORS Stephanie Buhmann Winnie McCroy Bonnie Rosenstock Jerry Tallmer Trav S. D. Stephen Wolf PHOTOGRAPHERS Jefferson Siegel Milo Hess J. B. Nicholas


10

March 7 - 20, 2012

POLICE BLOTTER

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RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT: Shots fired on Eighth Ave. An employee of the Express Chinese & Japanese restaurant (370 8th Ave.) told police that when upon arriving to open (on the morning of Sat., Feb. 25), he noticed a hole in the roll-down metal gate as well as the first entrance glass door. The second glass door was completely shattered. A deformed bullet fragment was found between the two glass doors. Further canvassing by 10th Precinct police officers revealed approximately three more bullet holes at 372 8th Ave. No video footage was available and no injuries were reported. Two witnesses (one from a nearby residence, the other from the Vigilant Hotel at 370 8th Ave.) reported hearing shots fired (on the previous evening).

ASSAULT: Punched by an unknown At approximately 8:10pm on Fri., Feb. 24, a 19-year-old female resident of Manhattan was walking on the northwest corner of 10th Ave. and W. 40th St. — when an unknown male punched her in the face, causing lacerations to her upper lip. The victim was removed to Roosevelt Hospital for treatment.

IDENTITY THEFT: A taxing situation On Fri., Feb 24, a 25-year-old female resident of Chelsea was informed by her accountant that her income taxes had already been filed — from out of state, and with the incorrect amount earned during 2011. The fraud came to light when the woman’s legitimate filing was rejected (police were told that the legit taxes were submitted on Feb. 12).

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Car window smashed No property was stolen or missing — but the rear driver’s side window of a gray 1999 Honda four-door sedan was shattered, according to a 55-year-old male from New Jersey. The man reported this incident to police, when he returned to the vehicle

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(which was parked on W. 28 St. between 9 & 10 Ave.), at approximately 9pm on Fri, Feb. 24.

LOST PROPERTY: Charges made, credit card cancelled A 23-year-old female resident of Brooklyn reported to police that at approximately 10:22pm on Thurs., Feb. 23, she was traveling on a southbound C train. At the Eighth Ave. and 23rd St. stop, she exited — leaving her purse behind. Upon calling her credit card company to cancel the card, she was informed that several unauthorized charges had been made. The gray clutch purse, valued at $60, also contained a New York State ID and the woman’s social security card.

LOST PROPERTY: Mac left on subway platform Boarding a southbound C train at Eighth Ave. and 23rd St., a 22-year-old female reported to police that when the train arrived in Brooklyn, she realized she’d left her silver MacBook Pro (valued at $2,000) and a Motorola Droid charger (valued at $30) on the subway platform. When she returned, the property was gone.

GUILTY VERDICT: Subway push Jose Rojas, 26, accused of pushing a woman onto the tracks of a crowded R train station at 28th St. and seriously injuring her in August 2010, was found guilty of first

Continued on page 11

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Elisa Cokkinos. Main number: 212-7418211. Community Affairs: 212-7418226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council Meeting takes place at 7pm on the last Wed. of the month. The next meeting is March 28.

THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Ted Bernsted. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council Meeting takes place at 6:30pm on the third Tues. of the month. The next meeting is March 20.


March 7 - 20, 2012

Chelsea murder

POLICE BLOTTER Continued from page 10

Pot heads smoked out

degree assault, but not guilty of attempted murder. Rojas, who was drunk at the time, said it was an accident. He faces a sentence of 5 to 25 years on March 16.

They didn’t have glaucoma, or a doctor’s note, or a legal right to smoke pot in pubic — so they were arrested.

ASSAULT: Meatpacking rage A suspect who hailed a cab parked at the curb at Ninth Ave. at W. 14th St. in the Meatpacking District around 4:15am on Sun., Feb. 26, became enraged when the driver told him the cab was out of service. The suspect, a 36-year-old male, punched the driver in the face but was arrested a short time later and charged with assault.

ARRESTS: Five collared for robbery Police arrested five suspects for robbing a man, 21, on the northbound platform of the Sixth Ave. station at 14th St. at 3:02am on Thurs., Feb. 23. They put the victim in a chokehold, grabbed his bag with a laptop computer, iPod, CDs and personal papers and fled from the station. The five suspects, ranging in age from 17 to 20, were identified by the victim and charged with robbery.

—Alber t Amateau and Scott Stiffler

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On Sat., Feb. 25, at 4am, a 23-yearold male was observed smoking a lit marijuana cigarette in front of 400 W. 37th St. One ecstasy pill was also found in the defendant’s right pocket. On Fri., Feb. 24, at 4:51pm, two males (ages 18 and 19) were observed smoking a lit marijuana cigarette on a public sidewalk, in public view (specifically, in the rear of 460 W. 41st St.). The second defendant (age 18), had an open warrant. Defendant #2 was found to be, police said, “in possession of a forged instrument.” On Sun., Feb. 26, at 2:10am, uniformed officers arrested a 27-year-old male who was smoking a lit marijuana cigarette (on the northwest corner of 10th Ave. & W. 41st St.). For the same offense (and in an almost identical scenario), a 33-year-old male was arrested at 2:55am, on Sun., Feb. 26, on the southwest corner of 10th Ave. & 27th St.

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BY ALBERT AMATEAU Police questioned two persons of interest this week, but had made no arrests in the murder of John Laubach, 57. On the night of Friday, March 2, a friend discovered the victim inside his fourth floor bedroom (at 212 West 22nd Street). Laubach’s hands and feet were bound, and the victim was gagged with tape. On Sunday, police issued a photo of a man who tried to use the victim’s bank card to withdraw money from a nearby Chase Bank ATM (on Seventh Avenue). There was no evidence of forced entry, and no visible signs of trauma (but the apartment was ransacked, according to reports). The Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause of death was pending the results of toxicol-

ogy tests, which could take a week or more. Laubach, who moved to the building at 22nd Street and Seventh Avenue after have sold his Fifth Avenue apartment in 2010, was active in the Church of the Ascension (on Fifth Avenue, at West 10th Street). Laubach — described as a gentle person who was frequently seen with his white cockatoo, Bolo, perched on his shoulder — was known to bring young men to his apartment. He was a regular customer at Cafe Champignon (on Seventh Avenue, between West 22nd and 21st Streets) — where he often sat outside on the bench, or at a table, with Bolo. After his body was found, the bird was taken for care by Animal Care & Control.

Have something to say? Write a Letter to the Editor. E-mail letters, not longer than 300 words in length, to scott@chelseanow. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to Chelsea Now, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal Street, Unit 1C New York City, NY 10013.


12

March 7 - 20, 2012

Local filmmaker, on changing times and challenging lives BY SCOTT STIFFLER Lives can, and do, change — unexpectedly, significantly and in an instant. Although it takes considerably longer, the character of a neighborhood is just as vulnerable to unforeseen upheaval. India-born, U.S.-raised Kavery Kaul, a documentarian whose body of work dissects and challenges assumptions about identity, put together “Back Walking Forward” in the neighborhood she’s called home for over two decades. Like the film’s main character, the area surrounding Kaul’s Flower District loft is something more — and something very different — than it used to be. “I moved in before Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and even Garden of Eden arrived,” she says of the supermarkets that (along with other upscale ventures) represent the neighborhood’s still-evolving character. “It’s rapidly changing into the Hotel District,” Kaul says of her formerly low-key stomping grounds. “Chelsea used to be one of New York’s best kept secrets…the disarray on the streets, the flowers of all colors and types.” Providing a snapshot anecdote that perfectly illustrates the changing times, Kaul recalls a fairly recent incident in which some thoroughly disoriented French tourists stopped her for directions. “I was walking down Sixth Ave., and they were looking for the flea market. It’s gone, I said, replaced by a high rise apartment. There are so many restaurants now, so many hotels. It’s become a very known, and even fashionable, neigh-

Photo courtesy of riverfilms

Director Kavery Kaul with Eric, while his mother Susan looks on.

borhood.” But has the neighborhood been altered to its detriment? “Well,” she says, not diplomatically so much as philosophically, “I

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miss the flower stores that have been chased out…but I love the fruit vendors on the street who speak Bengali like I do, and they’re there because there are more buyers in Chelsea now. I’m glad many members of the arts community have stayed on. We have our loft spaces, which we would never give up. But I miss the smaller arts organizations that have had to shut down because of skyrocketing costs.” Although the Chelsea of today is “not buzzing with post production and DVD authoring facilities,” laments Kaul, she did

er must do to forge a new life for themselves after Eric is hit by a van while bicycling in his Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn neighborhood. Now confined to a wheelchair, Eric’s global head injury changes his life, and that of his family, forever. “Brain injury is the major cause of disability in Brooklyn, in Chelsea and in the whole world today…whether it’s car accidents, a sports injury or a wartime bomb explosion,” Kaul says, citing one of the reasons she chose the topic as her focus. As for why she chose the Michalowski family to represent the face

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manage to develop her film with support from the Women’s Media Center (on West 25 Street), and edited it at Radical Avid (on Seventh Avenue and 30th Street). Longtime neighborhood resident Beo Morales and his partner Brooks William collaborated with Kaul on the music and sound design. In that manner, says Kaul, the vibrant loft culture still “lends itself to the needs of someone in the arts. I have no intention of moving.” That stubborn survivor’s resolve has also thoroughly gripped the family Kaul gives voice to in “Back Walking Forward.” Chronicling a year in the life of a man recovering from a brain injury, the documentary takes a fiercely unsentimental look at what Eric Michalowski, his parents and his broth-

of brain injury, Kaul explains, “I was drawn to Eric — his truths and untruths, the profound and the poignant, and his awareness of what’s really important in life. I wanted to enter his inner world and trace his family’s quest for a new normal in the face of such enormous uncertainty.” That urge to represent the profound determination and sacrifice of all involved, without elevating them to sainthood, is what makes Kaul’s brisk 40-minute documentary such a compelling experience. Dense with moments of universally recognized character strengths and flaws, these moments of observation often exist independently of anything

Continued on page 25


March 7 - 20, 2012

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Before they wrote the book, High Line authors made it It’s hard to believe at this point in the game, but there was a time when opposition to the very notion of turning the High Line into the aboveground oasis it is today came in the form of lobbying efforts whose promo material spouted zingers like “The High Line is too narrow. It won’t even be able to fit this backyard playset…our city needs money for important things.” Class acts that they are, Joshua David and Robert Hammond don’t dwell on how ridiculous such arguments look in hindsight. They don’t have to. The nearly 200 dynamic photos in their book do that job for them. Read all about it, then learn all about it, when the authors discuss “High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky.” The event is part of The Lower East Side Museum’s Tenement Talk series. Free. Thurs., March 15, 6:30pm. At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (located at 91 Orchard St.; talk takes place at 103 Orchard St., corner of Delancey). Call 212-431-0233 or visit tenement.org.

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March 7 - 20, 2012


March 7 - 20, 2012

15

Chelsea Hotel artists to landlord: Return our art BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK For decades, visitors to the Chelsea Hotel have been awestruck by the vast collection of artwork filling the walls in the lobby and along the stairways — by those still residing at the iconic hotel on West 23rd Street, by artists who passed away and by artists who’ve passed through and left a bit of themselves behind. But that is all gone. The walls have been stripped bare by the Chetrit Group (who bought the hotel in August 2011). These days, the only hanging is an unfriendly “no photography” sign posted at the entrance — although, with the hotel closed for renovation, there is not much to photograph. And thus far, the owners have ignored all requests to divulge where the artwork is. Mickie Esemplare, an 11-year hotel resident, recalled that when he came home on

the night of November 12, 2011, it was all gone, without warning. Esemplare had hung a collage (a gift from a friend) on the wall next to his apartment. “We were told to get a letter from former owner Stanley Bard, saying that he allowed us to put the artwork there. A few people did that, and nobody has gotten artwork back.” Zoe Pappas, president of the Chelsea Hotel Tenants Association, Mary Anne Rose and Colleen Weinstein witnessed the works being removed and hauled off in a truck. Weinstein, the widow of artist, photographer and nightclub impresario Arthur Weinstein, called the police. “She showed them papers stating she owned her husband’s artwork, but they couldn’t do anything about it,” said Rose. One of the prominent pilferings is Larry Rivers’ “Syndics of the Drapery Guild as

Dutch Masters,” 1978/79. A paint and wood construction, the work is an early example of his relief paintings “like a big cigar box,” explained David Joel, executive director of the Larry Rivers Foundation in Bridgehampton, Long Island (who spoke to Chelsea Now by phone). “Rivers [who died in 2002] had a long history at the Chelsea,” said Joel. “The work had been on loan since about 1998 and displayed in the lobby on one of the walls, near the main entrance, I think.” Ron Spencer of Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP, who represents the foundation in this matter, stated that it is not a lawsuit yet. “If it comes to that, we will be forced to do so,” he said. He has written several letters to the owners and has gotten no answer. He has an affidavit by a resident, a friend of Rivers, that relates in great detail how the painting got on the wall. “It was definitely not any kind of gift. It was a loan for the wall by Larry Rivers,” Spencer asserted. “I think their position is, ‘We bought the hotel and all the contents, so the painting is ours.’ Simply because you buy real estate doesn’t mean [you own] everything in it. I had one telephone conversation with some fellow who claimed to be management months ago and haven’t heard a thing since. They think we are going away, but we are not. If we don’t get any kind of satisfaction, we will have to make a legal claim in NYS Supreme Court,” said Spencer. Spencer said the Larry Rivers Foundation is open to lending another Rivers piece — “If their idea is to have the Chelsea Hotel become an indicator of artists. But not this particular painting. It is a very important artwork,” he said. It is part of a series, based on a 1662 Rembrandt oil painting of a group of tex-

tile guild members, famously reproduced on Dutch Masters cigars packaging. An earlier iteration of the missing artwork is currently on exhibit on the second floor of Marlborough Chelsea, 545 West 25th Street, through March 24. Sam Himmelstein of Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph

‘Rivers [who died in 2002] had a long history at the Chelsea,’ said Joel. ‘The work had been on loan since about 1998 and displayed in the lobby on one of the walls, near the main entrance, I think.’ represents Weinstein and has made several demands that the artwork be returned. He also wants to know where the art is being kept, whether it is insured, protected from moisture, stored correctly, etc., but has been stonewalled. “They haven’t answered a single question, except in platitudes,” he said. Esemplare also lamented that management took out all the WiFi in the lobby. “We could sit there with a laptop and talk to other residents and guests. Now it’s very quiet, almost eerie. It’s lost its soul,” he said.

© Larry Rivers, courtesy Marlborough Chelsea, New York

An earlier iteration of artwork previously on display at the Chelsea Hotel: Larry Rivers’ “Dutch Masters Silver” (1969; acrylic, oil, charcoal and fiberboard collage on canvas; 90 x 70 1/2 x 14 in., 228.6 x 179.07 x 35.56 cm). This work is currently included in the exhibition “Bernhardt, Frost, Kitaj, Rivers, Schumann, Williams” — on view on the second floor of Marlborough Chelsea (545 W. 25th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) through March 24.

Hole on the wall: The artwork removed from this staircase is MIA.


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Hudson River marine life makes for fine muse BY SCOTT STIFFLER Give a person a giant puppet shaped like a fish, and they’ll march in the Hudson River Pageant for a day — but teach that person how to make a giant puppet shaped like a fish, and they’ll march for life. But where do you go to develop such a rarefied skill? For the next two months or so, Earth Celebrations has your back. Founded in 1991 by Felicia Young (the organization’s current executive director), this nonprofit uses the arts as way to foster ecological awareness. Taking her cue from NYC’s civic pageants of the 1990s (with a dash of mythic drama from her native India), Young created a roster of music, dance and performance activities that made its way into schools, gardens, parks and community centers — and, eventually, to an annual pageant that snakes its way along the banks of the Hudson. Participants celebrate the river’s diverse marine species and habitats by donning spectacular costumes and parading giant puppets. That’s where these free workshops come in. Earth Celebrations artists-inresidence Irina Kruzhilina and Lucrecia Novoa will teach teens and adults everything they need to know in order to create their own costumes and puppets. They’ll display those creations at the Hudson River Pageant — on Saturday,

Photos by Jacques Torchon

May 12 (rain date: May 13). Besides showing off the handiwork of workshop graduates, this annual ecological parade and performance art event seeks to raise awareness for the restoration of the Hudson River and address climate change. “Right here in New York City, where we may often feel disconnected from the natural world, we are also part of a unique ecosystem where we must curb our production of waste, pollution and environmental destruction,” Young notes. As for the function of those puppets and costumes, she says, “Art does not only have to reflect life, but can effect it too, by inspiring people’s imagination and bringing them together to address crucial issues.

Earth Celebrations programs engage the community to celebrate the natural world, cultivate culturally diverse arts and traditions, document and perform local history, and revive the arts at the center of community life!” Designed for adults and teens, Earth Celebration’s weekly workshops (happening now through May 9) are free, and open to the public. The Costume Workshop takes place on Wed., 6-9pm. The Puppet Workshop takes place on Sat., 12-4pm. At the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, room #201 (107 Suffolk St., btw. Delancey & Rivington). For info, call 212-777-7969, visit earthcelebrations.com or send an email to mail@ earthcelebrations.com.


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Mastery of music is valuable prize up for grabs Continued from page 6 Each band needs “four trumpets, four trombones, five saxophones, a rhythm section, one pianist, one bassist, one guitarist and one drummer. That’s the standard for what would be found at the Village Vanguard, which has big bands on Monday nights.” But as crucial as it is to fill those seats with the right players, Pace says his goal is not to churn out grads who go on to pursue music at a doctoral level similar to his. “I don’t necessarily want to make music students at the college level. There are a

People come in playing guitar or bass. They continue with that, but we have them add a horn. Once they’ve learned a second instrument, it’s not that hard to learn a third and a fourth. lot of famous jazz musicians who didn’t go to school for music. The real win here is to build the snowball of achievement and excitement and empowerment. If we go there and don’t win,” he says of the March 10 competition in Boston, “that’s fine. My guys got to see some really great big bands, and I feel that’s going to inspire us to get better, and to better our program for the school.” No matter how the Xavier students fare, they’ll be returning to a place where, Pace says with pride, “We have the freedom to do what we want to do, a freedom that

Photo by Michael Benigno

Dr. William Pace (background, glasses) rehearsing with the sophomore Instrumental Music class.

public schools can’t offer. If I want to put in a 24-track studio because that’s what I had in my college experience, and it shaped my life, then I can do that because it’s helping these students. If one goes on to a become structural engineer, he’ll still be able to enjoy music as an adult.”


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Making the case for a park on ‘ghost town street’ Continued from page 7 postcards and emails.” Weiss is hopeful that a meeting will be scheduled for the end of March, and that “it moves to the next level.” “We know she is engaged in the issue and hope she is open to fully exploring the sites we have brought to her attention.” In an email to Chelsea Now, a spokesperson for Speaker Quinn communicated that she is indeed engaged in the issue: “The creation of new permanent affordable housing and increased park space on the west side of Manhattan are both important and laudable goals. The city has previously identified this particular site as a future home for permanent affordable housing. My office will continue to work with community members to explore options to keep our district both diverse and livable.” Weiss acknowledged that he has met with unnamed housing authority members, real estate developers and high-level affordable housing developers, who agree on the merits of a park making sense at this location. They and others “are extremely confounded” that the four five-story, city-owned residential TIL (Tenant Interim Lease Apartment Purchase Program) buildings at 201-207 Seventh Avenue/170 West 22nd Street continue to deteriorate and have not been looked at analytically on building up to accommodate more housing. “It’s a ghost town street and

Photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

At the March 3 Preservation Conference on Preserving Public Open Space, Sally Greenspan (second from right) answer questions, gives out information and gather petition signatures.

has been a blight on the community for years. It’s listed as affordable housing and is demonstrably vacant. Two blocks north of the potential park you have the solution,” stated Weiss. Wolff said that at night only two windows are lit in two separate buildings. “All the rest are plywood,” she reported. “They have been languishing for at least 40 years.”

Weiss also referred to the Desmond Tutu Center (180 Tenth Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets) as a possible location for affordable housing. The building is owned by the General Theological Seminary, which real estate developer Daniel Brodsky and the Brodsky Organization are negotiating to buy. It is “a 50,000-square-foot facility with a tremendous footprint for potential residential development,” he said. “There is no shortage

of creative ideas to solve the housing that would be lost to West 20th Street in favor of a park.” He acknowledged, however, that there might not be a perfect scenario where one property completely accommodates the 60 or 70 units that have been earmarked for the DOS site. “But maybe you can find a way to piecemeal it — gain 20 units here, 30 units there, through several of the sites we are proposing.” Regardless, Weiss stated, Chelsea is in dire need of more green space. He cited Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s “best quote” in Chelsea Now (“Chelsea’s population explosion turns heads in Albany,” February 22), as capturing his point exactly: “Just look up at the forest of buildings that people have been putting up around our neighborhood…. You are going to find 19,000 more people.” “We have been saying the same thing since we launched our campaign in 2010,” said Weiss. “Chelsea’s residential density is exploding without any commensurate allocation of basic open green space. There hasn’t been a new playground in 44 years,” he said, referring to Clement Clarke Moore Park on West 22nd Street and Tenth Avenue. “Here’s a perfect opportunity to solve that problem. It requires true political will on the part of our elected officials to do the right thing.” For more information and upcoming events, visit 20thstreetpark.org.


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In words, letters and deeds, Rustin left lasting mark Continued from page 3

RUSTIN’S LEGACY: A BRIDGE BETWEEN COMMUNITIES Norman and Velma Hill were movement colleagues of Rustin’s and his neighbors in Penn South since the late 1960s. Norman said he first encountered Rustin when “he was speaking at the Young Socialists League in New Jersey in 1958.” The couple met in 1960. “When Velma was organizing the paraprofessionals in the schools, Bayard came to the meetings of the paras in our apartment and he helped with their education and training,” Norman said. Velma said that Rustin made building coalitions the “centerpiece” of his organizing strategies. “He felt that as a minority, in order to attain any kind of progress it had to be in coalition with other groups and it had to be through non-violent direct action. He felt the labor movement would be key to that. He educated Martin Luther King on that — not on non-violence, but on the strategy for change.” Bennett Singer, who made “Brother Outsider” with Nancy Kates nine years ago, is keeping Rustin’s legacy alive through the Rustin Film Project by not just showing the groundbreaking documentary on Rustin, but engaging diverse audiences in discussing his significance. “We take ‘Brother Outsider’ to middle schools, high schools, colleges, law schools and conferences,” he said. “The film is also

David McReynolds, Rustin’s colleague at the War Resisters League, said, ‘Bayard was a complex person. There were two different Bayards — or many. Up until 1965, he has been a radical pacifist and very courageous, in the front row of the Civil Rights movement.’

being used as a diversity training tool at corporations, law firms and government agencies. It is often the first time these companies have had events co-sponsored by African American and LGBT employee groups. It speaks to the fact that Rustin’s story is timeless as well as timely,” in an era with an African American President and a gay movement that has never been more visible. Singer showed the film at Newcomers High School for students who have been in the city for less than two years — some from Iran

Photo by Walter Naegle

“I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters” will be released on March 15.

where homosexuality is punishable by death and others from Egypt, where it is severely repressed. “They came to the film without any background on what homosexuality meant, but Rustin’s story reached them in a profound way. They talked about him as a hero with courage and integrity and came to see at him as a role model. Part of his legacy is the personal example he gave of what it means to be an openly gay American coming from an era when that was rare — and radical.” Rustin’s insistence on being true to his gay nature got him arrested and imprisoned in California in 1953 and led not just to later condemnations from bigots such as Strom Thurmond, but breaches with comrades such as Muste. In “I Must Resist,” Rustin’s 1940s letters from prison to his then lover Davis Platt are coded with changed pronouns. Naegle said that in 1960, Rustin was dispatched by Randolph to organize demonstrations at the party nominating conventions. “Adam Clayton Powell tried to put the kibosh on the one planned for the Democratic convention by telling King if he didn’t stop we’ll say you’re having an affair with Rustin.” Rustin resigned from King’s staff. “The demonstrations went on, but didn’t have the impact they would have had they been run by an organizing genius,” Naegle said. Rustin, whose unapologetic gay life was a statement in itself, didn’t venture out into public gay activism until the mid 1980s — with a speech to the National Association of Black and White Men Together. In 1986, he called me (as a leader of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights working on the city gay rights bill) into a meeting, and I brought Philip Reed — an African American gay activist who went on to become a City Council Member. Rustin’s proposal was that we focus on the “right to privacy,” a concept the Supreme Court refused

to apply to us in upholding anti-sodomy laws later that year. But Rustin played a crucial role after New York City’s gay rights bill passed in 1986 and

was, in short order, amended to exempt many landlords from complying with it. Rustin’s testimony to Mayor Ed Koch on the injustice of this amendment — keeping gays unequal — caused Koch to veto it. David McReynolds, Rustin’s colleague at the War Resisters League, said, “Bayard was a complex person. There were two different Bayards — or many. Up until 1965, he has been a radical pacifist and very courageous, in the front row of the Civil Rights movement.” McReynolds said, “After 1965, he took a turn toward the Democratic Party and argued in a pamphlet that there comes a time when a movement had to move from the streets to the political arena. It’s true of any protest movement. And that’s the role Bayard decided to play.” McReynolds explained the sectarian disputes that led to this change and said “Bayard did move to the right. In 1986 I think he was moving back in my direction.” He said, “He really did have a more radical streak than you would think. He felt there needed to be a revolution to resolve the race problem.” He regrets not reconciling with Rustin before he died. Naegle said the new book of Rustin’s letters “highlight the depth of the spiritual foundation for his activism — his Quaker theology and background” and shows him “as someone engaging in radical witnessing activities, sometimes with a small group of radical pacifists, to someone who evolved into a more political ani-

Continued on page 20


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Events celebrate Rustin centenary Continued from page 19 mal. He was able to bring together broad coalitions of Jews, Protestants and Catholics — not abandoning your spiritual base, but if you’re going to build a broad-based movement you can’t spend all your time talking about Christ — though some of the Republican candidates for President might disagree about that!” What would Rustin be doing today? “Trying to bring some civility into the discourse,” Naegle said. “People should be talking about

In addition to the forums keyed to Rustin’s 100th birthday, the Museum of the City of New York is opening an exhibit on activism in May that will feature Rustin and the Smithsonian in Washington is planning a big exhibit next year marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Velma Hill said, “There are a lot of books about Bayard and that don’t really tell the whole story. They don’t give the full breadth of his genius — how he and Randolph were the real brains behind the Civil Rights movement and educated King. How he wrote the

BAYARD RUSTIN CENTENNIAL EVENTS For a complete list of events, visit rustin.org and click on the “Centennial” tab.

“I MUST RESIST” READING & BOOK SIGNINGS NOTE: Editor Michael Long’s “I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters” will be released by City Lights Publishers on March 15 ($19.95; see citylights.com for more info). March 21, 7pm: Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad — former assistant professor of history at Indiana University and current director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture — talks with “I Must Resist” editor Michael Long. At the Schomburg Center (515 Malcolm X Blvd.). Free. For info, call 212-491-2200. March 22, 7pm: Michael Long reads from “I Must Resist,” leads a discussion and takes your questions. At Bluestockings Bookstore (172 Allen St., at Stanton St.). Free (donations accepted). For info, visit bluestockings.com.

What would Rustin be doing today? ‘Trying to bring some civility into the discourse,’ Naegle said. ‘People should be talking about ideas, not calling each other names. He would be strongly advocating for more government involvement in health, education and welfare — not less. He would be outraged by the attack on the labor movement.’

Fifteenth Street Friends is hosting this event, at which editor Michael Long (“I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters”) will speak about his research. A panel — including civil rights and labor activist Velma Hill, Daniel Seeger (a former interim general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee) and criminal justice advocate and radio host Eddie Ellis — will reflect on select letters read by students from Friends Seminary (friendsseminary.org). The program also includes music and a slideshow of images from Rustin’s life. Free. Thurs., March 15, 7-9pm, at the Fifteenth Street Meeting House (15 Rutherford Place btw 15th & 16th Sts., 2nd & 3rd Aves.). 212-598-0950.

ideas, not calling each other names. He would be strongly advocating for more government involvement in health, education and welfare — not less. He would be outraged by the attack on the labor movement.”

After a showing of the film “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin,” editor Michael Long and Walter Nagel discuss “I Must Resist” as well as and I will be discussing the film and Rustin’s life following the screening. Tues., April 3 (door open, 6:30pm; event begins at 7pm) At the NYC LGBT Center (208 W. 13 St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Tickets are $10 (seating is limited, advance purchase recommended). To order, call 212-620-7310 visit gaycenter.org.

DISCUSSION: “BAYARD RUSTIN: A FAITHFUL LIFE”

FILM SCREENING by-laws of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King has become an icon. But there are all these people who built the pyramid,” including Bayard Rustin whose rich life and work has much to say to our time.

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Precinct meeting club concerns BY LATIMA STEPHENS Before clubland concerns dominated February 29th’s 10th Precinct Community Council meeting, Deputy Inspector Elisa Cokkinos had some good news to report. “For the last 28-day period, we were actually down 23 percent [in crimes]. That is 60 versus the 78 — and for the year to date, we were down 21 percent. That is 127 versus 167,” Cokkinos said. The precinct was down in all crime categories (including homicides, rapes, robberies, felony assault and grand larceny). A brief mention by Cokkinos of an unspecified incident that occurred early on the morning of Saturday, February 25 at Shadow Nightclub (located on 228 West 28th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues) sparked concerns and complaints from residents of that street. “The situation down on 28th Street has gotten so bad, and it has gotten so violent, that it is creating a problem for my family. I witnessed a girl getting punched in the face right in front of my building,” said a local resident (who, when asked, requested that Chelsea Now withhold his name, due to fear of the nightclub). Cokkinos assured residents that the 10th Precinct is doing all it can to fix the problem. “You have my word on it. That is something we are going keep on top of, even more so now,” she vowed. “It is a process. And I assure you that there will be improvement, because I don’t think that the club and its owners want to have this monkey on their back either.” Shadow Nightclub recently replaced the

Promenade Club — but things have not improved. “When the Promenade left, we were assured by the owner of the Shadow that it was all the Promenade’s fault. Well obviously it isn’t,” said Mike Patten. “I work for the condominiums on 28th and Eighth. Residents of the building avoid 28th Street. They will not walk it in the evening now. There was a shooting on Seventh Avenue and 28th Street. There have been stabbings on 28th Street. There have been fights on 28th Street, and gun shots on 28th and Eighth.” “The number one problem is crowd control,” 28th Street resident Bill Goldman noted. “It doesn’t seem like they [the police] do much.” Yet, Community Board 5 District Manager Wally Rubin said he has only received one complaint in the past two weeks. “It is imperative for us to be able to do our job and for people to reach out to us. Calling 3-1-1 is the first line, but after that you need to reach out to the community board and your elected officials. We can try to have a meeting with the club owners,” Rubin said. “If we don’t hear about it we don’t know it exists.” Cokkinos reassured residents that things are being done to control the club. “There have been times when we have gone in the club, cut on all lights, turned down the music and shut the doors to regain order and control,” Cokkinos said. “We are dedicating our resources. You have my word, but it is a process. It’s not just going to change overnight. As a community we have to come together and work towards making it better.”

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CHELSEA: ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Albee on death, Dubuque, metaphysical merde Playwright explores ‘people lying to themselves and each other’ THEATER THE LADY FROM DUBUQUE Written by Edward Albee Directed by David Esbjornson A Signature Theatre production Through March 25 In The End Stage Theatre, at the Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W. 42nd St., btw. Dyer & 10th Aves.) For tickets ($25), call 212-244-7529 or visit signaturetheatre.org BY JERRY TALLMER It was Harold Ross — the great, irascible founding editor of The New Yorker — who when asked, back in 1925, what his magazine was to be all about, replied: “One thing I know, it won’t be written for the little old lady from Dubuque.” Eighty-seven years later, which is to say just the other day, a playwright named Edward Albee says dryly to this writer during a rehearsal break of Albee’s “The Lady From Dubuque” at the new Signature

with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” at the Provincetown Playhouse. Explosive? Wait for it. In October 1962, Albee blew the whole scene apart with the arrival on Broadway of a gale force “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” — which would win a Pulitzer Prize in drama that was instantly rescinded by the nice-nelly Pulitzer administrators, causing two of the award judges to resign in protest (he has since won four nonrescinded ones). “You must remember,” Albee says today, “that when ‘Virginia Woolf’ opened, most of the reviewers were against it. Indeed, most of the reviews of my plays over the years have been either unpleasant or qualified. Does none of this have to do with the fact that I’m gay?” Pause, for cogitation, then: “I don’t think so.” Well, maybe. Edward has been exceptionally brave and outspoken for many years on gay rights and other matters. He wouldn’t accept White House invitations during the Bush years, among other things — but I dunno. Don’t think I ever knew or cared that he was (or wasn’t) homosexual for most of the years I’ve been writing about him and his output, from “The Zoo Story” to “Three Tall Women” (his very best) and “The Play

‘Well, somebody is dying in it, yes.’ Pause. ‘I hate onesentence descriptions of plays.’ Pause. ‘It’s about how much reality is determined by our needs.’

complex on West 42nd Street: “Nobody knows that phrase any more, except people your age and my age. How is it up there, anyway?” It is this city’s second time around for “The Lady From Dubuque” — a rebirth, Off Broadway, of one of the most painful Broadway floperoos of 1984 (during a fallow half-decade of difficult Albee plays which nobody much liked, maybe not even the playwright). Anent that 1984 misadventure, Albee now remarks helpfully: “Ran for eleven performances.” “No, Edward. Twelve performances.” “Well, jeez, that makes everything okay.” Edward Albee, who was born March 12, 1928, is in the midst of turning 84 now. I have been writing about him, pro and con (it depends on the year and the work) since 1960, when he burst upon us with his short, explosive “The Zoo Story” on a double bill

About the Baby” and “The Goat.” When he came in, in 2002 — just 40 years after “Virginia Woolf” — with “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia” (an incredibly brave play about a man who falls sexually in love with, yes, a goat; female, but a goat!), the genie was out of the bottle. But “The Lady From Dubuque” has little or nothing to do with any of that. It’s a play about death, isn’t it, Edward? “Well, somebody is dying in it, yes.” Pause. “I hate one-sentence descriptions of plays.” Pause. “It’s about how much reality is determined by our needs.” Pause. “My plays are all about the same thing, actually. People lying to themselves and each other about the truths in their lives.” As throughout Pinter, yes? Beginning with his very early “The Birthday Party?” “Yes. Pinter did it. Genet did it. Ionesco did it. We all did it.” The person who’s dying in “The Lady From Dubuque” is a young woman named

Photo by Gregory Costanzo

Edward Albee (seated), with James Houghton (Founding Artistic Director of Signature Theatre Company).

Jo, played at the Signature by Laila Robins, originally played (back there in 1984) by Frances Conroy. Jo is dying of cancer and doesn’t like it one bit. She takes out her displeasure by lacerating her husband (Michael Hayden, originally Tony Musante) and everybody else during an evening of word games in her and her husband’s living room. Then a mysterious couple suddenly materializes — a smooth, well-dressed black man and a well-dressed, aristocratic white woman (Peter Francis James and Jane Alexander; originally Earle Hyman and Irene Worth). The visitor, or intruder, identifies herself, simply, as “the lady from Dubuque.” She

and her consort are here, it will turn out, to accompany the dying Jo to whatever or wherever is next. Say, Edward, it seemed appropriate to ask — with the Grand Guignol Republican Iowa Caucus still warm in memory — you ever been to Dubuque? “No. Is there such a place?” I said yes, there must be. One of my early heroes, a college newspaper editor, was rugged Thomas Wardell Braden — born in Greene, Iowa and buried in Dubuque. There are various ways of being rugged. In a magazine piece on Edward some

Continued on page 24


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‘Lady’ of mystery Continued from page 23 five or six years ago, I got him talking about those fallow years in the early 1980s when he’d been out of fashion. “After I wrote ‘Virginia Woolf,’ ” he said,

‘You must remember,’ Albee says today, ‘that when ‘Virginia Woolf’ opened, most of the reviewers were against it. Indeed, most of the reviews of my plays over the years have been either unpleasant or qualified.’

“and didn’t write ‘Virginia Woolf II,’ things started to go south. ‘Why is he writing this metaphysical shit? Why not ‘Virginia Woolf’ again? Some of the reviewers were getting very personal and nasty. In all fair-

Photo by Joan Marcus

Left to right: Catherine Curtin (Lucinda), C.J. Wilson (Fred), Thomas Jay Ryan (Edgar), Laila Robins (Jo), Jane Alexander (Elizabeth) and Michael Hayden (Sam).

ness, I had been shooting my big mouth off about the critics. I taught [theater, at the University of Houston] and went about my business.” Eventually, it turned around again with the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Three Tall Women” (a very unmetaphysical play about Edward Albee’s unsympathetic adoptive mother, who was all three of those women). Perhaps one could think of “The Lady From Dubuque” as metaphysical shit, but the hope at Signature is that director David Esbjornson, who did such miracles with “The Goat” (I can still feel my shock at its denouement), will de-metaphysicalize “Dubuque.” That forgotten venture was brought back

OCEAN GROVE, N.J.

to life by Esbjornson out at Seattle Rep some four years ago — but Albee doesn’t know “who gets the blame” for the show. “May have been David’s idea. May have been Jim Houghton’s. May have been…well, the truth is that Signature commissioned me to write a new play with which to open the new Gehry-designed complex, and then I found I couldn’t finish it in time.” Edward, five or six years ago you said to me: “I plan to go on writing till I’m 90 or gaga.” That stopped him, for a split second. Then, blithely: “It can’t be 90 anymore. Ninety is too close. It has to be 100 or gaga. Don’t bet that he won’t make it. The 100, I mean, not the gaga.

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March 7 - 20, 2012

Photo courtesy of riverfilms

Eric learns the harmonica with his father Isaac.

Documentary charts brain injury recovery process Continued from page 12 having to do with brain injury. The scene where Eric’s father references the challenges (and perhaps burdens) of caring for their son is followed by a swift rebuke from the mother, then acquiescence from the father

FILM BACK WALKING FORWARD Documentary Directed by Kavery Kaul 2011 Not rated Runtime: 40 minutes (post-screening Q&A, with the Michalowski family, the filmmaker and a rep from the Brain Injury Association of NY State) Screening as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month Sunday, March 18, 2pm At the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway) Subway: 2/3 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum Tickets: Free (with admission to museum via voluntary donation) For info on screening, call 718-638-5000 or visit brooklynmuseum.org Visit backwalkingforward.com and kaverykaul.com

that comes from a place of overwhelming empathy for her pain. That domestic slice of life, which is probably happening millions of places all over the earth as you read this, imbues the family’s dynamic with a ring of truth that’s both painful and reassuring to watch. Also universally applicable and deeply poignant is an observation made by Eric’s neurosurgeon, in reference to his 30th birthday party. She wonders what he’s thinking while confined to a wheelchair and surrounded by dancing revelers. Kaul frames that moment in a way that forces us to contemplate how difficult it is to penetrate the internal world of any human being — whether they can articulate their thoughts or not. But the filmmaker saves her most welcome and unexpected insights for the scenes involving Eric. Although his brother maintains that pre-injury Eric was a serious guy, the man we see struggling to walk and talk again swears, sings, plays harmonica and unleashes a relentless barrage of dirty (and very funny) jokes. Late in the film, that aforementioned conundrum regarding the futility of seeing inside another person’s head is, well, turned on its head. Regarding a dream he had, Eric recalls how his brain exploded, then a dog brought it back to him so he could put it together again. Crying yet? Don’t. Nobody involved, on either side of the camera, is fishing for compliments or looking to ride a wave of sympathy. The only thing they want, Kaul asserts, is precisely what all of us want. “The meaning,” she says of her film, “is about the nature of unconditional love. His family is an ordinary family faced with an extraordinary situation. Progress is slow, and we can all learn from watching Eric.”

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Unseemly disruptions calculated to alarm the authorities …and other March Downtown theater atrocities BY TRAV S.D. Recovered from the Oscar ceremony yet? It’s that wonderful annual event where we periodically learn that our nation’s “greatest” and “finest” actors can’t even read lines off a teleprompter! Call me an old stick in the mud, but I like performances in our Downtown theaters just fine! To wit: Talking Band is reviving Sidney Goldfarb’s 1983 play “Hot Lunch Apostles” — which concerns a group of carnival strippers who start performing stories from the Bible. The company will transform La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre into a fairground, complete with game booths, food stands and geek shows. Furthermore it stars one of my favorite actor-singer-songwriters: Loudon Wainwright III (author of the hit single “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” and the classy anthem that introduced his son to the world, “Rufus is a Tit Man”). It also features choreography by the Downtown burlesque scene’s very own Tigger. Exciting stuff, and on view through March 18. For tickets and info: lamama.org. I was hoping to hear about more Irishthemed shows and events for St. Patrick’s Day, but word of only one has reached my ears. Fortunately it sounds compelling (or it wouldn’t have made this column.) Through March 19, the cell will be presenting “The Irish Cell” — a night of Irish one-acts by Larry Kirwan (lead singer of Black 47) and short story writer Seamus Scanlon. Kirwan’s “Blood”

concerns the 1916 kidnapping and torture of union organizer James Connolly by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Scanlon’s “Dancing at Lunacy” is a fictionalized story about the IRA during the Thatcher era. Well, they can’t all be a barrel of chuckles! By the way, the cell calls itself a “salon” — which means that after the show, you can get your hair and your nails done! (No, no, I’d better retract that. Some of you just may believe it!). For more info, please go to thecelltheatre.org. From March 8 through April 7, the Culture Project will observe Women’s History Month by presenting the 2012 Women Center Stage Festival, which promises 30 days of new works and works-in-progress from female theater artists at all stages in their careers. The Rachel Klein Theater Ensemble and Mariah MacCarthy (formerly of Purple Rep) will be among the artists represented. The festival takes place at The Living Theatre. For a full schedule and other info, go to cultureproject.org. I am glad to see that CollaborationTown is reviving “The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos.” I caught Geoffrey Decas O’Donnell’s satire of “Mother Courage” (and so much more) in the New York International Fringe Festival a number of years ago, and loved it from beginning to end. My assessment at the time is that for those well-versed in 20th century theater history, it’ll be a laugh riot. For those not, it’ll likely zip right over your head. Is it is really the Deepest Play Ever? Well, it

Photo by Serge Nivelle

Paul Nugent — as McGowan, in “Dancing at Lunacy” and Patrick Pearse in “Blood” (part of “The Irish Cell”).

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says so, right in the name, so it must be true! Decide for yourself, at the New Ohio Theatre March 9 through 25. See sohothinktank.org for more dope. And speaking of dope, you won’t want to miss “Part Time Prostitute, the secret life of a Wellington hooker” — playing at The Red Room March 20 through 28. It’s not a play, ladies and gentlemen. It’s an autobiographical performance piece by a Wellington, New Zealand sex worker that promises “filthy language,” “adult themes’, and (ye Gods!) “statistics!” I hear things can get pretty racy down in New Zealand. That’s where they do it kiwi-style. For info and tickets, visit horsetrade.info. And while we’re on this subject, perhaps you will be interested to know about “Satan’s Whore, Victoria Woodhull.” Woodhull, of course, was not a whore but a feminist hero — first woman presidential candidate, first woman to broker stocks on Wall Street, first woman to publish a weekly newspaper, and an advocate for suffrage and, yes, free love (this was an era when marriage laws were without qualification oppressive to women). So, you see, no one in our time would ever regard Woodhull as Satan’s Whore, except…

oh, dear. It looks like we haven’t made that much progress after all, have we? At any rate, this is another good one to see during Women’s History Month. It’ll be at the alwaysprogressive Theater for the New City (TNC), March 22-April 8. Also at TNC this month, the most exciting news of all: Charles Busch is presenting his version of “Judith of Bethulia” March 30 through April 28. It’s a takeoff on the 1914 D.W. Griffith masterpiece (itself based on a Biblical story) featuring “lepers, whores, eunuchs, centurions, evil generals, youthful poets and a beautiful red-headed widow.” I am so excited about this show, I’m already camping out in the theater lobby writing this on my laptop so that I can be sure and get a seat. Only three and a half weeks to go! For info on both of these TNC shows go to theaterforthenewcity.net. A couple of vaudeville odds and ends before we part. Canal Park Playhouse has two shows for variety loves this month: “Stunt Lab” — a family show featuring a yo-yo master and a contortionist (March 10-April 4); and “House of Ghostly Haunts” — a spook show by Cardone The Magician (March 27-April 17). Find more info at canalparkplayhouse.com.


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Just Do Art! COMPILED BY SCOTT STIFFLER

BROADWAY BEAUTY PAGEANT Look, if you’re going to ogle occasionally shirtless (and totally buff) Broadway performers, at least do it in the name of charity so you can pitch in for a good cause and take it as a tax write-off. For six beefcake-filled years now, the “Broadway Beauty Pageant” has entertained, amused and titillated audiences with and event that delivers roughly as much satire as sex appeal. This time around, four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh (“Golda’s Balcony,” “Lend Me a Tenor”) will host. The participants are Andrew Chappelle (“Mamma Mia!”), Wilkie Ferguson, III (“Porgy and Bess”), Corey Mach (“Godspell”), Jesse Swimm (“Mary Poppins”) and Anthony Wayne (“Priscilla Queen of the Desert”). These five game lads, good sports that they are, will do their respective Broadway shows proud by ruthlessly questing for that coveted title crown through talent, interview and swimsuit competitions. Celebrity judges Jackie Hoffman, Michael Musto and Tonya Pinkins weigh in on the proceedings — but ultimately, the audience casts the final, decisive vote. Proceeds from “Broadway Beauty Pageant” benefit New York’s Ali Forney Center — which helps homeless LGBT youth become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. The center provides short and long term housing in Manhattan and Brooklyn, plus free medical care, HIV testing, mental health services, showers, food, computer access and job training and placement at its drop-in centers in Chelsea and Brooklyn. Mon., March 19, 8pm. At Symphony Space (2537 Broadway, at 95th St.). For tickets ($25, $50 and $150 VIP), call 212864-5400 or visit symphonyspace.org. For info on the event and Ali Forney Center, broadwaybeautypageant.com and aliforneycenter.org.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

L-R: Broadway babes Anthony Wayne, Corey Mach, Andrew Chappelle and Jesse Swimm (along with Wilkie Ferguson, III, not in the photo) quest for beauty pageant glory.

Photo by Ethan Shoshan

“BEYOND THE HORIZON” AT THE IRISH REP

Installation shot, from Ethan Shoshan’s “Strange Birds.”

The Irish Repertory Theatre’s 24th season continues, with this production of Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. In “Beyond the Horizon,” two brothers fall in love with one woman (a familiar scenario that rarely unfolds without conflict and tragedy). The object of desire is Ruth — neighbor to practical Andrew and poet Robert. Andrew’s content living on the family farm, but Robert dreams of going to sea. When Ruth’s choice compels Robert to stay and Andrew to flee, that decision has irrevocable and tragic consequences. Through April 15, at The Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. 6th & 7th Aves.). Wed.-Sat. at 8pm; 3pm matinees on Wed., Sat., Sun. For tickets ($65 and $55), call 212-727-2737 or visit irishrep.org.

art peers into the inner life of dozens of people — by displaying objects that have significant meaning to them. An optional audio guide provides insight into what makes these folks tick, and why (as Shoshan describes it) they’ve become a “caretaker” of the particular object on display. If you go, do choose to peruse with the help of that audio guide. It’s the only way you’ll learn about Bibbe Hansen’s relationship with her mom (through gathering stones) and hear the backstory behind Stephen Kent Jusick’s first film projector. Other slices of forgotten histories, memories and embodied experiences await. Free. Through March 31. On view Mon.Fri., 10am-6pm, Sat. from 10am-4pm. Artist Talk with Edwin Ramoran (on role models and intergenerational dialogue), on Wed., March 21, 6:30pm. At The Center for Book Arts (28 W. 27th St., 3rd floor; btw. Broadway & 6th Ave.). For info, call 212-481-0295 or visit disiterate.com.

STRANGE BIRDS Presented by The Center For Book Arts, social ecologist Ethan Shoshan’s interactive

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Wrenn Schmidt, as Ruth Atkins and Lucas Hall, as Robert Mayo (from “Beyond the Horizon”).


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Chelsea Now, March 7, 2012