YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Post Office Piece Of Sky Up For Bid BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC No one knows the ultimate fate of a treasured local post office — but at least the concerned parties were sent two letters of intent. The sale of the air rights and a portion of historic Old Chelsea Station (217 W. 18th St.) is moving forward as the United States Postal Services (USPS) has put it up for bid, according to its spokesperson. Connie Chirichello, USPS Corporate Communications representative for New York City and Long Island, said in an April 15 email to Chelsea Now that the air rights are on the Continued on page 4
CB4 in Top After-Hours Construction Tier BY ZACH WILLIAMS Lack of sleep was the high price paid by nearby residents — when the Department of Buildings (DOB) decided, on 122 dates, that after-hours work was in order for a $150 million condominium project to proceed with exceptional speed at the Walker Tower (210 W. 18th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). The conversion of the 32-story building into luxury living proceeded through the weekends of 2012 and 2013 under the auspices of After Hours Variances (AHV) — special permits issued by the DOB that allow construction work outside of normally acceptable hours. Continued on page 6
RHYMES WITH CRAZY
Our new weekly columnist Lenore Skenazy comes out of the gate strong, with a humorous and engaging argument that puts her decidedly low on the Helicopter Parenting Scale. See page 9.
Photo by Jenny Rubin
BACK IN THE ‘HIGH’ LIFE AGAIN
It was worth the wait. Photographer Jenny Rubin took her camera (but no jacket) to the High Line this past Saturday — and basked in the first truly warm day in ages. See page 12 for more.
Meticulous Report Exposes Lying Landlords, Devious Developers BY EILEEN STUKANE Chelsea residents have reached their limit of tolerating the intolerable when it comes to gutting and renovating properties around existing tenants who are then forced to live on a construction site — often without water, gas, or electricity, but with plenty of dust and noise — or move out. The Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA) and Save Chelsea have come together to create the Community & Residents Protection Working Group (CRP), which has delved into the complicated application processes
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and codes at the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to flush out those owners, landlords and developers who receive DOB permits for construction by lying on their applications. On April 16, the Housing, Health & Human Services Committee (HHH) of Community Board 4 (CB4) witnessed an eye-opening power point presentation from CRP’s Andra Mooney — who spoke in front of projections
Continued on page 3 VOLUME 07, ISSUE 11 | APRIL 23 - APRIL 29, 2015
We’ve Gone Free Footin’ It: No Cost Walks Weekly! Spring is in the air. The sun is ﬁnally shining, birds are singing and flowers are blooming. It’s only right that in this time of growth and rebirth, we announce our own new season. Chelsea Now is going WEEKLY! Your favorite free community newspaper will still be delivered to all of the same Chelsea locations — plus some new ones north of 30th St. Our loyal readers might have noticed expanded coverage of Hudson Yards and Hell’s Kitchen. Now we are delivering the paper to those readers. More good news from Chelsea Now: the first contribution from our new columnist, Lenore Skenazy, appears on page 9. If the name sounds familiar, here’s why: Google “America’s Worst Mom” and you’ll quickly learn that Lenore Skenazy once let her nine-year-old son ride the subway alone. The columnist and reality show host got that title after writing about her boy’s remarkable experience safely getting from point A to point B without an adult by his side. But not everyone thought this was a good idea — and in response to the media blowback, she founded the “Free-Range Kids” book, blog, and movement. Her feisty belief that our kids are safer and smarter than our culture gives them credit for has landed her on talk shows including “Dr. Phil” and “The View.” She has lectured internationally, from Microsoft’s headquarters to the Sydney Opera House, and she’s also host of “World’s Worst Mom,” a reality show airing on Discovery-TLC in most of the world (but, surprisingly, not America!). Now, Skenazy brings her brand of fun, engaging writing to Community News Group and NYC Community Media. A graduate of Yale, she lives Queens with her husband and two teen sons. Her writing has appeared in the New York Daily News, where she was a columnist for 14 years, the New York Sun, NPR and, of course, MAD Magazine. So check out what Lenore has to say this week and every week in Chelsea Now.
Photo by Rowa Lee
It’s poetry in motion, at the High Line’s “After Sunset” walk (6:30 p.m. on April 25)
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
HELL’S KITCHEN GREEN OASES WALKING TOUR Mere steps from Times Square is a road not taken by throngs of sightseeing tourists, and barely noticed by those spilling out of the bars that have been sprouting up like weeds. People who call Hell’s Kitchen home (and call themselves “Hell’s Kitchenites”) are growing all sorts of veggies, herbs and flowers in places both tucked away and in plain view. On May 2, join a group of community gardeners, activists and green enthusiasts as they casually stroll their often chaotic concrete jungle. Between sightings of rose bushes, fruit trees, garden plots and honey bees, you’ll learn about the neighborhood’s open spaces. Organized by the Hell’s Kitchen Green Team, this walk makes stops at six community parks and gardens, from W. 45th to W. 54th Sts. The tour is part of Jane’s Walk — a global festival named for renowned NYC urban renewal foe and walkable neighborhoods champion Jane Jacobs (1916-2006). Its citizen-led tours encourage participants to share stories and collaborate on ideas to make their urban environment a more green, serene and generally livable place to be. Free. 11 a.m.–1 p.m. on Sat., May 2. Meet by the train at the 45th St. side of Mathews-Palmer Park (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For info on the tour stops, visit janeswalk.org/united-states/newyork-city-ny/hells-kitchen-green-spaces/.
series of performances capped off with a closing party featuring music, National Book award-winner Mark Doty and a cash bar (those introspective types have been known to knock it back with the best of them). Along the 10-block route, though, there’s sober contemplation to be had by drinking in the sight of passionate writers breathing life into their own words. Sarah Gambito, Saeed Jones, Taylor Mali, David Tomas Martinez and Leigh Stein are among those offering traditional readings. American Sign Language performances by Other Voices will be based on poems by Darren Fudenske, Douglas Ridloff, David Rivera and Anne Tomasetti. Improvisational work by Wendy Chen, Mariama J. Lockington and Camille Rankine is projected onto large screens — and a group of Nuyorican all-stars including Lemon Andersen, Nancy Mercado, Maria Rodriguez-Morales, Edwin Torres and Emanuel Xavier will perform spoken word material. Free. Sat., April 25, 6:30–9:30 p.m. Meet on the High Line at W. 26th St. (walk ends at 16th St.). Visit thehighline.org.
AFTER SUNSET: HIGH LINE POETRY WALK Jennifer Goodstein President & Publisher
April 23 - 29, 2015
The best of its views can leave you breathless — but not at a loss for words, at least not for the talent on hand when the High Line celebrates National Poetry Month. Beginning at the elevated park’s 26th St. location, sunset strollers will encounter a
Photo by Raanan Geberer
Seen here in full summer splendor, the Clinton Community Garden is a stop on the May 2 Hell’s Kitchen Green Oases walking tour. .com
New Community Group Charts Construction Application Abuse they have the right to tenant protection because they see the posted permits and believe that they have no recourse.
Continued from page 1 of actual online applications for building construction on which owners had indicated that buildings were not occupied and not rent-regulated, when they were indeed occupied and rent-regulated. The DOB has no digital check that will create a bounce-back for an incorrect filing, even though a building’s current status usually exists within DOB’s very own records. By falsifying a permit application, technically, according to DOB Form PW1, section 26, an owner/landlord does not have to institute a Tenant Protection Plan. This means that the need to guarantee tenants a means of egress, fire safety, structural safety, certain health requirements, noise restrictions and housing standards as required by New York State’s Tenant Protection Unit of the Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) can be disregarded. After all, if a building has no tenants and is not rent-regulated, why is there a need for Tenant Protection? As Mooney pointed out, tenants finding themselves in unlivable situations often do not know
TENANTS FLEE, AND SO DOES AFFORDABLE HOUSING Last November, CRP canvassed a handful of blocks, primarily in Chelsea, looking into the validity of permits posted for construction, and found that 41 buildings had illegal permits obtained through false information provided by owners who stated that there were no tenants and no rent regulated apartments in their buildings, and more recently, 39 other buildings were added to the list. Whether it was 264-288 W. 25th St., or 216-218 W. 22nd St., or 241 W. 21st St., or the removal of a load-bearing wall at 169 Ninth Ave. (aka 400 W. 20th St.), the story was always the same — falsification of information resulting in illegal permits with no tenant protection plan in place, and the landlords making daily life difficult to force out tenants. At 245 W. 25th St. the elevator was shut down while a woman in a wheelchair was in residence. Falsifiers included Madison Capital, Croman, and Icon, among others.
An image from the CRP’s April 16 presentation to CB4’s Housing, Health & Human Services Committee.
Since many vacated apartments are rent-regulated, the end result is that the number of the city’s affordable housing units are being systematically reduced as the vacated apartments are renovated and brought to market value, or transformed into co-ops. This practice, which runs counter to Mayor de Blasio’s drive to retain affordable housing, is moving
across the city, throughout the boroughs, like a wave.
NEW CONSEQUENCES FOR OLD PATTERNS OF ABUSE Penalties for filing false statements can range from $4,800 to $25,000 —
Continued on page 14
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Construction Could Temporarily Displace Post Office Continued from page 1 market and it is in the preliminary stage — to start the process and determine actual, interested buyers for a discussion to start. Parties have until the middle of May to submit their interest in this first round, she said. The request for proposals, or RFP, was expected to begin in January but was delayed. The community and elected officials — who fought hard to keep the post office open in 2013 — were initially caught off guard about the sale, which was announced late last year. The USPS ultimately sent a representative to Community Board 4’s (CB4) monthly meeting in January. At that meeting, Gregory C. Lackey, USPS’ realty asset manager for the Northeast, said the public comment period would be extended — something many pushed for — and it was. Lackey said that about 5,000 to 6,000 feet of the Old Chelsea Station would be used for a proposed residential building, which will be eight stories and 83 feet above the existing deck. In a March 4
letter to CB4 and elected officials, the USPS stated that the gross floor area is approximately 59, 272 sq. ft. with each floor containing up to 7,409 sq. ft. It also stated that it “will keep the community and elected officials informed of any substantial changes to the plans for Old Chelsea.” “I appreciate that the USPS has taken the time to hear the community concerns with their plans for the Old Chelsea Station,” U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler said in an email statement to Chelsea Now. “As the RFP moves forward, I hope the USPS continues to provide the community meaningful input to ensure any changes preserve both the neighborhood’s character and the historic features of the building.” However, in a March 18 letter from the postal service to the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation (ACHP), it stated it “intends to initiate a new Section 106 review process for a modified undertaking.” The “modified undertaking,” according to a spokesperson from Nadler’s office, indicates that the USPS has changed its timeline. Chirichello said the USPS did the
modification to allow for a more comprehensive review of the undertaking by the community. “When we have development plans from a successful bidder that the postal service considers potentially viable, then the postal service can determine the full scope of the undertaking and its potential effect on historic properties. Then the postal service can present a more complete, more detailed, proposal to the community for input,” said Chirichello in an April 16 email. Under the National Historic Preservation Act, the USPS must evaluate whether a proposed project — such as the sale of air rights and a portion of the building — would have an adverse effect on a historic property, such as the Old Chelsea Station, which is a National Register listed building. In its assessment for the first Section 106 process, the USPS found there would be no adverse effect. The State Historic Preservation Office did not agree and stated in a Sept. 17, 2014 letter that the “proposal will have an adverse effect.” The matter was then turned over to the ACHP to make an evaluation. The ACHP found “the USPS finding of no adverse effect is based on an insufficient assessment…is not supported by the covenant as presently written,” it wrote
in a Dec. 5, 2014 letter to the postal service. “[The sale] is something that the neighborhood is very concerned about,” said Lesley Doyel, co-president of Save Chelsea, in an April 10 phone interview. Referencing the March 4 letter, Doyel noted that while the USPS plans to maintain operations open during construction, it has “a contingency plan to seek temporary space in another location within the immediate neighborhood if necessary.” “We need a post office — we don’t need any more luxury housing,” she said. Doyel said that the postal service has been more responsive, but they were “forced to be more transparent” and “it’s all very carefully worded.” The sale is affecting the neighborhood in a big way, she said, and pointed out that what is happening in Chelsea is part of a wider nationwide problem. U.S. Representative Barbara Lee, from California, introduced legislation in March that stated “the United States Postal Service may not close, consolidate, or sell any historic postal facility without prior congressional approval, and for other purposes.” It feels, noted Doyel, as if an important neighborhood institution is in jeopardy.
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The USPS confirms its intention to initiate a new Section 108 review process for a “modified undertaking.” Read the March 18 letter by accessing the online version of this article, at ChelseaNow.com. .com
PrEP Prompts Shift in Federal Funding Priorities BY DUNCAN OSBORNE As government funders increasingly pay for biomedical interventions that prevent HIV infections, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and provide less support for behavioral interventions that increase condom use and alter sexual behavior, the funding landscape for AIDS groups may shift and they will have to change how they interact with their HIV-negative clients. “That’s a major challenge that the community doesn’t know that PrEP is an option for them,” said Kimberleigh J. Smith, vice president for policy, advocacy, and communications at Harlem United. “It’s a whole different conversation that has to happen with folks… It’s going to come with a different level of engagement.” Harlem United, which hired its first fulltime PrEP navigator in January, performed just over 4,500 HIV tests in 2014 and roughly 2,600 were on young men who have sex with men, a population that has a high rate of new HIV diagnoses. Smith said a “fair amount” of those were repeat testers, likely people who are having frequent or intermittent unsafe sex and keep getting tested to monitor their HIV status. Previously, repeat testers could be offered counseling; now they may be candidates for PrEP, a regimen of anti-HIV drugs HIV-negative people take to keep them uninfected. PrEP, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which prevents infection in HIVnegative people with a recent exposure to the virus by giving them anti-HIV drugs, and treatment as prevention (TasP), which is the use of anti-HIV drugs by HIV-positive people to reduce the amount of virus in their bodies to the point where they are non-infectious, are highly effective when taken correctly. The challenge with these biomedical interventions is letting people know they exist. Approved in 2012, PrEP uptake has been slow, though it is increasing. PEP has been used for more than 20 years mostly by medical professionals with a recent HIV exposure, such as a needle stick, and it remains relatively unknown and underutilized. TasP has been partially successful in New York City. The interventions require medical follow-up and support to adhere to the drugs. Government funders, who were .com
Courtesy of Gay City News
Chelsea’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center is a leader among institutions in writing PrEP prescriptions.
already moving away from paying for behavioral interventions and paying instead for high-volume HIV testing and getting those who test positive into treatment, are moving even more of their money into biomedical interventions. On March 31, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced $185 million in available grants for state and local health departments to fund PrEP and TasP demonstration projects among men who have sex with men and transgender people. Roughly $65 million of that is for projects targeting gay and bisexual men of color. When Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed a plan last year to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020, his first action was to negotiate lower prices for the anti-HIV drugs the state buys. In the state budget for the fiscal year that began on April 1, Cuomo included $5 million in new funding to pay for PrEP-related costs for an estimated 600 people, though that program may turn out to cover more people. The shift in funding favors larger organizations that do a lot of HIV testing and have onsite medical clinics that can perform the follow-up testing needed for PrEP and TasP. People who are finishing a 28-day PEP regimen could be PrEP candidates and agencies need
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After-Hours Variances Enough to Keep You Up at Night Continued from page 1 Between Jan. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2014, the DOB issued AHVs to Manhattan developers 44,105 times, according to data made available through a Freedom of Information Law request filed in November on behalf of Chelsea Now. For W. 18th St. resident Marcelo Sorino, AHVs enabled two years of weekend racket from across the street. One unit within the former Verizon headquarters sold for $50.9 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. Neighbors say they incurred a high cost to make it possible. “It was absolutely terrible,” Sorino said in an interview. “Saturdays, Sundays, mornings, afternoons. The worst was taking all of the metal out of the building. They had the big, huge 40-foot dumpsters, they’d just throw the metal in there day and night.” Public safety and emergencies are two situations when the City Administrative Code allows construction work beyond 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, or on weekends. Private developers can also claim undue financial hardship or that such
Photo by Zach Williams
Noise allowed through After-Hours Variances put the damper on home recording last summer for 34th St. resident Even Steven Levee, a musician.
work has a minimal amount of noise. Records indicate that 64 Manhattan developers met such criteria more than 100 times each between 2012-2014. The most prolific AHV applicant in the borough was Thomas Gallagher, who received at least 965 AHVs, includ-
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ing 31 for five separate projects in the Community Board 4 (CB4) area. But he is only the 15th highest recipient in the community district, which spans the West Side from Chelsea to Hell’s Kitchen, according to the DOB. Michael Stern of JDS Development Group was the top applicant with 190 AHVs for work in the neighborhood — such as at the Walker Tower. The 2013 completion of the condominium conversion at the W. 18th St. building cemented the emergence of Chelsea as a neighborhood of luxury housing. Another condominium development on the former property of the General Theological Seminary at 445 W. 20th St. exceeded Walker Tower for the highest amount (131) of AHVs issued for a CB4 construction project — while One Worldwide Plaza at 825 Eighth Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen was third with 107 AHVs. Longtime residents such as Sorino — who has lived in the same W. 18th St. building for 20 years — recall a time when the West Side did not command so much attention for the well-to-do (such as actress Cameron Diaz, who bought a unit in the Walker Tower). The neighborhood was grittier in the past, but prolonged shuteye was easier to come by. Work done under the auspices of an AHV now interrupts the daily lives of residents throughout the neighborhood, and not just through sleep deprivation. Collateral damage to quality of life also includes the loss of domestic amenities such as terraces and home work spaces rendered unusable due to the noise (as Chelsea Now reported in our July 17, 2014 edition). But complaining to the
city via 311 yields little response for local residents. The DOB nullified 246 AHVs in 2013 — 22 times within CB4, according to the department. Totals for other years were not available at press time. Like other neighborhood residents, Sorino saw little point in pursuing an administrative remedy to his sleepless nights. “I figured they’re putting a lot of money into it so what can I say?” he said. The DOB asserts that AHVs are necessary in order to enable construction at schools, hospitals and other places where work during the day could endanger people or cause unreasonable disruptions on city streets. But more often than not, records indicate that intense work at high-end developments are the most common reasons for what are ostensibly exceptions to the rule. Applicants claimed 2,002 times in 2012-2014 that after-hours work would involve relatively minor work to buildings in CB4. New building construction, major alterations, demolition and other work requiring new certificates of occupancy accounted for 2,072 out of a cumulative 4,074 AHVs issued during that period, according to the DOB. That total represents the fourth-highest concentration of AHVs in the borough out of 12 community districts. Such a volume of after-hours work was within striking distance of CB6 (4,177) and CB1 (5,173) but was just over a quarter of the 15,728 AHVs issued for projects in neighboring CB5 — more than the combined amount of all such permits issued by the DOB in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island from 2012-2014, records indicate. While the DOB application process for AHVs moves swiftly for applicants, a bill before the City Council which would apply new controls to them has made little progress since its introduction in early 2014. The DOB issued 68,451 building permits in 2012 for projects in Manhattan. If spread equally across all taxable parcels in the borough, the total amount of AHVs from 2012-2014 would equal roughly 30 percent of all taxable properties. Despite a perception that this is too high of a volume, elected officials have signaled action on the issue mostly through words, without much of the fanfare accompanying top legislative priorities. Councilmember Rosie Mendez — primary sponsor of the legislation with Dan Garodnick of the Upper East Side — said in a telephone interview on April 17 that
Continued on page 16 .com
Impending Law to Keep Credit History From Employers BY ZACH WILLIAMS A bill passed by the City Council on April 16 will outlaw consumer credit checks for prospective employees in most circumstances. Elected officials and activists say that there is no conclusive evidence that subpar credit histories reflect the reliability or trustworthiness of job applicants. Yet, a paradox has been at work whereby lingering debt disqualified many people from securing the jobs which could help them improve their financial circumstances, according to supporters of the legislation which passed the council by a 47 to three vote. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law, which would likely take effect this summer. “With so many New Yorkers out of jobs, a hiring practice that makes obtaining jobs even harder is not economically or socially responsible. This is an unfair practice, as many New Yorkers suffer from bad credit due to unforeseen life circumstances such as medical debt or divorce,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson. The legislation includes exceptions for police, jobs requiring federal or state security clearance, and other positions
with access to large sums of money or sensitive information. In two years, the city will issue a report both assessing how its agencies and non-governmental employers utilize the exemptions and taking into account feedback on the effects of the legislation. Almost half of all employers in the U.S. investigate the credit history of applicants during the hiring process, according to a coalition of several dozen labor, civil rights and community groups that backed the legislation. A 2010 report called “Discrediting Workers” from local advocacy group Demos found that levels of late payments of 30 days or more actually accompanied higher job performance ratings. Financial pressures provide an incentive to the indebted to work more astutely in hopes of a salary increase or promotion, the report suggested. The report also challenged the notion that credit checks do not discriminate against people of color, who were the targets of “predatory” lending in higher proportions during the previous decade than the general American population. The federal government won a 2010 case against Bank of America, which
Photo by Zach Williams
The Chelsea-based New Economy Project coordinated a coalition, which backed legislation aimed at ending discriminatory use of credit checks.
disqualified 11.5 percent of African American applicants for entry-level position through credit checks — but only 6.6 percent of white applicants, according to the report. The Chelsea-based New Economy Project coordinated the coalition, which backed the legislation through a series of public outreach events in recent months. Co-director Sarah Ludwig said in an
interview on April 20 that hiring decisions will be more equitable in the near future for workers across the city. “This is legislation that is really meant to benefit everyone in New York and it is something that makes sure that everybody has equal job opportunity and people aren’t being denied jobs because of completely unrelated information that is in their credit history,” she noted.
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April 23 - 29, 2015
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
EDITOR Scott Stiffler
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Sean Egan
ART DIRECTOR Michael Shirey
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Andrew Gooss Chris Ortiz
Decontrol is out of control To the Editor: Re “DCP Pledges Outreach, Provides Rezoning Details” (news, April 9, 2015): As long as vacancy decontrol stands, it is utterly hypocritical of city planners to propose zoning changes to allow developers to build new housing on top of old buildings purportedly to achieve “affordable” units. Every day stabilized units in existing buildings are lost to vacancy decontrol — forever. How can our government officials be so blind? Or stupid? Or suckered by the mighty real estate industry juggernaut? Or worse? On my block in Chelsea, one 23-unit building now has only three stabilized tenants left, and all three have received eviction threats based on bogus challenges to their status. There go 20 apartments that were full of ordinary people, going about their business, raising their kids, going to work, caring
about their neighborhood. They have been replaced largely by frat boys tripling up in one-bedroom apartments, caring nothing about, and contributing nothing to, the community around them. It is time to be rid of vacancy decontrol. Pamela Wolff E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to Scott@ChelseaNow.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to Chelsea Now, Letters to the Editor, NYC Community Media, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for conﬁrmation purposes. Chelsea Now reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Chelsea Now does not publish anonymous letters.
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Member of the New York Press Association 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 - © 2015 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR: The Publisher shall
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April 23 - 29, 2015
Reader Feedback From Facebook Re “Exit Stage Left Studio” (feature, April 9, 2015): Cheryl, great to read your story! Its a good one : ) Side note: When I was a young kid studying acting in San Francisco at American Conservatory Theater, I would spend my lunch hours watching this young man, in white-face, start taming the crowds on the steps of Union Square. At first, only a few dozen were snagged, by the end of the summer, there were hundreds, if not, thousands watching. I got to see Robert Shields get his start, and it made me always a fan of the art : ) David M. Pincus Co-Chair, Manhattan Community Board 4, QOL: ACES at Quality of Life: Arts, Culture, Education and Safety Committee
Wow. How they distilled that much history into one inspiring piece is inspiring itself. Love Chelsea Now’s respect for Stage Left. Ditto @David M Pincus, the art of mime, powerful indeed. Music, photo and mime — three wordless art-forms! A.L. Karno Creighton University
Re “WWII Vet’s Lecture Brings Humanity to Wartime Horrors” (news, April 9, 2015): Thank you Rick for all you did and all you do to keep the memories of those lost from fading.
Community Contacts To be listed, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE 10TH PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Commander: Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-7418245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. The next meeting is April 29. COMMUNITY BOARD 4 (CB4) CB4 serves Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. Its boundaries are 14th St. on the south, 59/60th St. on the north, the Hudson River on the west, 6th Ave. on the east (south of 26th St.) and 8th Ave. on the east (north of 26th St.). The monthly full board meeting, open to the public, takes place on the first Wed. of the month. The next meeting is May 6, 6:30 p.m., at Fulton Center Auditorium (119 Ninth Ave. btw. 17th & 18th Sts). Call 212-736-4536, visit nyc.gov/mcb4 or email them at info@ manhattancb4.org. COMMUNITY BOARD 5 (CB5) CB5 represents the central business district of New York City. It includes
midtown Manhattan, the Fashion, Flower, Flatiron and Diamond districts, as well as Bryant Park and Union Square Park. The district is at the center of New York’s tourism industry. The Theatre District, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, the Empire State Building and two of the region’s transportation hubs (Grand Central Station and Penn Station) fall within CB5. The full board meeting, open to the public, happens on the second Thurs. of the month. The next meeting is May 14, 6 p.m., at Xavier High School (30 W. 16th St., btw. 5th & 6th Aves., 2nd fl.). Call 212-465-0907, visit cb5.org or email them at Hoffice@cb5.org. PENN SOUTH The Penn South Program for Seniors provides recreation, education and social services — and welcomes volunteers. For info, call 212-2433670 or visit pennsouthlive.org. THE BOWERY RESIDENTS’ COMMITTEE: HOMELESS HELPLINE If you know of anyone who is in need of their services, call the Homeless Helpline at 212-533-5151, and the BRC will send someone to make contact. This number is staffed by outreach team leaders 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. For more info, visit brc.org. THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER At 208 W. 13th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Visit gaycenter.org or call 212620-7310.
Betty Samuels .com
Rhymes With Crazy
Teens Our New Toddlers? Grow Up! BY LENORE SKENAZY When Walt Disney was 16 he forged his parents’ signatures and lied about his age so he could join the American Ambulance Corps, which was part of the Red Cross. That’s how he found himself in Europe, just after World War I ended, driving ambulances. He loved it. He said it “added up to a lifetime of experience in one package.” And as he later put it: “I know being on my own at an early age has made me more self-reliant and less of a the-worldowes-me-a-living type than I otherwise would have been.” I have to thank the book “Teen 2.0” by Robert Epstein for that story, and for putting the whole idea that teens are lazy/incompetent/irresponsible/selfish on trial. Is it that “kids today” are really so immature? Or is that we treat them as if they are, and they respond the way most of us do when dissed or diminished: We disappoint. Over the past generation or two we have come to think of young people as less and less competent. I usually notice
this with younger kids — how we drive them to school, as if it’s always too cold or too far. How we insert ourselves into their squabbles, as if they couldn’t sort things out by themselves. How we organize their lives for them — I’ve done this myself — as if leaving them to their own devices would mean wasted time, a teachable moment that we failed to fill. But teens, man! Lately we act as if there’s no difference between 13 and 3. Here in New York City, there is no specific minimum age for latchkey kids, thank goodness. But Illinois law states that no one should be home alone until age 14 — an age when many kids in my generation had already been babysitting for two or three (or four!) years. Now the 14-year-olds are the babies themselves. Or how about crossing guards? My crossing guard when I was a tyke was a 10-year-old. Now, in every place I’ve lived in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), the 10-year-olds are the tykes and the guards are all adults. Deliver newspapers? The folks who
bring ours here in Jackson Heights do it by car. Most newspapers require their delivery people to have a license and liability insurance. If you’re just a kid with a bike? Too bad. And as for the laws about sex, we act as if anyone with any stirrings of anything before 18 is either a perp or a victim. Sometimes they’re both. A case in 2006 involved a 13-year-old Utah girl who had consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend. I don’t know of anyone who loves the idea of kids that young sleeping together, but here’s something worse: She was found guilty of having sex with someone under 14. And so was he! That makes them both sex offenders (and both victims). As I learned from Nicole Pittman, an expert on the sex offender laws I recently heard speak at an NYU Law School symposium: of the 800,000 or so people on the sex offender registry nationwide, 200,000 are under 18. That’s because teens
have sex with other teens — a fact that shouldn’t be news and, when consensual, shouldn’t be considered rape. Shackling a teen with the label of Sex Offender often means they are not allowed to go to school (because there are other kids there) or even live at home, if there are younger siblings in the house. Sometimes they can’t live near a park, a church, a day care center...even though it’s not that they ever raped a toddler. It’s that they slept with someone about their own age, as teens always have. It’s only now that we’re treating teens like toddlers themselves that we are stunting them as humans, and hunting them down for having sex. Really, it’s time for someone to grow up. Us. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the Free-Range Kids book, blog and movement (freerangekids.com).
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Commissioner of Parks Talks Diagnostics, Equity, Love and Soul BY DONATHAN SALKALN Held on April 8 within the dramatic setting of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul on W. 22nd St., the packed house gathered for Chelsea Waterside Park Association’s annual meeting was honored by a presentation from New York City’s Commissioner of Parks & Recreation. Close to marking his first year on the job, an animated and impassioned Mitchell J. Silver FAIP led park enthusiasts on a cerebral and visual hike that spanned 29,000 acres of city land and 1,900 city parks. Along the journey, he unveiled a glimpse into the future of NYC park design — as he put it, “for today’s generation, not Robert Moses’ generation.” Before becoming Commissioner, Silver spent 30 years redesigning cities, lecturing at universities and winning awards in urban design. Now he’s determined to set a new path in park thinking — one that is flexible in creating fun, relaxing and safe experiences for all generations and cultures in surrounding community. During his tour, the Commissioner used potent words not normally associated with park talk. Below are a few with brief descriptions:
EQUITY: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision of bringing relief to long neglected parks is coming along ahead of schedule. This past year he leveraged $130 million that will rebuild 35 parks and also update an additional 55 parks, none of which have seen any significant investment in two decades. Silver laments, “That was a generation of families that did not have a quality space to play in!”
Photo by Donathan Salkaln
At the Chelsea Waterside Park Association’s annual meeting, NYC Commissioner of Parks & Recreation Mitchell J. Silver FAIP talks about the future of park design.
CARE & LOVE: “Care comes from a different part of the soul. Throughout the organization we don’t just want to maintain, but also care. Maintaining is doing a checklist. But all of you here care for your park. You put love in that park.” Silver said, addressing the CWPA and 1,800 other city community park associations.
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DENSITY: At one point Silver stated, “Density and open space go together.” Later, during the Q&A period, he was asked about the proposal for a micropark on 20th St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves., on a former Department of Sanitation site). East Chelsea, built as a manufacturing area, has become a residential community within concrete canyons, devoid of any open space. “We are very aware of Councilmember Corey Johnson’s 20th Street Park proposal,” said Silver, not adding much, as the project’s design seed money is at item up for public vote as part of Johnson’s Participatory Budgeting process. DIANGOSTICS: There’s a saying that 76 percent of all New Yorkers live within a ten-minute walk of a park. Silver begs to differ, asserting that it should “not only be about proximity. It should also about quality, because I can walk to one of those parks and I will not let my child or your child play in that space. It shouldn’t count in that number.”
RESILIENCY: Superstorm Sandy brought $725 million in damages to 392 park sites. It also a demanded a new blueprint for parks in flood zones. The Parks Department is now partnering with the DEC and other agencies in planning for more resilient parks. “Plastic,” noted Silver, “is much more resilient than wood for boardwalks.” TECHNOLOGY: Close to 65 percent of New York City residents are 47 or younger. Silver recognizes the need to engage everyone that use the parks and is introducing communication platforms to social media channels. He pointed out, “The older generation come to public meetings. The younger generation don’t do public meetings!” TRANSPARENCY: Up-to-date progress reports for over 400 park projects can be found at nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker. The city’s park planning initiatives can be found at nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/planning. At the meeting’s end, I had the opportunity to ask Silver what it was like switching jobs from redesigning cities to now redesigning parks. He laughed, then told me “In city planning everyone says, ‘No, no, no!’ In park planning everyone says, ‘Yes, yes, yes, and how fast can you get it done?’ ”
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That Mid-'70s Show: Spring’s First Warm Day on the High Line Photo Essay by Jenny Rubin Somewhere between bitter cold and oppressively hot is that fleeting sweet spot known as “Springtime in New York.” Photographer Jenny Rubin captured these images on and around the High Line, this past Saturday — when the high temp hit 76.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
April 23 - 29, 2015
At the Crossroads of Affordability and Exclusivity BY COREY JOHNSON New York City is at a crossroads. With change happening all around us, the decisions we make today will affect New Yorkers for generations to come. Are we going to be a city of luxury housing, with part-time residents from around the globe, where only the very wealthy need apply? Or, are we going to remain a city of families, permanent residents who send their children to our public schools, volunteer at neighborhood events and contribute to the fabric of New York? This is an urgent discussion — and it requires immediate action. At the City Council we are directly confronting the issue of affordability, with a goal of preserving and creating hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units, many in Council District 3. And over the past several months, I am proud to have introduced multiple pieces of legislation that stand up against Big Real Estate and stand up for everyday New Yorkers. Every three years, New York City must declare a housing shortage emergency, which allows our rent-stabilization laws to be extended. I am the prime sponsor of this legislation in 2015, which was passed last month by the City Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio on March 30. Vacancy rates are at roughly 3.5 percent, a housing shortage that constitutes a threat to the citizens of New York City, and creates a special hardship to individuals and families who do not happen to be wealthy. This bill extends rent stabilization for another three years beginning on April 1, 2015. Now Albany must do its part. I and many others will be traveling to Albany this session to demand that our rent laws be strengthened. In February I introduced legislation calling for reforms at the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB), the nine-member body that determines how much landlords can raise the rent on rent-stabilized tenants. Every year since its inception, the RGB has raised rents, even when landlord expenses stayed flat. One reason for this is that the method currently used for determining these rent adjustments is faulty; the process favors the real estate interests and it must be replaced. In short, the data shows that the RGB typically overestimates landlords’ expenses by as much as one-third! The method also doesn’t take landlords’ .com
SUNDAY AT leSOUK A PARTY TO BENEFIT THE 57TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON of profits into account. The reforms proposed, if adopted, would give tenants a fighting chance against the real estate industry. In June, the guidelines board votes again and I hope you will join us in advocating not for just a rent freeze, but for a rent rollback — a rent reduction for rent-stabilized tenants. If you’re like me, you’re shocked by the fact that it is perfectly legal for a luxury housing developer to hoist a sign saying that affordable housing tenants are not welcome to enter a gym, pool or green space in their own building. This is discrimination, plain and simple, and it is inconsistent with our values. Soon, I believe, it will be inconsistent with the law. In March I introduced legislation that would bar developers from discriminating against affordable housing tenants in the use of building amenities. Following instances in which rent-stabilized tenants were prohibited from accessing gyms, play rooms, pools and other amenities in their own buildings, my legislation would require developers and building managers to provide equal access to such facilities. It’s the right thing to do. Pressing forward, the Council will continue to use every tool at our disposal to preserve affordability, including passing legislation that would establish the right to counsel for tenants who are taken to Housing Court by their landlord. I will continue to leverage the land-use decisions that cross my desk to create more affordable housing, while also fighting to preserve the hard-won contextual zoning districts that protect the character of our neighborhoods. As your councilmember, I am here to help. You can contact my district office at 212-564-7757 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays. Please visit my newly launched website, coreyjohnson.nyc, for information on my other legislative initiatives and for real-time updates from my office. Corey Johnson is city councilmember, District 3 (West Village, Hudson Square, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen).
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Tenant Harassment Task Force Starting to Show its Muscle Since the presentation data had shown that people in rent-regulated Chelsea buildings were being subjected to living on construction sites lacking the basic amenities, it was decided to ask for an immediate Stop Work order at those sites. Also, an audit of the rent-regulated status of the buildings should be required. (It was additionally found by the CRP that documents are falsified in reference to gas pipelines and other utilities in buildings. An audit might prevent a future tragedy, as occurred in the buildings involved in the recent gas explosion in the East Village.) Offenders should be penalized much more harshly than they are currently, with only minimal fines. The contents of the letter would also include a request that a tenant safety plan be posted publicly on occupied buildings once a permit had been properly granted.
Continued from page 3 but the falsification has not been brought into the public light until now. Tenant complaints to DOB often go unheeded. CRP pushed to have a DOB inspector look into 308 W. 22nd St., where there was an illegal permit and no tenant protection plan while interior demolition was in progress. The DOB’s judgment was to fine the owner $400 and ask for the tenant protection plan — barely a slap on the wrist. Bill Borock, CCBA president, spoke out at the CB4 HHH Committee meeting, saying that the CRP has already had two meetings attended by representatives of various city and state agencies and elected officials. The subject of DOB inspectors was raised because they do not investigate, in other words, walk into a building, when they check posted permits. “DOB liaison Byron Munez came to our second meeting, and one of our suggestions was that when DOB inspectors come to a building, see if it’s actually occupied,” said Borock. “Why can’t inspectors do more than just look at a permit? Why can’t they go back and
An image from the CRP’s April 16 presentation to CB4’s Housing, Health & Human Services Committee.
say a building is occupied and should be penalized? His (Munez) answer was, ‘That’s not his job responsibility,’ which is ridiculous.” Change is in the wind, howev-
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er, with the new Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force instituted by Mayor de Blasio and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in February. Driven by Schneiderman, this task force is trying to bring together city agencies such as DOB and the NYC Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), as well as the state’s DHCR Tenant Protection Unit — agencies which usually operate separately. The goal is to prevent unscrupulous landlords from subjecting tenants to unbearable living conditions in order to force them out. The task force has started to show its muscle. Tenants became the victors in Brooklyn this month when two landlords, the brothers Joel and Aaron Israel of JBI Management, were arrested by Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson for fraud, grand larceny, criminal mischief, falsifying business records and unlawful eviction. The brothers reportedly blasted a hole into one family’s Bushwick apartment and harassed tenants in their rent-regulated Greenpoint and Williamsburg properties. Mooney also reminded that the state’s Tenant Protection Unit had recently brought 38,000 apartments back into the rent regulation registries.
STOP WORK! At the end of the impressive CRP presentation, the HHH Committee was decidedly concerned and began formulating a response letter to pressure the DOB.
WHY AREN’T FALSE CLAIMS BEING BOUNCED BACK? What seems so logical but is at present nonexistent, is that a false claim entered online on a DOB application for a construction permit is not invalidated by a bounce-back to the applicant. A technological upgrade could cross-check information and prevent a falsifying applicant from continuing. CB4 agreed with CRP to recommend upgrading, a move by the DOB that would automatically ensure greater tenant safety. Mooney suggested that city and state agencies also include FAQ pages on their websites to answer simple questions such as: “The owners are doing construction in my building. What are my rights?”
HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION Anyone who is experiencing harassment from a landlord can call in a complaint to 311 or phone the NYC Tenant Protection Hotline: 917-661-4505. Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office offers housing clinics the second Tuesday of every month, 5:30-7:30 p.m., 224 W. 30th St, Suite 1206. Attorneys are available to offer free legal advice on a first come/first serve basis. Chelsea Coalition on Housing meets every Thursday, 7 p.m., Fulton Center, 119 Ninth Ave. (btw. W. 17th & 18th Sts.). Housing advocates and tenant attorneys offer expertise and free legal advice on a first come/first serve basis. For a mailed rent history of your apartment, call 718-739-6400 or online: www1.dhcr.state.ny.us/BuildingSearch/ or amirentstabilized.com.
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Funding Landscape for AIDS Groups May Shift Continued from page 5 staff who can talk to that population about PrEP. “We’re scaling it up,” said Robert Cordero, president and chief program officer at BOOM!Health in the Bronx. “We’re going all in on PrEP.” BOOM!Health was formed by a merger of CitiWide Harm Reduction and Bronx AIDS Services. The agency has an onsite clinic operated by Brightpoint Health, a pharmacy, and it has partnered with the CallenLorde Community Health Center, which is headquartered in Chelsea, in a soon-to-be opened Bronx wellness center. Callen-Lorde is a leader among institutions in writing PrEP prescriptions. Last year, BOOM!Health performed 5,000 HIV tests. While the agency currently has “less than a handful” of clients on PrEP, Cordero said, they plan on offering PrEP to drug injectors, couples in which one partner is HIV-positive
and the other is not, and other HIVnegative people. “I’m way more competitive than my peer agencies because we have healthcare onsite,” Cordero said. AIDS groups were already merging, getting bigger, and offering medical services in a single location. The push toward biomedical interventions may complete that trend. The future for smaller AIDS agencies is uncertain, though their links to specific communities will remain valuable. “We have been able to build strong access to social networks,” said Guillermo Chacón, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “Many organizations like ours are essential to making that bridge.” The commission is among those AIDS groups, including Gay Men’s Health Crisis, that have affiliations with outside medical providers, but do not provide the kind of onsite medical services needed to support PrEP, PEP, and TasP. GMHC did not respond to a request for comment.
Little Peace After-Hours, When Variances Granted Continued from page 6 the bill is still undergoing revisions in order to ensure that the right developers can still receive AHVs. The original text of the bill was “too broad” in terms of the restrictions it would impose, she said. “The problem is with developers who get permit after permit after permit,” she said. But a council hearing on the legislation will not be possible until autumn at the earliest, she added. City issuance of AHVs, meanwhile, will likely continue unimpeded. While Sorino spoke of the nights lost to the metallic clanging coming through his front window on W. 18th St., he pondered whether such interruptions might return in the near future courtesy of an eight-story tower slated to rise next door. “Now my main concern is with the sale of the post office,” he said of the process underway to sell air rights for construction atop Old Chelsea Station Post Office.
April 23 - 29, 2015
Photo by Zach Williams
West 18th St. resident Marcelo Sorino worries that an addition atop Old Chelsea Station Post Office will cause after-hours disturbances similar to what he endured during construction of Walker Tower. .com
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ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT Black and White and Deep All Over ‘Cronies’ is a confident, layered debut from Michael J. Larnell CRONIES TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW Written, Directed, Edited & Produced by Michael J. Larnell Runtime: 85 minutes Fri. 4/24, 6:45 p.m. & Sun. 4/26, 2 p.m. at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.) Sat. 4/25, 8:30 p.m. at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) Photo by Cristian Carretero
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L to R: Zurich Buckner (Jack), George Sample III (Louis) and Brian Kowalski (Andrew).
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BY SCOTT STIFFLER A satisfying mix of documentary-style interviews, contemporary scenes, childhood flashbacks and music by local artists, this St. Louis-set film is as sharp and compelling as its two-color palette. Writer, producer, editor and director Michael J. Larnell juggles a multitude of obligations with far more success than his onscreen alter egos…or so it seems, at first. Slow to reveal the hidden depths of its characters, Larnell’s feature film debut — expertly shot in crisp black and white by Federico M. Cesca — explores red meat matters of growth and stagnation, as three young men bond over the course of a 24-hour quest. It begins early on a day that’s already reached 93 degrees, with a web series host hyping his show from 82.0 on your radio dial. This week, the town’s
April 23 - 29, 2015
roving oral historian will check back in with “a special group of guys who were involved in a very tragic accident a little over ten years ago.” Where are they now, he wonders, and are they still friends? As engines go, it’s a powerful driving force for the next 85 minutes — whose events, we’re quick to realize, have already happened. This puts us one up on the trio, each of whom take actions that would be ill-advised if they had our grasp of the big picture…or so it seems, at first. There’s that phrase again, and it’s what gives “Cronies” enough chewy marrow to upgrade it from a well-done buddy movie to something that aims, and reaches, much higher. A vow to raise cash for his daughter’s birthday gift, and ultimately rise above his job washing cars, is what motivates “cool-ass nerd” Louis Johnson (George Sample III, channeling the ’80s look of executive producer Spike Lee, but trading Mars Blackmon’s hyperactive bluster for introspective stares). When clingy
childhood pal Jack (Zurich Buckner) arrives expecting to light one up and hang out, he suffers back-to-back indignities: first by having the front door shut in his face, then by encountering Louis’ new (corn-fed white!) friend from work, Andrew (Brian Kowalski). Marking territory he’s already lost but refuses to cede, Jack inserts himself into their plans by taking the back seat position in Andrew’s jeep. Now the stage is set for a day’s worth of carnal pursuits, recreational drugging and unexpected detours. With Jack and Andrew busy trading jabs in the custody battle for Louis, the object of their affections is slowly coming to regard his small world as a relic of the past. This makes Jack a victim of his friend’s personal growth, especially when the jilted buddy casually reveals the details of that “tragic accident” as a way to one-up everything Andrew has to offer. What Jack regards as ultimate proof of their bond, Louis sees as a betrayal — but soon, he’ll have real trouble
diverting from his high ground long enough to tell the difference between a bid for redemption and an act of loyalty. “I don’t see myself livin’ life without you,” Jack tells him. It’s the best of several sparse, quiet, well-written and wonderfully underplayed scenes during which Larnell uses old and new relationships to investigate the tense complexity of platonic love among men. After failing to muster the sort of courage that flows from Jack (easily and often), Louis sees his old pal in a new light. A comfortable truce appears to set in, made believable by an ensemble of actors who know when to pour it on or hold back. When both are invited into Louis’ house, only Andrew accepts. Jack stays behind and, seemingly in anger, walks out of the frame — but it’s what happens next that will leave you contemplating which of the three best embodies the definition of a true crony, fed to us during the film’s early frames: “a close friend or companion.” .com
Live from New York, it’s Opening Night!
Photo Essay by Jenny Rubin
Under the watchful eye of festival co-founder Robert De Niro, comedy and music icons walked the Beacon Theatre’s red carpet prior to the world premiere of the Saturday Night Live documentary “Live From New York!” Tickets to April 15’s Tribeca Film Festival 2015 Opening Night Gala were in short supply. Comped, we presume, were these SNL cast members as well as rapper/actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, who performed a concert following the screening. Also pictured: the massive Spring Studios event facility and a crowd outside of Chelsea’s SVA Theater.
April 23 - 29, 2015
‘Jack’ Flawed But Worth Knowing Tale of hemmed in lives manages to let in some sun BY PUMA PERL “King Jack,” the debut of writer and director Felix Thompson, takes place in the sort of depressed, rural town that nobody escapes. Everybody drinks, everybody smokes, few families are intact, and there is nothing to do. People barge into one another’s houses and lives. Violence is prevalent, even expected. The lives are as hemmed in as the town, surrounded by mountains and shot in ways that keep both external and internal scenes in shadow. A lone railroad train runs through the town without so much as a railway station in sight. Kitchens have wall phones equipped with answering machines, and clothing and hairstyles could be from one of many eras. The main device that takes us into the present is the type of cell phones that are in constant use and serve to advance the story. When the movie opens, we see Jack, the 15-year-old protagonist, getting revenge against the bullies who torment him the only way he knows how — spray painting an obscenity on a garage
April 23 - 29, 2015
KING JACK TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW Written & Directed by Felix Thompson Runtime: 81 minutes Fri., 4/24, 7:30pm at Regal Cinemas Photo by Cristian Carretero
Jack (Charlie Plummer) and Ben (Cory Nichols).
door. Naturally, he will get caught. He always gets caught, even before he has done anything. In his own home, his tired, single mother tells him to empty his pockets when he enters. “Check his shoes,” his older brother, who has also bullied him remorselessly throughout his life, chimes in. Jack is beaten and
abused so regularly that it is part of his looks, a stray dog expecting to be kicked. In one scene, his mother notices that he has black paint on his face, but does not question the fresh bruises on his lips and eyes. Early in the film, another character is introduced — Jack’s 13-year-old cousin, Ben, who will spend a few days there because his mother has had one of her habitual breakdowns. Ben is the heart of the movie, stoic and self-contained, and the only familial character who consistently displays a sense of values and self-worth. It is Jack’s job to take care of him, regardless of the unsafe environment that he must negotiate daily. The lead bully, Shane, is a classic villain shown to be relentless to the point of psychopathology. On the other hand, Ben is just a little too amazing a 13-year-old, although this is not the fault of the actor, Cory Nichols, who is very endearing. It would have resonated more if Shane were seen a bit more humanely — terrible, but damaged, not unlike the brother, Tom, who despite his violence is a more layered character. It is also hard for an actor to pull off a
Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.) Sun., 4/26, 2:30pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) $18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee) Visit tribecafilm.com/festival Call 646-502-5296
one-note character such as this. In general, I did like the acting, and one can’t help but root for Jack and his family, who are shown with all of their flaws and just enough background information to understand why they are where they are. Charlie Plummer’s Jack pisses us off, while at the same time we want to save him, and Christian Madsen’s Tom presents brute strength tempered with vulnerability. The female characters are more minor, but are realistically drawn. The unnamed town, though, remains the most powerful co-star — sad and claustrophobic despite the wide landscape, dark, with just a little bit of sun.
Just Do Art couple in the “Macbeth”-based immersive theater experience, “Sleep No More.” They interact with Brooklyn dancer/rapper AJ “The Animal” Jonez and electro-cellist Chris Lancaster, to depict Noworol’s alternately tense and playful exploration of competing ideas, power structures, intimacy and violence. April 30–May 1 at 7:30 p.m., May 2 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. At New York Live Arts (19 W. 19th St. btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). For tickets ($20$30), call 212-924-0077 or visit newyorklivearts. org. Artist info at pndance.com.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
TALES OF STAGE 4 CANCER Equally adept at satire and survival — and no strangers to battling hostile forces from within and without — Chicago-based performers Judy Fabjance and Kelly Beeman make their NYC debut with “Tales of a Stage 4 Cancer.” Sketches, songs and monologues offer a defiantly unsentimental take on the grim realities and goofy pleasures of their life as newlyweds facing the ongoing struggle of breast cancer. “So many people feel like they are trapped in this depressing, scary story,” says Beeman, “but we want to help them find the humor, find the lighter side, find the release.” That means frank revelations on everything from restrictive diets to their sex life to questionable aspects of the “Big Pink” cancer support industry — and some jaunty tunes as well! Keeping things light but grounded in a respect for reality is Second City faculty member Angie McMahon, who directs. Award-winning composer Amanda Murphy does musical direction duties, and shares Second City roots with Fabiance, who has been an instructor at the famed comedy hub since 1999. Beeman can’t claim such cred, but does have a gig writing and performing training sketches for the likes of Lambda Legal and Motorola. Somewhere along the line, these folks found room in their busy lives to make light of a devastating cancer diagnosis! Mon., May 4, 8:30 p.m. at Magnet Theater (254 W. 29th St. at Eighth Ave.). For tickets ($7), call 212-244-8824 or visit magnettheater.com. Artist info at beefabproductions.com.
Photo by Andrew Eninger
In sickness and in health: Judy Fabjance and Kelly Beeman explore life as newlyweds who mine their personal crisis for “Tales of Stage 4 Cancer.”
PATRICIA NOWOROL DANCE THEATER: “REPLACEMENT PLACE” Choreographer Patricia Noworol puts her dance theater troupe through some all-new paces, in a world-premiere work that blends “ferocious, fiery athleticism” with equally deft wordplay and a score that draws upon the deep-seated fears and dreams of its genre-hopping, definition-defying ensemble. And it’s a formidable ensemble. The wordless works of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Troy Ogilvie and Nick Bruder reprise Keaton (seen here in “Sherlock, Jr.”) are set to music at their bloody good roles as the power (UN)Silent Film Night.
MATTHEW BRODERICK HOSTS (UN)SILENT FILM NIGHT What does a Broadway actor do on his one night off? If you’re Matthew Broderick — currently starring in “It’s Only a Play” as the lone voice of reason among a crew of loopy thespians — you head below 42nd Street for a tribute to kindred spirits Chaplin and Keaton. Broderick does the hosting duties, when The College of Performing Arts at The New School presents (Un)Silent Film Night. This first annual edition also marks the debut of the Mannes Theatre Orchestra. Charles Neidich conducts a new score by Craig Marks that sounds out the 1924 silent comedy “Sherlock, Jr.” Perennial underdog Buster Keaton delivers elegant slapstick, as a lovelorn projectionist whose dream world adventures gave birth to countless filmwithin-a-fi lm imitators. Also on the program: Barcelona-born Brooklynite Alexis Cuadrado leads the School of Jazz Improvisation Ensemble, in the premiere of his original score to Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 silent feature, “The Immigrant.” Free. Mon., April 27, 7 p.m. at the John L. Tishman Auditorium at the University Center (65 Fifth Ave., at 14th St.). .com
Photo by Aeric Merideth-Goujon
You haven’t heard this one before: a rapper, two dancers and a cellist walk into choreographer Patricia Noworol’s mind — in “Replacement Place.” April 23 - 29, 2015
April 23 - 29, 2015
Education and Entertainment in Hudson River Park BY MADELYN WILS On June 20, hundreds of children from the New York City Housing Authority’s Chelsea Eliot and Fulton Houses will join their families in Hudson River Park. The youths will be showcasing their homemade water filters and plankton models at Maker Mania, the culmination of the Hudson River Park Trust’s month-long estuary engagement initiative in partnership with the Hudson Guild’s afterschool program. But June 20 is far from an unusual day in the park. After all, in 2014 alone, our Environment and Education Department hosted 450 free and low-cost programs for more than 23,500 people — a 50 percent increase from 2013. We’re incredibly proud of this programming, and it fulfills a critical part of our mission as stewards of one of the largest estuaries in the country. And it’s that astounding growth of those programs that helped make 2014 such a success for the Trust. Our environmental education work is often overshadowed by more big-ticket projects in the park. Those were, of course, headlined by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg’s donation of more than $113 million toward the construction of a fantastic new public park-pier and performance space that will replace the aging Pier 54. This is the largest private donation to a public park in the history of New York City. We also announced that RXR Realty will join developer Youngwoo & Associates to transform the historic Pier 57, in Chelsea, into a major retail and office hub, with a “sky park” and improved adjacent esplanade. This development will provide important long-term funding for park maintenance and operations. But we don’t just build and fundraise in Hudson River Park. We educate. Much of that work, like our Maker Mania program, is geared toward students. Last year alone, we hosted nearly 300 school and camp fieldtrips — with more than half coming from boroughs outside Manhattan — for programs ranging from advanced fish biology for middle and high school students to animal- and plant-based scavenger hunts for preschoolers. Beyond our student programs, we also host large-scale events to help park visitors actively engage with, and learn about, the park’s natural environment. On Oct. 5, more than 4,500 people from across the city — and beyond — attended Submerge, New York City’s first and largest marine .com
science festival, on Pier 26, in Tribeca. The daylong program, held in partnership with the New York Hall of Science, provided a unique opportunity to engage directly with scientists to experience the cutting-edge science, technology and engineering research responsible for helping us understand our coastal environment. Soon, Pier 26 will take on a more permanent role as the hub of our environmental and scientific educational programming. That’s because we reached a deal in December to partner with Clarkson University, Hudson River Clearwater and New York Hall of Science, along with other research partners, to oversee a new estuarium — a research and education center focused on river ecology — on Pier 26. Beyond our educational offerings, summer brings more than 100 free and lowcost events in the park — truly something for everyone. We’re particularly excited about several new summer events for 2015 that we hope will become community favorites alongside our concerts and movies. On June 17 and 18, we’ll host the first Hudson River Park Dance Festival, a free event that will feature three of the best contemporary dance companies in the world: the Paul Taylor Dance Company, which just completed its Lincoln Center engagement, along with David Parsons and Ballet Hispanico. And on June 13, our partner organization, Friends of Hudson River Park, will host the inaugural Hudson River Park Games, a fundraiser that will include a 36-team pentathlon with dodgeball, kayaking, beach volleyball, flag football and an obstacle course. So while it’s understandable that the headlines typically focus on the largescale development of the park, it’s clearly important to remember the events we host for New Yorkers from all five boroughs, and the educational environment we work to foster in the park every day. From thousands of people at our concerts and science fair down to a single student examining a plankton under a microscope, it’s these accomplishments that really bring the park to life. For all the front-page news, there are hundreds of untold stories of discovery and excitement for children from across the city. As we continue to build out the park and secure its financial future, we’ll never lose sight of how important these stories and experiences are.
Were you there? Providers in the New York City area, and across the country, monitor and treat conditions related to the September 11th terrorist attacks — like asthma, heartburn, certain cancers, depression, and PTSD. These providers treat responders and volunteers who participated in rescue, recovery, or clean-up on or after 9/11, as well as those in the WTC dust cloud or who lived, worked, or went to school or daycare in lower Manhattan south of Houston or into parts of Brooklyn.
Learn More. Call 1-888-982-4748 or visit www.cdc.gov/wtc World Trade Center | Pentagon | Shanksville, PA Image is a model portraying an actual member of the World Trade Center Health Program.
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Wils is president and CEO, Hudson River Park Trust
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April 23 - 29, 2015