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YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN

Tenants Turn the Corner at W. 23rd & 11th BY EILEEN STUKANE The letters to elected officials and Chelsea Now practically shouted: “It’s happening here where I live!” The light that the Community & Residents Protection Working Group (CRP) started shining on the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) landlord applications opened local residents’ eyes to the fact that construction might be occurring in their permit-posted buildings without the required Tenant Protection Plans in place. The CRP found that landlords have been falsifying applications, claiming occupied buildings as “unoccupied,” thereby absolving themselves of the need to institute the Tenant Protection Plans required for construction in buildings where people are living. Armed with this information, tenants are displaying a new boldness in coming forward to draw attention to the happenings in their buildings. The clash is replayed too often — with tenants wanting to hold onto their affordable apartments, and landlords wanting to monetize their properties by reclaiming those apartments. At 565 W. 23rd St. (aka 184 11th Ave.), the permanent residents of a hotel are in a different scenario because they are fully recognized tenants,. They’ve taken the landlord to task by writing to this newspaper and elected officials to argue the grounds of their Tenant Protection Program. This is the same building recently in the news for the $226-a-month lifetime lease that Continued on page 6

DOWNTOWN THEATER IS OUR FAVORITE FRONTIER Make it so! FringeNYC review coverage begins on page 16.

Photo by Yannic Rack

Hudson Yards, From the Pits to the Heights BY YANNIC RACK Walking along the northern tip of the High Line these days, it’s hard to picture how this part of the West Side will soon be transformed from an industrial rail yard to a lively new neighborhood. But that doesn’t mean work is not well underway on the $20 billion Hudson Yards redevelopment, touted as the largest private real estate project in the nation’s history. On a recent tour of the construction site, Chelsea Now had the chance to explore the project’s Eastern Yard (btw. 10th & 11th Aves. from W. 30th to W. 34th St.), most of which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018. The whole project will eventually stretch all the way from 10th Ave. to the Hudson River and (the developers and city assert) establish itself as the new epicenter of the West Side.

© CHELSEA NOW 2015 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The eastern part, which has been under construction for roughly three years, will then house a mix of buildings — including commercial office space, a residential tower, a shopping and restaurant complex, as well as a hotel and a brand new arts center. Connecting all of it will be a large public square the size of Bryant Park, extending north into Hudson Park & Boulevard, another strip of green that will eventually stretch for six blocks, from W. 33rd to W. 39th Sts. Its first section, from W. 34th to W. 36th Sts., opened on August 14, and already includes sitting space, three fountains and a play area for kids. The park is managed by the newly established Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, and will eventually be surrounded on all sides by residential and commercial developments.

Continued on page 12 VOLUME VOLUME 07, 07, ISSUE ISSUE 26 |22AUGUST | JULY 20 16 - 26, 22, 2015


At the Curb, an Unkind Cut For Trees and Cars

Photos by Zach Williams

City rules permit parking alongside obsolete curb cuts, but many of them are not clearly differentiated from ones which may currently be in use.

BY ZACH WILLIAMS Small vehicular ramps known as curb cuts continue to influence the West Side streetscape, years after commercial vehicles last utilized them. At least 146 obsolete curb cuts remain throughout Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, comprising enough

The transformation of Chelsea from an industrial area to a gentrified neighborhood left many boutique businesses with industrial-age curb cuts out front.

space to accommodate hundreds cuts now continue to deter parking. But one local resident did not of trees, according to a 2010 preliminary survey conducted by exhibit any confusion on Aug. 16, Community Board 4 (CB4). The when searching for Sunday evening conversion of old warehouses, auto parking. A space alongside the aging repair shops and factories into bou- curb cut on the 500 block of W. tique shops, residential housing and 24th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) art galleries brought little change to remained vacant that night, until the the edge of the sidewalks where curbT:8.75”driver parked his SUV there.

“Once upon a time it may have been a garage, because there used to be taxi repair shops here,” said Elke Jacobsen, a longtime neighborhood resident who passed by, of the current location of 535 Galleries, into which the curb cut seemingly led.

Continued on page 7

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Army Corps to Include Storm Surge Barrier in

Transmost Company

A flood protection barrier similar to this one in St. Petersburg could double as a highway, or train, linking New York and New Jersey.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Almost three years after Superstorm Sandy devastated several parts of New York and New Jersey, the US Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a $3 million study of the region. The study will also analyze possible protective measures, including a storm surge barrier between the Rockaways in New York to Sandy Hook in New

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Jersey — a five-mile passage between the two states. For Robert Trentlyon, longtime Chelsea resident, former newspaper publisher (including our sister publication, Downtown Express) and waterfront and park advocate, this is welcome news. “It feels wonderful,” Trentlyon said in a phone interview. “I’m in a con-

stant state of euphoria. I feel that something has been accomplished.” Trentlyon, who helped with the creation of Chelsea Waterside Park and Hudson River Park, has been sounding the alarm about sea levels and the necessity of storm surge barriers since 2009. He had what he termed a “moment of discovery” when he retired that year. “I said, ‘New York is going to be hit be a major, major storm and we’re not ready for it,’ ” he recalled. “ ‘What we really need are probably storm surge barriers.’ I’m not quite sure why I was so prescient.” Neither a scientist nor an engineer, Trentlyon embarked on a journey to learn more, and found Stony Brook University professors Douglas Hill and Malcolm J. Bowman. Both are part of the university’s Storm Surge Research Group, which was formed in 2002. While he couldn’t bring technical expertise, Trentlyon had something else to bring to the table: deep roots in the community and access to elected officials. “I had a special talent that none of them had, and that was I knew the territory,” he said. “I knew all the elected officials. I knew all the heads of community boards.” Trentlyon is also the founding president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club. A friend, he recalled, asked if he was interested in starting a political club in Chelsea. “I have this terrible habit of whenever I get involved in something, I immediately become the president,” he said with a laugh. He began talking to community boards about the necessity of

storm surge barriers, starting with Community Board 4, where he once was a public member. He also gave presentations to Community Boards 1 and 2. By spring 2012, he went before the Manhattan Borough Board, comprised of community board chairs and the borough’s city councilmembers. The board passed a resolution in favor of studying the barriers. Comparing himself to Paul Revere, who warned the colonialists that the British were coming, Trentlyon said, “I’m telling you, ‘The storm surge is coming.’” Later that year, on Oct. 29, Superstorm Sandy hit and became the second most costly natural disaster in US history, with some estimates of the storm costing $50 billion. The Army Corps study will cover the New York and New Jersey Harbor and will look at a variety of alternatives to provide risk reduction from coastal flooding, according to an Army Corps spokesperson in an email. The study is in its early stages and is expected to take three years, although it could take longer, as well as cost more than the $3 million estimate given the large area and population, he said. At this time, it is unknown whether storm surge barriers will be implemented. The study will also look at levees, floodwalls and other measures to determine which are feasible economically, also taking into account the environment and public acceptability, the spokesperson said. The Army Corps has undertaken the study, he said, as part of President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget that recommended the .com


Coastal Flooding Study

Photos by Jessica Gallery

When raised by the yellow cranes, 10 steel gates protect 125 square kilometers of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges.

study. The results of the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study identified the New York Harbor and tributaries as an area warranting study to reduce coastal flooding risk, he said. “I’ve been hoping that the Corps would do this for a long time now,” said Malcolm J. Bowman, a professor of physical oceanography, in a phone Bob Trentlyon, left, with Martin Earlam (chief engineer on the Thames River Barrier), in the control interview. house for one of the 10 barriers. Bowman has been studying storm surge barriers since the ’90s, and after Hurricane Katrina hit New Neck, he said. Other cities, such as London and Orleans, wrote a 2005 op-ed about St. Petersburg, have storm barrier systhem in the New York Times. “When I wrote that, I felt some- tems. Trentlyon has visited the Thames thing like old Noah in the Bible saying, River Barrier and said, “There hasn’t ‘There’s a big flood coming, you better been a drop of water [from flooding] in Central London since they built it.” start building the ark,’ ” he said. Both Trentlyon and Bowman said He was also a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change that the St. Petersburg’s system might during parts of the Bloomberg admin- be a good example for New York City. istration, and noted people were hostile The city has a 16-mile flood protection to the idea of storm surge barriers, barrier that has a highway on top of it. Bowman said something similar claiming that they were too costly and could be created in this region — for huge. Bowman’s idea was that there example, the connection between the would be one storm surge barrier two states could also be used as an between Sandy Hook and the Far interstate toll road. Another possibilRockaways, about 20 feet above the ity could be a train between JFK and water. The gates, Bowman said, are Newark airports. “It’s not a New York City problem,” akin to saloon doors, which would be open the majority of time, but shut he said. “It’s not just a New Jersey tight when a storm or hurricane was problem. It’s a regional problem.” “Finally, we’re making some progon its way. Another smaller barrier would be ress, in that the Army Corps will do placed on the East River, near Throggs such a study,” he noted. .com

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Tenants Enter Watchdog Era of Rights and Resistance Continued from page 1 Hamidou Guira, a cab driver, was able to score for a room residence, thanks to an obscure New York City Administrative Code law unearthed by one of the longtime tenants (more about that later).

TENANTS FIGHT CHANGE AT 565 W. 23RD ST. When tenants are determined to resist the renovation of a building in which the owner recognizes their residency and applies for a Tenant Protection Program, they can still find ways to stand their ground. At 565 W. 23rd Street, a four-story corner building on 11th Ave., in which 19 permanently affordable apartments are being planned, a resistance movement is being carried out by five remaining permanent residents (of the 10 original residents, five relocated). This Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building of 68 rooms with designated shared baths was — until this week — being leased by Jazz Hostels, which rented out rooms for visitors as the Chelsea Highline Hotel (aka Terminal Hotel). Jazz Hostels has terminated its business at the address, most likely to prevent another lifetime leasing situation. In 2012, when investor Jonathan Leitersdorf (as Chelsea Skybox) closed on a 99-year lease of the building, along with a two-story building next door on 11th Ave. (since demolished), relocation negotiations with the 10 original tenants began. On the site of the former two-story building, Skybox plans a 20-story, 33-unit building of high-end rentals crowned by a roof deck with a swimming pool. For luxury construction to begin, however, Skybox must deliver the four-story 565 W. 23rd St. building, renovated with affordable housing, according to plans approved by HPD. The 23rd St. building has a long history of tenant harassment by former owners and leasees of the property. One leasee even began gutting part of the second floor without permits, to create a “lap-dancing hotel.” Since HPD has recognized past tenant harassment, the building now qualifies for a Cure for Harassment. The Cure requires an owner to set aside 28 percent of floor area, or 20 percent of the entire development site, for affordable housing in perpetuity. Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC) was hired by Skybox to transform the entire building into 100 percent affordable housing. However, as mentioned, this hotel has permanent residents

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Photo by Eileen Stukane

Despite assurances, the landlord/tenant relationship simmers with suspicion at 565 W. 23rd St.

who know the ins-and-outs of the city’s housing regulations, and for reasons that remain unclear, are against renovation, even if it means affordable housing for them.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF CRP’S WORK Most of the 23rd St. permanent tenants pay under $300 monthly in rent and, according to Joe Restuccia, CHDC’s executive director, tenants who agreed to relocate were offered assurances that they could return to an ensuite studio apartment at whatever rent they’re paying today, for life. At first it appeared that all would relocate, but five did not — and the plans for 24 units of affordable housing submitted to HPD had to be reclaimed by CHDC so that new plans for construction of 19 units could be created around the five remaining tenants. As of this writing, the new plans, approved by Community Board 4 (CB4), have been submitted to HPD with an application for a new Cure. A permit application which recognizes the need for a Tenant Protection Plan has been submitted to DOB, primarily for the construction of an elevator shaft and a new staircase. In a March 2015 letter to the HPD, CB4 commended CHDC’s Tenant Protection Plan as “highly thought out” with “24 hour/7 day a week front desk staff…on site to provide additional tenant safety.” This has not satisfied the permanent residents.

Chelsea Now and elected officials were emailed by tenant J. Stephens, who argued that the developer was trying to renovate a building that lacked the required Certificate of No Harassment, and therefore construction could not begin. However, with its history of tenant harassment, the building does not qualify for a Certificate of No Harassment, only the Cure. A week after leaving phone messages for him, Stephens called to say that he and the other tenants were worried about safety, and the issue of No Harassment seemed to have evaporated. The application for the elevator shaft/ staircase permit that had been submitted to DOB was now at issue. Stephens also spoke about the fact that he had at first signed on to relocate as his girlfriend did, but moving from his decades-long Chelsea neighborhood to Hell’s Kitchen was ultimately not acceptable to him. “My girlfriend relocated to Hell’s Kitchen, and she was assaulted there,” he said. He also feared that if he relocated he would not be able to return, although in our interview with him, Restuccia was definite about either temporarily or permanently relocating tenants, depending on their choices. Stephens’ call was followed by an anonymous caller who said that DOB’s Building Marshall and Manhattan Plan Exam Department had been sent letters because the tenants believed that their safety was endangered. The letters state that the DOB application does not designate the proper category for the

extensiveness of the construction of the elevator shaft/staircase. The tenants cite this discrepancy as “falsification,” in the language of the CRP. Those letters, minus the signator, were faxed to Chelsea Now, along with a copy of a lawsuit filed between another fee holder and master lessee of the property, which may or may not affect the course of construction. Tenants should be pleased, however, that the DOB permit application has been re-filed in a changed Alt-1 category, since construction will remove a number of apartments. “I thought this was an Alt-2 [a category of less extensive construction], but you cannot remove apartments. It’s dead wrong,” says Restuccia. “I take responsibility for it fully, 100 percent.” Now it appears that the same J. Stephens who spoke to Chelsea Now was also working to bring fellow cab drivers into 565 W. 23rd St. as fellow residents. An obscure law holds that it is legal for a resident of a hotel constructed before July 1, 1969 — which offered occupancy at less than $350 a month or $88 a week on May 31, 1968 — to request a lease to live on the premises long term at the 1968 rate. Hamidou Guira requested such a lease, reportedly on the advice of Stephens, and won his case in Manhattan housing court. The other case is pending. So today there are six permanent residents in the building. Although Stephens might have wanted to help a friend find housing, increasing the number of permanent residents who do not want to relocate clearly adds to the tenant resistance movement. Usually such resistance is against the creation of luxury housing, but at 565 W. 23rd St., affordable housing is being delayed. It is difficult to determine the motivation of the tenants. Is resistance rooted in a strong attachment to a home and a desire for “no change,” or a hopedfor financial buyout (which Stephens denies), or concern about both safety during renovation and possible misrepresentation of the scope of construction (since rectified), which the anonymous caller cites? Restuccia iterated that CHDC does not do financial buyouts: “We said flat out, no one is paying anything. We will redesign the building around you.” The tenant/landlord relationship, in general, simmers with suspicion. The CRP’s important work is changing behavior. Tenants are now tracking DOB applications to stay on top of possible changes to their residences beyond the CRP interest in Tenant Protection Plans. It’s a new watchdog era. .com


City’s Industrial Past Holds Sway Over Parking, Planting

Photos by Zach Williams

Community Board 4 surveyed curb cuts in 2010 in order to gauge the potential to plant more trees on local streets.

Continued from page 2 A ticket for blocking a curb cut can cost up to $95, according to the city Department of Finance. The driver, Rich, did not provide his last name, but he did explain the reasoning behind his decision to park there with apparent confidence. “It’s obviously not a garage, so there is no issue,” he said of the gallery location. Multiple unconfirmed online testimonials, meanwhile, attest to the notion that other New Yorkers have not been so fortunate with the enforcement of local parking regulations. The city Department of Buildings (DOB) defines curb cuts as “a dip in a sidewalk and curb that enables a vehicle to drive to a driveway, garage, parking lot, loading dock or drive-through.” Their construction requires approval from the DOB. Once a curb cut is allowed, it cannot be removed by the DOB as long

as the “property is maintained in a safe and code compliant condition,” according to the department. City parking rules prohibit the obstruction of curb cuts in most circumstances. But if the driveway is “unusable,” motorists may legally park in front of it — so long as a “building or fixed obstruction” blocks the movement of the car from street to a private parking spot, according to the New York City Traffic Rules. The art gallery building seemingly fits this description, with a passenger elevator located a few feet beyond two swinging glass doors — which, theoretically, might permit a small car to pass. That does not mean that the curb cut there, and its other “obsolete” equivalents throughout the city, exists without consequence. Another set of city rules state that a tree pit cannot come closer than two feet from the edge of a curb cut. The trunk of the tree within it must stay

Despite their age, old curb cuts cannot be removed so long as they are safe and code compliant.

a total of seven feet away, according to the Parks Department, which regulates city sidewalk tree planting. The intent of the 2010 CB4 survey was to gauge not only the prevalence of old curb cuts throughout the West Side, but also the ways in which relics of the industrial age might have an impact on the streetscape of the 21st century. Unlike

decades ago, one city rule continues to stand in the way of how sidewalks and curbs might meet present needs, such as the planting of hundreds of trees on the West Side in an increasingly environmentally-conscious era. “Whenever there is a driveway, even an obsolete one, the city will not let you plant a tree,” said CB4 Chair Christine Berthet.

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Private Investment, Public Enjoyment THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER

Publisher

TALKING POINT

Jennifer Goodstein

Editor Scott Stiffler

Editorial Assistant Sean Egan

Art Director Michael Shirey

Graphic Designers Andrew Gooss Chris Ortiz

Web Master Troy Masters

Contributors

Stephanie Buhmann Sean Egan Michael Lydon Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Puma Perl Yannic Rack Paul Schindler Trav S.D. Eileen Stukane Zach Williams

Executive VP of Advertising Amanda Tarley

Account Executives Jack Agliata Allison Greaker Jennifer Holland Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco

Published by

NYC Community Media, LLC

One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 229-1890 Fax: (212) 229-2790 www.chelseanow.com scott@chelseanow.com © 2015 NYC Community Media, LLC Member of the New York Press Association Chelsea Now is published weekly 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

not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

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August 20 - 26, 2015

BY MADELYN WILLS President & CEO, Hudson River Park Trust For all of us who love Hudson River Park, I would like to think that the ultimate goal is to finally see the park completed and self-sufficient, so the public can enjoy all four miles of it. In an effort to keep the facts straight, I must point out the inaccuracies in the recent piece by Save Chelsea, which includes several misunderstandings about the park’s funding model, and about private investment in parks generally. First, to say that the original plan for funding Hudson River Park was never implemented is completely false. While there of course may have been early discussions about culling park funds from taxes, such a proposal was never incorporated into the 1998 Hudson River Park Act, yet the amount needed to care for the park is more than was anticipated at that time. That is why in 2013 the state legislature approved a plan to sell some unused development rights from designated commercial piers, provided, of course, that city zoning allows such a change. Funds generated from any approved sales will pay for both capital construction, particularly in the unfinished northern section of the park, as well as ongoing capital maintenance to ensure the park’s longevity. The Hudson River Park Act makes clear that the park is to fund its own maintenance and operations, to the extent practicable, through funding mechanisms like those outlined above, and others, like concessions. And what about those concessions — a beer garden, or a restaurant? Are these, as the writer suggests, “opposed to the basic definition of what a public park is supposed to be?” Well, not according to the many millions who’ve flocked to our city’s parks to enjoy such amenities for more than a century. Complaints about crowds and lines — complaints about, essentially, lots of people enjoying our city’s public spaces — fall on deaf ears for most New Yorkers. And the courts agree, having repeatedly upheld such uses as appropriate for parks. In the case of Hudson River Park, since we don’t get operating funding from the state and city, we look for appropriate ways to generate income while still ensuring the park remains a park — free and open for all to enjoy, and offering a variety of uses for all ages. There’s a long

Room for everyone: Hudson River Park Trust says that a Pier 62 beer garden can coexist with the area’s family-friendly atmosphere.

tradition of parks hosting unenclosed beer gardens and venues that serve alcoholic beverages. Properly done, they are an amenity for park users, and not simply revenue generators. And in many cases, they provide a family friendly environment. Battery Gardens in the Battery, Pier i Cafe in Riverside Park South and Fornino in Brooklyn Bridge Park are just a few examples. The planned beer garden at Pier 62 will be no exception. Its operator has agreed to keep its music at an ambient level, and there’s little concern it will drown out the far-louder pop music that plays at the adjacent carousel. Additionally, we’re working closely with the operators of both the proposed beer garden and the carousel to ensure that the pier remains family-friendly. As we’ve seen across the city, that’s certainly an attainable goal. The letter also misrepresents the plans for Pier 57. There’s no disputing that private investment in the historic pier will enable the structure to be completely restored, providing a dramatically better public park experience, rather than the abandoned structure that stands there today. Additionally, and aside from the rent that will be provided to support the

park, the Trust is requiring the developer to create an 80,000-square-foot public park on the roof and a new perimeter esplanade for the public to enjoy. The accusation made by Save Chelsea that private money for parks creates benefits for “just the few” is particularly odd. Who’s excluded from our lawns, esplanade, and free concerts? Who, for that matter, can’t enjoy a day on Prospect Park’s Long Meadow or Central Park’s Great Lawn? Who can’t relish canoeing or kayaking on the Bronx River or in Hudson River Park or jogging on Randall’s Island? Consider where some of our city’s most popular parks, which serve tens of millions of New Yorkers from across the city, would be without private investment that has helped revive them and many of their surrounding neighborhoods. Finally, the writer claims that that the public is “growing increasingly skeptical” about private interests gobbling up some of those treasured spaces. When I go into our park, which I do often, I see millions of New Yorkers running and biking, boating and fishing, sunning themselves and laughing — and yes, eating and drinking items purchased in the park. So I beg to differ.

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— and lots of it, immediately, even if you are a vegan with a history of heart issues. “Walking through the park on the West Side Highway, in that huge multi-racial area of picnics, smelling delicious barbecue from all of the world…” That smell sends transit worker Mike Ecker into a tizzy. The sticky-sweet smell of candied nuts does it for Tatum Barrows, a high-school grad from Long Island working in the city for the summer. For Martin Kleinman, author of “The Home Front,” it’s “the wild scallions that grew along the fence to the VA Hospital in Kingsbridge.” He’s right — neighborhoods have their own smells. “The smell of anisette toast wafting from the Stella D’Oro Bakery as you whiz through Riverdale on the Major Deegan Expressway” remains a local scent memory for Stacey Gordon and legions of Bronx dwellers. At the other end of the city, lifelong New Yorker and clown entrepreneur (yup!) Michael Fandal recalls growing up in Coney Island, seven seconds from the beach. “Summers included ocean air, rich and invigorating, and the smell of morning cold beach sand beneath the Boardwalk.” There were also Nathan’s hot dogs and fries, overflowing litter cans, and stylish women in their summer dresses, all wafting their

particular perfumes, which mingled with the whiff of coffee whenever anyone opened the door of a Dunkin’ Donuts, and chlorine whenever you walked by a public pool. Cut grass and freshly turned dirt send Michael Virgintino back to childhood in the Bronx, where he helped his dad tend their small yard, when he wasn’t playing baseball on park fields. Writer Nancy Mattia claims it is car exhaust that brings a smile to her face. When she was growing up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Vito the Ice Cream Man would drive down her street on summer nights. “Because I lived down the block, I would pass the back of his truck first with its engine running.” Hence the association of associates exhaust fumes with joy. And then there is the city scent that stands above — or really, below — them all. The one you smell without even descending the stairs. New Yorkers have likened it to “someone getting a perm in the sewer under a slaughterhouse,” “the armpit of Satan,” “inside the stomach of a sick animal,” and perhaps most aptly, “a warm metallic smell with hints of urine.” Someday in some far off town you may catch a whiff of something similar and be instantly transported back to the New York City Subway on a sizzling summer day. May that memory be sweet. Or at least tolerable. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com).

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POLICE BLOTTER GRAND LARCENY: Harsh Reality at Dream Location

The Dream Hotel at 355 W. 16th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) turned out to be less than ideal for a 42-year-old Aussie who was partying there on Sun., Aug. 9. The man brought several guests with him to the hotel at about 1 a.m. that morning. They included a woman who he picked up at a bar, police said. A $6,000 Breitling watch was removed from the scene sometime during the festivities. No arrests have been made and the watch was never found, according to a police report.

PETIT LARCENY: Cold Case Regarding Missing Air Conditioner A 66-year-old woman came home from work at about 9 a.m. on Fri., Aug. 14 to discover that a brick wall had replaced her air conditioner. Construction was ongoing at her building on the 300 block of W. 22nd St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), police said. The whereabouts of the cooling unit itself remain unknown, according to a police report.

INVESTIGATION: Foot Chase Results in Lost Paperwork Police succeeded in apprehending a suspect in a gunpoint robbery on Sat., Aug 15. However, they noted that the foot chase resulted in some collateral damage: the loss of the pursuing officer’s activity log. The stationary reportedly fell out of his pants pocket just after 10 p.m., according to a police report. A search did not succeed in locating the missing property.

RESISTING ARREST: Triple Summons, Double Trouble Freedom was the casualty of a threat made good on Fri., Aug. 14. A police officer had issued three traffic summons to a 70-year-old man just before 4:30 p.m. that day, when the recipient stated that “he was coming back for (the officer),” according to a police report. The Bronx resident returned about 30 minutes later, yelling and screaming at the same officer. The man expressed his continued displeasure .com

with the tickets, police said. Pedestrians became alarmed, as the man continued his reported belligerence from within a crosswalk near the northwest corner of Ninth Ave. and W. 41st St. Police said that the officer then instructed the man to return to the sidewalk and subsequently deployed a “compliance hold” when the man refused to follow the verbal command. Additional efforts to evade arrest ended after the officer threatened to use pepper spray if the man would not settle down. He complied and was arrested shortly thereafter for resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

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INVESTIGATION: Good Samaritan Rescues Red Cross Documentation A 23-year-old man lost his wallet at The Frying Pan, the floating bar docked at Pier 66 (at 530 W. 26th St.). He told police he had simply put the wallet down on the bar at about 11 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 14, before it disappeared. Now he was without his bank card, and a collection of other curious documents — which included a Red Cross card, Scuba license and a Syracuse University ID, though no cash. Law enforcement soon received a phone call informing them that a well-intentioned citizen had found the wallet, which was returned shortly thereafter.

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THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth 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: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. 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 council is on summer break, to resume on Sept. 30.

CRIME STOPPERS If you have info regarding a crime committed or a wanted person, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577TIPS, text “TIP577” (plus your message) to “CRIMES” (274637) or submit a tip online at nypdcrimestoppers.com.

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11


Hudson Yards is a West Side Epice

Foundation work at the site of 15 Hudson Yar Yard. In the background is the High Line, wh

Photos by Yannic Rack

In the construction offices on W. 33rd St., clocks count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until a particular building opens.

Continued from page 1 Its southern tip, between W. 33rd and W. 34th Sts., is also the location of the new 7 subway stop — which, upon its scheduled September 13 opening, will play a large role in bringing the expected 24 million annual visitors to and from Hudson Yards. “The number seven’s right here,” Michael Samuelian said last week, standing in front of reporters for a presentation in the development’s construction headquarters, located right next to the park on W. 33rd St. Samuelian, a vice president at Related Companies, which is developing the site together with Oxford Property Group, was pointing at a map of the area, drawing a vertical line directly through the public square. “So you’re going to have the most direct connection from the subway to the High Line once [the neighborhood] is open,” he said. The elevated park meets Hudson Yards at its southern end and wraps around the entire neighborhood. “Every guide will say, ‘Get off the number seven, go to your right; you’ve hit the High Line’ — after you pass

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by our retail and our plaza of course, which is convenient for us,” he added with a chuckle. Looking out the window from where he was standing, you could see the 28-acre construction site spread out directly to the south. It bore little resemblance to the high-gloss renderings of gleaming office towers and lush parks shown on a field office screen, although the view did afford one glimpse of what the area will one day look like. At the far southeastern end of the site, rising up between the giant cranes, the first tower, 10 Hudson Yards, already stands at 46 of 52 stories. Behind Samuelian, large timers were mounted on the wall, counting down to the completion of each of the buildings that will dot the site (one display showed 200 days remaining for 10 Hudson Yards). The building is actually expected to top-off in October, but tenants won’t start moving in until next spring, according to a spokesperson for Related. The Eastern Yard is roughly split into 80 percent commercial and 20 percent residential space (10 Hudson Yards will house headquarters for

Coach, L’Oreal and SAP), a concept that is essentially inverted on the Western Yard, which will be developed in a second phase and should be open by 2025. “The real star of the show to date has been the commercial office space,” Samuelian said. Right next to number 10, moving north along 10th Ave., vertical construction started in June on The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, the seven-story food and retail complex whose top three floors will be occupied by the city’s first and only Neiman Marcus department store. The lower floors will also house a broad range of luxury and mid-level retailers, as well as a food and beverage district on every level. So far, all it amounts to is an empty steel structure (the entire project is actually expected to consume a whopping 100,000 tons of the material). Its countdown clock showed just over 950 days last week, and the building is expected to open on schedule in 2018. Kenneth Himmel, the president and chief executive of Related Urban, the mixed-use development division of Related, recently told the New York Times that announcements regard-

10 Hudson Yards is currently at 46 stories spring. In the foreground, some of the 30 L operate below the entire project, which is bu

ing the commercial tenants would be made in October, and that the company was currently negotiating with around 100 retailers. He hinted that visitors could expect to see luxury stores like Dior and Chanel on the upper floors, alongside a “Fifth Avenue” mix of shops like H&M, Zara and Sephora on the lower ones. They will be complemented by seven destination restaurants, with restaurateur Thomas Keller’s new American grill one of the four that .com


enter in the Midst of Construction

rds, the only residential tower in the Eastern hich wraps around the entire neighborhood.

Looking north, the glass clamshell of the 7 subway entrance can be seen peeking out between the trees on Hudson Park & Boulevard.

and will be the first building to open next Long Island Railroad tracks that continue to uilt on a network of platforms.

have already signed on, according to Himmel. Flanking the shops and restaurants to the north will be 30 Hudson Yards, another commercial office tower where foundation work has been underway since last year. Time Warner will eventually occupy half of the building and HBO, CNN and Warner Brothers have also signed leases. More interesting to the general public, however, is that the build.com

ing will have an accessible open-air observation deck — the city’s highest, according to the developers, beating out the view from the Empire State Building by 50 feet. “You’ll be open to the elements, with no roof atop you at 1,100 feet in the air,” Samuelian said of the 75th-floor deck, which will provide 360-degree views of the city and the chance to dine and drink afterwards at a restaurant and bar immediately above it. The 92-story skyscraper will be the highest in Hudson Yards, as well as the fourth-tallest building in the whole city when it opens in 2019. According to Samuelian, it is also one of the few areas on the site where workers are building on terra firma — meaning they can dig down into the earth for foundation. The rest of the Eastern Yard — about 60 to 70 percent of it — as well as the entire Western Yard have to be built atop 30 active Long Island Railroad tracks, three subsurface Amtrak and New Jersey Transit rail tunnels, and the Gateway tunnel. This requires the construction of a platform that rests on 300 caissons in the Eastern Yard alone, drilled deep into the bedrock between the rail

tracks. Roughly 65 percent of the eastern portion is covered so far, Samuelian said. In addition to serving as the foundation of an entire neighborhood, the platforms over both yards will also fulfill a range of other functions, like housing a waste disposal system of pneumatic tubes that will transport trash at up to 45 miles an hour to a dispensary on 12th Ave. — thereby eliminating the need for smelly garbage trucks. “The train yard stays, so there’s a lot of coordination we need to do with the rail yard itself,” Samuelian noted. “But we’ve taken that very thin platform and used it as basically our basement, a way of connecting all of the buildings like a campus.” The waste disposal system, which is already in use on Roosevelt Island on the other side of Manhattan, will be “sandwiched” in the platforms along with giant cooling fans that are designed to protect the plants and people above from the heat emanating from the train cars below. “We will have the most pampered trees in all of New York City,” Samuelian said, adding that the air below the platform could reach up to

150 degrees in the summer, and would essentially boil the roots of the trees. “They’ll have more air-conditioning than probably most people have,” he said. A drainage and stormwater storage system will also keep the plaza’s 28,000 plants irrigated while saving energy. The Eastern Yard will open in 2018, although construction on most of the other buildings there is still in the early stages. At the northern end, two more office towers, 50 and 55 Hudson Yards, will flank Hudson Park & Boulevard with 62 and 51 stories, respectively. The latter broke ground in January, and will be completed in 2017, according to a spokesperson for Related, while number 50 is currently still in the design phase. Further south on the western border, an Equinox hotel and health club will occupy parts of the 70-story 35 Hudson Yards, which will also house some residential, retail and office units. The site saw foundation work start in January, and the building is expect-

Continued on page 15 August 20 - 26, 2015

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The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce & Chelsea Now Support

n e p O s i e lag

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Th

ess n i s u b age l l i V t s Ea last e b t i e r h o t v y r fa ed b u t o c y e ff p a o Sh hose t t r o p p and su

T

he “East Village Loves� campaign is conceived by the East Village Independant Merchants Association (EVIMA) and encourages residents and visitors to shop local at their favorite East Village spots. Many businesses affected by the blast have re-opened and are ready for your visit.

The campaign is a celebration of the rich, diverse, and historic neighborhood in lower manhattan, characterized by a concentration of mom-and-pop establishments that are becoming less common throughout the city

#EastVillageLoves evimanyc.org

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.com


Concrete Changes and Green Acres, at Hudson Yards Continued from page 13 ed to top-off in 2019, at the same time as number 30 across the square. And at the southwestern corner of the site, 15 Hudson Yards, a 70-story residential tower, broke ground last December. It will sit right next to the Culture Shed, an arts and performance center that will also host events like Fashion Week, TED Talks, and concerts, according to Samuelian. Its design includes an expandable shed that can be slid out onto the plaza in front of it, to create a covered space for outdoor performances. To create all of this, roughly 1,000 construction workers are currently employed on the site, a number that is expected to rise to 6,000 as the project progresses. But Hudson Yards is certainly not the only development in the area. These days, money is being poured into the West Side as a whole, with the expansion of Moynihan station, the renovation of the Javits Center, and countless residential and office developments nearby. Related alone has already opened the residential Abington House at 30th St. and 10th Ave., and is currently building Zaha Hadid’s first residential condominium on W. 28th St. “It’s really creating a neighborhood,” Samuelian said.

Photo by Yannic Rack

Large construction equipment dominates the construction site, where over 100,000 tons of steel will eventually be used to create Hudson Yards.

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15


ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT

Certified Gems and Diamonds in the Rough

at FringeNYC

No Quick Fixes, When ‘Coping’ With Death Brains behind last year’s Fringe hit deliver more dark matter BY PUMA PERL Last year, I had a gut instinct that “Chemistry” — described as “a pitch black comedy” — was the show to see. My hunch payed off, since the play went on to win a number of awards, including the FringeNYC Excellence in Playwriting. This time around, the same team (including one of the strongest actors in the cast, Lauren LaRocca) brings us “Coping,” which I would describe as a drama underlined with an almost goofy hilarity; the type of humor that gives us a well-needed break from tragedy. In the wake of 25-year-old Connor’s suicide, those closest to him have gathered to prepare for the funeral. LaRocca plays his girlfriend, Sarah, who unwittingly provided the means for him to take his life. His sister, Jessica, is coldly furious at her. Jessica’s girlfriend, Taylor, attempts to make peace,

Photo by Michael Diaz

Continued on page 17

Couch trip: Scott Thomas, Lipica Shah, Lauren LaRocca, Lauren Hennessy and Dinah Berkeley prep for a funeral.

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.com


A Thanksgiving Stuffed With Secrets and Lies Family breaks bread, baggage in tow BY YANNIC RACK They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. The deeply divided household of “Straight Faced Lies” takes that premise and runs with it. At its core you’ve got James, a shoe salesman who still lives at home to grudgingly support his single mother. Estranged sister Melissa has commitment issues at least as big as her libido — and their mother, Cathy, is desperately trying to bring the family together for Thanksgiving. But of course, everybody arrives with their own baggage in tow. James is secretly gay and less than happy when his lover Kip suddenly knocks on the door to invite himself to dinner, while Melissa has just found out she’s pregnant by her boyfriend Joe. Throw in Cathy’s widowed sister, the alcoholic Aunt Marie, who shows up trying to get over her latest break-up (by way of her ex’s credit card), and you’ve got yourself a classic holiday reunion scenario. But rather than heating up all the stale clichés of family drama, writer Mark Jason Williams serves up a fresh and funny take on how complicated it can get when it comes to your own flesh and blood. The peace doesn’t last long. Cathy’s already fragile façade falls apart completely when she finds out that her husband, who is generally referred to as Mr. Ryan, won’t be home for Thanksgiving. The twist: he’s been away in prison

FringeNYC Review STRAIGHT FACED LIES Writer: Mark Jason Williams Director: Andrew Block 1 hour, 40 min.  

Photo by Scott Fetterman

Tension boils over, when a family full of loons gathers for turkey day.

for the last six years for peddling drugs while working as a pharmaceutical rep, and the evening serves as the double occasion of celebrating his homecoming. The intermission is rung in with a gunshot, setting the tone for the second half of the play. At times, different pairs of characters share the stage — but not the scene — to work through their issues. This device, which creates the sense of watching the plot unfold as if we’re looking into a dollhouse, comes from Andrew Block, who previously directed Williams’ play, “Recovery,” at FringeNYC in 2011. His work shines through the performances more than once, and most impressively so during a scene of parallel

Continued from page 16 and Connor’s roommate, Lucas, stays as stoned as possible. Although Scott Thomas’ physicality and expressions may at first seem to be pure comic relief, his character Lucas, like all of them (except for the funeral director, who actually IS comic relief), demonstrates one of the ways we cope in order to accept the unacceptable. Sarah’s OCD, Jen’s anger and control issues, Taylor’s caretaking, and Lucas’ pot and pratfalls: all provide some space in which to live through it. It is a challenge to present a process that generally takes years in a one-act play spanning the course of three days, and the character that suffers the most from it is Lipica Shah’s Jessica, who, in the opening scenes, is mean and unrelenting enough to appear one-dimensional. As the interactions continue, an emotional scene between .com

conversations between Melissa and her boyfriend Joe, and James and his mother. The couple have just found out they’re expecting a baby, and James cuts himself on a broken vase, which prompts his first outburst against his mother, who he blames for ruining his life by making him the man of the house as a teenager. As the two conversations get increasingly intense and personal, some lines are even delivered simultaneously, to great effect. Such gimmicks alone don’t make a great play of course, so it helps that Block has assembled an all-around captivating cast. Playing Cathy, the matriarch, Geraldine Librandi is deliciously loony in her obsessive quest to create a harmonious get-together, making her grad-

Jessica and Lucas digs deeper into both characters, thankfully NOT evolving into scenes of group hugging. There are no quick fixes here, as the ending brilliantly demonstrates. One of my few criticisms of “Chemistry” was the obvious use of the vehicle as an educational device, breaking the fourth wall to explain various aspects of mental illness. I am happy to report that “Coping” relies on the dialogue and acting without hitting you over the head — well, at least not often. The writer and director have collaborated in utilizing an offstage voice — a sort of cross between Superego, Higher Power, and Soul — to guide Sarah to completion. Lauren LaRocca brings a mixture of vulnerability and resilience, much like she did in as the clinically depressed Steph in “Chemistry.” My one concrete suggestion is that the venue considers the dispensation of Martinis, shaken not stirred, on the way out. I can recommend it as a means to cope with the emotions stirred up by “Coping.”

ual descent into full-on insanity as convincing as it is fun to watch. Although Cindy Marchionda delivers some of the most snarky lines as Marie, every character’s dialogue is consistently sharp and delivered with flair — making this a highly quotable show whose dialogue you might find yourself incorporating into conversation for days, perhaps weeks, to come. “Oh, the f**k with this, you people are nuts!” shouts a distressed Kip halfway through the play. With a family like this, let’s hope they pick some decent friends. Sat. Aug. 22 at 9:30 p.m., Mon. Aug. 24 at 7 p.m., Thurs. Aug. 27 at 3 p.m. At Teatro LATEA at the Clemente (107 Suffolk St. btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com.

FringeNYC Review COPING Writer: Jacob Marx Rice Director: Anna Strasser 1 hour, 20 min.

Sat. Aug. 22 at 9:45 p.m., Wed. Aug. 26 at 4:45 p.m., Fri. Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. At Teatro SEA at the Clemente (107 Suffolk St. btw Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com. August 20 - 26, 2015

17


Sense of Self as Final Frontier

Matt Jennings geeks out, comes out, and reaches for the stars BY SCOTT STIFFLER There are only slightly more stars in heaven than there are one-person shows about growing up and growing into yourself. But by planting a rainbow flag firmly in the domain of sci-fi mega-fandom, Matt Jennings — a proud geek with a shameless gym rat’s physique — succeeds in this one-hour mission to boldly go back and forth between his enduring love for all things “Star Trek” and his younger self’s struggle to claim a place in the strange new worlds of black identity, gay sexuality, and Christian faith. Judging from the reaction to references both broad and obscure, last Saturday’s performance (its first at FringeNYC) had plenty of appreciative Trekkies in the audience — and although it certainly helps, chances are you’ll enjoy the show even if you’re not aware that Starfleet’s Kobayashi Maru simulation test is rigged so every cadet will fail; or that the series premiere of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had the Q Continuum putting humanity on trial; or that Bajorans believe Captain Sisko (Trek’s first black protagonist) is The Emissary of the Prophets. As parable, Easter egg or plot device, all of this figures into the flashback-heavy tale of Jennings’ life journey. Performed with an appealing hybrid of sugar rush enthusiasm, quizzical wonderment and sober self-awareness, Jennings alternates between breaking the fourth wall to tell coming-of-age anecdotes and injecting himself, insecurities and all, into classic Trek scenarios (highlighted by dead-on impressions, the best of which is 1960s-era Mr. Sulu, played by then-closeted George Takei). Well-timed sound effects and lowtech slides establish the era and mood,

FringeNYC Review THE UNIVERSE OF MATT JENNINGS Writer: Matt Jennings Director: Levi Austin Morris 1 hour

Photo by Jonathan David Lewis

Strength of Kirk, sexuality of Sulu: Matt Jennings boldly goes in search of new life among the much-explored solo show universe.

as does Jennings’ frequent retreat to the safety of his center-stage command chair — a piece of vintage kitchen furniture tricked out to resemble the iconic perch on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Indeed, the long shadow cast by James T. Kirk hovers over all aspects of Jennings’ life — beginning at the impressionable age of four, when he drops his Grover doll upon hearing William Shatner warble “Space…the final frontier” for the first time. His new obsession is not a romantic crush-cum-

gay awakening, though (that happens in the teen years, when a certain Jedi’s swirling cape and dangling lightsaber induces a memorable episode of movie theater swooning). Instead, his fixation on Kirk is a pure expression of the fanboy’s yearning to live just one day with a starship captain’s brash charisma, natural leadership skills, and unbeatable karate moves. It’s no wonder that the influential relatives and Trek cast members he lovingly impersonates always get their own

slide, while his talk of self frequently involves the use of an empty picture frame. But idols tend to break if they fall — and this show is at its best when the real people and escapist fiction he’s created his identity from disappoint. You just don’t invest that amount of time watching Trek or speaking well or going to church, only to be called a nerd or an Oreo cookie or a sinner, right? The series of monologues that contemplate such matters have a rhythm and a voice and an urgent energy all their own. In these moments, Jennings’ “Universe” expands into something much more than an agreeable solo performance — and hints at greater things to come, when the skills he brings to looking inward are applied to other frontiers. Sat. Aug. 22 at 8:45pm, Wed. Aug. 26 at 5:30 p.m. At Spectrum (121 Ludlow St., 2nd Fl., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com.

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.com


Half of ‘Dead Lunch’ is Easy to Digest

Diner-set two-act fitfully entertaining, with flashes of heart BY SEAN EGAN Tony Borden’s new play, “Dead Lunch, or Who Prays for Bad Weather?,” is a comedy set in a world that is, unfortunately, all too familiar to many — the wonderful, horrible, tedious world of the service industry. Specifically, Borden’s two-act comic exercise (which he also directs) unfolds in a run-down diner, as its chatty staff idles away a particularly anemic lunch hour by articulating their working-class ennui, to the detriment of their frazzled manager and dwindling clientele. It’s a seemingly fruitful topic for a play, but the results are more of a mixed bag than one would hope. Most of the problems reside in the first act, which gets things off to a slow start, and does little to whet the appetite for the rest of the show. Focusing on two young waitresses (one a college student, another an aspiring actress), it essentially captures them gossiping, thinking about the future, and bungling their way through serving their only party of the afternoon. This isn’t necessarily a bad setup, but the dialogue doesn’t really crackle or sound naturalistic, the way it does in the best dead-end workplace comedies (think “Clerks” or “Waiting”), nor do the characters resonate on an emotional level. And though not much is happening plot wise, it also, unfortunately, very much feels as though nothing of any significance is happening. This lack of an engaging story, combined with the merely

FringeNYC Review DEAD LUNCH, OR WHO PRAYS FOR BAD WEATHER? Writer & Director: Tony Borden 1 hour, 25 min.

Photo by Tony Borden

L to R: Adam Pagdon, Jeff Solomon, Maxwell Moran and Leah Alfieri each pull double duty as disparate characters.

serviceable acting of the lead waitresses, provides for an only occasionally amusing viewing experience. Fortunately, the whole shebang is saved in its second act, which picks up the slack from, and corrects the issues of, the first half. Shifting its perspective to that of the kitchen staff and the manager working in the back of the restaurant during the same time frame as act one, everything snaps into place, and “Dead Lunch” becomes the funny behind-thescenes examination of the service industry the first half aspires to be. The kitchen staff is a lively bunch, and the characters presented here have empathetic backstories, well-sketched personalities, and serious comedic rapport. It even manages

to make the first act look (slightly) better, by paying off on jokes set up early on. It also helps that the actors in this section bring their A-game. Matt McAllister, as overwhelmed manager Graham, and Maxwell Moran as Miguel the cook do well in their mostly straight-man roles, invoking sympathy as well as laughs. Even better is Jeff Solomon as both French kitchen worker Francois, (sporting an absurd, Clouseau-esque accent and relishing every punchline) and a gentleman customer whose physical comedy and obliviousness is a highlight of the first act. Also tackling dual roles, Adam Pagdon plays the gentleman customer’s elderly, judgmental mother in the first act, as well as the Eastern European

dishwasher possessing minimal English skills in the second — two wildly different creations whose comedic timing steal every scene they’re in, while elevating the material they’re provided with. Perhaps “Dead Lunch” could have shone front to back with a few more revisions. As is, it’s fitfully entertaining, with flashes of heart and inspired humor — but on the whole, a little undercooked. Thurs. Aug. 20 at 4:45 p.m., Fri. Aug. 21 at 4:45 p.m., Mon. Aug. 24 at 9:15 p.m. At The Celebration Of Whimsy (21 Clinton St. btw. Houston & Stanton Sts.). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com.

Incendiary and Polished, but Not Entertaining ‘Play’ is a preachy take on male entitlement and sexual assault

BY SEAN EGAN Patrick Bateman, the protagonist of Bret Easton Ellis’ perennially controversial novel, “American Psycho,” is a filthy rich, meticulously dressed playboy, who works on Wall Street by day, and operates as a gruesome serial killer by night. In terms of hero worship, there’s just about no one worse to idolize (fictional or otherwise) than Bateman — but what might happen if a few wayward individuals did? Ashley Jacobson’s “The American Play” takes that seed of an idea, and uses it to open up a wider conversation about male entitlement and rape culture — things that are unfortunately prevalent, and go largely unaddressed, in society. After meeting in a collegiate American Lit class — and bonding over grossly misinterpreting Ellis’ satirical work as a ringing endorsement of hedonism and unchecked patriarchal dominance — rich kid Luis (John C. Nagy III) takes Tim (Michael DeBartolo), a poor kid trying to forget his abuse-filled past, under his wing. He quickly begins grooming Tim into a high-class socialite like himself — Photo by Melissa Balan

L to R: John C. Nagy III as Luis, Michael DeBartolo as Tim. .com

Continued on page 21 August 20 - 26, 2015

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SAVE THE DATE

Love, Lust, and Home Repair

A crack in the ceiling reveals more than expected

A BENEFIT FOR WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK

Thursday,September10th 6:00 to 8:00PM Join friends and neighbors as we sample food & wine from over 30 local purveyors all under the Washington Square Arch Tickets available online at TOV2015.eventbrite.com or in person at 8 East 8th Street For more information call (212)777-2173 P RE SE NTE D BY

@GrnVillageNYC 20

August 20 - 26, 2015

GreenwichVillageNY

BY YANNIC RACK “How much shame can the world contain?” No child should have to ask himself that question, especially when it comes to his own mother. You can’t hold it against young David, though, for wondering aloud after a heavy-drinking handyman is allowed to set up camp in his basement — the latest in a long line of “hairy losers” he has to endure on behalf of his lonely mother. “My mom’s not like other grown-ups,” he sings at another point in the musical, perhaps unaware that his mother, Ellen, actually embodies the cliché of the stressed-out, hypersensitive single parent. But let’s rewind a bit. Soon after her latest boyfriend packs his bags and shuts the door behind him, Ellen is confronted with a harrowing problem: a crack in the ceiling. This seemingly harmless structural fault plunges the frail Ellen headfirst into a full-blown existential crisis — because the crack is, of course, a metaphor for her life: broken and beyond repair. “I can’t leave it. It could collapse,” she protests to her son, who is left shaking his head in disbelief while his mother chases after the perfect man to solve her problems. A pizza delivery guy, a carpenter-slash-escort, a mold removal specialist and handymen of varying abilities all turn out to be incapable of fixing the ceiling, much less satisfy Ellen’s needs. She is played by Kristy Cates — a Broadway veteran (as Idina Menzel’s understudy in “Wicked”) who brings the perfect balance of desperation and self-pity to the role. Cates is also lucky to have such a talented foil in Nicky Torchia, whose impressive performance as David shows a range and skill level far beyond his 11 years. Stealing the show, however, is Josh Grisetti — who effortlessly slips in and out of fake mustaches and accents, portraying the revolving cast of oddballs that Ellen and David encounter. It is rare to see an actor have this much fun on stage, whether scripted or not (when Grisetti’s mustache came off at one point, he immediately embraced the gaffe, incorporating it into the scene to the delight of the audience). The writing doesn’t lack in comedy either. The book, music and lyrics all

Photo by Andrew Barry Fritz

L to R: Josh Grisetti, Kristy Cates and Nicky Torchia take the musical route, in James Harvey’s exploration of broken things.

FringeNYC Review THE CRACK IN THE CEILING Writer: James Harvey Director: Stephen Tyler Davis 1 hour, 20 min.   

come from the pen of James Harvey, who apparently conceived the idea a few years ago upon discovering a crack in his own family’s kitchen ceiling. Harvey’s catchy songs — accompanied by a skillfully arranged score for piano, bass and drums — feel original throughout, despite the repetitive nature of the subject matter. The story takes a turn for the truly bizarre (and hilarious) when Ellen dials the number for “Alternative Home Repair” and Grisetti appears in his last incarnation, the long-haired hippie-handyman Jeshua the Prophet, who demands she sacrifice David to heal her ceiling once and for all. “Hasn’t this crack been with you all your life?” he asks. It’s the moment of truth in this laugh-out-loud funny tale of growing up — as either a kid or an adult. Sat. Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m., Tues. Aug. 25 at 8 p.m., Fri. Aug. 28 at 2:30 p.m. At the Lynn Redgrave Theater @ Culture Project (45 Bleecker St. at the corner of Bleecker & Lafayette Sts.). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com. .com


Canadian ‘Ham’ Doesn’t Travel Well

Gentrification play often stumbles, sometimes connects BY PUMA PERL “Naked Hamilton” is described as the story of an aging sex worker and her ex-lover who are getting kicked out of their favorite bar due to gentrification. The bar of DROM is the set, and the two characters are rarely seen onstage. The staging is effective in allowing for movement and realism, although the blocking runs into structural problems. The lighting is cleverly used to move the story along. Scott McCord, as Tom, is brilliantly annoying, so realistic in his rants and in casting himself alternately as hero and victim that it didn’t take long for me to grow as irritated with him as I do with the loud, repetitive drunks that I avoid in bars. However, like my barfly friends, there is a goodness and a sadness beneath the bravado, and McCord, who has played the role in prior productions, provides an unexpectedly layered performance. Suzanne Bennett, as Tee, is not as successful. There is a perkiness and cheerfulness at odds with the nature of the character, and she appears more like a former Texas cheerleader dressed for Halloween than the debauched, tough, aging hooker demanded by the part. Her body language contains several signature gestures that are too controlled and

Continued from page 19 using Bateman as his shining example of how a man should be (minus the nasty murder business). Things spiral out of control once Shelly (Jen Jacobs), a girl from Tim’s past, enters the picture — and Jacobson doesn’t hesitate to go to some truly dark, sordid places. Luis and Tim’s relationship escalates too quickly, spouting off the most extreme, toxic opinions until they become unbelievable caricatures of the attitudes being criticized. This undercuts the play’s treatment of the incident of sexual assault that much of the action revolves around — it practically implies that incidents like this are solely the work of extreme and obviously disturbed individuals who obsess over violent media, which is certainly not the case. On a structural level, the play flash-forwards to police investigations post-incident, which only helps to deflate any narrative tension the play .com

FringeNYC Review NAKED HAMILTON Writer & Director: Sky Gilbert 1 hour

Photo by Priam Thomas

Scott McCord and Elley Ray are at their best when sharing convincing moments between their characters.

planned, while McCord uses his body as if his bones were not quite connected. Despite these flaws, there are convincing moments between them, in which they move rapidly from laughing to fighting, to reuniting against a common enemy in the “you and me against the world” mode that lends longevity to

the most unstable duos. A dark secret, which would devastate most people, is revealed — but when immediate issues intrude, it is easily put to the side as they stumble on. The main problem I have with the play is a weakness in the storyline. The narrative fails to provide a connection

could have built, and lessens the horror of the brutal climax. These scenes are punctuated with readings from an Internet comment thread, where anonymous commenters voice their opinion on the incident. The on-the-nose comments run the gamut of misled and harmful societal attitudes — everything from victim blaming and slut-shaming to anti-feminist attitudes and rape apologist sentiment. It’s certainly incendiary (not a bad thing given the subject matter), but it’s also not entertaining — further contributing to the feeling that you’re listening to a lecture rather than being told a story. Still, the play is a polished and professional production. It’s staged sparingly, but effectively, by director Darren Johnston, who employs stylish video effects to enhance the experience. In addition, the abusive mentor/ mentee relationship, as implausible as it seems, makes for some electrifying scenes, particularly as it progresses. Nagy is compulsively watchable as the embodiment of entitlement and self-re-

gard, and DeBartolo is unnerving as Tim reveals his dangerous nature, and spirals into Id-driven madness. Their shifting power dynamic is the most thrilling aspect of the play, especially as Tim becomes more unhinged. The development of this relationship, however, comes at the expense Jacob’s Shelly, a warm and welcome stage presence, whose inner psychology is not examined as closely as the leading men’s. Using Ellis’ own prose, “The American Play” probes: “Is evil something you are? Or something you do?” The show provides no definitive answer to this question — instead, it implies that evil is a natural force in the world, manifesting itself in both the overt monstrosity of Tim and Louis, and their misogynistic, abusive ilk, as well as the more subtly insidious discourse prevalent in society, which proliferates under the blanket of anonymity the internet provides. It’s a chilling worldview to be sure, and an affecting message — but they could stand to be presented in the

between the larger issues of gentrification with the story of two individuals who live their lives on the bottom. “Naked Hamilton” was originally presented in Hamilton, Canada, as a two-act play that focused on a different couple in the first half. I think you may need to spend a lot less time in bars and a lot more time in Hamilton to fully appreciate this play. Thurs. Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m., Sat. Aug. 22 at 12 p.m. At DROM (85 Avenue A, btw. Fifth & Sixth Sts.). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com.

FringeNYC Review THE AMERICAN PLAY Writer: Ashley J. Jacobson Director: Darren Johnston 1 hour, 20 min.  

context of a slightly more nuanced and compelling manner. Fri. Aug. 21 at 4:45 p.m., Tues. Aug. 25 at 2:30 p.m., Thurs. Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. , Sat. Aug. 29 at 2:15 p.m. At UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl. btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). For tickets ($18), visit FringeNYC.org. Also purchase at FringeCentral, inside the City Lore cultural heritage center (56 E. First St. btw. First & Second Aves.), daily from 2–8 p.m. Order on your smartphone up to 30 minutes prior to performance, at FringeOnTheFly.com. August 20 - 26, 2015

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August 20 - 26, 2015

.com


Our Fringe Feast Isn’t Over

WE HAVE MOVED — RIGHT NEXT DOOR!

FringeNYC shows are playing through August 30, so we’ll be seeing a few more plays, solo performances, and spectacles. Send a request to scott@chelseanow.com if you’d like to be alerted when a new review posts on the web. Here are three we’re showing up to, pen and pad in hand. For more info, visit FringeNYC.org.

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“KAMIKAZE CUTESAUCE COSPLAY CLUB” Businessmen turn into samurai, junior high girls play gym class water polo, bystander cellphones snap pics of an attack. Milwaukee’s Physical Theatre fuses movement, puppetry, and martial arts with the Japanese popular art forms of Manga and Anime. Warning: Mature Content.

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REAL ESTATE IN THE BERKSHIRES... STEVE ERENBURG m: 201 663 0800 CohenWhiteAssoc.com 47 Church Street Lenox, MA 413 637 1086 His Talents might have been for naught, in a land where one could be sold or bought. The Thespis Theater Festival & The Hudson Guild Theater Present

“G.U.S.”

YOUNG BENJAMIN BANNEKER

In 2014, the world ended. Three men survived by hiding out in a Generic Underground Shelter. “G.U.S.” is a post-apocalyptic improvised comedy that explores the relationship between these three men trapped together for weeks, months, or, most likely, years.

A MUSICAL

Written & Directed by Juan Villegas

Photo by Daigoro Hirahata

3 Performances Only! Tue Aug 25 9pm Wed Aug 26 6:15pm Sat Aug 29 6pm A Theater for the New City Workshop Production

.com

Music by Juan Villegas & T. Scott Lilly The Hudson Guild Theater 441 West 26 St (btw 9th & 10th Aves) Brownpapertickets.com 1-800-838-3006 $20 at the door (cash only)

The Thespis Theater Festival & The Hudson Guild Theater Present August 20 - 26, 2015

23


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August 20 - 26, 2015

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CHELSEA NOW, AUG, 20, 2015  

CHELSEA NOW, AUG, 20, 2015

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