VOLUME 26, NUMBER 7
oUr endorsements P. 22-23
AUgUST 28-SEPTEMBER 11, 2013
anGrY deBate Between chIn & raJKUmar
the future. She has had around 30 shows of her work in the last 40 years. This may be her last. Twice in her life so far, she found a home — once, as a child when she first visited New York City and loved it instantly, and once when she came to the South Street Seaport in the mid-
B Y hEAThER DUBI N parks flew as City Councilmember Margaret Chin and challenger Jenifer Rajkumar, candidates in the race for the City Council’s First District, clashed in a debate last Thursday. sponsored by NYC Community Media, publishers of Downtown Express and The Villager. About 170 spectators — with an even show of support for both candidates — packed the room. The crowd was extremely vocal during the 90-minute debate and somewhat antagonistic with each side rooting loudly for their candidate. Both women are running in the Democratic primary election on Sept. 10 for the Lower Manhattan council seat. Hot topics of the debate included land use, specifically New York University and the South Street Seaport, and campaign financing. Chin claimed her opponent lacks political experience and spews misinformation, while Rajkumar knocked Chin as the candidate of big real estate, based on her support from the Real Estate Board of New York. The candidates referenced their immigrant pasts, and were proud of their accomplishments. Chin, who grew up in District 1, recalled her journey to the United States 50 years ago, and marveled that she is a first term city councilmember today; Rajkumar, who was born
Continued on page 12
Continued on page 7
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Naima Rauam, who chronicled the old Fulton Fish Market with her paintings, will give up her last Seaport gallery on Sept. 9 when Pier 17 closes. “The moment I came here — it was 1966 — it was an instant click,” she said of the neighborhood.
Seaport artist’s space will sleep with the ﬁshes B Y T E RE SE L O E B K R E U Z E R rtist Naima Rauam has been painting and sometimes living in the South Street Seaport for 30 years, but now it’s time to say good-bye. Pier 17, where she has had a studio since 2005, will close on Sept. 9 prior to being torn down. Rauam’s gallery on the second floor of Pier 17 will also close.
She is holding a farewell exhibit in her gallery from Aug. 28 to Sept. 9, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. On Aug. 28, there will be a reception from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for handshakes, hugs, wine and cheese, and maybe a few tears. “Come celebrate the past and welcome a new future!” she says on her invitation. But the past is far clearer to Rauam, 67, than
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
A dramatic bronze medal for these Downtown skaters BY KA I T LY N M E A D E It might be the middle of summer, but it’s also ice skating season for the “Reach for the Sky Rink All Stars,” whose summer practice sessions at Chelsea Piers paid off August 4 when the ensemble was awarded a bronze in the United States Figure Skating Showcase Nationals — making them one of the best theatrical skating ensemble in the country. “We were thrilled because the competition is so fierce,” said their coach, Marni Halasa. Their winning program was called “Cirque du Patinage...a Skating Circus”, performed to a medley of Cirque du Soleil music. It was the first time at Nationals for the nine girls who travelled to Cape Cod. Most of the group, which ranges in age from 12 to 17, has been skating together since tit was formed six years ago by Halasa, who also runs a professional skating company and is a self-styled “parade personality”. The team comes from all over the city to practice at Chelsea Piers. They are now Sky Rink’s longest-running showcase ensemble team and have an outstanding list of accomplishments from Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade to shows at Rockefeller Plaza and the Standard Hotel. In July, two of them were invited to perform at Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir’s “Great Gatsby” themed birthday party. However, Halasa said the New York City skaters really were the underdogs in the com-
petition, especially since production groups can have anywhere from eight to 30 skaters. “I would go so far as to say the number one highlight of my teaching career — it was so unexpected,” Halasa added. Fourteen-year-old ice skater Alida Monaco put it another way: “Everyone was jumping up and down, jumping on each others’ backs, screaming.” “We were really happy to be able to reach our goal,” said Mona Johnson, 14, who hails from Lower Manhattan near Chinatown. Johnson triumphed as a soloist as well when she made it into the finals for Teen Dramatic Entertainment with a program to “Don’t Tell Mama” from the musical Cabaret. Monaco, a Tribeca native, also made the final round in her solo category of Teen Light Entertainment, where she said she did a routine to a mash-up of Hannah Montana and Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science”. In showcase skating, the focus is on portraying a character or scene, and points are awarded for creativity and choreography, rather than on technique. It gives skaters who want to compete but also want to be involved in school and other activities — like many of the Sky Rink All Stars — the opportunity to shine. When most kids get out of school on Friday afternoon, they can start the weekend, but the All Stars head for Chelsea Piers for their
From L to R: Mona Johnson, Oceanna Pak, Jennie Berlin, Leith Conybeare, Miranda Tyson, Virginia Mason, Sophie Spillmann, Alida Monaco and Catherine Mayer. Members of “Reach for the Sky Rink All Stars” at the 2013 USFS Nationals of Theatrical Skating in Cape Cod, August 1 through the 4th, 2013
once-a-week practice. Many of them also put in extra time outside of team practices. “Being an urban ice rink in the city at Chelsea Piers, we don’t have a lot of ice time,” said Halasa. Both Johnson and Monaco said they got up early a few times every week to practice before school. Johnson said balancing skating and her other passions can be difficult “because I’m in the tech theater program at LaGuardia High School and not only is that a commitment, skating is also a commitment.” Monaco, though one of the original All Stars, said she had only rejoined the group six months before the competition because she had scheduling issues that prevented her from attending practice. She was glad she did. “Ice skating can be such a singular kind of sport and this group can help us to connect and make friends,” she said. “The girls have all really grown up with each other,” said Halasa. It was the winning factor on the ice, she said. “We had the chemistry and a great routine. They’re great performers, so we had all the ingredients to make a successful performance.”
Mona Johnson, Marni Halasa, Sophie Spillmann -- Mona and Sophie, members of the team, performed in July at Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir’s “Great Gatsby Birthday Party” at the Soho Grand in New York City. The girls, dressed as ﬂappers, entertained the crowd, skating on synthetic ice.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Sept. 11 cermonies
Downtown Express photos by aline reynolds
Last yearâ€™s Sept. 11 ceremonies.
The annual Sept. 11 ceremony will be held at the 9/11 Memorial in remembrance of the 2001 terrorist attacks, with four moments of silence observing the times when each plane hit and each tower fell, beginning at 8:46 am. Family members have been invited to attend. Community Board 1 will be holding its Lower Manhattan community evening at the 9/11 Memorial on Sun., Sept. 8 to commemorate the lives lost and altered by the Sept. 11 attacks. Free passes will be required to enter the memorial. They can be picked up at the C.B. 1 office on 49-51 Chambers St., Suite 51, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. To receive the pass via email, contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Fri., Sept. 6. The community board asks that emails include the address and number of passes, with a limit of four per individual. St. Paulâ€™s Chapel will ring the morning bell services followed by their traditional Prayers for Peace and the ringing of the Bell of Hope. The massive pillars of light at West and Morris Sts., made of 44 7,000 watt bulbs, will send a glowing image of the Twin Towers into the N.Y.C. skyline beginning at sunset on Sept. 11 and will remain until the sun rises the next day.
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
tWo sought for soho assault
A fight between two groups of women in Soho got out of hand when two of them reported that they had been attacked with whatever weapons their opponents had to hand. Two separate reports were generated by an altercation on the southwest corner of Mercer and Grand Sts. on Sun., Aug., 18 at about 11:20 p.m. The reports did not say if the two complainants were on the same or opposite sides of the conflict. The first victim, a 29-year-old woman, claimed that she and her friend were engaged in an argument with a group of girls in the street. Police said that her friend did know the group of girls. One of them, whose alias is “Mimi”, attacked the 29-year-old using a set of keys as a weapon, causing several small cuts to the victim’s hands. Mimi then fled in an SUV. She was described to police as about 5’7”, 170 pounds, with short, dark hair. In a separate complaint, another woman, 25, stated that she was walking to her car when she got into an argument on the corner of Grand and Mercer Sts., at 11:20-11:25 p.m. that night. During the argument, she said she was struck with a wooden stick. She said that her attacker, a 24-year-old woman, called her a derogatory name and said “I ain’t tired, I ain’t stopping.” Police said she was able to identify the woman, and described her as 5’7”, 150 pounds with short hair. Police said the victim did not suffer any injuries.
Get an extra chain for those bikes, Manhattanites: Several bicycles were stolen from Downtown streets in the past week, all of which were locked to racks at the time, according to their owners. A Seaport man, 25, told police he locked his $1,250 gray SCOTT Speedster bicycle to a bike post on the northeast corner of Barclay and Church Sts. near the World Trade Center on Mon., Aug. 18 at 4:30 p.m. He returned to pick it up at 1:15 a.m., but found that the lock was broken and the bike was missing. Camera footage was available from the commercial building next door to the barren bike post, on the southwest corner of Barclay and Church Sts. Another man, 30, lost his bike to a thief after chaining it up outside the World Financial Center in Battery Park City last week, police reported. The man said he had chained the bicycle outside 200 Liberty St. to a bicycle rack while he was at work on Tues., Aug. 20. He noticed that the bike was still there when he went outside for a meal break at about 5 p.m., he said, but when he got done with work at 11:33 p.m., the $1,100 gray Cannondale CAAD8 bicycle was gone. The chain was also missing. According to police, video surveillance of the area is maintained by Brookfield Office Properties. Police also received a report from a man outside his Tribeca business on Fri., Aug. 23. The victim told an officer that his $3,000 Litespeed bike and $90 chain had been stolen from a nearby bike rack on the corner of Barclay and Washington Sts. sometime between 8:15 a.m. and 3:01 p.m. that day. He said he did not see the person who took it.
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Police apprehended one iPad poacher last week, but her partner is still at large after a robbery in the Financial District. According to police, the victim of the robbery, a 30-yearold woman, was walking alone up South Street on Wed., Aug. 21 at 4:45 p.m. The woman said was approached from behind by two other women. One of them remained behind her while the other circled in front of her and asked for her phone. She said they then both pushed her against a parked truck on the street and then tackled her to the ground. One of them took her iPad before fleeing the scene. Police apprehended one suspect, Starmaisha Janeppe, 20, but said the other got away with the stolen device. While the partner had not been caught by press time, police reported that the $800 iPad had been recovered.
A man attempting to help his friend rent a Citibike had his own rental ridden away by a stranger who was probably not intending to bring it back after 30 minutes. The 24-year-old stated that he was at the bike share docking station at 90 Maiden Lane on Fri., Aug. 23 at about 9:05 p.m. He said that while helping a friend, he had left his own recently rented blue bicycle about ten feet away. At that point, a man walking east on Maiden Lane swerved over, hopped on the unattended bike and took off northbound on Gold St. Police contacted traffic management for possible tracking data but were unable to locate it. Aside from the monstrous fees the thief must be racking up, the N.Y.P.D. valued the Citibike at $1,200.
shoPlifters not sensed
A boutique in Soho was hit by shoplifters this past week, before they could even get cameras installed, an employee reported. According to police, a shoplifter walked away with over $1,000 in merchandise from Helmut Lang, a designer clothing store at 93 Mercer St., a store employee told police. The incident occurred on Aug. 14 between 3:10 and 3:30 p.m., the employee said. The security footage time stamp, which the employee said was incorrect, sets the time an hour later. Police noted the 22-year-old employee also said that there were no sensors installed because the store “just opened”. However, the boutique reportedly opened in March 2011. The items stolen were a $370 Helmut Lang sweater and a $895 leather dress.
— Kaitlyn Meade
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Some bumps and delays as Broadway becomes narrow B Y KA I T LY N M E A D E Traffic was flowing slowly but surprisingly surely on a recent Thursday, despite traffic barriers that closed all but one of the southbound lanes near Wall St. The bottleneck at Liberty St. slowed traffic as cars funneled into the left lane to avoid Phase 1 of the city Dept. of Design and Construction’s Broadway Reconstruction Project. The chaos of taxis, tour buses and pedestrian traffic midday on Aug. 15 had taken over Broadway between Rector and Liberty Sts., where construction began the first week of August. An ambulance with flashing sirens was stuck in stop-and-go traffic for those blocks as cars could not pull over to get out of its way. One aggressive driver stopped abruptly to avoid hitting a fruit vendor crossing the street. However, pedestrians and employees of area businesses noted that the construction did not have an impact on their day-to-day activities. Several pedestrians went over to ask directions of “traffic enforcement agents” stationed at the intersections. “It’s running smoothly, everyone is getting by,” said Takeisha Walker, at the intersection of Broadway and Pine St., who was directing traffic on one side and keeping an eye out for tractors moving back and forth on the other. “My company keeps [drivers] motivated,” she said. Walker is an employee of MFM Contracting Corp., which has
been hired to maintain traffic flow on Broadway’s remaining lane. She said that the level of activity was fairly normal for the time of day. Coordinating vehicles with the massive pedestrian presence was not so easy, said her colleague Latoya Lewis, stationed at Wall St. Lewis, on duty that day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., pointed out all the ways that a single lane could be obstructed. “It’s busy all day because of the train station right there. You’ve got the Stock Exchange, the [Wall St.] Bull is down here — there’s a lot of action. And yellow cabs are good for stopping, slowing traffic down. And the tour buses slow down to show people the Stock Exchange and take pictures of the [Trinity Wall Street] church,” Lewis said. “If we weren’t here, traffic would be really jammed.” Deliveries in the area are far more difficult, according to workers trying to finish construction on the interior of the TD Downtown Express photo by Yoon Seo Nam. Ameritrade at 100 Broadway. “It’s costing us a lot of money,” said John Street repairs have closed parts of Broadway down to one lane. Patrick Maloney, of A.C.C. Construction, the job manager of the site. Maloney said appeared,” he said. is aimed at replacing the aging infrastructhe bank’s construction was due to be This first two sections of the $42 million ture such as water mains, sewers, and gas, finished by mid-September but until then capital street reconstruction plan will take until steam and electric utilities. he is forced to get permits for deliveries at July 2014 to complete, according to a presentaThe city is encouraging community odd hours with less traffic. tion by the Dept. of Design and Construction. members with questions or complaints to “We got no forward notice, zero… I Phase 1 of Broadway, from Rector to contact the construction community liaiwas here on Saturday working, and when IB:9.75” Ann Sts. http://bit.ly/1a6vWXD will take son Liz Baptiste at broadwayphase1ccl@ came back Monday, [the barriers] suddenly about two years to complete. The project gmail.com or call 212-791-6540.
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
Is it 2017 already? Candidates, on ﬁrst term musts B Y S C O T T S T Iff L ER January 21, 2013: Before the final balloon made its trip from the rafters to the floor, more than one TV pundit had seized the opportunity to pivot from Obama’s inauguration to the viability of Hillary in 2016. Thinking so many steps ahead that you’re actually playing the next game of chess is a move largely driven by the political machine’s relentless forward momentum. As such, electeds arrive at the podium for their acceptance speeches with a new campaign cycle already beginning to cast its shadow. At least the next time around, they’ll be running on a record of accomplishments, as opposed to the promises that put them in office. That assessment inspired our final question — when NYC Community Media recently met with the five democratic candidates for mayor. As our publisher and the editors of Chelsea Now, Gay City News and The Villager/East Villager looked on, Josh Rogers, editor of Downtown Express, asked: “We have a question, and it’s a fill-in-the-blank. I won’t deserve to be reelected unless I am able to accomplish_____?”
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Unless I’m able to convince the middle class and those struggling to make it that their lives are better.
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CITY COMPTROLLER JOHN LIU
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We need to address income disparity…and achieve universal Pre-K and after-school program. If I can’t show progress in four years on those things, I shouldn’t be reelected.
Unless I create good jobs, build decent housing and fix our schools.
Unless I am able to keep crime down, improve schools and move us towards more jobs and more affordable housing.
Unless I’m able to make this a more affordable city. Unless I’m able to increase opportunity in this city.
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
Rajkumar & Chin battle in debate
Downtown Express photos by Don Mathisen
City Councilmember Margaret Chin, left, and her opponent Jenifer Rajkumar.
Continued from page 1
here, has dedicated her life to social justice, and is a civil rights attorney. Later in the evening, Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader from Battery Park City, acknowledged the very notion of opportunity. “This is progress seeing a South Asian American and a Chinese-American running for an office. When does that happen?” she asked. Rajkumar pointed out that we live in the Obama era, where people vote on issues and strong representation. While Chin and Rajkumar give land use top priority, their perspectives vary. Chin has been involved with several land use development projects during her four-year term, and looks to Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) as a boon for affordable housing. On a site that has been vacant for over 45 years, Chin was able to help secure 50 percent permanent affordable housing, which accounts for 500 units. “Because of the community coming together — [former] site tenants, organizations, housing, and community boards working together with the city, we were able to come together and craft a compromise,” Chin said. But Rajkumar was critical of Chin’s ability to work well with the community, and accused her of serving real estate interests rather than her own constituents. In terms of SPURA, Rajkumar wrote an op-ed article in The Lo-Down and blasted elected officials for not doing enough for future residents. She advocates for 100 percent affordable housing in the development, and said people displaced from their homes 50 years ago for SPURA, are thankful for her position. Chin criticized Rajkumar for not attending SPURA meetings. “How can you write an article criticizing the work people did for
three years to come together for a historic compromise?” Chin asked in an angry tone. Rajkumar said it was not her job to attend SPURA meetings, and instead listed all the community meetings she has attended, including the Battery Park City Community Emergency Response Team, where she is the government relations director. “You are not, I am,” shouted Ninfa Segarra, former deputy mayor in the Giuliani administration, who stood up at the debate to say this. The crowd grew wild and began to yell out questions to the candidates. In regards to N.Y.U. 2031, and the South Street Seaport, Rajkumar was more directly involved in those land use projects, and said Chin has let real estate developers do whatever they want. Rajkumar, who was lead council on discrimination cases with large companies, said Chin is a bad negotiator. “It was a historical moment when Chin approved a 2 million square-foot expansion into Greenwich Village,” Rajkumar said. Rajkumar said Chin approved the city’s uniform land use review procedure against the unanimous vote of Community Board 2 and almost every resident in the Village who wanted to protect the character of the neighborhood. Chin’s rebuttal was to declare Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer’s support for the plan. She also said the expansion was scaled down more than 25 percent, and there were many years of meetings on the project. Rajkumar also took Chin to task for helping developer Howard Hughes Corp. move forward with plans at the South Street Seaport. “She [Chin] hid a letter of intent from Howard Hughes where he said, ‘We intend to build luxury hotels and market-rate apartments.’ How can you not let that information be public?” Rajkumar questioned. Finally, issues of campaign financing fired
up the crowd and brought some to their feet, yet again. Rajkumar said REBNY is supporting Chin as a reward for putting real estate interests first. “They’re pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into this race to buy this council seat for Councilmember Chin,” Rajkumar said. Chin suggested Rajkumar look at her campaign finance record, and questioned where the funding was. Rajkumar had asked Chin to disavow the outside real estate Political Action Committee support in a previous debate, but Chin said there was
nothing she could do, and she did not want the funding. A lightening round of questions by moderators Josh Rogers and Lincoln Anderson, editors of Downtown Express and The Villager, brought some levity to the debate. Chin is for the Yankees; Rajkumar likes the Mets. When Rogers asked for a positive adjective to describe their opponent, Rajkumar said, “I love the colors that she wears,” (both candidates had on different shades of pink) and “Female,” was Chin’s answer.
Campaign coverage online Visit DowntownExpress.com to view video clips of last week’s debate between Margaret Chin and Jenifer Rajkumar. For continuing coverage of the Downtown campaigns visit our site, sign up for our email blasts, follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook. Our next issue will be published Thurs., Sept. 12, when we will have full coverage of the election and the Sept. 11 ceremonies.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Bike store owners put their spin on new bike-share B Y CL A RIS S A -J A N LIM New Yorkers, albeit many of them grudgingly, are gradually getting used to more pedaling passengers on those blazing blue Citi Bikes. But what about local bike shops? Is Citi Bike rolling up riders at their expense? At Gotham Bikes in Tribeca, a manager who gave his name as “Ben W.” said the shop has seen an increase in its overall sales due to the bike-share program. “It’s getting more people on the road, more people learning about the sport and getting involved,” he said. An employee at Danny’s Cycles in Gramercy said Citi Bike is a good option for people to ease into biking in a city famed for its vehicular congestion and aggressive drivers. “They can try out a bike without committing to buying one,” James Ryan said. “It makes a more comfortable biking environment in the city because there are a lot more bikes, too.” Business at Danny’s Cycles has increased as well since the advent of bike-share. “A lot of people come in for bike gear, and we’ve sold a lot of helmets,” he noted. Rentals are not a big part of the business at either Gotham Bikes or Danny’s Cycles. But for Frank’s Bike Shop, a small business that has been at its current
Lower East Side location on Grand St. since 1976, the bike-share program has been bad news. Owner Frank Arroyo said that his rental business has decreased by 90 percent since the Citi Bikes were rolled out last month. Arroyo’s main rental customers are European tourists, a demographic that has since been drawn away by Citi Bikes. Initially, a bike-share station was sited a few doors away from Frank’s Bike Shop on the corner of Grand and Henry Sts. But a petition on moveon.org to relocate the bike station gathered more than 1,000 signatures. The Citi Bike dock was eventually removed — but only temporarily, according to the Citi Bike Twitter account, for utility construction in the street. “I was grateful, and it was quite an honor to see how many people responded on my behalf,” Arroyo said of the petition effort. “It was really nice to see that people care. But they have flooded the place with them,” he said of the Department of Transportation, which installs the bike racks. Removing one station does little since the area is overloaded with Citi Bike stations, said Arroyo. “If you put it in front of a hotel, customers are going to walk of the hotel and
use it,” he said. However, Ben said the bike-share is good for bike sales at his shop. “People have used the bike-share and realized how great it is to bike in the city, then decide that they want something nicer for themselves,” he noted. Christian Farrell of Waterfront Bicycle Shop, on West St. just north of Christopher St., said initially he was concerned about bike-share, though, he admitted, “I was happy to see people on bikes.” Consisting of equal parts tourists and locals, his customers get a better rental deal at his shop because, despite charging only $10 for a daily rental, the bike-share program requires cyclists to check their bikes in at a bike station every half hour. His store, on the other hand, charges $10 for the first hour, $5 for the second, and $2.50 per hour after that. “Six hours with Waterfront Bicycle Shop will cost a customer $25,” he said. “With Citi Bike, a six-hour rental will cost $126 [if the rider doesn’t re-dock his or her bike at a station every half hour]. Our rentals always include a helmet, a basket and a lock.” Several dozen rental bikes were lined up on Weehawken St. last Sunday behind the store. Benny, who was watching over them, said another advantage over the Citi Bikes is that
Waterfront’s bikes are all in good working order. Farrell’s early concerns were echoed by Andrew Crooks, owner of NYC Velo, at 64 Second Ave. “It seemed like a great idea, but one that would be difficult to implement,” Crooks said of Citi Bike. He said he worried about inexperienced riders’ lack of awareness of biking rules and backlash from noncyclists. However, he said, it’s still too early to tell if his business has been impacted. The actual Citi Bikes themselves have been criticized as “heavy,” “clunky,” even “ugly.” In comparison, Crooks said NYC Velo has bikes that are “lighter, faster and tend to be more comfortable.” Farrell of Waterfront also said his bikes are of “better quality” than the bike-share two-wheelers. While it’s possible bike-share will cause a drop in business in the long run, Crooks allowed that the idea, as a whole, is good for the city. “I believe that the program is a positive step forward for New York City,” he said, “and will prove to benefit New York City cycling conditions — in terms of greater acceptance, safety and accessibility.”
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
Liu holds up money for Pier A plaza B Y T E RE SE LO E B K R E U Z E R Pier A headaches continue for the Battery Park City Authority. A plaza fronting the 19th-century pier at the southern end of Battery Park City will cost $5 million to complete. The B.P.C.A., which has rehabilitated the pier, is willing to spend the money. The mayor has to approve the expenditure and is also willing, but City Comptroller John Liu, who also has to agree, says no. This standoff jeopardized the $300 million bond issue that the B.P.C.A. hopes to put in the capital markets in September. The Pier A plaza matter had to be settled or withdrawn from the funding package in order for the Comptroller’s Office to approve the bond issue. The B.P.C.A. has chosen to temporarily resolve the matter by withdrawing the $5 million in question from its capital plan, leaving the Pier A plaza in limbo. The rehabilitation of Pier A was originally funded with $30 million from the New York City Economic Development Corporation based on a prior tenant’s cost estimate from the 1990s. As construction delays continued, new structural problems were uncovered, and the cost rose, the Battery Park City Authority kicked in another $6 million. Then there was damage from Superstorm Sandy. The costs for that will probably be covered HalfPageAd_9-13.pdf 8/14/2013 3:50:55 PM by insurance.
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Pier A and its plaza.
Liu’s office refused to approve the B.P.C.A.’s $95 million capital plan because it earmarked $5 million for the Pier A plaza. Liu said that E.D.C. should pay for the plaza, not the B.P.C.A. In a July 30 letter to B.P.C.A. chair-
person Dennis Mehiel, Liu wrote, “The Pier A Plaza funding troubles me because the New York City Economic Development Corporation (E.D.C.), B.P.C.A.’s partner in the Pier A redevelopment project, has refused to share in the plaza costs despite
its historical responsibility for Pier A and its significant unrestricted fund balances. My office asked B.P.C.A. in May to request appropriate E.D.C. financial support. E.D.C. Continued on page 13
August 28 - September 11, 2013
P.S. 276 & NEST reading at rank high despite citywide drop District 1 2 2 2 1 2 2 2 2 2
NEST P.S. 276 P.S. 150 Yung Wing Shuang Wen P.S. 89 P.S. 130 P.S. 234 P.S. 1 M.A.T.
Number 2013 Number Tested in 3&4 Lv 107 106 60 41 27 144 70 86 160 166 71 56
18 91 44 52 96 99 25 13
1 16 26 31 32 42 45 47 199 346
Drop (Gain) 2012 Rank 2011 Rank 2010 Rank from 2012 5 (4) 3 3 N/A N/A N/A N/A 7 62 69 43 97 54 265 240
19 (31) (37) (1) (52) (7) (66) 106
56 97 12 48 73 40 299 167
57 56 33 33 18 31 205 384
School rankings, above, are based on the number of fourth graders who scored above average, meaning in the third and fourth quadrants of students, on the English Language Arts section of New York State’s standardized test. The percentage chart, below, shows what percent of students that scored in the top third and fourth quadrants since 2009. The data is based on citywide school scores released by the Department of Education and compiled by Tom Goodkind for Downtown Express.
B Y KA I T LY N M E A D E Despite panic this month over the Department of Education’s recently released “common-core” test scores, Lower Manhattan’s elementary schools remain some of the best in the city, according to data compiled by C.P.A. and Community Board 1 member Tom Goodkind. In fact, the public schools all ranked in the
top half throughout New York City, and all but two of them were in the top ten percent of schools when comparing fourth grade English Language Arts scores. For the twelfth year, Goodkind has compiled a chart that compares the reading scores of fourth graders in traditional schools; charters and private schools were not included.
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Borough/School 2013 Lv 3&4 % 2012 Lv 3&4 % 2011 Lv 3&4 % 2010 Lv 3&4 % 2009 Lv 3&4 % NEST 99.07 97.1 99 98.6 100 P.S. 276 68.33 N/A N/A N/A N/A P.S. 150 Yung Wing
Shuang Wen P.S. 89 P.S. 130 P.S. 234 P.S. 1 M.A.T.
62.86 60.47 60.00 59.64 35.21 23.21
80.6 85.5 77.1 84.1 59.1 61.2
92.8 83 78.7 84.7 54.7 66.1
83.1 83.1 88.2 83.6 57.1 40.4
96.3 90.6 92.1 99.1 81.2 69.6
Fourth-graders’ standardized test scores are considered vital in determining a school’s rank because they are often the most important factor in middle school applications. “I think we’re the toughest on our children in the universe,” Goodkind said only half in jest. “We determine their futures based on their fourth grade E.L.A. test.” The rankings measure how many students scored “above average,” meaning in the third and fourth quadrants (the average is the junction between the second and third quadrants). While some results were expected — the top school in the city, New Explorations in Science, Technology and Math (NEST), is a gifted and talented school in District 1’s Lower East Side and has been in the top six schools since 2006 — other schools ranked remarkably well. P.S. 276 ranked 16 in the city in its very first fourth-grade test year. “That’s amazing results considering it’s the first year the test was taken,” said Goodkind. The Battery Park City School, which moved into its new building in 2010, had about 68 percent of its students score in the top two quadrants in 2013, the best of any District 2 public school below Canal St. P.S. 150, which may be relocated from Tribeca to Chelsea, dropped from seven to 26. Goodkind said it was a normal fluctuation; especially with such a small class size, each score matters more to the average than in larger schools. It is still considered to be in the
top tier of schools. The only other area school that dropped in the ranks was the Manhattan Academy of Technology, which moved 106 spots down the list from 240 to 346, identical to its rank in 2007. Only 23 percent of their students scored above average. M.A.T. still scored better than more than half of the 723 city schools used in Goodkind’s analysis, however. Other Downtown elementary schools gained, including P.S. 89 in B.P.C., P.S. 130 in Chinatown and P.S. 234 in Tribeca, which ranked within a few places of one another at 42, 45 and 47, respectively. About 60 percent of their students scored in the top quadrants. P.S. 89 and 234 have scored similarly since 2010, and have been in competition since they were ranked the city’s best elementary schools in 2002, said Goodkind. Both schools still consistently send students to top middle schools in New York City. Chinatown’s Yung Wing and the Lower East Side’s Shuang Wen schools did well, ranking 31 and 32, while P.S. 1 in Chinatown jumped 66 places and into the top 200 schools in the city. The congruity in numbers also shows that while the test may change — and as the Department of Education warned, individual scores may drop — a good school is still a good school. And Downtown has some of the best. “No matter how hard or easy the test is that year, you can still compare schools,” Goodkind said. “This is stabilizing.”
August 28 - September 11, 2013
trAnsIt sAM SUNDAY PARKINg RULES ARE IN EffECT MONDAY fOR LABOR DAY Labor Day means the end of summer is here! Whether you stay in the city or head out of town, there will be some mean traffic to face. Beginning around 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday, West St./Route 9A, the F.D.R., and the Holland and Battery tunnels will get hectic as vacationers skip town for one more long weekend. Expect every approach to the Holland Tunnel to be jammed, including Varick St., Broome St., Sixth Ave., and Canal St. The Battery Tunnel will be slightly better. The Canal St. approach to the Manhattan Bridge will be better than the Bowery. The F.D.R. to the Brooklyn Bridge should be avoided; the Park Row approach will be your best bet. Thursday’s rush hour will be worsened by the 7 p.m. Jets-Eagles pre-season game at the New Meadowlands Sports Complex. This spells trouble for the Holland Tunnel as more people head south to avoid the Lincoln Tunnel. Watch out on Seventh Ave. down to Varick St. One small relief: There will be no construction on bridges over the weekend, although overnight closures of all Manhattan-bound
lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge will resume Tuesday, running from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday nights. Pace University students moving into dorms will take over several curb lanes in the financial district 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Monday on John and Fulton Sts. between William and Dutch Sts., John St. between Broadway and Dutch St., Frankfort and Spruce Sts. between Park Row and Gold St., and Dutch St. between Fulton and John Sts. Fast food employees will protest for higher wages around the city Thursday, staging a walkout that will mean picket lines outside of fast food restaurants all day long. Single-wheeled participants in the N.Y.C. Unicycle Festival will ride into Brooklyn from City Hall Park beginning at 2 p.m. on Friday. The Greenwich Village Chamber Of Commerce Broadway Festival closes Broadway between Waverly Pl. and 14th St. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The First Police Precinct Explorers Block Party will close Liberty St. between Broadway and Trinity Pl. from 12 p.m. noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. A construction project on Peck Slip has closed Water St. 24/7 between Beekman
St. and Peck Slip for the next two weeks. Additionally, street parking on the north side of Beekman St. between Front and South Sts. is temporarily suspended. As of Monday, August 26, Franklin St. is closed between Hudson and Varick Sts., likely until the end of September. On Nassau St., a construction project will periodically close the block between Ann and Beekman Sts. until September 5.
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St. paul’s Chapel | Broadway and Fulton Street
Acclaimed tenor Nicholas Phan performs Benjamin Britten works from his second solo album, Still Falls the Rain. Tickets are $30 general admission; $15 for students (at the door). Use the discount code DOWNTOWN and take $5 off general admission tickets!
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an Episcopal parish in the city of New York
During the closures, northbound traffic will be detoured to William St. Confused about ever changing traffic and parking regulations? Need driving tips or help navigating around lower Manhattan? If so, please send me an e-mail to transitsam@ downtownexpress.com or write to Transit Sam, 611 Broadway, Suite 415, New York, NY 10012. And follow me on Twitter @ gridlocksam.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Fish Market artist to wrap up at the Seaport Continued from page 1
1960s — again, love at first sight. “I connected with New York City when I was eight or ten years old,” said Rauam, who was raised in Washington, D.C. “My mother and my grandmother and I would come up here on visits and we stayed with friends in Jackson Heights. They were on the L line and I adored hearing that train clatter by the window. It gave me such a sense of comfort! And I knew that I was a native New Yorker and then I went back to D.C., which I don’t care a whit about. If I never see D.C. again, who cares?” She had that same sense of connection with the Seaport. “The moment I came here — it was 1966 — it was an instant click,” she said. After her studies at the Art Students League and marriage, she moved to Maine, but visited the Seaport. In 1982, her husband got sick. “We came back to New York from Maine and when he died, the first thing I did was head for the fish market because it was home base,” she said. “It was comfort and it’s been like that ever since.” For years, Rauam lived in the Seaport and painted its old buildings and the fishmongers whose work began at sunset and ended at dawn. She, too, kept fish market hours. “Although the fish market is gone and I still grieve for them, their ghosts are still here and the old buildings are still here and the history and the waterfront is still here,” she said. For now. The windows of Rauam’s gallery on
Pier 17 frame the Brooklyn Bridge, which has inspired some of her recent work. After Pier 17 closes down, Rauam will be working from her apartment on the Lower East Side. “I don’t have a sense of where to go so I don’t think it’s going to benefit me just to go someplace at random,” she said. “I looked at studio space last week and I went inside and I said, you know, this has no connection to me. I don’t feel anything. There’s no reason for me to be here. I could be here or in Brooklyn or the Bronx or in Kansas. I don’t just want to stumble into a space that may or may not work. I want to finish my
‘Although the fish market is gone and I still grieve for them, their ghosts are still here and the old buildings are still here.’ Seaport work at home. I have some commissions to do — and then see what kind of new direction I want to take.” She said that she hopes she can develop her artwork and “be an artist of stature in terms of doing really good work and being recognized for it.”
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Naima Rauam in her gallery at the east end of Pier 17.
She said that she knows she wants to paint Coney Island, which she visited frequently 15 or so years ago. “I would go on summer evenings and absorb the scene and do sketches and take photos and think about compositions,” she said. “I haven’t had time to develop that. I find myself connected with the old Coney Island, especially at night. I’ve gotten really interested in night scenes and I love New York at night.” Rauam thought of calling her upcoming show “The Last Hurrah” but decided that was too maudlin.
She doesn’t know what the future will bring, but she said, “I live in New York City! That’s good. The five boroughs — to me, there’s just no place else to live. This is the center of the universe and the Seaport has been my little corner of it that I’m just so comfortable in. “What life will be like afterward, I have no idea. Maybe it’ll be OK. Maybe I’ll go on to bigger and better things. Who knows?” After Sept. 9, Rauam’s artwork will be available through her website, www.artpm. com. She will also accept commissions for special order artwork.
Pipe falls from Holiday Inn construction site B y Kaitlyn M eade A falling pipe on Rector St. shook residents and workers last Friday in the Financial District when it tumbled from the half-con-
structed Holiday Inn at 99 Washington St. The intersection was the landing site of a pipe that crashed onto the street, former Community Board 1 member Maria Smith
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told Downtown Express. Smith said she and her boss were walking from their office on the north side of Rector St. on Friday, August 23 at 12:30 p.m. “We heard this big bang and we literally huddled under the scaffolding until it stopped,” she said. “We only saw one... a piece of copper piping, 6-8 inches [long], a hollow pipe, fell into the middle of the street.... It was scary; there were a lot of people [in the area].” She said the foreman came over and took the pipe from her. It was about a half-inch in diameter. “It wasn’t that big but it was enough that it could have hurt someone.” Smith said that persistent construction in the area where she has lived for the last 22 years has led to several close calls. The construction at 99 Washington St., which began in 2011 after stalling due to the financial crash in 2008, is one of several high-rise developments near the World Trade Center. Designed by architect Gene Kaufman and developed by Sam Chang, it
will be the tallest Holiday Inn in the world. Cava Construction was contracted to erect the 50-story tower, which is scheduled to open in 2014. The project has had six Environmental Control Board violations since October 2012, two of them unresolved: one for work without a permit and another for installation and operation of mast climbers without certification. Smith said she called her complaint into 311 and also called Robin Forst of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. In a phone interview with Downtown Express, Forst replied that she forwarded the complaint to the city Department of Buildings and is waiting to hear back. She said that the complaint against 99 Washington was the first she had heard of “in a long time. There have been no problems that I’m aware of, let’s put it that way,” she added. The Department of Buildings did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Pier A plaza Continued from page 9
refused to consider B.P.C.A.’s request.” Liu, a candidate for mayor, objected to having B.P.C.A. money go toward the plaza because excess revenue from the authority is supposed to be handed over to the city to help fund affordable housing. As recently as the Aug. 20 B.P.C.A. board of directors meeting, Mehiel said that because of the “connective tissue between the capital plan and the debt offering...there’s certainly the possibility that we may withdraw our offering to the debt markets.” Mehiel and Robert Serpico, the B.P.C.A.’s chief financial officer and interim president, said that putting off the debt offering would be costly. “Time is critical,” Serpico said at the board of directors meeting. “The market has been moving against us, so we could lose literally millions of dollars by delaying this offering.” Serpico estimated that the authority could save approximately $50 million on the cost of capital by refinancing its debt. Mehiel described the standoff as “a dispute among our two parents [Liu and Mayor Bloomberg]” about the $5 million. “It would be unfortunate if the $50 million that would make it to housing were somehow sacrificed to the $5 million dispute,” he said. On Aug. 21, Serpico and Phyllis Taylor, executive vice president and general counsel for the B.P.C.A., went before the Public Authorities Control Board in Albany to present the authority’s application to go into the bond market — a necessary step in that process. They also
presented a capital plan for $90 million — minus the $5 million for the plaza. The Public Authorities Control Board approved the application. It now seems likely that Liu will also approve it. However, the standoff between Liu and the E.D.C. on money for the plaza has not been resolved. Ari Hoffnung, a Liu spokesperson, said in a phone interview that E.D.C. started the Pier A project and the E.D.C. should finish it. He described the E.D.C. as “an organization sitting on millions and millions of dollars. They have the money to finance this project and finish it. Why not use the money to finish the project? Why take it away from an affordable housing fund?” Liu has been critical of the E.D.C. for years. “We don’t believe that E.D.C. wisely invests in economic development,” said Hoffnung. “Comptroller Liu has done a tremendous amount of work in demonstrating that E.D.C. gives millions of dollars to companies in exchange for the companies agreeing to all sorts of things — usually in the area of jobs — that don’t ever materialize. We have found that they don’t hold corporations accountable for the commitments they make to New Yorkers. We have found that this entity doesn’t provide the city with funds that it is owed.” The E.D.C. responded by saying, “We have not been a part of this project for quite some time. It is B.P.C.A.’s project and their responsibility, and we expect they will fund it and finish it.” Meanwhile, work on the plaza had to begin more than a month ago in order to get it finished before cold, winter weather sets in.
Downtown Express photo by Milo hess
Walk this way Life imitated art — or at least advertising — on Park Row in front of the old J&R electronics shop, above.
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
Quick stop in Battery Park City, as authority president resigns B Y T E RE SE LO E B K R E U Z E R Demetrios Boutris, president and chief operating officer of the Battery Park City Authority, handed in his resignation Aug. 16, 10 months after he had been appointed to that position by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In a letter to the staff announcing Boutris’ resignation, B.P.C.A. chairperson Dennis Mehiel said, “We wish him all the best in his future endeavors and thank him for his service to the authority.” At the Aug. 20 B.P.C.A. board of directors meeting, Robert Serpico, the authority’s chief financial officer, was confirmed as interim president and C.O.O. while the authority searches for a new president. The B.P.C.A. president is responsible for the authority’s day-today operations. Serpico will continue to hold the position of chief financial officer — a position with urgent responsibilities of its own as the B.P.C.A. prepares to go into capital markets with a $300 million bond offering. Serpico has been the B.P.C.A.’s chief financial officer for 26 years, after briefly serving as treasurer. Simultaneously, for 17 years he was president of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. He holds an M.B.A. from the Syracuse University
Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Demetrios Boutris, left, last October after he was named president of the Battery Park City Authority. Robert Serpico, right, is now interim president.
School of Management. Boutris’ resignation was not mentioned at the board of directors meeting. Following the meeting, Mehiel answered questions from reporters about Boutris’ departure. He said that Boutris had been working 70 to 80 hours a week, seven days a week, and had taken a 40 percent
pay cut to come to the authority. Mehiel indicated that Boutris had another “time sensitive” offer in the private sector that he wished to accept. He said that he believed that Boutris would be moving back to California, where he had been, among other things, legal affairs secretary and counsel to the
governor of California (Gray Davis) and head of the Boutris Group, a business and policy advisement firm. KT Communities, a land development and land consulting company based in Roseville, California, announced the next day that Boutris will become its president and chief executive officer, effective Oct. 1. Boutris had previously consulted extensively with KT Communities and its founder and chairman, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos. Mehiel said that neither he nor anyone else had placed any pressure on Boutris to resign and that there was no truth to rumors that Boutris was being investigated by a New York State agency. Mehiel said that Boutris first discussed his intentions with him several weeks ago. Mehiel said he was only “half” surprised at the resignation. “People resign,” he said, with a shrug. Since Mehiel is both C.E.O. and chairperson of the authority, he said that the only practical consequence of Boutris’ departure would be that he would have more work to do until a replacement can be found. He said that the B.P.C.A.’s proposed bond offering would not be affected by Boutris’ resignation. “This is an informed judgment,” he added.
CatsCNGdtn 8-27_Layout 1 8/27/13 3:24 PM Page 1
August 28 - September 11, 2013
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER
West Thames bridge
Having gotten burned at Pier A, the Battery Park City Authority has been very cautious about committing to a bridge over West Street at West Thames. The B.P.C.A. says it will advance $2 million toward the design of the bridge but that’s it until some definite specs are on the table and there’s little or no chance that the authority would be holding the bag if there were cost overruns. Right now at Pier A, the B.P.C.A. is looking at an expanse of dirt in front of the pier at the southern end of Battery Park City where a plaza should be well on its way to being finished, but the city Comptroller’s Office won’t approve the $5 million to fund it and the New York Economic Development Corporation has washed its hands of the project. The B.P.C.A. doesn’t want a repetition of this experience. If the E.D.C. agrees with the arrangement, it is willing to be a funding conduit for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which would actually be paying for the West Thames bridge. “The benefit of this is that if we undertake this actual project, we will do so with a very recent, comprehensive design,” said B.P.C.A. chairperson Dennis Mehiel at the July 30 board of directors meeting. Previous cost estimates for the bridge had been based on ballpark 2008-2009 numbers, he said. With a definite design, Mehiel continued, “We’ll be able to go out and contract with contractors and get real costs based on a real design rather than a conceptual rendering. The other thing is that the completion of the design phase will put us in a position to get some insight from various stakeholders and interested parties about the nature of the bridge itself.” There has been much discussion already about how wide the bridge should be, whether it should have an elevator, whether it should be covered and other aspects of a project that will likely involve trade-offs — and might not even happen if it looks like it could turn into another Pier A-type morass.
Poets House fundraising
Poets House — a free poetry library at 10 River Terrace offering programs for adults and children, is in the midst of a fundraising campaign. If it can raise $150,000 by Aug. 31, the National Endowment for the Humanities will kick in another $50,000 to support Poets House programs. “Each year, fewer than 20 awards are given across the country,” said Poets House executive director Lee Briccetti. “The interest from this Challenge grant will immediately support the staff posi-
Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Sixteen new palm trees have now been installed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. They look a little puny compared with their predecessors, but the old trees had gotten too tall for the space.
tion of Poets House librarian, while also investing in our future.” Many people enjoy working in Poets House’s tranquil, sunlit reading room overlooking the Hudson River. Others come to Poets House for its art exhibits, lectures and poetry writing classes. Through Oct. 5, Poets House is hosting an exhibit called “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.” Handmade books, many of them illustrated, chronicle the anguish of writers and artists who experienced a car bombing on March 5, 2007 that destroyed Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad — the intellectual and artistic hub of the community. Thirty people were killed, 100, injured. The street’s bookstores, bookstalls, cafés, stationery stores, and teashops were reduced to rubble. “The deconstruction of civilization,” one poem in the exhibit called it. Another begins, “Under Middle Eastern stars,/Fire ravages yellowed texts,/Chars centuries of thought/Bound in ancient leather./As smoke twists to the sky,/Crumbling ideas wither to ash./A bookseller blinks back tears,/Hands clasped in quiet prayer.” The people of Battery Park City who lived through 9/11 can surely relate to that. Poets House is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, go to www.poetshouse.org
Culinary classes at Asphalt Green
Through the summer, Asphalt Green Battery Park City cautiously dipped its toes in the water, with its gym and swimming pool in full operation, and a summer camp. Now, the fall classes are about to begin with cultural arts and culinary arts offerings as well as circus classes. On the culinary front, there will be classes for kids and adults taught by chefs from a catering company called Great Performances. The classes include “Cooking with the Kids,” which meets on three successive Sundays, and “The Clean Plate Club,” which meets on three successive Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A “Culinary Boot Camp” is for beginning and semi-experienced home cooks, meeting on Monday evenings. There will be single classes in “Entertaining 1.o,” “Just Desserts,” “Comfort Food,” “Vegetarian Living, “Tasty Cooking for Special Diets and Allergies,” and Italian cooking. Classes start on Sept. 9 and run through mid-December. They vary in price, with discounts for Asphalt Green Battery Park City members. “Culinary Boot Camp,” for instance, is $360 for members and $450 for non-members. Single classes start at $115 for members. There will be free culinary demo classes from Sept. 3 to Sept. 5. For more information, call (212) 298-2930.
The new palm trees have been installed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, and if they look puny compared with their predecessors (they do), at least they’re healthy. The old palm trees had grown too tall for the space. Next up at Brookfield Place, will be the annual MotorExpo, rolling in between Sept. 8 and Sept. 13 with all the flashiest, fanciest new cars from BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz and other manufacturers. For more information, go to MotorExpo.com/ NewYork.
Singing for Miramar
Miramar, the Mediterranean seafood restaurant at 21 South End Ave. overlooking South Cove, just got its liquor license and is celebrating on Thursday, Aug. 29 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live music, a complimentary appetizer buffet and $5 signature cocktails. Vince Smith, of the Vince Smith Hair Experience, at 300 Rector Place, is providing the entertainment. Before he became a hairdresser, Smith was a dancer and a singer – and he’s still a terrific singer. Miramar invites party guests to stay for dinner and get a coupon good for 10 percent off on their next visit. To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb10@gmail.com
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Jamaica Bay, a post-Sandy lab BY T E RE SE L O E B K R E U Z E R Ospreys, terns, falcons, gulls and glossy ibises fly over Jamaica Bay with the skyline of Manhattan clearly visible in the distance. The vast wildlife refuge, which straddles Brooklyn and Queens, is one of the largest urban wildlife preserves in the country. This summer, the New York Audubon Society organized three tours of Jamaica Bay aboard New York Water Taxi. They showcased the beauty of the area — and its vulnerability. Breezy Point is on a barrier island, Audubon guide Gabriel Willow pointed out as the boat passed houses still crumpled by Sandy damage. Some still had plywoodboarded windows, holes in the roof, cracks in the walls. “Breezy Point and the Rockaways were devastated by Superstorm Sandy, partially because you have dense housing development on a sand dune,” he said. “Tidal marshes are usually the first landscape to go,” he observed. “They don’t seem to be useful to us so they’re either dredged for shipping or filled in for building. We’re starting to realize our folly.” Willow said that these marshes clean toxins from the water and are barriers against storm surges. “The silver lining of the storm is that now there will be renewed focus on restoring coastal ecosystems.” What naturalists and scientists have long realized has become abundantly evident to policy makers. Jamaica Bay has officially been designated a laboratory to study how climate change and sea level rise affect wildlife, the natural environment and the communities that line its shores. Last summer, New York City and the National Park Service signed an agreement to co-manage Jamaica Bay’s nearly 10,000 acres of federal and city-owned parkland. Plans for a world-class science and resilience institute were also put forward at that time, to be financed by a public/private partnership. On Aug. 12, representatives of the city and federal governments and of several educational and research institutions gathered at Riis Landing on the Rockaway peninsula to announce the formation of a Science and Resilience Institute to be led by the City University of New York in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation. The institute will enlist the resources and expertise of numerous other partners as well including Columbia, Cornell, Rutgers and Stony Brook Universities, the Stevens Institute of Technology and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The city has made an initial commitment of $3 million toward the Institute. Mayor Michael Bloomberg described Jamaica Bay as “one of the greatest natural treasures that any city has within its borders” and alluded to the “terrible damage” that had been done to the area by Superstorm Sandy. Work to restore and protect that area is “urgent,” he said. “Climate change is real,” said U.S.
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Lower Manhattan as viewed from Jamaica Bay.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. “It’s posing real and growing threats to our neighborhoods.” He said that we need to build communities that address these growing challenges. “We can’t just build back the way we were.” Donovan said that, “Recent studies suggest that green infrastructure can be even more effective than gray infrastructure like seawalls, levees and tidal gates” in offering protection. Bloomberg said that a new beach grass nursery is being planted at Floyd Bennett Field, which fronts on Jamaica Bay. It will help the City and the National Park Service grow acres of “made in New York beach grass,” he said. Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, said that Jamaica Bay’s green infrastructure protected a number of structures from Superstorm Sandy. “Jamaica Bay is going to be a perfect, perfect place for the whole country to learn about resilience,” she said, and how natural and manmade ecosystems will act. Jewell announced that the Department of the Interior was launching a $100 million competitive grant to get proposals on how to learn from Sandy in Jamaica Bay. The mayor also announced the formation of the Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Conservancy, a partnership between the National Park Service and the City. It will help raise funds for the parkland covered by the agreement and will collaborate with Jamaica Bay communities. In addition, it will work to encourage visitation to the area. The Conservancy will be chaired by Tom Secunda, a philanthropist and one of the founders of Bloomberg LP. The Science and Resilience Institute will initially be housed on the campus of Brooklyn College. One of its first activities will be to
organize an international symposium with the Rockefeller Foundation on Oct. 17 and 18 called, “Urban Resilience in an Era of Climate
Change.” It will bring together global leaders in the field to address an issue of importance to all world cities that border coastal areas.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Activist set to ‘serve’ Parks with petition on tennis courts B y Clarissa -J an L im Despite the recent completion of years of renovation work in East River Park, the park’s tennis courts have been left neglected. Most of the courts have several-footlong cracks on their surfaces — some even streching across the length of the court — with vegetation growing in the cracks. On certain surfaces there are also dead spots that cause the balls to bounce oddly, according to Joseph Hanania, a Grand St. resident who frequently uses the tennis courts. But the problems don’t stop at the playing surface. “The cranks on the metal posts holding up the nets are often broken, resulting in absurdly low nets — which, for good measure, are often also ridden with holes,” he added. According to Hanania, one of the courts also is frequently flooded, even hours after a storm. People who want to play sometimes have to wait an hour before a court frees up, and the lack of lights to illuminate the courts at night makes the time available for a session even shorter. “Once it gets dark you can forget about playing,” Hanania said. The park’s upgrade has seen welcome additions, such as football and soccer fields,
as well as a nicely redone, all-new promenade that boasts a view of Brooklyn across the water, but the tennis courts have been left in a state of disrepair. Hanania contacted the Parks Department more than a year ago regarding the courts’ poor conditions, but nothing came of his efforts. Fed up, he started a petition — currently boasting more than 60 signatures — urging Parks to make repairs to the courts. “People who are crowded out of Central Park due to long wait times have come to play here and are among the petition signers to date,” he told The Villager. “There is a shortage of courts in Manhattan, so those that exist should be kept in tip-top shape. But the East River courts are, by far, the shoddiest in the borough.” Hanania said he also hopes benches will be installed in between courts for changeovers, since in the summer the surface heats up and there is nowhere else but the court surface to sit on during a game change or a break. “We certainly have enough room for that over here,” he noted. The dilapidated conditions are not acceptable for those who pay for access to the tennis courts, in his view. A full-season for adults costs $200. “Even free, nonpermit required courts are in better shape,” Hanania said. Hudson River Park has two popular free tennis courts near
Photo by Clarissa-Jan Lim
Joseph Hanania has started an online petition calling on the Parks Department to better maintain the East River Park tennis courts.
Canal St. that are in good condition. Hanania is collecting more signatures on the petition before he sends it to Parks, “to show them that there’s widespread
concern about this,” he said. The petition is found online at http://www.change.org/ petitions/nyc-parks-dept-resurface-eastriver-tennis-courts.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
WBAI cuts local programs, slashes news department B y Paul D e R ienzo WBAI, where George Carlin’s famously indecent “Seven Words” were spoken, where Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and countless others began their artistic careers, and where the infamous radical Weather Underground called in their bombing communiqués during a different type of war without end, has laid off 19 of 29 employees and removed most of its locally produced programming. The station is still broadcasting on 99.5 FM, but for the time being, most programs will be imported from WBAI’s sister radio stations in California. The Pacifica Foundation, the Berkleybased, nonprofit outfit that owns WBAI and four other noncommercial stations sent in Executive Director Summer Reese, who broke the news in a tearful morning report from the radio airwaves on Aug. 9. Reese sobbed as she told listeners she had arrived directly from meetings with SAG-AFTRA, the union representing WBAI staff, adding that “with great sadness…many of the voices that you have been listening to for many years will no longer be on the air as of next week.” According to a WBAI producers’ group, WBAI’s signature programs “Wake-Up Call,” “Talkback!” “Five O’Clock Shadow,” “The Jordan Journal” and “The Caldwell Chronicle,” as well as the entire WBAI news department, would be eliminated. During the broadcast, Reese said that she is “100 percent committed to keeping WBAI on the air as a Pacifica station.” Last summer at a contentious meeting of Pacifica’s national board of directors, Pacifica withdrew its support of WBAI, which has been suffering financially for most of the past decade. At least one board member brought up the possibility of selling WBAI. To stem the bleeding, Reese brought in Andrew Phillips, a former WBAI producer and program director, to make drastic changes at the 55-year old progressive institution. Phillips, who charms with his Australian accent and had been offered the position at WBAI only a few days earlier, was excited about the opportunity to rebuild the station. Phillips said he’ll focus on the most
Photo by Matthew Lasar
Andrew Philips has been brought in to make drastic changes at the WBAI, the 55-year-old progressive radio station.
important and potentially lucrative drivetime slots, starting in the morning, surrounding the successful “Democracy Now!” produced by WBAI alumni Amy Goodman. Phillips said he’ll rebroadcast Goodman’s show “at least twice a day,” replacing the popular “Talkback!” hosted for more than a decade by Caribbean broadcaster and journalist Hugh Hamilton. A radio documentary producer who once worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Phillips said WBAI has to improve its sound “to be as good as National Public Radio.” These statements scare some listeners as meaning WBAI will move away from its leftist political mission. He claims he’ll continue to keep WBAI’s content “left of center, and grassroots,” running stories like “the NSA scandal, more like Amy Goodman’s type of political content.” Phillips envisions programs that “can direct listeners to the more radical programs” broadcast at other times of the day.
Phillips still has to deal with a huge hole left at 6 p.m. by Pacifica’s decision to lay off WBAI’s news department. WBAI was one of few local broadcasters on air during the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. News reporters, led by longtime News Director Jose Santiago, covered the disaster based at studios several blocks away from Ground Zero. More recently, WBAI provided live coverage of Occupy Wall Street protest actions. Phillips said that he’s “trying to deal with” not having a news department by “bringing in Free Speech Radio News,” an Oregon-based supplier of progressive radio news stories. Phillips said he’s “committed to bringing back local news as soon as we get money.” But he added that WBAI will have no local news “for a while,” unless a “strictly volunteer” news broadcast can be arranged. Phillips said he wouldn’t be messing with WBAI’s iconic after-midnight shows, including veteran broadcaster Bob Fass. Phillips said, “I can’t imagine changing Bob Fass, or [classical music host] Chris Whent or any programmer who has a devoted following.” But Phillips added that he plans to institute “thirteen-week contracts” for future programmers, and to “require producers to submit proposals” before a new show is aired. Until the recent actions, programmers on WBAI and other Pacifica stations had wielded a great deal of power over a management that
was clearly reluctant to take on producers. Past attempts by Pacifica to manage WBAI were derisively labeled “Christmas coups” and other epithets by angry listener groups allied with programmers. But this time, the financial burden has spread to the entire network. Reese, appearing on WBAI, warned that Pacifica was unable to meet its payroll for the next pay period and that the national office was $100,000 in the red. Pacifica also owes $2 million in fees to “Democracy Now!” These network-wide financial problems made dealing with WBAI an immediate concern. Producer Gary Null, whose noon program is arguably the most popular locally produced WBAI program, has been feuding with some past WBAI managers. Null blames WBAI for poorly managed fundraising drives where expensive membership premiums are sometimes never delivered. Recently, Null expressed support for the changes at WBAI, and said he hoped current management would “honor the audience first with inexpensive premiums.” Null also pledged to write WBAI a check for $13,000. Despite what he called the “sadness” of the layoffs, Phillips claimed there is hope and “excitement” for WBAI’s future. He added that WBAI is renting a new space at 388 Atlantic Ave. in Boreum Continued on page 20
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
WBAI cuts local programs Continued from page 19
Hill that is “ten times cheaper” than its former studios on Wall St. It was on Wall St., right at the East River, where Superstorm Sandy came ashore, causing massive damage and finally pushing WBAI into its tailspin. Currently, WBAI is broadcasting from the City College studios of WHCR because Phillips said that there is “still no money for installing a new studio” at the Boreum Hill location. But he predicted WBAI would get a studio running in Brooklyn “in about three weeks.” Pacifica’s moves at WBAI are not without opposition and critics. An organization called Justice and Unity has been fighting Pacifica management for years over control of the station. The group is planning to bring their objections to WBAI’s Local Station Board, which has been stalemated by factional infighting for years. The L.S.B., as it’s called, is a compromise institution with elected members formed after that last bout of devastating infighting at Pacifica a decade ago. Now, Reese, who began as an elected board member at the Los Angeles station, is reportedly considering new bylaws
that would end the experiment in “listener democracy” that many say has turned into an expensive failure. Phillips minced few words in describing his opposition. Speaking of Justice and Unity organizers, he said, “They have a 10-year proven record of failure,” adding that the former managers at WBAI had “done nothing to deal with a six-figure deficit.” Phillips stressed that WBAI “needs to raise and maintain an audience.” He pointed to published reports that WBAI is nearly dead last in audience share, with less than one-tenth of one percent of the available audience, and only about 14,000 subscribing members. “I want the best for the station,” he said. Meanwhile, opponents of the changes are organizing a “take back” movement and planning a political fight. Whether this half-century-old, progressive institution can weather the changes ahead speaks as much for the maturity of American leftists as it does the managers of Pacifica. DeRienzo has hosted several programs at WBAI, and also produced the “Gary Null Show.” DeRienzo and Joan Moossy co-host “Let Them Talk” on Manhattan Neighborhood Network TV every Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Operator would turn Greenhouse into Haus, new Euro-techno club B Y TEQUIL A M I NSKY A plan is afoot to replace the violenceplagued nightspot Greenhouse in Hudson Square with a new Euro-style, techo- and electronic-music dance club. Paul Horowitz, who said he has no background in the club business, presented his plan to Community Board 2’s State Liquor Authority Committee meeting on Thurs., Aug. 15. He said his club would be called Haus. He described himself as a businessman, and noted several times, “My parents live in Soho,” adding, “I’m with the community.” He said W.i.P., the troubled underground spot connected to Greenhouse, would be closed and turned into a storage area. Committee members grilled him on issues including security and operating hours, and said they supported closing W.i.P. However, Richard Blodgett of Charlton St. gave the committee copies of e-mails he received from signers of a petition in support of Haus, who said they felt duped. The petition had simply asked, “Do you want to see Greenhouse closed?” Horowitz said he wants to “raise the caliber” of the patrons at the location. The question was raised whether the club would be grandfathered in under Hudson
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Paul Horowitz said his club would drop the “Green” and the trouble, and replace it with Haus and electronic music.
Square’s recent rezoning, which bans large clubs, but no one knew for sure. Horowitz agreed to accept various stipulations even before getting a liquor license. Committee member Tobi Bergman remarked that this has never been done before at C.B. 2. Horowitz and the committee will work on the stipulations, and the liquor license application will come back to the committee again next month.
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email email@example.com.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
for Manhattan Borough President. Downtown Lead ers
VOTE TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10TH!
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August 24, 2013 / Editorial
“Ms. Menin has been a strong force in downtown Manhattan”
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August 28 - September 11, 2013
A tough choice for mayor
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After 12 years under Mayor
Bloomberg — the last four of those only thanks to a controversial, legislative extension of term limits — the city is set to elect a new mayor. The Sept. 10 Democratic primary field has two candidates who seem most qualified to run the city — Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio. We have thought long about this, and reaching a decision has not been easy. To be completely honest, we have gone back and forth on the question. We’ve known Quinn since she was then-Councilmember Tom Duane’s chief of staff, going on to head the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and then to win Duane’s seat in a special election in 1999 after he moved up to the state Senate. Her ascent to power has been dazzling and swift. She’s hard-working, smart, tough, and she would hit the ground running, no question. De Blasio’s commitment to education, particularly pre-K and afterschool programs, is admirable and we think is realistic, despite the naysayers. New York City’s income tax is essentially flat so taxing the rich a little more to pay for education should be a heavy, but doable lift in Albany. His compassionate message of “two cities” has resonated with us and many voters. And having a mayor with a child in the public school system would send a powerful message to parents. We’ve also had our criticisms of Quinn over the years. She has not been enough of a foil to
the mayor. In some ways that has been good for the city, but in others, it represented a sorely absent check on executive powers. She did not look hard enough for an alternative site to limit the oversized garbage truck garage in Hudson Square. She has been too cozy with developers at the South Street Seaport, too onboard with the Bloomberg administration’s overzealous development and may not have worked hard enough to scale back N.Y.U.’s expansion. Her criticisms of excessive stop-and-frisks are difficult to square with her full-throated support for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who has an impressive anti-crime record despite this program, we think, not because of it. Her support for the term limit extension five years ago of course benefitted Bloomberg, but it also helped her. She is much better positioned to be mayor now than she would have been four years ago. Although the term limit vote has always troubled us, we made it clear four years ago that it was not a “mortal sin” politically, and that she and others should be considered if they were legally on the ballot. We do love de Blasio’s approach and thoughtfulness, and think he is much more grounded in the real world than his critics believe him to be. But for us, the bottom line is we don’t see a strong enough record of achievement. As for Quinn, we are confident she can run the city, as she has helped do since 2006 as the
city’s number-two official. She knows how to get things done. She also understands the city’s budget process, and is an experienced hand who can run the difficult labor negotiations to come. Figuring out how to pay for retroactive raises, health care costs and pension benefits are issues to consume the next mayor. Quinn’s candidacy is historic, in that, not only is she a woman, but she is the first openly gay person to make a serious run for mayor. Those are not the reasons to support her, but they are inspiring and noteworthy nonetheless. She also has a local record of achievement, for instance, helping secure a new school building at 75 Morton St. for a much-needed middle school. Downtown Express endorses Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary for mayor.
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Julie Menin for borough president It’s probably a testament to
Scott Stringer’s fine work as Manhattan borough president that there are several good candidates to replace him. All four of the Democrats running would continue and build on Stringer’s exemplary system of screening, appointing and training community board members — which has pretty much ended the cronyism and conflict of interest problems of the past. The candidates in this primary make up by far, the best field of any of the races we looked at this year, but one candidate, Julie Menin, former chairperson of Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan, stands out. Except for appointing community board members, borough presidents have mostly advisory powers and can easily be ignored. It takes skill and savvy to be effective, and like a community board chairperson, the post’s power rests more with the person, rather than the office. Menin has an impressive record of accomplishments, demonstrating leadership on many important issues. Without her, Downtown would never have secured $200 million of 9/11 money originally slated for large utilities, but which the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. had been sitting on for years. The money had been forgotten by most, and it was Menin who raised the issue,
rallied support and got money redirected. Occupy Wall Street was a gimme issue for progressives around the city and the world, but in the neighborhood surrounding Zuccotti Park, it was a thorny situation in which free speech and assembly rights had to be balanced against the need of residents not to be disrupted, and Menin led the effort to forge a compromise resolution at C.B. 1. The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” actually a mosque and Islamic center in the same neighborhood as the World Trade Center, was something Menin and Board 1 could have easily ducked, but they stood up against calls for government interference into religion. Whether it came to fighting to move the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial and its security risks outside of Lower Manhattan or getting more desperately needed school space, Menin time and time again worked with others to get results. We have watched this community leader rise and learn and get better with time. She has a thoughtful plan to use the borough president’s budget to give community boards more resources to do comprehensive surveys in order to identify the greatest needs in each part of Manhattan, which should empower them to get more affordable housing, schools and better park space. Making urban planning more responsive to community needs is something that she has been thinking and talking about for years.
We were also impressed with Councilmember Jessica Lappin, another candidate, who has put forward good ideas on land use and community board improvements. Councilmember Gale Brewer has real legislative accomplishments on important issues like paid sick leave and protecting small shops on the Upper West Side, and would probably be a good borough president. The fourth candidate, Councilmember Robert Jackson, was a leader in the effort to get fairer state education funds for the city, but his legislative record is not as strong as his two opponents in the Council. But none of those three have shown us they are likely to be as effective as Menin. Downtown Express strongly endorses Julie Menin for borough president in the Sept. 10th primary.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Change is needed for Downtown’s council seat
Four years ago Margaret Chin
told us she would have said no to the deals to get beloved schools like P.S. 234 decades ago, and Spruce Street School more recently because the community was giving away too much to corporations and developers, and didn’t get enough affordable housing. It raised our eyebrows, but we endorsed her for City Council in part because she made it clear that she was not against new schools, but she did want to use tough negotiating tactics to get the best deal for Downtown. Now a councilmember, she has said yes to worse deals then the ones she criticized and we are disappointed that she has not lived up to her promise. She does not deserve to be reelected. When it’s time to negotiate, Chin “goes into the room…closes the door, makes the deal and shuts the people out.” Jenifer Rajkumar, Chin’s opponent in the First District City Council Democratic primary, said that when she announced her campaign a few months ago. Not all of her criticisms are valid, but that one is spot on. It is true that Chin spends an extraordinary amount of time meeting with community groups and others to get their views on particular proposals, but she does not include leaders when the real talks start. This approach has alienated constituents in the Village and else-
where over several projects including the New York University expansion. In an op-ed published in The Villager, sister publication of Downtown Express, she promised not to back a business improvement district in Soho unless it had “substantial support” including from Community Board 2. She ended up supporting the BID saying the proposal was altered in response to neighbors’ concerns, but there was no clear indication that community opposition had changed. Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader living in Battery Park City and a civil rights attorney, has been an active presence in Lower Manhattan. Her record is not as strong and long as we’d like, and she has not convinced us that she will definitely be a good councilmember, but her intelligence, her ability to quickly get to the heart of the issue and her diligence give us hope. We think she deserves a chance. One of the most disturbing things about this campaign is that the real estate industry and others that make the Jobs for New York PAC have tilted the field for Chin with frequent mailings on her behalf. The city’s model campaign finance system has been compromised by the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. While Chin doesn’t control this independent real estate money, she is the clear beneficiary, and if she wins, she will have strong incentive to keep
satisfying developers, particularly since she would be able to run for reelection one more time. If Rajkumar wins, her incentive would be to provide good representation to the people of Lower Manhattan to insure her own reelection — the way democracy is supposed to work. To be clear, we are not saying Chin does not work for her constituents. We recognize her many years of advocacy for affordable housing, immigrant rights and ballot access — and we hope that work continues win or lose. But the Real East Board of New York is clearly happy with her first term, and if Chin wins, she would be taking a political risk if she opposed it. At the Seaport, she passively accepted a false city argument that two land use deals known as ULURPs couldn’t be discussed in tandem, when in fact the city did exactly that nine years ago in Tribeca in a deal that led to a new community center and more school space. She defended the city’s decision to redact a key section of an agreement in which the Seaport’s developer, Howard Hughes Corp., outlined its intention to build a large hotel and residences in the neighborhood. It’s hard to imagine that more community needs could not have been met had Chin been more forceful negotiating the Pier 17 deal at the Seaport. She has not been an effective representative for the community. We have not just heard this
from a few activists from a few neighborhoods, we’ve also heard the same thing privately from community leaders and others who have nothing against her. The only way to get better representation is to vote people out when they fall short. If Rajkumar doesn’t do a good job she’s not likely to be able to stay in office for another term. But we think she has what it takes to be a good councilmember. Downtown Express endorses Jenifer Rajkumar in the Sept. 10 primary.
Corey Johnson for City Council The District 3 City Council race
, for the seat held the past 14 years by Speaker Christine Quinn, pits two passionate and energetic L.G.B.T. contenders against each other for what has often been dubbed “the gay seat.” Yetta Kurland is an attorney who has won some impressive civil rights victories in her career, remains outspoken on the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital, and has rallied community members on other issues including Superstorm Sandy relief. Corey Johnson has also been a community activist during his 13 years in New York and has served for eight years on Community Board 4, encompassing Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, including two terms as chair. The Third Council District, which stretches down to Canal St., includes Hudson Square, as well as much of the West Side up to Hell’s Kitchen. The two Democrats running in the primary broadly share common progressive views on a host of issues, including the need for more affordable housing, more classrooms, increased spending on
H.I.V. prevention, greater citizen participation in allocating funds available to the Council member, and curbs on the excessive use of stop and frisk tactics by the N.Y.P.D. A central theme of Kurland’s campaign has been her willingness to take on established powers in the city, an approach typified by her 2009 challenge to Quinn’s reelection and her tireless activism around the St. Vincent’s issue. Johnson emphasizes his skill at working with government bodies and other stakeholders to achieve the goals he values. Evidence for that includes his demonstrated mastery of policy details and the confidence his C.B.4 colleagues placed in him by twice electing him chair. We believe that Johnson’s skill set and his vision for his role as a councilmember better suit him to represent the diverse communities within District 3. The bitterness and pettiness that has characterized this contest –– including determined whisper campaigns waged by surrogates for both candidates –– are disappointing, and both Johnson and Kurland bear responsibility for not having waged a
more positive race. Kurland spent far too much time trying to link her opponent to the evils of the real estate industry based on two staff jobs with developers he held for relatively short amounts of time. Johnson, for his part, for too long was inexplicably
opaque about his résumé, which did little but fuel the sense there was something to be uncovered. The Aug. 26 debate we sponsored at the Chelsea Bowtie Cinema, however, clarified the choice between the two candidates. Johnson offered detailed explanations for community board work he has accomplished, which gave credence to the proposals he discussed. He also set a generally positive tone for the evening that suggested he has the ability to work with community members of widely divergent opinions. Kurland offered her vision and also a profile of herself that matched that vision. She was too often, though, short on specifics, a flaw that hobbled both of her Council runs. She also has an unfortunate tendency to use upbeat language to mask serious aspersions she is suggesting about her opponent –– ones she apparently is unwilling to make directly. Should Johnson be elected, we hope he will recognize the vital importance of transparency in his public life. His community work to date suggests significant promise. Downtown Express endorses Corey Johnson in the Democratic primary.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Doing laps at The Dap makes the day so much better B y Mich ele Herman I’m typing at my desk on a recent hot day when I realize that I reek. I bring my forearm to my nose and take a whiff. Ah, yes, chlorine. Like the coconut of cheap sunscreen and the gasoline of motor boats, chlorine is one of those noxious smells full of happy associations. It’s summer in the Village, and I have been to morning lap swim at Tony Dapolito Rec Center on Seventh Ave. South. I may smell like bleached dress shirts, but all is right with the world, even in my un-air-conditioned office. When I was a kid trying to fall asleep on hot summer nights, my favorite fantasy was of diving into the big local pool and swimming laps. I would imagine my arms slicing into the water and heaving it out of my path, my legs rhythmically scissor-kicking, my head barely turning to the side to take in air. Then I would go to the actual pool, dive in, and find myself winded, as usual, halfway into my first length. Well, now I’ve been an adult for quite a long time — here in New York where they say that anything is possible — and thanks in large part to time spent at the city’s recreation centers, I am now a strong swimmer. I don’t even work all that hard at it, since I swim only during the short outdoor-pool season. There’s something to be said for the formation of muscle memory, because ever year after 10 long, dry months, I return to the pool to find I’m a teeny bit better. Dapolito lap swim, which happens at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., is a serene and forgiving place, with more gray hair and cellulite than you usually see among people being athletic together. Recently, I’ve been Googling swimming tips and trying them out. Apparently, it’s all about reducing drag. Look straight ahead instead of down, said one of the sites. I try this with breast stroke, already my go-to stroke when I start to develop crawlfatigue and am ready to slip into swimmer’s trance. Sure enough, it completely eliminates the need to bob my head and takes the strain off my neck. Not too many years ago, I couldn’t do more than three big, sloppy strokes of butterfly before pooping out. I didn’t really understand how anyone could use this labor-intensive stroke to travel across a pool. I am here to say that a few days ago I butterflied (butterflew?) for 12 laps. That’s 600 feet. My husband and I have been going to Tony Dapolito for recreational swim since the ’80s, when it was called Carmine Street Pool and Tony Dapolito was just a nice guy with a bakery and a community board committee. We learned to come after work, when the heat of the day still sat on our skin like dirty mohair, but the sun had dipped behind the Printing House on Hudson Street and most of the splashers and shriekers had gone home for supper. Our kids learned to swim at Carmine, but we failed at recruiting other members of our cohort of Village families. A lot of grownups swear off swimming at a certain point, as they swear off merry-go-rounds. It’s a shame, because even a 10-minute dip makes the rest of the day manageable, even a little bit blessed. If more people swam on muggy days, electricity use might plummet and the crime rate drop. But adults tend to be vexed by the whole matter of bathing suits, or they’re squeamish about wet locker-room floors (which the staff try their darnedest to keep well mopped) or perhaps wary of the rabble. People also tend to compare the city pools to other bodies of water, like the Atlantic and clear mountain lakes, and find them wanting (duh). True, there are no sandpipers, no surf, no sand, no waves or rustling
Photo by The Villager
The free outdoor pool at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center will be open for less than two more weeks, and will close on Sept. 2, so get your swims in now!
‘Every one of us started this life suspended in fluids, and there’s still something inherently delightful about being in water. Just watch the new crop of babies squeal as they throw themselves off the steps into the waiting arms of a parent in the pool — baptism by Dapolito.’ pines at the rec centers. But this misses the whole point. Swimming outdoors in the city has its own kind of hard beauty — there you are in the middle of the commerce and the traffic, but you’re swimming. At Dapolito, I breathe to the south and see the crenellated top of City-as-School, the alternative public high school. I breathe north and see the mature ginkgos along St. Luke’s Place, a block my husband and I think we might like to live on if we had all the money in the world. I look straight ahead and see the mural Keith Haring painted in 1987, three years before he died, which is cheery considering that one of the central figures is swallowing another. For an even more urban experience, I recommend Asser Levy pool on E. 23rd St., where instead of dunes you get a view of the V.A. Hospital and the F.D.R. Drive.
I’m not suggesting that urban swimming is easy. At Dapolito, you’re not allowed to dive. You’re not allowed to do a lot of things. On hot days, it’s too crowded to swim. On really hot days like the ones we had last month, you can wait on line for an hour just to get in. A good city offers its citizens public pools. A great one like New York City offers them free. How can you not love a municipality that tries so hard — if imperfectly — against such odds to keep the pools, many of them a century old, open to the masses? Every one of us started this life suspended in fluids, and there’s still something inherently delightful about being in water. Just watch the new crop of babies squeal as they throw themselves off the steps into the waiting arms of a parent in the pool — baptism by Dapolito. You know the old Mark Twain line about how we complain about the weather but never do anything about it? It’s true that we can’t control the temperature or the pressure systems, but the intersection of weather and human body occurs mostly on our skin, and we can easily change the conditions there. Most pleasant sensations fade pretty quickly or are followed by withdrawal, but a swim lingers in the cells for hours, flushing out all torpor. After the swim, the trick is to sit in the sun just long enough to stop dripping but not so long that the magic evaporates. When I roll up my towel, say goodbye to the guards and do my ritual head shaking until the great relief when that last drop of pool water dribbles from my ear canal, a force field of contentment and comfort surrounds me and carries me home. I clocked the effect the other day: four hours. After Dapolito I am stronger and sleeker, kinder and cooler, no matter how much grit hangs in the viscous air. It turns out I can now swim a mile. Who ever thought? To put it in proper city perspective, that’s like swimming practically all the way to Herald Square.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
BY SCOTT STIffLER ThE SChOLASTIC STORE Held every Saturday at 3pm, Scholastic’s interactive author readings, character visits and special events will get kids reading, thinking, talking, creating and moving. At 11am every Tues., Wed. and Thurs., the Scholastic Storyteller brings tales to life. At 3pm on the second Thurs. of the month, the sing-along event celebrates music and movement. Seatbelts on everyone — because on Sat., Aug. 31 at 3pm (for ages 5 and up), “Ms. Frizzle’s Back to School Bash!” finds the schoolteacher from the popular “Magic School Bus” books with only one more weekend before she heads back to school — so she’s throwing a super science party! Get messy with some slime, blow up a volcano and learn how to use a balloon to power a boat! At 557 Broadway (btw. Prince & Spring Sts.). Store hours: Mon.-Sat., 10am-7pm and Sun., 11am-6pm. For info, call 212-343-6166 or visit scholastic.com/sohostore. ThE ChILDREN’S ROOM AT POETS hOUSE is a bright and vibrant space that encourages literacy and creativity. In addition to housing many poetry books by c l a s s i c a n d c o n t e m p o r a r y a u t h o r s , t h e C h i l d r e n ’s Room is designed to stimulate the imaginations of
young ones and drive them to create poems and art of their own. From Thurs.-Sat., children are free to d r a w i n s p i r a t i o n f r o m t h e r o o m ’s c a r d c a t a l o g u e full of quirky objects and type up their own masterpieces on vintage typewriters. Every Thurs. at 10am, “Tiny Poet Time” offers poetry readings and m u s i c f o r t o d d l e r s . A t 1 0 R i v e r Te r r a c e ( a t M u rray St.). Hours: Children’s Room open Thurs.-Sat., 11am-5pm. Admission: Free. For info, call 212-4317920 or visit poetshouse.org. SATURDAY fAMILY PROgRAMS AT ThE SKYSCRAPER MUSEUM Explore tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction and places of work and residence at the Skyscraper Museum. Their spring “Saturday Family Program” series (taking place from 10:30-11:45am) features workshops designed to introduce children and their families to the principles of architecture and engineering through hands-on activities. On Sat., Sept. 7, from 10:30-11:45am: “Stack ‘Em High Woolworth,” designed for children ages 4-10, will use stacking blocks to learn about, and construct, models of history’s tallest buildings — starting with the Woolworth Building (the subject of the a current muse-
Photos by Jonathan Slaff
Our Department of Sanitation heroes, asking for vacation time from their paranoid supervisor.
STREET THEATER: “SANITATION, OR, OFF THE GRID 2013”
A trip around the world has a way of changing your outlook — but for Billy, Vinnie and Cheech, the adventure of a lifetime “all really started on Avenue D, on a Wednesday, at about a quarter to eight in the morning.” That’s when the three sanitation workers decide to finally use their overtime, holiday and sick days. But soon after embarking on the Mediterranean cruise of their dreams, they discover that there’s plenty of garbage (political and social) to be cleaned up, whether you’re relaxing at sea or working at home. The newly minted activist pals return to their jobs, determined to fight pollution — on the sidewalks of the Lower East Side, and in our minds! This rip-roaring “Operetta for the Street” is the latest in Theater for the New City’s grand summertime tradition of touring the boroughs with a show whose serious message is peppered with clever jokes, broad physical comedy and music made for dancing and singing along! Free. Sat., Sept., 7, 2pm at Staten Island Corporal Thompson Park (Broadway & Wayne St., West New Brighton). Sun., Sept. 8, 2pm at Washington Square Park.
um exhibition). Once construction is done, have your picture taken with your skyscraper! On Sat., Sept. 28, from 10:30-11:45am, the “Geodesic Dome Workshop” teaches kids ages 8-15 about domes from across the world. Find out how geometry helps domes stand up, then build your own domed structure (while learning about igloos and Bucky Fuller along the way).The workshops are $5 per family. Registration is required. Call 212-945-6324 or email@example.com. At 39 Battery Place (btw. First Place & Little West St.). Regular museum hours are Wed.-Sun., 12-6pm. Admission is $5 ($2.50 for students/seniors). TRINITY ChURCh PRESENTS fAMILY fRIDAY PIZZA & MOVIE NIghT Every so often, every family should get together for pizza and a movie. To help make that noble goal a regular thing, Trinity Wall Street hosts
Mermaids sing of their love for our oceans.
Sat., Sept. 14, 7pm at Tompkins Square Park (at E. 7th St. & Ave. A). Sun., Sept. 15, 2pm at St. Marks Church (E. 10th St., at 2nd Ave.). For info visit theaterforthenewcity.net.
this third-Friday-of-the-month event for kids who are hungry (for food and entertainment) and adults who are too tired to cook (or even dial for delivery!). Free. From 6-7:30pm, at Charlotte’s Place (107 Greenwich St., rear of 74 Trinity Place, btw. Rector & Carlisle Sts.). For more info, call 212-602-9694 or 212-602-0800. Visit trinitywallstreet.org/calendar. Twitter: @CharlottesPlc. Facebook: facebook.com/CharlottesPlaceNYC. ThE ChILDREN’S MUSEUM Of ThE ARTS The Museum celebrates its quarter century of promoting selfexpression and esteem. At 103 Charlton St. Hours: Mon. & Wed., 12-5pm; Thurs. & Fri., 12-6pm; Sat. & Sun., 10am-5pm. Admission: $11 (Seniors and 0-12 months, free from 4-6pm). Thursdays are pay-as-youwish. For info, call 212-274-0986 or visit cmany.org.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
See it in September Broadway, brunch, a bunhead and Barbra GABRIELLE STRAVELLI: JAZZ BRUNCH Sun., Sept. 8, 15, 22 & 29 11am-4pm At Le Pescadeux 90 Thompson St. (btw. Prince & Spring Sts.) No cover, no minimum Reservations strongly suggested Call 212-966-0021 Visit gabriellestravelli.com
Over the next few weeks, the A&E section will welcome back some familiar contributors (Martin Denton on theater, Stephanie Buhmann on art) and debut a few new well-traveled experts in their fields (Ophira Eisenberg on storytelling). This week, we’re proud to introduce a column by Jim Caruso — who made his Broadway debut alongside Liza Minnelli in 2009’s Tony Awardwinning “Liza’s At The Palace!” and was called “a top drawer first-rate singer” by Jazz Times (for his studio CD, “The Swing Set”). As host of the long-running “Cast Party” open mic night, he’s welcomed thousands of famous and upcoming musical performers to the Birdland Jazz Club stage. Talented and versatile in his own right, Caruso devotes a good deal of time and effort to singing the praises of others — which is why he makes such a great addition to our roster of contributors. Here’s what Jim recommends you see in September. —Scott Stiffler, Arts Editor
Photo by Bill Westmoreland
BY JIM CARUSO See “Goddess of Hip” Annie Ross Tuesdays, at the Metropolitan Room.
One of the most impressive jazz singers in town: Gabrielle Stravelli sings, while you enjoy brunch (at Le Pescadeux).
STEVEN BRINBERG IS SIMPLY BARBRA, IN “MOSTLY MARVIN” Mon., Sept. 9 at 7pm (doors open at 5pm) At Birdland Jazz Club 315 W. 44th St. (btw. 8th & 9th Aves.) $30 cover, two-item minimum Reservations: 212-581-3080 or birdlandjazz.com Visit simplybarbra.com
ANNIE ROSS Tuesdays at 9:30pm At the Metropolitan Room 34 W. 22nd St. (btw. 5th & 6th Aves.) $25-$115, plus two-beverage minimum Reservations: 212-206-0440 or metropolitanroom.com Visit annieross.net If there’s a Goddess of Hip, it’s Annie Ross. She was cool before it was cool — and after 50-plus years on the jazz scene, her comfort in the world of bebop and swing is palpable. Her life has been fullto-the-brim, what with Broadway, movies, nightclubs, famous highs and dangerous lows. Now a glamorous 83, she puts her experience and rhythmic stamp on some of the greatest songs ever written. From “Lush Life” to “I Wonder What Became of Me,” each song becomes a polished pool she dives into like a shark.
For my money, Gabrielle Stravelli is one of the most impressive jazz singers in town. With perfect pitch and clarity, she tears through the Great American Songbook with an understanding far beyond her years. A background in the theater doesn’t hurt, either. While other jazz birds swing, scat and snap, eyes scrunched in a self-absorbed frenzy, Stravelli knows whereof she sings — charming her audience with intelligence and musicality. At her weekly brunch gig at Le Pescadeux, she is joined by Pat O’Leary on bass and some of NYC’s finest musicians (including Gene Bertoncini, Ed Cherry, Paul Meyers and Michael Kanan).
Barbra Streisand is a bit of an anomaly. Arguably one of the best singers in the history of pop music, her icy perfectionism has a habit of rubbing some folks the wrong way. One topic the lovers and haters should agree upon is Steven Brinberg. His “Simply Barbra” character is the funny girl haters long for and the singer fans adore. It’ll be “Hello, gorgeous” for one night only, as the faux-diva storms the Birdland stage with a sweet tribute to Brinberg’s pal Marvin Hamlisch — with whom he appeared on many occasions. Expect the expected (“The Way We Were”) as well as seldomheard gems like the alternate “The Way We Weren’t” and a song Hamlisch wrote for the revised version of “Ballroom.” Portrait of a complex woman: Steven Brinberg is “Simply Barbra” (Sept. 9 at Birdland Jazz Club).
Continued on page 28
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Downtown Literary Salon Turns 10 Penn Parentis launches a new season of author readings BY SCOTT STIFFLER If you spent last weekend scanning those back-to-school circulars with the ulterior motive of appropriating some of your kid’s writing supplies for your own desk, then you might already be a member of Pen Parentis. You’re certainly thinking like one. Through peer support, outreach activities and podcasts, the NYC-based nonprofit literary organization provides resources to authors who are also parents, to help them stay on creative track after starting a family. Open to the public, their free monthly literary salon provides a 21+ atmosphere in which avid readers, as well as professional and novice writers, can mingle over happy hour wine and beer, then sit down for a series of readings. On September 10, the salon begins its tenth season with poet and author Liz Rosenberg. An awardwinning writer of books for young readers, Rosenberg will present excerpts from her second novel for adults: the bestselling “The Laws of Gravity.” Another bestselling author, Will Allison (“Long Drive Home”), balances fatherhood with writing novels and serving as editor to several literary journals. Emerging author Amy Shern, who has two kids and teaches writing, FINANCIAL
makes the trip across the bridge, to read from her second novel (“The Mermaid of Brooklyn”). Finally, Pen Parentis will present a $1,000 check to the winner of the 2013-2014 Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents: John Jodzio. The author of two short story collections (including “Get In if You Want to Live”), Penn Parentis calls his work “funny, bizarre, and ultimately an emotional roller coaster.” Jodzio is flying in from Minneapolis, where he lives with his wife and his two-year-old son. After the readings and award presentation, meet the authors and have them sign your own well-worn copy of their work — or purchase a fresh version from 172 Allen Street’s Bluestockings Bookstore, whose staff will be on hand. Free. 21+. Tues., Sept. 10, 7pm. Free. 21+. At Andaz Wall Street (75 Wall St., at Water St. Enter on Water or Pearl Sts.). The 10th season continues on Oct. 8, with authors Ben Greenman, Jessica Francis Kane and Danielle Lazarin. On Nov. 12, “The FOOD Event” welcomes Aleksandra Crapanzano, Edward Lewine, Caroline M. Grant and John Donohue. Their Dec. 8 holiday event features an author mingle. For more info, visit penparentis.org.
Funny, bizarre and $1,000 richer: Writing Fellowship for New Parents winner John Jodzio will read, sign books and pick up his check — at Sept. 10’s Penn Parentis literary salon.
Liz Rosenberg reads from “The Laws of Gravity.”
August 28 - September 11, 2013
Continued from page 26
A TIME TO KILL
A new Broadway play based on John Grisham’s courtroom drama, written by Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes Previews begin Sept. 28 Opens Oct. 20 At the John Golden Theatre 252 W. 45th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) Visit atimetokillonbroadway.com
SUTTON FOSTER, WITH MICHAEL RAFTER Sept. 10-28 Tues.-Fri. at 8:45pm Sat. at 8:45pm & 10:45pm At Café Carlyle 35 E. 76th St. (at Madison Ave.) Call 212-744-1600 or visit rosewoodhotels.com Visit suttonfoster.com I fell in love with Sutton Foster, along with everyone else, during her 2 0 0 2 To n y Aw a r d - w i n n i n g p e r f o rmance in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” She went on to give charismatic turns i n “ L i t t l e Wo m e n , ” “ T h e D r o w s y C h a p e r o n e , ” “ Yo u n g F r a n k e n s t e i n ” and “Shrek the Musical” before winning another Tony for her dazzling Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes.” Foster then stormed the West Coast, amassing a loyal fan base of balletomanes with her starring role in the ABC Family drama “Bunheads.” So, if you wish to see this radiant, freshfaced triple threat in one of her infrequent Carlyle engagements, you’d better order your tickets now. Expect packed houses, total musicality, loads of charm and a sly sense of humor.
Previewing in September, John Grisham’s novel “A Time to Kill” becomes the first in his iconic collection of legal dramas to be adapted for the Broadway stage. Set in Ford County, Mississippi, “A Time to Kill” tells the story of a young, idealistic lawyer (played by Sebastian Arcelus) who defends a black man for taking the law into his own hands when an unspeakable crime is committed against his young daughter. You might recognize Arcelus from his role as Lucas Goodwin on the Netflix drama “House of Cards.” After playing Fiyero in “Wicked” (opposite actress/wife Stephanie J. Block) and Buddy in “Elf: The Musical,” this new role will solidify his status as one of the most versatile actors on the Broadway scene.
Sebastian Arcelus stars in the Broadway adaptation of John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.”
Jim Caruso’s “Cast Party” happens every Monday night at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St., btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). Doors open at 9pm, show at 9:30pm. $20 cover, $10 food/ drink minimum. For info, call 212-581-3080 or visit jim-caruso.com and birdlandjazz.com.
August 28 - September 11, 2013
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Mini Golf at Pier 25 is awesome! Rev. Jen, on “Four!” for $5 BY REV. JEN (revjen.com) Mini Golf is completely underrated. It’s actually way more fun than “real” golf because you don’t need a caddy or a lot of money to do it and there’s not a lot of walking involved. Also, you can talk on a Mini Golf course (nothing annoys me more than activities that require silence). So you can imagine my joy upon learning that Tribeca’s Pier 25 (at North Moore & West Streets) offers Mini Golf for only five dollars. I put the word out that this needed to happen immediately and my friends — Cheyenne Picardo (director of the film “Remedy”), Jurgen Munster (lead singer of The Slut Junkies) and George Courtney (brilliant photographer whose photos can be seen herein) — all eagerly agreed to join me. Our first attempt was rained out, but the following day was perhaps the most beautiful in the history of the world — 75 degrees and sunny with no humidity. Good thing, because I wanted to wear a ridiculous golfing outfit. Sadly, I could not afford pants with little whales on them, so I had to settle on a psychedelic poly pantsuit given to me by the Lunachicks over a decade ago. We gathered early at my place, drank wine and watched “Caddyshack” clips for inspiration, all of us longing for a madras
blazer similar to Rodney Dangerfield’s. After much procrastination, we embarked on our journey west. At the Pier’s snack bar, we each paid five dollars and procured colorful balls and clubs. An extra dollar procured bananas and chips, which along with our flask of whiskey, would provide nourishment. Before we began, Jurgen donned a Skeletor mask — his interpretation of what a wacky golf outfit should be. Cheyenne’s attire consisted of smart slacks and a summer hat akin to something Frank Sinatra might wear, while George chose to dress like a normal person. From the first hole on, I remembered something: I am terrible at mini golf. But given I once played hockey, I simply “dribble” the ball into the hole (which I am told is “cheating”). The rest of the crew wasn’t quite as bad as I was, though we were much slower than the children behind us who whined about our slow candyass nature. However, George did get a hole in one and I was the only one who saw it. Trying to explain this rare phenomenon made me feel like Big Bird attempting to explain a Snuffleupagus sighting, as no one believed me. Meanwhile, Jurgen and Cheyenne managed to put it in a few times and Jurgen
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