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More Ethics Charges Aimed at JHL Nursing Home 03 April 21 - May 04, 2016 | Vol. 02 No. 08
Hell's Kitchen Takes on Port Authority
Savion Glover's Steps, But Not His Feet
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April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
JHL Nursing Home Critics Allege City, State Conflicts of Interest
Mayor Bill de Blasio has come under fire from critics of a proposed West 97th Street nursing home for his support of the project.
BY JACKSON CHEN
ith Mayor Bill de Blasio having offered his administration’s legal support in favor of a 20-story nursing home project, some Upper West Side residents are raising new ethical questions about the proposed West 97th Street development. Next door to an elementary school and several senior housing complexes, the project site has faced sharp criticism from both parents of P.S. 163 students and next-door neighbors. Jewish Home Lifecare, the nonprofit looking to build the new nursing home, has been entangled in legal conflicts after both the parents and neighbors filed lawsuits challenging the environmental review conducted on the project. After State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis ruled that JHL and the state Department of Health didn’t take a hard enough look at the construction project’s hazardous materials and noise impacts, JHL filed an appeal, but State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, responsible for representing DOH, missed his deadline. Instead, the mayor threw in his support in the form of an amicus brief filed on March 22. According to a de Blasio spokesperson, the city’s brief is merely intended to defend the integrity of the City Environmental Quality Review process. With a federal magnifying glass being cast over de Blasio’s campaign fundraising practices, a devoted opponent of the JHL project is questioning the mayor’s links to the nursing home development. According to Marty Rosenblatt, a neighbor who arranged for expert lead testing on the site, the mayor’s favor for the JHL project may stem from his close relations with Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP, a law firm that representManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
ed JHL in the past and currently represents Joseph Chetrit, a real estate developer with a big investment in the 97th Street development being approved. In late 2011, Joseph Chetrit partnered with Larry Gluck of Stellar Management, who owns the parking lot on West 97th Street that would be replaced by the nursing home, to complete a land swap deal for JHL’s current campus on West 106th Street, which like the West 97th site is between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Many observers believe Chetrit, a wellknown developer, plans to construct a tall luxury condo development on JHL’s former campus. Kramer Levin, Rosenblatt noted, represented JHL on the nursing home project during its appearances before the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 2015. Kramer Levin has long been a friend of the mayor’s, with its attorneys donating nearly $33,000 to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral bid. Kramer Levin’s Midtown offices recently provided the venue for the mayor’s fundraising kickoff to his expected 2017 reelection bid, according to the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times reported that late in 2013, just weeks before his inauguration, de Blasio appeared before prospective donors at Kramer Levin’s offices and then left the room before money was solicited. Among those donors was Jona Rechnitz, who has emerged as a central figure in the federal fundraising probe. Compared to the city’s other major law firms, Kramer Levin’s contributions far exceeded the average haul of $5,000 from among the top 20. Only Sullivan & Cromwell LLP attorneys, who gave nearly $20,000, came close. With the investigation by US Attorney Preet Bharara and the FBI into de Blasio’s fundraising as well as NYPD corruption heating up, the mayor last week hired Kramer Levin’s Barry Berke, a white-collar criminal attorney who handles “sensitive and high-profile investigations and proceedings,” to represent his 2013 campaign in reaching out to the federal prosecutor. The Wall Street Journal reported that Berke subsequently postponed a de Blasio fundraiser he had planned for April 26. With the nursing home project proving to be a tough legal battle for JHL to wage — especially with the state sidelined in representing the Department of Health’s environmental review — the mayor’s recent amicus brief is a helpful
boost for the nonprofit’s effort to push its project, an outcome that would benefit Kramer Levin client Chetrit. Residents who are furious with the city supporting a project that they see endangering children and seniors have asked the mayor to retract the city’s amicus brief. And on a separate issue, some neighbors and their attorneys have mounted a conflict of interest complaint with Governor Andrew Cuomo regarding the role of an engineering consulting firm in the state environmental review of the nursing home project. In an April 4 letter to the governor’s office, the project’s critics said that AKRF, Inc., a firm retained by JHL to interface with the state on its environmental review, has received “substantial sums of money” for work on other projects from the State Dormitory Authority, an agency brought into the nursing home assessment as a consultant to the Department of Health. According to information released under a Freedom of Information Law request, the Dormitory Authority has paid more than $700,000 to AKRF, $25,000 of that during the time of the JHL project review. “Both the lead agency and its consulting agency were employing the services of AKRF, Inc., and paying it substantial sums of money,” the letter states, “at a time when these agencies should have been impartially and objectively evaluating the findings and recommendations of AKRF.” The letter to Cuomo also charged that JHL’s attorney, Steven Russo of Greenberg Traurig LLP, provided the legal advice to DOH on the nursing home review in a series of email exchanges. Rosenblatt, one of the authors of the letter, said the governor’s office has acknowledged receipt of it, but otherwise not responded. Neither Chetrit nor AKRF was available to respond to requests for comment. Ethan Geto, a spokesperson for JHL, said allegations regarding conflicts of interest are “100 percent inaccurate. Many law firms and many environmental consulting firms work for city or state agencies on a routine basis.” Greenberg Traurig’s Russo was in no way representing or providing legal advice to any state agencies during correspondences about the environmental review, Geto added. “We don’t see any basis by which the plaintiffs would prevail,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any conflict of interest of any kind.” n
New York Lends Both Frontrunners Strong Winds at Their Back BY PAUL SCHINDLER
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VOTE Hillary Clinton
fter several weeks in which the putative presidential frontrunners in both the Democratic and the Republican Parties were forced back on their heels, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump came roaring back on April 19 with decisive victories in the New York State primary. Trump, who was raised in Queens and made his name as a flashy Manhattan real estate developer, captured just over 60 percent of the vote in a GOP primary that drew just under 870,000 votes. His share was more than twice that of his nearest rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, who garnered a quarter of the total. Texas Senator Ted Cruz — who came out of the April 5 Wisconsin primary with a solid win and has recently outmaneuvered Trump in a series of state delegate selection gatherings that have followed primaries or caucuses — took a New York values drubbing, earning less than 15 percent of the vote. Ironically, T rump’s weakest showing statewide came in Manhattan, where he was bested by Kasich, 45.2 percent to 41.8. Though the billionaire frontrunner edged the Ohio governor out in Midtown neighborhoods, he was beaten on both the Upper East and Upper West Sides by Kasich. Manhattan, however, made up less than three percent of the Republican vote statewide, and Trump’s relatively weak perfor mance in the borough did little to dampen his commanding lead statewide. In fact, among all New York City Republican voters — 107,446, or 12.3 percent of the statewide total — Trump walked away with 64.3 percent, meaning he outperformed his statewide showing in the four boroughs outside Manhattan. On the Democratic side, where city residents made up 50.9 percent of the statewide total — with Manhattan representing 14.7 percent of all votes across New York State —
Midtown 17,917 votes Upper West Side (including Morningside Heights)
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTE
70.4% 29.6% 69.4% 30.6%
Donald Trump Midtown 3,173 votes Upper West Side (including Morningside Heights)
46.6% 41.5% 11.8% 37.5% 48.5% 14.0%
Upper East Side 34,012 votes
Upper East Side 7,978 votes
Manhattan 267,723 votes
Manhattan 24,887 votes
41.8% 45.2% 13.0%
New York City 924,330 votes
New York City 107,446 votes
New York State 1,817,552 votes
New York State 868,987 votes
Clinton captured nearly 1,055,000 votes, or 58 percent of more than 1.8 million in total. The former secretary of state performed even stronger in New York City, especially Manhattan. Citywide, she earned 63.4 percent of the vote, and in the borough, 66.3 percent. Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides were among her very strongest areas. In Midtown neighborhoods, she garnered 70.4 percent of the total, on the Upper West Side, including Morningside Heights, 69.4 percent, and on the Upper East Side, 73.3 percent. In previous contests during this primary season, Clinton has performed particularly well among black and Latino voters, which she did in New York as well, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has often bested her among white voters. In this week’s contest, however, Clinton split the white vote down the middle with Sanders, while capturing three out of every four black voters, and nearly two-thirds of Latinos.
Sanders has also done very well with male voters this year, but in New York Clinton held him to an even split. Among women voters, who were nearly 60 percent of all Democrats who turned out for the primary, she enjoyed a 26-percentage point advantage. Only young voters retained the loyalty to Sanders they’ve shown in past contests, with 18 to 29-year-olds, who were 18 percent of the total, giving him a 30-point edge. However, among the next older age group, those 30 to 44, who made up 24 percent of the total, Clinton had a sixpoint advantage. Her margins grew larger among each older cohort. As a result of Tuesday’s contest, Clinton now enjoys a 246-pledged delegate advantage over Sanders, 1,446 to 1,200, out of the 2,383 needed to secure the nomination. An additional 502 superdelegates — party and elected officials given automatic seats at the convention — have said they support Clinton (though they are free to change their minds at any time), while only 38 are siding with Sanders.
Democratic primary winner Hillary Clinton.
On the GOP side, Trump now has 844 of the 1,237 delegates he would need to win the nomination, trailed badly by Cruz at 543. Cruz is essentially out of the running for a first ballot victory in Cleveland this summer, while the prospects for Sanders overtaking Clinton in pledged delegates are also slim.
c FRONTRUNNERS, continued on p.18
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Voters, Mostly Democrats, Offer Their Views on a Big Gotham Primary
Upper West Sider Ted Hicks said he supports Hillary Clinton because he does think Bernie Sanders would beat Donald Trump.
BY JACKSON CHEN
s Manhattanites lined up at schools, churches, and community centers to show support for their favorite presidential candidate, comments from voters demonstrated why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in for a good day, but also how Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is able to keep up the fiery enthusiasm his campaign has enjoyed all year. Judging from those primary voters willing to offer their views to Manhattan Express, it’s
also not surprising that the borough’s turnout included more than 265,000 Democrats, but fewer than 25,000 Republicans. With “I Voted” stickers proudly emblazoning their chests, at least some voters were happy to share their insights about the most contentious and spirited New York primary elections in memory. “I like everything that she stands for,” said Harriet McDonald, the executive vice president of the Doe Fund, of her vote for Clinton. “She's certainly the most qualified unquestionably. I don’t think anyone else in fact is qualified.” McDonald, an Upper East Sider who jointly runs the nonprofit that provides housing and transitional employment to homeless New Yorkers with her husband George, said the other Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, was simply a “bumper sticker candidate” who offers no depth to his grand ideas of busting up big banks and delivering affordable and universal healthcare and education. But Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, has unquestionably inspired other voters with his uncompromising and urgent vision, which stands in marked contrast to Clinton’s more careful policy focus. “I immediately felt a connection with his long
record,” said Teresa Brooks, an Upper East Sider for more than 20 years, “and the fact that he has been taking stands on behalf of social justice and the economically deprived.” Brooks said she agreed with Sanders’ noninterventionist style in international affairs but was confident he would step to the plate to protect America’s national security. If it comes down to Clinton versus billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump in the general election, Brooks said her vote would most likely go to the Democrat. But should Clinton defeat Sanders for the nomination, her preferred scenario would be a four-way race, giving “young, independently-minded” Democrats the chance to stick with Sanders, while offering Republicans unhappy with the choice of Trump an alternative as well. For other Sanders voters, the controversies that have pockmarked Clinton’s long record are what turned them away from the frontrunner. “I can’t stand the Clintons, they’re corrupt,” said Diane S., who cast her vote for Sanders. “In my case, it’s more a vote against the Clintons.” Diane, a 40-year resident of the Upper East Side, said Clinton’s conduct following the 2012
c VOTERS, continued on p.19
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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
Costumed Superheroes, Naked Cowboy Take It on the Chin at Council BY JACKSON CHEN
he City Council has voted to give the Department of Transportation author ity over the many pedestrian plazas that have popped up in recent years, leading the costumed characters of Times Square, who worry about the new law’s impact on their activities, to look to legal action to protect their civil rights and livelihoods. And at least one prominent faux superhero has vowed defiance. On April 7, 42 of the Council’s 51 members voted to approve the pedestrian plaza bill introduced by Corey Johnson and Dan Garodnick, whose districts converge in Times Square. “We need to bring some order out of the chaos in Times Square,” Garodnick said. “The costumed characters have become a black eye for New York City, and we need to crack down on the bad actors who ruin the edgy and exciting vibe that makes Times Square unique.” The new law grants the DOT power to create regulations for the city’s 53 pedestrian plazas, including the heavily trafficked Times Square. A draw for locals, tourists, and costumed charNYC DOT
An artist rendering of the designated zones the DOT is likely to impose on Times Square.
c COSTUMES, continued on p.7
86th Street BID Taking Shape, But No Dollar Deets Yet Public BY JACKSON CHEN
he push to create an 86th Street Business Improvement District has made significant strides over the past five months, with the steering committee behind it having decided on its boundaries and goals, and with a financing structure agreed upon as well, though not yet released to the public. Business Improvement Districts, or BIDs, are currently established in 72 areas throughout the city, providing services ranging from area beautification to local business assistance at a cost to commercial property owners and, to a far lesser degree, residents. For the Upper East Side, major complaints fueling the drive for a
BID have focused on overflowing trashcans and panhandling. According to an April 13 announcement by East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos, the BID steering committee, which began work in November, has narrowed the boundaries of the proposed district. Advocates of a BID had initially suggested casting a net as wide as East 80th Street to East 92nd from Lexington Avenue to First. Instead, the committee’s scaleddown proposal area runs only from East 84th to East 88th, though it retains its original east-west breadth. “This was the area of highest need,” Kallos explained. “The point here was to start in the area with the most need and if the communi-
ty likes it and wants it to expand, we can come back with more support.” The new proposed boundaries resulted from a needs survey that Kallos’ office concluded in December. According to the councilmember, their results yielded 387 responses from residents and 46 from business owners, 22 of which are commercial property owners. “We received great feedback from the District Needs Survey,” Kallos said. “The steering committee is using these responses to inform the programming and budget of the BID.” According to the results, 316 responses mentioned the homeless population and panhandlers in the neighborhood, while 284 responses cited trashcans overflowing onto
dirty streets and sidewalks. “Those were the kinds of things that really jumped off the page, really caught our attention, and the focus of where we're putting attention on the BID,” Kallos said. The steering committee — its membership includes six property owners, three merchants, three residents, and four non-voting members, with representatives from different areas within the boundaries — have met on a monthly basis to sculpt the BID. The committee is currently working on finalizing a sign-on Statement of Support, its next step in demonstrating community input and backing. The BID proposal has already won support from State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymembers Rebecca Seawright and Dan Quart. While the BID committee has decided on a target budget and assessment levels, Kallos declined to share them pending a later announcement. He earlier had told Manhattan Express that the budget would be in the six figures, and
c BID, continued on p.7
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
c COSTUMES, from p.6 acters, the area will now include three kinds of zones to regulate conduct and traffic flow through the Crossroads of the World, the DOT said. In their presentation before the Council’s Transportation Committee on March 30, department officials outlined a draft proposal that created pedestrian flow zones where foot traffic could pass through unimpeded, general use areas for events and sightseers, and “designated activity zones” where all commercial activities — including the photo-taking that costumed characters conduct with tourists in exchange for tips — would take place. “We are putting into place what we believe are constitutional safeguards to ensure that commercial activity can take place and pedestrians and tourists can move freely on these plazas,” Johnson said. Not all councilmembers were pleased with the proposal, as five of those on hand formally abstained and one voted against the bill.
Brooklyn Councilmember Robert Cornegy, the naysayer, argued that the costumed characters help make for a more vibrant New York City. Critical of previous attempts to regulate costumed characters, Cornegy said this time around he is still “not convinced it will do no harm.” He added, “I feel strongly that we should not regulate or police any New Yorkers out of harmless activity that they rely on to keep money in their pockets and put food on the table. Don’t knock the hustle.” But facing an overwhelming majority in favor of the new regulation, the Spider-Man of Broadway and West 45th Street vehemently voiced his opposition and his determination to carry out civil disobedience. “I’m not going to follow these rules, to be in the box,” said Abdelamine El-Khezzani, Spidey’s alter ego. “It gives me limitations to move around. What if I just want to walk around in my costume? El-Khezzani said being corralled into the designated commercial
c COSTUMES, continued on p.13
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c BID, from p.6 last week he confirmed the numbers would be in that range. In addition to working on the BID, Kallos has also successfully negotiated to have the city’s Department of Sanitation double up on trash pickup along 86th Street. The litter-plenty condition of 86th Street is due, in part, to the
MTA’s 4, 5, and 6 subway stop at Lexington Avenue, which serves 20.7 million riders and is among the system’s top dozen busiest. Trashcans near the stop are often left neglected and overflowing. After hearing numerous complaints and being provided with photo evidence of the proliferation
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
c BID, continued on p.13
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Tenement Improvements at Hand, But CB8 Complains About Aluminum Windows BY JACKSON CHEN
he owner of a block of landmarked tenement buildings, attempting to perform much-needed repairs for residents who complain they’ve been left with apartments in disrepair for far too long, is facing resistance from a surprising quarter. In a tight vote, Community Board 8’s Landmarks Committee has voiced disapproval of a window master plan presented by the building owner’s architect. On April 18, George Boyle, the architect representing Stahl York Avenue Company LLC, which owns a block of buildings that run from York Avenue to First between East 64th and 65th Streets, presented a plan for outfitting hundreds of windows with aluminum replacements at a public meeting of the committee.
CB8’s Landmarks Committee gave a thumbs down, on a narrow vote, to a plan for replacing the windows in landmarked tenement buildings located between First and York Avenues from East 64th to East 65th Streets.
The master plan addresses only four of the complex’s buildings, those closest to First Avenue, representing about a third of the block, but Boyle explained that the owner
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would undertake similar window replacement on the rest of the complex at a later date. Unswayed by signs of progress in a complex long the target of tenant complaints, a majority of the committee criticized the plan to replace the neglected and deteriorating window frames, largely on the grounds that they want to see the architect replace the old windows with wood frames, not ones made of aluminum. “I live in an individual landmark that just did an entire window replacement with wood windows,” said committee member Sarah Chu. “There is an aesthetic, there’s a palpable experience that goes with having wood versus aluminum.” The board was clearly split on the appropriateness of the material used, with purists arguing for the aesthetic superiority of wood while other committee members pointed to the practicality and durability of aluminum windows. “Usually I would go for replacing the windows in wood,” said Elizabeth Ashby, another committee member. “But I think that this building is more culturally a landmark than architecturally.” Even those opposing the window master plan, however, noted their satisfaction that the buildings’ owner is finally taking steps to address disrepair ignored for years. “The windows are in this state because of the owner’s negligence,”
said Chu. “This is the responsibility of the owner, so the people who live in this building... deserve the best that an individual landmark requires.” Residents of the buildings who were on hand said they’ve been living in slum-like conditions for too long. Monica McLaughlin, a resident at 430 East 65th Street, said the list of complaints includes leaky faucets, nonfunctional washing machines, broken windows, and holes in the walls. In the same building, Vincent Basilici said that in those rare instances when repairs are made, they are done so haphazardly, often leading to new problems. He said he’s heard of repairs where faucets were replaced with mismatching hot and cold handles or windows were painted shut. “About a decade ago, they stopped making any repairs at all,” McLaughlin said. “When tenants would call up to get the repair made, they’d say, ‘Sorry we can’t get the parts.’” Worst of all, McLaughlin said, was the scaffolding that the owner installed in 2006 but only recently removed. She said the scaffolding festered for years and reached the point of being in danger of collapse. Residents said they’ve recently noticed that the owner has begun gut renovations of several vacant apartments to rectify damages from years of decay. Some of those units have since been rented out, according to Basilici. While residents remain suspicious of the intentions behind the owner’s current efforts to repair the complex, CB8 members generally voiced relief that the owner is now showing responsiveness to resident concerns. “Strange as it may seem, I applaud the landlord for finally stepping up and saying, ‘Yes this is my responsibility,’” said Barry Schneider, CB8 board member. “Let’s see if we can now coerce him or cajole him into being more of a responsible landlord... as he has not done so in decades.” n
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Hellâ€™s Kitchen Sounds Off
Against New Bus Terminal, Eminent Domain
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On a recent weekday, buses were queuing up on Dyer Avenue to get into the Port Authority terminal through a ramp.
BY YANNIC RACK
undreds of Hellâ€™s Kitchen residents dreading the arrival of a new bus terminal that could obliterate parts of their neighborhood gave an earful to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey this week, in an attempt to deliver a pre-emptive strike against any plans that would involve bulldozing residential and commercial blocks in the area to make way for a replacement station. At a town hall-style meeting on April 18, the Metro Baptist Church on West 40th Street â€” immediately west of the current Port Authority Bus Terminal â€” was filled to the brim with neighborhood residents, activists, and business owners voicing their concerns about the plan to build a new terminal on the West Side. â€œOur message is, â€˜Do no harm,â€™â€? said Dale Corvino, who lives on West 43rd Street and is a member of Community Board 4. Worries about the impact of a new, and larger, terminal in the neighborhood intensified in recent weeks, after the Port Authority announced at its board meeting last month that it was committed to building a much-needed replacement in Manhattan â€” rather than New Jersey, which, unsurprisingly, seemed to be the more popular option with Manhattanites. â€œYou have the perfect solutionâ€Ś
the light should have gone on and somebody should have said, â€˜Why donâ€™t we move the bus terminal out to the Meadowlands Sports Complex and then build a light rail into Manhattan?â€™â€? suggested Bob Minor, one of the speakers at the event and a co-chair of the HK 50-51 block association, to thundering applause. Although nobody â€” least of all its operators â€” disagreed about the fact that the decades-old bus terminal is an outdated mess in need of replacement, the residents said they were mostly worried about the prospect of eminent domain, the controversial process through which the city or state can take over private property to make way for important public projects. The authority recently launched a design competition to solicit proposals for the terminal, but not before it released a set of concepts meant to illustrate possible replacement scenarios â€” some of which included taking over property west of the current station, which sits on Eighth Avenue between West 40th and West 42nd Streets. â€œWe donâ€™t want to throw the community under the bus â€” or the bus garage, in this case,â€? said State Senator Brad Hoylman, who organized the town hall together with Assemblymember Dick Gottfried and CB4.
c PORT AUTHORITY, continued on p.10
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
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PORT AUTHORITY, from p.9
The Port Authority officials at the meeting emphasized that the agency would work hard to avoid any scenario that would replace longtime residents. “We’re going to use Port Authority property wherever possible, I can’t emphasize that enough,” said Mark Muriello, the agency’s deputy director of Tunnels, Bridges, and Terminals. “We’re not looking to overrun the neighborhood — we want to integrate the neighborhood,” he added. The current terminal serves more than 230,000 passengers daily, which is already more than it was built for in 1950. The Port Authority estimates that number will increase
with the bus terminal for decades. During the meeting, buses were parked on the street outside, waiting for their turn to pick up passengers inside the station. This block alone, a microcosm of the Hell’s Kitchen South neighborhood, is home to a row of handsome residential buildings and a range of long-standing community organizations, including the Clinton Housing Development Company and the Dwelling Place, a women’s shelter. The Metro Baptist Church itself, which has been located on the block since 1985, houses a teen center and an after -school program, and has a roof garden that helps feed up to 800 people every month through a food pantry. “From the roof, where we have
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Metro Baptist Church Pastor Scott Stearman, center, sitting ahead of Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, said his church provides essential neighborhood services to the Hell’s Kitchen community, including a food pantry, as well as teen and after-school programs.
to 270,000 by 2020, and could reach 337,000 after another 20 years — clearly demonstrating the need for an expanded facility. But the community was not convinced of the agency’s assurances about minimizing its impact, with some going so far as to declare the whole discussion as over before it even started. “The Port Authority is a horrible neighbor. The back end of Ninth Avenue is their dumping ground,” said Joe Calcagno, who owns Capizzi Pizza on Ninth Avenue, between West 40th and West 41st Streets. “It’s inevitable, the fix is in, guys. This thing is done already, don’t fool yourself,” he told his neighbors. Most of the other speakers were more hopeful that they could still avert a doomsday scenario, and many spoke to the value of the neighborhood, which has lived
a farm, to the basement, where we have a food pantry, it’s a very vibrant building,” said Metro Baptist Pastor Scott Stearman. “It’s so important to the neighborhood, so we want to encourage looking at land that the Port Authority already owns.” He added, “We know that the Port Authority needs to be revitalized — there’s no question. We just don’t think it needs to be these blocks.” The locals won’t have to wait long to find out whether or not the concerns raised at the town hall will have any impact on the eventual design. The Port Authority expects to announce the winner of its design competition in the fall. For anyone attending the event, one thing was clear, however. “We certainly heard tonight that the community draws the line at eminent domain,” Hoylman said. n
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
On UWS, St. Michael’s Episcopal Complex
Landmarked in Its Entirety BY JACKSON CHEN
he city Landmarks Preservation Commission, in the first of several final round meetings to resolve the fate of properties that have been backlogged for decades, designated the entire St. Michael’s Episcopal Church complex as a landmark. On April 12, the commission voted in favor of landmarking not only the main church building, but also the rectory and parish house, which include offices and meeting space. St. Michael’s, at the corner of West 99th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, was first in front of the commission as a landmarking candidate in 1980 and then again in 2008, but both of those hearings ended with no action taken. The commission, at a February 23 meeting, culled the list of 95 items in its Backlog Initiative to 30 that it decided warranted a shot at landmark status. In that meeting, St. Michael’s was promised a designation hearing before the end of the year. The commission concluded that the three
buildings in their entirety comprise “one of the finest ecclesiastical complexes in Manhattan” and praised notable features including a unique bell tower. “These beautiful buildings create a cohesive and unique complex that makes a striking contribution to the Upper West Side streetscape,” said commission chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. Preservationists were pleasantly surprised that the commission decided to fully landmark the complex, given the position taken by the church’s congregation, which supported designation for only the main church building. “There were some concerns that only the church would be designated,” said Kate Wood, president of Landmark West!, a preservation advocacy group. “But we’re delighted the landmarks commission recognized the entire ensemble for its architectural coherence and contribution it makes to the neighborhood.” In previous commission hearings, representatives of the congregation testified to their concerns about landmarking the parish house and rectory because of their expectation of future
The parish house at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church at 99th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.
accessibility upgrades. “It was a suggestion we put forward,” said church warden Michael Smith. “The feeling
c ST. MICHAEL'S, continued on p.13
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whom they describe as a 17 to 20-year-old black male, around 6’ to 6’2” in height, 180 pounds, and last seen wearing a black hooded sweater.
On March 27 at around 5:45 a.m., a male suspect across the street from 430 West 125th Street approached a 38-year-old female who was walking westbound on West 125th Street, police said. According to police, the suspect approached the victim from behind and forcefully removed her purse that contained $60, her ID, credit cards, and an LG cell phone. The male suspect fled westbound and there were no injuries reported. Police released photos and a video of the suspect (which can be seen at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male in his 50s last seen wearing a gray leather jacket, blue jeans, and a cross necklace.
ROBBERY: STEALING FROM KIDS (CENTRAL PARK PRECINCT) Police report that on April 2 at around 6:15 p.m., three male suspects approached three victims — ages 10, 14, and 15 — in the North Woods of Central Park, near West Drive And Transverse Road Number Four. The suspects asked the youths what was in their bags and pockets, before rifling through them for themselves. The three suspects made off with iPhone 6 and Android cell phones, but there were no reported injuries. Police released photos of the suspects (which can be seen at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they didn’t otherwise describe.
ROBBERY: SELFIE-CRIMINATION (MIDTOWN NORTH PRECINCT) The police are trying to identify a suspect connected to a robbery that happened on April 5 inside a northbound A train at the 50 Street Station. At around 8:30 a.m., the suspect grabbed a cell phone from the victim’s hand, pushed him away, and left the train, police said. But the suspect used the stolen cell phone to snap a selfie, which police have on file and are using to help catch the perp. Police released photos of the suspect (which can be seen at manhattanexpressnews.nyc),
HOMICIDE: FATAL STABBING (19TH PRECINCT) Police have charged a 19-year-old East Harlem resident, Gustavo Rodriguez, with murder, felony assault, and criminal possession of a weapon after they concluded he stabbed 22-year-old Xavier Olivares. According to police, the incident took place at the intersection of Third Avenue and East 94th Street on April 12. Police received a call at about 1:15 a.m. that morning about a male stabbing victim at Metropolitan Hospital. Once officers arrived, they confirmed that Bronx native Olivares, who was later pronounced deceased, had been stabbed multiple times in the chest. The investigation is ongoing.
MISSING PERSON: ALAN MOORE (23RD PRECINCT) The police are asking for the public’s help in locating Alan Moore, a 14-year-old resident of East Harlem. Moore was last seen on April 15 at around 6:30 a.m. inside his home at 1734 Madison Avenue near East 115th Street. Police released photos of the missing youth (which can be seen at manhattanexpressnews. nyc), whom they describe as a black male, 5’5” tall, weighing 140 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. Moore was last seen wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and black sneakers.
HOMICIDE: GUNSHOT TO THE HEAD (25TH PRECINCT) On April 17, police responded to a 911 call at around 2:15 a.m. regarding a male shot inside 350 East 124 Street. Officers found Steven Vasquez, a 21-year-old Queens resident, with a gunshot wound to the head. EMS transported him to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. While the investigation is ongoing, police have taken into custody a 22-year-old male, whom they say is a person of interest.
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was maybe it’d be a little easier for us down the road to do handicap accessibility if we didn’t have the parish house and rectory landmarked as well.” Smith conceded that this concern may have been a little misplaced because he now under stands that the commission has been “notoriously good about helping buildings get accessibility.” Smith added that the commission’s decision did not come as a surprise to the congregation, which has long been aware of the unique historical and architectural value of their church while understanding LPC’s mission to protect properties like theirs. The main church building was constructed in 1891 and fashioned with stained glass windows from Louis Comfort Tiffany, while the parish house was added in 1896-97 and the rectory in 1912-
13. Throughout its long history, Smith said, the church’s leadership always kept an eye on preservation, while maintaining the facility as a place of worship and community gathering. “We obviously don’t just want to be a museum of Victorian beauty,” said Smith. “We’re a living congregation, and we have a mission to carry out.” Smith said that the landmarking wouldn’t impede the church’s future, and he added that the LPC’s expert advice and preservation resources would likely prove a boon for the congregation maintaining the property. “Keeping up the complex of 100-year -old buildings is an expensive hobby,” Smith said, “but we’re pretty committed.” The Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold another meeting addressing up to eight more of the backlogged properties — which have not yet been selected — on June 28. n
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c ST. MICHAEL'S, from p.11
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of trash on the corridor, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia agreed to the stepped-up schedule. “We really need partnership with our communities in order to figure out how to provide the right service at the right time,” Garcia said at an April 13 Upper East Side press conference with Kallos. “One of the
things that was particularly interesting here is that just by adjusting how we were routing our trucks, we were able to provide additional service.” The twice-a-day pickups will continue alongside the BID’s maintenance services once they are launched, Kallos said. The councilmember added his office would release the BID’s Statement of Support in coming weeks. n
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4TH
c BID, from p.7
zones would cut into his livelihood because he often approaches tourists. If contained in a zone, he said many of the costumed characters and ticket sellers would be ignored. The inevitable result, he predicted, would be more hostility and tension in the area. “They want to shove us like a box of oranges, like sardines,” El-Khezzani said. “They just want us to starve that way.” Robert Burck, whose professional outfit is quite nearly his birthday suit, was equally concerned about the type of environment the zones
would create. “If you had 30 people in the box, it’d be like piranhas,” said Burck, better known as the Naked Cowboy. Despite some hesitation, Burck said he plans to cooperate with the DOT’s regulations. But, the costumed characters fuming about the vote have their eyes set on legal action against the Council. “I’m prepared to sue the city... other characters with me are ready to sue the city,” said El-Khezzani. “They can pass this law if they want. I’ll be the first one to get arrested... I’m going to fight until the last minute. n
c COSTUMES, from p.7
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he Sloop Clearwater’s majestic presence on the Hudson River is a visual treat to those visiting our shorelines — and for those living in towers with river views. To them, the sloop must appear like a slow-moving 1800s oil painting as it sails on by, framed by their windows. Built in the late 1960s as a replica of the Dutch cargo vessels that transported goods up and down the Hudson River during the 18th and 19th centuries, the Clearwater shares the cultural, historical, and educational core values that form the foundation of the Hudson River Park Trust. That is why the Trust along with other groups such as the Hudson River Foundation and the Chelsea Waterside Park Association have organized and funded trips from Chelsea Piers in support of the sloop. The excursions offer participants a fleeting glimpse of life as a crew member in past times, as the Clearwater lumbers past modern-day ferries, water taxis, tourists boats, tugs, barges, cruise ships, tankers, and the maritime patrols of the Coast Guard and NYPD. Dave Conover, interim executive director of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc, headquartered in upstate Beacon, explained, “Finding dock space in the city has become very challenging.” Besides Chelsea Piers, the Clearwater has found temporary berths at the South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge Park, but is mostly docked in the friendly and accommodating waters of the city parks department’s 79th Street Boat Basin. Conover said that Clearwater and the Hudson River Park Trust are currently discussing a potential permanent dock at Pier 26 at N. Moore Street. Launched in 1969 by the late legendary folk singer Pete Seeger on a mission to clean up the Hudson, the Clearwater is undergoing the final stage of a major restoration. Since 2009, work during
The Sloop Clearwater near the Walkway over the Hudson, an Highland.
the winter months has been done to replace structural framing in both the bow and stern. This past winter, woodworkers turned their attention to the mid-ship. “Because the Clearwater is a wooden boat and spends a lot of time in fresh water up river, that makes the wood vulnerable to decay,” Conover explained of the need to replace so much wood. “Most fungus that rots wood can’t thrive in salt water.” This winter’s Clearwater restoration project — supervised by shipwrights, carpenters skilled in ship repair — included work on the centerboard trunk, hull reframing, and replanking. In order to ensure access to the wood, the sloop’s engine and fuel were temporarily removed. Conover says, “Although much work will need to be done, our goal is to be back in the water by the end of May, followed by sessions of training the crew,” Conover said. “It will be ready for public sails by mid-to-late June.” Conover noted that Clearwater’s sister ship, the Mystic Whaler, is coming online for cruises this month. In restoring the sloop for another 50 years of sailing, the
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Sailing the Hudson LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT
old railroad bridge that now takes pedestrians from upstate Poughkeepsie to
Dave Conover of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc, in the sloop as it undergoes dry dock restoration.
Clearwater has set a fundraising goal of $850,000. On April 29 at 6:30 p.m., Clear water will hold a benefit concert, â€œAll Hands on Deck,â€? planned as a tribute to Seeger, with performances by folk, country, bluegrass, and gospel bands. Tickets to the concert, which takes place at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street at Central Park West, are $20-$100, $10 for those 10 and under at buytickets.at/nycfriendsofclearwater/48803. For more information on the sloop, visit clearwater.org. n ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
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BY LENORE SKENAZY
his past Saturday evening at Cinema Village on East 12th Street I met Marine Ser geant Aaron Rasheed. He was up from Virginia with his wife and three young children, including baby Elijah, who cried part way through the new documentary we were there to watch, “The Syndrome.” I can’t blame him. The movie is about Shaken Baby Syndrome — a heinous crime we’ve all heard of. Back in the fall, when Elijah was three weeks old, he suffered a seizure. Rasheed and his wife rushed him to the hospital. The baby had two hematomas — blood on the brain — or at least it looked like that at the time. How had he gotten them? The desperate parents had no idea. Tsk tsk. They must be hiding something. Child Protective Services swooped in and accused Rasheed of shaking the baby. Rasheed was floored. He loved his son! He’d never do that! “But I think because I had served in Afghanistan,” Rasheed said, the authorities assumed he must be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and further assumed he must be taking it out on his baby. All three children were placed in a relative’s custody and Rasheed faced trial. Frantic, he went online and tried to find any information he could about Shaken Baby Syndrome. That’s where he found Susan Goldsmith, the researcher behind “The Syndrome.”
A journalist for more than 20 years specializing in child abuse, her investigative reporting resulted in two new laws protecting children in foster care. She was especially revolted by the idea of anyone who’d shake a baby. We all are. But the more she looked into this crime, the more sur prised she became. It turns out that the constellation of three symptoms that “prove” a baby was shaken (a type of brain swelling, brain bleeding, and bleeding in back of the eyes) can actually be caused by all sorts of other problems, including genetic issues, birth trauma, even a fall off a couch. And yet, over and over, distraught parents and caregivers with no history of anything other than loving their babies have been accused of shaking their kids to death, simply because their children presented these symptoms — or other unexplained symptoms. To this day, about 250 parents and caregivers are prosecuted for this crime every year. “The Syndrome” tells the tale of how this new category of crime appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the mid-1990s. Goldsmith found that some of the same doctors who had actively promoted the Satanic Panic of the early ’90s, accusing daycare workers of things like sacrificing animals in the classroom and raping the tots in Satanic rites, abandoned that narrative when people started doubting its plausibility. In its wake, those doctors found a new horror to focus on: Shaken Baby. As Goldsmith puts it, “They medicalized Satan.” Attention, donations, and research money flooded in. But after Goldsmith’s film interviews parent after parent who brought their ailing babies to the hospital only to find themselves accused of the sickest, saddest crime possible, it turns to the heroes: doctors who gradually started to question the syndrome.
Consider the case of Natasha Richardson, says one of them, neurosurgeon Ronald Uscinski: She hit her head in a skiing accident and even joked about it afterward. No big deal! Two days later she was dead. This happens to children, too, he says. Toddlers toddle. Sometimes they fall. Usually it’s fine, but sometimes it’s tragic. It may be diagnosed as the fallout from a shaking, but here’s the sticking point: If someone shook a baby so hard that its head went flopping back and forth, the neck would show signs of whiplash, right? And yet, the film notes: none of the hundreds of “shaken” baby cases Goldsmith reviewed showed serious neck damage. Not one. Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University law professor interviewed in the film, estimates there are 1,000 people in prison today for a shaken baby crime they did not commit. Rasheed was almost one of them, but he was found not guilty. The idea that the shaken baby diagnosis may be as unfounded as the Satanic Panic does not sit well with the medical establishment. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a 14-page document criticizing “The Syndrome.” Three different film festivals were threatened with lawsuits simply for screening it. But the show goes on. “The Syndrome” is available on demand through iTunes, Amaz o n , T i m e Wa r n e r C a b l e — almost everywhere. And Rasheed is hosting a screening back home in Virginia. He knows firsthand how easy it is to end up in the medical establishment or child protective services prosecutor’s crosshairs. It’s enough to leave anyone shaken. Lenore Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids,” and a contributor at Reason.com. n
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FRONTRUNNERS, from p.4
The next contests occur next Tuesday, April 26, in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, where the demographic similarities to New York and what polls have been taken suggest that Clinton and Trump are in strong positions there, as well. The GOP contests in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, where a total of 125 delegates are at stake, are winner-take-all or winner-takemost primaries, meaning that if Trump holds on to his leads there, next Tuesday could prove a pivotal evening for his campaign. The three largest Republicans primaries that follow next week’s — in Indiana, on May 3, and in California and New Jersey, on June 7, also allocate delegates on a winnertake-all or winner-take-most basis. However, given that the California contest, with 172 GOP delegates up for grabs, does not happen until the very end of the primary season, the question of whether Trump can
prevail on a first ballot will not be answered any time soon. On the Democratic side, where no contests are winner -take-all but instead allocate delegates proportionally according to the popular vote, closing a 250-pledged delegate gap is a tall order this late in the primary season. As a result, Sanders will likely need an upset or two somewhere next week to change a narrative in which Clinton is well ahead and superdelegates, already inclined to support her, would not buck the will of voters who are delivering her that advantage. Clinton now seems like the prohibitive Democratic favorite, while Trump remains in a position where he could yet capture a first ballot victory. Given Cruz’s success, however, in having some Trump delegate slots put in the hands of his supporters — who would be bound to the frontrunner only for the first ballot — should Trump not arrive in Cleveland with 1,237 votes in hand, all bets are off. n
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VOTERS, from p.5
attack on the US military compound in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead, and her use of a private email server while secretary of state were telling signs of her character. “They’re totally corrupt,” Diane added, “She's got too much money. Where that money comes from is very suspect.” The Clinton naysayer added that if Sanders didn't receive the Democratic nomination, her vote would go to Republican hopeful Trump because “he tells it like it is.” But at polling sites on both the Upper East and Upper West Sides, a clear majority of voters said they support Clinton, citing her track record and qualifications, but also her ability to go up against Trump, who was the overwhelming Republican winner in New York. “I think it’d be great to have a woman president,” said Susan, a Upper East Side resident for 50 years. “But that's not why I'm voting for her, not at all. I think she's got the most experience and she’s very capable.”
Susan said that while her vote for Clinton was an easy choice, she valued the role Sanders and his campaign have played in nudging her more to the left. When asked about the possibility of Sanders winning the nomination, Susan said that she would follow the party line. “I started out as a Rockefeller Republican when I was young, and I detest what most of the Republican Party is doing now," said Susan. “So I would never vote for them.” Republican voters, meanwhile, were hard to find in Manhattan, especially any supporting Trump or Ted Cruz, the Texas senator. Or perhaps they just felt cowed stating their preferences in such a Democratic part of the state. The one Republican willing to be vocal in response to Manhattan Express, an Upper West Sider, shared her thoughts on why John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, won her support. “He’s the only sensible adult in the mix,” said Elizabeth Kelly, a 25-year resident of the neighborhood. “He's the only one that
Teresa Brooks lauded Bernie Sanders for being “on the right side of history.”
In contrast, Marva McWilliams, an Upper West Sider, cited Hillary Clinton’s “great history” in public life.
reaches across both Republican and Democrat sides to build consensus.” Kelly said she felt both Sanders and Trump were fanning the flames of hate and division, while Clinton’s handling of the Benghazi incident turned her off to the other Democrat in the race. Kasich’s undeniable underdog status did not deter Kelly, and results showed that was the case
with many other GOP Manhattanites. “My vote is probably a throwaway vote, but... at this point it's almost 50 times more valuable because there’s so few of us in New York City,” Kelly said, alluding to the fact that every county in the state gets the same number of delegates to the national convention in Cleveland. “So every vote matters.” n
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Savion Glover’s Steps, If Not His Feet,
Light Up “Shuffle Along” BY ZITA ALLEN
Fans of “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk” and its unique way of capturing the journey from slavery to the present know what that means. hen “Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and “The direction George has taken allows audiences to not only know about All that Followed” opens at the Music Box Theater on April 28, it won’t the 1921 ‘Shuffle Along,’ Glover added, “but, through his ‘edutainment,’ to be tap wizard Savion Glover’s first time on Broadway. learn what black performers went through and in some cases are still going Glover’s signature style has dazzled the eye and boggled the mind ever through.” since he debuted at 12 years old in “The Tap Dance Kid,” dancing alongside Yes, there is a glimpse of blackface and one use of the N-word. But there his mentor, the legendary Gregory Hines. That show was followed by a string is also “Love Will Find a Way,” the first time a black man and of hits, including a Tony-nominated performance in “Black and Blue” and a woman sang a love song to one another onstage. And, there starring role as jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton in George C. Wolfe’s musical is so much more that allows the show to teach and remind “Jelly’s Last Jam. Then, in 1996 came his performance in “Bring in ‘da us what folks endured to become giants who changed Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk,” for which his choreography won the Tony. American culture forever. There are the show’s creative Like these previous hits, “Shuffle Along” represents the fruits of a colteams — Noble Sissle & Eubie Blake and Flournoy Miller laboration with director and writer George C. Wolfe, who snagged one & Aubrey Lyles — and stars Lottie Gee and Florof his two Tony Awards for directing “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da ence Mills, as well as folks who emerged from Funk.” There is one big difference here, though. This time, while both the show and the Harlem Renaissance audiences will be dazzled by the rapid-fire rat-a-tat-tat of era it helped spark, including James Reese Glover’s tap style, they won’t see him dance. But, no worEurope, Aida Overton Walker, Carl Van ries. Instead of watching Glover hunched over, knees bent, Vechten, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale dreadlocks flying, in the zone as his size 12 EE tap shoes Hurston. There’s even a program insert for the hit the boards with an explosive volley that brings folks 1921 “Shuffle Along” that includes bios and to their feet, there will be a chorus line of amazing photos of the originators and cast as well as dancers doing the steps Glover choreographed. a Who’s Who that includes Josephine Baker Will critics proclaim that Glover has, once again, and Paul Robeson. stolen audience’s hearts when the show opens? Is it information overload? Only time will tell. But, if the enthusiastic applause “I think audiences have become more during the sold-out previews is any indication, Glovintelligent and open to not being simer and Wolfe could have another hit on their hands. ply seduced by entertainment,” Glover Seeing the show a few days before interviewing responded. Glover made it perfectly clear that “Shuffle Along“ Then, too, there’s the dance. Glover has sparkles not only because of Glover and Wolfe but always starred in previous collaborations thanks to the sparks that fly when you put together with Wolfe, so it’s interesting to know how it a cast that includes Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes feels being behind the scenes. Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon, Joshua “It feels great,” he said. “I like being able to sit Henry, Brooks Ashmanskas, Adrienne Warren, Amber back and watch the pictures. It’s like everything or Iman, and a sassy, breathtaking chorus line. most of the information that I have gathered from the One evening before curtain call, Glover took time past and the men and women I’ve studied with prepared out of a hectic schedule to settle into a cozy corner of me for this moment. the theater’s downstairs lobby and talk about “Shuffle “Had I not spent time with Gregory Hines or Jimmy Along.” Slyde or Honi Coles or the Nicholas Brothers or “Well, it started with several conversations. George Lon Chaney or master teacher and choreogand I knew we wanted to work together again. We rapher Henry LeTang [who staged a revival of pitched several different concepts to each other. “Shuffle Along” some 50 years ago], or any of the Then, in one of our meetings he said he’d been lookother great masters…” Glover said as his voice ing at the original ‘Shuffle Along,’ the first black Broadtrailed off. “Sometimes I pull from approaches way musical back in 1921, and all that it did. He wanted that may not necessarily be what I would do in COURTESY: PHILIP RINALDI PUBLICITY to explore that — not do a revival of it but just explore the Savion Glover, in a new collaboration with director George C. the moment but it works. I’ve been really allowpossibility of using the music to tell the stories of the people Wolfe, choreographs “Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical who were involved.” Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed.” c SHUFFLE ALONG, continued on p.23
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
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Manhattan Treasures INSIDE THE CIA General David Petraeus (ret.), the former head of the CIA, is joined in conversation by Jason and Suzanne Matthews, a former husband and wife team in the agency, and former California Democratic Congressmember Jane Harman, a security expert. Following the discussion, Jason Matthews, who now writes bestselling spy novels, signs copies of his latest, “Palace of Treason.” 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. Apr. 27, 7 p.m. Tickets are $36$42, $15 for those 35 and younger at 92y.org. COOPERHEWITT.ORG
TORI KELLY’S UNBREAKABLE SMILE Tori Kelly, who was a Best New Artist nominee in this year’s Grammy Awards, saw her debut album “Unbreakable Smile” debut at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, with hits including “Nobody Love” and “Should’ve Been Us.” As part of a big North American tour, Kelly appears at the Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at W. 74th St. Apr. 28-29, 8 p.m. Tickets are $34.50-$54.50 at beacontheatre.com.
THE MODERNISM OF EVERYDAY
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“Energizing the Everyday” is a celebration of the exceptional gifts leading collector George R. Kravis II gave to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. From radios to furniture, the exhibition will display some of the most influential objects in the history of modernism, alongside contextual works drawn from the museum’s collection. Cooper Hewitt, 2 E. 91st St. Apr. 28 through Mar. 12, 2017: Sun.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.9 p.m. Admission is $16, $10 for seniors, $7 for students if purchased online at cooperhewitt. org. Add $2 for purchase at the door.
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New York Lyric Opera Theatre presents Giacomo Puccini’s 1917 “La rondine,” an opera in three acts set in mid-19th century Paris and the French Rivera. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at W. 95th St. Apr. 30, 5 p.m. Tickets are $50, $48 for children at symphonyspace.org.
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Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, a late night TV phenomenon known for posing questions like “What’s wrong with people?” and “Aren’t you embarrassed” and for his popular podcast “The Pete and Sebastian Show,” brings a new hour of skepticism to the Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at W. 74th St. May 1, 5 & 8 p.m.; May 6, 7:30 & 10:15 p.m.; May 7, 7 & 10 p.m.; and May 9, 8 p.m. Tickets are $40.50-$80 at beacontheatre.com.
DON DELILLO AND HIS FAVORITE “Zero K,” the latest novel from Don DeLillo — who was honored last year with a special National Book Award for Lifetime Achievement and possesses, in the words of Thomas Pynchon, “a vision as bold and a voice as eloquent and morally focused as any in American writing” — is an ode to language, a meditation on death, and an embrace of life. DeLillo is joined by his favorite young writer, Dana Spiotta, whose new novel is “Innocents and Others.” Mary Karr wrote, “As Don DeLillo did for rock and roll with ‘Great Jones Street,’ so Spiotta does for film.” 92nd Street Y’s Kaufmann Concert Hall, 1395 Lexington Ave. May 2, 8 p.m. Tickets are $31-$42, $15 for those 35 and under at 92y.org.
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Southern Exposure BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
ing myself to be vulnerable to accept the energy of these masters I’ve been fortunate enough to know, learn from, and work with.” It’s all in this production, which is chock full of the variety that reflects both tap’s spectrum and Glover’s genius. Not only are there iconic tap steps — buck and wing, over the trenches, in the trenches, stomp, slide, and you name it — but they emerge in creative numbers that riff on the original show and move the story forward in compelling ways. Take the traveling number that captures the show’s touring circuit as dancers, each holding a suitcase, tap, stomp, and shuffle across the
THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM Roundabout at the Laura Pels 111 W. 46th St. Through May 29 Tue.-Sat at 7:30 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $99; roundabouttheatre.org Or 212-719-1300 Ninety mins., no intermission
characters and the story, and Robert Waldman’s upbeat music is consistently bright and charming. The show was originally staged in 1975, and it owes its theatricality in large
EXPOSURE, continued on p.27
stage while calling out the names of the cities the show played in before landing on Broadway. “Showstopper” is a word that gets bandied about when folks are smitten by Broadway magic. Chances are once the “Shuffle Along” reviews appear, it will be used again. But, if it is, it could indicate that along with everyone else affiliated with the show, Savion Glover’s contribution plus his desire “to continue to be uplifting, shedding light on situations reminding us what we had to go through as a people” helped folks enjoy and learn from the remarkable combination of “edutainment” that is the bundle of joy known as “Shuffle Along or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed.”
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
SHUFFLE ALONG, from p.20
Steven Pasquale in the revival of Alfred Uhry and Robert Waldman’s “The Robber Bridegroom,” directed by Alex Timbers.
The West Side Tradition
or all its frolicsome charm and antic staging, Roundabout’s exuberant and endearing, production of “The Robber Bridegroom” now at the Laura Pels has a darker and more serious side. Like the story’s two-faced hero — who is both the dark “Bandit of the Woods” and the gentlemanly Jamie Lockhart — the story revolves around the conflict between social norms and darker passions. Based on Eudora Welty’s 1942 novella, the show is billed as a “Southern Fairy Tale,” and indeed it bears all the Jungian trappings of its Grimms sources. Rosamund, daughter of a wealthy planter, is to be married off to Lockhart, but she has fallen for the romantic Bandit. The Bandit/ Lockhart is torn between the financially advantageous marriage and his darker sexual longings. This is an archetypal conundrum, with practicality and passion competing for the souls of characters struggling to integrate the realistic and the romantic in their lives. Welty took this universal theme and classic setup and melded them with her penchant for outrageous characters — a wicked stepmother, a dim lackey, a doting father, and a robber who is nothing more than a head on a box. Alfred Uhry’s book and lyrics preserve the fantastical nature of the
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FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
Clara Bow and Shirley O’Hara in Dorothy Arzner’s 1929 “The Wild Party.”
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
Farley Granger, James Stewart, and John Dall in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 “Rope.”
In Long-Ago World, Gays on Screen BY GARY M. KRAMER
new retrospective series of old films made by queer filmmakers or about queer characters unspools at the Film Society of Lincoln Center April 22 through May 1. The 23 features and 24 shorts range from early silents and talkies to more experimental and avant-garde films, in a program curated by Thomas Beard that offers viewers a chance to see LGBT representations on screen ranging from those thinly veiled to films overt and explicit. One of the opening night presentations (Apr. 22, 8:30 p.m.) showcases three classic gay films. “Blood of a Poet” is Jean Cocteau’s 1930 masterpiece in which an artist’s (Enrique Riveros) painting and statue become animated. The artist soon ventures into a mirror, which leads to a hotel where he peeps through keyholes, witnessing a series of strange vignettes. Cocteau’s stylish film features acrobatics, snowball fights, and a strange suicide, but it is all beautifully rendered. Some of Cocteau’s indelible imagery is echoed in “Un Chant d’Amour,” Jean Genet’s spellbinding 1950 silent film about two prisoners who are spied on by a guard (not unlike the artist peeping through keyholes). The eroticism on display here ranges from tender caresses to a more violent
encounter, along with some pornographic ones. The third short work on the program is Kenneth Anger’s landmark 1947 avant-garde film “Fireworks,” about a young man (Anger) who seeks out rough trade. It offers suggestive and disturbing imagery in equal measure, including a shirtless, flexing sailor, a phallic Roman candle, and a scene of both milky and bloody sensuality. “Fireworks” was deemed both obscenity and art upon release. One film worth seeking out is lesbian director Dorothy Arzner’s “The Wild Party” (Apr. 24, 1 p.m.), a fun, pre-code film from 1929 that stars “It Girl” Clara Bow as Stella Ames, an insouciant student at Winston College. Stella is a popular girl whose reputation is threatened when she accidently gets into a man’s bed on a train one night. The man turns out to be the new anthropology professor, James Gilmore (Frederic March), who reprimands Stella about decency. Gilmore and Stella eventually develop a relationship, but it is Stella’s love for her classmate Helen (Shirley O’Hara) that, while subtly presented, is perhaps more heartfelt. Gay director George Cukor’s 1935 comedy “Sylvia Scarlett” (Apr. 24, 2:45 p.m.; Apr. 25, 4 p.m.) features Katherine Hepburn in a cross-dressing performance as
the title character, a young woman who masquerades as a boy, Sylvester. “He” works with his father (Edmund Gwenn) and a stranger, Jimmy Monkley (Cary Grant), to swindle others. They have mixed success, but then “she” falls for a painter, Michael Fane (Brian Aherne), and reveals her ruse. Cukor’s film is a mixed bag. He coaxes fine performances from the leads and displays a flair for some of the film’s madcap comedic moments, but “Sylvia Scarlett” doesn’t quite work. Its portrayal of gender roles was ahead of its time but the film never quite engages the emotions at play. T wo other gender-bending films in the series that were also ahead of their time are Edward D. Wood Jr.’s notorious 1953 drama “Glen or Glenda” (Apr. 24, 9 p.m.) and the 1914 silent film, “A Florida Enchantment.” A title card in Wood’s film urges audiences, “Judge ye not,” as it examines two cases of sexual difference: one involving transvestism, the other, transgender identity. Although the narration by a psychiatrist (Timothy Farrell) is didactic and there is a clunky framing device featuring a scientist (Bela Lugosi), who spouts strange things, the film articulates the “idiosyncratic” behavior of Glen (director Wood, billed as Daniel Davis) who finds comfort in wearing women’s clothing. He is
not a homosexual, it is explained, and is engaged to Barbara (Dolores Fuller). Glen debates telling her his “secret” prior to their mar riage. The other storyline concerns Alan (“Tommy” Haynes), a pseudo-hermaphrodite who undergoes gender reassignment. As Anne, Alan is transformed from “acting” as a woman to being one. “Glen Or Glenda” may be known for its Z-grade production values and an intentionally funny, over-the-top style, but it’s an oddly compassionate film with two “happy” endings. In “A Florida Enchantment” (Apr. 26, 6:45 p.m.), Lillian Travers (Edith Storey) ingests a magic seed that transforms her into Lawrence Talbot. She grows (and shaves) a mustache, dresses in men’s clothing, and kisses all the women she can. Her fiancé, Fred Cassadene (director Sidney Drew), also swallows the seed and cross-dresses. The film’s farcical elements involve sexual confusion and mistaken identity — a murder is suspected after Lillian transforms into Lawrence on a boat and her clothes are found — and several comic scenes more or less work. The appearance of several characters in blackface, though, is hard to swallow. Other silent films featured in the “Queer Cinema Before Stonewall” series include “Lot in
PRE-STONEWALL, continued on p.27
April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
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EXPOSURE, from p.23
measure to “Paul Sills’ Story Theater,” which had made Broadway fare out of “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” a few years earlier. The current production, directed by Alex Timbers, sparkles with affectionate wit and warm absurdity. No one would ever mistake this for realism. As he did in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” Timbers makes the most of the manic nature of the piece, with a clear eye for comedy and a rich understanding of the humanity at the center of the stylized and self-aware storytelling. Steven Pasquale leads the cast in the title role. He sings the part beautifully and demonstrates a
PRE-STONEWALL, from p.24
Sodom” (Apr. 23, 3 p.m.) from 1933, a homoerotic short featuring a bevy of bare-chested males in expressionistic poses. Directors James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber use inventive visuals — repetitive imagery, superimpositions, double exposures, time-lapse photography — to tell this biblical story with panache. The film is paired with “Salomé,” a dazzling 1923 adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “historical fantasy” that features Alla Nazimova in the title role. Salomé dances provocatively and wants the head of Jokanaan the Prophet (Nigel De Brulier). The film is stylish beyond belief, with fabulous costumes — including some truly spectacular headdresses — and gorgeous set design and lighting that make it worth seeing. Moving into the postwar years, two Hollywood films, both based on plays, portray gay students. In both cases, because of the Motion Picture Production Code, the word “homosexual” was taboo and the three young men were all tragic figures. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 Technicolor feature “Rope” (Apr. 24, 4:45 p.m.; Apr. 25, 2 p.m.) — a variation on the Leopold and Loeb “thrill kill” story — is based on Patrick Hamilton’s play. Gay screenwriter Arthur Laurents acknowledged that the killers, played by then-closeted actors John Dall and Farley Granger, were lovers, but the film only implies that. “Rope” was most noted at the time for Hitchcock’s experiment in filming the taut drama in one continuous take. Bisexual director Vincente Minnelli’s “Tea and Sympathy” (Apr. 27, 6:30 p.m.; Apr. 28, 4:30 p.m.) from 1956, was adapted from Robert Anderson’s play. In this sensitive drama, prep schooler Tom Lee (John Kerr) is consistently mocked for not being a “regular fellow.” He is feminized and bullied by his classmates and housemaster, Bill (Leif Erickson), who are guardians of a hyper-masculine culture. Tom’s situation prompts Laura Reynolds (Deborah Kerr), Bill’s lonely wife, to reach out to the young man emotionally to help him become stronger. It is indicative of the times when they were made that “Rope” featured a monstrously murderous gay couple, while the resolution in “Tea and Sympathy” has the gay teen ultimately “cured,” but the latter film, dated as it is, manages still to be affecting. ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | April 21 - May 04, 2016
flair for comedy not seen in his most recent stage work in “The Bridges of Madison County.” Ahna O’Reilly does a fine job as Rosamund in what might have been a one-dimensional role, finding some irony in the heroine/ princess archetype even as her character resists it. Leslie Kritzer is fantastic, as always, as Salomé, the evil stepmother, giving a Southern gothic take on a classic type. The rest of the company, notably Greg Hildreth, Andrew Durand, and Evan Harrington, fill out the off-center characters who populate the piece. One can’t help being pulled into the fun, and why resist? This delightful show has been deservedly rescued from obscurity — a happy ending indeed. n
QUEER CINEMA BEFORE STONEWALL Film Society of Lincoln Center 144-165 W. 65th St. Apr. 22-May 1 $14, $11 for students & seniors at filmlinc.org
Two powerful 1960s-era British dramas were a bit more daring in depicting queer characters before Stonewall. Basil Dearden’s “Victim” (Apr. 28, 7 p.m.; Apr. 29, 3 p.m.) from 1961, is an engrossing, incendiary film about a rising lawyer, Melville Farr (Dirk Bogarde, in an outstanding turn), who gets caught up in a blackmail ring that preys on gay men. Barrett (Peter McEnery), a young man Farr once loved, is caught by the police. Risking his career, Farr injects himself into the case to see that justice is done. “Victim” is a shrewd drama that shows the ripple effect of Barrett’s situation on the men he loved as well as others, from Farr’s understanding wife (Sylvia Syms) to her less-than-sympathetic brother. This frank film does not show any actual queer content — it is all discussed or implied, though the word “homosexual” does make its first appearance in English-language cinema — but that is what makes its impact so forceful. The compelling 1968 drama “The Killing of Sister George” (May 1, 8 p.m.), directed by Robert Aldrich and based on Frank Marcus’ play, depicts the love triangle and power struggle that develops among June Buckridge (Beryl Reid, magnificent), her lover Alice (Susannah York), and Mercy Croft (Coral Browne), an executive at the BBC, where June works. As the alcoholic June behaves badly at work and is abusive toward Alice, her self-destructiveness costs her her job on a hit TV series and forces Mercy and Alice together. “The Killing of Sister George” was a box office flop on release, but it is riveting, particularly memorable for its authentic portrayal of its lesbian characters as well as a notable scene set in a women’s bar. n
Planned Service Changes
23 10 PM to 5 AM Mon to Fri Apr 25 – 29 No 2 trains between 96 St and 3 Av-149 St. 3 service is suspended. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service. Stay Informed Call 511 and say “Current Service Status,” look for informational posters in stations, or visit mta.info where you can access the latest Planned Service Changes information, use TripPlanner +, and sign up for free email and text alerts.
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April 21 - May 04, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
April 21, 2016