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Hell’s Kitchen Bus Congestion Bedevils BY ZACH WILLIAMS Rush hour on 10th Ave. offers the unmistakable odor of exhaust, the ceaseless rumble of engines and the sheer volume of human movement between the under-sized Port Authority Bus Terminal and the western shore of the Hudson River. A line of NJ Transit buses stretched from W. 36th to W. 40th Sts. on Aug. 6, along the eastern curb of 10th Ave. — idling far beyond the city’s three-minute limit. In the other lanes, competition grew as more and more buses from carriers such as Megabus, Peter Pan and Coach USA entered the fourlane avenue leading to W. 40th St. Some turn right there towards the bus terminal, Continued on page 7

This Fringe Has Edge

It’s no mystery: FringeNYC (the New York International Fringe Festival) is on the Downtown boards through Aug. 24. Above, Janet Prince does double duty as British thespian Margaret Rutherford and Miss Marple creator Agatha Christie — in the U.S. debut of the U.K. smash, “Murder Margaret and Me.” FringeNYC coverage begins on page 12.

Photo by Winnie McCroy

Foreground, L to R: Cher Elyse Carden, Andrew Rai and Steve Schaeffer are among only seven tenants, out of 23, who still reside at 222-224 W. 21st St.

Tenants’ Rights Trashed Amidst Market-Rate Conversion BY WINNIE McCROY In a case of landlord harassment that State Senator Brad Hoylman called “egregious,” the longtime tenants of 222-224 W. 21st St. are allegedly being illegally evicted so that Slate Property Group can construct high-end rentals in place of their subsidized housing. Only seven of the original 23 tenants remain, and these holdouts say they are subjected to drilling and jackhammering from 7 a.m. until midnight, random cuts to utilities (including water, cable and Internet), unsafe living conditions, and a campaign of harassment intended to make them leave their home of nearly 20 years. By the time tenants Cher Elyse Carden, Andrew Rai and Steve Schaeffer contacted Chelsea Now about what was happening to their home, construction workers had already torn out the floors and ceilings, walls and insulation, locked them out of the basement storage and laundry room, disconnected their buzzers and changed the locks on their front door. “If I had the money, I would have packed up and moved,” said Carden, who has lived in the building since

1986. “Now I’m appalled that this seems to be endemic in the city. If they would have kept 20 or 30 percent of it as affordable housing, that would have been okay. But they didn’t. They just bulldozed their way through.” All seemed fine in the building until it was sold this March. By the end of the month, tenants came home to discover a generic eviction notice from MGT Property Management, which informed them that they would “be required to vacate and surrender the premises on or before April 30, 2014.” “You could hear people crying in their apartments after this happened,” Carden recalled. “The superintendent was doubly sad, because he had lost both his home and his job.” Later, the remaining tenants received a more formal-looking notice from the landlord’s attorneys, Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, LLP — requiring them to terminate their tenancy by Aug. 31, 2014 (the “Vacate Date”) or face “summary proceedings under the Statute to remove you from the apartment for the holding over


Continued on page 4



Photos by K. Adams

Tree steward and Chelsea Garden Club member Paul Bodden (in white shorts, arm extended) discusses the health of a pin oak, on Ninth Ave. & W. 17th St. This year’s Tree Pit Tour starts at 9 a.m. on Aug. 16, at the very place Bodden stands.

Some time ago, members of the Chelsea Garden Club stepped up to beautify and tend those bicycle lane tree pits on Eighth and Ninth Aves, between 17th and 30th Sts. With a few pits still in need of volunteer TLC, the Garden Club would love you to join their ranks — or at least take a walk with them. So put on some comfortable shoes and hoof it over to Ninth Ave. and W. 17th St. at 9 a.m. on Sat., Aug. 16. From there, the group will proceed (slowly) up Ninth. Along the way, you’ll meet the club’s newest gardeners, celebrate the flowers and curse the weeds, theft and vandalism. By the time 30th St. is in sight, a no-pressure poll will determine if a trip down Eighth Ave. is in the cards. If not, the tree pits on Eighth will get some love this fall, when Chelsea Garden Club rolls out another perennial: Blub Planting Day. For more info, read their blog (, email them at or look them up on Facebook, at Chelsea Garden Club (don’t confuse them with the Michigan one).

River Park’s annual Blues BBQ Festival. This year, edition #15 pairs the outdoor grill talents of Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, Delaney Barbecue and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que with artists including Big Sam’s Funk Nation, John Németh, Samantha Fish, Shemekia Copeland and Slide Brothers. The event also serves as the launch pad for Hudson River Park 550 — a weeklong fundraising initiative to support Friends of Hudson River Park, who maintain and beautify all 550 acres without a dime of government funding. Free music (BBQ at good prices, with cash from your own wallet). From 2–9 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 23. At Pier 84 in Hudson River Park (W. 44 St. & Hudson River — located between Circle Line Cruises 42nd St. and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum). Visit Twitter & Instagram: @HudsonRiverPark. Like Friends of Hudson River Park on Facebook, at HudsonRiverPark.


Courtesy of the Irish Arts Center

Aug. 25 in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen: a staged reading of “Sanctuary Park,” the new work from Brooklyn-based playwright Ben Holbrook (seen her, left, at the Aug. 11 installment of “Plays in the Park”).

Courtesy of Hudson River Park

In 2013, fans of good food and good music enjoy generous servings of both. This year’s Blues BBQ Festival happens at Pier 84, 2-9 p.m. on Aug. 23.


August 14, 2014

The West 45/46 Block Association goes from toning the body to nurturing the soul for its latest outdoor community center happening. In July, their “Healthy Hell’s Kitchenights” series offered fitness and wellness programs in Mathews-Palmer Park. This Aug. 25 event — presented in partnership with the Irish Arts Center and the Fundamental Theater Project — beckons you back to Mathews-Palmer, for a staged reading of Brooklyn-based filmmaker and playwright Ben Holbrook’s “Sanctuary Park.” The new dramatic comedy finds good friends Stoney and Greg in their late teens, dealing with city life as they try to define themselves. Hiding out in an urban oasis of green might help. The sudden appearance of a depressed priest might not. Coming soon: the Block Association’s annual Outdoor Fall Film Screening. Voting is already underway, so contact them with your suggestion (the Hell’s Kitchen setting of previous winner “West Side Story” gives it an early edge). Free and wheelchair accessible (bring your own blankets, chairs and snacks). Mon., Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. At Mathews-Palmer Park (enter on 45th or 46th St., btw. Ninth & Tenth Aves.). Email and visit westfortyfifthstreet.blockassociation. Also visit, and

THE 15TH ANNUAL BLUES BBQ FESTIVAL AT HUDSON RIVER PARK Something magic happens when a blues riff, pork and wood chips share the same cool summer breeze. The Yankee version of that combo doesn’t get much better than what’s on the plate at Hudson

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July 31, 2014


Housing Laws Gutted, Tenants Harassed in Landlord’s extensive improvements they had made to the building — back in 1972. The court removed the rent stabilization, providing only 180 days for “undue hardship the tenant may face upon the issuance of this order.” But tenants still didn’t receive any word from owners about these changes, with Rai saying, “Our leases were basic. There was no indication of a J-51 loan or the rent stabilization change. The managing agents of the previous owner lived next door, and later told us that the apartments had once been rent stabilized. That’s when we decided to look further into this. Because how do you destabilize rent that was never legally stabilized?” Rai said they took the case to a DHCR officer, who found it so confusing, he advised them to hire a lawyer. After trying unsuccessfully to get Legal Aid on the phone, they approached Hoylman, who asked the lawyers at the nonprofit Housing Conservation Coordinators (HHC) to hear them out, even though the building was outside their usual service area.

Continued from page 1 after the expiration of your term.” “A lot of tenants got these generic eviction letters, where the lawyer writes a scare tactic letter saying in 30 days we will start eviction proceedings,” said Carden. “But it’s not legal until they actually take you to Housing Court and have a hearing, and the court then sends you a letter. We would be a ‘holdover,’ meaning the landlord thinks a tenant is staying beyond their lease time.” Some of the residents, who were not U.S. citizens or didn’t have official leases (rentals have operated on a month-to-month basis since the economic bust of 2008) reportedly got scared and left soon after. At the end of April, a young woman with brain cancer left to go live with her mother, said Rai. Between May 25 and mid-June, 15 more people left. One woman who wanted to stay came home to find the owner and several men in her living room, telling her she had to leave by the end of the weekend. When she balked, said Rai, a “pipe broke” near her closet, ruining all of her clothing. She moved out soon after. “People got scared,” said Rai, a social worker who has lived in the building since 1998. “Most tenants don’t know what their rights are.” The problem was, the holdouts weren’t exactly sure of their rights, either. So they banded together to figure out exactly what was happening with their home. “It’s history repeating itself,” said Carden, pointing to the cover of the Roberta Gold book, “When Tenants Claimed the City,” whose cover shot features tenants picketing in front of her very building.

PRESENT CONFLICT HAS DEEP ROOTS The saga of the building’s current renovations began way back in 1972, when the previous owner (McConnell Wetenhall & Co.) took out an Article 8 loan under the New York City Private Housing Finance Law program to renovate. Under the law, the apartments were placed under rent control for the 20-year duration that the loan was in place, during which the owner received a J-51 tax abatement/exemption. The Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) indicated that the apartments would be subject to the Rent Stabilization Code immediately after rent decon-

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Image courtesy University of Illinois Press

History repeating itself: Chelsea tenants from another era are cover material for this book by Roberta Gold, who teaches American Studies at Fordham University and has been an active member of her Tenants’ Association in Harlem for two decades.

trol went into effect. In New York City, rent stabilization applies to buildings with six or more units. It gives tenants the right to renew their leases, and protects them from sharp rent increases by having the Rent Guidelines Board set the allowable percentage increase for rent renewals each year. Rent stabilization came to this building back in April 2004, 20 years after the loan was paid off. But tenants said that they never received any notice that their rent was now stabilized, a requirement under the law. By October 2005, the owners had petitioned the DHCR to remove rent stabilization altogether, citing the

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Continued on page 5



By the time they got help from elected officials Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, only seven tenants were left in the building. Bob Kalin and Betsy Eichel from HHC investigated their situation, and Rai said they offered some hope in their story of a similar case of a building that was destabilized without tenants being informed. “He said he recently won a case like ours, and that if…tenants weren’t notified of their destabilization, they are automatically rent stabilized,” said Rai. “We want to be reverted back to rent stabilized status. If we knew it was going to be destabilized, we would have fought it. We want to stay here. This is our home.” “My understanding is that if they argue that the building was improperly destabilized and they win, they would stay in their homes and would fall under the umbrella of rent regulation in some form,” noted Eichel, who stresses that she is not a lawyer, and is primarily helping tenants with concerns like security, noise and unscheduled cuts to utilities. “If they wanted to relocate, they could avoid dealing with Housing Court and negotiate a buyout. I believe some tenants did go this route, but the people I am working with are committed

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Bid to Convert Building From Affordable to Market-Rate Continued from page 4 to staying, if at all possible.” Elected officials have been sending their representatives to Tenants Association meetings, and following up with tenants’ complaints to 311 and the Department of Buildings. This helped when the landlord got a two-week variance to work from 6 p.m.–12 a.m., Monday through Friday, a measure intended for high-traffic areas where construction would otherwise be dangerous. It also helped them obtain a Stop Work order. “They took down the firewalls that keep a fire from spreading from room to room, and save your life in the case of a fire,” said Rai. “The inspector was horrified that you could see through the bedroom walls, that there was no barrier between floors. He placed a Stop Work order on the building until necessary safety measures were taken. It’s all plywood. It looks terrible.” In that aspect, it looks pretty much like the rest of the building. The marble entryway was reduced to jagged shards of cement and stayed that way for months until workers were ordered to lay down a plywood floor. The entryways are hung with plastic barriers that workers pass through to carry garbage cans full of drywall and other dismantled parts of the building to the dumpster sitting flush with the curb. In short, it doesn’t look like a place that even a squatter would want to live. And these “subsidized Section 8” tenants are hardly the welfare cases that some would make them out to be. Curious as to the “low-rent” price tag that these tenants pony up each month to live in this hell house? Upwards of $3,200 a month — hardly “affordable housing” in the eyes of most Americans. “This is a case of unscrupulous landlord who is literally and figuratively gutting New York’s housings laws by trying to convert the building into market-rate apartments,” said Hoylman. “It’s a tried and true tactic of an unscrupulous landlord who harasses tenants, refuses to inform them of their legal rights, doesn’t issue new leases and then makes their life a living hell through construction. And if you don’t have a lawyer or know the housing law, you probably do what many of these tenants do, which is move out and give up their homes, and that’s wrong. We have laws to protect these tenants and that’s why the Councilmember and Assemblymember .com

‘It’s a coordinated plan to annoy us so we’ll leave, but it makes me just want to dig my heels in,’ said Schaeffer. ‘At no point did anyone try to talk with us about their plans. They just say get out in 30 days, but if you’ve lived somewhere for 15 years, that’s an unreasonable expectation.’

and I have gotten them legal representation, and will continue to fight for their rights.” According to the New York State Attorney General’s Tenants’ Rights Guide (, a landlord cannot use “threats of violence, remove a tenant’s possessions, lock the tenant out of the apartment, or willfully discontinue essential services such as water or heat.” The NYC Admin. Code Subsection 26-523 and 26-521 also says that a tenant evicted from an apartment in this unlawful manner is “entitled to recover triple damages in a legal action against the landlord,” who could be subject to “both criminal and civil penalties. Further, the tenant may be entitled to be restored to occupancy.” But when the case goes to Housing Court, as Johnson says it most likely will, this failure to inform tenants of their rent stabilization status may well be the deciding factor. “I’m not a lawyer, but the building’s rent stabilized history dates back to 1989, so this has been going on for 25 years and a lot has happened since. A judge needs to look at what’s occurred. The landlord is required to let tenants know if rent has been destabilized, so this calls into question their situation for the past 10 years,” said Johnson. Hoylman — who is a lawyer — agrees, saying, “That seems to be the case. The lawyers sent a notice ending their tenancy, but many of those tenants were rent stabilized and they can’t do that.” He said that he would work with the tenant’s attorneys at DHCR via their Tenant Protection Unit, which looks at “bad actors like this landlord, and hopefully will intercede and protect their homes.” The management company for the building is Slate Property Group, a real estate investment firm founded last fall by Martin Nussbaum, a founding principal at Silverstone Property Group, with top executives Steven Figari and Michael Zampetti joining him in the venture, to

be operated out of 850 Third Ave. When Chelsea Now asked Zampetti, Slate Property Group’s Owner Representative for the building, about the current situation at 222-224 W. 21st St., he simply replied, “We have no comment.”

LOCKS CHANGED, SERVICES CUT Meanwhile, the harassment continues. It started early, when construction workers ripped out the marble entrance hallway, leaving 30 feet of jagged concrete for tenants to tiptoe over. Then there were the sounds of drilling, coming from all directions. Next, there was no hot water, or for some residents, no water at all.


“The people in 222 didn’t have water for three days, and why they didn’t scream bloody murder is beyond me,” said Steve Schaeffer, a tenant since 1992. “There is a hole in my radiator that goes straight through the floor. The only thing separating me from the apartment below is the floorboards.” Workers reportedly cut the phone and cable lines of a neighbor with two young kids, and got a variance to work on Saturdays starting at 7 a.m. Then came the stories of damage to personal belongings. Rai and Carden said that the former managing agents, elderly couple Sidney and Sandy Gecker of 226 W. 21st St., had stored their antiques and rare books in the basement, and had made an arrangement with owners to get their things out. After the July 4 weekend, the new landlord reportedly threw all of the Geckers’ antiques into a dumpster. They then changed the basement locks, providing tenants no keys to the room where they stored their bikes. When Rai finally did see the basement door left ajar, he went in to retrieve his bike, only to find the lock broken and

Continued on page 19

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July 31, 2014


Council Continues Push on Hepatitis Awareness, Testing, Treatment

July 21, on the steps of City Hall: Councilwoman Margaret Chin (at the podium) with Dr. Jay Varma, the city health department’s deputy commissioner for disease control, Dr. Vivian Huang (in a prevention T-shirt), the hepatitis B program director at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Dr. Warren Chin, executive director of the Chinese-American Medical Society, and Councilman Peter Koo.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER Three City Council members who have focused particular attention on the risks of hepatitis B and C joined city health officials and leading healthcare providers in marking the start of New York’s first Hepatitis B Awareness Week.


August 14, 2014

The July 21 gathering on the steps of City Hall included Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson, an out gay councilman from Manhattan’s West Side, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents Lower Manhattan, including Chinatown, and Councilman Peter

Koo, whose Queens district centers on Flushing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) make up less than five percent of the US population, they account for half of all Americans living with chronic hepatitis B. More than two-thirds of the API population were born or have parents born in countries with high prevalence of hepatitis B, and most of those infected had exposure as a young child. An estimated one in 12 APIs has chronic hepatitis B infection. Among gay and bisexual men, hepatitis B is typically a sexually transmitted disease, and men who have sex with men make up about one fifth of new hepatitis B infections, according to the CDC. Hepatitis C has, in recent years, been identified as a co-infection among people who are HIV-positive. Hepatitis is associated with a variety of severe liver diseases including cancer. In June, the Council passed and Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation that provided $750,000 in new funding for community-based groups that do outreach and testing for hepatitis B and

C. Grant recipients included a variety of service providers in communities particularly affected, such as the API and African immigrant population, and also LGBT and AIDS groups, including Harlem United, AIDS Center of Queens County, Housing Works, and VOCAL-NY, and a variety of harm reduction programs that work with injection drug users. In February, Chin, Johnson and Koo introduced legislation that would require the health department to report annually to the Council and the mayor on its efforts to stop the spread of hepatitis B and C, which affects an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 city residents. Johnson’s Health Committee held hearings on the bill in June, with strong support from its members, though the health department testified that complying with such a law could cost between $1 million and $1.5 million annually. The measure’s advocates believe that the de Blasio administration’s support for the $750,000 testing initiative indicates a likelihood that the mayor and the Council can see eye to eye on moving the reporting bill this fall.


Idling Buses Don’t Sit Well With CB4 Continued from page 1 while most of the remaining buses move one block further, where two lanes of traffic lead west into the Lincoln Tunnel. Traffic sometimes gets so thick that vehicles progress mere feet per green light. Getting through an intersection requires deft movement, utter attention and improvisation for drivers and pedestrians alike. Whenever buses block intersections, people go outside the crosswalks and into the intersections — and private automobiles are not above doing the opposite. Nearby construction equipment stored on street in front of the Hudson Yards development does not help. With 200,000 passengers and thousands of buses traveling through the aging bus terminal every day, the congestion was already a familiar topic for Community Board 4 (CB4), as well as the collection of government agencies and non-profit groups involved with local transportation issues. Lasting solutions will take years to implement, but action in the short-term could lessen the circumstances that have put pedestrians in harm’s way. A July 14 collision on W. 47th St. and 10th Ave., during which two pedestrians (tourists) were struck and seriously injured by a Trans-Bridge Line, spurred the community board to once again seek action on the gridlock and associated safety issues. It remains to be seen whether the city Department of Transportation (DOT) will install signs on W. 44th and in the W. 40s between Ninth and 10th Aves. warning drivers of turning restrictions, as requested by CB4 in a July 28 letter — but DOT has consistently acted upon community suggestions in recent years, according to a March CB4 letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio. “There has been a substantial increase in the number of commuter buses using the Lincoln Tunnel in the last several years,” states the July letter to DOT Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione. “Many empty buses, typically entering from either the Lincoln Tunnel or parking spaces further south or west, enter the Port Authority between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. each weekday to load passengers and then depart. Traffic regulations .com

Photo by Zach Williams

NJ Transit says they are not responsible for double-parked and idling agency vehicles that routinely fill 10th Ave. lanes during the afternoon rush.

require empty buses to use ‘Through’ or ‘Local Truck Routes’ to arrive at the Port Authority.” Permitted routes run from Eighth to 11th Aves., the entire length of W. 42nd St. and along W. 40th St. between the tunnel entrance and 11th Ave., states the letter, before adding: “Unfortunately, drivers of empty buses are illegally using other residential streets within Community District 4.” DOT has yet to respond, according to CB4 Transportation Planning Committee Co-Chair Ernest Modarelli.

CALLS FOR A MORE VISIBLE POLICE PRESENCE The NYPD needs to deploy more traffic and parking enforcement to the area between W. 30th and W. 47th Sts., argued CB4 in another July 28 letter, this one sent to NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. “We appreciate that there has been a slight increase in the number of traffic agents at intersections during rush hour since our request earlier this year,” reads the letter. “However, these new placements are only during rush hour, not during heavy bus inflow on 10th Ave. in the afternoon and at a couple of intersections. In addition, there remain very few infractions being issued to buses, despite the clear violations of both traffic and parking requirements.” Modarelli said the police department’s response to the letter was similar to past efforts: they deployed a few more officers to 10th Ave., who are no longer seen after a week or two. “It’s touch and go, it never lasts,” Modarelli reflected.

“It gets kind of insane,” said Ray Schaub, an occasional passenger of the M11 bus line, which moves uptown on 10th Ave. Interviewed on Aug. 6 near the 34th St. M11 stop, he noted that his quest to return to his Upper West Side residence with his young son in tow necessitated a special strategy that day: a car service.

Pedestrians, meanwhile, followed maze-like paths through the canyon of buses, big trucks and beleaguered private automobiles. As she waited for her opening to cross the street with her young son, Corletta Alleyne reiterated the same observation as policy makers. “They don’t have anywhere to put [the buses],” she said. Nearby, a police officer shook his head as he wrote a citation for one idling NJ Transit bus, but there were a dozen more up ahead. Technically, some of them only remained in one space for a green light or two, before advancing a bit further up the avenue. As one emerged from W. 37th St. to slip into 10th Ave., another blocked its way — needing a few feet of the intersection to accommodate its advancement along 10th Ave. The other driver would have to wait — at least 15 minutes. “It’s rough,” said the NJ Transit driver of the rear vehicle who declined to give his name. “Everybody wants to go home.”

Continued on page 21

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Page one offends To The Editor: Re: “Sophomore Report Card for Avenues: The World School (news, July 31, 2014)” I found your front page article about Avenues to be incredibly offensive on many fronts. I feel so sorry for those parents who complain that their privileged children have to encounter the “unsavory characters” who have lived in our neighborhood for years before Avenues was even conceived of. Gee, if these “unsavory characters,” (which I’m assuming is a euphemism for the homeless), could afford the $45,000 tuition to send their own children to Avenues, maybe they would behave in a less offensive manner. Alice Ellerbeck

Yorkers and communities of color disproportionately experience hyper-aggressive enforcement of low-level offenses. LGBTQ youth of color often experience a cycle of criminalization, as a result. As Darielle Harris, a FIERCE member, stated, “We strive for a New York City where racial and gender profiling and unnecessary force from the NYPD are no longer realities that plague our community. What happened to Eric Garner is unacceptable and, frankly, disgusting.” The NYPD must be held accountable for Eric Garner’s death. The mayor and Police Department commissioner must end their broken-windows program immediately. LGBTQ youth of color say, No Justice! No Peace! FIERCE is a member of Communities United for Police Reform.

End ‘broken windows’

Jai Dulani (co-director, FIERCE)

To The Editor: Eric Garner died from police brutality. We extend our deepest condolences to Eric Garner’s family and loved ones. FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) stands in solidarity with all communities impacted by unjust policing and brutality, including people of color, transgender and queer people, and homeless and immigrant communities. FIERCE is an LGBTQ organization led by youth of color. We have been organizing local grassroots campaigns to fight police harassment and violence in the West Village for more than 14 years. As LGBTQ youth of color, we are unfortunately intimately familiar with the type of targeting that stems from “broken windows” policing. FIERCE organizes against the violence, harassment and discrimination LGBTQ youth of color face from “quality of life” policing practices. LGBTQ youth of color are often targeted for minor offenses, such as blocking a sidewalk, graffiti and homelessness itself. These policies have not made New Yorkers safer. On the contrary, these policies have proven to be discriminatory as low-income New

Animal agriculture will foul our waters


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To The Editor: Recently, the drinking water of 400,000 Toledo residents was fouled by animal waste. With unfettered growth of animal agriculture and ineffective discharge regulations, it will happen again in our own state. The problem has become pervasive. Waste from chicken farms has rendered ocean off the East Coast unfit for fishing. Waste from Midwest cattle ranches carried by Mississippi River has created a permanent “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico larger than that of the infamous 2010 BP oil spill. Animal agriculture dumps more pollution to our waterways than all other human activities combined. Principal pollutants are animal manure and fertilizers, as well as soil particles, organic debris, and pesticides from feed cropland. Manure and fertilizers promote growth of toxic algae that poison drinking water supplies. Organic matter feeds microorganisms that deplete oxygen and kill fish. Effective regulations to limit dumping of animal


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waste into water supplies have been blocked by the meat industry. Fortunately, every one of us has the power to stop this outrage three times a day by saying ‘no’ to polluting meat and dairy products. Our local supermarket offers ample alternatives. Entering “live vegan” in a search engine provides useful recipes and transition tips. Nico Young

Reader Comments from Re: “Secret Parks of Chelsea” (feature, July 17, 2014): Another thing that is scarce and getting scarcer in Community Board 4 is public open space — which is why 20th Street Park is a cause so dear to many thousands in the Chelsea community. It’s no surprise to read that our community board ranks last in Manhattan for proximity to parks. With the potential for 11,000 new units of affordable housing to be built in our district over the next several years, it becomes even more critical that our local leaders recognize the need for new public parkland for everyone in our growing community to enjoy. Bravo to Chelsea Now and Chelsea’s officials for recognizing the need for both more affordable housing and a new park! Allen Carter

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Contributors Lincoln Anderson Jim Caruso Sean Egan Ophira Eisenberg Winnie McCroy Paul Schindler Trav S.D. Eileen Stukane Zach Williams

Chelsea Now is published biweekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2014 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

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August 14, 2014


POLICE BLOTTER Harassment: Jump starter stopped short At least one of those A’s stood for “abusive.” A woman told police that she was standing on the 400 block of W. 17th St. in the early evening of Fri., Aug. 1 — waiting for an overdue Triple A (aka, “AAA”) driver to jump start her disabled car battery. When help arrived, she approached the vehicle and asked why it had taken him so long. The customer service immediately turned surly, with the driver hurling an F-bomb in her direction, and then departing in a huff (almost sideswiping the victim).

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Elsewhere, at around 3:45 p.m. on Wed., July 30, an incident of verbal abuse did escalate to bodily injury — when the driver of a white Suburban started yelling at bicyclist who was waiting to turn onto a bike lane (on Eighth Ave., at W. 21st St.). The driver made a sharp turn, hitting the bike as well as her left knee. The quick-thinking victim was able to provide police with the license plate number.

Criminal Possession: Crack pipe trilogy Three people were arrested on Wed., July 30, in separate incidents during which they were caught with crack pipes. At 3:35 p.m., a 43-year-old man was observed in Chelsea Park (303 Ninth Ave., btw 27th & 28th Sts.), outstretched on a bench and preventing others from using it. That violation is what aroused the curiosity of officers, who found the defendant to be in possession of one glass pipe containing crack cocaine residue. At 9 p.m., on the W. 400 block of 38th St., a 46-year-old female was taken into custody after she was seen “on a public street in plain view” with a crack pipe. At 11:10 p.m., also on the sidewalk (this time, the W. 400 block of 40th St.), a 48-year-old man was seen smoking a crack pipe.

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Commander: Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-7418216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245.

Grand Larceny: Local bike’s East Village adventure Failure to do what the color said was his first mistake. Police arrested a 37-year-old man, after they observed him zipping through a red light at E. Fourth St. & Ave. D, at around 3:40 a.m. on Wed., July 2. The matter was later referred to Chelsea’s own 10th Precinct, since the pedaling perp had no proof of purchase for his CitiBike, which was stolen from its docking station at 11th Ave. & W. 20th St. The man was charged with Grand Larceny (each CitiBike is valued at $1,200). Another man with sticky fingers and an affinity for blue bikes was arrested at 9:30 a.m. on Sat., July 26, when he was caught red-handed — stealing a CitiBike from its docking station at W. 40th St. & 12th Ave.

—Scott Stiffler


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: 212477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444.

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High Line, Meatpacking District, Chelsea Comprise West Side BY LAUREN PRICE Intertwined neighborhoods stretching from Gansevoort St. to 34th and from Broadway to the Hudson River, the Meatpacking District, the High Line and Chelsea are among Manhattan’s most sought after residential locales. The Meatpacking District runs roughly from Horatio St. west of Eighth Ave. north to W. 16th St. Within that cluster of blocks, the High Line Park begins at Gansevoort St. and tracks north to 30th St. (btw. 10th & 12th Aves.). The final phase, close to completion, winds around the west edge of the Hudson Yards project and up to 34th St. Chelsea, whose boundaries encompass nearly all of the High Line, runs from about 14th to 30th Sts. (btw. the Hudson River & Broadway). Before its gentrification, the Meatpacking District was just that. By the late 19th century, this cobblestoned historic district was filled with as many as 250 meat markets and slaughterhouses. Currently, less than a dozen remain in operation. A neighborhood where Florent Morellet’s eponymous French bistro was for decades a 24/7 pioneer is now home to hot designer shops, like Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg. The streetscape also includes art galleries, tony clubs and hard-to-get-a-table restaurants. The High Line represents a remarkable transformation of an abandoned strip of a freight rail line — which operated from 1930s to the ‘80s — into a beautifully landscaped public park, the world’s second major elevated park ( — the first being Paris’ Promenade Planteè, a three-mile stretch from Avenue Daumesnil to the Bois de Vincennes on the city’s eastern edge ( phkc96h). The High Line was saved from likely demolition when a community-based non-profit stepped up in 1999 to push for its preservation and redesign. By 2002, the city was on board, and three years later CSX Transportation began a series of donations of portions of the line, ensuring the project would blossom. By 2011, the first two phases were completed, taking the park north to 30th St. A magnet for strolling locals and tourists alike, the park has become a huge hit — and convinced the Whitney Museum of American Art to relocate to the rail line’s south terminus by mid-2015 ( It was in the mid-18th century when Thomas Clarke, a retired British army major, purchased almost 100 acres of land and named it after a London veterans’ hospital. On a hilltop, he built a country estate overlooking the Hudson River, where London Terrace sits today. Chelsea played an important role in the early days of the motion picture business, with Mary Pickford, the Canadian Oscar winner who became “America’s sweetheart,” shooting some of her earliest movies there. By 1912, however, filmmakers had already started their migration to California. Through much of the 20th century, Chelsea was a down-at-the-heels neighborhood with a large number of factories and warehouses. But by the early 1970s, a stream of gay men, many priced out of the


August 14, 2014

Courtesy of Warburg Realty

The living room of a three-bedroom loft at 520 W. 19th St.

West Village, began moving to the neighborhood, though not always without tensions. The New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project grew up there out of informal gay street patrols. The 2010 Census found a population of 35,000 in the neighborhood, which by then had for some years been a world-class art district. The High Line Park, the eclectic Chelsea Market (chelseamarket. com), the Chelsea Hotel (a bohemian redoubt for generations; and celebrity-filled eateries like Del Posto ( and the Breslin Bar ( have upped the ante in a district now full of blue chip real estate.

ON THE MARKET A neighborhood once dominated by 19th century brownstones and row houses has seen an explosion of mid-rise and high-rise rentals, condos and co-ops, one that amped up considerably in the last decade as the High Line Park took shape. Big buildings, however, are not new to the neighborhood. Pre-wars have long been a feature there, and none is more famous than London Terrace, which occupies a full city block from Ninth to 10th Aves. (btw. 23rd & 24th Sts.), enclosing an interior private garden. The four corner towers are co-ops, with the remaining 10 buildings rentals. According to several real estate industry professionals, current median sale prices in the neighborhood hover around $1.9 million. Average monthly rentals range from $3,600 for a studio to about $4,500 for a two-bedroom unit. Only minutes from the High Line, Halstead Property is currently listing a light-filled one-bedroom duplex with a south-facing terrace inside a

gut-renovated Federal-style townhouse built in the 1800s. Located two flights up at 443 W. 24th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), the residence is priced at $1.155 million. It features a washer and dryer, hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, recessed lighting, custom closets, and motorized shades throughout. The reconfigured open kitchen was designed by the Italian firm of Molteni & C Dada of Soho, is outfitted with appliances by Smeg, Bosch, and Liebherr, and has light elm wood cabinetry. The upper level bedroom, which accesses the landscaped terrace, has an en suite bathroom dressed in slate tiles (visit A lovely three-bedroom loft is now listed for $4.285 million with Warburg Realty at 520 W. 19th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves). Recently renovated, it offers more than 2,000-square-feet of living space. Sunny to the max, the south and north views provide excellent eyefuls of both the Hudson River and Manhattan’s skyline. Features include 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closets, and custom-built cabinetry in the living and dining room. The new kitchen’s light wood cabinetry is topped with stone and appliances by Miele, SubZero, and Gaggenau, with an adjacent washer/ dryer area. The marbled en suite master bathroom has a double-sink vanity as well as a separate glass-door shower and soaking tub with marble surrounds. A luxury condominium, the building offers round-the-clock doorman/concierge services and private storage (visit

Continued on page 11 .com

Stretch of Manhattan’s Fastest Changing Neighborhoods Continued from page 10

A one-bedroom co-op at 160 Ninth Ave. (btw. 19th & 20th Sts.) is now listed with TOWN Residential. Inside a 1920 pre-war building, it boasts high ceilings, exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and a decorative fireplace. Facing southeast, it provides lovely garden views and lots of light. The open kitchen and bathroom were renovated a year ago. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Built-in, through-wall air-conditioning and ample overhead storage can be found in the bedroom. Priced at $669,000, the monthly maintenance is low (visit id-234637/160-ninth-avenue-2r-chelsea). With full city views on a quiet tree-lined cobblestone street around the corner from the High Line Park, Hudson River Park, Abingdon Square, and the Meatpacking District,

a triple-mint studio at 354 W. 12th St. (btw. Greenwich & Washington Sts.) is the very definition of location, location, location! It has 10-foot ceilings, exposed brick, tall arched windows, beautiful woodwork, a decorative fireplace, refinished hardwood floors, and terrific closet space. The kitchen features solid cherry cabinetry with extra storage, honed granite countertops, and appliances from Viking and Sub-Zero. The bathroom is outfitted with glass mosaic tile, a unique bronze vessel sink, and Philippe Starck-designed Hansgrohe fixtures. The building features a large landscaped common garden and has a live-in super. This co-op is priced at $430,000 (visit listings/display/3229859).

The private terrace in a one-bedroom duplex at 443 W. 24th St.

No-fee rentals are available at the new Abington House at 500 W. 30th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), which is leasing studios to two-bedroom units with open plans, a select number of which have private outdoor space. South and west-facing units offer breathtaking views of the High Line,

the Hudson River, and Manhattan’s skyline, and all the residences feature large windows, oak floors and washer/dryers. The building has three communal terraces (including one dedicated to barbequing), along with

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ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT A Fresh Batch of Usual Suspects Themes emerge among FringeNYC’s 200 shows FringeNYC THE NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL

A production of The Present Company Through Aug. 24 Weekdays, 2 p.m. – midnight Weekends, 12 p.m. – midnight Tickets: $18 Advance Purchase: By Smartphone: Credit Card purchase at the Box Office Cash sales only at FringeCentral (114 Norfolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.)

BY SCOTT STIFFLER General Manager Christian De Gré is happy about the large dark cloud hovering over this year’s New York International Fringe Festival. Other than its abbreviation — FringeNYC — there’s nothing smallscale about this 17-day, 18-venue East and West Village marathon of comedy, drama, music, and dance. For the 200 applicants chosen (out of roughly 800 hopefuls), being part of FringeNYC gives them a globally recognized resume credit whose implied credibility will never fade. So why all the glum faces? “This year, in terms of submissions,” says De Gré of the jury process, “we had a lot of shows about death and suicide.” They include “The Most Fun Funeral,” “Fatty Fatty No Friends,” “Depression: The Musical,” “The Death Monologues,” “Clive Barker’s History of the Devil” and “Campo Maldito” — which, De Gré says, “is about ghosts and Santeria priests. There’s also a lot of [shows about] bullying and abuse, so it’s darker than usual.” Every year, notes De Gré, FringeNYC

seems to have at least one recurring motif. Audiences should consider themselves lucky to find so much doom and gloom on the boards in 2014, given the alternative. “As we were doing the panel work one year,” recalls De Gré, “a Martha Stewart theme emerged.” Happily, times have changed and the zeitgeist has shifted — so this year, you won’t see any self-satisfied residents of Connecticut demonstrating the proper technique for fashioning birdhouses out of gourds. There will, however, be another entry in the very long tradition of wringing comedy and pathos from Utah’s favorite religion. Years before Broadway embraced “The Book of Mormon,” FringeNYC was on that bandwagon, presenting more than a few shows (some compelling, some cringe-worthy) in which Mormons struggled with their sexuality. At least this year’s entry, “The Mormon Bird Play,” has a legitimate claim to being original — billing itself as “a Mormon fantasia” in which “six men play little girls who become birds that

manifest themselves as Mormon temple workers and pioneer women.” Oh, and also? There’s burlesque! “The festival is reflective of the submissions,” says De Gré, in an attempt to bring some sense of logic into a juried process that would champion the supremely odd abovementioned narrative. “We find the interesting ones,” he proudly asserts, in what might be the understatement of the year. Hey, if you want the spit, polish and safety of a Broadway production, take the train a few dozen blocks Uptown. Below 14th Street, for two weeks in August, it’s

Photo by Rebecca Seaman

Tennessee’s Drifting Theatre company’s “Human” gives body to the unseen changeling boy character from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”


August 14, 2014

Crowded head case: David Carl plays one guy One Man Hamlet.”


FringeNYC Has The Classics Covered all about embracing the edge by surfing the Fringe. Even the odd stuff, though, tends to break down along party lines — so here are our top picks from this year’s batch of (highly unusual) usual suspects.

SHAKESPEARE ADAPTATIONS: THE NEVER-ENDING STORY “Twelfth Night” happens twice at this year’s Fringe — first, in the form of a time/space-tripping production from the Manhattan-based Helikon Rep company. Billed as a “spinning, provocative exploration of desire,” their gender-bending production of “The Sun Experiment” has, among its three love triangles, the pursuit of Eros by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. With 10 songs inspired by the play’s opening line (“If music be the food of love, play on”), Essential Theatre Group’s “Twelfth Night” reimagines the comedic tale of shipwrecked siblings as a folk musical. A FringeHIGH (as in, high school) production, it’s fit for consump-

tion by all ages. Find out how director Tony Lance made Shakespeare’s text sing, when he takes part in an Aug. 12 panel discussion about stage adaptations (see the FringeU section, at When you’re playing a character who’s feigning madness, it helps to possess a spark of genuine insanity. That’s the beautiful logic behind this farce from comedian David Carl. “Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet” finds the off-kilter Hollywood actor using homemade puppets, videos, live music and poetry to mount his own production. The personal demons Busey injects into his melancholy Dane might just pale in comparison to the indignities suffered by “BURBAGE: The Man Who made Shakespeare Famous.” In this comedy from the Bay Colony Shakespeare Company, Richard Burbage (“the world’s first Hamlet”) sounds off on life as an interpreter of the Bard — which includes copious amounts of backstage politics and sex! Three productions use good old Willy S. as a key ingredient or jumping off point. “Wing to the Rooky Wood” is a multi-media production by Brooklyn’s Renaissance Now Theatre & Film company, which incorporates elements of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Photographic imagery and dynamic physical gestures are used to tell the story of all three classics. MAUS Theater of Berlin also does the mash, with

“Come Thick Night,” in which a young woman’s nightmare about patricide has elements of Ingmar Bergman movies, Elvis Presley music and “Macbeth” plot points. Coming to us by way of a New Orleans Fringe run, the Elizabethton, TN-based Drifting Theatre company’s rumination on an unseen character from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is heavy on forests, fairies and fanciful backstories. “Human” fleshes out the changeling boy — here, imagined as a mortal named Kellen who must navigate a destructive, planet-endangering rift between Queen Titania and King Oberon.

WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE “Tales From Geriassic Park: On the Verge of Extinction” finds seventysomething Verna Gillis (“Her niche is aging!”) embracing the march of time. It’s no wonder this gig is billed as a “One Older-Woman Reading” of a work in progress. You’d need notes too, if you had earned a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, spent 1972-1978 recording traditional music throughout the world, founded the American International Sculptors Symposium, developed the Poetry in Public Places initiative, and opened Soundscape — the first multi-cultural music performance space in New York City (1979-1984). You’ll hear about it all, plus get some zingers from her recently published book of one-liners (“I Just Want to be Invited — I Promise Not to

Come”). Not to be outdone in the life-lived-well department, Joan Shepard’s “Confessions of Old Lady #2” garnered four stars from the London Times. It’s a musical memoir of her long career — which goes from an age seven appearance in Laurence Olivier’s 1940 Broadway production of “Romeo & Juliet” all the way up to a recent gig on HBO’s “Girls.” Between those brackets, she was a radio Quiz Kid and a pioneer of 1950s television who founded the River Rep Theatre Company with actor husband Evan Thompson, raised two kids and had memorable runins with Lenny Bruce and Elvis. She gives James Bond and Sherlock Holmes a run for their money, when it comes to successful screen adaptations — but when Margaret Rutherford was cast as Miss Marple, Agatha Christie voiced displeasure at having her unassuming spinster sleuth played by “the funniest woman alive.” As told by the solo show “Murder Margaret and Me,” Christie eventually forged a bond with Rutherford — then did some sleuthing and excavated a few dark secrets that could have been torn from the pages of a Marple mystery. Janet Prince brings the author and the actress to life, in the show’s U.S. debut (it’s been garnering raves ever since a sold-out run at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe).

Continued on page 14

Photo by Jeanette Sears

y playing all the characters, in “Gary Busey’s

Photo by Kristin Palmer

The Tao of Dan: Steely fan Alex Knox seeks clarity, in “No Static At All.”


July 31, 2014


Multiple Solo Shows, in FringeNYC Continued from page 13

SOLO SHOWS, WHOSE SCRIPTS WE’VE READ None other than Dave Chappelle — a genuine comedic genius — has declared Filipina-American character actress Nicole Maxali’s “Forgetting The Details” to be “funny, heart-warming and funny again.” The funny part comes from Maxali’s ability to add fresh ingredients to a familiar solo show recipe (the old family conflict and ethnic heritage routine). The heart-warming part comes from her witty and rambunctious grandmother’s slow slide into an Alzheimer’s haze. The funny again part? Well, that’s the good news. Maxali never really does stop finding amusing ways to mine humor from the nasty scars made by her absentee mother, pothead father and reckless youth. Neglecting her ailing grandmother while using the family as material for comedy shows, Maxali is all alone by the time she links that genetic predisposition for abandonment to her own years of isolation and rebellion. It’s a stunning realization that stays with you

Photo by Tony Correa

Funny, in a tragic kind of way: Marianne Pillsbury and the Greek chorus cast of “Depression: The Musical.”

long after the last joke is told. Lifting its title from a song lyric that expresses the bliss of finding crystal clarity on the FM radio dial, “No Static At All” is Alex Knox’s quest to locate his own perfect frequency — by reconstructing how an intense bond with his best high school friend, Josh, was

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August 14, 2014

forged and broken. When confident Josh ventures into the world only to have his mind further clouded by each new idea he embraces, Knox clings to occasional moments of contact with his fading friend — then finds comfort in the Walter Becker/Donald Fagen dynamic behind Steely Dan’s complex musical arrangements. He also sees himself in a Biblical tale of twin brothers, eventually grasping at a possible connection between his own estranged relationship and a recently unearthed relic in Israel. Writer and performer Knox is more than a conspiracy theorist throwing a pity party. He’s an introspective searcher working his way towards the realization that nobody can depend on a single band, buddy, or belief system. Vote of confidence: “No Static At All” won the Best Solo Performance award at the 2013 Hollywood Fringe. Bonus vote of confidence, followed by a metaphor: This show has lots of Steely Dan music

— with Knox making the case for its lasting appeal, despite some acknowledged shortcomings. Okay. Strictly speaking, it’s not a solo show. Writer and performer Marianne Pillsbury does, after all, share the stage with a Greek chorus that gives life to the multitude of voices in her head — and there are so many, they handily outnumber the amount of people on stage during the curtain call at “Les Misérables.” Now add in a few dancing prescription pills, a therapist named Joy and a recurring bit that has Pillsbury channeling Bob Newhart (by way of one-sided phone conversations with her well-intentioned but soul-crushing mom). The result, we’re happy to report, is “Depression: The Musical.” Built on the solid foundation of a time-tested comedic device (the self-deprecating neurotic), writer and main performer Pillsbury graduates quickly from Woody Allen territory by functioning as more of a tart observer than a cynical nebbish. Presenting her story as a “darkly humorous but ultimately uplifting poprock musical about falling apart and putting yourself back together” (that’s her one-line pitch) also sweetens the pot — and then, there’s the sudden appearance of a lesbian love interest whose own baggage gives new AA member Pillsbury the self-improvement project she’s been looking for. “When you do get some relief from fixating on yourself and everything that’s wrong with your own life, it might occur to you that you can help fix someone else!” says Pillsbury, who soon finds herself alone again and forced to take a good, long look in the mirror. Fortunately for us, her life-altering breakthrough comes in the form of a song whose title makes a pretty good mantra, no matter what your state of mental health is: “Oh, I’ve Gotta Let Go.”


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Pitch Black and Poignant

‘Chemistry’ increases our understanding of mental illness CHEMISTRY A FringeNYC Presentation Written by Jacob Marx Rice Directed by Anna Strasser Runtime: 1h 20m Aug. 16, 4:45 p.m. | Aug. 19, 2 p.m. | Aug. 22, 7 p.m. At 64E4 UNDERGROUND 64 E. Fourth St. (btw. Bowery & Second Ave.) For tickets ($18), purchase at | By Smartphone: | By credit card at the Box Office | By cash at FringeCentral (114 Norfolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.)

BY PUMA PERL Picture Nick and Nora shaking martinis mixed with Prozac while sitting on the railroad tracks. That, and the program description (“a pitch black and piercingly incisive comedy”) should give you a pretty good indication of what to expect. The one word title — “Chemistry” — is multilayered. Sharply written banter and well-delivered one-liners allow us to access the darkness of the tragedy unfolding before us, as Steph (Lauren LaRocca) and Jamie (Jonathan Hopins) meet in a psychiatrist’s office. Thank God, the “meet cute” stereotype is avoided. Steph, a veteran of hospitalizations and suicide attempts, has become as well-versed in her understanding of pharmaceuticals as any resident on psych rotation. Jamie, who is a novice at negotiating prescriptions, diagnoses and psychiatric assessments, has recently harmed himself while, presumably, enduring a manic episode. A relationship begins, as they match wits and compare scars. It is a casting strength that these characters are not model-perfect. Besides the rare pleasure of seeing people with real bodies, it brings the pain .com

Photo by Michelle Laird

Between matching wits and comparing scars, Steph (holding card) finds time to get turned on by the sexy medical coverage of Jamie.

of living with mental illness home, fours like jazz musicians, so a sud- already increased our understandreminding us of how little we know den foray into an educational seg- ing of mental illness in a manner of what our friends and neighbors ment feels forced and unnecessary that’s real, poignant and funny — may be enduring. — especially since “Chemistry” has though not played for laughs. Steph is adorable, funny, smart, and probably has heard all of her life that she has everything to live for. But, as she says, “I can’t wait for non-existence. I still want to die even when I’m happy.” But, courageously, she has continued, although her hopes for herself, and the relationship, have been modified. A world that doesn’t hurt as much as it used to may be enough. Jamie, on the other hand, finds the distraction of his medication’s side effects an unbearable compromise to who he is. He cannot read, concentrate or function in the Type A way that he feels defines him. He takes himself off his meds and returns to work; Steph takes to her bed. The gifted Progressive Education for Two-Year-Olds – 8th Grade and likable young actors display the tangibility of a love that is healing Open House | City and Country for him, but cannot heal her. Wednesday, November 13, from 6-8pm Director Anna Strasser has made Please visit for information choices that allow the characters to and application materials. move in and out of the simple set 146 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212.242.7802 and occasionally break the fourth Progressive Education for Two-Year-Olds – 8th Grade wall. Asides to the audience may Progressive Education for Two-Year-Olds – 8th Grade consist of a cocked eyebrow, or expand to narrations and ruminaWednesday, W e d n e s d aNovember y , N o v e m13, b efrom r 1 96-8pm , 6-8pm tions. At one point, the characters Wednesday, November 13, from 6-8pm Please visit for information take turns providing information to materials. the audience. This is Strasser’s one Please and visitapplication for information misstep. She and the playwright and application 146 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212.242.7802 materials. have allowed the actors to trade

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August 14, 2014

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Conjuring a Storm to Settle Old Scores Fire Island version of ‘The Tempest’ has ham, haiku and heart THE HURRICANE A FringeNYC Presentation Music, Book & Lyrics by Bjorn Berkhout Directed by Taryn Turney Runtime: 1hr 35 min Aug. 16, 3:45 p.m. | Aug. 21, 4:45 p.m. | Aug. 23, 7 p.m. At Theatre 80 80 St. Marks Place (btw. First & Second Aves.) Visit For tickets ($18), purchase at | By Smartphone: | By credit card at the Box Office | By cash at FringeCentral (114 Norfolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.)

BY SCOTT STIFFLER When somebody exits the theater humming a tune from the show they’ve just seen, you know you have a hit — but when a group spills out into the street, laughing boisterously as one of their own recites dialogue with affectionate precision? This is rock-solid confirmation that you’ve achieved that elusive goal every writer and performer aspires to: the creation of a catch phrase. That was the precise scenario I witnessed, following the FringeNYC premiere performance of Bjorn Berkhout’s often funny but ultimately somber musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Here was a satisfied patron of “The Hurricane,” gleefully invoking a memorable line from the opening scene, in which the lead character commands an act of supernatural favor from a mysterious relic: “Monkey paw: Draw forth a storm!” With outstretched arms, a wave of her hands and a voice that demands unconditional obedience, Madam Sparrow — the transgender proprietor of Fire Island’s premiere gay .com

resort — shipwrecks a group of men from her checkered past. Washed up on the shore along with debris from the corporate yacht, they’re under a 24-hour spell that makes them vulnerable to Sparrow’s elaborate scheme. But this Madam (who used to go by the name Adam) isn’t betting on monkey magic alone. Helping her secure revenge are reformed drunk and current handyman Caliban, and globe-trotting Ariel (a materialistic schemer with the requisite heart of gold, played to the hilt of flaming, scene-chewing hilarity by Bryce Henry). Caught in the middle is (step?) daughter Miranda — a virginal adolescent whose serious hetero-sex drive has no outlet on an island full of buff gay boys (“They come to cruise,” she sings. But for her, “It’s all a ruse. No kiss. No date. No fling! I’ve come to notice, here boobs just aren’t a thing!”). Much to Sparrow’s horror, Miranda catches the eye of handsome Ferdinand, a newly minted (straight) castaway and son of mega-rich Alonso — who, since the death of his beloved wife, has gone from Milan Corporation boardroom shark to a wounded seeker whose empty, new age platitudes might sink the company. This provides a golden opportunity for corporate climber Antonio to orchestrate a coup, with help from Alonso’s overlooked (and closeted) little brother. “Bitter and uncomfortable in his own skin” is how Sparrow pigeonholes Sebastian, describing the denial of his sexual orientation as “a terrible disease” that “warps the mind.” Sparrow could have been describing any one of the play’s characters, all of whom struggle to become their true selves. As written by Shakespeare then nicely expanded upon by Berkhout to suit his gay fantasia premise (and his own solid moral agenda), most of the island’s inhabitants are basically decent souls laboring under some sort of false identity, unfulfilled desire or ill-advised quest. That they arrive at final act happiness in a manner having more to do with genuine humanity than monkey paw mojo is enormously satisfying. Just as satisfying, if somewhat less memorable: the 22 songs, which range

from ominously introspective to comically joyful. Although wonderfully arranged by musical director Jeremy Robin Lyons and always well-played by off-stage pianist Wiley Deweese, it’s only here that the production’s low-budget minimalism shortchanges the author’s sweeping ambitions. A few more instruments would have given real heft to the production, which has been wonderfully cast. Every one of them has the requisite comedic or dramatic chops demanded by their roles, and all are in possession of impressive pipes (especially Ryan Rhue’s Antonio). But Madam Sparrow towers over them all, and not just because of her heels. Beautifully played with coiled restraint, wounded dignity and spectacular posture by Mykel Vaughn, the haiku-spouting Sparrow will send you out of the theater with the power to overcome life’s next big obstacle with your new favorite catch phrase: “Monkey paw: Draw forth a storm!”

Photo by Lloyd Mulvey

Mykel Vaughn, as Madam Sparrow, towers over her enemies (and not just because of the high heels).

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Sept. 8 7:00PM 92|Y Lexington & 92nd New York, NY

July 31, 2014


The (e)Book of Dragon

‘Breath’ may overstretch, but fun nonetheless DRAGON’S BREATH A FringeNYC Presentation Written by Michael C. O’Day Directed by Mikaela Kafka Runtime: 1h 30m Aug. 15, 2 p.m. | Aug. 16, 4:45 p.m. | Aug. 23, 7 p.m. At Teatro LATEA at the Clemente (107 Suffolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey) For tickets ($18), purchase at | By Smartphone: | By credit card at the Box Office | By cash at FringeCentral (114 Norfolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.)

BY SEAN EGAN On the eve of the release of her debut book (well, e-book), Justine Drake is a bundle of excitement, fragile nerves and near crippling self-doubt. Her book, which provides the play with its title, is “Dragon’s Breath,” the first in a series of four YA Paranormal Romance/ Adventure stories (a la “Twilight”). Drake dreams of seeing her work in print one day, and the play follows her march along various meeting with her agent and book readings — gaining haters and fans along the way. The twist? Some of her newfound fans get way too into it, mistakenly finding deep philosophical revelations in the pulpy stories — and eventually forming a cult religion around the series, to Justine’s profound frustration. Writer Michael C. O’Day smartly keeps “Dragon’s Breath” grounded for as long as possible before committing to the insanity of the premise. He provides characters with specificity and depth — especially Justine, who uses her work to help get through difficult times, and Laura, her biggest fan, who uses the fantasy provided in the books as an escape from her problems. Early scenes between Justine and Laura that find them opening up to each other and bonding are genuinely funny and affecting. It’s becomes a testament to the ways in which the creative process and art can help heal people, and bring them closer together. In addition, “Dragon’s Breath” remains consistently funny and biting throughout, by lampooning and criticizing the publishing industry and fan culture. Unfortunately, the final stretch of the play doesn’t quite stick the landing. As the satire on fan culture calcifies into a religious allegory, the points trying to be made become a bit muddled, and the characters get lost in the shuffle — most disappointingly realized in Laura’s transformation from socially maladroit (but sympathetic young fan) to crazed, wide-eyed cult leader. By going so far over the top, the play never has the chance to get back to its emotional core, or deal seriously with the


August 14, 2014

Photo by Michael Middleton

Lorinda Lisitza (center), as e-author and accidental cult creator Justine Drake.

psychological implications of Laura’s actions. It earns points for audacity, and is full of ideas, for sure — but at the sacrifice of humor and engrossing character work. It’s easy to forgive the ending when the rest is so good, though — especially the cast. Lorinda Lisitza makes Justine a distinctive comic creation, perfectly overemphasizing every line of YA purple prose, while also managing to play her creative neurosis for laughs and pathos, often simultaneously. She’s equally adept at playing the role of the sanest person in the room, without losing any of the nervous energy that makes her relatable and endearing, helping to give the production a solid center when the plot starts twisting in increasingly demented directions. As Laura, Hannah Sloat is appropriately off-kilter

and earnest in the early goings, while later on selling the absurd apoplectic fervor her metamorphosis to cult leader calls for. Michael C. O’Day, the playwright himself, digs into the role of Rocco, a snarky, Hawaiianshirt-wearing Internet critic who plagues Justine, with aplomb. O’Day plays him as a hyperbolic, vitriolic turbo-nerd in a performance that is both obnoxiously hilarious and unnervingly accurate — the most condescending and bitter recesses of comment threads personified. Ultimately, “Dragon’s Breath” may overextend itself a little reaching for profundity — but that’s okay, because wit, cast, and commitment to character carry it. It’s ends up being just a fun, cool, enjoyable story — an accomplishment Justine Drake herself would be proud of. .com

Landlord Harassing Us, Say W. 21st St. Tenants Continued from page 5 his bike stolen. “I called the police and filed a complaint with the 10th Precinct,” said Rai. “They tried to call the super, who came to my apartment that evening and said ‘Sorry, I don’t know where your bike is.’ But one construction worker told police that he saw the bike the day before.” Insult was heaped on injury when tenants found the stairwell landing bulbs removed, and the fire lights ripped out. They gritted their teeth when they discovered that the doorbell buzzers had been disconnected, preventing them from buzzing neighbors in. “Forget about FedEx,” said Carden. On June 25, tenants came home to find that the landlord had changed the lock on the front door of the building, without providing them with a key. Carden said, “It wasn’t until I angrily spoke to these workers and insisted that we get keys that we were let in.” “We’d have to wait until a construction worker came out or phone a neighbor to get in,” added Rai. On June 30, Carden discovered that


the door to the laundry room was padlocked with no explanation. Management later attributed this to “safety reasons,” but as she notes, “a service we’ve had for three decades now is gone, and we have to take our clothes to the laundromat, which is three times as expensive.” Workers did remove some padlocks, however, including those on the roof of the building. This creates a safety issue, as anyone from adjacent buildings can now easily enter 222-224 W. 21st St., where apartments under renovation are reportedly left wide open, some with windows taken out, leaving six-foot holes in the wall that anyone could fall right through, worried Carden. In late June, they began tearing down the apartment walls and converting one bedrooms into two-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms into three-bedrooms. Able to see clearly between rooms, Carden became alarmed at the fire danger, and called the DOB to inspect this. In addition to the physical perils, the tenants have also reported feeling psychologically tormented by the new landlord and his agents. Schaeffer said that since the construction workers tore out the walls, ceilings

and insulation, he could hear every conversation workers have. Most disquietingly, he said, are moments like when he recently awoke, sat up in bed, and before his feet even hit the floor, heard workers below say, “He’s up.” Rai said that he believes the workers monitor their presence, following them from room to room from the apartment to spy on them, and alternately to drill and make loud noises, to harass them into leaving. “It’s a coordinated plan to annoy us so we’ll leave, but it makes me just want to dig my heels in,” echoed Schaeffer. “At no point did anyone try to talk with us about their plans. They just say get out in 30 days, but if you’ve lived somewhere for 15 years, that’s an unreasonable expectation.” Although this seems hard to believe, during a recent visit, the loud pounding of construction noises came to a halt during the time this reporter visited the tenants on-site. They resumed when we exited Schaeffer’s apartment, and all of the adjoining apartment doors that had been wide open were now shut tight.

Continued on page 23

Photo by Winnie McCroy

The entryways of 222-224 W. 21st St. are hung with plastic barriers that workers pass through to carry garbage cans full of drywall and other dismantled building parts.

July 31, 2014



August 14, 2014


Calls to Combat Hell’s Kitchen ‘Busageddon’ Continued from page 7

PLEAS AND PLANS The afternoon of Aug. 6 featured the same rush hour madness described by the CB4 letters, but previous attempts to be heard amidst all the bureaucratic noise surrounding the issue have hardly been successful. The community dynamics of the problem have drastically changed in the years following the 2005 rezoning of the surrounding area, which brought in thousands of new residents to an area known previously for its industry. A decade ago, the congestion did not impact residential life so much, but now something must be done, CB4 wrote to NJ Transit in January. The letter requested a meeting with the transit agency to discuss pedestrian safety, bus idling, a routinely blocked M11 stop at W. 37th St. and the idea of diverting some of the buses to 12th Ave. — which an MTA spokesperson said (in an email to Chelsea Now) would conflict with the upcoming M12 bus line, as well as block a current bus depot at W. 40th St. This was not the first time that CB4 reached out to NJ Transit, according to a Jan. 9, 2014 letter, which followed a similar one sent on Oct. 6, 2010. “The conditions have not changed and our community continues to struggle with safety and quality of life concerns caused by the improper operation of your buses. We feel the inaction is unusual and not appropriate for a major bus company,” reads the January 2014 letter which adds: “CB4 actively supports the Port Authority’s efforts to build a new bus garage on the far west side or in Secaucus, NJ, which would mitigate these problems. However, building the garage is likely several years away and these matters of safety cannot wait.” A representative of NJ Transit said in


Photo by Zach WIlliams

A jeep turns against traffic while a Coach USA bus blocks the intersection of 10th Ave. and W. 39th St.

an email to Chelsea Now that the agency did not have the letter on file, but would forward a copy provided by Chelsea Now to the relevant officials. The NYPD is responsible for enforcing traffic laws, the agency said. “NJ Transit is working collaboratively with the city of New York, the NYPD and the Port Authority, which operates the terminal, to address the issues of congestion around the terminal,” the agency said in response to a question regarding current action on the problem. An MTA official stated a similar commitment to negotiation among CB4, DOT and other relevant parties. A DOT study released in April (the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Traffic Study) issued several recommendations — including improved signage, turn prohibitions on troublesome side streets, altering 11th and Dyer Aves. to better absorb rush hour traffic and expanding Port Authority Bus Terminal in order to address the traffic congestion resulting from tunnel traffic. No mention of 10th Ave. was made in the summary

of its findings. While the report concluded by stating that increased enforcement would be needed in order to properly implement its recommendations, the word “enforcement” appears only eleven more times in the 82-page document. “The main traffic problem to be addressed is the chronic congestion caused by vehicular access to and from the Lincoln Tunnel,” the report notes.

PORT AUTHORITY UPGRADE IN THE WORKS The Port Authority, for its part, is in the midst of preparing an 18-month master plan to determine the future of its bus terminal. “The functionally obsolete facility no longer meets the transportation needs of the hundreds of thousands of riders that pass through the terminal every day, and the Port Authority is committed to identifying comprehensive improvements within the context of its existing Capital Plan. This initiative will make interim improvements to the terminal as the agency explores a program to deliver

a redeveloped facility,” read a July 23 statement announcing $90 million in funding to update facilities within the terminal including dilapidated ceilings and bathrooms. It is a good start, according to State Senator Brad Hoylman, who said in a July 24 statement that he looked “forward to working with the Port Authority as it continues to press forward with the Bus Terminal Master Plan, which would modernize and expand capacity of the depot and help keep idling buses off our city’s streets.” Plans for a bus storage and staging facility (The Galvin Plaza Bus Annex, at W. 39th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) are underway, with the Port Authority having submitted a request for $230 million from the Federal Transit Administration. An additional $170 million would be needed to realize the project according to projections. The Port Authority did not respond for a request for comment by press time. CB4’s Modarelli said that without “major investment,” stricter enforcement is the only viable short-term option. In the coming years if political will and available funding coalesce, a canceled tunnel project could resume, allowing more traffic to simultaneously travel the Lincoln Tunnel. But what activists really wish for is a 7 train that would eventually traverse state boundaries, drastically reducing commuters’ reliance on automobile travel. “That is the dream of all,” said Will Rogers, a member of local traffic safety advocacy group Chekpeds (the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety), of which Modarelli is a member. In a recent email thread among the group, one activist christened the traffic situation in Hell’s Kitchen by a new portmanteau. “Yes, it is ‘Busageddon,’ ” he wrote.

July 31, 2014


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August 14, 2014


Tenants to Landlord: Stop Work! Continued from page 19

EGREGIOUS CASE NOT AN ISOLATED ONE It would be comforting to think that this hellish scenario is an isolated incident inflicted on this ragtag group of uninformed tenants on W. 21st St. But in reality, it is a common occurrence. “The overheated housing market in Chelsea has created an incentive for bad actors like this landlord to try and move tenants out and move market rate tenants in,” said Hoylman. “This is a crisis that I see all across my district, on both the East and West Side. Because many of these tenants are rent regulated and in very valuable properties, landlord will often go to illegal measures to get rid of them, like turning off their hot water or making excessive noise.” A community activist recently reported a similar situation occurring on W. 22nd St., just one block away, where tenants who should be rent stabilized are being given eviction notices. Community Board 4 District Manager Bob Benfatto said while they haven’t received many complaints, tenants often approach elected officials or housing advocacy groups in these situations. He did, however, reference a recent situation at a Hell’s Kitchen Catholic Charities property, where the nuns at St. Joseph’s Immigrant Home raised the rent nearly 50 percent on the working class women living there in a bid to boot them out. “It feels like it’s becoming more common,” said Johnson. “We’ve seen in the past months multiple buildings that have situations like this, but what’s occurring on 21st Street is the most egregious we’ve seen.”

PLEDGES TO STAND WITH TENANTS, STRENGTHEN LAWS For these seven tenants, living in a building that is literally being torn down around them, what is their end game? Do they want to stay in a building where owners clearly have an animus toward them? Could they be compensated for their troubles with enough money to set up a household someplace else? “There needs to be notification when there are changes, some communication between management and the tenants,” said Carden. “And we would like to have the restoration of services like laundry, basement access, .com

etc.” Rai added that they also wanted to get their status as rent stabilized tenants back. Hoylman said that the best-case scenario would be if they got DHCR to step in while they continue to fight back in court so that the landlord stops the disruptive work and the tenants get to stay in their homes. At the least, he said, these people should be treated with the dignity they deserve, rather than the disrespect that’s been heaped upon them. It is this behavior that Hoylman is trying to make illegal, per Senate Bill 1273, legislation he has sponsored in Albany that would strengthen anti-harassment laws. Gottfried championed Hoylman’s efforts to eradicate this type of harassment, saying, “What’s happening at 222-224 West 21st Street is a really bad case of landlord greed destroying affordable housing. Unfortunately, it’s been going on for a long time, in lots of buildings. We’re working to help the tenants save their homes. But we also need stronger laws.” Elected officials agreed that these bastions of affordable housing must be kept because the diversity of housing stock on the West Side is crucial to maintaining the balance of community interests that keep Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen a great place to live. “So many of our beloved community members live in rent stabilized housing and we need to protect their rights,” said Hoylman. “We need places for people like schoolteachers, artists and government workers to live in our neighborhood. It enriches all of us to have a diverse community. If we’re gentrified to the point where we’re one class of very rich people, that’s a sad day.” Carden echoed this sentiment, saying, “I got to move from my home of 28 years so someone else can get rich? They call it gentrification. But they get tax abatements for affordable housing.” At least now, said Rai, the landlord will know that they are organized and fighting, and that they have the elected officials behind them. “It’s our hope that they can get protection under the Rent Stabilization law and are able to live in a building that is safe and free from harassment,” said Johnson, vowing, “I will stand shoulder to shoulder with these tenants, and help as this moves forward to ensure they are protected.”

Aquarius A sweet deal will be sealed, when you put that potentially alienating iron fist into a warm and welcoming velvet glove. Pisces Commit to plans that are far, far beyond your abilities. This is the year’s best week for bold action, too-timid Pisces! Aries Don’t be afraid to ask a friend, who’s already in a pickle of their own, to help you out of a jam. Taurus Smarm and sass trump sugar and spice, when deflecting the cruel barbs of a trite and tactless detractor. Gemini Broker peace between your needs and your wants by crafting a two-column vertical list. Then burn it, then call your mother, then heed her advice. Cancer Rough winds blow, when an old friend shows up with a new opportunity that comes with certain risks, potential reward and a strange, shocking twist. Leo A seemingly unstable carnival ride proves safe, fun and thrilling. Not every loose bolt leads to disaster — but each new day requires risk. Virgo Jump at the chance to complete a sweet-talking foe’s cumbersome project. Those who paint Huck’s fence aren’t suckers — they’re literary legends! Libra Think seriously before getting all the dishy details about that thing you’ve been obsessing over. The requirement to keep it a secret is beyond you. Scorpio Even the most rugged fabric requires repair after multiple washings. Ditto for your frayed sense of self-worth lately. Patch it up, and parade it around! Sagittarius An inescapable viral video will make you rethink your crippling fear of insects, rowdy teens, rebate forms or emotional vulnerability. Capricorn Look to others for financial gain and romantic advice — next Tuesday, 4-6 p.m. only. Otherwise, trust your gut, circle your wagons, and do it yourself.

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