VOLUME 6, NUMBER 21 AUGUST 28, 2014
THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL'S KITCHEN
10th Ave. Traffic Forces M11 to Skip Stops BY ZACH WILLIAMS Within the rush-hour fury of ‘Busageddon’ near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, one city bus line reflects both the best and the worst of efforts to tame traffic congestion in Hell’s Kitchen. The MTA’s M11 is hard to spot amidst the thousands of daily buses moving between the terminal and the Lincoln Tunnel. At the macro-level, the humble bus line hardly assumes a conspicuous role within discussions among activists, residents, bureaucrats and politicians aimed at addressing the overall problem. Nonetheless, transit activists promote the M11 as an example of the costs locals pay for the thousands of commuters Continued on page 4 Photo by Raanan Geberer
ARCHAEOLOGY OF A WOMAN
Key Parks of Hell’s Kitchen
Serenity lies just beyond the gate, in these hidden (and highly affordable) green spaces. Beginning on page 12, Raanan Geberer introduces you to the four Key Parks of Hell’s Kitchen — with a preview of three more on the way.
Sidewalk Cafe Skeptics Want Table For None Victoria Clark (left) and Sally Kirkland star in a feature film written and directed by longtime Chelsea resident Sharon Greytak. “Archaeology of a Woman” will have its NYC theatrical debut on Sept. 12, at Village East Cinema. See page 2 for more about this multi-layered look at a mother and daughter confronting dementia in the present and secrets in the past.
BY WINNIE McCROY Putting tables on a sidewalk already dense with High Line foot traffic will open a Pandora’s Box, say residents of London Terrace. The high-end crudo restaurant Barchetta recently approached Community Board 4 (CB4), asking to add six or eight sidewalk tables, open until midnight. After the Business Licenses & Permits CB4 committee meeting voted against it, they submitted a revised proposal for two outdoor tables with a total of eight seats, to close by 9 p.m. The problem at hand is that residents of London Terrace, located above Barchetta’s 461 W. 23rd St. address (despite the discrepancy in address, the build-
ing is located inside of 465 W. 23rd St.), contend that it will take up too much space on a thin and congested sidewalk. Despite testimony from several residents (who provided numerous photos to support their claims), Barchetta’s request was granted, when the full board passed Item #45 at the July 23 full board meeting of CB4. “We approved it 21 to 12, so the vast number of us thought it was probably within zoning,” said CB4 District Manager Bob Benfatto. “I think it passed because it closes at 9 p.m. every night, and it’s seasonal as well. But we are not really certified planners. Some
© CHELSEA NOW 2014 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Continued on page 6
No Victims, in Filmmaker’s Feisty Exploration of Dementia
Photo courtesy of the filmmaker
Director Sharon Greytak speaks with “Archaeology of a Woman” cast members (left to right: James Murtaugh, Victoria Clark, Karl Geary).
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC A lot can happen at a crosswalk. For writer and director Sharon Greytak, a resident of Chelsea for 32 years, an encounter while crossing the street changed her trajectory as a filmmaker. In the 1980s, Greytak was out of graduate school and relatively new
to the neighborhood when she went to run errands. Her mind was preoccupied with thoughts of work — the experimental films she was creating, which were being screened in Downtown venues. “I remember this elderly woman on 14th Street and Eighth Avenue, and the light was red and we weren’t supposed
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to cross. So we’re both standing there. She turned to me and said, ‘Miss, are you allowed to cross by yourself?’ ” recalled Greytak, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was seven and has used a wheelchair since she was 15. “It was just stunning. So she was seeing my disability.” The disparity between her self-identification as an artist and how she was perceived made Greytak realize that she needed to address this issue, she noted during a recent interview at Chelsea Ristorante (on Eighth Ave., btw. 15th & 16th Sts.). She transitioned from experimental films to documentaries with 1986’s “Weirded Out and Blown Away,” which told the stories of several disabled people — and touched on her own story as well. The need to depict characters and stories that are normally told one-dimensionally or not told at all is evident in Greytak’s latest feature, “Archaeology of a Woman,” which will have its New York City theatrical debut on Sept. 12 at Village East Cinema. The film premiered at the 2012 WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. The film shows the relationship between Margaret (Sally Kirkland), a former newspaper reporter who is sinking into dementia, and her daughter Kate (Victoria Clark). For screenwriter and director Greytak, the story is not so much about dementia, but what happens when someone you know starts mixing time and space. Her challenge was to present a character for whom the ground underneath was shifting. “You’re not on solid footing. You just don’t know what’s real and what isn’t real,” said Greytak, who had some experience in this vein with a family member. “I wanted to portray the mental state of that person and have the audience not just absorb the story but actually feel at points what it might be like.” In Greytak’s hand, Margaret was going to be “the kind of women that I know in my own family, which is willful and unbending. The portrayals I’ve seen in cinema is this poor victim and you’re just going see them go downhill. I wanted someone feisty.” Nor was Kate to be the dutiful caretaker who would shoulder the responsibility of her aging mother silently. “I wanted to show a reluctant daughter. Somehow you know there is a mother-daughter struggle somewhere, that
this has not been the most easy relationship,” she said. Shoot in 35mm, the low-budget “Archaeology of a Woman” received production and post-production funds from the New York State Council of the Arts, an organization that provides grants for artists. The council has funded Greytak’s films before and she also has a long relationship as a sponsored artist with the New York Foundation for the Arts, which “provides the concrete resources that working artists and emerging organizations need to thrive,” according to its website. “I know the look of film [and] I know I can do this because I have done it before,” said Greytak, who has shot other features with a 35mm camera. “Hearing Voices,” which was finished in 1989, shows the love between a heterosexual woman and a young gay man. Filmed on location in the Meatpacking District, 1995’s “The Love Lesson,” concerns an adoption and an HIV-positive diagnosis for a heterosexual teenager. Greytak has also filmed with a digital camera. For her second documentary, 2000’s “Losing It,” which took her to Brazil, Italy, Russia and Hong Kong to interview people with disabilities, the digital format was necessary for portability. “Hearing Voices,” “The Love Lesson” and “Losing It” were acquired by the UCLA/Sundance Collection for their archives in 2012. Using actual film — not digital — was a good experience for younger crew members of “Archaeology of a Woman,” as they got the opportunity to load the camera. Some of Greytak’s former students also worked on this project. Greytak taught for five years at Syracuse University. This fall, she’ll teach a graduate course on producing at the School of Visual Arts. Greytak herself never went to film school. She studied painting first at the Hartford Arts School at the University of Hartford and then at the California Institute for the Arts for her master’s degree. Her artwork was abstract — a mix of drawing and painting on a canvas. She was interested in dramatic weather: seismic activities and earthquakes. Tiny shrimp-shaped tornadoes in pink, gray, black and white became an image she would overlay on aerial views. Her painting background has informed her film work, and she called
Continued on page 3 .com
‘Archaeology’ Excavates Complex Mother/Daughter Dynamic Continued from page 2 it “fantastic training” for a filmmaker. CalArts, she said, was all about ideas and finding the best form to express them. One of her first breaks was submitting several short films to WNET (PBS, channel 13) for a series. Her work didn’t make the program, but Laurence Kardish, a MOMA curator, was on the panel and contacted her. In 1983, Greytak got her first one-person show at MOMA as part of the Cineprobe series. In the beginning, she used a Super 8 to create three-minute experimental shorts and then moved on to 16mm with films like “Some Pleasure on the Level of the Source” and the “Czechoslovakian Woman.” Art and trips to New York City were both a part of her childhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “Holidays, if you wanted to make me happy, [you] brought me art books,” said Greytak, who was interested in the arts early. Her father insisted that she, her brother and mother take trips to Manhattan every summer.
Photo courtesy of the filmmaker
On the set of “Archaeology of a Woman,” director Sharon Greytak (left) speaks with lead actress Sally Kirkland. At the camera is cinematographer Gus Sacks.
“It just always felt very natural to be here,” said Graytek, whose has memories of walking on 42nd St. and the Empire State building. After graduate school, she moved back home to Connecticut for six weeks while she searched for an apartment in Manhattan. Many of her CalArt cohorts
were moving to the East Village. She looked through newspaper ads and was calling for roommate shares only to find that it was a walk-up. Greytak needed an accessible apartment. She finally connected with a broker, who had an office at Macy’s. “He said what do you, what’s your field and
UNICYCLE FESTIVA L NYC 2014
I told him I was in the arts. He just looked through his Rolodex and he said, ‘Oh Chelsea. You’ll like Chelsea,’ ” she recalled. After the broker tore off a piece of paper with an address on it, Greytak ventured to see two apartments. In a time where the city had no curb cuts for wheelchair access, she needed help off and on the curb. She saw an apartment on Eighth Ave. and 15th St. and looked no further. “I’ll try it for a year. I can figure out the city from there,” she said, in the summer of 1982. Chelsea has more big brand names now, she said, when asked how the neighborhood had changed. Before, there were more mom and pop shops and a greater diversity in food markets. But she has not considered moving. “I’m very tied to the city,” she said. “It’s given me the life that I wanted.” Written, directed and co-produced by Sharon Greytak “Archaeology of a Woman” screens Sept. 12-18 at Village East Cinema (189 Second Ave., btw. 11th & 12th Sts.). Visit facebook.com/ archaeologyofawoman. Twitter: twitter. com/ArchofaWoman.
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Bindlestiff Family Variety Arts, Inc. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. August 28, 2014
Lincoln Tunnel Congestion Blocks Bus Route
Photo by Zach Willaims
An MTA M11 bus lets passengers off in the street while a vehicle blocks its stop, at 34th St. and 10th Ave.
Continued from page 1 who move through this gateway to New Jersey. NJ Transit (NJT) buses regularly block M11 bus stops along 10th Ave. between 34th and 44th Sts. Sometimes passengers come and go when the M11 stops in a center lane.
Other times, stranded prospective passengers can see through the windows of the idling NJ Transit vehicles that their trip to the Upper West Side passed them by. “I’ve been taking the M11 for quite some time, and what I would say at this stop there is always a problem due to the fact that you have the Lincoln Tunnel traffic. S o as far as reliability and time
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it can be iffy at times,” said Shelia Mims, an MTA employee waiting at W. 34th St. and 10th Ave. for the bus. M11 buses were on time recently when Chelsea Now came for rides — but some riders report wait times in excess of an hour. Summer heat and lack of cover don’t help, riders said. Overall, the M11’s 80.5 percent on-time rate in Aug. 2014 thus far falls just a half percent short of eligibility for the “Schleppie” award given each year by the Straphangers Campaign, a project of New York Public Interest Research Group, for chronically unreliable MTA buses. In July, the line arrived on time 79.4 percent of the time — 1.2 percent above the overall Manhattan average. Kathleen Treat, chair of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, said in an Aug. 14 email that she often gets off the M11 at 34th and 10th Ave., knowing she will arrive home faster by walking. “So many people here depend on the M11 — elderly folks who cannot manage the subway stairs and disabled folks like my husband who rely on the bus to ‘kneel’ to accept his wheelchair,” she wrote. “The 10th Ave. wait to get Uptown is maddening.” New development and a growing volume of interstate buses in the neighborhood further exacerbate the situation, according to Community Board 4 (CB4) Chair Christine Berthet, who is also a co-founder of transit advocacy group Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS). Major intersections Uptown comprise much of the problem, she added. “Because of the congestion the buses are unreliable and the riders choose other means, thus the ridership declines and the MTA, instead of figuring what is the problem, just reduces the frequency,” she wrote in an Aug. 19 email to Chelsea Now. MTA records indicate that M11 ridership fell about 12 percent in between 2008 and 2013 (when 12,404 passengers rode the line). According to an agency spokesperson, buses skip a stop due to rush-hour traffic at Ninth Ave. and W. 39th St., per a city Department of Transportation (DOT) request. No such measures have been taken on 10th Ave., according to MTA — though it often skips a stop as well, as seen in Chelsea Now. Transit pressures in the neighborhood should result in all available bus stops being used, accord-
ing to Andrea Bernard, an interim board member at Hudson Yards/ Hell’s Kitchen Alliance. She said she often has to walk to W. 42nd St. in order to catch the M11. Having “at least one solid bus that didn’t skip over stops” would greatly benefit all residents, especially the disabled, she added. “The resources are limited for the west side transportation so it would be good to have all the stops used,” She said. But efforts to reach out to NJ Transit, the transit company that routinely blocks M11 stops, have thus far fallen short. They have yet to respond to CB4 requests for a meeting. In an email to Chelsea Now, an NJT representative said responsibility for keeping the agency’s buses from the bus stops rests with NYPD.
MIXED SUCCESS AMIDST GRIDLOCK Identifying the litany of relevant government agencies involved in Hell’s Kitchen traffic can be just as imposing as the problems themselves. There are city agencies such as the DOT, NYPD and MTA. State agencies like NJT and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) are major players, but they can range from grassroots groups like CHEKPEDS to the federal government. Cooperation among these groups as well as CB4 is crucial in arriving at both long and short-term solutions, representatives of NJT, MTA, DOT and CB4 told Chelsea Now. Expanding the Port Authority Bus Terminal will take years. A new tunnel idea fell through when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie channeled funds elsewhere resulting in a legal and political fight with the federal government, which had provided the funds. Extending the 7 subway line across the Hudson will not happen any time soon (if ever). These are all proposed top-down solutions to the overall problem: getting commuters through the Lincoln Tunnel with as little collateral traffic as possible. In the meantime, bottom-up mitigation efforts are seeing some success in altering Ninth Ave. to be more pedestrian-friendly as well as a tad smoother for bus riders. A dedicated bus lane stretches from 41st to 44th Sts. Further improvements are under-
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Study Considers Better Balance of Traffic, Use of Bus Routes Continued from page 4 way, according to the DOT. The department released a report in April (Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton Neighborhood Traffic Study) outlining numerous ways through which buses can be better shepherded between the tunnel and bus terminal while also boosting pedestrian comfort and safety. According to Berthet, the study arose after a request by CHEKPEDS which was sponsoring a “Ninth Ave. renaissance community drive vision” which advocated a rapid transit lane on the thoroughfare. The study is contemplating a better balance of traffic between the avenues, a better use of certain routes for buses,” Berthet said in the email. “This will eventually result in lesser congestion on Ninth Ave.” A planned Port Authority bus annex expansion on W. 39th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) will further ease congestion by accommodating an additional 100 buses and 30,000 daily passengers. In the short term, many local residents say increased police enforce-
ment is the best shot at really speeding things along. Outreach to NYPD has resulted in periodic enforcement actions, according to transit activists. “For a couple of weeks the traffic will be more sane, but they can’t be here 24/7,” said Linda Ashley, chair of the 44th Street Block Association and a member of CHEKPEDS. On most days however, whitecapped NYPD officers are the only present police resources managing traffic. Changes are necessary so that they can issue tickets for moving vehicles, said Ashley. A July 28 letter from CB4 to NYPD reiterated community concerns of pedestrian safety and urged a more permanent increase in traffic enforcement compared with “a slight increase” in police presence since January. “There remain very few infractions being issued to buses, despite the clear violations of both traffic and parking requirements,” states the letter. A resident of Hell’s Kitchen for the past 30 years, Ashley said she has seen the neighborhood evolve from a crime-ridden industrial area to an
Photo by Zach Willaims
Improvements to Ninth Ave. include a designated bus lane during peak hours, but more enforcement is necessary to prevent abuse, say activists.
emerging ritzy area now plagued by what Ashley and fellow CHEKPED members call ‘Busaggedon.’ Longtime riders avoid the M11 stop at W. 37th St. and 10th Ave., but one New York City visitor waited for the bus there on Aug. 21 not knowing the reputation that stop enjoys. She said her experience with
the M11 and NYC public transportation has gone rather well since arriving from San Francisco. “Oh my good, it’s the best,” said Navid Armstrong as the M11 arrived on time — though barely visible amidst the NJ Transit buses poised to slow down the line championed by locals.
Y O U T H O U G H T T H E Y RE PO RT E D THE G AS LE A K . T H E Y T H O U G H T Y O U D I D . “Smell gas. Act fast.” Those are the words we want you to remember. Don’t assume that a neighbor will call 911 or 1-800-75-CONED. Just leave the area immediately and make the call yourself. If you prefer, you can report a gas-related emergency anonymously. You don’t even need to be there when help arrives. Visit conEd.com for more gas safety information and take safety into your own hands.
August 28, 2014
Two-Table Request in Zoning Limbo, but Neighbors Say Continued from page 1 attorneys and lay people looked at it, but it looks like we need a city planner to sign off on it.” The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) had set a hearing for this issue over the summer, but later cancelled it. Now, even CB4 members are unsure as to whether the DCA or the Department of City Planning (DCP) will make the call on whether it is zoned for outdoor seating. “It’s a very confusing issue, and we’ve been back and forth with DCP and elected officials on the zoning, and apparently even they don’t know,” said CB4 Chair Christine Berthet. “We don’t have a formal answer from DCP. They say they have been waiting on the DCA to give them the answer. I’m not sure I understand the protocol there. But what CB4 said is that if the zoning doesn’t permit it, then it doesn’t. If it does, then we think two tables is probably okay. If the DCA says it’s permitted, we don’t have grounds for rejecting it.” During the public comment session
Photo by Scott Stiffler
London Terrace residents are opposed to a two-table, eight-chair addition to a sidewalk that’s already too narrow to accommodate foot traffic.
of July 23’s full board meeting of CB4 (its last of the summer before resuming on Sept. 3), several London Terrace residents testified about problems including noise, smoke billowing up, problems with access and extra trash.
London Terrace resident Ann Northrup said that the case is complicated by the fact that the London Terrace condo board (mostly co-op board members and some business owners) approved the proposal, despite a petition signed by 200 residents. “There are intricate issues,” said Northrup, noting that the space has housed a number of other restaurants, including Amy Sacco’s other restaurant, Bette. She spoke at length about a history of illegal construction and bad blood between Sacco and the London Terrace tenants, including an illegal gas linkup that, residents allege, nearly caused an explosion. Northrup said that the restaurant had “twisted itself in knots” trying to manipulate the situation, pointing to their basement kitchen’s location to sidestep zoning, forcing their wait staff to wrangle passers-by for signatures for their own petition and arguing that their tables would fit into the little niche in the sidewalk between their restaurant and the London Terrace garden fence — when, Northrup says, the dimensions given clearly extend beyond that fence. “The real problem is that this is a very residential block,” said Northrup. “There are issues around crowding, noise and dirt, but the real core is the changing character of the block.”
NEIGHBORS SAY ‘NO’ TO BARCHETTA Northrup said that those who live above the bar are tortured by illegal
August 28, 2014
construction noise and smokers, and that the board has not stepped up to look at the implications of this. “I have been living here for almost 20 years, and I’m right above Barchetta,” said London Terrace resident Mary Ellen Carroll. As a teacher of public policy and land use issues, she said that this was a residential and historic block, and in her review was not zoned for this cafe. She also worried that the niche in the sidewalk wouldn’t accommodate the tables, when waiters and customers are figured in. She pointed to an existing garden area and a laundry vent, which could alter the accuracy of where these tables will be situated. Others complain that this stretch of sidewalk is already overcrowded with people accessing the stairway to the High Line. “The opening of the High Line introduced a great wildlife space, but also a greater amount of sidewalk traffic,” said London Terrace shareholder Alan Ring. “This makes it more difficult for seniors, the disabled and people with children to maneuver. Putting this outdoor cafe there is going to cause even more disruption.” As a second-floor resident, Ring was concerned about smoke drifting through his window, about people standing around waiting for a table and about additional debris and vermin. Barchetta representatives said this was being blown out of proportion. “I think that New Yorkers enjoy the few months of the year they are able to sit outside and enjoy meal or a glass of wine,” said Barchetta’s lawyer, Daniel Bernstein, of Victor & Bernstein, P.C. “There are plenty of places with a sidewalk cafe, and this one very small, a maximum of eight seats at two tables. On the whole block of London Terrace it’s hard to even tell there is a restaurant there because there are so many entrances to apartments along the block. It will be helpful to my client to show off their lovely restaurant.” The crowds from the High Line are just what Barchetta wants to attract into its sidewalk cafe. But tenants suggest they put out a sandwich board, awning, or even an empty table with a menu, with Ring saying, “Most fourstar dining doesn’t have outdoor seating. If the food is so damned good, it doesn’t matter if they have tables outside or not.”
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Residential Block Has No Room for Outdoor Cafe Continued from page 6 “I think that a banner or flag would look terrible,” said Bernstein. “Two tastefully done tables won’t have any adverse affect, and that’s what CB4’s committees found. They voted overwhelmingly to approve this, and the idea that it will cause devastation to the community is absurd.” Carroll countered this by saying that the block wasn’t a commercial area, but rather a residential block. In addition, some are concerned that if Barchetta gets the go-ahead, it will open the floodgates for outdoor seating at places like Joe’s Coffee and London Terrace Deli. “I don’t know whether those places are zoned for it or not, but it seems like anyone within a legal basis would have to be taken on a case-by-base basis,” said Bernstein. “The fact that one may be granted to us doesn’t guarantee it will be granted to anyone else.” “It’s frustrating because, to the outsider, it’s just two tables, and what’s the big deal?” said Northrup, who notes that she is not against business in general, just this cafe.
CITY MUST MAKE FINAL ZONING CALL Despite CB4’s approval, the property has yet to be assessed by the DCP, with the final legal decision believed to come from the Department of Consumer Affairs. Regulations prohibit outdoor tables within 100 feet from the “10th Ave. curve.” Split lots are allowed 25 additional feet, but some say Barchetta is not within that distance, either, despite arguments made about an L-shaped basement kitchen that could be within 125 feet of that curve. These arguments are all moot — only the city can say if the area is zoned for outdoor seating. “So give us an explanation on the zoning — do they fit it or not?” said Northrup. “Barchetta is going to CB4 and the condo boards making the argument to get approval. We suspect that they are trying to build momentum for approval before the DCP says it doesn’t fit the zoning.” Ring echoed this concern, saying that, “the city needs to make a decision on this and move quickly. This issue comes down to who’s measuring. We want the business to succeed, but we also want them to be a good neighbor.” .com
Photo courtesy of No Outdoor Cafes on Our Residential Block
This photo of alleged garbage from Barchetta was shown to CB4 by sidewalk cafe opponents, to illustrate a pattern of neglect.
Northrup said that opponents met with DCA Commissioner Julie Menin to ask about the status of the investigation, only to learn that they were waiting for a formal assessment from the DCP about whether they were zoned for outdoor tables. Then the situation goes to the City Council where political issues can hold sway. “As I understand it, the DCA makes the final determination of whether this is within zoning,” said Benfatto. “If zoning is found not to allow it, then the proposal is done. If not, it gets reviewed by the City Council.” If it makes it that far, Chelsea’s District 3 City Councilmember, Corey Johnson, has made it clear that he will vote against this proposal. “I believe that sidewalk cafes should not be located on residential blocks, unless there is grandfathered zoning,” said Johnson. “While I understand that many sidewalk cafes are an amenity to some, in the case of Barchetta, it will negatively affect the quality of life for residents of London Terrace and bring the commercial feel of the avenue to the residential block. Allowing this cafe to proceed would set an unacceptable precedent for additional sidewalk cafes in more residential areas.”
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Home to Pre-War Elegance and Post-War Exuberance BY LAUREN PRICE The Upper East Side’s Fifth Avenue mansions were once occupied by families named Carnegie, Whitney, Pulitzer, and Vanderbilt. In time, large but swanky apartment houses in the neighborhood bolstered the impression of old money, as did the Ivy-League-type private schools such as Chapin and Dalton. Locals and tourists alike cherish the area’s world-class museums and galleries, along with its easy access to Central Park and the East River Esplanade’s bikeways and walkways. This part of town also has bragging rights to the sophisticated couture of shops along Madison Ave. and, of course, to Bloomingdale’s. But the Upper East Side is about a lot more than just the carriage trade. The 92nd Street Y (92y.org), on Lexington Ave., offers a democratic spirit of cultural and intellectual vitality, and there are guilty pleasures to be had in the frozen hot chocolates at Serendipity (serendipity3.com), on 60th St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.), and from Italian meals and desserts at Sant Ambroeus (santambroeus.com), on Madison Ave. (btw. 77th & 78th Sts.).
— from 125th St. to Hanover Square — will go online better hold on to their hats. 2029! While the neighborhood’s 190,000plus residents wait on the new stations, the MTA created a daily “surface subway” along First and Second Aves. from 125th to South Ferry. Currently the M15 SBS, making stops approximately every 10 blocks along those avenues, counts some 55,000 passengers on an average weekday.
ON THE MARKET
S. Moss/Corcoran Group
The living room at 875 Fifth Ave.
The Upper East Side extends north from 59th to about 96th St., between Fifth Ave. and the East River, and it’s famous for its countless historic districts. Prime among them are: Carnegie Hill (86th to 96th Sts., btw. Lexington and the park); Henderson Place (a tiny gem tucked btw. 86th & 87th Sts. for half a block west from East End Ave.);
Fall REAL ESTATE
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Treadwell Farm (a swatch that runs from 61st to 62nd Sts., btw. Second & Third Aves.), and Hardenburg/ Rhinelander (a group of row houses at Lexington and E. 89th St.), that last a reminder that this part of the neighborhood — Yorkville — was long a hub of German immigration. Without doubt, the hottest neighborhood topic of conversation among locals today concerns the new Second Avenue subway. On the drawing boards since flapper dresses were all the rage, 65 percent of Phase One is complete (a tunnel that runs from 105th to 72nd Sts. and connects to another existing tunnel that travels to 63rd St. & Lexington). The line will initially run as an extension of the Q, with service set to begin by December 2016. The MTA reports that construction of new stations at 96th, 86th, and 72nd St. is progressing nicely, as is the retrofitting of the 63rd Street station. But those who wonder when the complete 8.5-mile stretch of tracks
Family-sized pre-wars are everywhere you look — but the ones that run along Museum Mile (on Fifth Ave. from 82nd to 105th Sts.) and those with sweeping East River views along East End Ave. (79th to 90th Sts.) are highly sought after. One caveat, though. These buildings come with super strict board scrutiny. In addition to tony apartments along Fifth and East End Ave., Madison, Park, and Lexington Aves. are also top draws. Buyers seeking classic townhouses lining genteel side streets will find plenty to choose from. Ditto for the latest and grandest new developments and blocks and blocks of postwar white brick buildings and walk-up mid-rises — with options for both buyers and renters. Discerning buyers seem to gravitate without hesitation to any pre-war apartment house designed by Emory Roth, one of the most iconic architects of his time. One such coveted listing is from the Corcoran Group at 875 Fifth Ave. near 69th St. This one is a large three-bedroom home in a Rothdesigned building that opened in 1941. Easily convertible to a two-bedroom plus a den, it also has a windowed
Continued on page 10
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August 28, 2014
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Silk Stockings and the World’s Greatest Museums
Douglas Elliman Development Marketing
An aerial view of the communal open-air penthouse at the SixtyFour at 300 E. 64 St.
Continued from page 8 home office. Coming in at approximately 2,100 square feet and priced at $3.995 million, its major rooms face east while the others face south and west. A result of a seamless combination of two residences, this home opens with a grand center hall that leads to
a spacious living room and separate dining area. The windowed kitchen features a pantry area and closet and the oversized master suite has a large picture window, allowing for sweeping views of the neighborhood’s historic district. All the bathrooms have been restored with antique tile, marble and porcelain accented with nickel finishes. The unit has new windows,
high ceilings, walk-in closets, parquet floors and through-wall air conditioning. This white-glove co-op with the highest standards of service, including elevators manned with operators and a resident-only gym, permits pieds-àterre but no pets (corcoran.com/nyc/ Listings/Display/3122777). Lovers of bridge views should check out the brand new SixtyFour at 300 E. 64th St. (at Second Ave.). Developed by architects Stonehilll & Taylor, known for their high-end hotel and resort work, this is a luxury conversion of a rental into a condominium exclusively sold through Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. Unit sizes run from one to three-bedrooms, including a penthouse, and square footage ranges from about 725 to 1,431. Units all have hardwood floors and oversized and/ or floor-to-ceiling windows. Kitchens are outfitted with Liebherr and Bosch appliances. Spa-like bathrooms have soaking tubs, Kohler Caxton sinks and marble vanities. The building showcases a communal open-air penthouse with four
exposures for spectacular sightings of the Queensboro Bridge, the East River, and the Manhattan cityscape. This party area includes a table and bar, an outdoor grill and custom-designed lounge furniture. The building also has a wood and marble screening room adjacent to a library, as well as a state-of-the-art gym with lots of add-ons such as stretch and yoga platforms and no less than 100 classes to choose from. Prices start at about $925,000 (sixtyfourcondo.com). Designed in 1950 by master architect Gordon Bunshaft from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the Manhattan House was designated a New York City landmark in 2007. On E. 66th St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.), the building ranges from one- to five-bedroom units, including penthouses and tower residences that enjoy private outdoor space. Some units offer wood-burning fireplaces. Square footage runs from 950 to 4,000-plus, and interiors include rift cut, quarter sewn wide-plank white oak floors, windowed kitchens with
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Upper East Side More Than Carriage Trade Continued from page 10 terrazzo-tiled floors, front-loading washer/dryers, custom wood cabinetry, CaesarStone worktops and Ann Sacks glass tile backsplashes, and Viking Professional Series appliances. Master baths are dressed in Sebastian and Zocalo crème marble tiles and custom-designed walnut vanities topped with marble. Select homes feature radiant heat floors, walk-in showers and soaking tubs. The 10,000-square-foot Manhattan Club includes a rooftop lounge, a catering kitchen, a library, landscaped terraces, a spa, and a Roto Studiodesigned playroom. Sasaki Associates’ redesigned gardens, which comprise one of the city’s largest residential parks, recently acquired two significant sculptures, “Trinity” and “Red Gateway,” designed by internationally acclaimed Dutch-born sculptor Hans Van de Bovenkamp. Marketed by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, prices currently start at $1.9 million (manhattanhouse.com). If the idea of living opposite Carl
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The living room at 10 Gracie Square.
Schurz Park with its winding paths and riverfront promenade is intriguing, consider a two-bedroom home, both with en suite bathrooms, at 10 Gracie Square, at 84th St. Now listed with Engel & Völkers, this spacious, pre-war condominium has direct East River views. A gracious entry seamlessly flows into a large living room with a wood-burning fireplace and onward
to a dining room with sliding glass doors that open into a completely renovated windowed kitchen with appliances by Sub-Zero, Miele, and Bosch. You’ll also find herringbone hardwood floors and very large windows throughout. The master bedroom has a large walk-in closet. Other rooms include laundry, office, and sitting room space. This is among the most presti-
gious, white-glove buildings in town, and owners enjoy a private gated driveway, on-site parking, a squash/ basketball court, a playroom and a soon-to-come fitness center. An alternative three-bedroom floor plan, subject to board approval, is available to view at showings. This unit is listed at $3.795 million (evusa.com/ property/ten-gracie-squarenew-yorkny-10028_4147969).
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August 28, 2014
Your $2 Trip to an Urban Oasi BY RAANAN GEBERER The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God’s heart in a garden Than anywhere else on Earth. These words, from “God’s Garden” by English poet Dorothy Frances Gurney, can be found inside a gated park on West 34th Street. Its narrow brick path, welcoming wooden bench and lush, enveloping greenery is available to everyone — but accessible only to those who’ve paid the price. Fortunately, it’s a very low price. Alice’s Garden (on W. 34th St., btw. Dyer & 10th Aves.) is one of four “Key Parks” throughout Hell’s Kitchen developed by the Clinton Housing Development Corporation (CHDC). From the outside, they look like a typical community garden — and indeed, Alice’s has plots for individual gardeners. But there is a difference. Most community gardens are only accessible to members and their guests. To enter any of these four parks, all you need to do is go to 330 W. 42nd St. (btw. 8th & 9th Aves.) and purchase a key from Community Board 4 (CB4). Although primarily used by those who live or work nearby, the parks are accessible to anyone who pays the $2, one-time fee. Before visiting, call CB4 at 212-736-4536. They have keys in stock.
Photos by Raanan Geberer
Alice’s Garden is named in honor of Alice Parsekian, who cared for the garden until her death in 2010.
A little bit country: This picnic-type table gives little corner of it).
ALICE’S GARDEN Once an unused site owned by the Port Authority, Alice’s Garden was adopted by local resident Alice Parsekian, who cared for the garden until her death in 2010. In 2011, it was revitalized through a joint venture between CHDC, the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA), CB4 and the Port Authority. The group leases the land from the Port Authority for $1 a year. Shanti Nagel, director of community cultivation for CHDC, adds that YAI, an organization for the developmentally and intellectually disabled with a site on W. 34th St., partners with her organization to ensure the garden’s upkeep. “YAI is a great partner in Alice’s,” she says. “They clean up and take out the trash.”
BOB’S PARK A block away from Alice’s Garden, Bob’s Park (35th St., btw. Dyer &
August 28, 2014
Bob’s Park has this jungle gym as a distinguishing feature.
10th Aves.) was the first new park in Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton South since 1938. It is named after Bob Kennedy, a longtime community activist and resident of W. 35th St., and was developed by CHDC in conjunction with a supportive housing site that the group built next door. Its distinguishing feature is a children’s playground/ jungle gym.
TERESA’S PARK Like Alice’s, this park (on 39th St., just west of 9th Ave.) is leased from the Port Authority. It’s named after Teresa Mattia, a longtime resident of 39th St. who lived across from it for many years. It
Juan Alonso Community Park (seen here, ab adjacent affordable housing development.
was first renovated by the HKNA in the 1990s and was redesigned in 2013 by CHDC and its affiliate CultivateHKNY. This small park, which contains a picnic-type table, has a home-like feel. Nagel adds that the park has “two different partners.” One is Mark Fisher Fitness, a nearby health club which helped to raise funds. In addition, members of the Mattia family, who still live in the neighborhood, did an Indiegogo fundraising campaign and petitioned to name the park after Teresa, who died in 2012. CHDC is getting ready to install a mini-free library, which looks like a bird-feeder house, in the park. .com
is: Key Parks of Hell’s Kitchen Another is Oasis Community Garden on West 52nd St. (btw. 10th &11th Aves.), which is normally open only to members but has “open hours” where all can enter several times during the week, most notably on weekends. The Clinton Community Garden at 434 W. 48th St. (btw. 9th & 10th Aves.) is divided into a private Back Garden and a public Front Garden, which is often left unlocked. Key sales are held twice a month. For info, visit clintongarden.org.
s a rustic feel to Teresa’s Park (or at least, this
The Clinton Community Garden has been “providing green sanctuary and soil to till in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen since 1978.” Key sales are held twice a month.
bove and below) was developed as part of an
Oasis Community Garden has open hours, when the public is welcome.
JUAN ALONSO PARK COMMUNITY GARDEN & PARKS Named in honor of a longtime area resident and community gardener, its W. 51st St. & 11 Ave. location makes Juan Alonso the northernmost Key Park — at least for the time being. Local volunteers transformed this space from a vacant lot full of debris into a community garden. One peculiarity of the garden is that the public section is on one side of a path leading to the entrance of a CHDC affordable housing development. On the other side is a conventional community garden, accessible with a separate key given to the community gardeners. .com
“The garden will get even bigger,” says Nagel. “A third extension, with the Irish Arts Center [at 553 W. 51st St.] as a partner, will make it even more accessible to people. It will be open to the public without the key.”
KEY PARKS WITH LIMITED PUBLIC ACCESS In addition to CHDC’s miniparks, Chelsea park advocate Arnold Bob mentions three other key parks in the area, not run by the organization, with varying degrees of public access. One is Astro’s Dog Run (on 10th Ave. & W. 39th St.), which was developed by the HKNA and is open to members only.
MORE KEY PARKS ON THE WAY Chelsea Now visited each park on three occasions — in the late afternoon, during lunchtime and during the weekend — and found that the most-used parks seem to be Alice’s Garden and Bob’s Park. We came across two people who work nearby eating lunch at Bob’s Park, both of whom said they appreciate these spaces because there are no “big” parks in the neighborhood. During the weekend, three young women, members of a church group, were enjoying the scenery at Alice’s Garden. “I grew up on a tree farm in Indiana,” said one, Victoria, “and it’s nice to have a little bit of nature in the city.” CHDC is also developing three new Key Parks. A Children’s Garden is slated to open next year on a former empty lot on W. 52nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). “We’re looking for input,” says Nagel. Adam’s Garden, on W. 53rd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) “will be in development this fall. We’re looking for a gardener.” It will include individual gardening plots. Also opening next year will be a Key Park (Captain Post Garden) that is being built as part of the transformation of the old Captain Post factory building on W. 52nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Nagel describes the planned site as a “quiet, peaceful garden.” To purchase a key ($2), go to the offices of Community Board 4 (330 W. 42nd St., btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). Before visiting, call CB4 at 212-736-4536. They have keys in stock. For more info, also contact the Clinton Housing Development Corporation by calling 212-967-1644 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit them on the web, at clintonhousing.org. August 28, 2014
COMING SOON gaycitynews.nyc
August 28, 2014
Protesters Seek Justice For Shootings
A demonstrator’s sign references what witnesses say Michael Brown said, and did, before he was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer.
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Protesters gathered at One Police Plaza on Mon., Aug. 18, in a show of support for the people of Ferguson, Missouri, which has been rocked by the police shooting of a black teenager, Michael Brown, and to vent anger at the New York Police Department. Larry Holmes, of the People’s Power Assembly, which organized the protest, started at 5:30 p.m. with the chant, “Justice for Michael! Arrest the Killer Cop!” while members of the NYPD
looked on. Sometimes the chant would change to “Justice for Eric Garner!” Many carried signs, such as, “We Are All Michael Brown,” “Jail Killer Cops” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” “I’m here because I’m really frustrated and I want to show solidarity with the people in Ferguson,” said Kristina Andreotta, 32, who also attended a protest held in BedfordStuyvesant on Thursday. She marched with a sign that had the hashtag “BlackLivesMatter.”
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Signs link the Michael Brown case to other fatalities, and racial profiling.
Danovis Schufford, 36, from Flatbush, said he can relate to what is going on in Ferguson. “It happens every day in urban neighborhoods,” he said. As more people joined in, the protesters walked in a circle in the plaza west of City Hall as the Frank Gehrydesigned tower glistened in the distance. Hand clapping, coins shaken in containers and whistle blowing punctuated the chants that focused on Ferguson, New York City and Gaza, as well.
Anger was expressed toward Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor de Blasio, with several speakers saying, “Ferguson today, New York tomorrow.” Fathers and mothers who had lost their children spoke after the crowd finished its marching and chanting. Franclot Graham’s 18-year-old son Ramarley was fatally shot by police two and a half years ago. “Enough is enough,” he told Chelsea Now. “We are still waiting for justice.”
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Green that E. Chelsea civic space To The Editor: Re: Letters To The Editor, July 31, 2014 (two letters in response to our “Secret Parks of Chelsea” article in the July 17 edition): I would like to remind Ms. Raccagni and Ms. Sukenick — who seem eager to dump more tons of concrete and steel on 20th St., that parks are civic (people’s) space. They are the pores through which a city breathes. It is no accident that Occupy Wall Street rose in Zuccotti Park — which we promptly renamed “Liberty Park.” Anarchists love parks. So do kids, oldsters, and, yes, capitalists. Occupy later marched uptown to visit the homes of 11 billionaires. Many of my fellow marchers, who had never left their overcrowded home areas, went goggle-eyed at the open space, splendor, and greenery, subsidized by the people’s tax money. If trees and space are good enough for the likes of Jamie Dimon, they are good enough for the people of massively overbuilt E. Chelsea! Burying our last open space under tons of concrete and steel will enrich some politically connected developer while killing community. Affordable Housing needs to be expanded on spots where dilapidated and underused buildings already exist, not by destroying civic space!
Sleaze tactics are criminal To The Editor: Re “Tenants’ Rights Trashed Amidst MarketRate Conversion” (news, Aug. 14): I’m almost surprised that no one blamed the fact of the gentrifying High Line as the cause of this! I love the High Line, but it was landlords like this one who, before, claimed that the decrepit state of the High Line since 1980 was “depressing values” of their real estate holdings. But sleaze is sleaze. They didn’t inform the tenants of their rent stabilization rights? They should be taken to court and all their “improvement” work stopped short. Don’t you think this is a crime? Bill Goodhart
Pricing out service workers
Does not like Citi Bike To The Editor: A recent Daily News editorial said Citi Bike “has entered a death spiral” because “36 percent of its initial subscribers had chosen not to renew” their annual memberships. Pedestrians everywhere are cheering. Citi Bikers have been as law-breaking as other bikers — riding on sidewalks, in Washington Square Park, the wrong way on streets, ignoring traffic lights, etc., etc. And there’s a hilarious ad for a storage company
THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 229-1890 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.chelseanow.com | E-mail: email@example.com © 2014 NYC Community Media, LLC Member of the New York Press Association
I saw on the subway: “Bloomberg’s gone. You can put the bike away now.” New Yorkers are voting with their feet — literally. We want those huge bike racks off our sidewalks, out of crowded intersections blocking crosswalks. We want Citi Bikes gone.
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To The Editor: Re “Tenants’ Rights Trashed Amidst MarketRate Conversion” (news, Aug. 14): What is happening in NYC is a horror. All our neighborhoods are being destroyed to make room for the rich. Iconic restaurants, delis, shoe repairs and every other mom and pop shops are being forced out and replaced by high end stores and housing for the rich. Look at the Second Ave. Deli. The landlord raised the rent so high, they closed and it was replaced by a bank. Remember the subway strike a few years ago? Duane Reades, McDonalds and so many more businesses did not open because their workforce
Sr. V.P. of Sales and Marketing
John W. Sutter
lived in the Bronx or Brooklyn and there was no way to get to work. This is what happens when you replace affordable housing and the workers of this city have to live elsewhere. In a few years, there will be no workforce around to serve the rich. Everything these landlords and developers do now will backfire on them in a few years. Workers do not want to travel an hour to work and they do not want to pay transportation costs when they are only making minimal wage. They will look elsewhere. What they are doing now will destroy the reason people moved into the neighborhoods in the first place: services. James Edstrom
Reader Comments From ChelseaNow.com: Re “Tenants’ Rights Trashed Amidst MarketRate Conversion” (news, Aug. 14): I know Andrew Rai, who is a friendly affable fixture of the Chelsea community. At any given time, you can see this guy helping an elderly lady with her groceries or helping a blind person cross the street [residents of Selis Manor, on 23rd St]. These investors who are doing this should be thoroughly investigated, as should the history of the building. These tenants need the protection of our elected officials, and they should be able to stay in their homes. Steven
Art / Production Director Troy Masters Senior Designer Michael Shirey Graphic Designers Andrew Goos Chris Ortiz Circulation Sales Mngr. Marvin Rock
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 28, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER Grand Larceny: Out of the Port, into the fire They should have just waited in line for a cab. Two female tourists, both 19, got off got off the bus at Port Authority, at around 1:15 a.m. on Sun., Aug. 24 — then decided to walk to their hotel. They soon attracted the attention of a man who began to engage the duo in conversation, stating that he was going to escort them safely to their hotel. By the time they reached W. 33rd St. & 11th Ave., one of the women told him she no longer felt comfortable following his lead. The man then stated that he needed money. Both women refused, at which point the perp removed a bag from the first victim’s shoulder and began to run away. He was last seen heading into a nearby construction site — but not before he removed $425 in cash and a passport from the bag, which ended up being thrown into the street. Also kicked to the curb: the perp’s phone and glasses, which were dropped by accident in his haste to flee the scene.
CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawedoff 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 800577-TIPS, text “TIP577” (plus your message) to “CRIMES” (274637) or submit a tip online at nypdcrimestoppers.com.
Lost Property: Green customer singing the blues
A French patron of Gallow Green, a rooftop garden bar at 542 W. 27th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), has much to learn about American customs. On Sun., Aug. 24, the 26-year-old woman arrived at Chelsea’s 10th Precinct to report an incident that happened eight days earlier. Along with a group of friends, she arrived at Gallow Green around 11 p.m. At one point, she went to the restroom, placing her bag on the floor (and forgetting to take it with her). When she returned a short time later, the bag was gone. The victim told the police she did not report this incident right away, because she’d only been in America for a short time and assumed that the bag would be returned (the too-trusting victim did,
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: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-7418210. Detective Squad: 212-7418245.
THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.). Deputy Inspector: David Ehrenberg. Call 212-4777411. Community Affairs: 212477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444.
Metro New York and Western New York
A 43-year-old woman told police that, while at the southeast corner of 10th Ave. & W. 39th St. at around 2:45 p.m.
9/11 Memorial Walk to Include Chelsea Stop
Photo by Scott Stiffler
The annual Father Mychal Judge 9/11 Memorial Walk of Remembrance will take place on Sun., Sept. 7. FDNY Chaplain Judge, who rushed to the scene and was asked by then-Mayor Giuliani to pray for the city and its victims, was killed when debris from the collapsed South Tower was hurled into Judge’s North Tower lobby location. The designation “Victim 0001” recognizes Judge as the first official victim of the attacks (his was the first body to be recovered and taken to the coroner). As they do every year, the 10th Precinct Community Council will sponsor an Honor Guard at 19th St. & Seventh Ave., to meet the procession as they stop at the quarters of Chelsea’s Engine 3/Ladder 12/Battalion 7 to honor the firefighters from that house who died in the line of duty on September 11, 2001. The March is expected to be at 19th St. & Seventh Ave. sometime between 10:30 and 11:15 a.m. It begins at 9 a.m. with a Rosary service followed by a 9:30 a.m. Catholic Mass at St. Francis of Assisi RC Church (135 W. 31st St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). The walk then proceeds down Seventh Ave., ending at the World Trade Center. For more info, visit facebook.com/911Walk/info.
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on Sat., Aug. 16, her vehicle was in an accident with a Coach bus — which did not stop to exchange information or verify that she was safe (the victim did not sustain any injury). As the bus made its way down W. 39th towards 11th Ave., the quick-thinking victim was able to write down the bus number, which she provided to responding NYPD officers.
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at least, have enough wits about her to notify the bar manager). The small red bag contained nothing of cash value, but its contents did include several forms of ID.
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ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT Storytelling at Scratcher
Inwood boy Dennis Driscoll brings the neighborhood alive SPOKEN WORD THE SCRATCHER SESSIONS Sunday nights 7:30 p.m. At The Scratcher Cafe 209 E. Fifth St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.) Sessions resume Sept. 14 with Steve Bartolemoi, followed by John Rush on Sept. 21. The events usually start at 7:30 p.m. Visit facebook.com/pages/TheScratcher-Sessions/185847498886
Photo by Paul Quinn
Show me the meaning of the word: Dennis Driscoll, in performance at The Scratcher Sessions.
BY PUMA PERL Early last fall, this guy named Bicycle Joe told me about some writer guy he thought I should meet. “He does spoken word just like you,” said Bicycle Joe. “And he’s opening for Television in a couple of months.” “Hold on,” I replied. “He’s just like me except that he’s opening for Television? Who the *&^%& opens for Television? Who is this %$&# guy?” “Oh yeah, and they’re flying him out to San Francisco to do it,” added Bicycle Joe. Although consumed with envy, I was rabidly curious about who this &%$# writer was and how he had pulled off getting a gig like that. Some dude named Dennis Driscoll, I was told. I threw a few more f-bombs around in my head, then went about my business, which included prepping for a show at the Sidewalk Café the following week. Saturday rolled around, and Puma
August 28, 2014
Perl and Friends did a one-hour set, which included ten of my poems and two original songs from musician Joff Wilson. During the turnaround time for the next band, a pleasant, rather reserved gentleman who’d been watching from a front table extended his hand and introduced himself, remarking that he’d enjoyed the set, and offered me a CD of his own. Between my post-performance distraction and difficulty hearing in loud clubs, I never caught his name but accepted both the compliment and the CD. He seemed to totally understand my momentary spaciness, and I promised to give his work a listen. The next morning, the CD fell out of my bag as I was putting my books away, and I studied the cover. It was the guy. Dennis Driscoll. That &$%*& writer guy. I had to hear this. The album is titled “Inwood Stories” and he’s definitely an
Inwood boy, both in his inflections and in his ability to bring the neighborhood alive. While reminiscent of Jim Carroll in his tone and subject matters, the stories and voice are clearly his own. As far as recording goes, his use of music was distinctly designed to support him and provide atmosphere, while Jim Carroll transitioned from poet to front man of a post-punk rock band. What they share, in addition to their uptown urban roots and drug-induced experiences, is the ability to identify and engage excellent musicians who are able to tune into their sensibilities. The first piece, “Grand Union,” recalls the way he supported his “weekend warrior junkie routine” as a sixteen-year-old bagging up groceries, and describes his first get high buddy DJ, who used to mainline heroin, throw up between parked cars, and periodically yell out, “Don’t look
at me! Don’t look at me while I’m puking!” I was taken. By the time I was halfway through the second one, “What a Difference a Day Makes,” with its teenage glue hallucinations and a near fatal overdose, I was over my case of writer envy and too busy either listening intently or laughing to curse much. One of his strengths is his self-deprecating brand of humor — his conversational tone and Inwood accent add to the effect. I sent him an email. “Don’t look at me while I’m puking!” I wrote. Not only did we become friends, we even went to see Television together several months later. Turned out, he was joking with his old friend Fred Smith about opening for them and it morphed into reality. I started polishing up a few routines for Keith Richards, just in case we happen to be chatting. On the last Sunday in June, Dennis played a set at Scratcher, a bar located at 209 E. Fifth St. (btw. Second and Third Aves.). It was the first time I’d heard him do a full set, as well as the first time I was visiting the venue. The Scratcher Sessions are a weekly Sunday event primarily featuring musicians, and this was the final show before summer hiatus. The Sessions began in 2008, and are run by Brendan O’Shea and Pete Olshansky. One of the bar’s owners, Karl Geary, was previously at Sin-e, and they are dedicated to continuing the legacy of great live music in the East Village and supporting a community of music lovers. Olshansky described Dennis as a dear friend of the Sessions and stated that they love his stories. Dennis performed with one of his musical partners and friends, Mark Sewall, who not only played on the album, but also recorded the first five tracks on a digital recorder in his apartment. At Scratcher, Sewall played guitar and utilized a drum
Continued on page 19 .com
A Good Storyteller Makes Listening Easy Continued from page 18 kit that produced a rolling bass line, creating a fullness of sound, but remaining unobtrusive. Adding to the subtlety of the work was the anonymity of the musician’s appearance and body language—he positioned himself in the darker corner of the stage and often had his back to the audience while adjusting the equipment. Rather than alienating the crowd, it served to keep the spotlight on the storyteller. The ease and shared sensibility between the two artists in this blending of words and music was clearly apparent. As Dennis said, “I don’t rehearse or tell anyone anything but ‘go with the feelings.’ We get up there and do it. There are no mistakes. I think of the musicians who accompany me as company on the stage.” On a beautiful summer Sunday evening, it’s hard to draw a large crowd but there was a warm feeling and a good vibe in the room. The audience seemed to consist mainly of regulars and pals of Dennis’, who appeared relaxed and able to maintain the same familiar, conversational tone he had presented on the album, whether talking about “The Wrong Bum” being arrested on the subway, or relating more of his near-death heroin tales, which often involve dubious guys with names like Sully, random bullets, and/or dancing chickens. A new one is titled “Junkie Jews with German Guns.” One of the things I most appreciate is his ability to end a story. There is always a snappy punch line, and he turns away with a conspiratorial smile before going on to the next. The following Sunday, I met up with Dennis at Otto’s Shrunken Head over a couple of club sodas. Although he is a lifelong Inwood resident, he has been present on the downtown scene for decades, starting out as a musician and eventually opening a neighborhood restaurant. He started playing bass at the age of nineteen because “before I ever even played bass, I was into the bass. It fits my personality. Some people don’t even hear the instruments individually, but if you’ve got the music in you, you listen differently.” His first of many bands was .com
Pop Decay. He went on to play with musicians including Richard Lloyd of Television, and formed the Lowriders with Dee Pop and Deer France, a friend from early childhood. He has continued to play with a wide variety of musicians, both in bands and while performing his stories. Recently, he travelled to Joshua Tree and performed at a festival in the desert, backed up by Chris Goss and Dave Catching of Masters of Reality. He’s also become fairly wellknown in Ireland, where he often works with songwriter/actor Glen Hansard of The Frames. I had previously asked him about his collection of stories and how that started, and he’d told me that he’d been taking inventory and talking about his life. I misunderstood and thought he was speaking twelve-step lingo, but he was actually being very literal. From 1994 until 2008, he owned and operated a popular East Village restaurant called Old Devil Moon. To pass the time while taking weekly inventory with his partner, he started telling stories. It was suggested that he write them down, and he decided to try telling them onstage. Involving some of his musician friends in the project was a natural progression. The reader may note that I have used the word “friend” throughout this piece even more often than the ubiquitous &$%. Dennis is a truly likable guy who, in his lowkey way, has developed friendships and collaborations in all facets of his life, and these qualities come through in performance. Before he left to catch the subway Uptown, I asked him if there was anything else he wanted people to know about him. “A guy from the Irish band Hothouse Flowers once said that I should keep doing what I’m doing because it’s important. If I’m really doing something important to people, that makes it all worthwhile. It makes me feel valid.” Refreshing to hear, since humility can be hard to come by — but I guess that’s another reason the &$^% guy has so many friends. Dennis Driscoll’s CD, “Inwood Stories,” can be purchased through his website, dennisdriscoll.com. He is currently preparing to record a new album. Puma Perl is a widely
Photo by Puma Perl
A passerby stops to listen, at a Scratcher Sessions performance from spoken word artist Dennis Driscoll and musician Mark Sewall.
published poet and writer, as well as a performer and producer. She is the author of two chapbooks and two full-length poetry collections: “knuckle tattoos” and the recently published “Retrograde” (great weather for MEDIA press). “Puma Perl’s
Pandemonium,” a quarterly event, brings spoken word together with rock and roll. As Puma Perl and Friends, she performs regularly with a group of excellent musicians. Perl’s video links and event updates can be found at pumaperl.blogspot.com.
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Pre-registration is required for this FREE workshop. To register, visit npccny.org/workshop.htm or call 212-502-4191 ext. 230. August 28, 2014
You’ll Drink to That Boozy Fringe hit will belly up for another round of performances
THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING A FringeNYC ENCORE SERIES PRESENTATION Written by Anthony Caporale Directed by Nicole DiMattei Runtime: 90 min 21+ only Fri., Sept. 5, 12, 19 & 26 at 8 p.m At SoHo Playhouse • 15 Vandam St. (btw. Varick & Ave. of the Americas) Tickets: $18 Reservations: 212-352-3101 Or fringenyc-encoreseries.com
Photo by Dixie Sheridan
L to R: Ruthellen Cheney, Nicole DiMattei, Anthony Caporale and Ariel Estrada.
BY LIZ RICHARDS “More fringe shows should include a cocktail,” I told a friend the week before seeing “The Imbible” during its recent FringeNYC run. This show greets you in the lobby with one, a mixed drink of the playwright’s own invention called a Rusty Ale: India Pale Ale
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with a shot of Drambuie (one of the show’s sponsors). An unusual choice, but it’s a nice way to introduce the first scene of the play, on the chemical reactions of yeast and sugar and how fermented bacterial waste becomes the beer we enjoy today. It’s a lot of science very fast — but at this point, you’re still on drink #1. Anthony Caporale, the playwright and lead bartender for the evening, covers 10,000 years of cocktail culture, from the discovery of yeast to the modern-day “Disneyfied” speakeasy one can find every three blocks in New York. The history lesson also spans the globe, with stops in India, Egypt and England, all with corresponding musical interludes. He knows his stuff, too. As the Director of Beverage Studies at the Institute of Culinary Education, he’s given lectures at Google and the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. Plus, he’s a charming host: a little Alton Brown, a little Bill Nye and a little your goofy uncle. It’s easy to picture him chatting up patrons and solv-
ing their problems from behind the bar. He’s backed by a trio of actor-bartenders (of course) who sing, dance and even assemble a science project to accentuate his points. Though they’re mainly there to provide backup for Mr. Caporale, literally and figuratively (did I mention he also studied opera?), each manages to find a time to shine. Nicole DiMattei’s expressive face is a joy to watch as a cavewoman discovering beer, and Ariel Estrada made me laugh with his enthusiasm for dear ol’ Ethyl (alcohol, that is). Ruthellen Cheney has a strong and seductive voice that shone during her solo of “The Streets in Cairo.” They all keep the show moving quickly and provide lots of visual interest. This show never turns into a dry lecture! We enjoyed two more significant drinks during this show (don’t worry, they’re small). An Old Fashioned, considered the first cocktail, leads into a discussion of invention of spirits and the difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink. A gin and tonic near the end of the show brought up what became my favorite part of the show, about the rise of cocktail culture, Prohibition, and how Americans relearned how to enjoy spirits post-Prohibition. We hear a lot about Prohibition in American history, but the way it came about and then how the liquor industry came out of it afterwards was fascinating. “The Imbible” is a brisk and entertaining piece that will provide you with plenty of bar trivia — and really, who doesn’t need more of that? Liz Richards is a stage and event manager around NYC who, when not backstage, blogs about theater. Follow her on Twitter: @misslizrichards. For reviews of all 200 shows recently featured in The New York International Fringe Festival, visit the website founded and edited by our Downtown theater columnist, Martin Denton: nytheaternow.com/ Category/FringeNYCReviews/2014.
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August 28, 2014
Just Do Art
Photo by Jonathan Slaff
Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo by Jonathan Slaff
L-R: Phillip Christian, Loni Ackerman and Celia Schaefer, in “Voices of Swords.”
“Cello goddess” Maya Beiser performs music from her new album, “Uncovered,” on Sept. 4, at Le Poisson Rouge.
Theater for the New City’s summer street theater production comes back to the home neighborhood, on Sept. 7, 13 & 14.
matters has the potential to spell the end of our own empire — or even the world as we know it. Not so fast, says Theater for the New City’s Crystal Field, whose troupe of 30 street theater players have spent the month of August traversing all five boroughs performing an outdoor musical with a message. “Emergency!!! (The World Takes A Selfie)” is unapologetic activism that lands satirical jabs at everything from our tech-obsessed society to corporate data mining to environmental destruction. Field’s family-friendly script, with a musical score Joseph Vernon Banks, moves as fast as its adrenaline junkie main character — an Emergency Medical Technician whose drive to put a cold compress on the problems of his fellow New Yorkers ends up going global. Free. At 2 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 7 in Washington Square Park (1 Wash. Sq. E.), then at 7 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 13 in Tompkins Square Park (E. Seventh St. & Ave. A), then at 2 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 14 at St. Marks Church (E. 10th St. at Second Ave.). For more info, visit theaterforthenewcity.net.
her new album: “Uncovered” (with support from bassist Gyan Riley and drummer Matt Kilmer). Recently released on the Innova Records label, “Uncovered” is an album of classic rock, re-imagined and re-contextualized by Beiser as more than mere homages to the original versions by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Janis Joplin, Howlin’
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
VOICES OF SWORDS Rapidly aging members of Generation X and their somewhat younger (but by not necessarily youthful) Gen Y counterparts might find that the subject matter of Kari Floren’s latest play cuts a little too close to the bone — but they’ll be better off considering its implications sooner rather than later. “Voices of Swords” tackles issues of duty and mortality, by exploring the shifting dynamic that happens when children must assume the caretaker role. That’s an obligation not exactly embraced by Kosey, who hires fortysomething Alexis to spend time with his independent but ailing mother, Olivia. A personal organizer by trade, Alexis has problems of her own to sort out (an emotionally distant daughter, a failed marriage). The strain of helping this new family while attending to her own causes Alexis to reveal an explosive truth that has been causing the titular battle raging inside her mind. Through Sept. 7. Mon.-Tues. at 7 p.m., Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 3 & 8 p.m. (no 8 p.m. on Aug. 30 or 7 p.m. on Sept. 1); 3 p.m. matinee added on Sun., Sept. 7. At Walkerspace (46 Walker St., btw. Broadway & Church). For tickets (49), call 212-352-3101 or visit voiceofswords.com.
EMERGENCY!!! (THE WORLD TAKES A SELFIE) If Nero had an iPhone and a Twitter account, his violin probably would have burned along with the rest of Rome. Flash forward to 2014, and society’s general level of distraction at the expense of what really .com
CELLIST MAYA BEISER With praise comes pressure. The New Yorker has declared Maya Beiser to be a “cello goddess” — while a similarly impressed New York Magazine declared, “Beiser is not the sort of musician who zigzags around the planet playing catalog music for polite and sleepy audiences. She throws down the gauntlet in every program.” On Sept. 4, Beiser appears at Le Poisson Rouge to live up to the hype — by performing excerpts from
Wolf, King Crimson, Muddy Waters, and AC/DC. Thurs., Sept. 4, 7:30–8:30 p.m. at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleeker St., btw. Thompson & Sullivan Sts.). Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 day of. Standing: $15 advance, $20 day of. Call 212-505-3474 or visit lprnyc. com. For info on the artist: mayabeiser.com.
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August 28, 2014
Dear Aunt Chelsea: I quit drinking and drugging after my Freshman year, and I’ve got over four months clean and sober in a 12-step program. I know some cool students in AA, so temptation once I’m back on campus and going to parties again isn’t an issue. The issue is my girlfriend, who was so impressed with my desire to get straight, she showered me with affection last May. But now that I’m getting my marbles back, I notice that she has a lot of baggage. Before me, she went out with lousy guys, many of them drunks. She’s had a hard luck time of it since she was little, but I notice that it’s always everybody else’s fault, never her own. Her life operates on Murphy’s Law. I think I fell in love with Eeyore. Help! Straight and Narrow Sophomore
Dear Straight and Narrow: First of all, congratulations on your sobriety. But four months isn’t the time when you declare victory and tempt fate — it’s the point where you hunker down, circle your wagons and dig in for the long haul. While Aunt Chelsea has nothing but respect for the straight and narrow path you have successfully navigated this summer, she has serious issues with .com
your generous assessment that “temptation once I’m back on campus and going to parties again isn’t an issue.” It’s an exceedingly rare former toker-slash-boozehound who can spend all night at a kegger and not fall back into the old familiar pattern of beer pong, beer bongs, pot brownies and bad behavior. You’ve proven yourself worthy of that AA chip in your fist, so why throw yourself into the furnace just to prove you can stand the heat? Yes, pressure makes diamonds — but it takes a lot less time for pressure to burst a pipe. I could go on, but I think you’ve got the gist of where I’m headed with this one. Now, for issue #2 — and here, we’re in lockstep. This girlfriend sounds like a mess in a dress who, unlike you, shows no interest in changing her self-defeating ways. At the risk of sounding insensitive, you simply don’t have the proper tools to labor on such a massive fixer-upper project (other than your own). Seen through old Aunt Chelsea’s well-focused eyes (which haven’t been bloodshot in years), it’s quite clear that the newly sober you formed an intense bond with the first person to express support and approval. Add to that dynamic an element of sexual intimacy, and we’ve dug down to the root of why you seem to be having so much trouble acknowledging that the elephant in the room is a baggage-bearing monkey on somebody else’s back. Abandon the notion that you have a future with this gloomy, damaged doormat and refer her to askauntchelsea@ chelseanow.com. Providing tough but fair advice is my job. Your only obligation is to spend the next two semesters hitting the books, taking those 12 steps and discovering all of the natural highs that life has to offer. I’ll just bet that once this happens, you’ll fall in love again…and maybe again, and then, again. Youth only happens once, honey, so play the field — but not until you’ve covered all your bases!
Eventually, we all need advice from a caring but uninvolved source. When your time comes, send an email to email@example.com.
Aquarius Pencils down. You know everything you need to ace a test based on life lessons learned over the past few weeks. Proceed with confidence! Pisces Like the lunchbox thermos that keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, your intelligent design allows for stunning displays of classroom (or workplace) versatility during the next full moon. Aries Exam crammers who tap the midnight oil have burned the bridge that connects Mount Test Prep to High Score Hill. Don’t wait until the last minute! Taurus To emerge unscathed from life’s endless game of dodgeball, seek the safety of empty space instead of obsessing over each and every incoming orb. Gemini A Trapper Keeper, Garanimals and Schoolhouse Rock: If you remember these during their first run, forget about showing up for school and focus on the pros and cons of AARP membership! Cancer Your old elementary school teacher appears to you in an uneasy dream, with compelling advice about a dicey moral dilemma that will surface next week. Leo Walk through the forest of the Trees of Knowledge and listen to the lessons of the leaves. It worked for Yentl! Virgo You will become bedeviled by a comely red-headed classmate, whose long locks hang perilously close to your inkwell. Divert or dip? The choice is yours. Libra Your snarky habit of pointing out the minor grammatical mistakes of others are like school on Sunday: No Class. Scorpio Bake Sale cupcakes are tasty, but a direct donation raises more money for the band’s big spring trip. Ice bucket showboaters, take note! Sagittarius Resist the temptation to return that spiffy new shirt whose oversized design elicits cruel comments from classroom chums. You are an early adopter of the next big trend! Capricorn It is better to bring one’s own well-balanced bag lunch than curse the cafeteria’s mystery meat. August 28, 2014
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August 28, 2014