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VOLUME 4, NUMBER 46

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER

MAY 30 - JUNE 12, 2012

BRC strives to be good neighbor, but not all agree BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK Nine months after opening its shelter and addiction treatment facility at 127 West 25th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), quality of life issues have become a persistent source of tension between the Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC) and its neighbors. At the Community Board 4 (CB4) Housing, Health and Human Services Committee meeting, which was held on May 17, BRC executive direc-

Photo courtesy of Friends of 20th Street Park

Sunday, May 20: Invoking a phrase that worked for Reagan, 20th Street Park advocates urged City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other elected officials to “tear down the fence and let us in.”

At Pop-Up Park Rally, a ‘Berlin Wall moment’ BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK On a picture-perfect Sunday, May 20, Friends of 20th Street Park built an imaginary park and everyone came. The Pop-Up Park Rally on the sidewalk in front of the vacant and fenced-up former Department of Sanitation lot at 136 West 20th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues) brought out about 100 neighbors, from ages 2 to 92, who demonstrated, with signs and actions, how the one-quarter acre green space would be used: “I’m looking for a park to…read a book, eat lunch, watch birds, play chess, toss a football, relax on a bench and watch the neighborhood come together.”

They also had a Berlin Wall moment, as they urged City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other elected officials to “tear down the fence and let us in.” The wire fence was symbolic of elected officials locking out kids and seniors from having an accessible park, Matt Weiss, president of the park advocacy group, told the crowd. “They tell them to go over to Union Square Park and the High Line, the equivalent to telling them to take a hike because that’s what it takes to get there,” he said. Weiss asserted that the need for a park grows daily as the population in Chelsea increases. “There is only one legitimate space for a

park and so many others for affordable housing,” he said. “It seems like they want to pursue the path of least resistance and are sticking with their six-year commitment,” he continued, referring to Community Board 4 (CB4) and the city’s pledge to utilize the space for approximately 80 units of middleto moderate-income housing. Weiss pointed out that District 4 ranks 57 out of 59 community boards in New York City for green space and dead last in Manhattan. “We score very favorably on the affordable housing matrix, but score at the bottom of the totem pole on parks. It’s not a want,

tor Muzzy Rosenblatt was invited to speak. After presenting an update on the shelter’s progress, he responded to quality of life concerns raised by board members and block residents. He described his endeavors to clean the BRC (north) side of 25th Street between the two avenues several times a day. He noted, though, that customers at the popular onedollar 2 Bros Pizza (755 Sixth

Continued on page 7

Garden Club gets seed money BY SCOTT STIFFLER An ongoing commitment by the Chelsea Garden Club (CGC) to beautify and maintain bike lane tree pits was recognized on May 15 — when the group received a Stewardship Corps grant from MillionTreesNYC. A citywide, public-private program charged with the task of planting and caring for one million trees across the five boroughs by 2017, MillionTreesNYC has to date added 590,277 trees

Continued on page 14

515 C A N A L STREET • N YC 10013 • C OPYRIG H T © 2012 COMMU N ITY M ED IA , LLC

to the city’s streets, parks, private and commercial land. The “caring for” part, however, has often fallen to citizen volunteers — which is where the grants, ranging from $440 to $1,000, come into play. Acknowledging the city’s reliance upon the kindness of “committed groups who can organize and strengthen tree stewardship and sustainability efforts in their neighbor-

Continued on page 5

EDITORIAL, LETTERS PAGE 8

SPIRAL MUSIC AT RMA PAGE 23


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May 30 -June 12, 2012

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Hudson Guild’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ includes free High Line performance With a hip hop interpretation of Moliére’s “The Misanthrope” and a 90-minute adaptation of Wagner’s “Ring” under their belts, Hudson Guild Theatre Company’s latest production injects classic choreography into “The Sleeping Beauty.” Longtime HGTC director Jim Furlong is once again at the helm — this time, joined by UK-trained choreographer Matthew Westerby (whose dance company members will join the cast of over three dozen locals, including children and seniors). Tchaikovsky’s score for the ballet remains — the rest, Furlong assures, will be fresh, new and unexpected. Thurs., May 31 at 4pm; Fri., June 1 at 8pm; Sat., June 2 at 2pm; Sun., June 3 at 3pm. At Hudson Guild Theatre (441 W. 26th St., btw. 9th & 10th Aves.). Admission: Pay What You Wish. For reservations, call 212-760-9817. For more info, visit hudsonguild.org. There will be a special outdoor performance at 7:15pm on Thurs., June 7. Presented in partnership with Friends of the High Line, it takes place under the Standard Hotel (W. 12th & Washington Sts.). Admission is free.

Photo by Sheryl Liu

“The Sleeping Beauty” gets the contemporary choreography treatment.


May 30 -June 12, 2012

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Christopher St. area illumination problems brought to light BY LORENZO LIGATO A mid-March inspection of the lighting conditions in the Christopher Street area led to the identification of more than 100 illumination problems. Today, two and half months later, the famed West Village street is still struggling to see the light. As first reported in our sister publication The Villager on May 17, the lighting inspection was coordinated by State Senator Tom Duane — in collaboration with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Community Board 2 and the West Village Coalition.

‘Given our experience with adding external lighting to our building, I do feel that increasing the overall illumination in the area would be an improvement to the street,’ Forbes said. ‘It would make our patrons feel safer, reduce criminal mischief and generally improve the quality of life on the street.’ The survey, conducted on March 16, covered the area between West 10th and Morton Streets, from Sixth Avenue to West Street. The study of the 28-block area followed a series of meetings between Duane and neighborhood stakeholders to respond to the spike in violence along Christopher Street and in the surrounding blocks over recent years.

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“Ensuring that our streets are as welllighted as possible will help make our community safer and our neighborhood more welcoming for everyone who lives, works and visits here,” Duane said. Joined by representatives of the Sixth Police Precinct, the Bedford-BarrowCommerce Block Association, the Christopher Street Patrol and private volunteers, Duane and his staff identified 18 instances where streetlights were missing from their bases, nonfunctioning or obstructed by tree limbs. In addition, more than 100 multifamily residences in the survey area reportedly failed to meet exterior lighting requirements. New York City law, Duane observed, requires owners of multifamily dwellings to “install and maintain one or more lights at or near the outside of the front entranceway of the building” to be kept lit from sunset to sunrise. The findings of the survey, Duane recalled, were transferred to the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) — the agency in charge of proper placement and functioning of streetlights — and to the Parks Department, which is responsible for pruning any trees that are blocking streetlights. Duane also noted he sent letters to property owners of residential buildings lacking legally required exterior illumination to remind them of the existing regulations. Numerous owners of multifamily residences responded to his outreach, Duane said, adding that he also heard back from some owners of single-family residences who — although exempted from the requirements — have voluntarily improved their buildings’ exterior lighting in the interest of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the agencies have begun to take action to resolve the other illumination issues found in the survey. The DOT, Duane noted, replaced the one streetlamp that was reported to be missing and restored power to five non-functioning lamps in the area. In addition, DOT and Con Edison are in the process of repairing a sixth streetlight, which is surrounded by a sidewalk shed adjacent to a construction site. Three Bishop’s Crook lampposts — reproductions of the oldstyle streetlights introduced in the late 1890s

— were determined to be solely ornamental, although non-functioning, Duane added. In addition, the Department of Parks, Duane said, will prune the trees found to be blocking streetlamps at the start of the new fiscal year in July. “These are promising results, but we need the ongoing help of all community residents to ensure our neighborhood is as well lit as possible,” Duane said, inviting the citizens to report any lighting irregularities to 311.

Numerous owners of multifamily residences responded to his outreach, Duane said, adding that he also heard back from some owners of singlefamily residences who — although exempted from the requirements — have voluntarily improved their buildings’ exterior lighting in the interest of the neighborhood. However, some residents and visitors said they are still not satisfied with what has been done on lighting in the past two months and a half. Dave Poster, head of the volunteer anticrime Christopher Street Patrol, was a member of one of the teams that surveyed the Christopher Street lighting conditions last March. Poster said he was enthusiastic about Duane’s initiative to assess outdoor illumina-

tion in the neighborhood, adding that welllit streets are necessary to reduce criminal activity in the area. “It’s safer for residents and visitors, and that’s what I’ve been doing for 21 years,” the activist said. Yet, sadly, Poster noted, no changes have been implemented to address the insufficient illumination in some of the blocks bordering the Hudson River Park. “There’s been no difference made, and I’d like to see a difference down here as much as anybody else would,” he said. George Forbes, executive director of the Lucille Lortel Theatre, at 121 Christopher Street, agreed that he hasn’t seen much improvement since the inspection, which, he acknowledged, is due to the co-presence in the area of residential buildings and commercial enterprises. “We realize that as a mixed-use street with commercial and residential tenants, it is difficult to strike a balance regarding lighting,” he said. “Some of the West Village's charm is in walking down dimly lit streets versus the harsh lights of Times Square, for example.” Forbes, who has worked with the Lucille Lortel Foundation since 1989, said that around 15 years ago the theater installed high-efficiency lighting under the marquee of the building, as well as in the entrance to the alley. After this addition, he noted, the theater witnessed a significant reduction in graffiti in the front of the building and a general improvement of the conditions of the alley. “Given our experience with adding external lighting to our building, I do feel that increasing the overall illumination in the area would be an improvement to the street,” Forbes said. “It would make our patrons feel safer, reduce criminal mischief and generally improve the quality of life on the street.” Richard Bourg, who works at the Italian restaurant Gaetana’s, at 143 Christopher Street, said he would also welcome better-lit streets. However, he added, he doubts increased nocturnal illumination would solve all the issues of the West Village neighborhood. “It’s not just the lighting that is a problem,” Bourg said. “It’s what goes down around here.”

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May 30 -June 12, 2012

Pedestrians peddling reform BY DONATHAN SALKALN A critical mass of Chelsea pedestrians expressed concern about sharing the streets with reckless bicyclists — at a May 17th Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC) community forum entitled “Pedestrians & Bikers: Do they have to collide?” The majority of the group demanded more reform and more enforcement of existing bike laws. The event’s two speakers — Paul Steely White

‘Streets with protected bike lanes with pedestrian refuge islands cut traffic fatalities for motorists, pedestrians and bikers alike, by half, across the board.’—Transportation Alternative Executive Director Paul Steely White (Executive Director, Transportation Alternative) and Nancy Gruskin (Founder of the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation) — both advocated reform for commercial delivery bikers. Both urged the audience to support the bill currently under review. Named A5587 for the State Assembly and S419 for the State Senate, the law would require restaurant and business owners who have bicycle personnel to be liable for tickets that their employees incur. Said White, “The current problem is that many of the delivery bicyclists are illegal or transient and the ticket doesn’t stick. The only way to change their behavior is to make owners accountable.” Nancy Gruskin, whose husband was killed by a Midtown delivery biker, has taken an even more proactive stance on

the issue. In collaboration with the foundation named after him, Gruskin has created the “5 To Ride Pedal Pledge” campaign (5toride. org). Its members ask restaurant and business owners to school their delivery personnel on the five most important rules of the road: “Put pedestrians first, stop for every red, ride in the right direction, stay on the asphalt — off the sidewalk, pick a lane and stick with it,” Gruskin said, quoting the rules. In exchange for a pledge to abide by those rules, business owners get a free on-site seminar hosted by Bike New York, a 5 to Ride window sticker and a certificate of recognition. Later, CRDC’s livePhoto by Donathan Salkaln ly moderator Judy Richheimer opened the Nancy Gruskin, whose husband was killed by a Midtown delivery biker, explains the mike for the audience. “5 To Ride Pedal Pledge” campaign (5toride.org). Millie Glaberman, a retired teacher, told her own story. After waiting for the light to change and for traffic to York State Legislature by Assemblymember Michael stop, she took one step off the curb and was blindsided DenDekker (D, Queens) requiring a registration and fee by a biker. The accident, which sent her to Bellevue for all bicycles. He withdrew the bill after hearing the Hospital, prompted Glaberman to become an advocate chamber’s mantra of “another tax and another reason to for bike registration fees and a call for all bikes to dis- flee the State” — referring to New York losing two seats play bold license plates. Both of those proposals were in the U.S. House of Representatives. supported by many others who testified. No matter what side of the street one stands on with The panelist’s views on the registration issue took a fork bike issues, if that street has a bike lane, it is a safer in the road, with Gruskin proposing, “Cyclists who know place. Startling statistics have surfaced that show bike they could be identified by their bike are more likely to lane installations have saved an unanticipated number follow the rules of the road.” Transportation Alternative’s of lives. White added, “We haven’t found a city in the world where White noted, “The data out of the city Department bike licensing works. We also have talked to the NYPD of Transportation shows that the streets with protected about bike licensing, and they are against it because they bike lanes, like we have on Ninth Avenue, are not just don’t have the resources. I safer for bikers. Streets with protected bike lanes with think we need to focus on pedestrian refuge islands cut traffic fatalities for motorexisting laws that we have ists, pedestrians and bikers alike, by half, across the on the books and make sure board. Because the islands shorten the crossing distance, that those are enforced.” because they narrow the street and force the motorists to The issue of registering slow down, because they include turning lanes for cars, all New York bikes is not the street is safer for all of us.” new. In early 2011, a bill Or, as wheelchair-bound Phyllis Gonzalez put it was introduced to the New so well: “When people are in the street, just standing around and talking or looking at maps, I find the bike lane a refuge from oncoming trucks.” Donathan Salkaln is Vice President of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (the home club of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State * Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried). The CRDC meets monthly to exchange (2 adults and 2 children 12 and under) political ideas in protecting Find us on the rights and improving Facebook the lives of those residing Twitter in Chelsea. Visit crdcnyc. southamptoninn.com org or email them at info@ 91 Hill St., Southampton NY 11968 1.800.832.6500 crdcnyc.org. * Subject to availability

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Grant will help green local tree pits Continued from page 1 hoods,� Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe praised the grant recipients. “Their shared commitment to making New York City greener and greater than ever before is something that we are glad to see taking root in communities across the city,� he said, noting that it is “especially exciting to see so many projects involving street trees and community gardens.� Other winning proposals include the 500 West 150th Street Block Association’s Youth “Adopt-a-Tree� program, Rockaway Civic Association’s ornamental grass planting project in center medians along Rockaway Park/ Belle Harbor, Newkirk Cares Collaborative’s installation of mulch tree beds along the Newkirk Avenue corridor in Flatbush and the Human Impacts Institute’s “Ecopreneurs� program — which works with storefront businesses to adopt local street trees. CGC’s $600 Stewardship Corps grant is one of just 13, and one of the few awarded to Manhattan-based applicants. Along with their application co-sponsor (the 300 West 23rd, 22nd & 21st Streets Block Association), funding from MillionTreesNYC will allow CGC to enhance planting in the bike lane tree pits from 18th Street to 30th Street on Eighth Avenue. Once completed, the group will host a “Walking

Tour� of the mini gardens — marking the annual event’s second installment, following its July 2011 debut. Just a year before that, CGC made its own debut. “We got started because we were

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe praised the grant recipients: ‘Their shared commitment to making New York City greener and greater than ever before is something that we are glad to see taking root in communities across the city.’ gardening and tending to the tree pits on our own,� recalls Phyllis Waisman. “We were ad hoc-ish. Then I got in touch with Missy

[Adams, of the 300 West 23rd, 22nd & 21st Streets Block Association], and we decided to form a group. That’s how the Chelsea Garden Club was cofounded.� Since then, CGC has grown from a handful of loosely affiliated neighbors to an organized group of over 40 active members — whose ranks include Citizen Pruners and Tree Stewards. Waisman, a NYC Tree Steward, says the knowledge she’s gained from that certification has helped her advise eager volunteers who may not be familiar with the best way to plant and maintain tree pits. “MillionTreesNYC offers it, for free, in each of the boroughs,� she says of the two-hour class. “They teach you how to water the tree, how much water it needs and what kind of plants and flowers to put in the tree beds, so you don’t put in competing plants that take away nutrients and water.� Citizen Pruner certification, Waisman notes, can be acquired by taking the Trees NY (treesny.org) Citizen Pruner Tree Care Course. Conducted in the spring and fall, its graduates are certified by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation — making them the only citizens able to legally prune NYC street trees. Of the program’s 11,000 graduates, four are members of CGC. “Citizen Pruning,� says Waisman, “allows us to prune any tree that is older than two years, in order to maintain the

Photo by Scott Stiffler

These tree pits, on 27th St. & 8th Ave., are up for adoption.

health of the tree. We went around in early May, the four of us, and pruned the bike lane tree pit trees on Eighth and Ninth Avenues, between 17th and 30th Streets.� Waisman estimates that along that stretch, there are just over 40 tree pits, all of which CGC has committed to maintaining. Most

Continued on page 12

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Before CB4 vote, a final chance for public comment

Image courtesy of Jamestown Properties and Studios Architecture

Things to come? In December of 2011, Jamestown Properties unveiled its new vision for Chelsea Market (seen here from 9th Avenue, north).

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Those wishing to express an opinion on the matter of allowing Jamestown Properties to build up the 9th and 10th Avenue sides of their Chelsea Market property (with as much as 330,000 square feet of office and hotel space) will have one final opportunity — before Community Board 4 (CB4) makes its final recommendation. That decision, which will take place at the full board’s upcoming monthly meeting, caps months of contentious debate during the public comment periods of full board gatherings as well as CB4’s Chelsea Preservation & Planning Committee (CPP) meetings. The full board vote happens at Wednesday, June 6’s 6:30pm meeting — open to the public, and held at Fulton Center Auditorium (119 Ninth Avenue, between 17th & 18th Streets). That vote will be informed, and influenced, by a recommendation made by the CPP at their Thursday, May 31 meeting (also open to the public, it takes place at 6pm — also at Fulton Center Auditorium). Neither the CPP nor the full board has the power to stop or approve the Chelsea Market expansion project — but both may influence the positions taken by Borough President Scott Stringer, the City Planning Commission and, finally, the City Council — which, subject only to mayoral override, has the final word. In a May 16 article (“CB4’s Chelsea Market vetting process nears end game,” available at chelseanow.com), CB4 District Manager Bob Benfatto outlined the voting scenarios available to both CPP and the full board. “There will be deliberation and a vote by the committee,” Benfatto said. “You can do a flat out ‘yes,’ meaning we approve it [the Jamestown plan]. You can do ‘no,’ which is a flat out denial. You can do a ‘denial, unless,’ which means we deny the application as presently written ‘unless’ — and we give a list of conditions to be met. Until those conditions are met, we’re on record as denying.” The public, which has often been allowed to speak at past meetings (via two-minute turns at the mic or by submitting written questions), will

not be permitted to comment at the CPP meeting. Although there is no section of the full board meeting dedicated to Chelsea Market public debate, the monthly event’s traditional structure will afford all interested parties the opportunity to make one last bid for or against the project. In a recent phone conversation with Chelsea Now, Benfatto gave a preview of the June 6 meeting. “It will start as a standard board meeting,” he noted. “We’ll go straight to the public session, anyone who shows up can speak on anything. I anticipate some people will speak on the Market.” Those wishing to speak during the public session should arrive no later than 6:30pm, to sign up for a slot. Benfatto says that session, which typically lasts anywhere from 30 to 90

Although there is no section of the full board meeting dedicated to Chelsea Market public debate, the monthly event’s traditional structure will afford all interested parties the opportunity to make one last bid for or against the project. minutes, will go on “until it’s done. Then we have the full board meeting, which begins with a reading of the minutes from the last

Continued on page 12


May 30 -June 12, 2012

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BRC and neighbors clash on quality of life issues Continued from page 1 Avenue, at 25th Street) generate litter. “They take the paper plates down the block,” he said. “Whether it’s our clients or other New Yorkers, we want to be a good neighbor.” Rosenblatt submitted a request for a small allocation of City Council funds that would allow the BRC to sweep both sides of the street and more frequently and purchase two sturdy trash receptacles for the front of the building. He has also asked the Parks Department about planting more trees on the block. For security, Rosenblatt noted that in addition to the 80 cameras throughout the building, there are two cameras on each side of the exterior, which crisscross each other — recording activity in an approximately 50-foot radius. Rosenblatt told of an email he received from a neighbor, who was approached by a threatening and intimidating client one night. “We checked the security tape, had a description. We were able to play back the tape and within 24 hours that individual was not with us anymore,” Rosenblatt asserted.

But Rosenblatt was adamant. ‘Our security patrol wears orange shirts because people claimed they couldn’t see our staff. But it’s not a prison. I don’t consider outside security appropriate. First and foremost, our clients aren’t behaving inappropriately,’ he insisted. ‘It’s not a crime to sit on a stoop. If the behavior is violent and criminal, that’s different.’ There are four security people in the lobby and others throughout the building, who make rounds up and down the block at least once per hour during the hours they are open, to make sure their clients’ behavior is appropriate. “Our security staffs’ job is to monitor behavior, and if it’s inappropriate or looks like it could be, they ask people not to do it,” he said. “Most of the time it works.” Rosenblatt said that an additional lamppost — at the suggestion of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) — has been installed on the BRC side, awaiting Con Edison to flick on the switch. Also, Rosenblatt has asked his clients not to hang out in the unlit, unused working phone

booth a few yards east of BRC. The city makes money from the ads, explained CB4 district manager Robert Benfatto, and it cannot be removed because of a contract with the provider. If removed, the booth must be relocated somewhere else in CB4’s area of coverage.

During the committee meeting, Rosenblatt suggested that if residents didn’t want clients to sit on their ledges or stoops, they should remove them. (There are also red brick ledges surrounding tree pits, which make for large sitting areas.) Several businesses on both sides of the street have added metal guards with sharp spikes over stand pipes, to discourage people from sitting on them. Before opening up the meeting to attendees, committee co-chair Barbara Davis read off a list of questions from her cell phone, sent to her by residents of the block (excerpted and condensed here). “Is there a helpline that goes straight to someone in the building?” read Davis. Rosenblatt said he will put his cell phone and email address in CB4’s newsletter. At Davis’s suggestion, he agreed to put the number on his office recording. “I don’t care if I get a hundred calls a night, if that’s what it’s going to take for people to feel that BRC is going to be responsive.” “What can be done about the loitering and people being outside?” queried Davis. “That’s something you are going to continue to hear.” Rosenblatt responded, “Let’s walk down the block together and tell everyone we see standing at every doorway, any group of three people congregating someplace, to stop and leave. None of that excuses the behavior that is completely inappropriate, whether public urination, violent activity, smoking pot. They might be BRC clients. Many clients are poor, and it’s not that poor a block, but they might be other people in the community as well.” To the question, “How do you know who the BRC client is with inappropriate behavior?” Rosenblatt answered, “All our clients have an ID tag. Many wear it although some

hide it. We deactivate it when they are not at the shelter anymore.” Rosenblatt stated that according to CompStat data, crime is down in the precinct in every area but auto larceny. He reported that Ted Berntsen, the deputy inspector of the 13th Precinct, says there are no greater incidents of crime coming out of 25th Street or BRC specifically than anywhere else in the neighborhood — either on that block or arresting people who live at BRC on any other block. “When there is a major crime, I usually get an alert from the precinct that they are coming over to view video tapes, that they may have a witness ID, to see if it is from us or not,” explained Rosenblatt. Chelsea Now’s repeated phone calls to the 13th Precinct were not returned by press time. But as reported in our May 12 edition (“BRC, at home in Chelsea”), Detective Ray Dorian confirmed there are low-level quality of life complaints about loitering and pot smoking, noting, “I wouldn’t say it’s chronic.” He observed that not many residents “are flooding the [monthly Community Affairs] meetings” with complaints about the block. Davis asked, “There are a number of people that congregate between 8 and 10pm. Is it possible to create a waiting room?” Rosenblatt explained, “We generally set up four chairs in the lobby at 8pm. But if more people come, we set up more. We have an open door for the detox program and Reception Center, and they can come anytime.

Photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

Several businesses on both sides of W. 25th St. have added metal guards with sharp spikes over stand pipes, to discourage people from sitting on them.

But for the 200-bed men’s shelter, Jack Ryan Residence, it’s by referral from the city. At 10pm curfew, we count who’s in. If a bed is available, we report that to the city and around 10:30pm, they tell us how many beds we can open up because they may be sending somebody from the assessment shelter, and we have people waiting. We know they are coming, and they come right in. On any given day, however,

Continued on page 17

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May 30 -June 12, 2012

EDITORIAL CB4 must vote ‘No’ on Chelsea Market expansion On June 6, Community Board 4 (CB4) will weigh in on the matter of allowing Jamestown Properties to vertically expand Chelsea Market — by adding as much as 330,000 square feet of office and hotel space to the building’s Ninth and Tenth Avenue sides. We urge the full board of CB4 to oppose this plan in the strongest manner possible. A straightforward “Yes” vote seems unlikely. Equally unacceptable, however, is a “Yes, but” or a “No, but” option — which would recommend approving the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) application if certain conditions are met. Eliminating the hotel and establishing an affordable housing fund are among the commendable alterations being discussed. But no amount of public good will compensate for the lasting impact such a decision would have on the Special West Chelsea District’s purpose, vision and integrity. For over a year, concerned residents of Chelsea have demonstrated good citizenship by regularly attending CB4 meetings in large numbers — hoping to influence the board's decision on this critical project. An unequivocal “No” vote will demonstrate that CB4 has heard, and heeded, the will of the very community it exists to serve. It will also send a message to those who will ultimately decide the fate of this project. A “No” vote from CB4 will further embolden Borough President Scott Stringer, the City Planning Commission and Speaker Quinn to stop this project, which in our view should never have received ULURP certification to begin with. The dismal architecture and dubious claims of a pressing need for more office space are reasons enough to disavow this plan. But if given the green light, the project will undoubtedly encourage developers with similar vertical ambitions for the surrounding area. The implications of such a precedent cannot be denied, and must be considered. There are vast tracts of available commercial space in Manhattan — or soon to come at Hudson Yards and the World Trade Center site — for New York’s growing media and tech industries. Jamestown’s project is marginal to the health of that sector, but highly detrimental to Chelsea Market and the neighborhood itself. This project has none of the redeeming qualities of other similarly ambitious ULURP-approved endeavors. Unlike Rudin, NYU and Trinity, Jamestown Properties does not have deep roots in the community it profits from. They have not made, and are unlikely to make, any lasting commitment to Chelsea. Nor does their one-shot, contentious $19 million donation to the robust High Line in any way compensate for stealing in perpetuity light and air from the High Line itself. Jamestown Properties has done nothing to dispel the perception that they are temporary stewards of this property. There are other properties in our great city that Jamestown should consider purchasing, improving and selling. CB4 and our public officials must not permit this developer to irreparably deform the iconic Chelsea Market and the successful High Line park.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Still mourning Chelsea Gallery Diner To The Editor: Re “A casualty of ‘upscale Chelsea,’ Gallery Diner closes” (May 16): We bid a sad, fond farewell to this neighborhood friend. Another neighborhood casualty from the St. Vincent's closure? Maybe. Who knows, every retailer in the area mentions it. Certainly didn't help. Competition from other restaurants? Certainly contributed, as well as the rising costs of doing business in the city. Neighbors told me everyone from AA and AARP to the other end of the alphabet frequented the diner. Others told me there used to be five or six diners doing business on Seventh Avenue over the last 30 years in that part of the city. Where will the customer on 13th Street get his weekend deliveries? someone asked me. Customers will find other places to eat, perhaps around the corner at Good Stuff Diner on 14th and Sixth, or the Hollywood Diner on 16th and Sixth — or any of the other restaurants in the area. Now we worry about the other independent businesses in the area. No, in the end, a neighborhood loses not only a diner but also another common meeting place, one that was inclusionary, not exclusionary. It's too bad that had to happen. The neighborhood lost a friend to many. And that's sad. The late Warren Zevon sang, “There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done. Keep me in your heart for a while.” That's all that's left to do now. Matt Walker

Eyesore could solve park vs. housing problem To The Editor: Re “Electeds shine light on Chelsea Hotel Plight” (May 16): While it is reassuring to see that the rights of longendangered Chelsea Hotel residents are finally being upheld, our elected officials seem to be deliberately ignoring nearby city-owned buildings in even worse condition. Four linked townhouses (201-207 Seventh Ave./170 W. 22nd St.) present an imminent source of danger. This property appears to be teetering on the edge of collapse, with the majority of its windows covered with plywood and brick. Unbelievably, it appears that a few people still live here in total squalor! Why aren’t our elected officials pressuring the owner of this building — which happens to be the Office of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)? Why isn’t Speaker Quinn rushing to protect these city tenants who are forced to reside in Third World conditions? And this structure is just one of hundreds of blighted properties owned and “managed” by the city. The city’s status — and guilt — as a Chelsea slumlord ought to make our public officials spring into action! Why aren’t these officials demanding that this building be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate sorely needed affordable housing? This solution would bring our community the dual benefits of new affordable housing and a park on 20th Street. Is Speaker Quinn really poised to let these buildings decay and at the same time destroy the community’s last and best hope for new green space in Chelsea by allowing HPD to construct yet another building on the vacant 20th Street Department of Sanitation lot? The contradictions boggle the mind! This is the opposite of “good government.” We, as Quinn’s constituents, expect clearer thought from someone who has her sights set on becoming our next mayor!

Glick’s reminder of legislative intent right on the (tax) money To The Editor: Re “High-rises on the Hudson? Let’s think this through” (Deborah Glick, Talking Point, May 16): Thank you Assemblymember Deborah Glick for your masterful reminder of Hudson River Park's legislative intent and the integrity with which it has been fulfilled until now. If it takes tax money to keep it, so be it. Anyone can think of a quick buck way like residential development to pay park costs. Bring back the visionaries who devised a variety of income generators compatible with public uses. Don't let the lazy minds of “can't be done” people reach for quick money at the expense of our unsurpassed waterfront park experience. Mary Brendle

The ‘goal’ is in sight To The Editor: Re “High-rises on the Hudson? Let’s think this through” (Deborah Glick, Talking Point, May 16): Thank you, Assemblymember Glick, for the quick and sensible calming of the waters. Whenever a so-called solution becomes presented as “a done deal” (the usual anti-labor tactic), or as “the only alternative,” you know it’s trouble. Couple this with the fact that we have a “confidential” study, ostensibly funded by the youth leagues (where is the transparency — they exist on public property?), and it all adds up to the usual brutal development and luxury housing tactics. They smell blood, and now they are making their move. So, we Villagers and other Community Board 2 residents might as well get ready to be vilified as NIMBY and antijust-about-everything-else. At one end, Assemblymember Glick and others rightfully look for a solution that keeps the space completely park and recreation. At the other, developers want the pier, and somehow have hooked the youth leagues into supporting their efforts. Meanwhile, we who support Major League Soccer hope that the soccer stadium proposal will be considered as a park and sports-friendly middle ground. MLS seems prepared to act cooperatively and transparently with the neighborhoods for an honest combination of open-space design and financial practicalities, including keeping the current youth leagues footprint or better. The youth leagues are saying nothing about general park space for the rest of us, above and beyond their current use of the pier. MLS, I’m sure, will address this because they need us as much as we need them. One thing we all know for certain: An industry that does not care about whether or not we have a hospital does not care about youth sports. The youth leagues have put their heads in the lion’s mouth, offering trust to a tenant whose residents will eventually box them in and further privatize the pier once they have a stranglehold. Luxury tenants will fuss about noise, lights and access from the get-go. Perhaps, for some of you, suddenly a low-rise and modest stadium isn’t seeming like such a bad idea? This neighborhood has major events year-round; soccer will seem like a blip compared to the loss of Pier 40 to the usual gang. Let’s finish this, this time. Find a solution, make an agreement, make a compromise. Now. Patrick Shields

Kathryn Nocerino

Continued on page 21


May 30 -June 12, 2012

9

Hudson River Park 14 years later: Reality sets in TALKING POINT BY RICHARD N. GOTTFRIED The Hudson River Park is in serious financial trouble. The state and city are committed to funding the completion of the park, although the annual appropriations have slowed to a trickle. Several old structures in the park are literally falling apart, and so the park faces enormous capital maintenance problems that were not envisioned when the legislation creating the park was enacted in 1998. The roof of Pier 40 at West Houston Street is rapidly deteriorating, so much that the garage is generating only 65 percent of its expected revenue, significantly cutting the income that helps to support the park. The pilings that hold up the pier are severely deteriorated. Repairing Pier 40 just to maintain current occupancies and restore parking will cost more than $125 million. Another example: The bulkhead — the wall that for generations has kept the West Side from falling into the river — is in danger of collapse in many places. During Tropical Storm Irene, a section of the bulkhead collapsed, and the Hudson River Park Trust is stuck with a $6 million tab to repair that section alone, with $8 million in additional bulkhead repairs anticipated within the next 10 years.

The park’s extraordinary capital need is crippling it. That’s why we have to look at alternatives. Over the next four years, the Trust estimates its cumulative deficit will be $30 million, with that amount growing annually until some solutions are reached. And that doesn’t even include construction of unfinished park areas — such as Pier 54, Gansevoort Peninsula and Pier 97 — which is estimated at around $235 million. This money is not expected to come from rents.

File photo

Currently, about 1,400 parking spots are used on Pier 40. The number could be higher, but the pier’s roof is in deteriorated condition.

The Hudson River Park Act has strict controls over what “uses” are allowed in each part of the park, and other restrictions. The act also designates several locations within each segment of the park that are expected to generate revenue to support the operation of the whole park. A Trust task force of park advocates, community board representatives and area legislators has been studying the park’s situation. We are also examining possible changes to the park act to enable the park to realize the income potential of selected locations. If any of these changes are made, there would still have to be an extensive planning process with community input before anything actually happens. Pier 40 is not in my district, and I certainly respect the role of that community and its elected officials in shaping polices about the pier. But the thoughts I have about Pier 40 also apply to Pier 76 at West 36th Street, which is in my district. Member of the New York Press Association

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The future of the park depends on every segment of the park contributing to its upkeep. What happens on Pier 40 and Pier 76 affects all of us, not just the area around the pier. The Trust commissioned a study of Pier 40, analyzing the financial and traffic impacts of different potential uses. The study showed that residential use would have low traffic impact while generating the highest and most reliable revenue. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right use, but low impact and high revenue are pretty important. However, the community has rejected previous proposals because of their high traffic impact. In the past, I have opposed residential and hotel development anywhere in the park, and wrote those prohibitions into the 1998 park act. But the park’s extraordinary capital need is crippling the park. That’s why we have to look at alternatives.

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

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Any specific proposal would have to go through extensive community review and input. For example, Major League Soccer may ask to locate a soccer arena at Pier 40. That had not been raised as a possible use at the time the study was being done, so we don’t know the real potential impacts. On “game days” there would be about 25,000 people arriving and leaving the pier, and presumably some number of people for other events on other days. An arena would have its pros and cons. MLS has stated it would pay to repair the pier. It would also be less visually obstructing than many alternatives — and better looking than the ugly building that is Pier 40 now — while keeping the community fields. A major concern is traffic impacts on the area. Piers 40 and 76 are occupied by massive, hulking buildings; one is a parking garage and the other is a city tow pound for illegally parked cars. Neither one belongs in a park. Amending the law will let us plan for much better alternatives. The Hudson River Park Act prohibits leases longer than 30 years and prohibits the Trust from borrowing money. The Trust and the community have tried for years to find a suitable use for Pier 40. It has been clear that the lease limit makes many uses financially impossible. We ought to allow longer leases in the park. Allowing the Trust to issue bonds to help pay for public infrastructure (e.g., new pilings for piers) would help lower costs by taking advantage of tax-exempt municipal bond rates. The way to control what goes in the park is through substantive restrictions in the park act, city zoning, environmental regulations and ULURP — not an artificial lease limit or a counterproductive bonding prohibition. I would much prefer that the park plan not be altered, and I would prefer the state and the city come up with the hundreds of millions we need to complete and maintain the park and meet its massive capital reconstruction costs. But that is not realistic. Gottfried is Assemblymember for the 75th District and co-author of the 1998 Hudson River Park Act — which created the Hudson River Park

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

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


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May 30 -June 12, 2012

POLICE BLOTTER Stairway struggle Police said that a man, 30, was bringing a woman home to her secondfloor apartment at 6 W. 14th St. (btw. 5th & 6th A ves.) around 5am on Tues., May 15 — when a suspect stopped him on the stairs, pushed the woman into the apartment and slammed the door shut. The suspect then struggled with the visitor and hit him on the head with a bottle. Three officers arrived on the scene and began climbing the stairs to arrest the suspect, who hit one cop, sending all three tumbling down the stairs. The suspect, a male, was arrested and charged with assaulting the visitor and the officers. Police did not say what his relation to the woman was.

On PATH, foursome picked one back pocket Police arrested four suspects (ages 21, 18, 20 and 19) in the PATH station at Christopher and Hudson Sts. at around 2:40am on Sat., May 19, and charged them with stealing a cell phone and a wallet from the back

pocket of an unsuspecting victim. All four were charged with larceny.

A fake, a forgery, a stolen card Police arrested a man at 7:43pm on Fri., May 11, for trying to use a fake debit card in a shop near the corner of Sixth A ve. and W. 14th St. The man was also in possession of two more fake debit cards, a New York State Benefit Card and a student MetroCard that were not his. Police stopped a 2004 BMW at the intersection of Jane St. and Eighth A ve. around 10pm on Thurs., May 10, and charged the driver, a 32-yearold male, with possession of a forged instrument for driving with fake license plates and a forged insurance card. Police said the man told them he printed the plates with a computer. A 43-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were charged with trying to use stolen credit cards in a shop at 33 Seventh Ave. (at 14th St.) around 2pm on Sat., May 12. Both were arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.

Body in tunnel The body of an unidentified, apparently homeless man was found in the southbound subway tunnel just north of the Sixth A ve. IND subway station at 14th St., according to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson. The victim was not struck by either F or M trains that run through the tunnel. M train service was temporarily suspended between Continental A ve. in Queens and Essex St. in Manhattan, while F service was rerouted over the D line.

Fare beaters armed with guns, vest Transit police arrested two men who entered the subway station at 14th St. and Sixth A ve. with one swipe around 4am on Sun., May 20. A search of the suspects (a male from Elizabethtown, NC, and a male from Newburgh, NY), turned up two loaded handguns and a bulletproof vest, police said.

Meatpacking mobile theft P o l i c e a r r e s t e d a 3 3 - y e a r- o l d m a n shortly after 4:10am on Fri., May 4 , i n f r o n t o f 1 8 L i t t l e W. 1 2 t h S t . — for taking a cell phone from a 3 3 - y e a r- o l d m a l e v i c t i m . T h e s u s pect refused to be handcuffed and was charged with resisting arrest a n d r o b b e r y.

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A man grabbed the handbag of a woman, 61, on Eighth A ve. at 14th St. at around 11:22pm on Fri., May 4 — but she wouldn’t let go, police said. A minute later, he grabbed the b a g o f a 2 3 - y e a r- o l d w o m a n w h o was passing by and knocked her to the pavement. Witnesses identified the suspect to police, who arrested t h e 2 3 - y e a r- o l d m a n f o r r o b b e r y. The younger victim hit her head on the pavement when she fell and was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, police said.

BICYCLE SAFETY The NYPD wants bicycle riders to know — and obey — the rules. Except for riders under the age of 12 on bikes with wheels less t h a n 2 6 i n c h e s i n d i a m e t e r, c y c l i s t s must ride in the street, in the direction of vehicular traffic (not on sidewalks). Cyclists must obey all traffic signals and pavement

markings, yield to pedestrians, and use marked bicycle lanes or bike paths when available. Bicycle riders should be aware of open car doors. The following safety equipment is required: reflective tires or reflectors; a white headlight and red taillight (used from dusk to dawn); and a bell or horn.

—Alber t Amateau & Scott Stiffler

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Elisa Cokkinos. Main number: 212741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212741-8211. 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 June 27.

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: 212-4774380. Detective Squad: 212-4777444. The Community Council Meeting takes place at 6:30pm on the third Tues. of the month. The next meeting is June 19.

CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun; up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.

CRIME STOPPERS If you have info regarding a crime committed or a wanted person, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, text “TIP577” (plus your message) to “CRIMES” (274637) or submit a tip online at nypdcrimestoppers.com.


May 30 -June 12, 2012

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Queer youth complain of West Village stop and frisk BY DUNCAN OSBORNE Sitting on the West Village piers on a sunny Friday afternoon, Tamir Tanner scowled when the New York City Police Department (NYPD) practice of stopping and frisking was mentioned. “It’s just not fair,” the 27-year-old said. “It’s really not fair to anybody to be stopped and frisked.” Tanner estimated that he had been stopped by police in the Sixth Precinct, which patrols Manhattan’s West Village, about 10 times in July of last year. “They rolled past,” Tanner said. “I guess I looked suspicious to them...I started to feel like they had a problem with me.” According to a report by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), police stopped and frisked 685,724 people citywide in 2011. Fifty-three percent of those stopped were African-American and 34 percent were Latino. They were also disproportionately young and male. Police stopped and frisked 97,296 people in 2002. While there were relatively few stops and frisks in the Sixth Precinct in 2011 — just 2,954 — 76.6 percent of those stopped were African-American and Latino. Just eight percent of the residents in that precinct are African-American or Latino, so it is apparent who the police are stopping — the queer youth of color who enjoy hanging out in the West Village and who have been the subject of complaints by some residents there. “We do know that a lot of our constituency...are stopped in the West Village,” said Ellen Manny Vaz, the communications director at FIERCE, a group that organizes among LGBT youth of color. “These numbers are not surprising. They definitely coincide with what our members are reporting.” The NYPD, which did not respond to an email seeking comment, has argued that stop and frisk is a necessary anti-crime strategy that has contributed to New York City’s low crime rates. Part of the police rationale for the practice is that it deters those who may carry a weapon because they fear that weapon will be found during a stop and frisk.

The NYCLU report found that the tactic is producing diminishing returns. In 2003, police recovered 604 guns after stopping and frisking 160,851 people. Stops grew by more than 300 percent in 2011 over 2003, but police recovered 780 guns last year. At 176 more guns than in 2003, that is a 29 percent increase. The report did not say if any guns were recovered in the Sixth Precinct as the result of stop and frisk. The NYCLU press office could not answer that question. That stop and frisk is being used in the Sixth Precinct is odd. It has been and remains a low-crime precinct. There was one murder in the Sixth Precinct last year compared to 515 citywide. That precinct reported six rapes in 2011 compared to 1,414 citywide, 44 robberies compared to 19,752 citywide and 38 felony assaults compared 18,579 citywide. Opponents of stop and frisk say that beyond violating the rights of those who are stopped, it also alienates people in the communities where it is practiced. There is some evidence of that in the West Village. “I hate it, I hate it,” said Eliezer Pardo, 32, who was passing time with a friend on one of the West Village piers that jut into the Hudson River. “It makes a lot of us stop coming out here...They don’t treat straight people the way they treat gay people. They harass gay people.” FIERCE’s Vaz seconded that saying, “It’s not really helping to create safer communities. In fact, it causes negative relationships.” Pardo said he has prior arrests, and he added that some of the youth who hang out in the West Village do break the law, but, in his view, that does not excuse the NYPD’s use of stop and frisk. “To be realistic, I can’t blame it all on them because a lot of the people out here, they don’t act right,” he said. “I understand why they do their job, but they take it overboard.” West Village residents have for years been complaining about the young people of color who hang out there. Efforts to reach an accommodation in 2005 and 2006 made at the local community board were unsuccessful.

RESTAURANT STAFF — UNDERPAID? Joseph A. Weeden, Esq., is currently investigating allegations that some restaurant workers may have been underpaid by being forced to work off the clock and not paid for the actual hours they worked. As a result, they were not paid minimum wage for the actual hours they worked and did not receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 per week. If you are or have been a restaurant worker and were required to spend any time at work while off of the clock, immediately contact Joseph A. Weeden, Esq. —

weeden2012@yahoo.com • 919-724-6433 18 KINGS CROSS CIRCLE, DOYLESTOWN, PA 18901

Photos courtesy of Gay City News

Tamir Tanner (top) and Eliezer Pardo were among youth who complained of NYPD harassment in the West Village.

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May 30 -June 12, 2012

Garden Club still seeking tree pit adopters Continued from page 5 of the bike lane trees are Pin Oak, Honey Locust and Flowering Pear. A number of pits are still in need of caretakers. Waisman hopes that before their upcoming July event, somebody will step forward to adopt the three Flowering Pear trees at 27th Street and Eighth Avenue. “There are also pits that need adoption on the north and southeast corners of 17th Street and Ninth Avenue, as well as the pits at 28th, 29th and 30th Streets, on Ninth — and at the southwest corner of 26th Street and Eighth Avenue,” she says. Saturday, July 14, “We’ll be replacing the soil in the pits that need it,” Waisman notes. “We’ll also be cultivating the soil.” Although MillionTreesNYC will contribute manpower, tools and supplies to the effort, much of CGC’s grant will be spent that day “to buy the compost and plants,” Waisman says. “We’ll find out what each tree pit gardener needs, so the pits will be uniformly beautiful.” Other area pits will be attended to as needed — but, according to Waisman, “the ones on Ninth Avenue are in pretty good condition because the soil was better when the city contractors put in the trees.” As for what motivates CGC members to spend

Photo by Lily Bouvier

July, 2011: During the first annual Tree Pit Tour, members of the Chelsea Garden Club admire Luis Lujan’s lush plantings (at 9th Ave. & 25th St.).

time weeding, planting and watering Chelsea’s tree pits, Waisman says trees are a simple quality of life contribution that everyone should appreciate. “Trees,” she rhapsodizes, “are health benefits to the community. They absorb carbon dioxide and they release oxygen. They’re beautiful, so they

CB4 to vote on Chelsea Market Continued from page 6 time. We’ll adopt an agenda, and have comments from electeds’ representatives. Then the chair [Corey Johnson] and the district manager [Benfatto] will give their reports.” The fist item on the agenda will be Chelsea

Market. At that point, Benfatto says, “It’s time for the full board to deliberate. They’ll have received the draft letter of the motions that came out of the May 31 CPP Committee.” The deliberation process is complicated by the fact that 11 new CB4 members will be voting on a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] matter for the first time. “So,”

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enhance the value of the neighborhood…and, well, we just like taking care of them.” For info, or to get involved, visit chelseagardenclub.blogspot.com or send an email to cgc.nyc@gmail.com. Also visit milliontreesnyc.org and treesny.org.

Benfatto notes, “We might give them a summary of what’s transpired, and what this ULURP process is. Then we’ll vote by roll call.” After the vote, CB4’s direct involvement is over — but, Benfatto says, “for big complicated community issues like this, we usually, after we issue our recommendation, sit down with the Borough President and the City Planning Commission to explain our letter or recommendation, or resolution.” As for the applicant, Jamestown Properties’ Chief Operating Officer Michael Phillips told

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Waisman hopes that before their upcoming July event, somebody will step forward to adopt the three flowering pear trees at 27th Street and Eighth Avenue. ‘There are also pits that need adoption on the north and southeast corners of 17th Street and Ninth Avenue, as well as the pits at 28th, 29th and 30th Streets, on Ninth — and at the southwest corner of 26th Street and Eighth Avenue,’ she says.

Chelsea Now that after the last full board meeting of CB4 (held on May 2), “We continue to work on the materials and the skin and the massing, in a way that responds to community

Asked whether that work includes a solid commitment to jettison the proposed 90,000 square foot hotel (a scenario CB4 favors), Phillips stated, ‘We continue to be open to a discussion about the ultimate use of the Ninth Avenue end of the building.’ board and neighborhood concerns.” Asked whether that work includes a solid commitment to jettison the proposed 90,000 square foot hotel (a scenario CB4 favors), Phillips stated, “We continue to be open to a discussion about the ultimate use of the Ninth Avenue end of the building.” For more information, visit nyc.gov/ mcb4.


May 30 -June 12, 2012

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May 30 -June 12, 2012

The Lab School in partnership with the Meatpacking District Improvement Association Presents:

Park advocates to electeds: ‘Tear down the fence’

Saturday,June 2nd 11:30am-3pm Rain or Shine Join us on the cobblestone pathways of Gansevoort Street and its historic plaza (between 9th Ave and Hudson St.) where dozens of the city’s chefs will serve mouthwatering fare.

PURCHASE TICKETS @WWW.TASTESNYC.ORG

Photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

Harvey Van Blerkom (age 8) and Sally Greenspan map out a plan.

$35 in advance/$45 at the door Continued from page 1

2012 Participating Restaurants 5 Ninth, Abe & Arthur’s, Aleo, Amy’s Bread, Bakehouse, Baluchis, Bill’s Bar & Burger, Bistro de la Gare, Buddakan, Chelsea Thai, Dos Caminos, Fatty Crab, Fig & Olive, Frankies 570, Friedman’s Lunch, Macelleria, Macao Trading Company, The Meatball Shop, Pastis, RYU, Serafina, Spasso, Smorgas Chef, Spice Market, Tipsy Parson, Tia Pol, Stella’s Pizza SPECIAL THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS FOR THEIR GENEROUS SUPPORT:

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but a need,” he said. Ceci Van Blerkom, mother of two, is used to having lots of green space, having lived in Greenwich Village, she told Chelsea Now. Van Blerkom takes her son Harvey, 8, to a parking lot at Broadway/Fifth Avenue at 20th Street, “when there are no cars there for him to throw his football.”

Weiss asserted that the need for a park grows daily as the population in Chelsea increases. 'There is only one legitimate space for a park and so many others for affordable housing,' he said. Added Samuel Rafalin, father of 19-month-old Alejandro, “We need a park here for everybody. But our elected officials don’t seem to get it.” CB4 chair Corey Johnson, who cut short his weekend to return for the rally, praised Weiss and the local community for their

Photo courtesy of Friends of 20th Street Park

A park bench would be a better place to read her book…but for now, this will have to do.

“incredible job organizing around having a beautiful park in the middle of Chelsea.” He reiterated the board’s commitment to affordable housing but is also supportive of “trying to come up with a win-win solution to find another location.” Community activists and representatives from 21 block associations in Chelsea also showed up, including Bill Borock, president of the Council of

Continued on page 15


May 30 -June 12, 2012

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Friends of 20th St. Park rally for their cause Continued from page 14 Chelsea Block Associations, and CB2 chair Brad Hoylman. Although invited, there were no representatives of local electeds. Weiss and Johnson urged supporters to write to Quinn and congratulate her on her nuptials the day before, and ask her to make another commitment â&#x20AC;&#x153;to her constituents and the children of Chelsea.â&#x20AC;? Weiss told Chelsea Now the following day by phone that his group â&#x20AC;&#x201D; boasting more than 3,000 signatures of support â&#x20AC;&#x201D; has put together a list of nearly 30 alternate properties in the neighborhood that could create more affordable housing. The last direct sit-down meeting with Quinn was in February 2011, although they have contact regularly with her staff, Weiss noted. A meeting, which Quinn requested, was six months in the making and scheduled for April 19. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She wanted to know all the alternate sites, where we were in the due diligence process. However, the meeting was cancelled while

Community activists and representatives from 21 block associations in Chelsea also showed up, including Bill Borock, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, and CB2 chair Brad Hoylman. Although invited, there were no representatives of local electeds. Photo courtesy of Friends of 20th Street Park

Local kids (and a caped one from Krypton, at right) make the case for a park.

we were en route â&#x20AC;&#x201D; without an explanation and no reschedule date,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The ball is in the speakerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s court, which will require her political will to make it happen,â&#x20AC;? Weiss said.

Meanwhile, Weiss promised smaller, more frequent Pop-Up Park events and â&#x20AC;&#x153;a big splashy one later this summer.â&#x20AC;? For more information, to sign a petition or write representatives, visit 20thstreetpark.org.

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Alejandro Rafalin, 19 months old, hopes for a park before he grows taller than his sign.


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May 30 -June 12, 2012

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May 30 -June 12, 2012

17

BRC responds to security, crime concerns someone may show up, ready to give it another go. If you leave the program, it’s still your official shelter. We can’t yet admit them to the program, but now they have a place inside.” Committee member Miguel Acevedo, who is also director of Fulton Youth of the Future at Fulton Houses (421 West 17th Street), asked Rosenblatt to consider hiring extra security to be there 24 hours — many in the community have asked for a uniformed officer. “It would benefit you and ease community fear,” he said. But Rosenblatt was adamant. “Our security patrol wears orange shirts because people claimed they couldn’t see our staff. But it’s not a prison. I don’t consider outside security appropriate. First and foremost, our clients aren’t behaving inappropriately,” he insisted. “It’s not a crime to sit on a stoop. If the behavior is violent and criminal, that’s different.” When the meeting was opened to attendees, Jeff Lazarus — who lives across from the shelter — said he disputed a lot of what Rosenblatt was saying, starting with loitering. Lazarus installed a video camera on the 108110 building and sent Rosenblatt and Chelsea

‘I complain because I see low-level offenses,’ he said. ‘I have lived on the block more than 10 years. I know what life is like now to before BRC.’—Jeff Lazarus Now emails of some recorded incidents. One shows a BRC client drinking on David’s Bridal Shop’s stoop (southwest corner of 25th Street) and then tossing the bottle onto the sidewalk, where it explodes, scaring a female pedestrian. Another shows a client drinking from various 40-ounce malt liquor bottles left behind and then ducking into the recessed area by the stoop to urinate. Lazarus said he called the precinct. But the response was there is not much they can do. “It’s not a crime you can arrest someone

Photo by Bonnie Rosenstock

At May 17’s Housing, Health and Human Services Committee meeting, Muzzy Rosenblatt (far end, left) responds to concerns.

in action for,” he said. “We are expected to tolerate it.” He added that he has never seen security sweeps and resents the comment that loiterers look poor. “I complain because I see low-level offenses,” he said. “I have lived on the block more than 10 years. I know what life is like now to before BRC.” Jacques Lilly, who lives in the same building as Lazarus, interjected that he fully applauds the work that Muzzy is doing and the multi-conversations at CAC and realizes that the vast majority of clients are good neighbors. However, since it is the largest homeless shelter in Manhattan, with 400 clients, there are incidents. Lilly’s wife and baby were followed to their building, he related. He got into an altercation with the man and called the police. “The man said, ‘I’m gonna break your arm. I know where you live,’” Lilly said. Brendan Ferry (another resident on the block) also agreed that Rosenblatt is doing great work inside the building. “But people with mental disorders are loitering, looking for a fix before going in between 8 and 10pm,” he said. “I complained to the person at the reception desk, and she denied it. Maybe the staff is too chummy with the clients.” A neighborhood resident in a baseball cap grew exasperated with the polite tone of the meeting. Like others, he insisted they get a cop with arresting power, not a security guard. “I have been here since 1986. The day they moved in, the neighborhood changed,” he said before storming out of the meeting.

At the end, Rosenblatt said he fully appreciated what everyone said, and that they realize the majority of clients are following the rules. He reiterated to let him know if staff are not doing their job. “Call 911 and create a record for me,” he urged. “Sometimes I have more authority than the police do. Whether it’s a crime or not, I want to know about it. I want to continue to have a dialogue with the neighbors, community board and senior staff.”

MERCHANTS CITE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES On May 22, Rosenblatt took this reporter on a comprehensive tour of BRC’s facilities and for a stroll up and down both sides of Sixth to

Seventh Avenues. He pointed out all manner of people along the way, some well-dressed, some not, smoking and loitering, saying, “That’s the nature of the block, nothing unusual.” This stretch is mostly composed of antique shops, flea markets, home furnishings and doit-yourself establishments, with a smattering of services — a beauty salon, two eateries, a restaurant/bar, a catering shop. In between are residential buildings. After 6pm, most of the businesses are closed, and the block looks desolate. During the committee meeting, Rosenblatt suggested that if residents didn’t want clients to sit on their ledges or stoops, they should remove them. (There are also red brick ledges surrounding tree pits, which make for large sitting areas.) Several businesses on both sides of the street have added metal guards with sharp spikes over stand pipes, to discourage people from sitting on them. This reporter “walked the beat” on her own. Karen, the manager of Food for Thought, a catering concern (at 130 West 25th Street), confirmed that she asked building management to install guards on either side of the shop because she became concerned for her and her workers’ safety. “When my guys would leave, they were constantly asked, ‘Can I have a cigarette, can I have this or that,’ ” she said. The shop looks closed for business, with

Continued on page 21


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May 30 -June 12, 2012

Community Contacts To be listed, email info to scott@chelseanow.com. COMMUNITY BOARD 4 (CB4) 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.). The board meeting, open to the public, happens on the first Wednesday of the month, at 6:30pm. The next one takes place on June 6, 6:30pm, at Fulton Auditorium (119 Ninth Ave., btw. 17th & 18th Sts.). Call 212-736-4536, visit nyc.gov/mcb4 or email them at info@manhattanCB4.org. COMMUNITY BOARD 5 (CB5) 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. CB5’s board meeting, open to the public, happens on the second Thursday of the month, at 6pm. The next one takes place on June 14, 6pm, at Xavier High School (30 W. 16th St., btw. 5th and 6th Aves., 2nd fl.). Call 212-465-0907, visit cb5.org or email them at office@cb5.org. THE 300 WEST 23RD, 22ND & 21ST STREETS BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at 300westblockassoc@prodigy.net.

THE WEST 400 BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at w400ba@gmail. com. CHELSEA GARDEN CLUB Chelsea Garden Club cares for the bike lane tree pits in Chelsea. If you want to adopt a tree pit or join the group, please contact them at cgc.nyc@gmail.com or like them on Facebook. Also visit chelseagardenclub.blogspot.com LOWER CHELSEA ALLIANCE (LoCal) 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 Call 212-337-5912 or visit villagechelsea.com. 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. THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER At 208 W. 13th St. (btw. 7th and 8th Aves.). Visit gaycenter.org or call 212-620-7310. THE ALI FORNEY CENTER Their mission is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become

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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. GAY MEN’S HEALTH CRISIS (GMHC) At 446 W. 33rd St. btw. 9th and 10th Aves. Visit gmhc.org. Call 212-3671000. HUDSON GUILD Founded in 1895, Hudson Guild is a multi-service, multi-generational 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 212-760-9800. For the Children’s Center (459 W. 26th St.), call 212-760-9830. For the Education Center (447 W. 25th St.), call 212760-9843. For the Fulton Center for Adult Services (119 9th Ave.), call 212-924-6710. THE CARTER BURDEN CENTER FOR THE AGING This organization promotes the wellbeing 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. PENN SOUTH The Penn South Program for Seniors provides recreation, education and social services — and welcomes volunteers. For info, call 212-243-3670 or visit pennsouth.com. FULTON YOUTH OF THE FUTURE Email them at fultonyouth@gmail. com or contact Miguel Acevedo, 646-671-0310. WEST SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE Visit westsidenyc.org or call 212956-2573. Email them at wsna@ hcc-nyc.org. CHELSEA COALITION ON HOUSING Tenant assistance every Thursday night at 7pm, at Hudson Guild (119 Ninth Ave.). Email them at chelseacoalition.cch@gmail.com. FRIENDS OF HUDSON RIVER PARK Visit fohrp.org or call 212-757-0981.

HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST Visit hudsonriverpark.org or call 212627-2020. SAVE CHELSEA Contact them at savechelseanyc@ gmail.com. MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT SCOTT STRINGER Call 212-669-8300 or visit mbpo.org. CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CHRISTINE QUINN Call 212-564-7757 or visit council. nyc.gov/d3/html/members/home. shtml. STATE SENATOR TOM DUANE Call 212-633-8052 or visit tomduane. com. 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 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 Community Empowerment) builds the leadership and power of bisexual, transgender and queer youth of color in NYC. Visit fiercenyc.org.

QUEERS FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE is a progressive organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. Visit q4ej.org. THE AUDRE LORDE PROJECT is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender non-conforming people of color center for community organizing. Visit alp.org.


May 30 -June 12, 2012

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FDA committee urges pre-exposure HIV drug BY DUNCAN OSBORNE An advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the regulatory agency approve the use of Truvada, an anti-HIV drug, for HIV-negative people in certain risk groups to prevent them from becoming infected with the AIDS virus. On May 10, the 22-member Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee voted 19 to three to approve the use of Truvada for gay and bisexual men. The drug was recommended for any HIV-negative person who has a partner who is positive in a 19-2 vote, with one abstention. The committee was less enthusiastic about recommending that Truvada be used for others who may acquire HIV through sex. Twelve members supported that, eight opposed it and two abstained. While pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), as this use of Truvada is called, has support from leading AIDS groups, including the Gay Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Health

Crisis (GMHC) and Project Inform in San Francisco, it remains controversial as it proposes to give a powerful drug with serious side effects to otherwise healthy people. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This new drug indication is the baseline, or building block, for a new type of biomedical HIV prevention,â&#x20AC;? said Marjorie Hill, GMHCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chief executive officer, in a May 11 statement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;While we do not have all the necessary information about how the public will respond and potentially utilize this medication for prevention, our constituents, clients, family and loved ones deserve complete support to advance HIV prevention.â&#x20AC;? AIDS groups see PrEP as a welcome addition to their limited arsenal of HIV prevention tools and hope it will reduce new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men, which have remained stubbornly high and unchanging for years. Truvada, marketed by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, is a combination of two

anti-HIV drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir. Tenofovir is known to cause damage to kidneys and can lead to a loss of bone density, which creates the risk of fractures. Other Truvada side effects can include weight loss, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. The rationale for PrEP is based on three large studies. A study of 2,499 uninfected gay and bisexual men and transgender women in six nations found that the risk of becoming infected was cut by 42 percent among participants. A study of uninfected heterosexual men and women and another of sero-discordant couples, where one partner is positive, found the infection risk was cut by 62 percent to 75 percent. The committee was apparently not convinced that this better data, compared to that for gay men and transgender women, warranted a more general application of PrEP. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Basically itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a Tuskegee experiment for gay men,â&#x20AC;? said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare

Foundation, who opposes PrEP. For four decades beginning in 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service let some 400 African-American men with syphilis in Tuskegee, Alabama, go untreated to observe the disease course in them. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be catastrophic for HIV prevention efforts in this country and particularly among gay men,â&#x20AC;? Weinstein said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the easy way out; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s telling people that there is a magic pill.â&#x20AC;? Some PrEP opponents have raised concerns that the Truvada regimen could erode adherence to condom use, the most effective prevention measure. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t question the efficacy of PrEP on an individual basis, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not confident it will work on a population basis,â&#x20AC;? Sean Strub, a longtime AIDS activist and the founder of POZ magazine, wrote in an email. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am concerned that the focus on PrEP will harm behavioralbased prevention efforts.â&#x20AC;? A major issue for PrEP is whether those taking the drug

will be able to follow the regimen given the side effects. After the study of gay men and transgender women ended, the FDA measured the â&#x20AC;&#x153;plasma and intracellular emtricitabine and tenofovir concentrationsâ&#x20AC;? and found that â&#x20AC;&#x153;less than half of the subjectsâ&#x20AC;? taking the drug had â&#x20AC;&#x153;measurable drug levels,â&#x20AC;? the FDA wrote in a guidance. An analysis of those who became infected during the study produced an estimate that only 10 percent of participants had â&#x20AC;&#x153;intracellular drug concentrations consistent with daily dosingâ&#x20AC;? requirements of PrEP. Such â&#x20AC;&#x153;poor adherence,â&#x20AC;? as the FDA called it, could render PrEP ineffective. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The public health benefit of Truvada for a PrEP indication can only be achieved with access to Truvada and strict adherence with the recommended dosage regimen,â&#x20AC;? the FDA wrote. â&#x20AC;&#x153;These are the two key factors to achieve efficacy for Truvada for a PrEP indication.â&#x20AC;?

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In High Line’s shadow, Christine Quinn weds Kim Catullo BY DUNCAN OSBORNE In the highest profile same-sex wedding since marriage equality became a reality in New York State last July, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn married her partner of a decade, attorney Kim Catullo, in an early evening ceremony on May 19 at the Highline Stages in Chelsea. In fact, the wedding of Quinn, first elected to the Council representing Manhattan’s West Side in 1999 and speaker since 2006, and Catullo, a product liability attorney at Gibbons PC, was also one of the biggest social gatherings of political elites in Manhattan in recent memory. When Representative Charles Rangel, the Harlem Democrat who is the dean of the New York City congressional delegation, and his wife arrived in a red Mustang convertible just past 6:30pm — well after the scheduled start of the ceremony — he joined roughly 275 other guests, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and fellow Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velázquez, and Joe Crowley. At 7:02, a spokesman for the couple, who are both 45, emerged from the ceremony, in the West 15th Street venue that sits in the shadow of the famed elevated urban park from which it takes

its name, to announce that the brides were officially married. Quinn, dressed in a full-length, cream gown designed by Carolina Herrera, was walked down the aisle by her father, Lawrence. Catullo, wearing a cream silk evening suit from Ralph Lauren, was accompanied by her father, Anthony. The couple exchanged rings designed by Doyle & Doyle. A mix of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World” was played as the bridal party entered the ceremony. Catullo walked down the aisle to the strains of Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind,” while Quinn made a more traditional choice with Beyonce’s rendition of “Ave Maria.” Justice Judith Kaye, the retired chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest bench, officiated at the ceremony. Kaye wrote the powerful dissent in the 2006 case when the high court rejected a lawsuit claiming a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry in New York. Tony-award winning singer and actress Audra McDonald sang “She Loves,” by George and Ira Gershwin. The band To the Max performed at the reception. Minutes after the ceremony, Kim’s nephew Jeff Catullo — who said he was just four years younger than the bride and raised as if her younger brother — and his wife and

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two small children emerged to describe the event as “important and kind-hearted” and filled with “a lot of excitement.” “There really wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” said Jeff, whose wife, Christine, said the wedding “was a long time coming.” Jeff said that in ten years of knowing the speaker, he learned that the Catullos and the Quinns were “very similar…They love good food. They love to laugh. They love to love. And they love to debate everything.” On his way into the ceremony, Congressman Rangel said, “There isn’t anything I would want for them that I wouldn’t want for any two people in love.” Quinn’s wedding came just hours after the NAACP announced its support for marriage equality nationwide and 10 days after President Barack Obama signaled his endorsement in a dramatic interview with ABC News. As she was leaving, Maloney told reporters that the couple’s vows were “deep and profound,” but begged off on offering specific details, saying “that is very private.” Maloney was not dissuaded by reporters’ insistence that these very private moments were witnessed by nearly 300 people. Instead, she hurried off down 15th Street on a bright, late spring evening in pursuit of a yellow taxi discharging its fare.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from page 8

NYU is too big already To The Editor: As a resident of Washington Square Village and a tenured member of the faculty at NYU (Dramatic Writing, Tisch), I am concerned that so many opponents of this terrible plan advocate compromise. I believe the 2031 plan should be defeated with no compromise. NYU is already too big for the Village. Its students are burdened with the highest student loan debt of any university in the country because of the sky-high tuition. The university has frozen faculty salaries but continues to raise tuition and increase class size. President John Sexton’s plan is about shameless greed. He is a hypocrite. If he cared about students, faculty, education or the future of Greenwich Village, he would raise money for scholarships, increase faculty salaries, lower tuition and move some divisions of the university out of the Village. NYU’s cynical land grab is already destroying Greenwich Village. Every few weeks another purple banner goes up outside another building. Inside, the building is stripped down to look like another corporate office. Robert Moses was stopped from

destroying Soho and Tribeca. Sexton’s cynical greed can be stopped, too. Elizabeth Diggs To The Editor: As an experienced architect, I believe the $100 million required renovation estimate for Pier 40 is a complete fiction. This seems a scare tactic to force decisions upon our community. Pier 40 generates 40 percent of Hudson River Park’s revenue, and the Trust needs $200 million to finish the Park. There you have it! Pier 40 is a potential cash cow for the Trust, to be leveraged to pay for the rest of the park. The pier needs work, but I haven’t seen any indication it’s about to fall into the river. I believe they just want to get our kids and cars out so they can make more money off of Pier 40. William Rogers 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.

21

Does BRC downplay issues? Continued from page 17 the large glass front completely shuttered. They closed their café in February because of BRC clients, she asserted. “They were constantly coming in and harassing the girl employee, who became extremely scared,” Karen declared. “We actually spoke to Muzzy, and we tried to work with him, but he basically didn’t care. Nobody wanted to come to the block anymore, so we lost a lot of business.” The Flea Market (at 120 West 25th Street) has a stoop and a window from which the dealer in Booth 1 can observe the street. She said that she smells pot, which makes her nervous. “It is visually disturbing, and the language is unsavory. Tourists and customers might not want to come in,” she said. “Most are peaceful,” she added — pointing to a guy in a red shirt who was walking up and down the street talking to himself — “but sometimes there is head banging, and the ambulance has to come. It was nice when they weren’t here, but we got to suck it up.” Chelsea Manor manager Anne Marie Dever said BRC clients constantly harass her and her guests by begging for cigarettes as soon as they step outside the lounge/bar at 128. “I can smell pot,” she said. “Some come in to use our bathroom. One big guy stayed

more than 45 minutes. We didn’t know what to do. It goes on until 10pm when the shelter closes. It’s kind of disturbing to business.”

ONGOING ‘CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE’ While loitering and other disturbances may not be illegal, arrestable offenses, Lilly and others in the community are disappointed that Rosenblatt has “tended to downplay the [inappropriate behavior] issue,” he wrote in a long email on May 11. However, the community will continue to try to engage with him “in a constructive dialogue on community-related issues and the BRC. I, and I’m sure a majority of your neighbors, feel the work you do at the BRC is important, and inside your building you do it well.”

The BRC’s main number is 212533-5700. Rosenblatt’s cell phone number is 646-523-9309. The next CAC meeting will be held on Tues., June 5 at 5:30pm at BRC. The next 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (third Tues. of month) is on June 19 at 6:30pm at 230 East 21st Street (btw. Second and Third Aves.). Call 212-4777427. The 10th Precinct Community Council meeting (last Wed. of month) is on June 27 at 7pm. at 230 West 20th Street (btw. Seventh and Eighth Aves.). Call 212-741-8226.


22

May 30 -June 12, 2012

‘Planet’ touches down on Bleecker Other June fests feature Ed Wood & two at New Ohio

Photo by Ashley Marinaccio

Created in partnership with representatives from the United Nations, “Trafficked” tells the story of sex slavery and child exploitation through the eyes of young women across the globe. Part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, it plays June 4, 8, 10, 16, 21 & 23.

BY TRAV S.D. Surprise! It turns out June isn’t only the name of the Beaver’s mom. It’s also one of the best times of the year to see Downtown theatre — thanks to the large proportion of summer festivals that kick off this month. For example, it’s time again for the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (May 30 through June 24). At Planet Connections the flavor of the month is always Rainforest Crunch — each production pairs with a progressive charity and donates a portion of the box office to the righteous cause. If it sounds off-puttingly didactic, never fear. While some of the shows sound messagey, the bulk are merely shows, which is probably better for the bottom line anyway. Of the 30-plus productions on this year’s schedule, some that sound promising are: “Twelfth Night: Wall Street”; “Ye Elizabeths,” about a pair of historical re-enactors who work on a low-rent version of Plimoth Plantation; “The Empress of Sex,” by Duncan Pflaster and directed by festival founder/director Glory Kadigan, concerning a ruler who decrees that there shall be no love in her kingdom, only sex; a musical version of “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Accidental Incest” — a play about “a brother and sister who find romance together.” Come on! Do it for the cause! Patrons will be glad to know that the festival will be concentrated at a single venue this year, and it’s an excellent one: 45 Bleecker. For the full skinny, go to planetconnections.org. And speaking of resuscitated venues, the New Ohio Theatre will host no less than two

Downtown theatre festivals over the coming weeks. First there’s terraNOVA Collective’s 9th Annual soloNOVA Arts Festival (May 29-June 17). This is pretty much the city’s premiere festival for solo theatre and I know they have very high standards because they’ve rejected me twice! Promising sounding productions include “Baby Redboot’s Revenge,” about a child actor whose voice doesn’t change until he is 25; “I Light Up My Life: The Mark Sam Celebrity Autobiography,” billed as the “world’s first preemptive celebrity autobiography”; “The Event,” John Clancy’s existential head game starring David Calvitto; and a new adaptation of “Ubu” by Adam Szymkowicz. Schedule and ticket info at terranovacollective.org. Also at the New Ohio, Soho Think Tank will be launching their annual summer-long festival called Ice Factory this month, running June 27 through August 4. Given that the Ice Factory focuses on a manageable half dozen productions, you’ll find precious few turkeys in their annual line up. The theatre gives their guest artists a rare amount of support (including rehearsal space) and their own week-long runs. Promising sounding productions include “The Pilo Family Circus,” an adaptation of Will Elliott’s novel concerning a sadistic circus that roams around kidnapping new performers; “Flying Snakes in 3-D,” a mashup of sci-fi parody and avant-garde theatre that played earlier this year at The Brick in Williamsburg; and a new adaptation of David Belasco’s “Girl

of the Golden West” by a company called Rady&Bloom that sounds like just my cup of tea. All the information can be found at newohiotheatre.org. June 6-30, Untitled Theater Company #61 will present “The Lathe of Heaven,” an original, authorized stage adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s sci-fi classic about a man whose dreams change reality. This is the latest in a series of company director Edward Einhorn’s adaptations of works by major science fiction writers including Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick. How he achieves these negotiating coups is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to do with real life applications of time travel, telekinesis and carefully pointed lasers. At any rate, “The Lathe of Heaven” will be presented at the techno-friendly 3LD Art & Technology Center. All you’ll ever need to know is at untitledtheater.com. If I were to pick my favorite of this month’s announced productions I would have to say that I am the most excited about this one: a site specific revival of the 1971 Sam Shepard/ Patti Smith collaboration “Cowboy Mouth.” Not only is this psychedelic psychodrama one of my very favorite plays, it is being staged in a “grungy space” (their words) over bridge and tunnel drag bar Lucky Cheng’s. The company that’s putting it on, One Old Crow Productions, is new to me — but with this way-out stunt, they’re off to a flying start. The show is running June 7-22. See oneoldcrowproductions.com for more info. June 20 through July 1, DMTheatrics will present their latest and (they promise) last

festival of adaptations of the work of legendary film director Edward D. Wood, Jr. See? It’s right in the title: “Final Curtain: The Last of Ed Wood.” “Bride of the Monster” is the best known of the five works they’ll be presenting — this is the one where mad scientist Bela Lugosi whips his mute lackey Lobo (Tor Johnson) with a limp lash and commands him to help procure brides for his giant atomic octopus monster. Don’t laugh — it could happen! Also on the docket is “Night of the Ghouls,” “Bride’s” sequel, a movie so obscure it went unreleased for a quarter century after its 1959 completion. Wood couldn’t afford to get the film back from the lab. Exploitation films “The Violent Years!” and “The Sinister Urge!” fill out the bill, with the semi-pornographic caper flick “Hot Ice” (one of Wood’s last projects) as the piece de resistance. That will be me taking careful notes in the front row. The fun will take place at The Red Room. Find out more at dmtheatrics.com or horsetrade.info. Lastly, Incubator Arts Project will be presenting “Discover AtlantASS,” an absurdist rock opera about a young teen who gets abducted to the undersea world of Atlantis by a laid-back jazz fish revolutionary named “Stinge.” Not only is it a show, but apparently it’s also available as a CD and a comic book, both of which will be on sale at the show. It runs from June 21 through July 1. If you are brave enough to investigate further, please go to incurbatorarts.org. See you next month.


May 30 -June 12, 2012

Just Do Art! BY SCOTT STIFFLER

RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART: SPIRAL MUSIC That six-story, 90-foot spiral staircase — an iconic holdover from the building’s former life as home to department store behemoth Barney’s — is as much of an eyecatcher as what’s on display at the Rubin Museum of Art. Their upcoming “Spiral Music” series makes savvy use of the staircase by planting at its base artists who specialize in music from the Himalayas and South Asia. With museum works often simultaneously projected behind the musicians during the performances, audiences are invited to forge a connection between the music and the RMA’s contemplative collection of Himalayan art. This isn’t the first time the staircase has hosted performers: Back in January, “Cirquetacular: The Green Lama” saw aerial artists navigating the space while interpreting a 1944 issue of “The Green Lama” comic book. The exhibit that inspired that event (“Hero, Villain, Yeti”— all about comic books that draw on Tibetan culture and religion) can be seen through June 11. As for “Spiral Music,” it happens every Wednesday in June, and is a free event. On June 6, Riger Lipson (sitar) and Ehren Hanson (tabla) inaugurate the series. On June 13, the work of Noorul Khan (sitar), Sujay Dighe (tabla) and Ricky Mathew (tabla) includes a piece of Indian classical music composed for the series. From 5:45pm-6:30pm, Nepali musicians Raj Kapoor (percussion) and Pawan Benjamin (bansuri) join them. The series concludes on June 20, with Max ZT — whose dulcimer work enlivens the conceptual framework of traditional folk music by fusing multicultural roots and traditions. Free. Wednesdays in June, 5-7pm, at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17 St., btw.

Photo courtesy of Merchant’s House Museum

The Merchant’s House Museum's 19th century garden.

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6th & 7th Aves). Regular Hours: Mon./Thurs., 11am-5pm; Wed., 11am-7pm; Fri., 11am10pm; Sat./Sun., 11am-6pm. Adults, $10; students/seniors, $5; under 12, free. Gallery admission is free every Fri., from 6-10pm, and free for seniors (65+) on the first Mon. of the month. For more info, visit rmanyc.org.

MERCHANT’S HOUSE ANNUAL JUNE BENEFIT: A GREEK REVIVAL Considering the fact that the Merchant’s House Museum has been home to the Tredwell family’s furnishings and possessions since they first moved in a very long time ago, the whole place looks remarkably well. Still, a little microscopic and chemical analysis wouldn’t hurt…in order to ensure that everything from window treatments to carpeting to the placement of furniture accurately represents the time period of 1835-1865. The MHM’s Historic Furnishings Plan is an ambitious effort to present an even more authentic interpretation of the house. Such CSI-like detective work costs real money, though…and that’s where you come in. Help the keepers of Merchant’s House preserve the integrity of New York City’s only family home preserved intact from the mid-19th century — when you attend their annual June benefit. This year’s theme, “A Greek Revival,” involves cocktails, fine wines, hors d’oeuvres, music and a silent auction in the Museum’s lush 19th century garden (with the chance to spend some quality time in MHM’s one-of-a-kind Greek Revival parlors). Thurs., June 7, 6:30-8:30pm, at Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. 4th St., btw. Bowery & Lafayette). Tickets start at $125. Reservations required; call 212-777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org/greekrevival. Regular Museum hours: Thurs.-Mon., 12-5pm. Admission is $10, $5 for students/seniors.

Photo courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art

Music, at the base of a spectacular staircase. See “Rubin Museum.”

free-for-all. That was merely one of the sexcharged nightlife highlights from last month’s “Full Moon Madness” installment. (It wasn’t all skin and sin. The rowdy audience sat still and silent, as Faceboy read an obit of Tom Murrin, aka The Alien Comic — whose long-running Full Moon Show inspired the night’s theme). Show up this time around, and you might see a screening of “Eat My Biscuit-Lesbian Three Way Bread Porn” — a video shot backstage last month when Stormy Leather, Scooter Pie and Amanda Whip got together and…well, the title says it all, right? June’s “Folliez” invites you to forget this sad statistic, courtesy of the sunny optimists from the World Survey Organization: “100% of all divorces began with marriage.” So walk down an aisle of a different kind, as you amble into Bowery Poetry Club to witness a shotgun wed-

ding celebrating the union of outlandish sex and outlaw danger. Your host, Faceboy, now pronounces you “entertained” — as you witness acts from St. Rev. Jen Miller, Velocity Chyaldd and Paaije Flash (via video from Paris), Stormy Leather and Amanda Whip. The musical guest is Bridget (of Bridget and the Squares), and director Courtney Fathom Sell will screen some flicks from ASS Studios. Husband & Husband comedy team Dick and Duane will be on hand, and Justine Joli (a 2008 Penthouse Pet of the Year runner-up) will do some burlesque dancing (among other things). Sun., June 3, 10pm, at Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery, btw. Bleecker & Houston Sts.). Admission: $10. For info, call 212-6140505 or visit bowerypoetry.com, faceboyzfolliez.com and facebook.com/faceboyzfolliez. New shows on July 1, Aug. 5.

FACEBOYZ FOLLIEZ Ah, “Faceboyz Folliez” — that monthly Downtown happening where just missing a little means you missed….a mooning contest that quickly devolved into a glorious, ass-paddling

Photo by Ann Bettison Enzminger

Stormy Leather (left) and Amanda Whip. See “Faceboyz Folliez.”

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24

May 30 -June 12, 2012

Wit, daring and 'an advanced sense of the absurd' Duncan Pflaster’s pair of Planet Connections plays twist and turn BY MARTIN DENTON

THEATER

How lucky mortals are, that they can weep! I have been known to test your love for me By flirting lewd with randy mortal men; With Theseus and Hercules, and more, Those brawny muscled heroes of our time. I hoped to spur your jealousy, so you Would love me all the more, and show me so. I need not do so: I have been a fool.

THE EMPRESS OF SEX Written by Duncan Pflaster Directed by Glory Kadigan June 4-22 THE TAINT OF EQUALITY Written & Directed by Duncan Pflaster June 8-23 Part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (May 30-June 24) At The Theaters at 45 Bleecker 45 Bleecker St. (at Lafayette St.) For tickets ($18), visit planetconnections. org or call 866-811-4111 For info on the playwright, visit duncanpflaster.com

So says Titania in “The Thyme of the Season” — Duncan Pflaster’s sequel to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Written entirely in verse, much of it iambic pentameter, “Thyme” turns many of the events and themes of Shakespeare’s original on their ear — infusing this merry fairy comedy with a touch of the Ridiculous (Charles Ludlam’s brand of Ridiculous, that is) while staying entirely true to the lighthearted tone and spirit of the Bard’s classic. It’s the kind of hat trick that Pflaster pulls off time and time again. In “The Starship Astrov,” he re-imagines Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” on a futuristic spacecraft a la “Star Trek.” In “Amazing Daedalus,” heroes from Greek myth gather together to slay a spoiled overgrown child named Andrew who lives inside a Labyrinth. In “Wilder & Wilder,” Holly Woodlawn (from Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side”) is a disco-era Alice in Wonderland.

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Photo by McNaney Photography

The cast of “The Taint of Equality.” Back L-R: Juan Carlos Diaz, Rehmat Qadir, Jon Rentler, Roberto Alexander, Colin Godwin, David T. Zimmerman, Shawn McLaughlin, Adam Samtur, Derrick Bryant Marshall, Marvin Riggins Jr., Joe Fanelli. Front: Alan McNaney, Mark-Eugene Garcia.

Audacity, erudition and an advanced sense of the absurd, the theatrical and sheer fun converge in the works of this prolific craftsman. Just 38 years old, Pflaster has already written more than two dozen plays, many of them produced in the profusion of theatre festivals that crowd New York City’s stages every summer. His work has been seen in Spotlight On, Fresh Fruit and the Midtown International Theatre Festival. This June, he will have not one but two new plays at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. “The Empress of Sex” — which won the audience favorite award at the last MTWorks’ NewBorn Festival — will be directed by Glory Kadigan. Pflaster will himself direct “The Taint of Equality.” Both shows will be at The Theaters at 45 Bleecker, home to this year’s Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (May 30 through June 24). The first Pflaster play I ever saw was the delightfully titled “Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants” (subtitled, “A Big Epic Ridiculous Naked Shakespearean Fairy Tale Play for Adults”) — in which a gay prince finds true love with a commoner. I didn’t fully appreciate how good the script was until I published it in Indie Theater Now, the online theater library that I founded and curate. It’s joined there by four more of Pflaster’s plays, including both of this year’s Planet Connections entries. Check out this casting note from the script of Prince Trevor to understand the surprising, frank, humorous sensibility of this artist: “In any case, the actor with the longest penis in the cast should be the one to play Peking Trunk.” I’m intrigued by the two new pieces he’s bringing to Planet Connections this year. “The Taint of Equality” turns the debate about gay marriage inside out, centering on a gay couple who have been together so long that everybody figures they’re married, though in fact they are not. “When they realize they’ve never actually opened up their open relationship,” Pflaster explains, “they decide to each go out and get laid, with hilarious and erotic results.” “The Empress of Sex,” meanwhile, offers a neat twist on Marivaux’s famous comedy “The

Triumph of Love.” In that play, you may recall, a young prince has been raised to eschew love in favor of intellectual pursuits. In Pflaster’s take on this idea, a broken-hearted young princess finds a deserted island and, setting herself up as its ruler, decrees that there shall be no love allowed in her domain, only sex. Expect happy endings, with some astute social commentary thrown in. And expect sex and maybe even nudity. I asked Pflaster about the nudity in his plays, which is fairly frequent. He smiled and simply said, “I like nudity.” Both “Empress” and “Equality” contain orgy scenes. Pflaster hails from South Florida, where he spent several years working as an actor and playwright, especially at Florida Playwrights Theatre. He came to New York City about 15 years ago and has found a comfortable home here within the indie theater community. In addition to writing (a lot!), he also frequently directs plays and sometimes acts. He produces many of his shows through his company (CrossEyed Bear Productions). And he writes theatre criticism for the website Broadway World. He’s definitely held in high esteem by his colleagues. One of them, actor Heather Lee Rogers, took the time recently to compose a brief appreciation of Pflaster. In it, she explains why this artist is consistently able to attract the most talented collaborators: “What if we take a selfish, tragic hero (the dashing-yet-flawed man we’re so used to accepting) and make the character female? What if we take an allforgiving wife role and make it the husband? What if we make the hero prince gay and not interested in princesses at all? This is why actors clamor to do Pflaster’s plays, because in them we get to play roles we usually don’t get to try.” There will be nearly three dozen shows in Planet Connections this June, but Pflaster is the only playwright who wrote more than one of them. Audiences in search of wit, daring and a cockeyed world view are advised to check out “The Empress of Sex” and “The Taint of Equality” at the festivity, to find what they’re looking for. Martin Denton is the editor/producer of nytheatre.com. His latest project is indietheaternow.com.


May 30 -June 12, 2012

BY KAITLYN MEADE & SCOTT STIFFLER CREATURES OF LIGHT Descend into the depths of the ocean and explore the caves of New Zealand â&#x20AC;&#x201D; without ever leaving Manhattan. Just visit the American Museum of Natural Historyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new exhibit on bioluminescence (organisms that produce light through chemical reactions). Interactive and family-friendly, kids will eagerly soak up this twilight world where huge models of everything from fireflies to alien-like fish illuminate the dark. Through Jan. 6, 2013, at the American Museum of Natural History (79th St. and Central Park West). Open daily, 10amâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;5:45pm. Admission is $25, $14.50 for children, $19 for students/seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or at amnh.org. For more information, call 212-769-5100.

A M E R I C A N TA P D A N C E F O U N D AT I O N The Tap C i t y Yo u t h E n s e m b l e a n d A m e r i c a n Ta p D a n c e F o u n d a t i o n p r e s e n t â&#x20AC;&#x153; Ta p A t t a c k s â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; s h o w c a s i n g the best youth tap talent the city has to offer as part of their Outdoor Presentation series. 10:3011:30am on Sat., June 9 at Bleecker Playground a n d S u n . , J u n e 1 0 a t Ve s u v i o P l a y g r o u n d . O r, i f youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather make some noise yourself, the Americ a n Ta p D a n c e C e n t e r ( 1 5 4 C h r i s t o p h e r S t . , # 2 B , b t w. G r e e n w i c h & W a s h i n g t o n S t s . ) i s o f f e r i n g children and teens a free introductory tap class. Sat., June 9, 4:30-5:30pm. RSVP at 646-230-9564. For more info, visit atdf.org.

B O O K S O F W O N D E R New York Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest and largest independent childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bookstore has it all, from rare classics to the recently published. Join them for Storytime â&#x20AC;&#x201D; where books are picked off the shelf based on the ages and interests of the attending children. Sunday at Noon and Friday, 4pm. On Tues., June 5 (from 6-8pm), former Books of Wonder employees who have gone on to create their own books will read, answer your questions and sign their works. On Wed., June 6, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rebel Writers for Teensâ&#x20AC;? welcomes authors

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including Holly Black and Scott Tracey. Books of Wonder is located at 18 W. 18th St. (btw. 5th & 6th Aves.). Call 212-989-3270 or visit booksofwonder.com. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR EVENT LISTED IN CHELSEA NOW? Please provide the date, time, location, price and a description of the event. Send to scott@chelseanow.com or mail to 515 Canal St., Unit 1C, New York City, NY 10013. Requests must be received at least three weeks before the event. For more info, call 646-452-2497.

EXPECT THE IMPOSSIBLE For one weekend only, Mark Nizer comes to Canal Park Playhouse armed with robots, flying lasers and outrageous juggling tricks. Audience members will be issued 3D glasses for this crazy combination of live performance and cutting-edge technology. June 15-17. Fri. at 7pm; Sat. at 1pm, 4pm & 7pm; and Sun. at 1pm & 4pm. At Canal Park Playhouse (508 Canal St., btw. Greenwich and West Sts.). For tickets ($20), call 866811-4111 or visit canalparkplayhouse.com. Photo courtesy of nizer.com

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SKIPPYJON JONES BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center and TheatreworksUSA present this imaginative romp (for children ages 4-8) about a kitten named Skippyjon who dreams of being a Chihuahua. When the neighborhood bully starts picking on the smaller dogs, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s up to

Skippyjon to stop being a scaredy-cat and stand up for them. This musical adventure is playing for one day only, on June 3, 3pm at the BMCC Tribeca PAC (199 Chambers St., btw. West and Greenwich Sts.). For tickets ($25), call 212-220-1460 or visit the box office. For more info, visit tribecapac.org.


26

May 30 -June 12, 2012

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May 30 -June 12, 2012

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Return of the three-day ‘HOWL!’

9th Annual Fest builds on legacy of Ginsberg, East Village, LES HOWL! FESTIVAL 2012 FRIDAY, JUNE 1 THROUGH SUNDAY, JUNE 3 ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AT TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK (500 E. 9TH ST.) FOR INFO, VISIT HOWLFESTIVAL.COM FRI., 4:30-7PM. THE MAINSTAGE OPENING CELEBRATION CONCLUDES WITH A GROUP READING OF ALLEN GINSBERG’S “HOWL” (GET THERE BY 6PM FOR THE READING). SAT./SUN., 11AM-6PM. THE GREAT HOWL! OUT LOUD KID’S CARNIVAL features funhouses for all ages, fairway attractions, arts and crafts, miniature golf and continuous entertainment on the Kids Stage. SAT./SUN., 11AM-7PM: ART AROUND THE PARK: Showcasing a world of artistic styles and creativity, this year’s “Art Around” pays tribute to painter and tagger Jean Michel Basquiat. SAT., 5:30-7PM: HOUSE OF HOWL! PRESENTS MEN IN SKIRTS: Drag performers, legendary house Voguers and five different dance companies perform everything from ballet to house music. SUN., 5:30-7PM: LOW LIFE: Celebrating the world-changing explosion of East Village culture from 1966-1972, this show pays homage to movements and art stars (including film and performance pioneer Jack Smith and Bowery-raised Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis).

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Think of Allen Ginsberg — and yes, his iconic poem “Howl” comes to mind (“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…”). So a reading of that masterpiece you’d certainly expect from the annual HOWL! Festival…and you’ll get it, in epic style, as interpreted by over two dozen poets. But clowns, carnival games, miniature golf and more as part of a Kid’s Carnival? The sunny disposition that sort of event implies seems to fly in the face of a festival whose name invokes a work of passion, pain and rage. HOWL! Festival organizers remind us, though, that Ginsberg was about much more than pointing fingers (or giving his middle one to the establishment). The angry young Beat poet was later a meditative champion of peace and love, whose “mischievous sense of fun” speaks as clearly to the juice box set as it does to children of the sixties. Like the East Village, Ginsberg covered a tremendous amount of creative and political ground. Founded to “lionize, preserve and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side,” the HOWL! Festival is “a call to arms across time and across boundaries of culture, taste, and creative expression…a symbol of untamed creativity and a place to engage and build a strong global arts community.” Bob Holman, host of the festival’s signature event, calls the 26-minute “Howl” reading “one of the most delightfully anarchic cultural celebrations you’ll ever hear. When you read or hear this poem, it really works on you. It’s like Walt Whitman. Allen is talking to you directly…and to hear it through the voice of 25 different poets is to hear the Lower East Side talking to the world.”

Asked about the relevance of “Howl” to the current generation of pluggedin artists and activists, Holman cites “the immediacy and physicality of the poem. He writes in a form that’s going to be familiar to The Digitals. You can’t find many ‘ifs’ or ‘buts.’ It’s all direct. Ginsberg has these sweeping, long lines, each one of which would probably be a tweet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the first line was 140 [characters].” Echoing the way Occupy Wall Street’s words of protest filled Zuccotti Park, Holman says this year’s Saturday and Sunday installments of “HOWL!” will have “a constant sense of poetry in the air. It’s going to make a big difference when you’re wandering around Tompkins Square Park. It’ll be like you’re catching the news as it used to be carried along by the town crier. We’re going to have speaker boxes occupied at all times by poets, with nothing but the power of their voice and language to fill the air with sound and meaning constructs... for enjoyment and illumination.” Among those standing on the box, Holman says, will be “members of The Poetry Brothel. They’ll bring in some of their Poetry Whores, who will be reading while dressed as New Orleans bordello workers. We’ll also have the Bowwow Poets, a wide-ranging crew of poets in their 20s and 30s.” Also on hand will be the Pop-Up Poets and regulars from Bowery Poetry Club, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Poetry Project (at St. Mark’s Church) and A Gathering of the Tribes. “This year,” Holman assures, “you’ll see an ongoing lineage of NYC cultural life that’s mirrored in the different communities of the Lower East Side.”

Photo by Nathaniel Siegel

The Great HOWL! Out Loud Kids Carnival has arcade games and enough art-making experiences to satisfy even the most demanding pint-sized Picassos.

Photo by Nathaniel Siegel

Art Around the Park features a 900-foot canvas for more than 100 artists to express their personality and interact with Festival-goers.

Photo by Shell Sheddy

Rolando Vega (Chicken Man), at 2011’s Art Around the Park.

Art Scene & Celebrity Sightings MadameJOnArt.blogspot.com


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