Sandy Photo Coverage, pp. 2, 13-15, 27
VOLUME 5, NUMBER 05
THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
NOVEMBER 3 -13, 2012
Imperfect storm: Sandy stymies Chelsea Market City Council vote BY SCOTT STIFFLER What should have been an impressive sprint to cap off a grueling marathon took an unprecedented Act of God turn — as complications arising from nature's fury extended the City Council’s deadline for casting its definitive vote on the matter of Chelsea Market expansion. The plan by Jamestown Properties — to add office space atop the iconic complex's Ninth and Tenth
Avenue sides — has pitted a sizable coalition of firmly entrenched anti-sprawl preservationists against Jamestown, market concourse merchants and local residents who see the project as an opportunity for muchneeded jobs and Affordable Housing. When last week began, it looked as if the Jamestown Uniform Land Use Review
Continued on page 3
For additional reporting on Sandy’s local impact, please visit
Area to get power back, but will city get surge barriers? BY LINCOLN ANDERSON As anxious Downtowners stuck in the dark continued to be left in the dark about when Con Ed would restore power, on Thursday morning Con Edison reported that electricity would be turned back on by sometime this Saturday. Later in the day, a Con
Ed spokesperson told this paper that the lights would be back on by 11pm Saturday. Similarly, Downtown residents whose land lines were still working or who had cell phone power or access reported that they had received robo-calls on Thursday from Con Ed informing that the juice would be
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switched back on by 11pm Saturday. A Con Ed spokesperson said two adjacent “electrical subdistricts” near Wall Street – serving about 6,500 customers -- would actually be getting power back a day earlier, on Friday.
EDITORIAL, LETTERS PAGE 8
RED GRAVY PAGE 23
Continued on page 11
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November 3 - 13, 2012
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Supporters of Chelsea Market rally on the steps of City Hall.
Continued from page 1 Procedure (ULURP) application was headed for a council thumbs up or thumbs down, reversible only by a seldom-invoked mayoral override. After a long and contentious trip spent snaking its way from Community Board 4 to Borough President Scott Stringer to the City Planning Commission, October 23's public testimony before the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises — and October 25’s meeting of the Land Use Committee — were swift preludes to the City Council's widely anticipated ULURP endgame vote. Due by no later than November 2, Hurricane Sandy has delayed that vote (which is expected to take place next week).
AT SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING, A GREAT DIVIDE The disconnect between expansion advocates and opponents was evident minutes before the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises convened to hear testimony from Jamestown, elected officials (Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Assemblymember Deborah Glick) and pro/con members of the public. A press conference organized by Jamestown, which took place on the steps of City Hall, featured pro-business comments from union members (Local 7), Chelsea Market concourse merchants and the Building and Construction Trades Council. Inside, the seating arrangements for the crowd of nearly 100 (half of whom ended up testifying via two-minute slots) resem-
bled that of a divisive wedding party — with the pro-expansion contingent (bride’s side on the left, with purple and red shirts) separated from the preservationists (groom’s side on the right, holding yellow “Save Chelsea Market” signs). For detailed information on the public testimony heard by the subcommittee
After hearing from Jamestown and elected officials, members of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises ditched the proceedings one by one — leaving a series of visibly frustrated five-person pro/ con panels pleading their case to chair Mark Weprin
(including the unabridged text of many who spoke), visit chelseanow.com. For pro/con Talking Points analyzing the marrow of what the City Council will vote on, see pages 4, 5 and 6.
Continued on page 7
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November 3 - 13, 2012
Council Action Preserves Chelsea Treasure BY CHRISTINE C. QUINN CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER The New York City Council took action to save Chelsea Market and preserve the iconic neighborhood treasure that we all love. The agreement we reached ensures that the Chelsea Market we know today will be allowed to grow in a way that preserves its current facade and keeps it in scale with the surrounding neighborhood. After much community input, we were able to address numerous concerns about the original proposal. As a result, the modified plan: • Permanently preserves the Market’s original façade • Ensures that 75 percent of the ground floor concourse will be permanently dedicated to food use, while creating new space for food start-ups • Provides important support for two valuable educational programs on technology training and wellness • Creates a Community Advisory Board to review construction schedules • Establishes a future study on the expansion of the Special West Chelsea District This brings the Chelsea Market building into the Special West Chelsea District — which was the original plan when West Chelsea was rezoned. But changes to the proposed plan were needed.
The view corridor from the High Line needed to be preserved, and the City Planning Commission’s design changes accomplishes this. These changes include setting back the Tenth Avenue building, reducing the overall size and reducing shadows on the park. What we heard from the beginning was a clear message from the community to keep Chelsea Market the same. As a result, the architecture of the original buildings will be preserved. The concourse will keep its character, preventing the ground floor space from becoming a generic chain store mall. The Council understands that we cannot lose this neighborhood treasure — and we have ensured that will never happen. The agreement addresses the community’s concerns in the following seven areas.
for food-related uses; prohibit national and regional chain stores; and establish approximately 100 square feet dedicated to either a single food startup or a food incubator that could rotate the use of its space.
WEST CHELSEA REZONING STUDY: The Department of City Planning (DCP) and Community Board 4 (CB4) will engage in a collaborative planning process to assess the future of the expansion of the Special West Chelsea District. The initial meeting DCP and CB4 on this matter will happen no later than December 20, 2012. They are required to complete a report on the expansion no later than June 30, 2013. Any actions recommended in the report will begin by December 30, 2013.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING: PERMANENT PRESERVATION OF CHELSEA MARKET’S CURRENT MASONRY FAÇADE: To preserve the iconic neighborhood treasure that is the Chelsea Market, the Council ensured only minor changes can be made to the windows of the market’s façade. Without this action, Jamestown or any future owner of this building would have been able to make unlimited changes.
We are delivering 50 new permanent Affordable Housing units — and 100 long-awaited units previously promised when the Special West Chelsea District was created in 2005. This agreement ensures that 40 percent of the total units at the Robert Fulton Houses will be affordable to those making less than 80 percent of the Average Median Income.
TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR YOUTH: PERMANENT FOOD-RELATED SPACE AT THE MARKET: Ensuring the historic and foodfocused nature of Chelsea Market is preserved, the Council’s actions permanently protect 75 percent of the current total interior ground floor concourse
Jamestown will provide $1.05 million for a new community program. Run by Hudson Guild, it will train youth from the Chelsea neighborhood (in particular, from Fulton and Chelsea-Elliot Houses) in the growing tech and new media industries.
SCHOOL PROGRAMS: Additionally, the existing, highly popular Wellness in the Schools (WITS) program, which inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness, will be expanded from PS11 to PS33.
FUNDING FOR THE HIGH LINE: Jamestown will provide approximately $12 million in capital funding for necessary maintenance and repairs on the High Line. The addition of amenities such as public elevators and restrooms will make the High Line a more usable space for the community and visitors alike. In concluson, the design originally submitted was unacceptably out of character for the Chelsea neighborhood. Furthermore, the project’s original size and proposed uses were not proposals that I could support. Over the last five years, the community has engaged in discussions about the future of the Chelsea Market complex. The conversation has been both thoughtful and constructive, highlighting concerns that needed to be addressed. I want to thank everyone who contributed to this important discussion. My hope, as always, was to have an open dialogue where both those who agree and disagree were able to sit at the table and discuss their positions. I believe we have all found a way to preserve one of the things we love about our neighborhood well into the future.
Whatever ULURP Wants, ULURP Gets BY LESLEY DOYEL CO-PRESIDENT, SAVE CHELSEA An angry diatribe from Save Chelsea about the approval of Jamestown’s proposal to upzone and build on top of the iconic Chelsea Market building might be expected. Such a diatribe would point out how this action dilutes the city’s zoning laws and puts them up for sale; that the collective voice of the Chelsea community has not been heard or served; that environmental impact studies claiming
this expansion will cause no further crowding and congestion must be challenged; that secondary displacement pressures on both residential and commercial tenants in a neighborhood already under tremendous pressure will force many tenants to relocate or go out of business; and that the supposed “benefits” negotiated for and conceded to by the largesse of the developer and the “heroism” of elected leaders in no way ameliorates the irrevocable harm this plan will ultimately have on our community.
We will instead focus on the way in which this approval was achieved. While certainly the enormous wealth and power wielded by the developer, Jamestown Properties (a real estate investment trust) and their high powered lawyers and lobbyists, were key to the proposal’s being approved, we now fully realize that this approval was essentially a forgone conclusion — thanks to the inherent structure of the Uniform Land Review Process (ULURP) itself. In many ways, the seven-month
ULURP process is similar to a steeplechase, in that its course contains a mindnumbing number of hurdles, requirements, reviews, votes and approvals that must be rigorously followed according to a set, strict timetable. The ULURP process begins once City Planning certifies a proposal. Upon certification, the proposal is acknowledged by all as virtually a fait accompli — though it could end up with some modifications, and other conditions attached to it.
Continued on page 6
November 3 - 13, 2012
Chelsea Market Expansion Is A Win For The Community BY MICHAEL PHILLIPS CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, JAMESTOWN PROPERTIES Chelsea Market was established in 1997. Nearly a decade ago, when Jamestown assumed a managing interest in Chelsea Market, our goals were threefold: • Strengthen the market’s position as home to best-in-class artisanal food retailers, blending European market traditions with U.S. producers. We wanted the market to serve as New York and the east coast’s beachhead for food culture — rivaling Seattle’s Pike Place Market and San Francisco’s Ferry Building • Establish the property as a focal point and good neighbor in an evolving community • Make Chelsea Market the office location of choice for media and technology companies, positioning the building as the centerpiece of what is now known as Silicon Alley.
From my perspective, we’ve succeeded on all three fronts. The number of food-related merchants on the ground floor has increased substantially, from 23 to 33, during our tenure as owner. We’ve diversified food options and, as some food production facilities have outgrown Chelsea Market, have recycled what was once “back-of-house” space for additional food-related shops. We have increasingly focused on incubating great local producers, and as a result, some 120,000 people shop here every week for their basic home cooking needs. Through the creation of the Chelsea Improvement Company, we've worked to clean nearby streets, maintain parks and keep sidewalks clear of garbage to preserve our neighborhood’s special character — for visitors and residents alike. Just as the ground floor is chock-ablock with artisanal food vendors, the upper floors are home to media and tech companies — many of which are growing and fueling the innovation boom that is boosting the New York City economy and creating jobs, and
which will eventually turn the city into another Silicon Valley. One example: the news that Zagat and YouTube, both recently acquired by Google, have leased space in Chelsea Market. Now, after being entrusted with the opportunity to create some 300,000 square feet of additional space for tech companies in the city, Jamestown stands ready to sharpen its commitment to the continued achievement of each of these goals. It is clear that the plan approved by the City Council’s Committees creates a balance that allows the project to proceed — while meeting the community’s need for more affordable housing, retaining the market’s distinctive façade and ensuring that Chelsea Market’s unique and vibrant character will not change. Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her Council colleagues, as well as City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden and members of the Commission, are to be commended for their thoughtful, considered and balanced approach to modifying the plan, and for tirelessly fostering dialogue
and framing key issues amongst local stakeholders. Most of all, Community Board 4 — which set the road map that led to the approved plan, demonstrated tremendous wisdom and provided the leadership on which we have come to depend — worked with us to improve our project and put aside some differences so we could reach a fair compromise. That compromise will allow New York City to benefit from the 1,200 new permanent jobs and 1,000 construction jobs that will be created. And the community will gain affordable housing — for which we have committed nearly $5 million — as well as $12 million in support for the High Line and $1 million for technology training and educational programs. We are optimistic that, as time passes and our plan turns to a construction project and ultimately to a home to thousands of jobs, Chelsea Market will continue to play an important role as a food market and as home to the city’s growing media and tech sectors — two of the most important industries to NYC for the foreseeable future.
Chelsea Market Should Not Have Been Upzoned BY ANDREW BERMAN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENWICH VILLAGE SOCIETY FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION The deal between the City Council and international developer Jamestown Properties to upzone Chelsea Market, allowing two huge structures to be built atop the complex, was fundamentally flawed — as was the process from which it emerged. The area around Chelsea Market is already suffering from terrible overdevelopment, traffic and congestion. This is in large part due to upzonings of the area the city has approved in the last seven years — four in Community Board 4 alone — creating more new development potential than in any other community board in the city. In fact, much of the additional development (and the traffic, congestion and infrastructure strain it will bring) has not yet even taken place — meaning this problem will get much worse over the coming years, even without the Chelsea Market upzoning. The Chelsea
Market development will, however, make that bad situation even worse. Disappointingly, the City Council did not reduce the size of the development at all, which would have at least reduced this impact. The two large towers to be built atop Chelsea Market will also permanently disfigure a beloved Chelsea and New York City landmark. The new 300,000-square-foot additions (increasing the amount of office space at Chelsea Market by nearly 50 percent) will not only loom over the complex, but also the High Line. While the deal also requires the existing façade of Chelsea Market be preserved (with the two enormous out-of-context additions built on top), this amounts to closing the barn door after most of the horses are out. This provision has been touted as preventing the theoretical possibility of the Chelsea Market complex from being demolished in the future and replaced with a tall, thin tower. But this is in fact a highly unlikely possibility. Under the current zoning, if
Chelsea Market were demolished, its replacement would have to be about 10 percent smaller than the current buildings — and in New York City, buildings are rarely if ever demolished to be replaced by smaller ones. The City Council’s deal also promises funding for the creation of 150 units of affordable housing. However, 100 of those units were actually promised and owed from the agreement between City Hall and the City Council for the 2005 West Chelsea rezoning — but were never delivered, and thus are not really “new” units at all. One has to wonder if this affordable housing promise will be better kept and delivered than the last one, and why needed affordable housing only seems to be offered in exchange for large giveaways to developers that will have a host of other deleterious effects upon the community. The Council deal promises that 75 percent of the ground floor of Chelsea Market will be reserved for food stores. Preserving food uses is a laudable goal, as Jamestown has moved
sharply towards more non-food businesses in the beloved “market” from which Chelsea Market gets its name. However, promises like these are often made as part of these deals and turn out to be other than what was touted. Unfortunately, in this case the public has not been given the opportunity to see or comment upon the exact terms of this commitment (for instance, will chain food stores found in any mall in America count?) or how it will be enforced prior to the Council’s vote — and thus, we do not know the accuracy of this claim or exactly how it will be applied and enforced. The Council voted to approve this deal with only one member, Zoning Subcommittee Chair David Weprin, staying for and listening to all the public testimony against the project. On the whole, the deal to upzone Chelsea Market will add to traffic and congestion, increase overdevelopment, diminish a beloved local landmark, and reinforce the view of a public review and approval system as one which denies the public a real voice.
November 3 - 13, 2012
The Chelsea Alley Expansion BY TOM GRAY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENWICH VILLAGE-CHELSEA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Internet and new media companies are some of the key industries feeding New York City’s new economic engine. Housed in a part of the city often referred to as Silicon Alley, a concentration of these startups, web designers, digital businesses and media companies are thriving in pockets of SoHo, Tribeca, Greenwich Village, Union Square, Chelsea and the Flatiron District. Over the last few years, this growing tech hub finally solidified its position as a digital force to be reckoned with. The Center for an Urban Future calls New York City “the nation’s second-leading hub for technology companies.” Most recently, the Chelsea area has caught the media’s and, perhaps, the digital world’s, attention as its neighborhood marquee — Chelsea Market, on 75 Ninth Avenue — undergoes plans to expand, offering to fill the need for prime office space by growing companies that we must fight to attract, and keep, in New York City.
When it comes to housing tech-stars, Chelsea is no rookie. The neighborhood is home to, most notably, Google at (Googleplex East, the eighteen-story, 550,000-square-foot building located on 76 Ninth Avenue, across the street from Chelsea Market). A major appeal for Google to move its headquarters to the former Port Authority building lies in the goldmine nested underneath it, which the New York Times called the fiber optic highway — a set of fiber optic cables considered one of the most vital connection points to the world’s telecommunications networks that run through Eighth and Ninth Avenues. Not surprisingly, Googleplex also houses Verizon, Sprint and Level 3 Communications — the company that streams Netflix to computers. Other Chelsea locals include IAC/ InterActive Corp (an IT and consulting company), CornellNYC Tech (a recently opened tech focus campus with a five-year tenure), Bonobos (an online men’s clothing shop) and many more within the Chelsea Market. Attracting first-rate players as well as young, promising innovators is an ongoing mission of our city and the Chamber, and a way to diversify our economy by becoming
Whatever ULURP Wants, ULURP Gets Continued from page 4 We have learned that the Jamestown proposal was in the works since 2007, laid out in a detailed agreement drawn up between the City Planning Commission, Jamestown Properties and Friends of the High Line. Though various parties maintain this process has been transparent, it is well-known that the larger Chelsea community only became aware of it in January of 2011. The plan was ultimately certified on April 9, 2012, kicking off the seven-month ULURP countdown. As we now so clearly see, certification should happen at the end, rather than at the beginning of ULURP, so that the community can play a true and important role in the review process. As it now stands, the public voice is little more than lip service. Yet, throughout ULURP, the public came out in good faith over and over again, to jump through the endless hoops required by the process, putting forth well-researched, reasoned arguments against Jamestown’s proposal. Hundreds of letters and postcards, thousands of petitions (not to mention the sheer number of people repre-
sented by all of the many groups that had joined in opposition) could not, as in the cases of both St. Vincent’s and NYU, prevail against the predetermined approval that waited in the wings. In the end, the steamroller that is ULURP buried the community’s very real concerns and protests under the gooey asphalt of compromise — expecting us to believe that this was all done in the public interest, and for the public good. We know it was not. And, if nothing else, the City Council, and our own Council Representative, need to know and understand this. Chelsea and many other parts of the city are still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and flood waters that flowed inland are still evident on our avenues and in our basements. If this disaster has clearly shown us anything, it is that it is absolute madness to bet a community’s future on its perceived potential as an engine of profit — thereby allowing a gold rush of overdevelopment to consume it at the expense of a durable and expandable infrastructure and the needs of its citizenry. This lesson is ignored at all of our peril.
less dependent on the vitality of Wall Street. Chelsea, with the expansion of the Chelsea Market, has great potential to sustain and foster the growing tech community. Also, startups and entrepreneurs work well in close-knit communities— making New York City the perfect place for likeminded, tech-savvy individuals to settle. These new companies are gravitating toward areas that house other companies and institutions that can facilitate their growth, such as venture capitalist firms and tech accelerators/incubators. This is why Silicon Alley is made up of mini-hubs throughout Manhattan. With the plan to utilize the underutilized space on top of Chelsea Market, the preexisting community in Chelsea has tremendous leveraging power in bringing new companies into the area. In addition to the previously mentioned Chelsea-centric companies, Chelsea Market has attracted and retained major tenants such as Oxygen Network, Food Network, Mr Youth, MLB.com, Yext, EMI Music Publishing, and NY1. Currently, 780,000 square feet of the Chelsea Market’s 1.2 million square footage is home to technology and media companies.
A unique feature of Chelsea buildings is their capacity to accommodate the demand for large, open office spaces with high ceilings. Before settling down in a 10,000-square-foot space in Chelsea on 45 West 25th Street, Bonobos had outgrown two other offices in surrounding neighborhoods. The expansion of the Market will ensure that the city can house companies like Bonobos who are, themselves, expanding. The proposed expansion is in step with other buildings in the neighborhood, both in design and size. The building will have an Florr Area Ratio (FAR) of 7.0, significantly smaller than the Google building directly across the street (with an FAR of 12.0). The development is also significantly shorter than the Caledonia (226’) on West 16th-17th Street, and no taller than the 276’ Google. This project will not only help drive our city into the future, it will do it in a way that is respectful of the community around it. In New York City, it is always a challenge to identify where we can grow while ensuring we protect our small unique businesses and neighborhoods, and this project does that. This is a no no-brainer — the Chelsea Market must grow.
November 3 - 13, 2012
City Council’s Chelsea Market vote looms
Photo by Scott Stiffler
After hearing from Jamestown and elected officials, members of the Subcommittee on Continued from page 3 Zoning and Franchises ditched the proceedings one by one — leaving a series of visibly frustrated five-person pro/con panels pleading their case to chair Mark Weprin (who, visibly embarrassed by his lone vigil, assured all comers that their testimony was being streamed into the offices of committee members and would be on public access).
Moving voting sites for Nov. 6 Election Day The Board of Elections (BOE) will probably have to move some polling sites on November 6, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a press conference on the morning of Thursday, November 1. In answer to a question on how Sandy will impact the voting process in the city, Bloomberg replied that while power was expected to be restored to all voting sites by Election Day, some of the locations, particularly in schools, had problems with the transformers (which may not be repaired in time for voters). In a statement released online, the city Board of Elections commissioners Maria Guastella and Frederic Umane said that poll workers’ training had resumed and that the board was working with the Department of Education to assess damage to voting sites. BOE is also working with private entities to review damage sustained at the other voting sites. “Our trucks are loaded and ready for delivery of all voting materials and equipment once we know that sites have not been damaged. BOE will be working around the clock and through the weekend to make sure that all voting sites receive everything they need to be up and running on Election Day,” the statement said. Meanwhile, absentee ballots have been delayed by the disruption to the U.S. Postal Service. The BOE will be distributing absentee ballots via USPS overnight mail. The absentee ballot application deadline for New York State was extended from Tuesday,
October 30 to Friday, November 2. All absentee ballot applications sent by mail or fax must be received no later than November 2. The deadline remains Monday, November 5 for all applications to be completed in person at the Manhattan Voting Machine Facility 450 West 33rd Street, 10th floor. The receipt deadline was also extended to 13 days after Election Day. Ballots must still be postmarked November 5, but have until November 19 to reach the resident’s local BOE office. While ballots received after Election Day will not count affect the initial announcement, they will count towards certifying the election results, which happens about two weeks after Election Day. The processing of absentee ballot applications has also been delayed by the storm. Other city agencies have assigned some of their workers to the BOE with the absentee ballot process. As Chelsea Now went to press, the Manhattan Borough office of the BOE was still closed due to loss of power. Operations have been temporarily relocated to West 33rd Street. Their hours are 9am to 8pm through Sunday, November 4, and 9am to 5pm the following Monday. The office reminded residents that their vote is only valid at their assigned location which can be found on their poll site locator online at vote. nyc.ny.us. The latest information can also be found at this website.
November 3 - 13, 2012
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Surviving the next storm Downtowners once again are coming together, helping their neighbors -- so the comparisons between Hurricane Sandy and 9/11 are natural. The key difference is that the devastating and tragic loss of life this time does not approach the magnitude of the attack 11 years ago. That of course does not make it any easier for each grieving family. The scramble back to homes for evacuees, the frantic group e-mails, the search for information, for places to charge cell phones, has an all-too-familiar ring to many. Once again we are inspired by the stories we’ve seen and heard about people helping -- offering everything from beds to showers to food to batteries. At the South Street Seaport, devastated businesses are helping each other recover. In northern Chelsea we saw a small group of police officers Monday lifting heavy wood from the street clearing a dangerous situation rather than waiting for another agency to do it. In the East Village, an out-of-town samaritan trucked in a generator to help the Ninth Precinct keep functioning, which was also used to help local residents charge up their phones. A local bar on Avenue A stayed open with a generator after the storm and, again, let people power up their phones. In the West Village, there were cookouts to help feed the hungry, as food became scarce and the contents of peoples’ refrigerators in their homes became inedible. In the Two Bridges area on the Lower East Side, residents banded together to help senior citizens trapped in their high-rise apartments without access to food or water. There were so many more stories like these. As we look at what comes next, foremost in our minds is that low-lying Lower Manhattan is one of the most vulnerable areas to storms. We hope by now, you the reader, have your lights back. We also hope the subways return to Lower Manhattan as they did for the rest of the city. It did not seem that long ago when the trains could run rain or shine, but that day has passed and will never return without the political will for large-scale investment. The science is clear that these storms will continue with more frequency and ferocity going forward. We shouldn’t rush in with massive expenditures on storm protection without careful study, but on the other hand, we can’t throw our hands up and wait for better environmental policies to reverse the tide. That’s what Mayor Bloomberg seemed to do the other day. While he has been a leader on climate issues, he should not be so dismissive of costly measures that would likely help. A system of storm-surge barriers -- as advocated for most notably on the political level by Chelsea activist Bob Trentlyon – may be the only thing that can protect us from another devastating storm of Sandy’s proportions. But constructing these barriers is “not an easy process,” as Trentlyon says, so it’s something that we should start studying now to see if it’s the way to go to ensure that Lower Manhattan continues to be a viable place to live and work in a world with a rapidly changing climate. Meanwhile, we’re riding in subway stations built more than a century ago. Shortsighted politicians will scoff at spending hundreds of billions both to protect people living near the water, as well as at least some of our transit system. But consider the multibillions of dollars lost when our lives and jobs are so disrupted. How many times a year will Lower Manhattan be asked to pack up and flee? In the meanwhile, we’ll stay on the Sandy aftermath story from our new temporary offices, updating our Web sites as well as two most welcome post-9/11 advances -- Facebook and Twitter. Lastly don’t forget to vote on Tuesday. For those with difficulty getting to the polls, you may still get an absentee ballot application Monday if you go to 450 W. 33rd St., 10th floor. It’s too late to get the candidates to promise better storm protection this year, but you can still hold the winners accountable.
Chelsea Market plan a win for one percent To The Editor: The tweaking of Jamestown's proposed Chelsea Market expansion does not make it any more palatable to the Chelsea community than their original proposal. The traffic and congestion in southwest Chelsea has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years — and development already baked in the cake (the hotel on W. 15th between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, the Whitney Museum, the buildings along Tenth Avenue and the entertainment development on Pier 57) is going to make this neighborhood more like Union Square and Times Square than the Chelsea in which we all live. Assurance against changes to the facade and the mix of business on the Chelsea Market concourse provide little benefit to the community. The review and opening up of the West Chelsea Zoning Plan will do nothing to stem future development. The contributions to the High Line Park (for tourists) does little for Chelsea. The promise of 150 units of affordable housing is a promise to appease the community with little likelihood of fulfillment. The only beneficiaries of these tweaks and the project as a whole are those members of the one percent who own and invest in Jamestown. What do the other 99 percent get? The contributions to Wellness in the Schools (WITS) programs in Chelsea and the funding of a technology training center for the disadvantaged youth of Chelsea (to be run by Hudson Guild) are the only true community benefits (a basketball court would have been nice). The one percent wins again. Paul J. Groncki Chair, 100 West 16th Street Block Association
been since the beginning of time. Understand what you are using and respect the hazards....how many of you rally understand what happens when you plug something into a wall outlet? Stop being SHEEP!! Paule (Oct. 18 website reader comment)
Bombshell article: Atomic fracking To The Editor Re: “Will Spectra pipeline pack radon?” (news article, Oct. 17): The industry that wants to dilute the radon by mixing it in with other natural gas so that it is “safe” is the same industry that wanted to frack using atomic bombs during the Nixon administration. Several test atomic bomb frack jobs were done, and when testing showed that the natural gas that was produced was highly radioactive, they wanted to use it anyway and just dilute it to make it less radioactive. See the Kansas City Star April 25, 2011, article titled, “Detonating Nukes in Search of Natural Gas: A Curious Tale in the 70s.” John Wagner
Love that Aunt Chelsea To The Editor: Re: “Ask Aunt Chelsea” (advice column, Oct. 17): Auntie is the real thing. Great advice, with the perfect amount of sass. G Craig Vachon
John Doyel: In heaven, raising hell? To The Editor: Re: “John Doyel, 92, leaves lasting mark on people, products” (obituary Oct. 3): John was a good dude. I loved the old bugger. He was always so much fun and I hope he and his pal Ted are having a few drinks and causing havoc in heaven.
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Stop being sheep! To The Editor Re: “Will Spectra pipeline pack radon?” (news article, Oct. 17): Some people will say anything to scare the populace and ensure their own work is noticed. Yes, radon is typically found with mined petroleum products, but it is also in granite, sandstone, etc. We are surrounded by ionizing radiation and have
For additional reporting on Sandy’s local impact, visit
November 3 - 13, 2012
GAY MEN’S HEALTH CRISIS (GMHC) At 446 W. 33rd St. btw. 9th & 10th Aves. Visit gmhc.org. Call 212-367-1000.
MANHATTAN BOROUGH PRESIDENT SCOTT STRINGER Call 212-669-8300 or visit mbpo.org.
To be listed, email info to email@example.com.
HUDSON GUILD Founded in 1895, Hudson Guild is a multi-service, multi-generational community serving approximately 14,000 people annually with daycare, hot meals for senior citizens, low-cost professional counseling, community arts programs and recreational programming for teens. Visit them at hudsonguild.org. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the John Lovejoy Elliott Center (441 W. 26th St.), call 212-7609800. For the Children’s Center (459 W. 26th St.), call 212-760-9830. For the Education Center (447 W. 25th St.), call 212-760-9843. For the Fulton Center for Adult Services (119 9th Ave.), call 212-924-6710.
CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CHRISTINE QUINN Call 212-564-7757 or visit council.nyc. gov/d3/html/members/home.shtml.
COMMUNITY BOARD 4 (CB4) CB4 serves Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. Its boundaries are 14th St. on the south, 59/60th St. on the north, the Hudson River on the west, 6th Ave. on the east (south of 26th St.) and 8th Ave. on the east (north of 26th St.). The board meeting, open to the public, is the first Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is Wed., Nov. 7, 6:30pm at Roosevelt Hospital, 1000 10th Ave. (btw. 58th & 59th Sts., 2nd fl.). Call 212-736-4536, visit nyc.gov/mcb4 or email them at info@manhattanCB4.org. COMMUNITY BOARD 5 (CB5) CB5 represents the central business district of New York City. It includes midtown Manhattan, the Fashion, Flower, Flatiron and Diamond districts, as well as Bryant Park and Union Square Park. The district is at the center of New York’s tourism industry. The Theatre District, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, the Empire State Building and two of the region’s transportation hubs (Grand Central Station and Penn Station) fall within CB5. CB5’s board meeting, open to the public, happens on the second Thursday of the month. The next meeting will be at 6pm on Thursday, Nov. 8 at St. Xavier High School (30 W. 16th St., btw. 5th and 6th Aves., 2nd fl.). Call 212-4650907, visit cb5.org or email them at email@example.com. THE 300 WEST 23RD, 22ND & 21ST STREETS BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. THE WEST 400 BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at email@example.com.
CHELSEA GARDEN CLUB Chelsea Garden Club cares for the bike lane tree pits in Chelsea. If you want to adopt a tree pit or join the group, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or like them on Facebook. Also visit chelseagardenclub.blogspot.com. LOWER CHELSEA ALLIANCE (LoCal) This group is committed to protecting the residential blocks of Chelsea from overscale development. Contact them at LowerChelseaAlliance@gmail.com. THE GREENWICH VILLAGE-CHELSEA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Call 212-337-5912 or visit villagechelsea.com. THE MEATPACKING DISTRICT INITIATIVE Visit meatpacking-district.com or call 212-633-0185. PENN SOUTH The Penn South Program for Seniors provides recreation, education and social services — and welcomes volunteers. For info, call 212-243-3670 or visit pennsouth.com. THE BOWERY RESIDENTS’ COMMITTEE: HOMELESS HELPLINE If you know of anyone who is in need of their services, call the Homeless Helpline at 212-533-5151, and the BRC will send someone to make contact. This number is staffed by outreach team leaders 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. For more info, visit brc.org. THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER At 208 W. 13th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Visit gaycenter.org or call 212-620-7310. THE ALI FORNEY CENTER Their mission is to help homeless LGBT youth be safe and become independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Main headquarters: 224 W. 35th St., Suite 1102. Call 212-222-3427. The Ali Forney Day Center is located at 527 W. 22nd St., 1st floor. Call 212-2060574 or visit aliforneycenter.org. Member of the New York Press Association
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Member of the National Newspaper Association Chelsea Now is published biweekly by NYC Community Media LLC, 515 Canal Street, Unit 1C, New York, N.Y. 10013 (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. Single copy price at office and newsstands is 50 cents. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2010 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, 145 Sixth Ave., First Fl., New York, N.Y. 10013.
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THE CARTER BURDEN CENTER FOR THE AGING This organization promotes the wellbeing of individuals 60 and older through direct social services and volunteer programs oriented to individual, family and community needs. Call 212879-7400 or visit burdencenter.org. FULTON YOUTH OF THE FUTURE Email them at fultonyouth@gmail. com or contact Miguel Acevedo, 646-671-0310. WEST SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE Visit westsidenyc.org or call 212-9562573. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. CHELSEA COALITION ON HOUSING Tenant assistance every Thursday night at 7pm, at Hudson Guild (119 9th Ave.). Email them at email@example.com. FRIENDS OF HUDSON RIVER PARK Visit fohrp.org or call 212-757-0981. HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST Visit hudsonriverpark.org or call 212627-2020. SAVE CHELSEA Contact them at savechelseanyc@ gmail.com.
PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein ASSOCIATE EDITOR / ARTS EDITOR Scott Stiffler REPORTERS Lincoln Anderson Aline Reynolds Sam Spokony EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS
Kaitlyn Meade Maxine Wally PUBLISHER EMERITUS John W. Sutter
Vera Musa SR. V.P. OF SALES AND MARKETING Francesco Regini RETAIL AD MANAGER Colin Gregory ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Russell Chen Allison Greaker Julius Harrison Gary Lacinski Alex Morris Julio Tumbaco
STATE SENATOR TOM DUANE Call 212-633-8052 or visit tomduane.com. ASSEMBLYMEMBER RICHARD GOTTFRIED Call 212-807-7900 or email GottfriedR@ assembly.state.ny.us. CHELSEA REFORM DEMOCRATIC CLUB The CRDC (the home club of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried) meets monthly to exchange political ideas on protecting the rights and improving the lives of those residing in Chelsea. Visit crdcnyc.org or email them at info@ crdcnyc.org.
At 147 W. 24th St. (btw. 6th & 7th Aves.) THE SYLVIA RIVERA LAW PROJECT works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. Visit srlp.org.
FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) builds the leadership and power of bisexual, transgender and queer youth of color in NYC. Visit fiercenyc.org.
QUEERS FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE is a progressive organization committed to promoting economic justice in a context of sexual and gender liberation. Visit q4ej.org. THE AUDRE LORDE PROJECT is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender non-conforming people of color center for community organizing. Visit alp.org.
ART / PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Troy Masters SENIOR DESIGNER Michael Shirey GRAPHIC DESIGNER Arnold Rozon CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. Marvin Rock DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION Cheryl Williamson
CONTRIBUTORS Martin Denton Duncan Osborne Maya Phillips Jerry Tallmer Paul Schindler Sam Spokony Trav S. D. PHOTOGRAPHERS Milo Hess J. B. Nicholas Jefferson Siegel
November 3 - 13, 2012
POLICE BLOTTER iPAD PROBLEMS Blame potty breaks for pilfered pads male using the High • ALine38-year-old Park public restroom (10th Ave. & W. 16th St.) at around 3pm on Mon., Oct. 22 placed his silver iPad (valued at $200) on top of a bag — then left it in the common area, as he went to use a private stall. Upon exiting, he discovered the iPad was gone.
• Knowing better than to ditch an expensive
object? There ought to be an app for that. Until such a day comes, a 24-year-old male will probably exercise a bit more caution the next time he visits the Apple store (at 401 W. 14th St.). That’s where, at around 3pm on Sun., Oct. 21, he lost his $400 iPad Touch — when he left it on a table, went to use the bathroom, then returned to find it missing. The police report did not note if the victim saw any humor, or irony, in the fact that he hailed from Flushing.
Assault: Punched in parking garage
Harassment: Customer was an edgy early bird
A 19-year-old female was walking into the Imperial Parking Garage (314 11th Ave., at 30th St.) at 4am on Sun., Oct. 21. At that time, a male (unknown to the victim) struck her in the face — resulting in a bloody nose, swelling over the right eye and substantial pain. The injuries caused the woman to fall to the floor and have a seizure. She was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Multiple witnesses stated that the perpetrator fled the scene prior to the arrival of police.
No word on whether it’s a much-needed mood stabilizer or a soothing ointment. But one thing’s for sure — he’s off his meds and not very happy about it. A pharmacist working at the 126 Eighth Ave. CVS told police that shortly after 10am on Fri., Oct. 19, a customer “came in to refill his prescription too early.” Upon being informed that his order was not yet ready to pick up, the cross customer stated to the pharmacist: “You’re a piece of shit. I’m not done with this phar-
macy. I’ll be back.” The police report noted that the same individual had a similar interaction with CVS staff one week prior to the Oct. 19 incident.
Grand Larceny: Bikebased baddie While walking on the southwest corner of 12th Ave. & W. 35th St. at approximately 10:30pm on Sun., Oct. 21, a 30-year-old woman and her $2,500 Chanel handbag parted company — when a bike-riding thief snatched the pricey personal item from her left hand. The two-wheeled perp, who fled northbound on 12th Ave., also made off with the handbag’s contents: $65 in cash, an iPad valued at $500, an iPad cover (valued by the victim at $700) and various items of makeup valued at $50.
Criminal Mischief: Cab windows shattered Uniformed officers arrested a 23-yearold male, who used a glass bottle to smash the front windshield and rear window of a yellow cab at 1:30am on Sun., Oct. 21. The driver told police he was sitting in the vehicle, on the southwest corner of W. 29th St. & 10th Ave., when the incident took place. No reason was given for the perpetrator’s action, but the driver did note the damage was in excess of $250.
drop to the ground and shatter. The perp then followed the victim for three blocks, demanding financial recompense. When the man did not comply, the perp said, “I’m gonna have to hit you!” — and then made good on that threat, striking the victim on the mouth with a closed fist (causing cuts and swelling to his lower lip and the facial area). Following the assault (which took place on Eighth Ave. & W. 28th St.), the aggressive assailant fled the scene.
Robbery: “I had to do this.” A female resident of W. 14th St. was coming home in the late evening of Oct. 23, when she encountered what appeared to be a delivery man attempting to gain entrance to the building (whose intercom system was down). She let him in, and he ran up the stairs. As the victim approached the first floor landing (while talking on her phone), the man grabbed her in an armlock and pulled her to the floor — stating, “Turn your phone off, stop screaming and give me $20.” The woman complied, at which point the perpetrator put an unknown object to her neck and demanded another $20. “I had to do this,” he said, then placed that object back in his pocket and fled. The police report noted that video was available from cameras in front of the building, and on the first floor landing.
Assault: Violent twist to old wino scam What was likely a classic street hustle (which has snared many polite tourists over the years) took a violent turn at 5pm on Oct. 21 — when a 41-year-old male walking on the northwest corner of Eighth Ave. & 25th St. encountered a person of indeterminate gender. The perpetrator “bumped” into the victim, causing the perp’s brown-bagged bottle of wine to
CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.
CRIME STOPPERS If you have info regarding a crime committed or a wanted person, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, text “TIP577” (plus your message) to “CRIMES” (274637) or submit a tip online at nypdcrimestoppers.com.
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Elisa Cokkinos. Main number: 212741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council Meeting takes place at 7pm on the last Wed. of the month.
THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Ted Bernsted. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-4774380. Detective Squad: 212-4777444. The Community Council Meeting takes place at 6:30pm on the third Tues. of the month.
November 3 - 13, 2012
Area to get power, but will city get surge barriers? were not reporting problems so that they could make fixes without going through bureaucratic red tape. Meanwhile, longtime Chelsea activist Bob Trentlyon obviously wasn’t happy that the disaster had occurred, but he and other advocates of storm-surge barriers for New York City felt vindicated in their belief. He spoke in a phone interview on Wednesday from outside the blackout zone -- from the Upper West Side, where he and his wife, Betty, were staying with longtime friend Betty Mosedale. The former publisher of The Westsider and Chelsea Clinton News weekly newspapers, Trentlyon was an early proponent of creating the Hudson River Park along the waterfront. He served for many years on Community Board 4. Now his interest in the waterfront has led him to champion a new issue – trying to protect the city from the disastrous effects of climate change due to the rising sea level. “I reached the conclusion about three years ago that what the city is doing is very good – reducing the amount of carbon,” he said. “But the city doesn’t have any plans that will protect us from the sea rise. The sea rise is going to be happening. Greenland will keep melting. We have to do something similar to what is being done in London, Venice, St. Petersburg. Of 140 ports in the world, we’re in the top fifth for storm surge C’mon, we’re gonna get hit.
Continued from page 1
Flooding in the East Village on Monday night during Hurricane Sandy had spread almost all the way to Avenue B, and Avenue C was a river more than waist-high. The Con Ed power plant on E. 13th St., couldn’t handle it, and the salt water inundation caused an explosion, knocking the plant offline and crippling Lower Manhattan. “Con Ed is prepared to handle a storm surge of 12 feet 6 inches,” said Allan Drury, a spokesperson for the utility company. “That would have been a foot and a half higher than any surge in the history of Manhattan.” In fact, what had been forecast was a surge of 10 to 12 feet, “which would have been a major threat to us,” Drury admitted. “The storm surge from Hurricane Irene was 9.5 feet. The storm surge on Monday night exceeded all forecasts.” Although power was slated to come back Saturday evening, Drury said if customers’ electrical equipment had been too badly damaged by the storm, there lights wouldn’t go back on, and that they’d have to hire an electrician to fix the problem. As of Thursday, he said, 130 buildings in the Downtown and Lower Manhattan area had damaged electrical systems and so wouldn’t be able to have power over the weekend – but there were also anecdotal accounts that many building owners throughout the area
Photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Continued on page 12
Sounding the alarm: Bob Trentlyon
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November 3 - 13, 2012
Area to get power, but will Pub owner ‘saw surge coming,’ though he didn’t actually see it city get surge barriers? Continued from page 11 “Irene moved away at the last minute – we were lucky. And less than a year later – we get hit,” Trentlyon said. “We’re wasting time, we’re losing time, and the sooner we do it, the better we’ll be. I think the city has to take this seriously and call on the Army Corps of Engineers to study it, come up with a plan that they’re going to do, and do it. Another benefit -- this would be a massive public works project, and there’s a need for jobs right now.” If the surge barriers aren’t built, on the other hand, it would have a devastating effect for the city’s economy, Trentlyon warned. “If you keep having these, do you expect Wall St. to stay in New York -- if they have to keep closing down every year or five years?” he asked. “We’d be cutting our own throat. These storms are going to be more and more, and bigger and bigger.” Surge barriers are massive underwater gates that can be opened and closed and lowered and raised to hold back the raging waters during hurricanes. Two different plans – one by a Dutch expert and one by a British expert -- propose installing the structures at key points, either a combination of three separate gates at the Verrazano Narrows, the Arthur Kill and Throgs Neck or one long gate between Sandy Hook and the Rockaways. The price tag was estimated at $10 billion a few years ago, for both the studies
and construction. Trentlyon has found support for his views on Community Boards 1, 2 and 4, and from local politicians, notably state Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Borough President Scott Stringer, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and Councilmember Jessica Lappin, but so far Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t seemed interested. At a press conference on Thursday, Bloomberg, citing the enormous cost of adding storm-surge barriers in a place “where you have an enormous harbor, like we do,” said he didn’t really think the city was ready to take that step. “We don’t know what the mayor’s thinking about,” Trentlyon said. “He’s keeping it close to his vest. I think the mayor isn’t ready to say, ‘We should have done something sooner.’ ” Meanwhile, as Trentlyon was evacuating from Chelsea after the hurricane, friends greeted him on the street, saying, “You were right!” and “We should have done it!” While he admitted that’s good for his ego, he said the bigger issue, clearly, is whether the city and state will face up to the fact that something has to be done before another hurricane slams the city again -- with maybe even more devastating results than what Lower Manhattan, other parts of the city and the region just suffered. A calamity of that level is hard to imagine – but Trentlyon has imagined it – and he feels strongly that he has seen a way to prevent it. If only the city administration would listen to him.
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON “The most amazing thing is, it went from there to here in about 30 seconds -- then it came back, went back, in its time.” As a diesel generator thrummed loudly and gave off fumes outside the Ear Inn bar near the western end of Spring St. Wednesday morning around 10 a.m., owner Martin Sheridan described experiencing the storm surge Monday evening during Hurricane Sandy. He didn’t actually see the surge, though, until he and his bar were in the middle of it. He had walked over toward the river to check out the storm conditions, and then when he was returning to the Ear Inn with his back turned to the river, the 3-foot-high wall of water suddenly came rushing. The sound was just an enormous “whoooosh!” he said. Anticipating the surge, he had turned off all power at the bar beforehand, hoping to save his electrical equipment from more serious damage from the corrosive salt water. The water swept into the bar about 1 foot high, then went down into the basement, then came popping up through hatches in the floor, trying to find any way out. Sheridan had wisely kicked everyone out of the place a half hour before the surge hit, though many had resisted exiting into the 50-mile-per-hour wind gusts and lashing rain. “People didn’t want to get out. They were afraid to go home,” he said. “The women were frightened,” he said, adding, “Don’t be offended -- if you want to put that a little better.” The bar had beer stored in two large walk-in freezers in the basement and food in another. Of the three, the solid 1920s freezer was the one that fared the best in the deluge. “The old things held up!” he said with a grin.
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Martin Sheridan tended to a diesel-powered water pump at the Ear Inn. On the wall behind him, a marking shows where the Manhattan shoreline used to be just west of Greenwich St. before it was extended another two blocks with landfill.
The bar has 40 beer taps and Sheridan said they’ll have to test each one to see if they’re salvageable. Despite the basement having up to 7 feet of water in the rear, as well as 4 feet in the front, the historic building’s foundations are fine, he said. People from the community pitched in to help, and it was inspiring for the bar owner. “There was a lot of camaraderie around,” he said, “people coming in and helping, helping out with buckets. I haven’t seen it since 9/11 -- people just want to help.” As he turned back to tend to pumping out the bar’s waterlogged basement, Sheridan said, “We’re all alive. The good news around here is no one got hurt. We can start again.”
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For additional reporting on Sandy’s local impact, visit
November 3 - 13, 2012
Photo by Andra Gabrielle
Little Red Regret All around, trees still stand and cars remain undamaged â€” but the morning after Sandy reveals the toll taken on this spiffy red number (parked on an unfortunate patch of 25th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues).
November 3 - 13, 2012
The Morning After Sandy: What Did The River Do? Tuesday afternoon, October 30: When Andra Gabrielle (co-chair of the West 300 Block Association) set out to survey the river’s edge, the conditions she observed from Chelsea Piers to the Heliport made it apparent that the Hudson’s surge had made its way across that entire length of the park.
Photos by Andra Gabrielle
Mounds of sod, swept onto the pathway by the rush of the surge, are evidence of the path taken when the river overwhelmed the land.
The high water mark is indicated by the leaves on the rim of the bowl (between Piers 62 and 63, just north of Chelsea Piers).
The shocking height of the water’s reach is indicated by a black horizontal debris line — which ran the length of the block (between 11th Avenue and the High Line), on both sides of the street.
Displaced debris from the surge dotted the landscape, all the way to the Heliport. Here, a plank — from the nearby boathouse, perhaps — is wedged between a tree bed and shrubbery.
On 23rd Street, between Ninth and Eighth Avenues: Like the shells to be found at the high edge of an ocean wave, these sidewalk leaves pinpoint how far the Hudson’s water encroached into West Chelsea — a conclusion reached by observing how they came to rest as a result of the floodings.
November 3 - 13, 2012
Chelsea Intersection Flooded — With Light
Photos by Scott Stiffler
Wed., Oct. 31: On a darkened Ninth Ave., costumed Halloween revelers danced in the moonlight. One block away, floodlights on the corner of 23rd St. & Eighth Ave. lit up that major intersection — as the apartments of Penn South (blessed with its own generator) also illuminated the night.
Power, and Pizza, to the People NYPD Subs for Traffic Light
On the dark night of Thurs., Nov. 1, a generator kept J's Pizza (Seventh Ave. & 16th St.) open for business. Inside, nearby resident Alyssa was charging her cell phone through the good graces of J's juice. When we called the next morning, they were sans generator for the day — but said their doors would be open to anyone who wanted to stop by.
With no power to the traffic lights (or anything else in the surrounding area), an NYPD officer directs traffic, at 14th St. & Seventh Ave. (12:30pm, Tues., Oct. 30).
November 3 - 13, 2012
fences make good neighbors. In Manhattan, our fences are triple-deadbolted doors that require a considerable investment of time to unlock…and when we do, it’s to pay the delivery guy or complain to the super, not turn snitch. But please don’t roll up your welcome mat. Set your sights on the positive power of Christmas/Hanukkah/ Ramadan/Kwanzaa to teach a lesson to the culprit and your “know nothing” neighbors (aka the silent accomplices). Here’s the plan: Go to the dollar store (I just love that one on 23rd between Seventh & Eighth) and buy, in bulk, a holiday door decoration that screams, “Tear me down!” Hang it up the day after Thanksgiving — and if it’s torn, kicked or otherwise disrespected, immediately replace it with a fresh version. It won’t be long before the whole building regards you as a stubborn, resourceful and potentially dangerous force to be reckoned with. On that day, you can proudly tell all your friends back home, “I’m from New York!”
Dear Aunt Chelsea, We have a neighbor who put up scaffolding to renovate their brownstone. Of course the renovation took an extra year, and when they removed the scaffolding, two of our hedge bushes were dead. When I confronted them, they blew me off — saying they had nothing to do with it, that the bushes had already been dead (and for me to pretty much drop dead). Recently, they joined a club that I am a member of and I will eventually have to interact with. How should I be? Sincerely, Really Bushed
Dear Aunt Chelsea, I moved to Chelsea over the summer and have been looking forward to the holidays, so that I can start decorating — especially my apartment door. And what better time to start than on Halloween? Last week, I bought a pumpkin and placed it next to my welcome mat. Three days later, my pumpkin disappeared. Not one to despair, I quickly went down to the local deli and purchased a new pumpkin. The next morning, I found that my pumpkin had not been stolen BUT had instead been mutilated, kicked down the hall, pumpkin guts everywhere; not exactly what I had in mind for a jack-o-lantern. I immediately knocked on all my neighbors’ doors, but they insisted that they didn’t know anything about it. I was looking forward to decorating my door through Valentine’s Day, but now I am concerned that every decoration will be destroyed. Any advice on how to keep in the festive spirit?
Dear Bushed: The sacred oath I took in order to pen this column for Chelsea Now precludes me from revealing your exact location — but I am allowed to note that you live two doors down from “The Tormented Decorator” (see the above letter). With that in mind, I’ve advised my good friends at the 10th Precinct to increase their visibility on your block. It’s astounding how quickly a bully turns civil when in the presence of a uniformed officer. But sadly, our brave boys and girls in blue can’t be there to broker every property dispute or awkward social moment. That’s where Aunt Chelsea’s blue ribbon banana bread recipe comes in. I’m texting it to you, along with a request to keep its secret ingredient secret…and specific instructions to bring it for the refreshment portion of your next club meeting. I’ve always found that kind words, a humble nature and a few generous servings of my banana bread is all it takes to build bridges and sow the seeds of friendship (even for hedge-killing, brownstone-dwelling scumbags). Do let me know how it turns out, honey (which is an affectionate term for you, and NOT my secret ingredient!). Toodles!
Aries The universe has a message for you, in the third verb from the next subway conversation you overhear. Lucky Avenue: Madison.
Taurus Why seal your lips with ChapStick, when the Rite Aid brand will do the trick for less? Simplify and profit. Lucky carpet: Shag.
Gemini Resist the urge to binge on food from that memorable dream you had. Lucky Super Power: Invisibility. Cancer “Carpe Diem” is catchy, but seizing the day every day invites sloppy mistakes. Lucky beef: Angus.
Leo That flea market you never go to has a candy dish you’re really going to like. Lucky bird: Blue Jay. Virgo Don’t shy away from using the corny catch phrases of your parents. It’s called getting better, not older. Lucky Beverage: Birch Beer. Libra Your ability to tap into the great cosmic awareness is at its peak next Thursday. Use power wisely. Lucky Pirate: Bluebeard. Scorpio A lost object is waiting for you behind the couch of an estranged friend —one more good reason to make amends. Lucky Dance: Mambo. Sagittarius Your suspicious nature, which serves you well, will be on the fritz next Tuesday. Lucky Cereal: Quisp. Capricorn Stop throwing stuff out of the fridge before its expiration date. That overcautious nature is costing you! Lucky Concept: Eternity.
Thanks, The Tormented Decorator Dear Tormented: If they’d so much as laid a hand on Tom Turkey or Santa, I’d be in your corner — but let’s face it, toots: Halloween is that rare holiday season during which respectable society turns its head to the wanton destruction of property. That said, it’s only part of the reason Aunt Chelsea suspects your ill-advised door-to-door search for the pumpkin chucker was a bust. You don’t say where you moved from, but I’ll bet it’s a small town or farm country — where
Do you have a personal problem at work, the gym, the bar or the corner coffee shop? Is there a domestic dispute that needs the sage counsel of an uninvolved third party? Then Ask Aunt Chelsea! Contact her via askauntchelsea@ chelseanow.com, and feel free to end your pensive missive with a clever, anonymous moniker (aka “Troubled on 23rd Street,” or “Ferklempt in the Fashion District”).
Aquarius Walk in the direction a sudden gust of wind comes from, and find a most welcome surprise. Lucky Bird: Raven. Pisces Drop the carnival barker act and adopt the dulcet tones of a poetry reading emcee. Lucky Olympic sport: Men’s Gymnastics.
November 3 - 13, 2012
November 3 - 13, 2012
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Photo by Aline Reynolds
The South Street Seaport experienced significant flooding from Hurricane Sandy on Monday, causing stores on Front Street and elsewhere in the neighborhood to be heavily damaged.
On Nov. 1 in Union Square, Con Ed distributed blocks of ice that residents could put in their unpowered refrigerators to keep food chilled. There was a long line for the frozen hot commodity. Older residents remembered how refrigerators used to be called â€œice boxesâ€? back in the day, when they really were cooled by large blocks of ice that the iceman would drop off whenever he would â€œcometh.â€? At right, Villager Diane Waller showed her ice.
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November 3 - 13, 2012
November 3 - 13, 2012
B O O K S O F W O N D E R N e w Yo r k C i t y ’s o l d e s t a n d l a r g e s t i n d e p e n d e n t c h i l d r e n ’s b o o k s t o r e h o s t s Storytime every Fri. at 4pm and Sun. at noon in t h e i r C h i l d r e n ’s R o o m . A t 1 8 W. 1 8 t h S t . ( b t w. Fifth & Sixth Aves.). Store hours are Mon.-Sat., 11am-7pm and Sun., 11am-6pm. For more info, c a l l 2 1 2 - 9 8 9 - 3 2 7 0 o r v i s i t b o o k s o f w o n d e r. c o m .
P O E T S H O U S E The Poets House Children’s Room gives children and their parents a gateway to enter the world of rhyme through readings, group activities and interactive performances. For children ages 1-3, the Children’s Room offers “Tiny Poets Time” readings on Thursdays at 10am; for those ages4-10, “Weekly Poetry Readings” take place every Sat. at 11am. Filled with
poetry books, old-fashioned typewriters and a card catalogue packed with poetic objects to trigger inspiration, the Children’s Room is open Thurs.-Sat., 11am5pm. Free admission. At 10 River Terrace. Call 212-4317920 or visit poetshouse.org. C R E AT U R E S O F L I G H T Descend into the depths of the ocean and explore the caves of New Zealand — without ever leaving Manhattan. Just visit the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit on bioluminescence (organisms that produce light through chemical reactions). Kids will eagerly soak up this interactive twilight world where huge models of everything from fireflies to alien-like fish illuminate the dark. Through Jan. 6, 2013 at the American Museum of Natural History (79th St. & Central Park West). Open daily, 10am–5:45pm.Admission is $25, $14.50 for children, $19 for students/seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the museum or at amnh.org. For more info, call 212-769-5100. THE SKYSCRAPER MUSEUM The Skyscraper M u s e u m ’s “ S a t u r d a y F a m i l y P r o g r a m ” s e r i e s f e a tures workshops designed to introduce children and their families to the principles of architecture
and engineering through hands-on activities. Call 212-945-6324 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission: $5 per child, free for members. Museum hours: Wed.-Sun., 12-6pm.Museum admission: $5, $2.50 for students/seniors. For info, call 212-9456324, visit skyscraper.org. T H E S C H O L A S T I C S T O R E Held every Saturday at 3pm, Scholastic’s in-store activities are designed to get kids reading, thinking, talking, creating and moving. At 11am every Tues., Wed. and Thurs., the Scholastic Storyteller brings tales to life at Daily Storytime. At 557 Broadway (btw. Prince & Spring Sts.). Store hours: Mon.-Sat., 10am-7pmand Sun., 11am6pm. For info, call 212-343-6166 or visit scholastic. com/sohostore. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR LISTING IN THE VILLAGER? Please provide the date, time, location, price and a description of the event. Send to scott@ chelseanow.com or mail to 515 Canal St., Unit 1C, New York City, NY 10013. Requests must be received at least three weeks before the event. For more info, call 646-452-2497.
Photo by Kara Wilson
Tristen Buettel (Sally Bowles) and Javier Spivey (Cliff), in rehearsal for “Cabaret.”
KIDZ THEATER PRESENTS “CABARET” What does Kidz Theater have in common with Liza Minnelli? Well, for starters, they’re both a little unconventional (spelling their names with a “Z” when others are happy to settle for “S”). Also, they gravitate toward dark, complex and challenging material (the upcoming Mainstage Musical production of “Cabaret”). Finally, they’re both award-winners. Liza’s are too numerous to mention here — and Kidz Theater won the prestigious National Youth Arts Award’s top honor (“Outstanding Production”) for 2010, 2011 and 2012. All of this bodes exceedingly well for this upcoming Kander and Ebb musical, which features professional young performers ages 14-19 (including Jenny Mollet, from Broadway’s “The Color Purple”). If you haven’t seen the 1972 film (for which Minnelli won an Oscar), here’s the plot in a nutshell: It’s Berlin, Germany, at the dawn of the Nazi era. Young American
Clifford Bradshaw falls hard for the city’s gaudy decadence…and the equally gaudy and decadent Sally Bowles (main attraction at the Kit Kat Club. The lives of Cliff, Sally and their landlady Fraulein Schneider intersect — as the Nazis take over. That tells you nothing about the moody, memorable score, so you’ll just have to see the show (although you might want to come prepared, by reading Christopher Isherwood’s short novel “Goodbye to Berlin,” on which the musical is based. Nov. 9-18 at The Connelly Theater (220 E. 4th St., btw. Aves. A & B). The performance schedule is: Fri., Nov. 9 at 7pm; Sat., Nov. 10 at 1pm & 7pm; Sun., Nov. 11 at 2pm & 7pm; Tues., Nov. 13 at 7pm; Wed., Nov. 14 at 7pm; Thurs., Nov. 15 at 7pm; Fri., Nov. 16 at 7pm; Sat., Nov. 17th at 1pm & 7pm Sun., Nov. 18 at 1pm. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. To order, visit kidztheater.org.
Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company
A whole new world. No, wait, that’s “Aladdin.” We meant a whole New World.
TRINITY CHURCH FAMILY FRIDAY PIZZA & MOVIE NIGHT Every family should get together for pizza and a movie…and to help make that happen, Trinity Wall Street hosts this monthly event for kids who are hungry and adults who are too tired to cook (or call for delivery!). For November, they’ll be screening the Disney classic “Pocahontas” — a musical tale of unexpected love that blossoms when an English soldier (Captain John Smith) and the daughter of Chief Powhatan meet when Smith lands on the shores of the New World in search of gold. It’s not all
mushy stuff, though. There are cute animals, too! Fri., Nov. 16, 6pm-7:30pm, at Charlotte’s Place (107 Greenwich St., rear of 74 Trinity Place, btw. Rector & Carlisle Sts.). For more info, call 212-602-0800 or visit trinitywallstreet.org/calendar. For Twitter: @ CharlottesPlc. For Facebook, facebook. com/CharlottesPlaceNYC. Charlotte’s Place is a free space. Open to everyone, it is supported and operated by Trinity Wall Street, an Episcopal parish in the city of New York.
November 3 - 13, 2012
Landmark advocates recall Alamo-like efforts BY DONATHAN SALKALN Those who attended October 18’s “Landmarks Under Fire” forum — sponsored by the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC) — were bought to the front lines of our city’s preservation battlefield. The speakers, all leaders of their respective organizations, painted a scenario which recalled the doomed but heroic struggle mounted to defend the Alamo: a small but determined group (community volunteers and sliding scale lawyers) fighting an opposing force (real estate moguls and two Mayoral administrations) eager for change. Each activist had battle scars, fresh wounds and vivid war stories to tell. As Simeon Bankoff (Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council) put it, “On the one side, you have the Landmarks [Preservation] Commission — trying, with limited resources, to do the job of regulating and guiding the growth of the city’s most precious districts. On the other side, you have private interests who want to get in and make as much money as humanly possible with the least amount of process. Beginning in the previous administration and spanning the twelve years of the Bloomberg administration, there has been a push to streamline regulations so development can happen faster…and for the Landmarks Commission to just get out of the way.” He paused, then directly engaged the audience: “You, in Chelsea, all live in a beautiful area. You’ve seen the beneficial effects of landmark preservation, over the long haul.” Bankoff’s latest battle concerns ten legislative bills floating before the City Council — all of which water down the power of the Landmarks Commission. One bill (intro 846, sponsored by Council Member Leroy Comrie, Queens) actually calls for the City Planning Commission to judge the highest economic gain on property use before signing off on landmarking. Another bill (intro 850, sponsored by Council Member Brad Lander, Brooklyn) calls for an unrealistic timetable for landmark designation. Exasperated, Bankoff exclaimed, “There has been a push back against preservation.”
Photo courtesy of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club
Simeon Bankoff (Executive Director, the Historic Districts Council) bemoaned the waning power of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Julie Finch (of the Lamartine Place Historic District) spoke about the race to build on a property that is under consideration for landmark designation. For seven years, she has been fighting the owner of 339 West 29th Street over an additional floor he built on a documented site at which slaves fleeing to Canada were aided. It is also where the homes of Quaker abolitionists James Sloan Gibbons and Abby Hopper were stormed, and blood spilled, during the Civil War draft riots of 1863. Her battle continues at 10am, November 20, at the Board of Standards and Appeals. “Please come to the hearing,” she pleaded. “We need bodies.” Andrew Berman (Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) spoke of the fight to uphold existing zoning laws. His Alamo is Chelsea Market — on top of which Jamestown Properties is seeking to build two office towers. “Our neighborhood is more than
developed to the max,” stated Berman — who continued, noting that, “Community Board 4, which includes Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, has been rezoned to increase the development potential. So much so, that literally millions of square feet of space can now be built that could never be built before. It has been more up-zoned under the Bloomberg administration than any other community board, and probably more than all fifty community boards combined. We’ve seen a lot of development in the last few years. That is the tip of the iceberg of what will be coming down the pike.” When CRDC’s moderator, Judy Richheimer, opened the discussion to the audience, war stories also prevailed. At 87 years old, Ed Kirland (Community Board 4’s principle author of 2005’s West Chelsea Rezoning agreement) is considered a preservation pioneer. He was steaming about lost promises by the city.
“The rezoning was designed to protect the High Line by moving its air rights over to the edge of the river. We fought hard to keep the buildings low except along the water, where they like to build tall luxury buildings. We thought we had a deal and that the Chelsea Market would not be enlarged,” he declared. The forum became heated when the audience learned of other lost promises concerning the Special West Chelsea District agreement. Andrew Berman spoke of affordable housing that was promised on a parking lot in Fulton Houses but never materialized (although it may happen as part of the Chelsea Market plan), and also affordable housing built at the corner of 25th and Ninth Avenue that gave those that earn $103,000 a year, public assistance for living there. As Kirkland put it, “If I wasn’t used to the city, I would be outraged.”
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November 3 - 13, 2012
CHELSEA: ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT The show must go on Call ahead, check the web BY TRAV S.D. Your correspondent actually earned his salary this past month, by warming seats at several Downtown theaters — keeping eyes and ears open so you don’t have to. It’s harder work than it sounds. PigPen Theatre Company’s “The Old Man and the Old Moon” at Judson Memorial Church wasn’t to my liking at all. While the shadow puppetry was charming and the musicianship pleasant, it all seemed to me in the service of nothing more substantial than a work of provincial children’s theatre. Bring the kids — and then leave them there. It’s playing through November 26. Pigpentheatre. com for more info. Neither was “Speakeasy Dollhouse” my cup of bathtub gin. If you are a tired businessman or a Jeanketeer, you may well enjoy this interactive experience (set in a faux speakeasy in the former Lansky Lounge). Me, I couldn’t “take it on the lam” fast enough. Costume parties are for amateurs! If you want to subject yourself to the charade, give the secret knock at speakeasydollhouse.com. Before you get the idea that this curmudgeon hates everything on earth, let me tell you about an ongoing show I saw and actually liked. I was lucky enough to catch Cardone the Vaudeville Magician’s “Spook Show” at the Canal Park Playhouse (which happens to be located in one of the oldest buildings in New York). This family-friendly combination magic show/haunted house attraction is a charming hoot, and it’s playing every Tuesday, 7pm, through December 18. Cardone is the only performer I know who can do ventriloquism and a card trick at the same time. And for the piece de resistance — live ghosts! I chose the Halloween season to attend for obvious reasons, but this show would be an entertaining lark any time of year. Learn more at canalparkplayhouse.com. Through November 10, the clown company Vagabond Inventions (in collaboration with an international partnership of artists hailing from France, Spain and Sweden) will be presenting “Under the Skiff” — described as “a lyrical clown farce exploring the human side of immigration and the struggle for connection in a foreign landscape” in which “The Red Room in the East Village is transformed into a barren immigration office in a strange country where two naive applicants wait (and wait...) in hopes that their papers will be approved.” More details to be found at: vagabondinventions.com. Now playing through November17, the Talking Band will be presenting “Obskene” — a theater piece conceived and directed by Tina Shepard. “Obskene” literally means “offstage” in Greek, where all the nasty bits in the tragedies happened…the battles, the violence, the rapes and murders (hence giving birth to our
Photo by Don Spiro
Angie Pontani heads an all-star cast, in “Burlesque-A-Pades.”
modern word “obscene”). In the drama of the ancient Greeks, these events are always related by a messenger. “Obskene” juxtaposes a bunch of these classic speeches (newly adapted by Sidney Goldfarb and Lizzie Olesker) with original contributions by Marcus Gardley, Sidney Goldfarb, David Greenspan, John Jesurun, Ellen Maddow, Deb Margolin, Lizzie Olesker and Paul Zimet. “Obskene” will be at HERE Arts Center. More details at talkingband.org. Through December 2, the LAByrinth Theater Company will be presenting the world premiere of “Radiance,” Cusi Cram’s new play inspired by the true story of Captain Robert Lewis. Lewis was the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In 1955, he was scheduled to appear as a guest on the television show “This Is Your Life”, but first he stopped off at a neighborhood bar to get thoroughly smashed. If you had dropped the first A-bomb and then were about to appear on TV, wouldn’t you? “Radiance” will be playing at the Bank Street Theater. For tickets and info, go to labtheater.org. November 7-December 2, Soho Rep will be presenting a new work by Jackie Sibblies, a member of their 2011-2012 Writer/Director
Lab. The title of the play is — wait for it — “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.” In “We Are Proud,” a troupe of American actors stumble over questions of authenticity and appropriation as they attempt to reconstruct the little-known first genocide of the 20th century — and land in an exploration that hits closer to home. Visit sohorep.org for more details. November 13, playwright Paula Vogel — who’s taken on controversial subject matter from AIDS (“The Baltimore Waltz”) to incest (“How I Learned to Drive”) — will be opening a play about what may be the most surprising topic yet: the American Civil War. I keep looking for irony in the marketing copy for her new show “A Civil War Christmas,” but there ain’t none to be had! Apparently, this is a straightup “tapestry” of real-life historical figures (from Lincoln to runaway slaves) as they live through Christmas Eve 1864. It’s directed by Tina Landau at New York Theatre Workshop and will be playing through December 30. Sounds not-to-be-missed. Visit nytw.org for tickets and info.
Opening November 17 is the Metropolitan Playhouse’s revival of the 1911 hit “The Boss” — by long-forgotten playwright Edward Sheldon. In this combination melodrama and political protest play, “a bare-knuckles robberbaron has taken over the grain industry in a Great Lakes city, squeezing out all competition, crushing his workers and turning a once proud city into his own fiefdom.” Yes, but does he have an elevator for his car? “The Boss” plays through December 16. For more details, go to metropolitanplayhouse.org. Last but not least: I just know you will want to check out “Burlesque-A-Pades” — starring New York neo-burlesque pioneer Angie Pontani and an all-star cast of cuties and cut-ups, including the World Famous Pontani Sisters, Tigger, Albert Cadabra, Gal Friday, the Maine Attraction and Pinkie Special. In addition to all the fetching burlesque dancers, the show’s special angle is the number of classic burlesque comedy sketches curated and directed by your correspondent (i.e., me!) It’s playing every Friday at 10pm at the Soho Playhouse. I sure hope you can make it! Tickets and info are at burlesqueapades.com. Have an excellent Thanksgiving!
November 3 - 13, 2012
‘Sowa’ just a ‘metaphor for personal power’ So says Richards of her ‘so what’ heroine Now, Ms. McKee is Diane Richards’ and Woodie King’s Sowa — half sex-driven loveidol movie star, half voodoo witch of Harlem, who travels back and forth through time in a history (sort of) of black America. Her traveling companions include best friend Windy Willow (Toni Seawright), enemies Luwanna (Kimberly “Q”) and Belozah (Kene Holiday), young handsome unsure male boyfriend Sapphire — (Jonathan Peck) and a Baron Samedi who is, of course, the devil. There is also a character named Jeremiah Bernstein, aka Anxiety Man (Aaron Fried), a white and Jewish fellow who is, well, quite uptight. As follows:
THEATER SOWA’S RED GRAVY
Written by Diane Richards Directed by Woodie King, Jr. Through Nov. 18
Friends say I’m anxious. I’m worried…but not for the reasons they think. It’s for a specific reason. Soon we white people will be outnumbered. Eleanor Roosevelt brought this up on national television years ago. It’s happening now. Soon I, one lonely white person, will be outnumbered on my job, in my neighborhood, on the subway. This is why I’ve come to see Windy Willow. Maybe she’ll teach me how to cook that Red Gravy. I heard that Windy, Sowa and Luwanna flew into Chicago and sprinkled that Red Gravy on that man that’s sitting in the White House right now.
Thurs./Fri. at 7:30pm, Sat. at 2pm/8pm, Sun. at 2pm At the Castillo Theatre 543 W. 42nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) For tickets ($25), call 212-941-1234 or visit castillo.org For info, visit newfederaltheatre.org
BY JERRY TALLMER In the 42 miraculous years of his brilliantly successful New Federal Theatre (NFT), Woodie King, Jr., has produced some 350 plays, mostly by black dramatists and/or women — but, by his own count, has only directed seven of them. Now he’s directing his eighth, and there’s a reason for it. The play is “Sowa’s Red Gravy,” by short story writer Diane Richards — and Woodie King. Jr. sees a whole history of the Negro people in America. Or, more precisely, of the great migration of that people from south to north in these United States. “Two of them, in fact — two great migra-
Photo by Gerry Goodstein
Iris Wilson and Gary Vincent.
tions,” says King over a mid-morning omelet and coffee. “One to Detroit, one to New York.” Detroit — where Woodie King, Jr., born in Alabama in 1937, went to high school and worked in the Ford factory for three years. Detroit, where a gorgeous actress named Lonette McKee was born, we don’t have to know how long ago. We don’t have to know that about Diane Richards, either. “In my forties,” the playwright says. Both of these
beauteous ladies together would surely not add up to the 110-year-old Sowa — whom McKee will be portraying in the NFT production of “Sowa’s Red Gravy.” Ms. McKee was also a bit fewer in years in age than the Billy Holiday she brought back to heartbreaking life in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” at the Vineyard Theater in 1986. You could look up this appraiser’s love letter to her on that occasion.
Let us pray. I mean, dear reader: come Tuesday, November 6, 2012, let us pray. Anxiety Man knows about Eleanor Roosevelt because Diane Richards is, as my mother would have said, “hipped” on Eleanor Roosevelt. Diane Richards has researched everything about that great woman. What Diane Richards did not know until I told her was that Lorraine Hansberry, back around 1960, chatting with this journalist on a sidewalk in Greenwich Village, said with a knowing smile: “We’re soon going to outvote you.” Meaning black nations vs. white nations in the United Nations. And that eventuality did indeed come to pass
Continued on page 24
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November 3 - 13, 2012
‘Red Gravy’ plot stirs, thickens Continued from page 23 quite soon thereafter. “Wow,” says Diane Richards anent Lorraine Hansberry. “Thank you.” My mother never knew about Google, which has informed Diane Richards — “I hate to say it,” Ms. Richards says — that there's another Diane Richards who is a porn star. “What a life! And here am I, a quiet Milwaukee girl.” By the way, Ms. Richards, what’s the deeper meaning of “Red Gravy?” “Oh, it’s just a metaphor for personal power in everything. It came from my worrying about everything.” Like what? “Life. Death. Illness. Marriage. Divorce. Everything. It’s also where the name “Sowa” comes from, ‘Sowa…So what?’ That’s how to pronounce it Just think of ‘so what.’ ” How did that come into your head? “You know what? I don’t know. I was in the Islands, the Caribbean, and she started talking to me.” There is, by the way, a character named Mark Lindner in “A Raisin in the Sun,” a nervous little white man who tries bribe the Negro family — Walter Lee Younger and his mother, wife, sister, son — from moving into an all-white neighborhood in suburban Chicago. Not unlike Anxiety Man in “Sowa’s Red Gravy.” Speaking of which, how many Jeremiah Bernsteins has Diane Richards known in her life? “A whole bunch. I grew up in a very Nazi city. And the German Jews were the only ones who would allow us into their neighborhoods.” Diane Richards got to New York in 1977 and graduated
Photo by Gerry Goodstein
Jonathan Peck and Lonette McKee.
from City College in 2003. All her life she has loved writing, and the material of “Sowa’s Red Gravy” first saw daylight as a series of short stories. Then it was published as a book under the Harlem Writers Guild imprint, and also as an e-book — and somewhere in that whole process, Woodie King, Jr. came upon the work, and its author, at a writers’ conference in upstate New York ten years ago. “He said: ‘This would be great for theatrical production,’ and this past August we went to work to turn it into a play. Woodie picked the stories, starting with the ‘Voodoo Black Magic’ that goes all through it. Woodie would tell me what he saw, how he envisioned it, and then we’d go back and forth, developing insights and nuances that I was not conscious of.” Diane Richards and her husband live in Harlem at 122nd Street. Sowa lives in Harlem near 125th Street whenever she’s not somewhere else at some other time. Diane Richards’ father, Bruce Richards, is a postal supervisor. She lost her mother, nurse Glendora Toliver, in 1989. “My husband is black, he’s psychologist Anthony Mills, we’ve been married ten years,” says the café-au-lait Diane Richards, “but before that I lived with a white man for a long time.” Her husband — “He’s proud of me” — calls the Sowa stories “a mosaic of ingenuity.” History, history. Woodie King sees “Sowa’s Red Gravy” as “a history of the great migrations, one to Detroit, one to New York. I don’t think Shakespeare sat down to do a history of England, but it's all there, isn’t it? This king did this, that king did that.” And the King named Woodie will put it all together for you at the Castillo Theatre — with the help of those two radiant ladies, Diane Richards and Lonette McKee.
November 3 - 13, 2012
Just Do Art! BY SCOTT STIFFLER
GREENWICH HOUSE POTTERY PRESENTS: LINDA SORMIN’S “MY VOICE CHANGES WHEN I SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE” “This immigrant lives in fear of waste,” says Linda Sormin of her personal habits. “Nothing is thrown away. Old yogurt is used to jumpstart the new batch,” she notes, contextualizing her own thrift as a means to understand what role repurposing plays in her art. “What is worth risking for things to get juicy, rare, ripe? What might be discovered on the verge of things going bad?” In her first NYC solo exhibition, Bangkok-born Sormin (who immigrated to Canada at the age of five) uses a sitespecific installation to explore themes of fragility, aggression, mobility and survival. “My Voice Changes When I Speak Your Language” fills the gallery space of Greenwich House Pottery by “embroidering raw clay through objects she has found and re-purposed.” In their second life, these fused objects are used to enact stories of Sormin’s Batak Indonesian past and experiences as an immigrant moving between cultures. Through Nov. 21. Free. At The Jane Hartsook Gallery at Greenwich House Pottery (16 Jones St., btw. Bleecker & W.
Photo by Anders Sune Berg
Photo by Paul LaRosa
Linda Sormin’s “Howling Room 3” (see “Greenwich House Pottery”).
Joyce Mendelsohn leads a LES tour celebrating heroines of historic significance.
Fourth Sts.). Gallery hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am-4pm or by appointment. For info, visit greenwichhouse.org. Also visit lindasormin. com.
raphy exhibit. Sun., Nov. 11, 10:45am-12:45pm. Meet at Straus Square (corner of E. Broadway, Essex & Canal Sts.). The tour is a fundraising event for the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy. Tickets are $36. For a contribution of $54, participants will receive tour admission and a signed copy of Joyce Mendelsohn's book (“The Lower East Side Remembered & Revisited”). For $100, receive both of the above and two free passes to any other LESJC public tour. Participants must pre-register and pre-pay by Thurs., Nov. 8, at nycjewishtours.org . For more info, call 212-374-4100.
WALKING TOUR: “HEROINES OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE” Learn about, and celebrate, the lives of nine women who brought social, political and artistic change to the Lower East Side in the early 20th century. Historian and preservationist Joyce Mendelsohn (author of “The Lower East Side Remembered & Revisited”) leads the inaugural edition of this two-hour
walking tour. Highlights include a stop at the Henry Street Settlement — where you’ll hear about Settlement founder Lillian D. Wald (who also founded the Visiting Nurse Service of New York). Additionally scheduled: deep background on the life of anarchist and self-styled revolutionary Emma Goldman — a writer and public speaker whose positions on workers' rights, free speech, birth control and atheism got her deported to Russia in 1917. The tour concludes with a visit to the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy's Kling & Niman Family Visitor Center, to view a special photog-
November 3 - 13, 2012
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November 3 - 13, 2012
What Halloween? Your doctor spent 5 minutes?
Photo by Scott Stiffler
“Battery-buying water hoarder” was this year’s Halloween alter ego of choice — displacing Obama and Romney sparring costumes. This thoroughly taped Ricky’s Costume Superstore (23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Avenues) braced for the storm, instead of shoppers.
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Tuesday, October 30: A tree, snapped from its trunk (near of Restivo's restaurant, at 22nd St. & Seventh Ave.). In the background, an orange Chelsea Now mailbox remains relatively unscathed.
November 3 - 13, 2012
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