THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL'S KITCHEN
DCP Pledges Outreach, Provides Rezoning Details BY ZACH WILLIAMS At an April 6 media briefing, New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) officials emphasized that the time has just begun for public input on proposed zoning changes intended to help increase the city’s affordable housing stock, which have also sparked controversy. The suggested changes would apply to “contextual zoning districts” which regulate the height, bulk, setback from street, and frontage width in new buildings in order to maintain the architectural character of neighborhoods. Current regulations of these Continued on page 7
Chelsea Loses City Clinic BY ANDY HUMM The well-known Chelsea STD clinic on Ninth Ave. at 28th St., run by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Health in the neighborhood with New York’s highest HIV and syphilis infection rates, was shuttered for two to three years for renovations on March 21. Patients are being directed more than 70 blocks north to the Riverside STD clinic at 160 W. 100th St., leaving no such facilities in Manhattan south of there, but three in and around Harlem. Relocating clinic services in Midtown or Downtown was deemed to be “prohibitively expensive” by the department. The shuttered clinic was in an area that a few Continued on page 4
RED CARPET READY OUR TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL PREVIEW STARTS ON PAGE 16.
Photo by Piotr Redlinski
Cheryl King, in the lobby of Stage Left Studio.
Exit Stage Left Studio BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC New Mexico, the late '70s: Cheryl King is having problems with her live-in boyfriend — he wants her out of the apartment. King knows she needs a job, but waiting tables is unappealing. She passes a topless club with a sign reading “Dancers Wanted.” Okay, she thinks, that might work. She walks in and wants to immediately walk out, but a man who works there gets her a loaner nightie. “I put it on and I’m dancing barefoot on this dirty parquet floor,” she recalled. While the first time was not necessarily stellar, King does become a topless dancer, makes enough money to get away from her boyfriend and something else happens — something big that puts King on a trajectory that lands her squarely in the New York City theater world. “It turned out that I was kind of good at it,” King told Chelsea Now by phone. “And I liked being funny. It turned out I was funny. The tits thing didn’t bother me, really.” King’s discovery that she liked being funny propelled her to the nicest strip club in town, then to audition for a visiting theater company and snag a part. The show
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included a mime, and King was smitten. “I fell in love with mime,” she said. “I had never even seen mime [before].” When the show closed, she decided to leave Albuquerque and move to Atlanta. There, it just so happened that mime, “for the only time in the history of man was actually popular.” “The Shields and Yarnell Show” was playing on CBS and King starting studying the art, leading to paid work as a mime and an eventual tour of the country. The practice has served her to this day at her theater in Chelsea, Stage Left Studio. (Chelsea Now’s sister publication, Gay City News, is a corporate sponsor of Stage Left.) Stage Left, on the sixth floor of 214 W. 30th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.), is a fairly small theater, she explained, “so you can’t have giant sets...so I use mime a lot and I teach mime. It’s a great skill. It’s magic, you know, because it is both there and not there.” After working as a mime, King transitioned to stand-up comedy. She already had mime bits that were humorous and auditioned at a comedy club at Atlanta.
Continued on page 2 VOLUME 07, ISSUE 10 | APRIL 09 - 22, 2015
Theater Owner Cheryl King Plots Her Next Act
Christopher Eaves’ solo show plays the Left Out Festival on April 20 & 28.
Continued from page 1 “I learned my craft as a stand-up working on the road,” she said. For 13 years, she made a living as a comic, moving from the opening act to the headliner. But by 1989, tired of the lonely lifestyle, she moved to New York City with the idea that she wanted to
do something different. She knew she wanted to write a solo show and the city seemed an ideal place to work the comedy circuit, take classes and develop a sense of theater. An outgrowth of this was her show “not a nice girl.” She then realized that being a stand-up is different than being an actor. “As a stand-up, you kind of develop
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April 09 - 22, 2015
your persona and that’s what you sell, but as an actor, you actually need to be able to inhabit the character — and that’s a different set of skills,” she explained. “So I realized I needed to become an actor if I wanted to do the show that I wrote any justice.” She began studying acting with actor, director, teacher and performance coach Carol Fox Prescott. “So then I discovered theater, and went, oh, this is where I’ve been headed my whole life,” she said. She started working as Prescott’s assistant. One of her duties was to find people to rent her teacher’s Manhattan space. Prescott taught classes there, but needed to subsidize it when she wasn’t using it. While searching for black box theaters where she could perform her solo show — and finding spaces that were bad, expensive, poorly maintained or all of the above, King began to consider having a space of her own. “I thought I could better than that,” she recalled. “I definitely could do better than that.” After Prescott lost her space, King figured she if she got her own space, she would have one client, at least. In 2005, she opened her theater on W. 37th St. (btw. Ninth & Tenth Aves.). “And then I realized, oh God, I’m going to have to be a theater manager,” she said with a laugh. Stage Left made it’s home there for five years until the building was sold. She found Stage Left’s current location in Chelsea and built it out, investing a tremendous amount of money and effort, she said. Unfortunately, the theater’s run is coming to an end. King said that she is moving out at the end of July because rent has become too expensive. Artists are fleeing the city as prices and rents rise and they comprise a large part of my business, said King. As for audiences, many work two jobs to pay bills and thus have less disposable income for tickets. “So income is going down and expenses are going up,” she lamented. King has also grown weary of being a theater manager whose time is spent on marketing, communicating, scheduling, drawing up contracts and cleaning the theater. She said she can’t afford to hire someone to do it. Instead, she will be dividing her time between focusing on her own art and helping others shape their work. But there are still many great perfor-
mances to see before the theater closes in mid-July. Beginning next week, the seventh edition of her Left Out Festival will be presented. It grew out of King’s desire to advocate for queer culture. In 2008, she said, transgender and queer culture was struggling even more so than today and she wanted to help the Bailey House, an organization that for over 30 years has offered housing and support services for those living with HIV/AIDS. “Then I folded it all into one thing: I’m doing something I want to do, I’ve got a beneficiary who deserves the thing [and] it’s a public forum to talk about these issues,” she said. The festival took off and was a huge success, said King. The Left Out Festival includes selected shorts, solo shows and full-length plays. It will run from April 15–May 5. As part of Left Out, King will be performing in playwright Topher Cusumano’s “Getting Away With Mother.” It concerns Avery (Thomas Dane), a writer with one book under his belt (“Ass Backwards”). In the middle of the night, his estranged mother, Matilda, played by King, shows up at his door. He wants her to go away, but she does not relent. A deed will be revealed that changes their relationship as Avery struggles with his sophomore book effort. Already having spent his book advance money, Avery’s agent comes a-knocking as well — wanting a manuscript that isn’t even close to complete. It’s very funny, said King, who is excited to be a part of the play (which has one performance, April 24 at 7:30 p.m.). The best thing about running a theater, she said, has been the development of a network of artists that have created a sense of community and camaraderie. She has made too many deep friendships to count — and that, she emphasized, is the biggest and most beautiful thing that she has gotten from this experience. As for the one-time mime and standup, King is off on a new adventure. She will travel the country, and possibly abroad, working, acting, directing and creating art. Already the writer of the “Page to Stage” blog, she is considering a new one: “Cheryl King Art Tinker,” because that is what she does, she said. She tinkers with people’s art. For more information on the Left Out Festival and other upcoming productions, visit stageleftstudio.net. .com
WWII Vet’s Lecture Brings Humanity to Wartime Horrors
Courtesy of Rick Carrier
As a guest speaker at the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, WWII vet Rick Carrier recalled his role in the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp.
BY GINA MARTINEZ Queensborough Community College’s Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives held a March 27 event at which World War II veteran (and Chelsea resident) Rick Carrier spoke to students about being the first American to discover the Buchenwald concentration camp. Carrier, who turns 90 this month, was a lively speaker who recanted tales from his childhood and the war without missing a beat. Even when talking about storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day he was able to infuse his humor and charm into the stories, bringing a sense of humanity to the horrors of wartime. Carrier was invited by the Center to tell the story of how he and his fellow soldiers helped liberate the prisoners of Germany’s largest concentration camp, Buchenwald. Carrier, who was just 20, found the camp while looking for a supply depot. Carrier spoke in front of QCC students who are taking a trip to Salzburg, Austria as a part of the Salzburg Global Seminar in April. The purpose of this program is to provide students with an intensive international experience, exploring issues of global concern and viewing these issues from different perspectives. Since students participating in the seminar will visit Dachau concentration camp, the session provided some context and understanding of the liberation that took place in various camps.
Marisa Berman, assistant director of the Kupferberg Center, talked about why Carrier’s value as a guest speaker. “One of the most important things we can offer students and the community is getting firsthand testimony from survivors,” she said. “It makes the story much more compelling and makes students and visitors more empathetic. It’s a totally different experience for the students than just having me tell the story. It really helps them get a better sense of what happened because it’s putting a face to the tragedy.” Carrier enjoys speaking to the younger generation. “They remember it because I tell it in such a way they’ll never forget it,” he said. “I tell the story from a very personal point of view, what I felt, so the emotions come through. I was 18 when the war started and a lot of the kids I speak to are around that age. They visualize themselves at my age going through what I went through.” Berman hopes that firsthand accounts remind students of the relevance and lasting impact of genocide. “Talking about genocide is important because sometimes when we talk to students about events like the Holocaust, which happened over 70 years ago, it’s easy to write it off and think times were different, but when we can show things happening in the '90s and this millennium and decade they realize how important it is,” Berman said.
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With Highest HIV, Syphilis Rates, Chelsea Loses City Clinic Continued from page 1 years ago lost its only hospital — St. Vincent’s in the West Village — to luxury condo development. Community testing facilities are scrambling to pick up the slack, with some in place and some not and with the department yet to promote them as alternatives. The department poster on the closure only refers patients to W. 100th St. City Councilmember Corey Johnson of Chelsea, the out gay and openly HIVpositive heath committee chair, said he knew of the plans for the renovation last year and got the department to agree to remain partially open at the site while the work proceeded. But staff filed a grievance about unsafe working conditions from the construction — which were also “less than ideal for patients,” according to the department — and the facility was closed entirely. Johnson said the cost of staying in the area “was deemed to be way too high.” He said he was able to get a funding increase of $150,000 for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea, and while that facility does provide low-cost screening services and more that are often free to patients with limited means, it does not offer the completely free service that the city clinic was providing. Dick Gottfried, chair of the Assembly Health Committee who also represents Chelsea, said in a written statement that given the high syphilis infection rates in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen in particular, “this is not a good time to make it more difficult to get testing. If people have to travel miles away, will they go untested and untreated, and will infected people continue infecting others?” Gottfried said he will reach out to
The city health department’s notice of the Chelsea clinic’s closing.
Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, to explore possible downtown alternatives including Bellevue Hospital eight blocks east and the department’s headquarters at 125 Worth St. Johnson is also working with the Community Healthcare Network to get its mobile unit with free screening and treatment to set up outside the closed Chelsea clinic two days a week. The unit is available in the West Village on Mondays (from noon to 8 p.m. at Christopher St. & Seventh Ave.) and Fridays (on Christopher outside St. Veronica’s Church) and at 14th St. and Second Ave. on Tuesdays from 1–9 p.m. Freddy Molano, who heads up the group’s infectious disease and LGBT services, said he is “trying to secure the funding” for it. He hopes to have a second mobile unit “by early summer” thanks to the past efforts of the network’s late director, Catherine Abate. “The reality is that people know [the Chelsea clinic] at that location and very few are aware it is closed,” Molano said. “When you have an STI, you need that service right away.” He is concerned people will not go to W. 100th St. instead. Callen-Lorde, at 356 W. 18th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), has long
run a sexual health clinic and doesn’t just screen for STIs but treats them and is a big prescriber of pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP), two HIV prevention tools. While not a free clinic, executive director Jay Laudato said that “all services are offered without regard to one’s ability to pay.” Patients under 22 are served free “if using our adolescent program.” “We can’t replace a public facility,” Laudato acknowledged, calling the Chelsea clinic “a vital access point, a destination for LGBT people.” He said it takes time, for instance, for a transgender person with HIV to build up trust with a facility — as many did with the Chelsea clinic — and they may hesitate to go elsewhere. Laudato is meeting with the health department on April 9 to discuss further options for the neighborhood. Gay Men’s Health Crisis has the David Geffen Center for Testing at 224 W. 29th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) that takes walk-ins Monday to Wednesday and sees people by appointment on Thursdays. That facility has now added syphilis screenings. Anthony Hayes, a GMHC spokesperson, said of the free clinic’s closing,
“We’re eager to work with the department of health to see many of these vital services continue in Chelsea.” Another option for Lower Manhattan residents is the Mt. Sinai clinic at 275 Seventh Ave. (btw. 25th & 26th Sts., 12th floor), which does free HIV screening along with other health services for a fee. That clinic, which can be reached at 212-604-1701, is the successor to the St. Vincent’s HIV clinic. Luis Santiago, a member of ACT UP/ NY, said, “We’re trying to get more services for testing in the gay community and this move by the department of health is in completely the other direction.” Expense “was not an excuse,” he said, given that infection rates in Chelsea “are the highest in the city. Jay Kallio, a Chelsea resident and longtime LGBT and healthcare activist, used the Chelsea clinic when she got a needle stick in her apartment building’s garbage area and needed PEP. “Time was of the essence,” he said, “and CallenLorde was booked and couldn’t see me.” Kallio said that moving the department’s clinic to W. 100th St. “is not very good for the decrepit and disabled like myself. Getting up there will be prohibitive for me. Once you get sick, you’re not too ambulatory and getting on the subway is not only a schlep, it exposes me as someone on chemo to all kinds of flu.” The department has outlined plans to tackle the steep rise in syphilis among men who have sex with men, particularly in Chelsea were the rate is six times that of the city at large, including distributing “millions of condoms,” “low/no cost STI screening and treatment,” “prophylactic treatment” for some high-risk individuals, and more. But none of it will be emanating from the familiar clinic fronted by Chelsea Park and the doughboy World War I monument dedicated “to the soldiers and sailors of Chelsea.”
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CB4 Talks Rezoning and the Danger of Mid-Block Restaurants BY WINNIE McCROY Residents of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen gathered at Roosevelt Hospital on the evening of April 1 for the monthly full board meeting of Community Board 4 (CB4). Topics of discussion included the state budget, the hotly contested zoning rule changes by the New York City Department of City Planning, and the application to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for a beer and wine license by Ichiran, a new restaurant to open midblock on W. 20th St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). “We are opposed to Ichiran, because of the board’s own policy regarding alcohol-serving establishments on side streets and all the problems that go along with that,” said William Borock, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations. “We don’t want CB4 to approve this with stipulations, because the neighbors will suffer from all kinds of quality of life issues. We saw the family fondue restaurant The Ainsworth change into a sports bar, and we can see that Ichiran will want to change after they’re approved. After agreeing to close at 10:30 p.m. they came back later and tried to change it to 12 a.m. They want to
serve hard liquor, and they already serve shōchū, which is 30 percent alcohol… We ask that you don’t take the lesser of two evils, but that you vote ‘no.’ They need to find a location on the avenue that is more suited.” Borock was one of a half-dozen community members who spoke passionately against granting a beer and wine license to the Japanese chain ramen restaurant that has already obtained a lease for a mid-block location (at 123 W. 20th St.) for their 150-seat restaurant. “I hope that members who know the importance of keeping our residential streets residential will speak up,” urged resident Diane Nichols. Sydney Price, owner of City Treehouse (a nature-themed children’s play center), and her husband Andrew Price, a pediatrician, work near the site of the new restaurant. She asserted that Ichiran “would have a huge negative impact on my business to have trash around, and have children not be able to get down the sidewalk.” Michael Walsh said residents of his building were opposed to the business opening up next door to them, noting the early controversy over their desired 4
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April 09 - 22, 2015
Photo by Scott Stiffler
Residents of the W. 20 St. block btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves. say liquor-serving ramen shop Ichiran would be better suited for an avenue rather than their side street.
a.m. closing time. “Ichiran is welcome, but they are better off on the avenue, where they can stay open late,” said Walsh. Eric Freedman and Sam Glassman, also Ichiran block residents, echoed this sentiment. CB4 members discussed the contentious issue at length, with the majority of members agreeing that the mid-block location was less than ideal. Ultimately, they voted 27-6 to send a ‘Deny Unless’ letter to the SLA, recommending a denial of the beer and wine license unless Ichiran maintained their 10:30 p.m. closing time; kept their patrons in an indoor waiting room rather than on the street; secured garbage pickup before 11 p.m. on weeknights and by 1 a.m. on Saturdays; and that they declined to serve the stronger sake and shōchū beverages, which are permitted under the beer and wine license. “This is truly a classic rock and a hard place situation,” said CB4’s Lisa Daglian. “It’s clearly not the best place for this, but the bottom line is that we’re stuck. It’s best to have some control over this. So now we just have to make sure they do what they say they would.” Another SLA approval letter was sent to the adult entertainment club Esquire on 622 W. 47th St. Although CB4 member Martin Treat exclaimed, “It looks like a whorehouse to me,” member Paul Seres spoke of a long and positive history with these responsible business owners, noting that the club “was good for this dark and dank block. “They are good operators. They don’t want to draw any negative attention from the police and so they keep their patrons in line,” said Seres.
STATE PASSES BUDGET ON TIME Elected officials rushed back from Albany to share the results of budget negotiations, among them Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Brad Hoylman. “The Senate, which is run by Republicans, has one agenda. We in Congress have another agenda, and then there’s the governor, and on some issues it was two against one,” said Rosenthal. “It’s very hard to completely turn around a budget you don’t agree with, so you do your best to take out the things that are the worst.” Rosenthal described as “manipulative” some policy issues that were tied to the budget, for example The DREAM Act, which the Assembly passed for a number of years, but Republicans blocked. This year, they tied it to a tax credit that allowed donors to parochial schools to receive a 75 percent tax credit. The Assembly balked at this. There was also a school aid package giving $350M to schools, linked with Governor’s proposals for teacher evaluations, and funding for pre-K in both the city and the state. They also secured a record-breaking $100M in funding for New York City Housing Authority, to be administered by the state because of NYCHA’s history of mismanaging funds; and $440M to house the city’s 60,000 homeless. They secured $15M for a pilot program to reduce homelessness by helping people pay their rent, plus more beds for runaway and homeless youth, and funds for rape crisis programs.
Continued on page 11 .com
Mayor’s Plan Could Impact Chelsea Zoning Districts
Photo by Zach Williams
City Planning official Howard Slatkin said on April 6 that contextual zoning regulations are outdated and disincentivize affordable housing construction.
Continued from page 1 districts are outdated and needlessly impede the construction of housing for all ages and income levels, DCP officials told local media on April 6. But local residents and vocal opponents from Community Board 4 (CB4) are concerned that rezoning could undermine their own efforts to control development. Rezoning is just one element of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s broader initiative to preserve or create 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024. “The idea is to allow enough additional height so that there’s flexibility to fit all of the floor area that’s allowed today within the zoning. To be clear: this is not more floor area [but rather intended] to give it more room to fit in a better configuration,” said Howard Slatkin, DCP deputy executive director for strategic planning. Local residents, city council members and preservationists criticized the rezoning effort before, during and after a March 25 public meeting at which the DCP solicited community feedback on a 166-page Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement (released in February). Some critics objected to the short period of time they had to prepare comment before the meeting. Others emphasized that the proposals could lead to taller buildings in traditionally low-rise neighborhoods such as Chelsea and the West Village. “Just to be clear, this plan that has been proposed by the city would change rules that communities fought for years .com
and years and years to get to help protect the scale and character of their neighborhoods and in a lot of cases these proposed changes by the city are really for nothing but market-rate luxury condo development,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said during the March 25 rally at City Hall. Some critics also argued that comment was hard to muster because the actual proposed zoning text was not available. But the objective of the process is to determine such zoning text, noted a DCP spokesperson. Many city’s community board members said they simply did not have time to review the draft scope of work though the document was released a month prior to the meeting per city requirements. While the DCP balked at requests to reschedule the scope meeting, the department did extend the deadline for written comment until April 30. (Comments should be sent to Robert Dobruskin, c/o DCP, 22 Reade St., 4E, New York, NY 10007 or by email to AHousing@planning.nyc.gov). When asked by Chelsea Now why the department did not meet with community boards — despite a request from CB4 to do just that — before the March 25 meeting, DCP Executive Director Purnima Kapur stressed that the rezoning effort is still at a preliminary stage and such outreach has already begun. “I think people were sort of getting confused looking at the public scoping as the start of the public review process,” she said.
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1M Reasons to Cast Your Participatory Budgeting Vote THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
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April 09 - 22, 2015
#13 Resurfacing Sprinklers at Fulton Houses ($345,000)
#16 Bus Time Clocks for the M11 & M12 ($200,000)
The toddler sprinkler area is used extensively but needs to be excavated and resurfaced with the right materials so children can continue to enjoy it and play safely.
#15 Pedestrian Safety: Raised Crosswalks ($250,000)
New soccer turf, including physical safety and ball-strike safety fence or netting for neighboring window safety, marked field and durable permanent mini-goals.
Andrew Gooss Chris Ortiz
#12 New Soccer Turf Field at Fulton Houses ($500,000)
Photo by Zach Williams
At the March 24 Participatory Budgeting Expo, this display promotes the installation of a speed table at the notoriously dangerous crosswalk at W. 45th St. & 9th Ave. (item #15).
As part of the City of New York’s first-ever Participatory Budgeting process, our 3rd Council District has been given $1 million from the capital budget to spend as we see fit. All District 3 residents, age 14 or older, are eligible to vote.
ON THE BALLOT #1 Cooling System for Muhlenberg Library ($500,000)
Funding would replace the building’s HVAC cooling unit (the library serves as an official NYC Cooling Center)
#2 Renovations for Jefferson Market Library ($500,000)
Funding would go towards renovating the lobby bathroom to make it ADA-compliant.
#3 O. Henry Learning Campus Renovations ($290,000)
Hudson Guild, Lab High School, Lab Middle School and Museum School will benefit from new gym bleachers, gym scoreboard and locker room bathroom renovations.
#4 Bathroom Renovations at Lab School ($560,000)
Project would renovate two student bathrooms on each floor and bathrooms adjacent to the cafeteria.
#5 Bathroom Renovations for PS3 ($100,000)
Renovation of existing bathroom facilities to promote a more sanitary environment for students, faculty and school visitors.
#6 PS3 Library Renovations ($35,000)
With the technological advances of the last decade, modernizing the library is important in meeting the educational needs of today’s students.
#7 Public Address System Upgrade ($500,000)
PA system repair and upgrades to support the needs of three separate schools in the building, as well as building-wide announcements.
#8 New Park for the Community ($200,000) Transform the vacant lot on W. 20th St. into a public park for the community. Project would go towards demolishing the former Department of Sanitation building and environmental cleanup.
#9 Revitalization of Chelsea Waterside Park ($85,000)
The project would bring residents into this underused park by creating an interactive garden for local children, focusing on ethnobotany and native plants.
#10 Downing Playground & Fountain Upgrades ($200,000)
#14 Upgrading Fulton Houses Basketball Court ($425,000)
This project will offer all residents access to a modern basketball court. Court requires pavement to be leveled, drainage correction, proper landscaping and court markings.
Help prevent further crashes, deaths and injuries for pedestrians by installing a speed table at the notoriously dangerous crosswalk at W. 45th St. & 9th Ave.
Installation of clocks that will provide waiting passengers with time information and bus arrival times (along M11 & M12 routes).
#17 Sidewalk Repair/ Replacement ($50,000)
The sidewalk on W. 26th St. (btw. 9th & 10th Aves.) is in desperate need of repair. It has become difficult to walk, push carriages and wheelchairs on the sidewalk.
VOTING LOCATIONS Voting takes place April 11 – 19. Text “VOTE” to 212-6768384 for your closest poll site. Text “PBNYC” to that same number, for the location of pop-up voting sites.
Councilmember Johnson’s District Office 224 W. 30th St., Suite 1206 April 13-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Tony Dapolito Recreation Center
1 Clarkson St. April 11, 12, 18, 19 | 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
The Fulton Houses Tenants Association Office 419A W. 17th St. April 11, 12, 18 and 19 | 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
413 W.46th St. April 11, 12, 18, 19 | 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Hudson Guild (Dan Carpenter Room, 2nd Fl.)
441 W. 26th St. April 12 & 19 | 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
The LGBT Community Center 208 W. 13th St. April 18 & 19, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Playground upgrades with new play equipment for children, as well as a safer, more child-friendly drinking fountain to replace the aging concrete structure that is currently falling apart.
#11 Community Composting Center ($35,000)
A year-round solar-powered, forced air composting system for residents of Hell’s Kitchen would have the capacity for at least two compost drop-off days per week. .com
This building is being constructed through Inclusionary Housing Program and 421-a Tax Incentive Program of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program of New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
Affordable Housing For Rent 64 NEWLY CONSTRUCTED UNITS One Sixty Madison, New York, NY Amenities: 24-hour attended lobby, on-site laundry, fitness center†, lounge†, outside area† (†additional fees apply). Who Should Apply?
Individuals or households who meet the income and household size requirements listed in the table below may apply. Only qualified applicants will be eligible for apartments. Applicants who live in New York City receive a general preference for apartments.
1. View the Available Units... Unit Size
Transit: 4 Train to 42nd Street Station or 6 Train to 33rd Street Station Bus: BxM3, BxM4, BxM11, BxM18, QxM21, M4, Q32, x63, x64, x68, QM21, 28, x27, x28, x37 No application fee. No broker’s fee. Smoke-free building. No pets. No• 5% Pets of units are set aside for mobility-impaired applicants • 2% of units are set aside for visual or hearing impaired applicants . Preference for a percentage of units goes to: • Residents of Manhattan Community Board 5 (50%) • Municipal employees (5%)
2. See Unit Requirements...
Annual Household Earning***
$20,743 - $24,200
$25,920 - $30,250
1 person 2 people
$21,978 - $24,200 $21,978 - $27,640
1 person 2 people
$27,772 - $30,250 $27,772 - $34,550
2 people 3 people 4 people
$25,440 - $27,640 $25,440 - $31,080 $25,440 - $34,520
2 people 3 people 4 people
$32,298 - $34,550 $32,298 - $38,850 $32,298 - $43,150
** Household size includes everyone who will live with you, including parents and children. Subject to occupancy criteria
*** Household earnings includes salary, hourly wages, tips, Social Security, child support, and other income for household members. Income guidelines subject to change.
*Rent$700 includes heat
$900 * Rentincludes includesheat *Rent gas for cooking
How Do You Apply?
When is the Deadline? What Happens After You Submit an Application?
Apply online or through mail. To apply online, please go to: www.nyc.gov/housingconnect. To request an application by mail, send a postcard or self-addressed envelope, to: One Sixty Madison c/o Common Ground, PO Box 3620937 New York, NY 10129. Only send one application per development. Do not submit duplicate applications. Do not apply online and also send in a paper application. Applicants who submit more than one application may be disqualified. Applications must be postmarked or submitted online no later than June 1, 2015. Late applications will not be considered. After the deadline, applications are selected for review through a lottery process. If yours is selected and you appear to qualify, you will be invited to an interview to continue the process of determining your eligibility. Interviews are usually scheduled from 2 to 10 months after the application deadline. You will be asked to bring documents that verify your household size, identity of members of your household, and your household income.
Governor Andrew Cuomo Mayor Bill de Blasio HPD Commissioner Vicki Been HCR Commissioner / CEO Darryl C. Towns
April 09 - 22, 2015
New Yorkâ€™s Oldest New Neighborhood is being transformed
Opening Summer â€™15
SeaportStudios.com 19 Fulton St. New York City
April 09 - 22, 2015
CB4 Keeps Tabs on DCP
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (at podium) described some policy issues that were tied to the budget as “manipulative” — including The DREAM Act, which the Assembly passed for a number of years, but Republicans blocked.
Continued from page 6 State Senator Brad Hoylman also spoke on budget issues, praising the $4.5M allocated for homeless youth, saying, “It’s not much in a $142 billion budget, but for kids who are turned away 5,000 times a year, it could create 1,000 new beds across the state.” Hoylman thanked pop star Miley Cyrus, Covenant House, The Ali Forney Center, Empire State Pride Agenda and Councilmember Corey Johnson for their help. He also welcomed citizens to an Open House at 322 Eighth Ave. on April 24 to celebrate Earth Day, speaking on the importance of environmental conservation and the ability for companies to purchase carbon future credits, with the money used to lessen climate change. Hoylman expressed grief that the budget diverted $40M of these Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds into the general fund, saying legislators were “chipping away at the best tool in the kit.” He also expressed misgivings about an ethics package that he believes didn’t go far enough to close the LLC loophole that allows companies to donate more than $10,000 to political campaigns; and about legislators that continue to accept private clients who patronize them because they afford a back door to the legislature. “It seems commonsensical,” said Hoylman, who noted that common sense “isn’t something you always find in Albany.” Also making an appearance was Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who arrived from Washington, DC, to speak seriously about negotiations to come to an agree.com
ment on nuclear weapons with Iran. Nadler urged people to support President Barack Obama’s efforts to lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for ending their nuclear programs and agreeing to regular inspections. He said that without this agreement, the U.S. would either have to let Iran race toward creating a bomb, or attack. “And a war with Iran would not be over in a week. They are not to be trifled with,” said Nadler candidly. “I view Iran as a greater threat to us than ISIS or anything else in the Middle East. ISIS is savage, but they don’t pose the potential threat to the U.S. that Iran does.”
CB4 ELECTS NEW 2ND VICE CHAIR Another item of business was the special election of a new 2nd Vice Chair for CB4; they preside over meetings in the absence of the Chair and the 1st Vice Chair and deal with budget issues. Nominees were Ernest Moderelli IV and Burt Lazarin. Both men are longtime CB4 members, with Moderelli serving six years, being co-chair of the Transportation Planning and handling social networking. He said his Masters degree in Public Administration would be useful in budgeting issues. Lazarin, who was not present, sent a statement noting that he was a member for 10 years and a Chelsea resident for 38 years. District Manager Jesse Bodine tallied up written ballots. Moderelli won 23-11 and is now the new 2nd Vice Chair of CB4.
CONCERN MOUNTS OVER DCP SCOPING The meeting ended with a frank look
at the Department of City Planning’s hasty plan to make zoning rule changes throughout the entire city that could drastically change regulations on the height, size and shape of new residential developments. As reported in the March 26 issue of Chelsea Now, the move drew the ire of
many vocal community members, who spoke against the plans at a March 25 “public scoping meeting,” telling the DCP that the process was moving too fast, and could destroy their efforts to maintain the character of the neighborhood. The rezoning plans came so quickly that Burt Lazarin and Betty Mackintosh of Quality and Affordability Zoning, who had testified before DCP last week, didn’t even have time to draft a letter opposing it. As J.D. Noland remarked, sending this letter was very important, as DCP had already begun their formal process, which would be followed by the seven-month ULURP process. All members voted that the DCP needed to study the impact of their proposal before rezoning. “This is the greatest threat to our contextual districts,” warned Lazarin. “They want to give developers the extra space to build out to their full FAR [Floor Area Ratio].” The next full board meeting of CB4 will be held on Wed., May 6 at the Fulton Auditorium (119 Ninth Ave. btw. 17th & 18th Sts.). For more info: Call 212-7364536, visit nyc.gov/mcb4 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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April 30: Deadline for Comment on DCP Rezoning Study Continued from page 7 Presentations on the effects of rezoning on places such as the West Chelsea Special District will be made to community boards in the near future, according to the DCP. Public hearings on proposed zoning changes themselves will be scheduled once the public land use review process begins later in the spring, according to the DCP website. The City Planning Commission will eventually vote on the proposals before the City Council which has final say on the matter. There are about 15 contextual zoning areas within the boundaries of CB4 which are W. 14th St. on the south, 59th St. on the north and Sixth Ave. on the east until W. 26th St. and Eighth Ave. thereafter with the Hudson River as the western boundary. Contextual zoning comprises about 10 percent of this area and about 20 percent of Chelsea, according to a city zoning map. Historic districts would not be affected by the proposed zoning changes, DCP officials said. Building heights could increase by up to 25 feet on about six total blocks spread throughout Chelsea depending on
Photos by Zach Williams
City Planning Commission Chair Carl Weisbrod (left) said zoning changes can help meet the city’s booming population. Department of City Planning Executive Director Purnima Kapur (right) suggested that some critics of department proposals mistakenly believed that community input would not continue in the months ahead.
whether or not new developments there include affordable or senior housing. Buildings in these five different areas are currently limited to 120 feet as-of-right. DCP proposes to raise that level by five feet. A five-block area between Ninth and 10th Aves. (from 35th to 40th Sts.) and two small parcels in Hell’s Kitchen could also be altered in this way. Six different sections of Chelsea —
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April 09 - 22, 2015
with a total area approximate to eight blocks — would have heights raised from 75 to 85 feet but no additional allowance for affordable or senior housing. One stretch of contextual zoning in the area of W. 21st St. and Ninth Ave. would have no increases in building height at all, according to DCP proposals. The total floor areas permitted by the city for new residential buildings would not increase anywhere, DCP officials say, though expanded floor area is often used as an incentive to entice developers to construct affordable housing. Current estimates state that New York City’s population will increase by 40 percent within the next 25 years from about 8.5 million today further straining the city’s current housing stock, especially for seniors. But to keep up with the evolution of the city housing market, planners want to push the “building envelope” — the maximum size of a building permitted by regulations — to greater heights within contextual districts. Restrictions implemented in 1987 resulted in reduced ceiling heights, flat building facades and awkward upper-story layouts, according to the department. Proposed modifications in medium and high-density districts would raise ground floor heights for commercial spaces from 13 to 15 feet and about six inches on other stories. More diverse building designs would result when architects are less pressured to maximize floor area at the expense of other considerations such as designs more in line with pre-war architecture, according to the department. Market forces and the expansion of inter-story infrastructure such as fire sprinklers and soundproofing material have raised floor-to-floor heights in the last 25 years. Developers are also using
more prefabricated construction materials with fixed lengths and thicknesses. Customizing them for irregularly-sized lots adds to construction costs, which are already cutting into developers’ bottom line and willingness to build affordable and senior housing which are generally less lucrative, according to the DCP. Street-side landscaping, traditional stoops and other attractive building features could increase if proposed changes are made, according to Slatkin. “These buildings are built under contextual zoning and they have height limits and that’s an important thing but they don’t really fit in with their context. They are not living up to the character of the historic buildings that we have,” he said. Slatkin added that a 2014 study by Citizens Housing and Planning Council showed that out of 17 case studies only one building was able to fully accommodate its maximum permitted floor area. But none of those projects were in Manhattan below 99th St. The DPC is studying seven neighborhoods across the city to better understand how zoning, parking and other regulations reflect overall development potential. All of these areas are in Upper Manhattan or the outer boroughs. “We are looking at neighborhoods where we believe there is generally speaking a potential for increased capacity — that have not developed as much as other neighborhoods in the past,” said Carl Weisbrod, chair of the City Planning Commission. Reducing parking requirements for new senior housing and contextual zoning outside the city core in Midtown and Lower Manhattan would also remove a major cost for developers, Weisbrod added. Planners also want to ease restrictions on the size of residential units within senior housing. A “rule of thumb” is that parking spaces often cost more (about $50,000) than the cars that use them, according to Slatkin. The result is a problem common to current contextual zoning: that current regulations require developers to spend more without clear benefits to residential quality, quantity nor needs, he added. “When you are building an ordinary building you can charge people for the parking. When you are building affordable housing, residents really can’t pay for that parking and so for the builder of affordable housing they have the same costs as anybody else to provide each space but no revenue to pay for it so it really becomes just pure cost to the development,” he said. .com
NYC Community Media Wins Big at Better Newspaper Contest Given the newsprint medium’s relentless and unforgiving cycle of deadlines, knocking off on a Friday to skip town is unheard of…except once a year, when the publishers, editors, designers and sales force from NYC Community Media and Community News Group trek upstate to attend the New York Press Association’s spring convention. This year, it took place March 27–29. There, in scenic but too-quiet Saratoga Springs — between seminars, schmoozing, and trash talk about the NCAA brackets of our rivals — the Better Newspaper Contest winners were announced. This year, 177 newspapers statewide submitted nominations judged by juries of peers, from out of state. When the dust settled and the last award plaque was handed out, the newspapers of NYC Community Media (Chelsea Now, Gay City News, The Villager/East Villager and Downtown Express) and the Community News Group, owned by Jennifer and Les Goodstein, earned 12 First Place Awards and 40 awards overall. The Goodsteins’ group placed second among all newspaper groups in New York State. Chelsea Now took home four honors, and the rare distinction of placing twice within two categories. Dusica Sue Malesevic and Scott Stiffler won Honorable Mention and Second Place, respectively, for their Feature Story Work. Stiffler wrote about the Irish Repertory Theatre’s temporary move from W. 22nd St. to Union Square’s DR2 Theatre (while their longtime home undergoes major renovation), and Malesevic profiled Chelsea resident and filmmaker Sharon Greytak. In the Best News or Feature Series category, Chelsea Now was recognized for its work in both of those areas. Third Place honors went to Dusica Sue Malesevic, Winnie McCroy and Sam Spokony. The judge praised their “excellent series of [news] stories on the plight of a sometimes forgotten group of people,” in reference to Spokony’s article (“Hudsonview Terrace Tenants Paying the Price for Broken Promises”) and the Malesevic/ McCroy investigations into the harassment of tenants at 222-224 W. 21st St. Four articles and an editorial page excerpt took Second Place in the Series category. The judge declared this collective effort to be “well-written, with a nice depth of coverage.” Profiling a multitude of local mom and pop shops were Dusica Sue Malesevic, Frank Meade, Roger Miller, Scott Stiffler and Carlye Waxman. The subject matter included Stiffler’s examination of dwindling gay-centric .com
Photo by Pamela Wolff
Coverage of a Sept. 25, 2014 rally in support of W. 21st St. tenants was part of Chelsea Now’s Third Place win in the Best News or Feature Series category.
businesses on Eight Ave., Waxman’s visit to the new Down to Earth Farmer’s Market and Meade’s Talking Point on the exit of Alan’s Alley from Ninth Ave. As readers of an article in our March 12, 2015 edition know, the Alley relocated to the fifth floor at 164 W. 25th St. — where Alan Sklar continues to rent DVDs and run rings around the algorithms of online streaming services in matters of insightful viewing recommendations. Chelsea Now editor Scott Stiffler shared an Honorable Mention in the Best Obituaries category with The Villager’s editor in chief, Lincoln Anderson, and freelance writer Albert Amateau. Stiffler’s contribution also ran in Nov. 20, 2014 edition of Chelsea Now, as an obit within the arts section (“Jerry Tallmer, 93, Wrote With Heart About The Soul”). Our sister publications also fared well. Gay City News returned with a total of 11 awards for editorial, design, and advertising excellence. For the second year in a row, GCN placed first in Coverage of Religion — for stories that Arthur S. Leonard, Andy Humm, and Paul Schindler wrote about recent controversies over religious exemption laws as well as Michael Luongo’s feature examining the relationship among the Vatican, the Italian government, and that nation’s LGBT community. One judge wrote that Luongo’s piece offered “a perspective I haven’t read elsewhere.” A first place award also went to the newspaper for its Editorial Pages, the judges lauding “outstanding editorials
with well presented viewpoints” and recognizing the work of Kelly Cogswell, Nathan Riley, Ed Sikov, and Schindler. The newspaper’s website homepage also snagged a first place award. Gay City News (and Chelsea Now) art director Michael Shirey scored a first place for Multi-Advertiser Pages for his design of the Gay City News Family Pride pages, which judges rated a “perfect promotion…nicely designed [with] simple page headers and a single background color [that] provide continuity between pages, while differing colors easily distinguish each advertiser.” The newspaper was also recognized with a second place in Community Leadership for its role in producing community forums on education and on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Duncan Osborne and Schindler were recognized with a third place finish in Coverage of Crime, and Shirey and Schindler were given a third place award for Overall Design Excellence. The design award recognized, in the judges’ words, “a newspaper that puts emphasis on its articles, using design to make long-form journalism readable and accessible.” Shirey earned a third place for Best House Ad Campaign for the promotion of the Best of Gay City Contest, which the judges said used “brilliant colors and bold graphics” to create “excitement… in the air.” The Villager won 13 awards, including four first place finishes. Lincoln Anderson won first place for News Story for his article on the death
of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who overdosed on heroin in a Bethune St. apartment last February. The judge for this category, out of fairness, consciously tried not to be “starstruck.” “Not everybody has a celebrity die in their midst, so you have to look past the star appeal,” he or she wrote. “With that said, this entry was a hands-down winner. This story covered the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman from all angles, and left the reader with very few unanswered questions. I liked the way he drew the reader in with firsthand reactions from ‘fans,’ before getting to the nitty-gritty details of the death. A great read!” Cartoonist Ira Blutreich and photographers Milo Hess, Q. Sakamaki, and Jonathan Alpeyrie also earned first place awards. The Villager was also recognized for Editorial Pages, Overall Design Excellence, Photographic Excellence, Crime Coverage, Coverage of Religion, Obituaries, Columnist, Art Photo, and its LGBT Pride Special Section Cover. Villager graphic designer Chris Ortiz snagged second place for Best Special Section Cover. His winning Gay Pride section cover blended a shot of a woman flashing a peace sign with one of a Gay Pride rainbow flag. “Very eye-catching!” the judge praised. “Nice job combining photos and choice of colors.”
Continued on page 15 April 09 - 22, 2015
YOU DECIDE HOW TO SPEND $1 MILLION. Vote on how to spend $1 million of taxpayer money for community improvements! Find a voting location in your district at council.nyc.gov/PB
April 09 - 22, 2015
Chelsea Now Writers Honored in Feature, Series Categories
Lois Rakoff, Community Director of the Poe Room, and the NYU Office of Government and Community Affairs, announce:
Open Call Tryouts for the Spring 2015 Poe Room Event
Photo by James Higgins
Pardon us for hammering it home: Chelsea Now’s profile of the Irish Repertory Theatre’s temporary move to Union Square won Second Place in the Better Newspaper Contest’s Feature Story category — essentially forcing us to write this really long photo caption. You think this is bad? Check out the length of our headlines! Pictured: Irish Rep co-founders Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly administer a little tough love to the wall of their W. 22nd St. theatre.
Continued from page 13 In addition, The Villager took third place for Best Editorial Page. Downtown Express, helmed by Josh Rogers, won a first place award for an art photo by Milo Hess. NYC Community Media’s new affiliates at the Community News Group, which has titles in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, were also winners in Saratoga. The Brooklyn Paper took home two top prizes, earning the gold for their beautifully designed front pages, and getting an A-plus as a tutor to the journalists of tomorrow with a “Rookie Reporter of the Year” award. The Paper’s staff also took home two second-place awards — one to photographer Paul Martinka for best spot-news photo (“It’s a sneaky kind of photo,” wrote the judges), and one for headline writing, including the instant classic ”It’s raining mensch” (“We think you had a little too much fun,” wrote the judges). The Brooklyn Paper’s sister Brooklyn publication, the Bay News, won a second-place award for Coverage of Local Government thanks to a series of stories
by Max Jaeger about the city’s “Build it Back” Superstorm Sandy recovery program, and Colin Mixson, Bill Ebert, Vanessa Ogle, and Jaeger brought home a third-place award for Coverage of the Environment thanks to their series on the planned elimination of mute swans living in Sheepshead Bay that the judges called “as entertaining as it is important. In Queens, editor Roz Liston’s Bayside Times earned first place for Editorials and second place for Editorial Pages. The Times Ledger, which Liston also edits, earned second and third place in Spot News Coverage and an honorable mention for Coverage of Local Government. Of the many honors, Jennifer Goodstein said, “We’re pleased that our newspapers are serving the boroughs across the city with the highest standards of excellence as judged by our peers in the industry. Every week, we’re proud to demonstrate the vital role community newspapers play in the neighborhoods that are home to them.”
—by Scott Stiffler, with additional text by Lincoln Anderson, Vince DiMiceli and Paul Schindler.
The Poe Room event is seeking creative submissions to showcase the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe. Creative individuals of all ages are encouraged to audition. Illuminate Poe’s life and legacy through mediums such as dance, drama, music, painting, readings, performances, or other forms of expression. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis until Friday, April 10. Contact Nichole Huff at email@example.com or 212.998.2325. And save the date for the Spring 2015 Poe Room Event on Friday, April 24, 6:00 pm at the NYU School of Law. RSVP today: visit www.nyu.edu/nyu-in-nyc or call 212-998-2400. Community members and NYU come together and partner on the Poe Room event each fall and spring.
April 09 - 22, 2015
ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT Tribeca Film Fest Trending West
At 14, TFF returns to its Below Canal roots
Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Red carpet glam can be found at every Tribeca Film Fest screening venue, April 15-26.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER Old enough to assert itself but young enough to learn new tricks, the 14th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival is back where it started. Here we go round again — this time with a new multi-screen venue, a sprawling events hub and prestige premieres all taking place on the west side, below Canal St. It’s a conscious effort to reconnect with the festival’s initial purpose: make lower Manhattan a cultural destination, and give a much-needed boost to an area struggling to recover from 9/11. During its 2002 debut, this mission was a rousing success — but as the years went by, righteous grumblings were heard that the festival was becoming increasingly disassociated from its namesake neighborhood. That feeling was understandable, especially among ticketholders who found themselves trekking to Third Ave. and 11th St. for screenings at AMC Loews Village 7, or finding the red carpet located in Chelsea. Still, two out of three ain’t bad in the name and deed department, considering that the Tribeca Film Festival has presented 1,600 films from more than 80 countries, attracted 4.9 million attendees, delivered $900 million into New York City’s economic coffers and distinguished itself as a destination for festival devotees and foreign tourists. This year, from April 15-26, several notable changes
April 09 - 22, 2015
will once again link the brand name to the physical location it invokes. The Regal Cinemas Battery Park Stadium 11 facility replaces Loews Village 7. The School of Visual Arts’ two-screen SVA Theater remains, along with the nine-screen Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (both are on W. 23rd St. near Eighth Ave., in eyeball distance of one another). While the Chelsea venues will continue to host premieres, Regal will also be a place to find celebrity-infused red carpet glam. Add the return of BMCC Tribeca PAC as a screening venue and the popular free outdoor Drive-In series (right behind the Regal), and the festival is poised to offer its most downtown-centric iteration in years. “To keep the primary players in one area was a formula that worked from the beginning,” notes festival director Genna Terranova, who connects the 2015 edition’s geographic density to a desire to “create an environment where people feel like they’re part of the event; that sensation of community — and the best way to do that, we felt, was in our own community downtown. We always wanted to centralize the festival, because of our namesake, and also because we want to bring people together.” But you can’t do that without a hub, Terranova notes — and they’ve found one at 50 Varick St. (btw. Beach & Laight). The 150,000-square-foot Spring
Studios facility will provide ample space for multimedia installations, screenings, industry discussions (“Tea Talks”) and a “live+ mobile + social media experience” that has A$AP Rocky sharing the stage with journalist Elliott Wilson for a conversation about how storytelling influenced his growth as a rap artist and style icon. That April 21 event, filmed to air on WatchLOUD.com, is indicative of the festival’s ongoing effort to reach wider audiences and embrace new platforms. “You can walk into the space and really feel like you’re part of the festival,” says Terranova of Spring Studios, which will host the hacking conference DEFCON. Its founder, Dark Tangent, will be on hand to launch their April 23–25 event. “It’s all good white hat-type stuff,” Terranova assures, noting that DEFCON will allow festivalgoers to participate in hands-on hacking activities, addressing both current events and issues connected to the subject matter of festival films. Only the very few among us who make those glasses look good will mourn the day that Virtual Reality overtakes 3D — and while the current state of technology isn’t exactly up to Star Trek holodeck standards, the Spring Studios facility has an April 24/25 event that offers a palpable glimpse into VR’s potential to radically alter moviegoing. Taking place in a 15x15 unit, “Lost” is a 6.5-minute real-time interactive VR narrative created by the Oculus Story Studio. After being placed in a moonlit forest with an “unusual guest,” your 360° world becomes fraught with danger. Terranova says use of horror movie tropes in “Lost” is a significant leap for the VR medium, which has evolved to a point where it’s able to ask (and answer), “How do we incorporate this new technology into telling stories?” Virtual Reality has a presence elsewhere at Spring Studios, as part of the “Storyscapes” program. Its five interactive events — which promise to inject “empathy and immersion” into the storytelling experience — include a 6,000-square-foot sensory deprivation labyrinth and the opportunity to become digital friends with life coach Karen. Her unhealthy curiosity about your personal life mirrors concerns brought up in another Storyscapes experience: “Do Not Track,” which reveals the extent to which your online activities are tracked. Additionally, the work of large-scale installation artist (and 2013 Storyscapes alum) Chris Milk will be featured, through a number of VR projects including “Evolution of Verse” and “Clouds Over Sidra.” For audiences accustomed to simply sitting back as the film unspools and occasionally gripping their
Continued on page 17 .com
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Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
TFF’s free April 25 Drive-In screening of “Back to the Future” includes a sneak peek at a documentary about the franchise and photo ops with a DeLorean.
Continued from page 16 cup holders during a tense moment, Terranova says the VR wow factor “is almost as if when you first saw cinema and everyone was afraid the train
was coming off the screen. There’s a new grammar, a new language being created. The technology is here — but the challenge for the next generation of storytellers is, how do we apply it? We want to give them support as they move into a different world.”
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April 09 - 22, 2015
Female Directors Well-Represented at Tribeca Film Fest Roster includes candid docs, narrative debuts BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC While Hollywood continues its trend toward a dearth of female directors, the Tribeca Film Festival has bucked it — featuring work from 30 women, in a lineup unspooling April 15–26. Cara Cusumano, senior programmer, said that the festival has always been supportive of female directors and noted that it was co-founded by a female producer, Jane Rosenthal. The influx of female directors into TFF’s upcoming fourteenth edition, she said, is part of the festival’s broader mission to promote a diversity of voices in filmmakers “and that’s across the board, in terms of ethnic diversity, very young filmmakers, female directors, folks from different parts of the world.” “It’s really interesting to us to kind of put all those voices together and see where they’re telling the same story or maybe where the stories are different,” Cusumano said in a phone interview, “and there’s an interesting conversation to be had. Female directors are not well-represented in Hollywood or in a lot of major festivals, so we felt like there was space to celebrate the work being done.” The percentage of women directors working on top-grossing films has actually declined over the last 17 years or so — from nine percent in 1998 to seven percent in 2014, Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, executive director for the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, wrote in an email to Chelsea Now. Lauzen, a professor of television, film and new media, said that there has been no improvement in the employment of women directors on the top 250 domestic grossing films. The percentage of women directing documentary films over the last seven years has remained stable at 28 percent while the percentage of women directing independently-produced narrative features has increased slightly from 15 percent in 2008-09 to 18 percent in 2013-14, she said. “[It’s] definitely good news to us, when we crunched the numbers and realized how strong the representation of female directors we actually had. That’s something that we want to celebrate and highlight and continue into next year for sure,” said Cusumano. This will be the eighth festival for Cusumano, who said she watches half a
April 09 - 22, 2015
Photo by John Johnson
Celebrated cinematographer Reed Morano makes her directorial debut with “Meadowland,” which looks at how a couple copes with the their son’s disappearance.
dozen movies a day each season. “You really do start to see a lot of the same tropes and a lot of the same ideas, so any time there’s somebody doing something fresh it really does stand out and announce itself,” she said. The festival’s mandate, she noted, is quality first. “We always looking for the strongest films, most interesting new voices, whether that’s in terms of the content or the storytelling style, the form,” she said. “We just want a program that’s really diverse and well rounded and represents what we think is the most interesting work being created each year.” Additionally, there are 12 films that are eligible this year for the Nora Ephron Prize, said Cusumano, an award created in honor of the late writer, screenwriter and director that was inaugurated in 2013. The $25,0000 prize will go to a female screenwriter or director. “We wanted to do something to commemorate [Ephron’s] voice and her legacy and everything she did for female voices on film,” she said. Candidates include Reed Morano, a celebrated cinematographer, who makes her directorial debut with “Meadowland,” a feature that looks at
Photo by Molly Schwartz
Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992) is among those featured in “Code,” Robin Hauser Reynolds’ documentary about the paucity of women and minorities in the tech industry.
how a couple copes with the their son’s disappearance. Kate Lyn Sheil, an actress who also co-wrote a Civil War film called “Men Go to Battle,” is also a contender. On the international side, French actress-writer Helene Zimmer directed “Being 14,” or “A 14 ans.” Cusumano also highlighted some documentary premieres. Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg will show a new piece about hip-hop artist Che “Rhymefest”
Smith and his relationship with his father called “In My Father’s House.” Abigail Disney is debuting as a director with her documentary “The Armor of Light,” which delves into the connection between gun culture and the Christian right. There is also the world premiere of “Code,” which Cusumano called a “timely important work from a female
Continued on page 19 .com
Tribeca Film Fest Stresses Quality, Values Diversity Continued from page 18 director,” Robin Hauser Reynolds, about the paucity of women and minorities in the tech industry, specifically as software engineers. In addition, there are strong women — Misty Copeland, Mary J. Blige and Roseanne Barr — anchoring documentaries this year as subject matter, she said. This reporter watched “A Courtship,” a beautifully shot and thought-provoking documentary that explores Christian courtship through the Wright family. Ron and Dawn Wright are raising their two daughters to adhere to this type of arranged courtship, where a woman and man save their first kiss for each other until they are wed. Ron would work as the intermediary between the two girls and their potential suitors, vetting them before they would meet. The Wrights also have a spiritual daughter, Kelly Boggus who found Jesus later in life and was now planning to save her next kiss for her husband, explained the director Amy Kohn. Kohn, who has a background in reality shows and documentaries as a producer and showrunner, makes her debut as a director. She was doing research for a reality show when she came across Christian courtship and Ron’s website, beforethekiss.com. “I was really surprised,” she said in a phone interview. “I had absolutely no idea that something like this existed in the United States.” It took her five to six months of talking on the phone and via Skype about what filming would entail, before the Wrights and Boggus agreed. Kohn filmed for a year and it took four years to complete the documentary. Funding the film was a huge challenge, she said. She launched an Indiegogo
Photo by Evan Eames
While home for the holidays in Alabama, Kelly discusses courtship with her spiritual mother. The documentary “A Courtship” is Amy Kohn’s directorial debut.
campaign for finishing funds and several people who worked on the film did so for less than their normal rate. “Otherwise, what I did was I was basically working to pay for the film,” she said. “I would work and work and work and save up money.” “A Courtship” will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the Tribeca Film Festival,” said Kohn. “I’m honored to be a part of something that’s showing so many interesting films with so many amazing filmmakers. When I started out the project, I don’t think I even imagined that it would come this far.” Kohn said that she appreciates and is happy to be part of a festival that recognizes so many female directors. There are challenges for women filmmakers and it is more difficult for women to succeed in the entertainment industry, she said, but
that is certainly not limited to just this one industry. Having confidence in one’s work is important, she said. Being at several pitch meetings, she said, “A lot of time men tend to exude just more automat-
ically a sense of confidence about their work, which may or may not be related to the quality of the work.” For more information, visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296.
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Two Cults, One Night: RiffTrax Lampoons ‘The Room’ Mike Nelson & Tommy Wiseau on their work and the future RIFFTRAX LIVE: THE ROOM AT THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL Friday, April 17, 9:30 p.m. At SVA Theater 333 West 23rd St. (btw. 8th & 9th Aves.) Tickets: $38.50 Visit tribecafilm.com/festival Call 646-502-5296 Artist info at rifftrax.com
Courtesy of RiffTrax
BY SEAN EGAN Mike Nelson and Tommy Wiseau are men intimately familiar with devoted cult followings — the former for aiming his wry comedic voice at cinematic detritus, and the latter for being the multi-hyphenate behind one of the most notorious “bad movies” of all time. On April 17, their sensibilities will collide at the Tribeca Film Festival, for a one-nightonly event: “RiffTrax Live: The Room.” For fans of both entities (of which there is undoubtedly overlap), the pairing is a natural fit. Written, directed, produced by and starring Wiseau, “The Room” drew attention for its strange stylistic decisions, bizarre plotting and stilted acting — making the 2003 film an instant contender for the worst movie ever. Naturally, a cult sprang up around it and Wiseau, with the film becoming a midnight-movie staple boasting “Rocky Horror” levels of audience interaction — fans present in either ironic or sincere appreciation (or a mixture of both). Nelson first made his name as a writer and host on the cult-classic, B-movie lampooning television program “Mystery Science Theater 3000” (MST3K). RiffTrax is a project created by Nelson after the show’s end, featuring Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett (voices of MST3K’s Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, respectively). RiffTrax utilizes specially recorded audio commentaries, on which the crew “riffs” on movies, from older obscuro oddities to contemporary blockbusters. In recent years, the crew has expanded to doing live, in-theater riffs — usually broadcast to theaters nationwide via Fathom Events — which
April 09 - 22, 2015
L to R: Bill Corbett, Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy riff “Manos: The Hands of Fate” at a 2012 RiffTrax Live in 2012.
is where “The Room” comes in. Though the collaboration seems like a no-brainer, the RiffTrax crew actually had some trepidation approaching the infamous film at first. “We sort of stayed away from [“The Room”] for a while just because it seemed like it had its own thing,” says Nelson, who claims he and the guys were a little stumped when first confronted with the film. Ultimately, the sincerity of the project is what sold them on going forward, with Nelson noting, “You could not create something like this if you were trying to be pulling one over on the audience.” “A few years back we did it as a RiffTrax,” explains Nelson. “And then we were thinking about great movies that we loved, and had kinda been in touch with the Tribeca people and they mentioned [“The Room”], and we thought it probably wouldn’t be possible,” he continues. But after getting in touch with Tommy Wiseau himself, the RiffTrax crew found pulling the event together surprisingly easy, even setting up a larger scale 700-screen Fathom presentation to follow on May 6 (with a May 12 encore). “He’s just given us the blessing,” Nelson says. “He’s been willing, he gets it, and he thinks it’s funny. I mean, you know, he knows what he’s got — he’s savvy about what he does.” Wiseau certainly seems excited for the forthcoming presentation, and with his signature peculiar turns of phrase,
dubs it “different entertainment.” “They [RiffTrax] do have a good following, people, a group of people who like to making fun of any movie, and I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with that,” Wiseau intones in his distinctively non-descript, Eastern-European sounding accent. “I support that, and I say this openly, that there’s nothing wrong when you criticize, for example, ‘The Room’ — as long as you say in a sincere way,” he continues. “I think it’s a different concept and I think, I am pro-freedom, so I like it, what they’re doing, basically.” Wiseau and Nelson are in agreement that “The Room” offers a lot of material to work with, but for the RiffTrax crew it presents the challenge of finding new spins on a well-trod work. They even went so far as to scrap most of the script of their pre-existing RiffTrax commentary of the movie. “We wrote jokes before and we can write new ones, so we’ll try it again. That’s kind of our approach, to just keep going at the thing with fresh eyes,” Nelson reveals. These “fresh eyes” certainly apply to the film’s formidable cult as well. “We kinda know some of the rituals, but we pretty much avoided them because that is a different thing, and what we do is our thing,” he asserts. Obviously, the RiffTrax guys aren’t ones to take the easy route or rest on their laurels. Indeed, this upcoming event is just one of many in the works. After a successful Kickstarter campaign,
“We lined up kind of our dream lineup of movies for the live year,” Nelson comments of the other forthcoming Fathom events. In addition to “The Room,” the team will tackle modern-day schlock-fest “Sharknado 2,” 80s martial-arts disaster “Miami Connection” and something called “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny” — which Nelson says with a laugh, “I think every human should see before they die. It’s the greatest movie ever.” For his part, Wiseau declares, “I work very hard, and I like to work hard.” Most recently, he’s been working on “The Neighbors,” a comedy series currently streaming on Hulu, which deals with sitcom tropes and American culture in what could only be accurately described as a uniquely Wiseau-ian way. The busy shooting schedule for “The Neighbors” inhibits Wiseau’s ability to make it to the Tribeca Film Festival, but fans can take comfort in the fact that Wiseau is currently contracted for at least eight more episodes of the series (though he wishes to make more). A bit further off in the distance for the filmmaker is “The Foreclosure,” a feature concerning a man named Richard whose house is foreclosed on by the bank. Wiseau says he has a 100page script prepared and aims to begin shooting in May, in hopes of creating a unique film that provides some laughs and educates people. Further still down
Continued on page 21 .com
Riffing on ‘The Room’ With Wiseau’s Blessing
Courtesy of RiffTrax
L to R: Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy and Michael J. Nelson riff “The Room.” Pictured onscreen, L to R: Tommy Wiseau as Johnny, Greg Sestero as Mark.
Continued from page 20 the pipeline is a currently untitled vampire movie, which he claims will make people “not fall asleep for two weeks.” “There will be good and bad vampires at the same time, who actually conquer the world,” he divulges of the plot, elaborating, “Usually we associate vampire with the drama and the killing. And somewhat killing exists — but it’s different dimension. So it will be something special, something different.” Looking out to the future as well, Nelson considers live events the crew may like to undertake, if licensing pans out. “A lot of those 80s movies, big blockbusters, are starting to age in a way that would make them fun,” Nelson says — expressing a particular interest in “Road House.” “I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility,” he says of those kinds of movies. Citing a precedent Sony established with their successful live presentation of “Starship Troopers,” Nelson thinks that more studios might be willing to work with RiffTrax. “They saw the sky did not fall, and they quite enjoyed it, so hopefully we’ll do more movies from Sony, so hopefully that unlocks other studios as well.” Nelson and the RiffTrax crew, it seems, have managed to get a lot of mileage out of an elegantly simple and funny idea, and continue to push forward. When asked to reflect on the staying power of MST3K and the continued vitality of the style of comedy it and RiffTrax pioneered, Nelson offers, “Mostly I just think it’s good joke writing .com
and, you know, it’s dumb, goofy stuff meant to just entertain. We kind of did what we wanted. We had a ton of fun and I think that comes through,” he ends simply. Wiseau, when similarly inquired about the ability of “The Room” to continue drawing audiences, likens his film to a building in an earthquake. “I always say that if you have a good foundation you will survive whatever obstacles — and I believe very strongly that ‘The Room’ has built that foundation.” “Why people come back?” he muses aloud. “Because I think they want to yell,” he concludes. “How many places you have actually on the street, where people can sing or just express themselves — and people say ‘Oh you crazy,’ or whatever? With ‘The Room’ I actually encourage people. I say, ‘Say whatever you want.’ Scream, yell — you could maybe meet someone! The bottom line is, what I discovered in the past few years, is ‘The Room’ actually connects people, you know? Directly or indirectly. Because maybe they criticize ‘The Room’ because ‘it’s so bad,’ or criticize ‘The Room’ because they enjoy themselves — and again I encourage that, because, again, there’s nothing wrong with it. Contrary, you know, you may discover yourself, and you may be better person.” Which is why, to Wiseau, the upcoming RiffTrax event is such an appealing idea. “I am very happy that RiffTrax actually approached us,” he says. “They find some kind of different, I would say, entertainment, that actually appeals to a few thousand or maybe one million people more, and I think this cannot be discredited.”
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The Persistence of Memory: LGBT Memoir and Biography David Margolick, Rob Smith, Jamie Brickhouse, Brad Gooch
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April 09 - 22, 2015
April 09 - 22, 2015
‘Far From Men’ Cuts Close to the Bone A journey through rugged terrain becomes a battle of wills
Photo courtesy Tribeca Film Festival
In 1954 Algeria, Mohamed and Daru (L to R, Reda Kateb and Viggo Mortensen) attempt to act with honor based on codes from their own traditions.
BY RANIA RICHARDSON In a spare tale that considers the futility of neutrality during wartime, writer/director David Oelhoffen’s “Far From Men” (Loin des Hommes) is an absorbing look at the nascent Algerian War for Independence in the 1950s. Daru (Viggo Mortensen), an Algerian-
born Frenchman, and Mohamed (Reda Kateb), his Arab charge who is due to stand trial for murder, find themselves paired unwittingly for an expedition through the desolate French-occupied North African country. Daru was a Major in the French army before turning to a reclusive life teaching
language, history and geography to local Arab children in a one-room French school. In this conflict-laden environment, education could be the key to uplifting their young lives. Bound by ropes, Mohammed is brought to the schoolhouse by officials with orders that Daru must escort him to the authorities in Tinguit, where he will likely be sentenced to death. Daru’s resistance to the task marks his refusal to be implicated, until he is left with no choice. What could have been a straightforward journey through rugged terrain becomes a battle of wills and morals, as the two men attempt to act with honor based on codes from their own traditions. Subtle but powerful performances by a steely Mortensen and a languid Kateb elevate the film, along with handsome cinematography by Guillaume Deffontaines and a minimalistic score by Nick Cave and his frequent collaborator, Warren Ellis. Mortensen, a well-known polyglot, speaks convincing French and Arabic. (In his recent turn in “Juaja,” we hear him speaking Spanish and Danish.) Inspired by “The Guest,” a short
LM TRIBECA FI VIEW RE FESTIVAL
story by Albert Camus, the tale examines the idea of “the other” through Daru’s background as a Pied-Noir or “BlackFoot,” denoting that he is of European ancestry, living in French North Africa — the background Camus himself had. A Western of the international variety, “Far From Men” is the story of men in severe circumstances, with prostitutes the only women in a vast, dusty setting marked by violence and sacrifice, colonizers and indigenous peoples. Deliberately paced and slow to reveal itself, the film achieves its full impact during the final scenes, in which both men “trust in the Creator” and adhere to their convictions in personal ways. Written & Directed by David Oelhoffen. In French with English subtitles. Runtime: 102 minutes. On 4/21, 8:30pm at SVA Theater (333 W. 23rd St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). On 4/24, 9:30pm & 4/25, 3:45pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). For tickets: $18 (plus $3.50 reservation fee), visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296.
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