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March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Developers Given “Do-Over” on Make-Over of Landmarked UWS Church BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, on March 8, gave a proposal to convert a landmarked church to residential use another chance, a decision that allowed the project’s sponsors to avoid a widely expected negative vote on their application. The proposal, put forward by developers Ira Shapiro and Joseph Brunner, is to create 35 residential units — down from an earlier envisioned 39 units — and to add several windows and a rooftop penthouse at the former First Church of Christ, Scientist building at 361 Central Park West. Though the church building, which faces the park at 96th Street, was designated a landmark in July 1974, its interior was unprotected and later gutted. The new plans include the removal of religious iconography from the stained glass windows. In December, the Central Park West Neighbors Association, a leading opponent of the proposal, said that there’s evidence the windows’ creator was Mary Elizabeth Tillinghast, a preeminent female stained glass artist from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The church’s residential conversion has drawn widespread scor n from the local community, and the BSA deemed the developers’ proposal an “error-filled application.” The board, however, has now granted Shapiro and Brunner another hearing based on their assertion that there is “new information” to be considered. The delay in the BSA resolving the application has preservationists crying foul and favoritism. After long drawn-out processes at both the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which approved the plans in March 2015, and the BSA, the developers moved on February 29 to withdraw their application altogether, just days before the meeting where resolution — likely, rejection — was expected. In their February 29 request, the developers explained they wanted to “reassess the extent of the relief sought by the variance application, and to examine the potential for other uses at the property.” Late last year, Children’s Museum of Manhattan executive director Andy Ackerman confirmed that the museum had spoken to the developers about acquiring the property but that the parties never reached agreement on the price. More recently, a Crenshaw Christian Center East pastor, Terry Starks, expressed interest in moving a congregation back into the space, according to Susan Simon, a neighbor of the building and a Central Park West Neighbors Association member. ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

Critics of the project complain that the developers’ effort to withdraw their proposal was calculated to avoid the BSA’s anticipated nixing of the project, a perspective reinforced by comments from BSA staf f. R yan Singer, the board’s executive director, said Shapiro and Brunner were likely “playing the odds” given negative comments that BSA commissioners have made on the record about the proposal as well as the recusal of board chair Margery Perlmutter, which could lead to a tie vote that would be counted as a rejection. The board, at its March 8 meeting, denied the withdrawal request for those very reasons. However, the commissioners unanimously agreed to reopen a hearing on the pr oposal, now scheduled for June. On March 1, Curbed reported that Mitchell Korbey, an attorney involved in the project, said the developers had discovered “additional information” about the project that they would submit to the BSA. Singer said that instances of changed cir cumstances arising after the r ecor d has been closed on applications before the board have occurred in other recent cases, and on some occasions where the BSA has not allowed an applicant to reopen the file developers have taken the board to court. Here, despite board patience wearing thin, the developers have been given another hearing, according to Singer. Attorney Michael Hiller, who represents the Central Park West Neighbors Association, charged that the reopening of the record in this case is not appropriate and insults the integrity of the BSA process. “If the developer is attempting to reopen the record by withdrawing the application, wiping the slate clean, and submitting new documents and new information, the better choice would be to reject that effort,” Hiller said. Landmark West!, a preservationist group on Manhattan’s West Side, echoed Hiller’s comments, saying the developers have been given favorable treatment. “T he b oa r d has essenti a l l y gi ven the d e v e l o p e r a d o - o v e r, ” s a i d K a t e Wo o d , Landmark West!’s president. “I think the fact that the BSA hasn’t yet thrown out this application, given it’s riddled with all these errors and misrepresentations, that’s a measure of the developer’s power in the city.” Wood said it was no surprise that the developers knew which way the board planned on voting because applicants work much more closely with the city agencies than public stakeholders are allowed to. “The public is kept in the dark about all

JACKSON CHEN

The former First Church of Christ, Scientist at 361 Central Park West.

JACKSON CHEN

The stained glass windows, which the developers hope to alter, may have been created by Mary Elizabeth Tillinghast, a noted stained glass artist from a century ago.

these procedures, where the applicant is given thorough access,” Wood said. Singer defended the way BSA staff work with applicants, saying it makes for a smoother back-and-forth process in evaluating a proposal. He emphasized that commissioners themselves — as distinct from the board’s staff — never interact with the applicants outside the hearings. Shapiro and Brunner have until April 26 to submit their additional information to the board, which will determine whether it represents a substantive addition to the record. Project opponents will then have until May 19 to present their counter arguments before the June 2 hearing. n

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Can Justice And Order Be Served? BY JACKSON CHEN

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hen they’re not fighting crime in their respective comic book universes, the teenage web slinger joins the grizzled protector of Gotham City in entertaining tourists in Times Square with marvelous photo opportunities. Down the way, more flocks of cartoon characters are hanging around the chaotic corners of the Crossroads of the World. As hordes of people course through Times Square, the costume-clad crews connect with the many tourists looking for a goofy photo with an iconic backdrop. After they’ve snapped their shots with the mishmash of pop culture icons, tourists often end their interaction with tips, even though many signs and nearby police officers warn they’re not obligated to. Spider -Man, whose real identity is Abdelamine El Khezzani, is careful to offer up the preface that he works off tips before striking a pose alongside children, slinging a makeshift spider web at the camera and declaring “Justice is served!” For Spider-Man and his cohorts, however, justice hangs in the balance as the City Council looks at legislation intended to bring some order to the disorganized scene of wandering sightseers and tip-hungry characters. “It’s chaotic, difficult to pass through, and increasingly unpleasant for tourists and New Yorkers alike,” said Councilmember Dan Garodnick, whose largely East Side district captures a portion of Times Square. “We want to both preserve the quirkiness and edge of Times Square while also allowing people to avoid the chaos if they want to.” After incidents of “aggressive panhandling” popped up on the media’s radar and became a commonplace storyline, a lengthy public task force process has culminated in Councilmember Corey Johnson’s Intro 1109, announced on March 9. “Times Square is known around the world for its bustling, quirky, and slightly chaotic atmosphere,” Johnson, a West Sider who shares Times Square with Garodnick, said in a written statement. “But when certain individuals cross the line and harass, swindle, and take advantage of pedestrians, the city must take action.” Under Johnson’s bill — co-sponsored by Councilmembers Garodnick, Ydanis Rodriguez from Upper Manhattan, Ritchie Torres of the Bronx, and Brad Lander of Brooklyn — the Department of Transportation would be given authority to designate pedestrian plazas through consideration of an area’s need for open space, its ability to be maintained, and its surrounding environment. The bill also gives the DOT’s commissioner,

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JACKSON CHEN

Spider-Man throws his web for a fan, as the Dark Knight looks on.

currently Polly Trottenberg, the ability to establish general rules of conduct for pedestrian plazas throughout the city and specific regulations tailored to certain plazas. Times Square is clearly what the bill has in mind in terms of tailored regulations, though it is not named specifically in the legislation. Though overall authority will reside with the DOT as the designating body, community boards, councilmembers, borough presidents, and non-profit organizations can submit proposals for pedestrian plazas. The costumed characters and other performers who fill Times Square worry that the Council effort could compromise their First Amendment rights along with their livelihoods. “This is a public space, we are free people,” said Khezzani, the spirited Spider-Man of Times Square. “We show our freedom of expression in this public space.” Khezzani, who’s been a costumed character for 12 years, said regulating a public space where everyone has freedom of speech and expression makes no sense. Joining Spidey, the Times Square’s Dark Knight — aka José Escalona-Martinez — said no new regulations should be able to override his constitutional rights to express himself. “This is a public place which allows any cartoon characters, any tourist to walk freely, dressed in whatever they want to dress,” Escalona-Martinez said.

While they’re adamant on protecting their freedom of expression, the heroic duo acknowledge there have been problems with some costumed characters. According to several news outlets, incidents have ranged from Junior Bishop — also dressed as Spider-Man, as well as the Incredible Hulk — facing charges of felony assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and aggressive panhandling to infighting between Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty over tips and a trio of Minnie Mouse, Cookie Monster, and Olaf from Disney’s “Frozen” allegedly boxing in a tourist until they paid up. The NYPD’s Times Square arrest records include addresses from the far away Galactic Empire, the friendly Sesame Street, and even Ellis Island, when Darth Vader, Elmo, and the Statue of Liberty were all slapped with charges of aggressive panhandling. “When more characters came into the square, there’s where the problem started to evolve,” Khezzani said. “Some characters, they get greedy, then police start getting involved and people get arrested.” He added that the recent visibility of the desnudas, or topless women who are costumed in body paint, have stoked demands that the city better regulate behavior in Times Square. With so much rowdiness unfolding in public

c JUSTICE AND ORDER, continued on p.13 March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

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he New York City Housing Authority will create a stakeholder committee that will work closely with the developer of an Upper East Side infill project expected to displace a playground on the grounds of a public housing development. Holmes Towers, at 403 East 93rd Street, was chosen — along with Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Gardens — as a pilot for NYCHA’s NextGen Neighborhoods. The program aims to create new residential units on public housing properties through the development of a 50-50 split of market-rate and affordable units. The revenue generated from such projects will be applied to offset the agency’s yawning deficit. At Holmes Towers, the NextGen building planned would be close in height to the two 25-story public housing towers there and would replace the existing playground that serves the more than 900 residents. After NYCHA selected Holmes Towers last fall, the residents’ reception was staunchly cynical. Many were infuriated at the loss of their playground and the addition of new private housing, without any specific guarantees about

resolving much-needed repairs in their own units. Since then, the agency has held several of what it characterizes as visioning meetings with residents, where the needs for a fitness center and a healthcare facility within the new building were identified. In trying to better their relationship with the Holmes residents, NYCHA announced during its March 22 gener al public meeting there that it plans to soon create a Holmes NextGen Neighborhoods Stakeholder Committee. According to Melanie Hart, NYCHA’s executive vice president of community programs and development, the committee would include Holmes residents, local community-based organizations, elected officials, and any other impacted people, allowing them to work directly with the developer of the 50-50 project. To better represent the resident population, Hart explained, NYCHA is looking for diverse candidates, from seniors to young adults, to be a part of the committee, which would hold scheduled meetings with NYCHA and the developer.

c HOLMES TOWERS, continued on p.9

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Smith School Students Employ Imagination in Kicking Butts BY JACKSON CHEN

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tudents from the Upper West Side’s Smith School took a stand against teenage smoking as well as the saturation of tobacco outlets in their neighborhood on Kick Butts Day. On March 16, students from grades seven to 12 at the West 86th Street private school expressed their anti-smoking sentiments in creative posters that were judged in a competition hosted by NYC Smoke-Free. The students’ depictions varied from a beguiling bodega owner to a chemical breakdown of a cigarette and a map view of the 40 or so places that sell cigarettes near their school. Top prize went to an advisory group facilitated by teacher Allison Block that included Rachel Mitchell, Samantha Zachar, and Maddy Tuten, who were recognized for their distinctive approach in criticizing smoking. “We thought a lot of people were going to focus on the places around us that sell tobacco,” explained Tuten, a senior in the group. “We wanted to show it’s not a singular action, it’s something that affects everyone.” The group of three students created a poster they titled “What About Me?,” showing a haze of smoke surrounding younger members of a family of smokers.

“The people I know that smoke, it’s kind of a self-destructive behavior,” said Zachar, an 11th grader in the winning group. “So it’s kind of playing to their side of — you want to hurt yourself, but you got the other people surrounding you and how it affects them.” According to school counselor Marissa Allen, Kick Butts Day and the poster competition helped strengthen students’ awareness of smoking’s dangers by challenging them to interpret the issue through their own lens. “Our students are super artistic and creative, and I feel like their personalities really came out in the posters,” said Allen. The poster effort is part of a broader commitment the school has to create adult-led advisory groups where students get together with peers and advisors to discuss real-world issues like healthy habits, stress management, and drug and alcohol awareness. With the school having completed a Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week, NYC Smoke-Free’s efforts for Kick Butts Day aimed at building student awareness about tobacco industries and their advertising aimed at teens. In January, elected officials joined anti-smoking advocates and local high school students at the Goddard Riverside Community Center on Columbus Avenue at 88th Street in a press conference calling

JACKSON CHEN

Allison Block, a teacher at the Smith School, joins the three students in her advisory group — Rachel Mitchell, Samantha Zachar, and Maddy Tuten — in showing their winning certificates from NYC Smoke-Free, signed also by the school and Councilmember Helen Rosenthal.

for an end to electronic cigarette marketing that appeals to youth. According to the Smith School’s vice principal, Daniel Madden, the March 16 event was not only a way for students to express their disapproval of smoking, but also part of a bigger effort to get them to recognize opportunities to become a voice in the community. “Another area we’re trying to develop in this school is considering and thinking about their stake in the community and how their choices affect those around them,” he explained. The students’ efforts garnered the attention of Upper West Side City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who recalled that she was disturbed by the advertising from big tobacco companies when she was younger. “Our kids deserve to grow up free from tobacco industry marketing and promotion,” said Rosenthal. “The Smith School students are helping to make that reality in our community.” n

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CB 5 Embraces Permanent Pedestrian Plaza Above Penn Station BY JACKSON CHEN

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ommunity Board 5 has given its approval to efforts by a real estate company and a local business improvement district to create a permanent pedestrian plaza just north of Penn Station. On March 10, CB5 followed the lead of both its Transportation & Environment and Parks & Public Spaces Committees by adopting a resolution expressing support for the project, Plaza33, proposed by Vornado Realty Trust and the 34th Street Partnership. The pedestrian plaza — to be established on roughly the eastern third of the block of West 33rd Street running from Seventh to Eighth Avenue — is expected to alleviate the congested jam of foot traffic descending on Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and office buildings in the area. Vornado, which owns several properties nearby, will foot the bill for the public plaza that is expected to increase the value of surrounding real estate. To assess the impact of a pedestrian plaza on an overcrowded street scene, Vornado partnered with the 34th Street BID on a pilot version of the plaza — designed by W Architecture — that operated from August 10 to October 11 last year. Throughout the pilot, pedestrians were offered live music, televised sports events, and yoga programs in a wide area furnished with a tiered seating pyramid, wooden planters, and folding chairs. The western two-thirds of the block of West 33rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues remained open to allow commercial vehicles access to the mid-block street that runs from 33rd to 31st Street for deliveries to Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. “People reported they loved being in the area and that it was huge improvement from being a street bed,” said Maureen Devenny, operations associate for the 34th Street Partnership. “Now it’s this place that’s a lot safer for pedestrians because they’re not crowded in Seventh Avenue.” By the time the pilot came to a close, the two project partners surveyed more than 750 people, most of whom expressed support for making the plaza permanent. Vornado and the BID also conducted plaza use studies and enlisted the help of Sam Schwartz, a noted traffic engineer, to evaluate the impact of the plaza on pedestrian and traffic flow. With extensive data and evidence of strong public approval, Vornado returned to CB5 for its support in establishing a permanent pedestrian plaza.

8

34TH STREET PARTNERSHIP

The pilot pedestrian plaza created last summer on West 33rd Street seems headed for permanent status in the block just north of Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.

“Community Board 5 has been our partner in this initiative from the very start, and our design, operations and maintenance, and programming strategies reflect their input,” said Bud Perrone, spokesperson for Vornado. While the full board largely offered its support for Plaza33, it did make note of concerns regarding both traffic flow and commercial events that arose when Vornado presented its data at a February 22 joint meeting of the board’s transportation and parks committees. According to district manager Wally Rubin, CB5 generally frowns on holding commercial events in public spaces, and the board advocated strict limits on the potential for profit-making activities on the plaza. The Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office declined to issue permits for commercial events during last year’s pilot program, and CB5 urged oversight on any such events when the plaza becomes permanent. The community board is expected to join Vornado and the 34th Street Partnership in a working group to monitor and evaluate requests for commer cial event permits and ensure that public hearings are held about applications. According to Clayton Smith, CB5’s parks committee chair, board members are uncertain how the permitting process will play out and believe that continual monitoring is the best approach.

“We didn’t feel comfortable just giving a blanket approval,” Smith said at the full board meeting. “So this working group is an important part of monitoring how this plays out as this moves on.” As for the board’s traffic concerns, Schwartz’ study concluded that during last year’s pilot run vehicles experienced delays in turning at two nearby points — making left turns from Seventh Avenue onto West 31st Street and from West 33rd Street onto Seventh Avenue. The city’s Department of Transportation, which supports the plaza project, proposed mitigation in the form of split-phase traffic signals at both of those points and suggested that Vornado provide “pedestrian managers” to guide both car traffic and those on foot. The board requested further traffic analysis by the DOT and said the plaza’s sponsors should appear before CB5 in a year’s time to review the impact of it being permanent. “The ongoing collaboration with CB5 and the 34th Street Partnership will help ensure this space continues to work well for local residents and workers, while also serving daily commuters,” Vornado’s Perrone said. Between now and when the plaza opens — which Vornado said could happen as early as this summer — the company will continue to work with CB5 on design elements, before it requests a formal signoff from the DOT. n March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c

HOLMES TOWERS, from p.6

“This is an opportunity to engage long term,” Hart said. “Once the developer is actually selected, we will want to be able to make sure information is being shared between developer and community.” Regardless of this most recent initiative by NYCHA, the majority of residents still disapprove of the infill project overall, according to Sandra Perez, president of the Holmes Towers Resident Association. “We’re willing to listen to whatever plans they have or however they want to discuss it,” Perez said. “We’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt and see what they’re offering, but I don’t think it’s going to change our mind or opinion.” Perez said her fellow residents’ main gripes with the project relate to the air quality problems the construction would introduce and the overcrowding additional residents would bring to their community. When asked if she would consider joining the stakeholder committee, Perez expressed hesitancy and doubt, but added it was too early in the process to tell. While NYCHA has already settled on the development’s location being on East 92nd Street, between the two Holmes Towers, Perez said none of the options that had been discussed was ideal. The other two alternatives previously considered — one close to the corner of First Avenue and East 92nd Street, the other closer to East 93rd Street and the FDR Drive — were cast aside because, according to NYCHA, a majority of residents said the location between the two towers was their preference. Holmes resident Yolanda Cancell said there are still many residents who were against the location between the towers but have not voiced their opinion on site selection. “People definitely don’t want it at all,” Cancell said. “But if we have to have it, we definitely don’t want it anywhere near us.” Cancell said she felt NYCHA should have stressed the seriousness of their many meetings because many residents who didn’t attend mistakenly thought the agency wouldn’t continue with the project without their approval. Though Cancell said she would reluctantly join the agency’s stakeholder committee, she remains unsure if she or the committee could have any impact on the development process. In the meantime, NYCHA is set to release its request-for-proposals as early as the end of the month. According to its current timeline, the agency would evaluate the proposals received over the summer and select a developer in the fall. As for the stakeholder committee, NYCHA expects it to meet for the first time on May 31. n ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

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aredevil shutterbug James McNally professes to have scaled just about every marque high-rise in New York City — with One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building being the only notable exceptions — and he’s happy to admit that his trips to the city’s highest reaches never come with an invitation. “We know its illegal,” he said, “but we want to show these amazing views.” McNally, who operates under the alias Jamakiss when posting images of his illicit exploits online, is one of New York’s hotshot rooftoppers — a recent craze among thrill-seeking photographers, in which camera-carrying urban explorers sneak their way to the top of highly secure skyscrapers in the pursuit of vertigo-inducing snap shots. He’s generally not concerned about the risks to life and liberty that his illicit hobby entails, and said he takes the legal dangers of trespassing 1,000-feet above street level as a necessary step on his way to the top.

“Anyone who’s serious about it needs to realize the risk, and that you can spend time in jail and money on court fees and that kind of stuff,” said McNally. However, after a picture appeared on McNally’s Instagram account that seemed to have been taken from atop the towering construction site at 10 Hudson Yards — which he does not admit to taking — McNally said he began receiving some extra-legal attention from an undercover detective working for the building’s property managers, which made the hazards he invites really hit home. “I’ve always taken the position that to do what I do assumes physical risk and the risk of getting monitored and tracked by people,” he said. “I wasn’t naive to the fact that it’s a possibility, but it brought it home in a more personal sense.” McNally recalled that he received an email message from a man claiming to be a big fan of his rooftopping work, and said he wanted to set up a time to meet and talk shop. The photographer took his self-proclaimed fan up on the invite,

c DAREDEVIL, continued on p.11

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Built on the Strength of Experience.

c DAREDEVIL, from p.10 and the pair set up a time for a coffee shop meet-up, but not before he did a little research on his alleged “admirer.” “I saw right away his LinkedIn and it was a whole list of security company jobs… and I already knew it was not a photographer fan,” McNally recounted. “But I wanted to see if they would go through with it and see what their whole spiel was.” At the coffee shop, McNally met a “nice” gentleman in weekend casual attire, who was armed with a photo album that only served to confirm the rooftopper’s suspicions. “They were terrible pictures,” he said. “I was like, ‘Why are you talking to me about photography?’” It wasn’t long before the so-called photography fan spilled the beans, admitting he was a private investigator with a security outfit contracted by Hudson Yards, but the game wasn’t quite up, McNally said. The private dick continued to stroke McNally’s ego, and suggested the possibility of paying the photographer for penetration tests, in which he would sneak into the building in an attempt to work out flaws in its security system. But the conversation kept coming back to the Hudson Yards shot on McNally’s Instagram, and the urban explorer said he’s certain the investigator merely wanted McNally to cop to the alleged trespass there. “He, probably a dozen times, if not more, tried to get me to go on record saying that,” McNally said. “He was very focused on that property.” McNally declined to share the investigator’s name or the security company he worked for, but said the encounter proves that private security companies are starting to focus on combating rooftoppers as a means of shoring up their client’s protection from liability. McNally deduced that his “fan” was an expert in deterring the kind of trespass he routinely perpetrates. “I think he was a subject matter expert on this,” he said. “I’m not so naive to think this isn’t on the radar of security companies. If I’m a big security company, whose bread and butter is protecting big construction sites, this is going to be on my radar.” In response to McNally’s “hack” of the tower at 70 Pine Street in Lower

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James McNally platformed on top of the Chanin Building at 122 East 42nd Street.

Manhattan — an escapade he documented with a Go-Pro camera recording his ascent from the lobby all the way up to the top of its airy spire, nearly 1,000 feet above the streets of the Financial District — the property managers there and in nearby towers met with the local police precinct and community board to learn how to defend themselves from the rooftopper rampage. “It’s cool, and everybody’s going to want to do it,” said Joseph Alexander, development project manager for DTH Capital, which along with Rose Associates owns the former office tower now being converted to luxury residential. “There’s a clear intention that people want to continue to climb, and when the weather gets nicer, with these videos getting several thousands hits, each year there’s going to be an incident.” In late December, a man fell to his death from the top of the 52-story Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street when, according to police, he was trying to take pictures from a rooftop catwalk. Despite the dangers, the penalties for such trespassing aren’t particularly stiff and, especially when a private building has a public lobby, defense attorneys can argue for a motion to have charges pared down to a simple violation, according to NYPD officer Brian Nelson, who was among the precinct personnel who met with property owners after the Pine Street incident downtown. “Private buildings, even though they’re private, if the public has access to them their lawyer will claim they have a right to be in a building … which would knock it down to a violation from a misdemeanor,” Nelson said at the time.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

c DAREDEVIL, continued on p.19

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Resistance Mounts to DOT’s East Side Bike Lanes BY JACKSON CHEN

U

nsatisfied with the city’s Department of Transportation route recommendations, the majority of Community Board 8 — as well as many neighborhood residents on hand — requested alternatives to the Upper East Side crosstown bike lanes proposal during its full board meeting on March 16. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists at the meeting contributed several hours to the lengthy debate about implementing three pairs of crosstown bike lanes first laid out by the DOT on February 3. Responding to widespread calls from the community, the agency had proposed adding six bike lanes spanning the East Side from the eastern edge of Central Park to the East River Esplanade. The proposal included three westbound routes along East 85th, East 77th, and East 67th Streets and three accompanying eastbound lanes on East 84th, East 78th, and East 68th Streets. The three pairs were chosen, according to the DOT, to link to the MTA’s Lexington Avenue Subway and cultural institutions along those routes. Despite facing significant criticism during the proposal’s unveiling in February, DOT officials came back to CB8’s Transportation Committee meeting on March 2 with the same routes and argued they were the best options. Still unhappy, the committee considered a resolution requesting that the agency look at every crosstown block on the Upper East Side for alternatives. The majority of the full board last week, however, decided instead to go with a more modest resolution, simply requesting that the DOT come back with three alternative pairs of crosstown bike lanes. As CB8 waits for the agency to come back with some more choices, civic groups have already submitted their own suggestions to the DOT. Civitas, an Upper East Side and East Harlem nonprofit, sent its recommendations in earlier this month. Its proposal includes

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westbound routes on East 81st, East 75th, and East 71st Streets with eastbound companion corridors on East 80th, East 76th, and East 70th Streets. Jameson Mitchell, the organization’s executive director, said the group selected its routes after combing the neighborhood for quieter streets with modest amounts of traffic. He emphasized that the group avoided choosing blocks with crosstown bus service or an excess of institutions like schools, hospitals, or emergency services. Civitas’ proposal incorporated several key DOT considerations — having the pairs be approximately half a mile apart and easily accessible to Central Park’s transverse routes. Joining Civitas in providing alternatives, the 84th Street Citizens Alliance also put in its suggestions — a westbound East 81st Street route to be accompanied by an eastbound one on either East 80th or East 82nd Street. According to Wendy Abrams, a member of the alliance, the people involved per for med a “str eet scan” of

as much time as the residents, the community, and the people who live here,” Abrams said of her group’s efforts. “We just feel like funneling bicycles into an already crowded, busy transverse street is an ill-conceived plan.” Abrams said the DOT received but has not replied to her group’s proposal. The agency acknowledged receiving Civitas’ proposal, but the organization hasn’t heard anything since, Mitchell said. The advocates for the DOT’s original proposal see all the efforts at seeking alternatives as little more than delaying tactics intended to block the implementation of bike lanes they view as beneficial. “The DOT knows which are the best streets, they’re traffic experts,” said Steve Vaccaro, a 15-year resident and daily cyclist on the Upper East Side. Vaccaro, who’s been following the crosstown bike issue since its inception, said he assumed there would always be opposition to DOT’s proposals, but was unhappy with what he sees as unproductive debates.

NYC DOT

The three pairs of Upper East Side bike lanes proposed by the city’s Department of Transportation.

pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists in an effort to locate quiet, safe streets that are similar to East 90th and East 91st Streets, which already have crosstown bike lanes. “The DOT is not going to spend

“I predict that this [proposal] is going to go around and around and around in circles,” Vaccaro said. Still, even though he supports the DOT proposal, he also expressed concerns about putting crosstown bike lanes on streets in the East

CIVITAS

Alternative routes proposed by the nonprofit Civitas.

60s that also carry city buses. Street crowdedness was only part of the concerns and outcry that came from residents, who questioned what criteria and decision process the DOT utilized to select the three crosstown pairs. With so much commotion coming from community members, City Councilmember Dan Garodnick sent a letter to the DOT’s Manhattan borough commissioner, Margaret Forgione, asking for a “clearer articulation of your standards, methodology, the minimum criteria for street selection, and the basis of your recommendations.” According to a DOT spokesperson, the agency looked at all of CB8’s streets south of the existing East 90th and East 91st crosstown bike lanes. The DOT, the spokesperson said, will review the CB8 comments and determine next steps once it receives the board’s resolution. Most residents who spoke out against the DOT’s proposal emphasized that they weren’t against installing crosstown bike lanes, but instead simply wanted a better process for choosing the optimal routes that are safest. “[DOT has] their expertise, there’s no question about it,” the 84th Street Citizens Alliance’s Abrams said. “But there has to be something said about the people who live and work here.” n

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


NEW STORE POLICY:

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The Naked Cowboy, Robert Burck’s alter ego for 16 years, and two admirers in Times Square.

c JUSTICE AND ORDER, from p.4 view, the Council worked with city agencies and the Times Square Alliance, the area’s business improvement district, to figure out a solution to what was widely seen as a growing menace. Last August, Mayor Bill de Blasio created a task force to address concerns voiced by Times Square stakeholders. In October, the task force released several recommendations, including the creation of a dedicated NYPD detail for the area and empowering the DOT with the authority to regulate pedestrian plazas such as Times Square. According to the Times Square Alliance, the task force’s proposed solution involves creating three distinct regulatory zones with the zone’s pedestrian plazas. A civic zone would be designated for public events and programming, flow zones would allow for unimpeded pedestrian traffic, and designated activity zones would make space for “constitutionally-protected solicitation for the immediate

JACKSON CHEN

Spider-Man and the Dark Knight, aka Abdelamine El Khezzani and José Escalona-Martinez, in Times Square.

exchange of money for goods, services, or entertainment.” “We have proposed specific areas for you to be able to pass through Times Square without interfer ence,” Garodnick said. “Where you would not encounter tables, chairs, or hawkers of any type.” But the costumed characters and street performers feel the legislation too broadly categorizes them, lumping the bad eggs in with those who have obeyed the law. “There’s no reason, after 16 years, that I have to be plugged in with the characters and the new girls who have been here like two years,” said Robert Burck, better known as the Naked Cowboy. Burck and Khezzani agreed that the NYPD and city officials should be targeting the troublemakers who are relentless in seeking tips while not punishing people who maintain friendly interactions with people traveling through the area. “Where there’s been problems, just solve the problem where it’s at,” Burck said. “Don’t blame everybody for it.” But Johnson and his fellow Council co-sponsors feel the proposed legislation will create a better functioning, less intimidating Times Square that is fair to all. “It is possible to respect First Amendment rights while protecting pedestrians from scams and aggressive panhandling,” Johnson said. “This common sense legislation is the right fit for Times Square.” Johnson’s bill is due before Rodriguez’s Transportation Committee for its first hearing on March 30. n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

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March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


IN ST. PAT’S PARADE

PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue — the 255th such annual event — marked a welcome advent of unity in New York’s IrishAmerican community, since for the first time an Irish LGBT group was allowed to march behind its own banner, ending a 25-year ban that spawned a corresponding boycott. Marching for the first time, Mayor Bill de Blasio actually traversed the route from 44th Street north to 79th Street twice — once with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Bratton’s wife, Rikki Klieman, and First Lady Chirlane McCray, and later with the Lavender and Green Alliance, the LGBT group that drew at least 250 participants. The grand marshal this year was former US Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (above), a Maine Democrat. As President Bill Clinton’s US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, Mitchell is credited as the principal architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to that troubled British possession. From 1999 through 2009, Mitchell served as chancellor of Queen’s University, Belfast. After leaving that post, he served President Barack Obama as US Special Envoy for the Middle East. Also pictured here is Irish Consul General Barbara Jones (left, middle row).

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

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Turning Wi-Fi On Citywide BY COLIN MIXSON

T

he age of fishing for change to make a call — rendered obsolete for most people carrying cell phones — is coming to something of an official end in New York, as the city begins replacing thousands of coin-operated payphones with up to 10,000 free, high-speed wireless fidelity (WiFi) kiosks powered by hundreds of miles of robust fiber optic cable. In phase one of the rollout, kiosks have been activated along Third Avenue from 14th Street to 57th Street, and they are being installed on Third Avenue north all the way to the Harlem River and on Eighth Avenue from 14th Street to Columbus Circle. With the first several hundred LinkNYC hotspots coming online, many say it’s about time the city upgraded its increasingly anachronistic payphones. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Collins Nai, a junior studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “These payphones are obsolete.” LinkNYC, which takes the physical form of sleek, modern-looking kiosks, will emit gigabit-speed wireless Internet in a 150-foot radius that can be accessed free of charge via digital devices, such as wireless-enabled cellphones, computers, and tablets. Touch-screen interface

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for web browsing on the kiosk itself is also available. The kiosks also enable free calls anywhere in the United States, as well as provide maps, city services, and an emergency call button for phoning 911, in addition to cellphone charging capability. The mayor’s office was unable to provide an exact number of kiosks being activated in the initial rollout, but said the so-called “links” in the Third and Eighth Avenue corridors in Midtown would be up and running by July. The kiosks are being roughly sited to replace existing payphones — taking advantage of existing conduits and power lines beneath them — although the payphones, which sometimes come in batches of two or three booths, will not see more than one link installed in their place, and no kiosk will be installed within 50 feet of another. The WiFi rollout is the culmination of several years of planning and feasibility studies to determine how existing payphone infrastructure, such as conduits, electricity, and phone lines, could be utilized by the city amidst the proliferation of cellphones and portable computers. Nationwide, payphones are rapidly going the way of 8-track tapes, with the roughly 872,000

SCOTT STIFFLER

A LinkNYC kiosk on Eighth Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, will go online in coming weeks.

coin-operated phones in 2007 having been reduced to 195,000 by 2014, according to the American Public Communication Council (APCC), a national trade association representing independent payphone operators. The decline can be directly linked to the rise of the mobile phone and, additionally, to the so-called “Obama phones,” or cellphones paid for through the federally subsidized Lifeline Assistance Program, which was greatly expanded over the past seven years. “Obviously cellphones totally changed the payphone industry,” said Deborah Sterman, CFO for APCC and APCC Services. “And the federal cellphone program was really not a good thing for the payphone industry.” That said, Sterman noted that payphones in areas with large immigrant populations such as

c WIFI, continued on p.17

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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southern Texas, Florida, California, and New York City still enjoy robust usage. The city piloted the free WiFi program in 2012, when the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications spearheaded the installation of 25 hotspots throughout the five boroughs, while simultaneously advertising a request for information in order to gauge the capabilities of various communications suppliers to find new use for the city’s payphones. These early initiatives were followed by vendor scouting programs, in which the city solicited companies to submit business proposals with guidelines requiring free calling to 311, 911 and free 24/ 7 public WiFi — which ultimately resulted in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2014 announcement that the CityBridge Consortium had been chosen to install and maintain the LinkNYC kiosks. The phase one rollout will see more than 500 LinkNYC kiosks installed in select areas throughout the city by summer; in addition to

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Working kiosks, shown in blue, are already in place along Third Avenue, with other phase one kiosks, shown in gray, going online on both Third and Eighth Avenues.

the current Manhattan corridors, the program will focus on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, Jamaica, Queens, the South Bronx, and the St. George neighborhood in Staten Island. The program will expand in phases throughout the next 12 years, by which time the city will have completely removed the 6,451 payphones it estimates currently exist on city streets. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said that in their place, between 7,500 and 10,000 links WiFi links will have been installed. Along Third Avenue, where LinkNYC kiosks have already been activated, locals have been impressed by the gigabit-speed WiFi signals the links emit. One mattress salesman on the East Side said that he sometimes uses the link WiFi in lieu of his normal Internet provider. “If my service is really slow, I’ll use the link,” said Mark Anthony, who works at the Third Avenue Sleepy’s near 14th Street. On the West Side, locals say they most look forward to putting worries about finding a place to charge their phones while on the go behind them, and not having to hunt down a phone in case of emergency. “If you have an emergency, people look at you funny if you ask to use their phone, like you’re going to try and walk away with it,” said Nadia Leonelli, a 13-year Chelsea resident. “So they might be useful for that.” New Yorkers will likely find many different uses for the new WiFi kiosks, but one thing is for certain — they’re not using the payphones, and for more reasons than one. “I haven’t used a payphone for 10 years,’ said Leonelli. “A lot of them don’t even work and, you know what? They’re kind of gross.” n

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EXPRESS OURSELVES

Looking at the Bigger Picture on Small Businesses

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

EDITOR AT LARGE JOSH ROGERS

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS JACKSON CHEN, LINCOLN ANDERSON, SCOTT STIFFLER, COLIN MIXSON, YANNIC RACK

ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS RHIANNON HSU CHRIS ORTIZ

EXECUTIVE VP OF ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY ads@manhattanexpressnews.nyc 718-260-8340

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES JACK AGLIATA ALLISON GREAKER ANDREW MARK JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO

Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Manhattan Express, One Metrotech Center North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn 11201 or call 718-260-4586. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Manhattan Express. Manhattan Express is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, C.E.O. | Fax: 212-229-2790 Subscriptions: 26 issues, $49.00 ©2016 Manhattan Express, All rights reserved. NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC | ONE METROTECH NORTH, SUITE 1001 | BROOKLYN, NY 11201 | 212-229-1890

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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

S

everal weeks ago, a remarkable event took place in Manhattan — a crowd of around 100 turned out to voice their anger and frustration at news of the closing of a supermarket. Neighborhood residents, joined by local elected officials, rallied outside a West 14th Street Associated when they learned that the market faces a tripling in its rent that will price it out of it space. The Associated supermarket in question has been a staple at the spot for 27 years and, as a midlevel, affordable super market serving the West Side, is deeply appreciated by a diverse mix of patrons. Seniors in particular, many on fixed incomes, rely on the grocery store in an ever -gentrifying part of Manhattan. And that, of course, is the real issue. The insistent demand for housing in Manhattan is driving up rents, not only on apartments but also on the retail outlets that sustain neighborhood life. We may see many “improvements” in our neighborhoods, but our quality of life — our ability simply to live here — can suffer when the stores delivering the everyday necessities of life at affordable prices are again and again forced out through the lease-renewal process. The politicians at the March 13 rally were sincere in calling on the property’s landlord to meet with them and try to reach terms under which the supermarket could stay. And Community Board 2 has launched an online petition to save the store, as well. But any action in that direction — any lowering of the rent to something even remotely affordable for Associated — would be totally voluntary on the landlord’s part. It’s clear that the steady attrition of beloved local merchants will be an ongoing story — unless there is a dramatic change, and that change is probably only possible through legis-

lative action. If Associated’s lease is not renewed, it would be very deeply felt because of the supermarket’s oversized importance in its local community. But even if elected officials, the local community board, and other neighborhood advocates are able to save this store, the larger problem of skyrocketing commercial rents remains, unaddressed in any citywide fashion. Coalitions will simply not arise to effectively challenge every retail loss that impoverishes local communities. Mayor Bill de Blasio, to his credit, has made the housing affordability crisis one of the key issues of his administration. He pulled off a real coup last year when the Rent Guidelines Board voted to approve a rent freeze for one-year lease renewals for rent-stabilized apartments. That vote was a relief to millions of rent-burdened New Yorkers. With de Blasio in the middle of his first term, we can expect continued rent freezes, perhaps even a rollback. After all, as was clearly documented, landlords had for years unfairly profited from exaggerated operating-expense projections. The mayor, however, has not been nearly as good in offering protection to small businesses, a cornerstone of the city’s affordability. For 25 years, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act has sat idling in the City Council as its members have routinely lamented the loss of vital local businesses in their districts. It’s no secret that the city’s powerful real estate industry does not want the measure to ever come up for a vote, even though the system it would establish would bring fairness to both sides in lease renewal negotiations by creating a system of nonbinding mediation, followed when necessary by binding arbitration between landlords and merchants. Previous leaders on the Council have blocked the Small Business Jobs Survival Act from being voted on, despite strong support for it among their mem-

bers. Now, under a new speaker, support has again been building for the measure — with more than two dozen councilmembers currently signed on as sponsors. A year ago, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told The Villager, a sister publication to Manhattan Express, that the Council would have a hearing, maybe more than one, about small business survival that would look at all options, including the SBJSA. To date, though, there has been no hearing. Mark-Viverito’s office did not respond to a recent request to clarify where matters stand regarding the commitment to hold such a hearing. Among the elected officials who turned out to rally at Associated earlier this month, only two spoke to this larger issue. West Side Congressmember Jerrold Nadler said he felt commercial rent regulation is needed, while Assemblymember Dick Gottfried talked more generally about using the power to legislate to address the crisis. The Small Business Jobs Survival Act might not be the perfect answer. Perhaps it needs some tweaking. There could be better options — but ones that go beyond the mere tax breaks de Blasio and others mistakenly think will appease the landlords. What is clear is that a conversation is desperately needed, one that involves all sides. Without addressing commer cial rents, the mayor’s affordability vision is deeply flawed. Mark-Viverito, having promised one or more hearings a year ago, should show some guts as well as some leadership in forging real, long-term solutions to the crisis facing small businesses in Manhattan and elsewhere in the city. Otherwise, we can only look forward to more desperate rallies and, sadly, an even greater number of store closings. Lincoln Anderson is the editor-in-chief of The Villager, a sister publication to Manhattan Express. n

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


EXPRESS YOURSELVES

Can’t Adele Simply Say “Adieu?” BY LENORE SKENAZY

W

alk into the grocery and there she is. Shop for shoes, she’s shopping by your side. Need to cross a lobby? Drive to Jersey? Drink yourself into a stupor? My God — she is there, too: in the hotel, the car, the seedy bar’s seedy bathroom, seeping through the pipes. She is everywhere, always ready to start a conversation: “Hello. It’s me.” Of course it is. It always is. It is Adele. Now I know there must be some people — okay, several — who can’t get enough of Adele. Her “Hello” video on YouTube has, well, lemme check — 1,361,430,235 views so far. Not bad. But I was relieved to learn that it isn’t just me who is on the other side (as it were) of Adele-mania. “The only reason she’s popular is because Amy Winehouse is dead,” is how lifestyle blogger Amanda Lauren put it, rather bluntly, in a phone interview before using a very strong word. “I hate Adele.” Google those three little words and you will find a tsunami of similar sentiments, some laced with the kind of venom usually reserved for presidential frontrunners. “On behalf of the British nation, I apologize,” wrote one guy. “I can’t take it anymore!,” another.

c DAREDEVIL, from p.11 Even when prosecutors are able to make a misdemeanor charge stick, judges usually avoid handing out the maximum 90-day sentence to first-time offenders in favor of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which essentially lets the culprit avoid jail while doing community service, according to Zachary Johnson, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. “For a first offense that would probably be an ACD, which is a six-

A bit more thoughtfully, one blogger wrote, “Every Adele song is so damn formulaic, it is unbelievable. I can’t imagine any kind of emotional process that went on during the recording of any Adele song other than, ‘Hey, remember that one song I wrote with the four sad piano chords and I belted the song title in the chorus? Let’s try that again.’” He’s anti-Adele for artistic reasons. But others are simply staggering under Adele Overload. “Today I heard it” — we know what song “it” is — “four different places,” Yvonne Lederer, a marketing director in Westport, sighed. “She’s an entertaining singer, but enough! I just feel like everywhere I’m going she wants me to be really upset about a past lover, and I’m not going to go there.” Ah, but where else can you go? Adele is harder to escape than Mister Softee — and shares a certain stickiness. In a desperate attempt to pare the Adele quotient down in her life, Lederer and her friends have actually stopped using the word “Hello.”  Now, instead, they say, “’Sup?” Explained Lederer: “We’re protesting.” This can be an act of psychological self-preservation. When poet Erica Gerald Mason took her Toyota to the dealership for some warranty-required work, she had just settled into the waiting

month stay-out-of-trouble and a few days community service,” said Johnson. McNally — despite having been arraigned this week on criminal trespassing and reckless endangerment charges in the Pine Street rooftopping — made clear he has every intention of continuing to seek the heights, even if it makes landlords queasy. “It’s not something I’m going to stop doing,” he said. You can look for him on Instagram at Jamakiss. Or maybe you only need to look up. n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

room, when you know who started singing in the background. The mechanic walked in and Mason practically burst into tears. “This can’t be good news!” she cried. “You’re going to tell me you have to rebuild my engine, right?” He looked at her quizzically. Uh, no. He’d just come out to say… “Hello.” “He asked me why I had that reaction and I said, ‘Someone Like You’ is playing right now. This is not a song for good times. This is the song you hear when you need a new transmission. Play something else.” The problem is that that “something else” is likely to be something else by Adele. She’s not just popular, she has redefined popularity.  “Hello” was played almost five million times in just its first 24 hours on Spotify. (Take that, Taylor, honey.) Her album “25” sold

eight million units last year — more than any other album since 2011. And I think you know whose album that was. So now I’m taking my cue from my pal Hannah Pazderka, whose family has turned Adelemania into a game. “Whenever we’re out shopping and Adele starts playing, it means we’ve probably been there long enough, so someone invokes the ‘Adele rule’ and we have to leave,” she said. That one trick means spending less — and actually heading out into the day, where it’s probably not nearly as gray and rainy as you thought it was. Hello to the outside. Lenore Skenazy is editor and founder of the book and blog FreeRange Kids and a contributor at Reason.com. n

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Ellsworth Kelly Remembered by New York Artists He Inspired BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN

W

hen the revered American abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly died this past December 27 at the age of 92, there was a strong outpouring of sympathy in the international art community. In addition to the many leading newspapers, art magazines, and blogs that quickly published long obituaries or tributes, social media was rich in passionate proclamations by artists, citing Kelly’s crucial impact. For decades, he had not only been one of the most influential artists of the post-war era, but also one whose quality of innovation was sustained and repeatedly asserted in his more than six-decade career. Though best known for his abstract, hard-edged compositions — which often had him linked to the Minimalist movement of the 1960s — Kelly preserved an independent voice throughout his career. In fact, one of his most widely admired bodies of work incorporates overt references, featuring exquisite outline drawings of leaves and plant fragments. Kelly’s artistic heritage was steeped in the European avant-garde. Matisse, early Kandinsky, and Léger influenced his sense of color and obvious joy — while two of his favorite artists, Brâncusi and Mondrian, sparked his interest in reducing shapes to their simplest forms. All of Kelly’s works were derived from careful observations of the world around him. Chance compositions created by nature or architecture through the interplay of light and shadow were always at the root of his vocabulary, no matter how seemingly abstract. In that sense, the core of Kelly’s work is distillation, stripping the observed

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© ELLSWORTH KELLY, COURTESY: MATTHEW MARKS GALLERY/ GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM

Ellsworth Kelly’s “Orange Red Relief” (1959), oil on canvas, two joined panels, 60 x 60 inches, is in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum.

subjects to bones made of pure color and form. When asking several New Yorkbased contemporary artists about what they particularly admired in Kelly, I quickly received detailed responses. “When I came to New York in 1982, I was an innocent plein-air landscape painter from California,” the abstract artist Leslie Wayne remembered. “I was determined to leave that all behind and explore a brave new world of abstraction. One day I was at MoMA and saw Kelly’s ‘Study for Rebound’ (1955) and it was like a ‘eureka’ moment. I immediately went back to the studio and made a series of paintings based on those two biomorphic shapes. Kelly’s work gave me

a way to enter a language I hadn’t yet made my own, and because of that, he has always held an important place in my heart for his early gift of influence.” Jennifer Riley, who has titled several of her works “According to EK” in homage to Kelly’s “Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance” paintings, stated, “I was initially attracted to Kelly’s brilliant colors and bold sophisticated forms. I found myself later on seeing, making, and representing my own reality in a subjective, abstracted way. I have Ellsworth Kelly to thank. I think he gave many of us permission.” Remembering an exhibition of Kelly’s plant drawings at the Metropolitan Museum in 2012, artist Kim Uchiyama wrote, “I [had] two expe-

riences with this work. First, I was really taken by their strength of line and overall design while remaining absolutely delicate and conveying a sense of fluid, organic abstraction. Second, many of the drawings were done in black and white, yet the form clearly came out of feeling, color, weight, and shape. Both of these experiences still resonate with me and give me a lot to think about.” To Nick Lamia, it is “the incredible richness Kelly was able to conjure using such efficient means” that stands out. “He was like a chef who could create entire feasts with just two or three ingredients. Whether it was large abstract paintings, contour drawings of plants, or sculpture, he consistently created engaging and inspiring imagery using just a few elements.” Kelly’s presence in New York is especially strong due to his long history locally. Born in upstate Newburgh, he first studied at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, from 1941 until 1943, before serving in the military and joining the Allied forces in France. After pursuing an arts education on the GI Bill at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, from 1946 until 1948, and for six subsequent years in Paris, he returned to the US for good. By the time he settled in New York, first in a studio apartment on Broad Street and finally on Coenties Slip in Lower Manhattan, he had already made acquaintances with Brâncusi, Arp, Miró, Cage, and Cunningham. His neighbors downtown included Robert Indiana, Agnes Martin, and James Rosenquist, among others. His first New York solo show soon followed at the Betty Par -

c

KELLY, continued on p.27

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Manhattan Treasures THE HEART BEHIND SYMPHONY SPACE’S ART “Art and Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer” is a new documentary by Catherine Tambini that premiered to great acclaim at Lincoln Center in January at the New York Jewish Film Festival. The film celebrates the life of Sheffer (1935-2012), a New York cultural polymath who hosted “Selected Shorts” on public radio and served as artistic director of Symphony Space, where he created both the Thalia Follies and the annual Bloomsday on Broadway, in honor of James Joyce. Leonard Nimoy described him as “endlessly creative,” while Stephen Colbert recalled, “His voice was like having warm butterscotch poured over your head.” Jane Curtin said simply, “He was so much fun.” In addition to Nimoy, Colbert, and Curtin, the film features Sheffer’s family, Morgan Freeman, Stephen Lang, Fritz Weaver, Malachy McCourt, and James Naughton. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Mar. 26, 7 p.m.; Mar. 31, 4 p.m.; Apr. 3, 5 & 7 p.m. Tickets are $14, $12 for students & seniors at symphonyspace.org.

NATALIE MERCHANT’S CHANGING TIGERLILIES It’s been two decades since Natalie Merchant parted ways with her longtime 10,000 Maniacs bandmates and released her first solo effort, the 1995 multi-platinum selling “Tigerlily.” Both she and the songs from “Tigerlily” have matured and changed together, so last summer Merchant re-recorded the 11 songs with different

arrangements, inspired by how they had evolved over time in live settings. Merchant, in her only East Coast appearance, performs at the Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 75th St. Mar. 28, 8 p.m. Tickets are $39.50 - $79.50.

SIR ANDRÁS SCHIFF SELECTS In the second of three performances by promising young artists selected by virtuoso classical pianist and composer Sir András Schiff, pianist Julian Clef, born in Kerala, India, and educated at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music, presents Brahms’ “Three Intermezzi, Op. 117,” Beethoven’s “Sonata in F Minor, Op. 57” (“Appassionata”), and Prokofiev’s “Sonata No. 8 in B-flat Major, Op. 84.” 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. Mar. 28, 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25-$30, $15 for those 35 and younger at 92y.org. The final in the “Sir András Schiff Selects” series features Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula on piano, May 2, at 8:30 pm.

THE RESURRECTION OF GUSTAV MAHLER With the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” see the composer’s world through his own eyes in a journey through his monumental work of death and resurrection. Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, Time Warner Center, Broadway at 60th St., fifth fl. Mar. 29-30, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.50 at jazz.org.

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DECONSTRUCTING THE DIGITAL ECONOMY Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of endless prosperity, but so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids, with Internet startups selling for billions, but destroying more jobs than they create, extracting more cash from circulation than they put in, and disrupting entire marketplaces and neighborhoods in the process. Douglas Rushkoff, author of “Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus,” explains what went wrong and how to optimize our economy for distributed prosperity instead of mindless growth. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. Mar. 30, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32-35, $15 for those 35 and under at 92y.org.

c

MANHATTAN TREASURES, continued on p.23

HealtH Profile

Let’s Talk About Colon Cancer By Joan CulpepperMorgan, MD

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a reminder to all New Yorkers that the risk of colon cancer can be greatly reduced by getting a colonoscopy. In New York City, according to the New York Citywide Colon Cancer Control Coalition (C5), which includes the NYC Health + Hospitals, colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer, killing approximately 1,400 people each year. If caught early, ninety percent of colorectal cancers are curable. It’s no surprise to me people don’t want to talk about colon cancer or worse, colonoscopies. However, as the Chief of Gastroenterology, I’ve seen first-hand how colonoscopies save lives. So we must talk about it. I strongly urge all New Yorkers 50 and older to get a colonoscopy once every 10 years. Those with a family

history of colorectal cancer should discuss with their physician whether they should be screened earlier. I’m glad to say colon cancer awareness and the work of the C5 coalition in NYC has helped to close the disparity in colon cancer screening rates that exists in most other parts of the country among blacks, whites, Asians and Hispanics. In New York City, the colonoscopy screening rate is now the same across ethnic groups, this is great news! Just last year Manhattan hospitals in our health care system performed more than 6,000 colonoscopies. While this is great for our borough, there are plenty of people who have not yet had this vital screening. Patients need to understand the factors related to lifestyle that may put them at higher risk, such as obesity, smoking, lack of physical ac-

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

tivity and heavy alcohol use. It’s also important to remember people with colon cancer often have no symptoms until the disease has reached advanced stages, and by the time people experience symptoms, treatment can be difficult or ineffective. Signs of colon cancer may include: • A change in bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation or a change in consistency of stool • Rectal bleeding or blood in stool • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain • A feeling that the bowel does not completely empty after a bowel movement • Weakness or fatigue • Unexplained weight loss If you are 50 or over, or have family history of colorectal cancer, I urge you to talk to your doctor, and reduce your risk of colon cancer

Joan Culpepper-Morgan, M.D., FACG, Chief of Gastroenterology, NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem by going for a colonoscopy. NYC Health + Hospitals provides affordable colorectal cancer screenings across

New York City. Visit www. nychealthandhospitals.org or call 311 to locate a NYC Health + Hospitals location near you.

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THE FABULOUS BRUBECK BOYS Since 2010, pianist Darius Brubeck, drummer Dan Brubeck, bassist, and trombonist Chris Brubeck have toured in salute to their father Dave Brubeck’s legacy, joined by saxophonist Dave O’Higgins. Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Time Warner Building, Broadway at 60th St., fifth fl. Mar. 30-31, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. The cover charge is $35, $25 for students (except Mar. 31, 7:30). Reserve by phone at 212-258-9595.

THAT GUITAR MAN FROM CENTRAL PARK For the past 25 years David Ippolito has been known to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and tourists as “That Guitar Man® From Central Park.” A fiercely independent singer/ songwriter and storyteller, Ippolito has shared music and laughs, stories, political satire, thoughts, and feelings in Manhattan's backyard for an entire generation. Tonight, he is joined by the CSD Band — George Wurzbach on piano and vocals, Teresa Reynolds and David Marcus on vocals, Chris Tedesco on violin, Dan Paccione on bass, and Russ Debonis on drums. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Apr. 1, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35$45 at symphonyspace.org.

DONNA BRAZILE, JEFF GREENFIELD ON CAMPAIGN 2016 Award-winning TV journalist Jeff Greenfield, an ABC, CBS, and CNN veteran, appears in conversation with Donna Brazile, the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee who directed Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and is currently a commentator on CNN. 92nd Street Y, Kaufman Concert Hall, 1395 Lexington Ave. Apr. 3, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32-$42, $15 for those 35 and under at 92y.org.

SMASHING PUMPKINS ON BROADWAY The Smashing Pumpkins, the Grammy Award-winning rock group that features Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin, and Jeff Schroeder, appear in concert with special guest Liz Phair for three Manhattan shows. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 75th St. Apr. 4-6, 8 p.m. Tickets are $55-$85 at beacontheatre.com.

CAN WE BE CIVIL ABOUT THIS? Rabbi Andy Bachman, the director of Jewish content and ritual at NYU’s Bronfman Center, presents the latest in his 92nd Street Y “A Civil Argument” series, tonight focusing on “Israelis and Palestinians, Zionism and Democracy.” Zebu Grill (Brazilian cuisine), 305 E. 92nd St. Apr. 5, 7 p.m. Admission is $10 at 92y.org. The ticket price includes a specialty cocktail and appetizers.

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From Poe’s black cat to T.C. Boyle’s “Heart of a Champion,” cats and dogs have inspired writers since the beginning. Tonight, “Selected Shorts” includes funny and moving tales, hosted by novelist Ann Patchett (“Bel Canto”) and with readings by Jane Curtin, John Benjamin Hickey (“The Good Wife”), and more. Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Apr. 6, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30, $15 for those 30 and under at symphonyspace.org.

STEVE CASE ON HIGH TECH’S “THIRD WAVE” Steve Case, whose career began with his co-founding of America Online in 1985, when only three percent of Americans were in fact online, appears in conversation with New York Times/ CNBC business journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. Case’s new book, “The Third Wave,” is a look behind riveting business decisions of our time, informed by his decades of working as an entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist, and advocate for bipartisan public policies. 92nd Street Y, Buttenwieser Hall, 1395 Lexington Ave. Apr. 6, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32-$36, $15 for those 35 and under at 92y.org.

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“Fly,” a dance theater production created by the Pasadena Playhouse in California and the Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a tribute to the courage and resilience of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators in US history. Set in 1944, as Allied forces liberate Rome and British and US troops storm the Normandy beaches, four young men in Alabama enter the fray. Using dance and video projection, “Fly” takes the young men from training to combat, as they experience the anguish, fears, and triumphs of a brotherhood who fought for freedom abroad — and at home. New Victory Theater, 209 W. 42nd St. Mar. 26, 2 & 7 p.m.; Mar. 27, 3 p.m. Tickets are $15-$38 at newvictory.org.

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Central Park Paws, a community of dog owners in the park, gather for Bagel Bark, a chance to meet and greet other dogs and their families, while sharing light fare. Heckscher Ballfield 3, west side of the park at 63rd St. Apr. 2, 7:30-9 a.m. Dogs are allowed off-leash here daily until 9 a.m. Following the Bagel Bark, the Central Park Conservancy will meet with Central Park Paws to discuss issues of mutual concern regarding care of the park and the dogs. This is a great way to educate the kids on responsible pet care. This event is free, and no registration is required.

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SINGING & DANCING WITH AARON NIGEL SMITH The “call to action” of Portland-based musician and TV personality Aaron Nigel Smith (PBS Kids’ Emmy Award-winning “Between the

Lions”) is to get kids and families to sing, dance, and play together in celebration of community and togetherness in the global community. In a fun, inspired, and lively show best suited to ages three to six, Smith rocks out to a high-energy fusion of reggae, world music, and rock and roll. David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Broadway btwn. 62nd & 63rd Sts. Apr. 2, 11 a.m., for a 45-minute show. This show is free, but seating is limited and available first-come, first-served.

CELEBRATING BEVERLY CLEARY An all-star cast of actors, including Condola Rashad (“Billions”) and Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”), plus authors Jarrett J. Krosoczka (“Lunch Lady” series), Tony DiTerlizzi (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”), Jeff Kinney (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid”), and RJ Palacio (“Wonder”) pay tribute to the author of more than 30 children’s books, including the “Ramona Quimby” series, “Dear Mr. Henshaw,” and “The Mouse and the Motorcycle,” on the occasion of her 100th birthday (Cleary will not be in attendance). Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Apr. 3, 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 at symphonyspace.org, and the event is best suited for ages eight to 12. This event benefits Team First Book NYC, a nonprofit that works to transform the lives of children growing up in low-income communities through equal access to literacy and educational opportunities.

KEEPING IT GREEN FOR FAMILIES Spend quality time with your family helping keep Central Park green by spreading mulch or raking leaves. Central Park Conservancy environmental educators lead stewardship projects throughout the park every year during spring and fall. Groups are limited to three children, five and older, per parent or guardian, and you must pre-register at discovery@centralparknyc. org (include the date requested, the number of adults, and the number and ages of children) and then bring an enrollment form (at http://goo. gl/7YxinH) signed by each child’s parent. Available dates are Apr. 10 & Apr. 24, 10 a.m.-noon, and when you pre-register, you’ll receive notice of the meet-up location.

March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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March 24 - April 6, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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KELLY, from p.20

sons Gallery on East 57th Street in 1956, and three years later he was included in the landmark exhibition “Sixteen Americans” at the Museum of Modern Art. Though Kelly moved out of Manhattan in 1970, three years before his retrospective at MoMA, he remained nearby. In upstate Columbia County, he set up a studio in Chatham and a home in nearby Spencer town, where he worked and lived until his death. Fortunately for city dwellers, Kelly’s work can be sought out at any time in the permanent collections of all of the city’s leading art museums. In addition, Matthew Marks Gallery, which has exhibited Kelly’s work since the early 1990s, is currently hosting a project that should not be missed. The Museum of Modern Art lists online no less than 235 works by Kelly, including many that are not on display, such as the exquisite “Brushstrokes Cut into Forty-Nine Squares and Arranged by Chance” (1951), a work made of cut-andpasted ink drawings. Currently on display in the atrium, however, is the large-scale “Three Panels: Orange, Dark Gray, Green” (1986). In this triptych, three shaped canvases engage in a well-choreographed dance of highly saturated monochromatic color and geometric shapes. The irregular spacing of the triangular and trapezoidal forms, as well as the interplay of curved and straight edges, create both a dynamic rhythm and perfect balance. Here, the wall itself begins to serve as the artist’s canvas, while the forms of the paintings appear as gestural marks on it, blurring the divide between painting and sculpture. (11 West 53rd Street; moma.org or 212-708-9400.) Though the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum devotes most of its exhibition space to temporary special exhibitions rather than its vast permanent collection, it owns several works by the artist. One of the highlights is the square “Orange Red Relief” (1959), which is made of two joined, side-by-side panels of unequal depth. It is a terrific example of the artist’s monochrome paintings, which he began

© ELLSWORTH KELLY, COURTESY: MATTHEW MARKS GALLERY

Kelly’s “Barn (1968), 8 1/2 x 13 inches, and “Garage” (1977), 12 3/4 x 8 1/2 inches, are among 40 of his gelatin silver print photographs on display at the Matthew Marks Gallery through April 30.

in the early 1950s. Again, it is color, not gesture, that defines the work and provides it with a distinct sculptural presence. (1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street; guggenheim.org or 212-4233500.) At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kelly’s “Spectrum V” (1969) consists of 13 panels, each measuring about 84 x 34 inches. Here, Kelly revels fully in a luminous palette that is worlds apart from the moodier shades preferred by the Abstract Expressionists two decades earlier. As he explained in an interview with Agnes Gund conducted for MoMA in 2013, in this work he reconfigured and recontextualized the sequence of colors found in a rainbow. However, in this case, yellow, which is usually at a rainbow’s center, can be found on the outside; we are moving from light to dark to light. While each panel exudes a totemic presence, grouped together they transform into a true environment, absorbing the viewer’s attention visually, as well as physically. (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street; metmuseum.org or 212535-7710.) The Whitney Museum of American Art also owns many works by Kelly, including the stunning “Atlantic” (1956). Measuring more than nine feet wide, it is the largest of the artist’s black-and-white canvases of the late 1950s. It marks the ambitious culmination of many studies and several smaller paintings of the same compositional theme. The latter was inspired by

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | March 24 - April 6, 2016

© ELLSWORTH KELLY, COURTESY WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART

Kelly’s “Atlantic” (1956) is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

shadows cast across the pages of a book, which Kelly observed while reading on a bus. The diptych structure of “Atlantic” reflects the facing pages of the book. However, as if to turn a spotlight onto the shape that caught his attention, Kelly chose to reverse the light: Now the former shadow appears white, accentuated by the darkness of its surroundings. (99 Gansevoort Street, between Washington Street and 10th Avenue; whitney.org or 212-570-3600.) Currently, Matthew Marks Gallery is hosting a particularly interesting and unusual Kelly exhibition. Over 40 of his gelatin silver print photographs are on display, marking the first exhibition of its kind. The fact that Kelly finished preparing the prints and planned

the exhibition shortly before his death makes this show especially enticing. Kelly started taking photographs with a borrowed Leica in the 1950s. Because he used them to make notations of things he saw and subjects to draw, these photographs not only make for fascinating works of art, but aid in shedding further light onto his unique vision. In contrast to his sketches and collages, these photographs never served as preparatory studies for his paintings or sculptures. What they do capture is Kelly’s unique eye for the compositional possibilities of everyday details. (“Ellsworth Kelly Photographs” is on view through April 30 at Matthew Marks Gallery, 523 West 24th Street; matthewmarks.com or 212243-0200.) n

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