YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Block Association Olive Branch is New Barneys Bauble BY SEAN EGAN Nearly two decades after leaving its flagship Chelsea location in 1997, Barneys New York recently caused quite a stir when it returned to the old neighborhood — bringing with it memories of 1980s-era street theater actions to protest the retail behemoth’s displacement of longtime tenants, and stirring up a whole new round of conflict with nearby residents. Now, it seems an amicable period of BARNEYS continued on p. 3
Army Corps’ Approval Paves the Way for Pier55 BY ALBERT AMATEAU The US Army Corps of Engineers has given the Hudson River Park Trust the go-ahead to start construction of the $130 million Pier55 project. The corps modified its existing permit on the replacement for Pier 54 off of W. 13th St. to allow construction of the project, funded largely by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg. PIER55 continued on p. 6
VISIONS OF LIGHT & SPIRIT SuZen’s 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition is on view through May 21 at Westbeth Gallery. See page 19.
Photo by Scott Stifﬂer
Ed Hamilton, a resident of the Chelsea Hotel since 1995, stands outside of the building, where scaffolding has been up for years.
FROM THE CHELSEA HOTEL TO THE CHINTZ AGE Ed Hamilton’s gritty urban fairy tales tackle gentriﬁcation BY PUMA PERL New Yorkers are notoriously, easily, justifiably irritated by geographical errors and timeline flubs when reading about their city. Fortunately, Ed Hamilton pretty much gets it right. “The Chintz Age,” a collection of short stories, is aptly described on the cover as telling “tales of love and loss.” The characters are living in a time of uncertainty, watching in horror as their neighborhoods turn against them; small businesses are being displaced, chrome and glass have risen up like monsters, and longtime residents are losing the fabrics of their lives. We meet the characters of the seven stories (and one novella) at pivotal points in their lives. They long for the past as they seek validation in the present. Even the realm of horror is entered, with vultures scheming to take over an apartment. Backed against the high-rise walls of gentrification, the characters find themselves seeking redemption as their lives and relationships are forced into change. Greg, the protagonist of the opening story, “Fat Hippie
© CHELSEA NOW 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Drugs,” immediately engages the reader. He is the cantankerous and somewhat egotistical owner of a bookstore that is on its way out. Flaws and all, Greg is ours, the type of guy we put up with even when he drives us crazy. Like most of the others in the book, he’s a dying breed; more interested in a dissection of Kerouac’s influences than in a nouveau grilled sun-dried fig cheese sandwich. He’s growing older, and is reluctantly acknowledging that the success he once expected has not come to pass. To the author’s credit, each tale develops fleshed out characters, responding in their own ways not only to the city’s changing landscape and to gentrification, but also to their own realizations and self-assessments. Hamilton’s affection for the outer edges of society is demonstrated by his portrayals of the artists, musicians, writers, pimps, homeless individuals, prostitutes and junkies who roam through the various locales, usually the seediest corners that remain in existence. CHINTZ continued on p. 5 VOLUME 08, ISSUE 17 | MAY 05 - 11, 2016
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Liam Buckley, a high school sophomore, wants to use his new platform as a member of CB4 to bring a youth perspective to the board.
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BY YANNIC RACK Community Board 4 (CB4) is welcoming two new members this month, and they’ve already set their priorities on how to best help their West Side community. Liam Buckley, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Hell’s Kitchen, and Mathew Bergman, a financial attorney from Chelsea, are the newest recruits for the board, which covers the West Side from W. 14th to W. 59th Sts. Buckley, who goes to the New York City Lab School for Collaborative Studies on W. 17th St., decided to join the board after he got a taste for local politics through last year’s Participatory Budgeting process, where residents vote on projects to be funded through the city’s capital budget, and which gave him a chance to successfully advocate for new bathrooms to be built at his school. “I decided to join because I was really interested in getting more involved in the community,” Buckley told Chelsea Now this week, adding that he is also part of his student government and a member of the city’s Youth Council. “It seems like a good way to put my voice through and also get more of a youth perspective, which has been lacking on the board,” he added. Buckley grew up (and still lives) a block away from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which is why he said he would keep an extra-close eye on the
planned replacement of the transit hub — which some locals fear could obliterate several residential and commercial blocks in the neighborhood. “My block wouldn’t be touched by the renovations, but a couple of the local businesses that my family goes to could be taken with eminent domain,” he said. “That’s definitely an issue I want to talk about.” Buckley started attending the board’s meetings a few months ago, whereas Bergman — a 41-year-old financial attorney who has lived in Chelsea for 15 years — has been coming to sessions on and off for a few years. “Community boards are the eyes and ears of the community, charged with preserving our unique past, and at the same time planting seeds for the future,” he said. “I wanted to join a few years ago, but I didn’t have the time to commit, and do it right. At this point in my life, I have the time to devote to it and I look forward to getting my hands dirty in many of the local issues facing our neighborhood.” Bergman said he was especially focused on issues around affordability — whether talking about the need for more low-income housing, retaining the middle class in the area, or preventing the shuttering of beloved small businesses. CB4 continued on p. 15 .com
After Ruckus, Retailer and Residents Reconcile BARNEYS continued from p. 1
calm has settled between the store and the community it has affected. The greatest source of tension was between Barneys (101 Seventh Ave., btw. W. 16th & W. 17th Sts.) and the 100 West 16th Street Block Association, regarding the potential loading and unloading of delivery trucks on W. 16th St., which residents asserted would cause major traffic issues. As Chelsea Now has previously reported, when Barneys was seeking a liquor license for Freds, its third floor bar/restaurant, a rep had agreed to the Association’s stipulation that no loading or unloading would be done near the (non-commercials) W. 16th St. side entrance. The group felt duped, however, when the condition was not included in Community Board 4’s (CB4) Business License & Permits (BLP) committee endorsement of Barneys’ liquor license request. Shortly thereafter, signs began to appear around the block announcing that Barneys was trying to convert parking spaces on the block for commercial use, confirming the worst fears of neighborhood residents. In response, the Block Association came out in full force at the March CB4 Transportation Committee meeting, where the issue was to be discussed. The proposal was shot down when it came to a vote. Surprisingly, Barneys rescinded their proposal Photo by Sean Egan
BARNEYS continued on p. 15
A view of Barneys’ front façade on Seventh Ave., where trucks are unloaded.
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National Nurses Week Offers Us a Chance to Care BY SHAVANA ABRUZZO Nurses have been among the first lines of defense for ailing people ever since the “lady with the lamp” spent every waking minute caring for soldiers in military hospitals during the Crimean War, more than 160 years ago. No-nonsense British nurse Florence Nightingale — social reformer and foundress of modern nursing — arrived at the Black Sea to a base hospital atop a large cesspool, with patients languishing in their own excrement on stretchers scattered throughout the hallways, as rats scurried by. Undaunted, she cleaned the facility from floor to ceiling, and personally ministered to the patients in the evening by lamp light. National Nurses Week, from May 6 to 12, commemorates Nightingale’s birthday (she turns 196 this year!), and celebrates the generations of men and women who have followed in her footsteps. Between 2008 and 2010, there were 2.8 million registered nurses, including advanced practice registered nurses, and 690,000 licensed practical nurses in America, reports the US Department of Health and Human Services.
• Charm bracelets are all the rage, and nurses may appreciate a bracelet that highlights their career path with specific charms. For something they can wear on the job, treat nurses to a Steth-o-Charm, a charm that slides securely onto stethoscopes.
Nurses are the lifeblood of the medical community, serving multiple, often life-saving, roles. They assist doctors and keep in-patient stays comfortable. Specialized nurses, including nurse practitioners, even serve as primary healthcare providers, offering diagnoses and writing prescriptions. A designated week to show these unsung champions our deep appreciation is a must, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t honor them throughout the year as well for their hard work and dedication. Here are some ways you can show you care for a nurse who has cared for you or a loved one:
• Present a gift card for a massage and soothing spa treatment. • Offer to cater a meal at the hospital or medical office so that all nurses on staff can benefit. If there is one nurse in particular you want to treat, give a gift card to a nearby restaurant. • Nurses spend hours on their feet, and that can cause pain or stiffness throughout the body. Present a gift card to a store that specializes in comfort shoes or custom orthotics. A certificate for a pedicure or foot massage would no doubt be appreciated as well.
• Nurses must wear identification or have swipe cards on them to gain access to areas of hospitals. A colorful or decorative badge reel can be a nice way to brighten up a nurse’s day. • One of the easiest and most heartfelt ways to show your appreciation to nurses is to simply tell them how you feel. Offer a handwritten note or speak with a nurse in person. Such simple gestures do not take much effort, but are bound to make an impact. National Nurses Week offers us an opportunity to show appreciation to these custodians of our health, and thank them for coming to our rescue in our hour of need.
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Chelsea Hotel Blogger Crafts New York Narrative of Love and Loss CHINTZ continued from p. 1
Ed Hamilton was born in Atlanta and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Following graduate school, he taught philosophy in Washington, DC, but always wanted to write fiction. When his girlfriend (now his wife), Debbie Martin, received a job offer in New York, they took the opportunity and ran with it. “We had long been fans of the Chelsea Hotel, since some of our favorite writers and artists had lived there, and it was the first place we tried. Eventually, [then-owner/manager] Stanley Bard rented us a room, and we’ve been there since 1995,” said Hamilton. Incredibly, they have been able to hold onto their home through years of court cases and the constant noise, dust, and lack of services that go along with renovation. “Life at the hotel has not been pleasant,” he said. “The hotel has been stripped of its art collection, most of the historic rooms have been gutted, and it looks like a filthy construction site. We are hopeful, though not overly optimistic, that the current regime will bring about some relief.” The Hamiltons’ blog, “Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog,” chron-
Photo by Linda Troeller
Courtesy Cervená Barva Press
Ed Hamilton and his wife, Debbie Martin, in 2007, when artwork collected by longtime manager Stanley Bard (sometimes in lieu of rent) filled the hallways of the Chelsea Hotel.
Seven stories and a novella comprise “The Chintz Age,” Ed Hamilton’s look at culture clashes in gentrified NYC neighborhoods.
of a fire” and describes Stanley Bard jauntily explaining the literary history of the Chelsea Hotel as he marched the fire marshal through the lobby. Both the blog (which his wife co-created) and the book came about due to his fascination with the colorful history of the hotel and its inhab-
itants. They tried to use the media attention the book received to bring the Bard family back, but that did not to happen. I asked the author how he views the connections between the two books.
icled the artistic life at the W. 23rd St. hotel, and then the sad demise of that life. Although focused on other projects, they still occasionally update the blog. In the introduction to a previous book, “Legends of the Chelsea Hotel,” Hamilton notes, “This book came about as a result
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CHINTZ continued on p. 13
This Week’s Scheduled Guests Include:
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May 05 - 11, 2016
‘Arts Island’ Construction Set to Start Soon PIER55 continued from p. 1
The Army Corps’ action was the last regulatory hurdle for the project. On March 31, the state Department of Environmental Conservation gave Pier55 its final approval. A lawsuit filed by The City Club of New York to force the project to undergo a full environmental impact statement (EIS) review was dismissed three weeks ago. The City Club board of directors has not yet decided whether to appeal the state Supreme Court dismissal, according to Tom Fox, a City Club member and an individual plaintiff in the suit. Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of the Trust, the state-city authority responsible for the 4.5-mile-long riverfront park, said, “As stewards of the Hudson River, the Trust worked carefully to reconstruct Pier 54 in a way that would be respectful of the environment. The project is a shining example of what innovative public-private partnerships can accomplish for the good of the city. And now that the regulatory agen-
Courtesy Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio
A design concept for Pier55, showing the pier viewed from the south. A small stage — one of three performances areas — is planned for the pier’s south side.
cies have issued their permits, we are excited to be in a position to start construction.” Pier55 would be built partially on the former footprints of Pier 54 and Pier 56. But most of it would be on a new footprint — over part of the river that was not previously covered by a pier deck.
The 2.7-acre project, funded by a $113 million endowment by the Dillervon Furstenberg Family Foundation, will be accessible from the Manhattan shoreline by two pedestrian bridges and be supported on concrete piles. The undulating square-shaped structure will rise from 8 feet to 62 feet above the surface of the river and
include three areas for public performance with a total capacity for 5,000 people. Supporters of the project include US Senator Charles Schumer, who characterized the project as “a jewel in the crown for New York City.” Schumer said he frequently cycles along the greenway bike path next to the park and eagerly anticipates stopping by Pier55 “for a concert, a show or just to watch the river roll by.” Mike Novogratz, chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, the park’s private fundraising group, said he was looking forward to the start of the pier’s construction later this spring and completion in 2019. “We will be lucky to have one of the great park piers of the city — and anywhere — right here in our backyard, to share with all New Yorkers for years to come,” he said. The project, more an island than a pier, will include walking paths, hills, seating areas and open lawns. Admission to 51% of its programs would be free, while 49% could be priced at a rate comparable to similar attractions in the city.
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A view of 55 Hudson Yards, the office tower that will be directly in front of Hudson Park, home to a brand new 7 subway stop that opened there last fall.
New Tenant to Lay Down the Law at GDP-Heavy Hudson Yards BY YANNIC RACK Another high-profile business is joining the growing tenant roster at Hudson Yards, with an international law firm signing on to move its New York headquarters to the rapidly developing neighborhood. Developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties announced last week that Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy will move into nine floors at 55 Hudson Yards, the park-front office tower planned for the corner of W. 34th St. and 11th Ave. “Milbank is one of the great New York City law firms and we are excited to welcome them and their next generation of legal talent to New York’s next great neighborhood,” Related CEO Jeff Blau said in a statement. The 51-story building was designed by acclaimed architect A. Eugene Kohn of Kohn Pedersen Fox and sits right at the intersection of Hudson Yards, the High Line and Hudson Park & Boulevard. It is expected to open in 2018. Hudson Yards is on schedule to open its first office tower, 10 Hudson Yards, in the next few weeks, at which point the building’s tenants — including Coach Inc., L’Oréal USA, The Boston Consulting Group, German software engineering firm SAP, VaynerMedia, Intersection and Sidewalk Labs — will finally start moving in. This week, its developers said that .com
an independent study of the project’s economic impact found that Hudson Yards will contribute nearly $19 billion to New York City’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year, and generate more than 55,000 jobs on the West Side. The report, prepared by New Yorkbased consulting firm Appleseed, outlines that the 28-acre development will account for a whopping 2.5 percent of the citywide GDP once completed. It will also earn the city nearly $500 million in annual taxes, and companies and buildings at Hudson Yards will bring 55,752 direct jobs to the new neighborhood. “The impact of Hudson Yards is real, and this economic report is a clear affirmation that the city’s infrastructure investment was a wise one,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “What’s more, this smart, mixed-use development, and that of the broader district, will bring along with it thousands of affordable apartments and living-wage jobs for working New Yorkers, strengthening our people and our economy.” A press release added that Related and Oxford’s development is just one piece of the broader Hudson Yards district, which can accommodate 50 million square feet of development, including new parkland, office, hotel and retail space, and 20,000 apartments with more than 5,000 affordable units.
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Senior Showcase Proves Talent is Ageless BY LAURA SCHARF Director of Community Development, Visiting Neighbors, Inc. Picture-perfect weather helped set a festive mood for Visiting Neighbors’ 22nd Annual Senior Talent Show, the highlight of the “Chelsea Eats” Street Festival which took place last weekend (Sat., April 30), on Eighth Ave., from W. 14th to W. 23rd Sts. From a stage on the corner of W. 20th St., performers drew enthusiastic crowds, with people of all ages cheering for their favorites. Competition was fierce, but always good-spirited. This annual event brings together New Yorkers of diverse backgrounds and talents. Performing artists share their talents with the community and vie good-naturedly for prizes. Two Asian dance troupes gracefully demonstrated traditional dances; an accomplished magician amazed the audience with his sleight of hand tricks; a belly dancer proved tastefully that age is no barrier to the ancient art of seduction; an a cappella singer shared Beatles favorites; and several Latin dancers inspired members of the audience to dance along in their places.
First prize went to Gloria Ortiz, who wowed the crowd with her dance moves. Second prize was awarded to Yung Kuen Wong and the Swallow Dance Troupe. Nick Kapochena won third prize with his a cappella renditions of Beatles favorites, and the congeniality award was presented to salsa dancer Maria Correa, who coached emcee Danny Morris on some of her moves. The judges said their decision-making was difficult, as all of the performers were outstanding. The Jazzy Randolph Dancers, a crowd favorite from previous Senior Talent Shows, returned this year, but did not compete since they have already won several times. As the closing act, members of this amazing dance troupe helped celebrate the theme of the event: “Talent is ageless.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer spoke to the crowd, complimenting Visiting Neighbors on the event and on its mission of helping older New Yorkers to remain independent. Visiting Neighbors’ Executive Director, Dr. Cynthia Maurer, praised the judges on their decisions, noting the difficult task they had of picking
THE NEW SOUND OF
Photos by Laura Scharf
Performers from throughout the afternoon, at the competition’s curtain call.
the winners. “All of our contestants are winners,” she said, adding, “This event helps us inform the community that assistance is available to seniors, and that more volunteers are alway needed. We recruit volunteers and provide ongoing training and support to them. Our flexible schedules make it a very attractive volunteer opportunity, and our volunteers tell us they feel they get as much from the experience as the seniors do. We had many inquiries today from people who want to get involved, and from seniors who realize that they can use some help as they face the challenges of aging.”
Visiting Neighbors’ services are open to people 60 and older, living from 30th St. south to the tip of Manhattan. Services include friendly visiting to relieve isolation and loneliness, help with shopping and errands, escorts to medical appointments, health advocacy, and referrals to needed services. No fees are charged, but contributions are welcome. All contributions are tax-deductible. For more information about Visiting Neighbors’ services, or to become a volunteer, call 212-260-6200 or see the website, at visitingneighbors.org.
The Community News Group is proud to introduce BROOKLYN PAPER RADIO. Join Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli and the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman every Monday at 4:30 for an hour of talk on topics Brooklynites hold dear. Each show will feature in-studio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.
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The Jazzy Randolph Dancers performed, but, having won several times before, did not compete this year
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CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF A FORGED INSTRUMENT: Check your head They say that if at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try again. One 26-year-old woman took this mantra to heart when she attempted to cash a fake check made out to her in the amount of $1,020 at a Capital One branch (144 Eighth Ave., at W. 17th St.) at about 4pm on Fri., Apr. 29. The woman had already aroused suspicion because, according to the employee who reported the incident to authorities, she had apparently tried to cash another bogus check (that one for $2,235)
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. The next meeting is May 25.
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Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: David Ehrenberg. Call 212-4777411. Community Affairs: 212-4777427. Crime Prevention: 212-4777427. Domestic Violence: 212-4773863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct. The next meeting is May 17.
at the same location two days earlier. The woman was not arrested, but cameras were at the scene, and the bank knows the name of the clueless counterfeiter.
GRAND LARCENY: Phony funds from Craigslist crew
One should always be wary of scammers when brokering a deal on Craigslist — but nothing could prepare a 17-year-old for what went down in broad daylight, in the seemingly safe, well-lit public place of his own choosing. The teen arranged to meet his customers in a Chase Bank branch (471 W. 42nd St., at 10th Ave.), with the bag of merchandise for purchase, at around 7pm on Fri., Apr. 29. A pair of men arrived and gave the him an envelope with $1,000 in it, and took the bag, with two medium, studded Stark backpacks, from the ground. The duo was apparently antsy to leave, with one noting, “My mom’s waiting in the car,” and the other declaring, “I have to pee.” The impatient purchasers then got into a brown Honda that drove northbound on 10th Ave. The victim later discovered that he was paid with counterfeit currency. No arrests have been made, and video was unfortunately unable to be accessed — but the swindled party was able to provide a description of the men and the phone number he used to contact them.
IDENTITY THEFT: Imposter photographer A 54-year-old W. 23rd St. resident reported to police that someone has been impersonating him in order to snag gigs as a photographer. The victim is a professional photographer (with a legitimate website), and says that the unknown perp has opened an email account pretending to be him, using his resume and other information in order to secure paid work. The victim has not had any money taken from him, but is understandably peeved that an individual is using his personal information and exploiting his professional clout for financial gain.
LARCENY: Take a bike into crime A string of bike thefts plagued visitors to Pier 66A (near 12th Ave., btw. W. 24th & W. 26th Sts.) this past weekend. Sometime between 2pm and a little after 3pm on Sat., Apr. 30, four bikes in the general vicinity of the area were lifted. The first victim, a 53-year-old, locked his bike up outside the pier while he went to eat at the Frying Pan (a popular restaurant on a floating lighthouse). When he went to retrieve his bike, he discovered his $1,500 Trek 2.1 was gone. Locking their bikes in a similar fashion to go to the same restaurant, two visitors from Quebec returned after their meal, only to find their wheels (a $3,000 Kuota Carbon and a $4,000 Opus) were also absconded with. Another $400 bike was stolen from a 24-year-old Queens man around the same time, at W. 23rd St., btw. 11th & 12th Aves., while its owner was at Hudson River Park. No video evidence is available from the scene of any of these thefts.
AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT: Coat of arms The fallout over a lost coat might end up taking one woman to a much worse place than the cleaners. Between Mon., Apr. 25 and Sat., Apr. 30, the increasingly disgruntled customer made a number of calls to the Eco Laundry Company (249 W. 18th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.), threatening both the 48-year-old owner and his employees, and asserting, “I will burn down your store.” The owner was rightly alarmed, and reported the woman to the proper authorities — providing them with a name and address, which was willingly supplied by the tightly wound would-be firebug when she first dropped off the AWOL outerwear.
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Photo by Ed Hamilton
Photo by Debbie Martin
Stanley Bard, who first rented a room to Ed Hamilton in 1995, talks to reporters in the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel shortly after he was ousted by the minority shareholders.
L to R: Ed Hamilton, in his room at the Chelsea Hotel, playing foosball with punk rocker Bruno Wizard, who was a guest at the hotel in 2006.
CHINTZ continued from p. 5
“Though issues related to development and gentrification are often presented in abstract terms, what I saw here at home was a terrible human tragedy,” he explained. “In my struggle to understand, I wrote several stories about the post-takeover Chelsea, but I found they didn’t have the joy or the humor of the stories in ‘Legends.’ I needed to set the stories elsewhere, and I also needed the distance of fiction to deal with what had taken place in the lives of my friends in Chelsea, and in New York as a whole.
‘The Chintz Age’ is about the personal, private struggles of individual artists in the face of the impersonal juggernaut we call gentrification.” The title, said Hamilton, is a twoedged sword: “On the one hand, it’s meant to evoke the past, as chintz is an old time fabric. On the other, it’s also meant to connote that things today are cheaper and chintzier than in the good old days. The title also refers to the recent trend of pulling down beautiful, historic buildings, and replacing them with cruddy glass and plastic boxes, which look glitzy for a few years, but aren’t designed to
last. This is not exactly a Golden Age for New York.” Some of the places that Hamilton misses the most, he told me, are the Florent, and its presence in the era when the Meatpacking District was a “slightly edgy zone of dark corners,” and Left Bank Books. “The staff was smart and loved to talk about books. Bookstores are one of the key ingredients of an intellectual and artistic life.” Hamilton, on the back cover of the book, describes his stories as “grittily realistic fairy tales.” “While ‘fairy tales’ may be the wrong word,” he said, “I wanted to
express that, even in certain rather grim situations, where the challenges of a hardcore deterministic, materialistic city daunt and overwhelm us, grinding us to bits, there is still the possibility of transcendence and redemption — both for my characters, and, hopefully, for myself.” On Thurs., May 12, at 5:30pm, Ed Hamilton will read from “The Chintz Age” at the Muhlenberg Library Community Room, 209 W. 23rd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Free admission. To purchase “The Chintz Age” (Cervená Barva Press, 2015) and for more author info, visit edhamilton.nyc.
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CB4 continued from p. 2
“When low, moderate and middle-income individuals can no longer afford to stay in our communities, those communities become less diverse and more transient, and with a disconnected citizenry,” he said, adding that more trials for the neighborhood are also just on the horizon. “The biggest challenges are yet to come, with the rollout of the huge infrastructure projects potentially slated for the next decade — the Port Authority Bus Terminal renovation, a new Hudson River tunnel, and the Penn Station and Moynihan Station development project,” he noted. But he also mentioned a recent win for the community: the new park on W. 20th St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.), for which planning just kicked off last month after years of grassroots
community advocacy to realize the project. “That is virtually unheard of in Manhattan and truly shows you how dedicated the Chelsea community is,” Bergman said. Eighty-one new community board members were appointed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer last month — more than a quarter of the 312 appointments across the borough — and the new appointees will serve for two years. Buckley will actually be the youngest current member of the board, and one of only six under-18-year-olds appointed in Manhattan in this cycle (six others were appointed last year, the first year 16- and 17-year-olds were allowed to join). CB4 chair Delores Rubin said there was likely little training required for the two new members — who attend-
ed their first full board meeting on May 4 — since they have both been involved with the board and local politics before. “Liam has kept very much active through the Youth Council through [City Councilmember] Corey Johnson’s office, and Matt has been to a lot of our meetings and has spoken during public sessions,” she said. “So both have already shown that they’re ready to go.” She added that, even though the many members staying on for another term are greatly appreciated, Buckley and Bergman would hopefully spice up the monthly sessions with their own insights and perspectives. “We’re especially excited that we keep the continuity of our long-time members, but it’s also great to have some additional voices,” she said. “These two are at the very ends of the
Mathew Bergman, 41, has lived on the West Side for 15 years and said he wants to do his part to make sure the neighborhood stays affordable for longtime residents.
spectrum, we have a seasoned citizen, as well as someone very young, and I think it’s going to be an interesting dynamic that will bring at least some good debate.”
BARNEYS continued from p. 3
entirely the night before the April CB4 full board meeting, where it was set to appeal the decision to the board. Following this, Barneys reached out to 100 West 16th Street Block Association Chair Paul Groncki in order to clear the air. “A consultant that [Barneys] hired contacted me, and said that they wanted to sit down and talk about their relationship with the block, because they got off on the wrong foot with us,” Groncki noted. A meeting between Barneys reps and Block Association members was arranged for April 29, where the reps apologized for the situation, noting that they would not be pursuing any change to W. 16th St. “Apparently somebody decided to [try to] change the parking without talking to the people who were in the know [the management],” said Groncki, adding that the reps confirmed that the offending party was no longer with them. “They were very upset by this, and very upset with the bad relationship with the neighborhood.” According to Groncki, the delivery situation has been rectified as well. As it stands, the trucks park on Seventh Ave. during early morning hours, and unload onto carts that are then wheeled over to the W. 16th St. entrance. “There’s a lot of bad feelings in this neighborhood about the old Barneys,” Groncki noted, recalling the tooth-in-nail battle Chelsea activists fought thoroughly (and creatively) in the 1980s and early ’90s surrounding the retailer’s flagship store. “But this, the Pressmans [original owners of the chain] aren’t involved anymore,” Groncki asserted. “This is a different management, so we’re trying to treat them fairly as well.” At the meeting, Barneys broached the subject of Freds extending the hours of its liquor license to 10pm, beyond the store’s 8pm closing, in order to run .com
Photo by Sean Egan
The W. 16th St. side entrance to Barneys, where deliveries from the Seventh Ave. unloading site are brought.
through its dinner hours. Groncki sent out an email to the Block Association outlining the situation, and requesting responses from members. As of the time of this writing, Groncki reported that he has received about 35 replies to his message, all of which indicated support of the extension of hours. Going forward Groncki and the Block Association would contact Barneys’ lawyers to approve of the stipulations, before it goes before CB4’s BLP committee on May 10. This new spirit of cooperation seems to cut both ways though, as, according to Groncki, reps from Barneys have offered to help the Block Association with “pro bono legal help regarding our battle over the French Evangelical Church site” in addition
to playing a part in the Associations’ fall block party, and working with a local resident to create a window display that pays tribute to the history of W. 16th St. This, combined with Barneys’ follow-through on the loading situation, appears to indicate that the retailer is making good on their promise to be a better neighbor. “As in many of these situations, bad communication often causes problems,” said Groncki. “There were some problems in communicating between Barneys and the neighbors when they were first opening the new store. It looks like those communications problems have been resolved, and Barneys seems to be acting like a good neighbor, and we look forward to working with them in the future.” May 05 - 11, 2016
Dynamic International Airways and Guyana Celebrate 50 Years of Independence and Growth “The airline has given dozens of Guyanese people jobs, and Dynamic’s fares are low enough to allow the Diaspora to come home. “ BY PETER MOSES NEW YORK - Guyana may be a small country north of Brazil in South America, but with the help of Dynamic International Airways and its expanding New York hub at JFK, the country’s footprint on the world stage is destined to grow. Many Americans have heard of Guyana but don’t know much about where it is, what tourists can do there or how easy it is to ﬂy from New York to this English-speaking Garden of Eden. In May of 2016, Dynamic International Airways and the nation of Guyana are taking steps to change that. The airline and Guyana are teaming up to celebrate
May 05 - 11, 2016
50 years of independence by this former British territory and a new logo has been afﬁxed to one of Dynamic’s ﬂeet of six Boeing 767 jets. It incorporates the jaguar (national animal of Guyana), the country’s ﬂag and coat of arms and, temporarily, a banner that announces the Jubilee Celebration taking place in New York from June 4-12. “The country is looking up and raising its connection to the world,” said New York State Senator Roxanne Persaud (DCanarsie), who was born in Guyana and moved to the United States with her family in 1983. “This partnership with Dynamic will encourage tourists to come and experience
Guyanese life which includes eco-tourism, waterfalls, beaches, great food and ﬁrst-class accommodations.” But for the 140,000 Guyanese diaspora who live in the New York City area, Dynamic provides an affordable option to travel back and forth from home with regular service out of JFK. Guyana is home to nearly 750,000 residents, but more than 300,000 citizens live overseas. The largest single group of Guyanese who live outside the country reside in the ﬁve boroughs of New York, and Dynamic is the leading air carrier between the two nations. “The partnership between Guyana and Dy-
namic matters to us,” said H.E. George Talbot, United Nations ambassador to the United States. “The airline has given dozens of Guyanese people jobs, and Dynamic’s fares are consistent and low enough to allow the Diaspora to come home. We are so grateful to Dynamic for this opportunity.” For tourists, the charming people and beautiful landscape are Guyana’s chief natural resources. However, the country produces and exports sugar, diamonds, bauxite and shrimp. Guyana’s service industry is growing to meet the needs of tourism and industry. Captain Gerry Gou-
viea, Dynamic’s agent in Guyana, said the airline runs on a 95 percent ontime departure rate and ﬂights average 90 percent capacity. New ﬂights are being added to the JFKGuyana schedule as well as two new aircraft joining the ﬂeet in the coming months. “We started Dynamic with the intent to serve in an underdeveloped niche market,” said Karen Kraus, interim chief operating ofﬁcer for Dynamic. “With this growth we are experiencing, we want people to know there is a reliable, inexpensive alternative for getting to Guyana and our non-stop ﬂights make it easy on travelers seeking a high level of service.” .com
Carol From The Clouds, Where Fear Can’t Reach Lipnik is a sublime vocalist and a profound presence BY TRAV S.D. One of the most exciting performance spaces in New York right now has got to be the back room at Pangea. Of late they have been playing host to a series of artists-in-residence who are character-based female singers — women who are not just amazing vocalists, but who bring largerthan-life personalities to the table as well. Recent months have seen successful Pangea runs from Weimar-era embodiment Mad Jenny (Jenny Lee Mitchell), Tammy Faye Starlite’s turn as Marianne Faithful, and MAC-award winning cabaret empress Molly Pope. And now I must add to my list of favorites Carol Lipnik, whose residency at Pangea runs through June 26. Every time you meet something you’ve never encountered before, it expands your world just a little bit. What I particularly love, or find intriguing, about Lipnik is how she represents an unusual combination of elements one might expect to be contradictory: cabaret performance, but with a spiritual orientation. Cabaret culture in general tends to be very “New York,” which means that it can be edgy, hard, competitive, and cruel in its humor. None of those words apply to Lipnik, whose Earth Mother energy savors more of Woodstock than 52nd Street. While she is quite a bit different stylistically, the only person I can think of who possessed a similar mixture of elements was the late Laura Nyro. Swaddled in turquoise wrappings and festooned with ankhs, Lipnik comes off as a spacey specimen, but the solid and confident chops undergirding her performance bespeaks serious discipline, considerable training and much hard work. Her current set consists primarily of songs rich in imagery inspired by the elements of .com
Photo by Albie Mitchell
Swaddled, festooned and seemingly spacey, Carol Lipnik is a disciplined artist in full command of her considerable abilities — and her enraptured audience.
nature: sand, shells, trees, stars, flowers, and woodland creatures. The metaphorical themes of the songs often serve as touchstones for playful sonic experiments. Thus “The Werewolf Song” calls for hair-raising cries and howls. A song called “The Oyster and the Sand” features the simulated “whoosh” of ocean waves. In “Mermaid Blues,” she emits a vocal effect not unlike a glass harmonica. It is as though she were Prospero, using bardic magic to direct the forces of nature. Usually I roll my eyes at such crunchy shenanigans, but in Lipnik’s hands, it’s too sublime and profound to be a drag. Maybe it’s because she’s savvy enough to have a sense of humor about herself and her act. Her patter is sparse, but what there is of it is kind of wry and deadpan in the manner of Steven Wright, tinged with just an overlay of self-parody. “This is an anthem for crows,” she announces, kicking off a song that does indeed prove to be just that. “Feral creatures is my subject,” she says in the lead-up to a beautiful tune entitled “Wild Geese.” “My piano used to be a tree,” she reminds us. And she describes the song “Freak House Blues” as “something that a Victorian Pierrot puppet might say while trying to catch the moon.” But what truly sells it is the authority of her gift. You get the sense that both her message and her voice are coming from a very deep, honest and pure place, both anchored and flash. The breadth of her musical vocabulary allows her to throw a Hank Williams style yodeling whoop into one song; in another, she reaches down for the lowest note she can hit on the word LIPNIK continued on p. 18 May 05 - 11, 2016
Photo by Albie Mitchell
Carol Lipnik and Matt Kanelos, seen here in performance at Joe’s Pub.
craft all the original material in the act including herself, Tom Ward, Michael Hurley, Laura Gilpin, and her accompanist Matt Kanelos, who also creates sound effects and sings harmonies. On the night I attended, I observed a small and vocal cult of die-hard Lipnik fans, who appeared to know both her songs and patter by heart. When the show was over, the audience ULULATED its approval, and one gentleman in the back of the house collapsed, apparently from an overdose of positive energy. And then she gave herself over to one last, no less spiritual ritual: the encore.
LIPNIK continued from p. 17
Photo by Bobby Miller
Carol Lipnik is an Earth Mother with expansive vocal and emotional range.
“down.” On “My Piano” her voice climbs up into the stratosphere on heavenly steps. The moment by itself is enough to make the song memorable — then, just to show that it wasn’t a fluke (to borrow a whale word) she up and does it again! Coming from Lipnik, these feats strike one not so much as acts of bravery than as the natural behavior of someone who lives someplace above the clouds where fear can’t reach. Despite the undeniably esoteric aspects of her performance, much of her act is old-fashioned show biz. Her encore is straight up vaudeville: For her big finish she sings a version of the standard “Moon River,” performing a solo on the kazobo, an instrument in the kazoo family. And, much like the old school vaudeville divas of yore, there is an entire team supporting her, a small bullpen of songwriters who
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May 05 - 11, 2016
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SuZen Sees Visions of Light & Spirit Immersive retrospective inspired by Buddhist teachings BY TEQUILA MINSKY For over 50 years, SuZen’s working and waking lives have been shaped by a devotion to fine art photography, design, travel, peace activism, and the creation of public art. “I’ve been a seeker all my life. I’ve been always connected to Buddhist images, loving light,” says the artist who legally changed her name to SuZen in 1981. A decade before that, she moved into Westbeth, a pioneer, one year after the former Bell Laboratory Complex at 55 Bethune St. opened its doors as an affordable housing complex where artists could both reside and create. “Then, it was a very seedy part of town,” SuZen recalls of the Greenwich Village waterfront location, which has served as the home base from which she curated, organized and created work that has appeared in, among other public places, the lobby of One World Trade Center and the TWA terminal at JFK. Inspired by the Buddha’s teachings, SuZen’s 50-year retrospective, “Visions of Light & Spirit,” marks her third solo show at Westbeth. In addition to the entire gallery space being filled with the progression of her work from 1966 to the present, this exhibition premieres “Transmigration,” a one-room work in which the viewer, surrounded by sounds of nature, walks through diaphanous layers of fabric, immersed among images of underwater life cast from a continuous loop from two projectors in sync. A single stingray swims up, alone, into a bird form.
Photo by Shelley Seccombe
SuZen, at the May 1 opening of her retrospective exhibition (on view at Westbeth Gallery through May 21).
“I’ve collected video footage throughout the years,” the artist notes of the sources of her imagery for the multi-media installation, whose essence is “all about the projection of light. Because you’re walking through the fabric, you’re seeing multiple images and it’s very holographic; very three dimensional,” she says, further noting how “Transmigration” is a logical progression in her art and perspective. SUZEN continued on p. 20
Request for Proposals for the Operation and Maintenance of a Ferry Service at Gangway Six at The Battery, Manhattan The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) is issuing, as of the date of this notice, a significant Request for Proposals (RFP) for the operation and maintenance of a ferry service at Gangway Six at The Battery, Manhattan. rd All proposals submitted in response to this RFP must be submitted no later than Friday, June 3 , 2016 at 5:00pm. There will be a recommended proposer meeting and site tour on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 at 10:00am. We will be meeting at the proposed concession site (Block # 3 & Lot # 1), which is located at Gangway Six at The Battery, Manhattan. If you are considering responding to this RFP, please make every effort to attend this recommended meeting and site tour. nd Hard copies of the RFP can be obtained, at no cost, commencing on Monday, May 2 , 2016 through Friday, June 3rd, 2016, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays, at the Revenue Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which is located at 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 407, New York, NY 10065.
The RFP is also available for download, commencing on Monday, May 2 , 2016 through Friday, June 3 , 2016, on Parksʼ website. To download the RFP, visit: http://www.nyc.gov/parks/businessopportunities and click on the “Concessions Opportunities at Parks” link. Once you have logged in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFPʼs description. nd
For more information or to request to receive a copy of the RFP by mail, prospective proposers may contact Revenue Division Project Manager, Joe Conforti, at (212) 360-1341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. TELECOMMUNICATION DEVICE FOR THE DEAF (TDD) 212-504-4115
May 05 - 11, 2016
SUZEN continued from p. 19
“Very early, I was taken by multiple realities that exist,” recalls SuZen, whose early-era works explored these concepts on an intuitive level before her attraction to Buddhism began to overtly influence the direction of her work as a fine art photographer. Jerry Uselmann, the master of photographic layered realities, the forerunner of photomontage, is a photographer she was acquainted with as a student who greatly influenced her. Sandwiching negatives together and printing multiple images onto one photograph is a technique she used in her early work. “I was very taken by his Jungian, dreamlike images.” Reflections, and reflections through glass, are a repeated theme in SuZen’s work. For example, in the black and white “Reflections of Venice,” SuZen loved the reflections of the original photo. “I printed four of them and mounted them together to create reflections of reflections with a dramatic perspective of the buildings,” she explains. Throughout the years, traveling to over 40 countries offered the artist an immense cache of images to draw upon for her current retrospective. The exhibition starts with photos from her first post-student trip to Europe in 1966 and includes a 1968 4x5 view camera shot of building a sand castle at the ocean — “California Dreaming.” These represent very different photographic experiences than today’s digital world. In the West gallery room, the intrepid artist shows a vibrant, trippy series of images from the interior of caves in Yangshou, China. “I love the darkroom,” SuZen says, explaining that early in her photographic life she favored printing in large scale. “I would combine images, butting them together,” essentially, making one-of-a-kind images. She reminisces about the 5-foot by 6-foot piece that Standard Oil bought. Selecting work from six of her series amidst the vast volume of her work, SuZen had to make tough choices as to what she would show. In the cozy far end of Westbeth Gallery’s main space, SuZen is showing images from her “Blindseries” — as in Venetian blinds with light filtering through. In the adjoining gallery, she has three life-size self-portraits printed on canvas with shadows cast from the blinds. “Flowing Light,” a part of this series, became a stories-high mural in 1984 on a building on W. 42nd St., across from the Port Authority. “It’s amazing. If you visit my mural today, it looks just as good as it did in 1984,” she says. Additionally, in a glass case, SuZen is showing the diminutive small screens of “Blindfolds” — 4.5 inches tall. In her “LIGHTvision” series, images from the “Sacred Journey” and “Transmigration” installations are shown throughout the gallery — some, color prints. Others, printed on aluminum, reveal a subtle luminosity. In one particularly tranquil room, images hang from her “Selectively Toned” series and her “FOGseries,” bathed in the most peaceful pastels. In the West Gallery room, her amusing “Lost Glove” series is an installation in which the titular objects are scattered on the floor.
May 05 - 11, 2016
The multi-media installation “Transmigration” immerses the viewer in sounds and images from the natural world.
SuZen’s “Flowing Light” mural, created in 1984, can still be seen on a W. 42nd St. building across from the Port Authority.
To achieve the “Reflections of Venice” look, SuZen printed four of the original photo, then mounted them together.
Curator of her own exhibition at Westbeth Gallery, the artist shares the different threads of her work from her traditional black and white days to expansive explorations of the medium. Throughout it all, be it conceptual, sculptural, ethereal or whimsical, her lifelong passion for the medium is constant.
“Visions of Light & Spirit: SuZen’s 50th Anniversary Retrospective Exhibition” is on view through May 21 at Westbeth Gallery (55 Bethune St., btw. Washington & West Sts.). Free. Hours: Wed.–Sun., 1–6pm. Artist Talk: Sun., May 8 & 15 at 3pm. Artist info at suzennyc.com and bit. ly/SuZenGPlus. .com
Just Do Art
Photo by Michael Priest
L to R: Laura Kamin, Anita Keal, Kate McGonigle and Alice Jankell in “Letters to Sala,” May 15 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
LETTERS TO SALA Having survived seven Nazi forced-labor camps from 1941 to 1945, all while keeping a diary and preserving hundreds of letters and photos, Polish teenager Sala Garncarz settled in New York City with those materials, then proved equally adept at hiding the trove, and her experiences, from those she was closest to. Once discovered, daughter Ann Kirschner told the story of a mother’s instinct to protect, in the memoir “Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story.” Playwright Arlene Hutton’s adaptation, “Letters to Sala,” had an Off-Broadway run in 2015. Now, much of that cast reunites for two performances only — an 80-minute concert presentation that communicates the essence of how the atrocities of the Holocaust can affect, and even divide, successive generations. Sun., May 15, at 12pm & 3:30pm, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (36 Battery Place). Tickets are $20, $15 for Museum members and students (valid ID required), and $10 for children (for ages 10+). To purchase individual or group tickets, call 646-437-4202 or visit mjhnyc.org/calendar. Also visit letterstosalany.com.
PEN PARENTIS SEASON CLOSER: “HEAVY HITTERS” School’s almost out for the summer — so before the kids become a daytime presence (and a potentially distracting .com
one at that), Pen Parentis is wrapping up their Literary Salon season with an evening of mandatory schmoozing and optional boozing sure to inspire parents to remain prolific writers during those months when the juice box set rules the home front. Emerging author (and, of course, parent) Marika Alzadon will read from her work, alongside notable authors Anjali Mitter Duva and Rick Moody. Then, the trio will engage the audience in a discussion about how they use fiction to explore big ideas (hence the “Heavy Hitters” theme). The Salon returns on September 13, with featured authors Simon Van Booy, Daphne Uviller and Thelma Adams, joined by the 2016-2017 Pen Parentis Fellowship winner. Tues., May 10, 7pm at Andaz Wall St. (75 Wall St.). Free and open to the public; 21+ only. RSVP strongly suggested, via penparentis.org/calendar.
REVEREND BILLY AND THE STOP SHOPPING CHOIR Be ye hardline atheist, open-minded agnostic, or one of unshakable faith — it’s hard not to join the chorus of believers, when the sermons preached by the left-leaning, right righteous Reverend Billy and the songs belted out by The Stop Shopping Choir posit the notion that Mother Earth is speaking to us directly when flood waters rise, species disappear, and man turns on his own in the name of turning a profit. Two new works by this troupe of performance art activists, known for bringing down the house in concert and ending up in the Big
Courtesy City Lights Books
Reverend Billy’s new book provides a backstage glimpse at his movement’s evolution, while the companion CD delivers activism you can dance to.
House after social justice skirmishes, provide unique windows into their creative process and political evolution. In his new book — “The Earth Wants YOU” — Reverend Billy reconstructs how he and his followers went from confronting mindless consumerism in the aisles of the (now-shuttered) Times Square Disney Store to shouting “Hands Up! Don’t Shop!” in a Walmart near Ferguson, MO. Along the way, there are Choirpowered theatrics in the lobby of a Midtown bank, in the shadow of the SPECTRA pipeline, and alongside Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter protesters. Budding activists and armchair anthropologists will find much to chew on in this slim but potent tome — which is especially effective when exploring the backstage mechanics of wearing a papier–mâché Golden Toad head, sticking it to Monsanto, and mounting an ecothemed Passion Play on the banks of the Hudson. Although Reverend Billy cer-
tainly draws back the curtain, he doesn’t lift the veil all the way, thus creating in print the same disorienting, confrontational, call-to-action gut punch you get in stage and street theater form. No less nuanced, but much more consistently danceable, is the book’s companion CD, which features 11 new and stage-tested “punk gospel” songs from The Stop Shopping Choir — including “Fabulous Bad Weather,” “We are the 99%” and “Shopocalypse.” Backed by The Fiery Eagles of Justice, Reverend Billy delivers a free-form sermon (with select performances from The Stop Shopping Choir) at Joe’s Pub (45 Lafayette St., at Astor Pl.) on Tues., May 10, at 9:30pm. For tickets ($12, plus $12 food or two-drink minimum), visit joespub.publictheater.org or call 212-967-7555. Reverend Billy will do a solo reading on Tues., May 17, 7pm, at Community Bookstore (143 Seventh Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn). Free admission. Visit revbilly.com and communitybookstore.net. May 05 - 11, 2016
May 05 - 11, 2016
Rhymes With Crazy
Lack of Space…The Final Frontier
BY LENORE SKENAZY Most people moving to the Upper West Side don’t expect to live in a mansion with a pool in the back. But neither are they jonesing to live in an apartment the size of a 2001 Honda Accord. That’s exactly what Felice Cohen did, for four years. Though she recently moved two avenues away into the relative luxury of a 490-square-foot studio — “There’s tons of space!” — she squeezed everything she learned about appreciating the small things into a new book, “90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or more).” “I wanted to leave my full-time crazy busy job,” says Cohen, now 45, explaining her micro-housing decision. “And I wanted to finish writing my first book. It’s about my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.” She also wanted enough time to travel, ride her bike and play tennis. (Who doesn’t?) The catch was: She didn’t want to leave the city to do it. She didn’t even want to leave Manhattan. That’s exactly the kind of creative soul former Mayor Bloomberg was thinking of when he announced a complex of mini-apartments ranging from 260 to 360 square feet to be built in the East 20s. He proudly .com
touted the fact that these would let regular folks find affordable homes for a mere $2,000 to $3,000 a month. That’s a billionaire for you. Cohen’s apartment measured just 12x7-and-a-half feet, but the tab for her prime location between Lincoln Center and Central Park was a fraction of the Bloomberg pads’: $700 a month. That meant she didn’t have to work full time to afford it. Cohen, whose father was a bankruptcy attorney, said she grew up knowing not to spend what she didn’t have. She also took note of her grandmother’s trajectory, going from a 13-room house, to a two-bedroom condo, to a nursing home room. “When she died, all her possessions fit into one cardboard box,” says Cohen. Surely there was a lesson there on how little we truly need. But it still took Cohen a little while to absorb that lesson. Before she moved into the tiny space, she packed up 77 boxes and put them into storage. It’s possible you’ve already seen her tiny space. A video “tour” of Cohen’s apartment has garnered more than 11 million views on YouTube. On it, you see that she doesn’t have a kitchen, but she does have a fridge, a hot pot and a toaster.
She’s got a loft bed, of course — in New York, when you need space, the only place to go is up. And she’s got a desk, a comfy reading chair, and a bathroom that looks completely normal (to a New Yorker). Come to think of it, my husband and I lived in about 400 square feet for a few years and it didn’t seem nutty either. Which is precisely Cohen’s point: “We can all live without half of what we own. We have closets full of clothes we barely wear. We save something for “just in case,” and “just in case” never comes. People will say, “I want to save this in case I lose weight.” I say by the time that fits again, it’s going to be out of style.” The solution? Edit, edit, edit. It should come as no surprise that Cohen’s other job is a professional organizer. If you can’t afford her $150-per-hour service, she’s got a couple of great suggestions: Go through just one section at a time — your kitchen cabinets, sock collection, whatever. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. And remember, you don’t have to toss the things you loved. Give them to a friend, or charity. What you’re getting rid of may end up helping someone else. In the end, Cohen got rid of her tiny apartment only because she was evicted. Subletting, a new landlord, yada, yada, yada. It doesn’t get more Manhattan than that. That’s when her grandfather stepped in. “He said, ‘Enough already! Buy a place! You lived in a shoebox to write about my life. Now make sure you buy some good furniture and enjoy your life.’ ” He gave her a down payment for the new studio. By the time Cohen moved in, she had gotten rid of those 77 boxes in storage. It’s likely most of us could get rid of whatever we’re storing, too. “It’s about living large on your own terms,” summed up Cohen. “Not being stressed to pay bills for stuff you don’t even use.” Maybe freedom’s just another word for nothing left to store. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog, Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com). May 05 - 11, 2016
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