A Central Park Gem Hidden Away for 82 Years Page 04-05
Carolyn Maloney Grades Subways on a Curve
CB5, CB7’s Newest Members Speak Up
Being Carlos Danger
May 19 – June 1, 2016 | Vol. 02 No. 10
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May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Left Back Repeatedly, Second Ave Subway Wins A- From Maloney BY JACKSON CHEN
n a report card evaluating the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s long-delayed Second Avenue Subway, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, apparently unafraid of charges of grade inflation, gave the project an A-. That grade, released in a press conference on May 16, was one notch up from the B+ she handed out in 2013 to the subway expansion expected to bring much-needed overcrowding relief to Upper East Side straphangers. To date, those commuters’ only subway option has been the Lexington Avenue line. When the entire line is completed more than a decade from now, the project –– first discussed as early as 1919 –– will span the East Side, from Harlem to Hanover Street Downtown, with changes to the Q line and the introduction of the T line. A massive and complicated undertaking, the Second Avenue Subway project was split into four phases, with the completion of Phase 1 — with stations at 72nd, 86th, and 96th Streets — expected by the end of this year. Maloney made clear that if the MTA misses that deadline, her views will change dramatically. According to the transit agency, 94.4 percent of the construction of Phase 1 is complete, with all of the 22,000 feet of track laid and third rail installation almost complete. Since the Second Avenue Subway would serve her East Side constituents, Maloney emphasized that she’s kept a close eye on the project, even visiting the underground construction sites. With Phase 1 now nearing completion, the conSECOND AVENUE SUBWAY REPORT 2016 CARD Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney WHAT’S BEEN WORKING: Project Merit: Economic Benefits: Communication with Public: Completion of Tunnel Construction: Progress Toward Completion of Phase 1: Construction Management: On-time Record: Progress on Station Entrances and Ancillary Facilities: Planning: Staying on Budget: Funding for Phase 2:
A+ A+ A+ A+ AAB+ B+ B B B-
WHAT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Mitigation of Construction Impact: Testing of Equipment: Seamless Transition to Phase 2:
C C C
*Assuming the MTA meets its December 2016 deadline for the completion of Phase 1 OFFICE OF CONGRESSMEMBER CAROLYN MALONEY
Congressmember Carolyn Maloney’s most recent Second Avenue Subway report card.
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
US Representative Carolyn Maloney at a May 16 press conference announcing her new report card on the Second Avenue Subway.
gressmember said she felt the time was right for an updated status report regarding key elements of the project. According to Maloney, the overall project merit, its economic benefits, the completion of tunnel construction, and the MTA’s communication with the public all earned A+ grades. A new category in Maloney’s grading system involves funding for the project’s Phase 2 –– stations at 106th and 116th Streets and a connection to the Lexington line at 125th Street –– which has seen much turmoil over the years. In October of last year, the MTA board voted to cut roughly $1 billion from the Phase 2 funding in its 2015-2019 capital plan. After backlash from community and elected officials, the state restored $500 million that’s expected to be supplemented with a $500 million federal grant. However, the MTA’s capital plan — expected to total approximately $29.46 billion through 2019 — is not entirely funded, with Governor Andrew Cuomo pledging $8.3 billion in funding and Mayor Bill de Blasio agreeing to commit $2.5 billion of city money. According to Maloney, the deficit in capital funds will be covered out of federal dollars and other sources, but there are no guarantees as of yet about the level of federal funding. Despite that uncertainty, she assigned a B- on the question of Phase 2 funding. Maloney was tougher in three other areas, where she handed out C grades, indicating that each “needs improvement.” Regarding the MTA’s mitigation of construction impact, she offered the agency a small bump up from its previous C- grade dating all the way back to 2009. The main problem created by construction, the congressmember said, has been interference with business storefronts and outdoor seating. Sam Musovic Jr., who runs three restaurants with his father Sammy, said they’ve sacrificed a
lot in dealing with the MTA’s lengthy project. The Musovics — who run Vero on East 77th Street, Sojourn on East 79th Street, and Selena Rosa Mexican on East 89th Street — said that construction equipment and infrastructure rose significantly higher than the restaurants’ storefronts. “As a result, visibility was heavily decreased,” Musovic said. “We had to lower prices substantially and on top of that, try to increase visibility with signs in front.” In the face of higher Upper East Side rent, he added, the restaurants have been forced to reduce staff and even cut down on hours of operation. Counting on a December 2016 completion date, the Musovics are hoping the new subway stations will deliver significant boosts to business at the three restaurants. “It would be phenomenal to have it on time,” Musovic said. “Considering how much it’s affected us, it would be a great burden off our back.” Maloney also voiced criticism about the MTA’s testing of equipment, which she said the agency has left little time to do in advance of the new line’s launch, and what she termed “seamless transition” to Phase 2 construction between 96th and 125th Streets. “The community has waited a long time, almost a hundred years for the Second Avenue Subway,” Maloney said. “It’s an incredible achievement, and I’d like to see them reach their deadline.” Though clearly willing to look at the project’s positives and award an overall generous grade, she warned there is still a chance for the project to earn an F should the MTA run beyond its December deadline. “There are good reasons to award a lot of high grades,” Maloney said. “But unless the project is completed by December 2016, the MTA could still wind up with a failing grade.”
A Central Park Gem Hidden Away for 82 Years
ALL PHOTOS BY JACKSON CHEN
BY JACKSON CHEN Undisturbed for many decades, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary inside Central Park has now been opened to the public. According to the Central Park Conser vancy, the four -acre swath of the park was closed off to the masses in 1934 by thenParks Commissioner Robert Moses, who wanted to preserve the area as a bird sanctuary. In 1986, the preserve — located just above the Pond, which is near the park’s southeaster n cor ner — was renamed to honor George Harvey Hallett, Jr., an avid birdwatcher and community leader. The sanctuary was untouched until 2001, when the conservancy stepped in for restoration and maintenance efforts. Being an area absent of human activity for so long, invasive plant species had begunv knocking the sanctuary out of its ecological balance. With 15 years of work, the conservancy was able to remove the invasive species, replace them with native plants — ranging from foxglove to wild ginger, bellwort, witch hazel, and even blueberries — and restore it
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
to a healthy enough state to be opened up for carefully limited public access. After a May 10 New York Times feature on the sanctuary, nature lovers flocked there to get a peek inside, with lines lasting up to half an hour. With the sanctuary’s small size, the conservancy is only allowing about 30 people inside at a time, and it is currently open just nine hours each week. Despite arriving at the sanctuary’s main gate entrance by the 2 p.m. opening time on a sunny afternoon this week, Maxine and Steve had to wait 30 minutes before their turn. The husband-wife duo had earlier
explored the sanctuary when the park allowed visits on a very limited basis in 2013. But this time around, the two were especially impressed with changes that include species labels identifying the various plants. “They clearly improved it in fixing it up, making paths more accessible, and still feeling like it’s part of nature,” Maxine said, noting the diversity of plants and wildlife. Outside of the blue jays and starlings she and Steve spied, the sanctuary is also home to bees, squirrels and the occasional raccoon that sneaks into treetops.
For some newcomers, it was seeing plants in their native environments that was the highlight of the sanctuary. “I saw some species there that I didn’t expect to,” said Anna Kulczycki, mentioning the wild ginger as an example. “I think it’s a nice way to preserve some species and for people to visualize them.” And for some Central Park veterans, the sanctuary is a welcome addition to the park’s already expansive offerings. “There are lots of really inter esting places and these gems are fun to find,” said a frequent parkgoer who gave her name as Pamela R. “I read about this in
the New York Times article and thought, how is there a place in the park I don’t know?” But the secret is now out for the nature junkies seeking an escape from the honking taxis and crowded streets that lie just beyond Central Park’s stone walls. The Hallett Nature Sanctuary is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. through June 30. From July 1 to August 31, the sanctuary will be open on Mondays and Fridays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit centralparknyc.org.
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On Upper West Side, Four New CB7 Members Step Up BY JACKSON CHEN Out of 81 new recruits recently seated on Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards, four of them will be weighing in on Upper West Side issues at Community Board 7. But it wasn’t easy securing a seat on CB7, as there’s never a shortage of eager and engaged residents submitting their applications each year. In 2015, 74 residents applied to the board, dwarfing the average of 36 applications from Manhattan CBs as a whole. While CB10 of Central Harlem received the most applications at 78 this year, CB7 trailed closely behind with 69 interested residents. The four who made the cut are hoping to provide their insights on housing, education, and senior citizens issues to the board. Manuel Casanova, 44, first took on a public role in his community when he joined the Parent Teach-
er Association at West End Avenue’s P.S. 75, which his daughter attends. While he’s aware of the much deeper commitment required for a community board, Casanova — who works as an independent consultant — said any opportunity to shape the future of his neighborhood was important to him. “Things are obviously changing and evolving,” Casanova said of the Upper West Side. “There’s always a balance of how you maintain the good things you already have with the things that need to be changed.” With two daughters attending schools in the area, Casanova said education would always be a hot button issue for him, particularly in light of the large number of private, charter, and public schools in the neighborhood and their relationships to each other. Outside of education issues, he explained he’s also concerned about housing issues
COURTESY: MANUEL CASANOVA
COURTESY: SARINA GUPTA
Manuel Casanova first became active in the community by joining the PTA at his daughter’s school.
Sarina Gupta, at 16, is among the borough’s youngest community board members.
and about the community’s small businesses that are pitted against online retail giants. For Susan Schwartz, the call to action grew out of necessity when the landlord of her apartment complex began illegal renovations in February 2015. After approaching local elected officials and forming a tenant association among the
mostly rent-regulated residents, Schwartz was able to understand the rights she and her neighbors enjoyed and how to exercise them. After becoming, in this way, invested in her building, she decided to take the next step by applying for the community board.
c CB7, continued on p.7
Ten New CB5 Members Dive In at May 12 Board Meeting
Dennie Beach introduces himself to his fellow CB5 members at the start of the board’s May 12 meeting.
BY JACKSON CHEN The lights were still on after hours in the library at Xavier High School on West 16th Street, with 10 people inside intently thumbing their way through thick packets of applications and other documents. But they weren’t alone, as they were soon welcomed by the rest of Midtown’s Community Board 5 as its newest recruits during a May 12 meeting.
About 15 minutes before the start of their first CB5 full board meeting, the newcomers infor mally introduced themselves to their fellow members. Throughout the meeting, they continued to pore over the full 29-page agenda that contained complicated community issues ranging from the appropriateness of changes on landmarks to liquor license applications and school zoning questions.
COURTESY: ALAN YU
COURTESY: JEFF PURVIN
It can be easy for new members to get lost in the agenda language, but they’ve all been assigned to a mentor who can explain the ins and outs of community board functions. “These applications are fair ly complex,” said Zach Lichaa, 29, one of CB5’s recent additions. “You’re pretty sure you know exactly what they’re saying, but in the first few meetings, you want to check with someone
who’s looked at them for years and years.” Lichaa looked to his guide, CB5’s first vice chair Nicholas Athanail, for confirmation and explanation. And after his first meeting, he said he was pleased to see how professional the whole process was. With a career bringing 3-D printing into schools, combined with his interest in
c CB5, continued on p.7
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
CB7, from p.6
“I really wanted to broaden my horizons and take what I learned from my building and help others,” said Schwartz, a co-owner of D N Schwartz & Co, a headhunting firm. But her résumé spans far more than recruiting, as she worked in marketing for Nabisco before jumping into the world of film production, with time also spent engaged with historic preservation societies. Schwartz’s community interests are just as expansive, with concerns ranging from historic preservation to transportation and quality of life for senior citizens. Her most pressing concerns, however, relate to the preservation and construction of affordable housing throughout the Upper West Side. CB7 has also gained one of the borough’s youngest new community board members with Sarina Gupta, a 16-year-old junior attending Hunter College High School.
Despite her youth, Gupta brings impressive experience to the board. For three years, Gupta has interned with Borough President Gale Brewer, who formerly represented the Upper West Side as a city councilmember. Outside her studies and internship, Gupta also serves on the National Youth Advisory Board for Loveisrespect, a nonprofit focused on preventing and ending abusive teenage relationships. “I’ve just been really active in my community and really utilized all the Upper West Side’s resources,” Gupta said. “I wanted to be involved in that community more so than I already am and help create changes to better it.” While early in her time on CB7, Gupta is already interested in sitting on the Youth and the Health and Human Services Committees. Andrew Rigie, the fourth new member of Community Board 7, could not be reached for comment.
CB5, from p.6
transportation and elderly housing and services, Lichaa said he hopes to help improve his community to match the standards of what he feels a world-class city should be. Lichaa was one of this year’s 24 applicants for a seat on CB5, which was running at a 11-member deficit out of its 50 slots. According to the board’s dist r i c t m a n a g e r, Wa l l y R u b i n , that number was large, but not unprecedented. He explained that the two main reasons for dwindling numbers are members not living or working in the area anymore or choosing to step off for personal reasons. There’s just one vacancy left — to be filled by Borough President Gale Brewer — but Rubin said the 10 additions nearly round out the full board. “We are thrilled with our new members,” Rubin said. “We look forward to a productive year ahead with a full fleet of board members." New members Jeff Purvin and Dennie Beach were taken under the mentoring wing of David Sandler, the vice chair of CB5’s T ransportation and Environment Committee.
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“During the meeting, if anything happened that might have surprised us,” Purvin said, “[Sandler] would whisper over little things to have us understand.” And even before the meeting,
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
c CB5, continued on p.20
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Environmental Impact Study Warns of Ferry Service’s Air Pollution BY YANNIC RACK
he new citywide ferry service set to launch next year will significantly increase air pollution at docks along the East River, according to an environmental report released by the city — especially in Midtown and Lower Manhattan, where air quality is already poor. Nitrogen dioxide emissions from ferry engines could exceed air pollution standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency at 11 docking sites, shows a draft environmental impact statement published by the Economic Development Corporation last month. “The operation of the proposed CFS could potentially result in significant adverse impacts on air quality in some locations,” according to the report, which is available on the agency’s website. “The City has assessed potential mitigation options aimed at reducing NO2 emissions from CFS vessels, and determined that… it will not be possible to fully mitigate the potential significant impacts identified by the time of the anticipated launch in 2017.” At the existing ferry ter minal at East 34th Street, nitrogen dioxide levels are already high ––– in open areas near the terminal more than 50 percent above the standard established by the US Environmental Protection Agency for open spaces, though not in nearby residential areas. That level could reach as high as three and a half times the EPA standard in open spaces around the terminal with the addition of new ferry service. NO2 levels in nearby residential areas could register at more than 50 percent higher than the national standard for residential areas with the additional ferries. The impact of new ferry service at 34th Street, then, would be to spread pollutants to residential and commercial buildings inland, while they are currently confined to open areas immediately adjacent to the terminal. Short-ter m nitrogen dioxide exposure has been linked to respiratory illness in healthy and asthmatic people, according to the EPA. An EDC spokesperson said last week that the additional pollutants would not negatively impact the city as a whole because the new water transit system would lower emissions resulting from other modes of transportation.
“While any new mass transit will result in some emissions, we’re proud to be using the most environmentally friendly technology available for the types of vessels needed,” said EDC spokesman Ian Fried. “Through transit alternatives like Citywide Ferry Service… we’re also helping get more New Yorkers out of their cars and on to greener modes of transportation.” Fried also cited the city’s 2014 Community Air Survey, which noted that levels of NO2 throughout Manhattan — though still higher than in most other areas of the city — have been dropping over the past several years. But environmental advocates said there is still reason to worry that the new ferry service will worsen air quality in Manhattan. Midtown Manhattan already has the highest NO2 levels among all city neighborhoods, while the Upper East side ranks sixth above all neighborhoods, according to the Department of Health. Pier 11 on Wall Street, which will see the biggest increase in ferry traffic, will also experience the worst increases in NO2 levels. NO2 levels are also projected to rise at East 62nd Street and East 90th Street with the addition of ferry service at those locations. The impact on nearby residential areas, however, will not cause levels that exceed EPA standards. Open space readings, however, will exceed EPA standards by more than 20 percent at East 62nd Street and almost 50 percent at East 90th Street. Maureen Koetz, an environmental attor ney, ter med the excesses over the EPA standards “very concerning.” But Koetz, who attended a conference on the new ferry service organized by the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance several weeks ago, added that she thought the city could have also done a better job on the impact study in weighing the benefits of averted transportation against the air quality negatives of greater ferry service. “I don’t think the environmental impact assessment did a very good job of captur ing the value proposition,” she said. “If designed properly, the ferry service should actually have a net environmental value — it should be better than having trucks and cars on the road.” The EDC r eport says the pollution is unavoidable, but the city will continue to look for long-term options to reduce ferryengine emissions, such as retrofitting boats with nitrogen dioxide reduction
New East River ferry service, slated to open up in 2017 and 2018, will add to NO2 emissions at and near the docking terminals.
technology or adding hybrid or all-electric ferries to the fleet. Hornblower, the San Francisco-based company picked to run the service, said last week that it was chosen after the draft environmental impact statement was completed, and that the environmental impact would likely be less dramatic than expected anyway. “This draft EIS assumed the worst case scenario,” said Hornblower vice president Cameron Clark, who runs the company’s New York operations. “Hornblower is proud of its history in reducing emissions and working with its partners to establish the most environmentally efficient vessels in their class.” The city announced this March that the first new routes in the ferry service would launch in June 2017, with tickets at $2.75 and free transfers to bus and subway service. The extended ferry routes include existing and new East River stops, including ones on Grand Street and at Stuyvesant Cove, and new ones, as well, in the outer bor oughs in Far Rockaway, Bay Ridge, the Brooklyn Ar my Ter minal, Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6, Gover nors Island, Long Island City, Astoria, Roosevelt Island, and Soundview. The city is holding a range of public hearings on the environmental report in coming weeks, and comments can also be submitted directly to the EDC, attention: Dina R ybak, assistant vice president, 110 William Street, New York 10038 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, attention: Denise Pisani, senior project manager, 253 Broadway, seventh Floor, New York 10007, 212-6763290, or email@example.com. –– Additional reporting by Paul Schindler May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
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Free Wi-Fi Rollout Hits Preservationist Speed Bump
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
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he rollout of free Wi-Fi is beginning on the Upper West Side, but itâ€™s the creep toward historic districts throughout the city that has preservationists questioning its benefits when weighed against the historic character of New Yorkâ€™s neighborhoods. Broadway on the Upper West Side is now equipped with 25 links, with nine currently active, providing free Wi-Fi, calls, and Internet services. With more being installed and activated on a rolling basis, Broadway will soon be lined with the Wi-Fi kiosks, just like Third Avenue on the Upper East Side, which boasts more than 30 active links. The underground fiber optic network built to support the Wi-Fi kiosks has so far not intruded on the several historic districts of the Upper East and Upper West Sides. But that may change as the Landmarks Preservation Commission looks at amending its rules to allow the kiosks â€“â€“ which it classifies as â€œpublic communication structuresâ€? â€“â€“ to be installed within historic districts without city review.
The rule change would allow the links to go into historic districts without LPC approvals or permits as long as they conform to advertising and design guidelines â€” similar to the ones set for the payphones that the links are replacing. But after a public hearing on May 3 regarding the changes, at which LPC withheld comment, preservationists said the discussion needs to be broadened. â€œThe arbiter of taste in historic districts is the Landmarks Commission,â€? said Sean Khor sandi, advocacy director at Landmark West! â€œIf theyâ€™re not going to comment on it, thatâ€™s a little bit of a question.â€? While he acknowledged that the Wi-Fi kiosks are not a direct threat to landmarked buildings, Khorsandi said he felt the rules change would erode the cohesion and sense of place that historic districts provide. He also challenged the notion that the kiosks are primarily aimed at serving a public need, arguing that they are adver tisement-driven. According to LinkNYC, the free services the kiosks provide are funded com-
BY JACKSON CHEN
Preservationists say that the size and advertising content on LinkNYC kiosks threaten the character of historic districts.
Buildings Department Takes Aim at Tenant Harassment During Renovations BY EILEEN STUKANE
he first week of May was Construction Safety Week in New York City — and on May 4, the city Department of Buildings held a Build Safe/ Live Safe Confer ence in Manhattan. Acknowledging that the citywide building boom has occasioned an increase in construction accidents, the DOB insisted that safety is high on its list of priorities. At any given time, about 300 cranes are operating across the boroughs, and the downside of that activity has been fatalities due to crane collapses — most recently on February 5, when strong winds toppled a crane, which crashed to the ground on Worth Street in Tribeca, killing a 38-year-old pedestrian. Among the construction safety seminars offered to the 300 Build Safe/ Live Safe attendees — a mix of architects, engineers, contractors, government regulators, and other construction professionals — one session stood out for its impact on a broader swath of New Yorkers than those affected by major construction involving cranes. “Tenant Protection” addressed the safety of those residing in buildings whose owners have undertaken significant renovations. The discussion came in the wake of last year’s report from a Manhattan citizens’ organization, the Community & Residents Protection Working Group, exposing the practice of landlords and developers filing building permit applications claiming the structures are unoccupied, when in fact they have tenants. That misrepresentation allows renovation to go forward without the filing of a Tenant Protection Plan. Residents in such buildings often face harassment from the ensuing construction, which drive some of them out of their homes for good. At the “Tenant Protection” seminar, the DOB spelled out the six major areas that Tenant Protection Plans must address –– egress, fire safety, health, compliance with housing standards,
structural safety, and noise restrictions. The DOB’s Tenant Protection Plan requirement dates back to 1983, and the agency, faced with many recent complaints of owners evading it, now says it is making a more concerted effort to ensure that such plans are filed when required. According to Timothy Hogan, the DOB’s deputy commissioner for enforcement, “Tenant Protection Plans were usually recorded in the architectural plans. Now we require transparency; that a Tenant Protection Plan be filed separately so it’s visible online to people as a separate document. It’s in a virtual folder online, and tenants are able to see the folder if they bring up their address.” That information can be found online at the NYC Building Information System at goo.gl/Q5orY. Hogan also explained that the DOB has stepped up its enforcement efforts against owners filing false reports. “Previously, if someone had checked the box that a building was ‘Unoccupied’ and we found out that it was ‘Occupied,’ he was allowed to re-file the documents and make a correction,” he said. “Now we write ECB [Environmental Control Board] violations, DOB violations, and, in some instances, criminal summonses against the people who false file. We’ve changed our posture on that.” The DOB is also working with the State Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) to identify rent-stabilized residential units and provide them with protection against landlord construction harassment. “When we get applications that come in that affect those buildings, we look at them with more scrutiny to make sure we don’t have an issue going on there, falsifying the documents,” Hogan said. Though the DOB is working on a stronger digital linkage to DHCR, Hogan cautioned, “We’re not there, but it’s coming.” The DOB is also coordinating with the city’s Department of
Timothy Hogan, the deputy commissioner for enforcement at the city’s Department of Buildings.
Housing Preservation and Development on enforcement efforts. “On a weekly basis we go out to [a] select group of buildings where we believe there is construction going on that is either questionable as far as a tenant harassment situation or there are HPD concerns based on their inspections that work is going above and beyond what’s allowed on permits, or permits were not handled properly,” Hogan said. “In the last two years, we’ve been to 514 of those questionable buildings and we’ve issued over 1,900 violations and over 100 stop-work orders. That’s been a very proactive task force that is being run between HPD and DOB.” Hogan said he has also conducted outreach to the New York City Bar Association to speak with attorneys representing contractors, builders, co-ops, and condo boards about the problem of falsified building permit applications. DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler last year announced that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Building One City blueprint for transforming the DOB would include the hiring of new enforcement inspectors. Hogan confir med that the number of enforcement inspectors has increased and will keep growing through 2017, with
total staff increased by 100. If a tenant discovers that a required Tenant Protection Plan is missing, they can call 311 or file a complaint online at www1. nyc.gov/311. Asked whether inspectors would investigate unannounced, Hogan responded, “If we receive a complaint, it is normally registered online, so the owner of the building may know a complaint is pending in relation to a tenant issue. It depends on whether we get there quickly or whether it takes a little longer. Each time varies. If we have a specific property that we’re looking at because there’s an issue related to tenant protection, then we go out and inspect unannounced –– just show up.” Some tenant activists are skeptical of that can-do claim. Brandon Kielbasa, one of the organizers of Stand for Tenant Safety, a citywide coalition of community organizations dedicated to protecting tenants subjected to landlord harassment by construction, is concerned about the DOB’s reaction time. “We welcome the improvements that DOB is trying to incorporate,” said Kielbasa. “I’ve seen some improvement and that’s great, but we really need to shift
c HARASSMENT, continued on p.11
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT
HARASSMENT, from p.10
toward faster response times. I don’t see a vast change from where I’m at. Putting Tenant Protection Plans online is fine, but the reality is that bad-acting landlords falsify their permits, put whatever they need to in the Tenant Protection Plans, and then they go and do whatever the hell they want to in their buildings. We really do need expedited enforcement efforts.” Kielbasa said City Council action is required on Brooklyn Councilmember Stephen Levin’s Real Time Enforcement bill. The measure is part of a 12-bill package of legislation the Council began reviewing last September. It would create a Real Time Enforcement Unit in the DOB responsible for enforcing the construction codes regarding any complaints from occupied dwellings about work done without a permit or if renovation work involves more than 10 percent of the building. The Real Time Enforcement Unit would be authorized to issue violation notices and stop-work orders. The DOB would be required to publish an annual report on the unit’s effectiveness. “When we’re at hearings with the DOB, testimony from them says that Real Time Enforcement would be difficult for them to incorporate in some way,” said Kielbasa. “What we see too often with DOB is that they get out there, not often enough, and very frequently too late. Real Time Enforcement is a robust solution to that issue of them not getting out on time during mass gut renovation construction.” He spoke of a tenant who filed a complaint with 311 about a construction crew working on Saturdays without permits. The DOB inspector did not come until two weeks later –– on a weekday –– and reported that no work was being done. Kielbasa also talked about the demolition of the lobby floor in a nine-story building on Second Avenue without any notice to tenants, who “came downstairs to find the length of the lobby a pile of stones basically, with no precautions, nothing for the people, and many were seniors or people with mobility issues, since they had lived in that building for decades.” A city councilmember’s intervention allowed residents to expedite a DOB complaint, Kielbasa said, “but not everyone has that. We feel that tenants in a lot of neighborhoods need legislation. The agency needs enough robust capacity and the right tools to make the situation that I’m talking about not a problem for people.” During the “Tenant Protection” seminar, the DOB’s Hogan expressed a strong commitment to curb such abuses. “We’re going to continue to upgrade our
c HARASSMENT, continued on p.17 ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
Port Authority Fumes at CB4 Meeting Not Due to the Buses BY SEAN EGAN
f the tenor of the most recent Community Board 4 meeting is any indication, the proposed expansion — and possible relocation — of the Port Authority Bus Terminal will be a big and divisive agenda item there for quite some time to come. Throughout the May 4 gathering, the general atmosphere was one of hostility toward the renovation of the outdated terminal, especially regarding the threat of eminent domain — the process by which the city or state government takes control of private property for a specified "public purpose." Amidst discussion of contingency plans and repeated jabs at the Port Authority’s expense, it became clear the situation has been weighing heavily on the minds of residents, elected
officials, and CB4 members — all of whom are preparing for a long fight. The subject came up almost from the meeting’s outset. After introductory words, the public comment session was opened up with some passionate thoughts from West 45th Street resident Tom Cayler, who wasted no time in railing against the “PA: the Pathetic Authority,” as he referred to the agency. Cayler thanked CB4 chair Delores Rubin and the board overall for helping to put together an April 18 town hall meeting among community members, elected officials, and Port Authority officials. As Manhattan Express reported then, the meeting saw hundreds of residents come out to speak and offer suggestions — such as one particularly popular solution: building the new terminal in New
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Congressmember Jerrold Nadler addressing the May 4 meeting of Community Board 4.
Jersey’s Meadowlands and constructing a light rail connection into Manhattan. “This is only the first shot in the battle,” Cayler asserted, while going on to decry the Authority’s inefficient operation of the Lincoln Tunnel. Shortly after Cayler’s comments, US Representative Jerrold Nadler, a West Side Democrat, made a surprise appearance to update the community on a variety of matters he is working on. While his remarks were well received, when he was done, he immediately faced questions about the bus terminal expansion. “I don’t like their plan,” Nadler said without hesitation. “I certainly don’t like this use of eminent domain that’s been threatened.” Nadler indicated, however, that the situation might have no easy solution, and he lamented “poisonous” tensions between New York and New Jersey in the governing of the Port Authority. Even as he said the Authority “can’t do anything to Jersey,” he added, “It’s not a zero sum game. It’s not New Jersey versus New York.” Saying he hoped level heads would prevail and some compromise could be reached, Nadler reiterated his opposition to the way eminent domain threatens the surrounding neighborhood. “We have to fight this. I don’t like this proposal,” Nadler concluded, in no uncertain terms, to applause. “We will fight this.” Those items on the evening’s agenda that dealt specifically with
the Port Authority situation also drew spirited, even heated words about the prospective project and the board’s potential course of action going forward. A proposed letter to the Port Authority concerning the April town hall provoked board member Maarten de Kadt to advocate for stronger wording regarding the support of nearby neighborhoods for the situation facing Hell’s Kitchen. “It’s going to af fect not just Hell’s Kitchen, but all of us,” de Kadt said. JD Noland, the board member who authored the letter, responded by saying he had aimed to keep it narrowly argued but he guaranteed that a broader focus would grace “the next letter,” laughing that the board would send “one a month” to continue its campaign against the terminal. The letter was then approved unanimously. During a discussion about a letter addressed to elected officials about the bus terminal expansion, board member Betty Mackintosh suggested that CB4 needed to have a presence at future Port Authority meetings, saying members must “go to board meetings and stand up and make comments.” Rubin agreed with her sentiment, saying, “We need to get T-shirts made.” “This will be the first of many to our elected officials,” Rubin said sternly. Even though the board meeting lasted shorter than is typical, it’s clear that CB4 is gearing up for a long battle against the Port Authority and will not back down easily.
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Sutton Place Citizens Charge City Planning Stall on Rezoning BY JACKSON CHEN A nonprofit neighborhood organization claims the Department of City Planning is purposely stalling the rezoning plan it submitted four months ago for its nook of the Upper East Side. The proposal, put forward by the East River Fifties Alliance, would downzone and restrict the height limits from East 52nd to East 59th Streets and from First Avenue to the East River to 260 feet, or roughly 25 stories. The plan would allow developers to build bigger only if they included affordable housing and/ or community amenities. The neighborhood group won support from City Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, Borough President Gale Brewer, and State Senator Liz Krueger, who all signed on as co-applicants to the rezoning proposal’s pre-application. With a stacked list of local politicians who’ve already signed on, ERFA
City Councilmember Ben Kallos at a May 10 rally held by the East River Fifties Alliance in support of its rezoning proposal to the Department of City Planning.
was expecting to get through all the approvals fairly quickly. But the Department of City Planning is proving to be a roadblock, according to Alan Kersh, ERFA’s president. “We’re at a loss as to why we’re getting a runaround from the mayor and City Planning when we’ve done all we can to embrace their initiatives,” Kersh said.
He added that the group submitted a well researched and professionally prepared proposal, which City Planning was warm to during their initial talks. According to Kersh, the agency offered a possible compromise of a 500-foot maximum height, but the group deemed it “still way out of scale in the neighborhood and unacceptable.”
After months of negotiations, city staffers have backed away from their willingness to work with ERFA, Kersh said, adding that they’re now refusing to discuss the height limits or affordable housing for the plan at all. But according to the Department of City Planning, the agency is providing ERFA with guidance on its proposed application based on planning principles and precedent. According to the department, this is a normal and necessary component of the planning process and not a delaying tactic. The department added that its responsibility is to ensure that the rezoning application meets necessary standards for public review, and that once it enters the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, it will be judged on its merits. Kersh and his organization emphasize that their rezoning plan fits with the city’s agenda of encouraging affordable housing
c REZONING, continued on p.17
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www.petcem.com ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
CB8 Rejects Mix-and-Match Pairs of UES Bike Routes BY JACKSON CHEN
fter the city’s Department of Transportation added six proposed Upper East Side crosstown bike lanes to an ongoing public discussion of options, Community Board 8 voted on May 18 to r eject a pr oposal strongly recommended by its own Transportation Committee to designate east/ west pairs on East 70th and 71st, 77th and 78th, and 84th and 85th Streets for reconfiguration. After a long-winded discussion within the full board, CB8 ultimately decided, with 25 against to 19 in favor, to nix the options the T ransportation Committee put forward on May 4 after working with the DOT for three months on numerous permutations for new bike routes in the neighborhood. The DOT first appr oached CB8’s Transportation Committee in February with six streets — paired together as East 67th and 68th, East 77th and 78th, and East 84th and 85th — to be outfitted with painted crosstown bike lanes designed so they would not reduce parking or travel lanes. But resistance from the public resulted in the committee requesting that DOT come up with at least six more alternatives for them to choose from. At the May 4 Transportation Committee meeting, the DOT returned with six more streets — East 70th and 71st, East 75th and 76th, and East 81st and 82nd — to consider alongside its original six suggestions. CB8 had also asked the agency to clarify what criteria they used in considering which streets can accommodate bike lanes. DOT officials explained they looked for connections to subway stations and parks or green space, proximity to commercial corridors, and the distance between paired
sets of crosstown routes. The downsides of the three new alternatives presented, according to the DOT, included their distance from Lexington Avenue subway stations and from entrances into Central Park and the East River Esplanade. Faced with a pool of 12 streets to choose from, the committee majority supported one pair from the new alternatives — East 70th and 71st Streets — and two of the original three pairs proposed on East 77th and 78th, and 84th and 85th Streets. Scott Falk, the Transportation Committee co-chair, said that in reviewing the three new pairs of options the DOT presented he was concerned with their close proximity to each other. At the same time, the northernmost pair of the three new alternatives was a full nine blocks below the one existing pair of Upper East Side routes at East 90th and 91st Streets. “My personal concern is when we looked at the three alternatives as a unified plan, they were clustered too close together,” Falk said. “That doesn’t disperse it into anything resembling a network and, to me, that seemed like an unfair way to treat the community.” As a result, he explained, the majority of the committee, 9 to 2, selected three pairs of routes its members believe balance all the pros and cons of the options the DOT has laid out. But despite the committee’s voting heavily in favor of its recommendation, the majority of CB8 is still unwilling to approve of crosstown lanes. As the full board completed its vote, Thomas DeVito, the director of organizing at Transportation Alternatives, tweeted, ".@CB8M has discussed xtown lanes for months, was given a dozen options. Can't agree to simple paint to protect thousands of residents.#shame.”
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Traffic turning left onto West 93rd Street from Central Park West.
CPW Left Turn Jam-Up Fix:
Kids Walk a Block or Two BY JACKSON CHEN
o alleviate auto congestion from student dropoffs at Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, Community Board 7’s T ransportation Committee has asked the Department of T ransportation to restrict left tur ns from the northbound lane of Central Park West at West 93rd Street. The congestion stemming from Columbia often backs u p C e n t r a l P a r k We s t t r a f f i c all the way down to West 86th Str eet, leaving many drivers frustrated as they approach the intersection, according to Emily Altschul-Miller, a neighbor of the school. Altschul-Miller, who is a part of the a task force that worked to find a solution to the problem, said cars frequently make left tur n s ev en f r o m C e n t r a l Park West’s rightmost traf fic lane due to the congestion. The buildup of traffic near the intersection results in impatient drivers illegally making tur ns while pedestrians attempt to cross the street. “By the time cars are hit-
ting our streets, they’ve all got road rage,” Altschul-Miller said. “They can have nothing to do with Columbia Grammar, they’re just commuters in the city and they’re blowing through red and yellow lights.” To address the danger, CB7’s Transportation Committee recommended that the DOT prohibit left turns onto West 93rd Street from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for drivers going northbound on Central Park West. According to the committee’s resolution, the new restriction should be a six-month pilot implemented by the DOT, which would then return to the committee to report on the results. Isabelle Silverman, a Columbia Grammar parent, neighbor, and member of the task force, said the congestion problem is at its worst from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m., when a large number of cars are attempting to squeeze into the school’s street to drop off their kids. Based on her own count, Silver man said that an average of two cars get to make the left t u r n o n t o We s t 9 3 r d S t r e e t during one full traffic light cycle.
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
She conceded that a fair number of cars would be af fected by the left turn prohibition, but said the safety benefits far outweigh any burden from having to detour. “Inconveniencing 48 cars that now have to drop off on CPW or 92nd Street,” Silver man said. “That is nothing compared to the safety we’re gaining by not blocking the box and not blocking the crosswalk.” With the restriction expected to be implemented by the school’s fall semester, parents would be encouraged to drop their kids off a few blocks away or to come in southbound from Central Park West and make a right turn onto West 93rd Street. While the committee unanimously agreed that the DOT should go forward with the pilot program, it also recommended that the agency review the bigger traffic picture at the inter section. One suggestion was to incorporate the same left-turn ban during the afternoon hours when vehicles arrive for student pick-ups.
According to Bertha Bauer, a neighbor who’s been long involved in the issue, there should be a 2 to 4 p.m. restriction for left turns at the intersection as well. “This is a huge mistake just doing this in the mor nings,” Bauer said. “In terms of actual incidents, there are more in the afternoon than in the morning.” A c c o r d i n g t o t h e N e w Yo r k Police Department’s motor vehicle collisions data, there were 13 incidents at the intersection of Central Park West and West 93rd Street, at various times throughout the day, over the past four years. There was only one incident within the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. time frame, in October 2013, but four incidents in the 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. time frame –– in March 2015, May 2015, June 2015, and December 2015. In the incident last May, a cyclist was injured. “At least once a week you see a near miss,” Bauer said, “where some impatient parent or chauf-
c CPW, continued on p.20
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Jay Armstrong Johnson, a star of ABC’s “Quantico,” sings “If We Only Have Love.”
Rosie Perez, of “The View,” addresses the AIDS Walk Crowd.
From the stage at the conclusion of the AIDS Walk, the dollar total of funds raised is on display.
PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO
LaChanz, a star of “If/ Then” and “The Color Purple,” sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
n its 31st annual AIDS Walk, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the world’s first HIV services organization, drew a crowd of more than 30,000 to Central Park for a 10-kilometer hike to raise money to fight the epidemic. At the conclusion of the event, the group estimated it had raised more than $4.5 million, which supports GMHC and more than 40 other community-based organizations serving those living with HIV and AIDS throughout the metropolitan area. According to GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie, the annual event has raised a total of more than $145 million through its three-decade life. GMHC provides prevention outreach, services, care, and advocacy for more than 9,000 clients annually, and a current focus of its efforts is encouraging HIV-negative people who believe they may be at risk for transmission to consider PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, which when taken as prescribed is highly effective at preventing infection.
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
HARASSMENT, from p.11
technology in the infrastructure that we have as part of our Building One City plan,â€? said Hogan, asserting, â€œIn doing so, weâ€™ll be able to better enhance our ef forts to crack down on individuals who engage in harassment by construction.â€? Alexander Schnell, a DOB spokesperson, urged any resident registering a complaint to 311 to make a record of the reference number they receive. â€œThen they can follow up on the NYC Building Information System,â€? he said. â€œThey can go on, they can look at their complaint in the system. The reference number will be right there.â€?
REZONING, from p.13
and say they are dumbfounded as to why the city isnâ€™t more cooperative with the proposal. To garner more awareness of their situation and attempt to put the flames to City Planningâ€™s feet, ERFA held a May 10 public rally on Sutton Square, just off Sutton Place. â€œWe think itâ€™s the right solution where the community is advocating for affordable housing,â€? Kersh said. â€œWeâ€™re trying to understand the mayor, whoâ€™s so keen on affordable housing, and why this is not appealing.â€? Echoing their exasperation, local electeds said theyâ€™re planning to exert additional pressure on City Planning regarding the application theyâ€™ve co-signed. â€œIt seems to me the gr oup is doing what the mayor wants,â€? Brewer told Manhattan Express. â€œI mean the city is supportive of affordable housing, right? And they want economic diversity, right?â€? Brewer said she hasnâ€™t heard from City Planning regarding ERFAâ€™s pr oposal and added that if the agency didnâ€™t like the groupâ€™s proposal, it should propose something that was equally beneficial for the area. As the local councilmember, Kallos has an even more direct investment in the issue than the borough president, and he noted that City Planningâ€™s lack of embrace for the proposal is at
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The lobby of a Second Avenue apartment building where the owner ripped out the floor with no advance notice to tenants.
odds with the posture taken by all other community stakeholders and decision-makers. According to Kallos, the Department of City Planning never responded to Community Board 6â€™s resolution that requested it review and discuss a proposed supertower at 426432 East 58th Street. Better known as 3 Sutton Place, progress on making the 1,000-foot building a reality is currently in limbo as its developer, the Bauhouse Group, and lenders sort out financial disputes in bankruptcy court. Despite bankruptcy cases often getting mired in court, Kersh said that each day wasted in considering ERFAâ€™s rezoning plan hobbles the communityâ€™s hopes of once and for all defeating the supertower plan on East 58th Street. If the stall continues for six months, Kallos said, the coalition of elected officials backing ERFA would look to force a certification and vote from City Planning. â€œWhen faced with voting in favor of the residents of New York and an affordable city with schools or in favor of buildings for billionaires,â€? Kallos said of the City Planning Commission, â€œI hope they will choose New York over billionaires.â€? Since ERFAâ€™s proposal is still waiting for application certification, the City Planning Commission is not yet involved and a date has not been set for a vote.
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
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Radhanath Swami began life as Richard Slavin, a Jewish boy growing up just outside Chicago.
BY LENORE SKENAZY
hen he was 19, Richard Slavin, a nice Jewish boy from the suburbs of Chicago, went backpacking in Europe for two months. “Hey,” I told him. “I have a son about to do the same thing.” “But,” Slavin added with a twinkle, “I never came back!” With that he gave a hearty laugh — as jolly a sound as the ice cream man’s bell. Pure joy. He could laugh now — he was laughing now, in a conference room in Midtown, in town for a book tour — because at 60-something and bald, he is no longer the wandering hippie of 1970. In fact, he is no longer even Richard Slavin. Today he is Radhanath Swami, one of the most prominent leaders of the Hare Krishnas. The swami was dressed in coral-colored robes, as well as a coral sweatshirt that he took off in the warm corporate office. His assistant jumped up to fold it for him, but the swami — spiritual leader to millions — nonchalantly did it himself. This is not a guy who lives a Kardashian life. He’s a monk. He sleeps on the floor. He rises at 4 every morning for chanting and meditation — and breakfast isn’t until 9! So how does a suburban American kid end up living in India, leading a congregation that feeds 300,000 impoverished children a day, along with running a hospital, an orphanage, a handful of eco-villages, and about a dozen schools for the very poor? The swami smiled and raised his eyebrows as I asked. He looked as surprised as me. And by the way, in between all these India duties, the swami travels the world to lecture at campuses across the states, including Google’s and Harvard’s, talking about things like spirituality and stress. “I have to admit to them that swamis have as much stress as them,” he chuckled. “It’s just a matter of how you deal with it.” The trek from footloose teen to spiritual leader
is what his first book, “The Journey Home: Autobiography of an American Swami,” was about. A bestseller. His latest book, “The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti,” is about the spiritual lessons learned along the way. The lessons did not come easily. After he landed in Europe, Slavin hitchhiked across the continent in search of truth. “I was going to cathedrals and synagogues to study, because I really believed in the unity of all religions,” he recalled. He studied Islam in Turkey and Iran. By the time he got to India to study the religions there, “I became a very serious ascetic. I would never sleep inside any building, because I considered that too luxurious. So I slept under trees, or in caves.” Now, readers, here I must confess something: This man grew up one suburb away from mine. He went to my rival high school and is just about 10 years older. When we discussed our favorite childhood haunts, he gleefully recalled the local pancake house and summers on Lake Michigan, though, “As a swami, I can’t tell you what we used to do when we’d sneak onto the beach.” Another laugh. The point is, he comes from a background very familiar to me. But… most of us did not go off and sleep in caves. How on earth did his parents react? When he finally returned to America for the first time, he said, “It was a culture shock for me and a culture shock for them. My father and brother came to meet me at the airport. The only luggage I had was a begging bowl. They didn’t know what to think. But we adjusted to each other in a very sweet and wonderful way.” That’s probably because the swami was not the caricature that many of us had or even still have of the Hare Krishnas — lost souls in loose robes chanting in the streets and offering flowers. Cult members. “In every religion there’s wacky people,” the swami said matter of factly. Because the Hare Krishna religion only became established in America in 1966, right around the time of the counterculture, the two got entwined in the public mind. Lost souls did join. So what? Hare Krishna is not an American fad. It’s an ancient Indian religion that says we are all one — humans, animals, all of us who seek sustenance here on earth. And when we chant the name of Krishna — God — we get closer and closer to realizing that connectedness. That doesn’t sound any dippier than going to church or temple. And if it makes people ready to build schools, respect nature, and provide for the very poor, more power to it — and the former Richard Slavin. But if my son is reading this, please note: Do not stay away for 40 years! Lenore Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids,” and a contributor at Reason.com. May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Top driver disTracTions Using mobile phones
Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
WI-FI, from p.9
pletely through advertising, which will generate more than half a billion dollars in revenue for the city, above what CityBridge Consortium, which installs and maintains them, earns. “We’re not thinking about landmarks at all here,” Khorsandi said. “We’re just thinking about what advertisers want to do.” When it comes to installing kiosks within historic districts, Khorsandi said he would like to see the commis-
CPW, from p.15
feur decides to run the light and make that left hand turn with people in the crosswalks.” From the perspective of th e c ommitt e e m e m b er s a n d Silver man, however, ther e is a big dif fer ence between the morning drop-off and afternoon
sion approve on a case-bycase basis instead. Preservationists on the Upper East Side are also calling for more discussion before any decision is made about expanding the links beyond Third Avenue. In its testimony to the LPC, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts said the tall and narr ow Wi-Fi kiosks ar e much bigger and more obtrusive than the payphones they replaced. Installing the modern devices, with the ads they carry, the group said, “detracts
from the streetscape immensely.” The streetscapes –– above and beyond the buildings landmarked –– the Friends noted, contribute to the character of the city’s historic districts. The East Side preservationists also called on the city to publish a list of pr oposed locations for all the Wi-Fi kiosks so they can be reviewed in advance. Other organizations, however, said the proposed kiosk rules for historic districts are reasonable and appropriate.
According to the Municipal Society of New York, the rule changes mirr or existing r egulations for installing public payphones in LPC-designated p r op ert ie s , like his t o ric dis tricts or near landmarks. The prohibition on disrupting historic pavements — such as bluestone, granite, slate, or brick — the gr oup said, pr ovides sufficient protections for historic districts. The LPC plans further consideration of new rules for the Wi-Fi kiosks at a later meeting.
pick-up traffic patterns. Silverman said that during the afternoon cars that are doubleparked cut off a lane of traffic, causing the congestion, and that a left turn restriction may cause more cars circling around the neighborhood. DOT of ficials said two sets of r estricted hours on str eet
signage would be confusing to dr ivers, b ut said they w ould explore afternoon solutions to traf fic problems created by students being picked up from the school. Community members agreed that after years of extreme congestion at the intersection, the morning left turn restriction was
something worth the DOT trying. “I think it’s a good solution, we’ll try it out and see how it is,” said Silverman. “Nobody knows how the drivers will change, but I think it’s very smart to have this trial.” Representatives of Columbia School could not be r eached for comment.
CB5, from p.7
Sandler emailed both men asking them to arrive 15 minutes earlier to accommodate for any initial questions or concerns before jumping into the agenda. Purvin, like the nine other freshmen, applied to CB5 because he’s eager to contribute more to his neighborhood. With 26 years in the area, Purvin, 63, said he has noticed the community changing rapidly in the past 15 years and hoped to have a role in its future. A co-owner of an online fashion design school called University of Fashion who spent most of his career working with medical devices, Purvin said the board was interested in placing him on two committees –– Budget, Education and City Services as well as Transportation and Environment. He had already attended a meeting of the Budget, Education and City Services Committee by the time of the full board meeting on May 12. “I got an insight into just how seriously a committee dives into something,” Purvin said. “There’s an organized, thoughtful process so that the things we decide are not just random opinions.” Besides Lichaa, Purvin, and Beach, CB5 also welcomed Renee Kinsella, Alan Yu, Michael Kenney, and Marti Speranza, who each has an April 2018 end term date — and also Aaron Ford, Stella Bernstein, and Joe Maffia, who each has an April 2017 term expiration. Being the board’s youngest member at 16, the meeting may have seemed daunting to
Bernstein, but the welcome she received soon made her feel comfortable. “Even thought it was intimidating at first,” she said, “people treated me like an equal member of the board. A junior of Beacon High School, her interest in politics propelled her into community affairs, and with the minimum age for membership having been lowered to 16 in 2014, she jumped at the opportunity to become a CB5 member. “I was just thrilled that we’re finally afforded the opportunity to participate in local government,” said Bernstein, who tutors younger students and is also an intern at a marketing and communications company. “I think it’s a really great step to encourage kids to see themselves as change agents in the community.” The board’s new members come from all walks of life. Maffia, 57, works as a partner in an accounting firm. Maffia — whose last name elicited CB5’s chair Vikki Barbero’s quip that her maiden name was Capone — said he’d be bringing interests in quality of life, including street cleanliness, homelessness, and traffic congestion, to his new role. Yu, 27, agreed that the need for improved street sanitation is one of the main issues facing CB5. “With the increase in residential population coupled with the record level of tourism and foot traffic in the community,” Yu said, “there are excess sanitation needs that aren’t being met.” Yu added that his career as an affordable housing developer in Brooklyn makes him a
COURTESY: ZACH LICHAA
great candidate for CB5’s Land Use, Housing and Zoning Committee. In addition to the new members introducing themselves at the May 12 meeting, each of the committee chairs offered crash courses in what their committee specializes in before the board moved on to the evening’s stated agenda. Afterward, the new members said they felt comfortable in their new roles after witnessing what they considered to be an exciting, but also efficient meeting. “It was as streamlined as it could be,” Purvin said of his first meeting. “How they designed it to make no needless time-taking, the timing of how long people can talk, it just told me they tried to bring this down to an organized, disciplined process.” May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Police Blotter SHOOTING: MIDTOWN MAYHEM (MIDTOWN NORTH PRECINCT) A 46-year-old knife-wielding man was shot dead by police at around 8:15 a.m. on May 18, according to the NYPD. Police said the man entered the Food Emporium at West 49th Street and Eighth Avenue before becoming aggressive, belligerent, and swearing at employees. According to police, a uniformed officer responded and confronted the male, who struggled with the officer before they both fell to the ground outside the store. Police said the suspect revealed an eight-inch knife once he got back on his feet. Three officers were on the scene and told the suspect to drop the knife, according to police, but an officer and sergeant opened fire as the armed man continued to approach them. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. A 46-year-old female bystander received a graze wound on her wrist and a police officer suffered a minor wound — not from gunfire — that may have been sustained during the earlier scuffle with the suspect, according to police, who said that both injuries were minor. Police said the name of the suspect, whom they describe as a white male, was being withheld pending family notification. According to police, the investigation is ongoing with the Force Investigation Division. Police released photos of the recovered weapon (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc).
GRAND LARCENY: BUMPY COMMUTE (MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT) On May 1 at around 3 p.m., police said, a male suspect bumped into and stole a wallet from a 42-year-old female victim in the Times Square – 42nd Street subway station at West 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue. Police added the suspect fled in an unknown direction. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male, 5’9” tall, 200 pounds, partially bald with black hair, medium complexion, and last seen wearing a gray sweatsuit and a black jacket.
ROBBERY: STEALING FROM SANTANDER (19TH PRECINCT) Police are looking for a male suspect they believe is connected to two robberies at different Santander Banks. According to police, the first incident occurred on March 8 at 3 p.m. at the Santander Bank at 250 Lexington Avenue, between East 34th and 35th Streets, where the suspect approached the teller, demanded money, and left with an undetermined amount of money. Two months later on May 12 at 5:30 p.m., police believe, another incident at the Santander Bank at 711 Third Avenue, between East 44th and 45th Streets, involved the same suspect, who similarly approached the teller, demanded money, and fled
with an undetermined amount of money. In both instances, there were no injuries reported as the tellers complied with the suspect’s demands, police said. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they don’t otherwise describe.
FATALITY: PINNED PEDESTRIAN (19TH PRECINCT) An 85-year-old man was pinned between two vehicles and later died in an incident on May 10 at around 10:30 a.m., according to police. Police said that Vincent Downing, an Upper East Sider, was walking westward on East 71st Street when a blue sedan that was backing up on Third Avenue struck him and pinned him against another vehicle, an unoccupied parked truck. Police said the driver remained on the scene. The victim was found with severe trauma to his legs and transported by EMS to Cornell Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. The driver was also transported to Cornell Medical Center for emotional trauma.
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SEX ABUSE: 6 TRAIN SCUM (17TH PRECINCT) Police arrested a 53-year-old male for persistent sexual abuse on May 10 at around 1 p.m. According to police, plainclothes officers from Transit District 4 were on the southbound platform of the 6 train at the 86th Street Station when they noticed William Faulkner, a Wards Island resident, attempt to catch up to a woman entering the train. Police said that it was at the 77th Street Station where Faulkner began “grinding his pelvic area onto the victim as he had her essentially cornered in the car.” As the train approached the 68th Street stop, the 30-year-old female victim had to go underneath Faulkner’s arm to move to another side of the train, and the officers then identified themselves to Faulkner, who responded, “You saw that?” police said. According to police, the two officers arrested Faulkner after removing him from the train and onto the 59th St Station. He was charged with persistent sexual abuse and sexual abuse.
ASSAULT: PUNKS ARRESTED (MIDTOWN NORTH PRECINCT) Police have arrested two teens connected to two incidents of assault outside of 530 West 45th Street in April. According to police, four teenagers attacked a 36-year-old male on April 23 at around 12:30 a.m. with an unknown object before fleeing. Later that day, at around 2 a.m., the four teens then approached a 25-year-old male and attacked him with a glass bottle, causing swelling in his face and a cut to his hand. As part of an ongoing investigation, police have nabbed Bryan Urbaez, a 16-year-old Midtown resident, and charged him with assault. Police also arrested Jahlique Chavers, a 17-year-old Midtown resident as well, who was charged with two counts of gang assault and assault.
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
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Being Carlos Danger BY STEVE ERICKSON
he curse of Anthony Weiner’s life is that it can be so easily reduced to a tabloid headline about sexting. Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary “Weiner” tries to mount a defense of the politician, but it too succumbs to the inevitability of making his online sex life the most interesting thing about him. Co-director Kriegman used to work for Weiner, and one can tell. The film’s “fly on the wall” — to use Weiner’s words — treatment is obviously biased in his favor. Nevertheless, Weiner comes across as a fundamentally angry, unlikable person, although he does have a sense of humor. The credits sequence makes a case for him putting this anger to good use as a progressive firebrand in Congress, showing cable news pundits praising his righteous tirades. “Weiner” begins with him as a rising congressmember. Then, his sexting forces his resignation. Two years later, he decided to run for mayor of New York. Weiner was doing fairly well in the polls when a new set of revelations about his sexting came out. His supporters deserted him, and the media humiliated him all over again. Kriegman and Steinberg captured all this as it happened in the middle of Weiner’s campaign. For much of the time, “Weiner” is as much about Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin, who works for Hillary Clinton, as Weiner himself. Like Hillary, she chose to stand by her man in the face of sexual betrayal. The product of this stance was a lot of ignorant conjecture about the workings of the Weiner-Abedin marriage. “Weiner” tries to add nuance to this picture by showing the couple at home. However, its attempts to
SHOWTIME/ SUNDANCE SELECTS
Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner faces the press as scandal engulfs his 2013 mayoral campaign.
counter the tabloid portrait of their marriage go too far in the other direction, such as playing a sound bite of some newsman saying “what he’s doing to Huma is spousal abuse” over images of benign domestic life. All the same, one gets the impression that the camera-shy Abedin grew increasingly sick of the campaign and the media attention drawn by her husband. In fact, it might be more accurate to say that the press abused her, if anyone deserves that level of blame. In the film, Weiner gets asked twice whether he’s an addict. He never answers the question. While he didn’t physically cheat on Abedin with another woman, his online flirtations seem incredibly foolish and insensitive, to put it mildly, and the film never addresses the question of whether all the recipients of his penis photos wanted them. But although it would be easy to label Weiner a sex
addict, he seems to have a deeper desire to run into the spotlight no matter what the consequences might be. Running for mayor with skeletons in his closet is almost as foolish as the original sexting. In his personality, idealism mixes with narcissism. But his genuine desire to discuss political issues with New Yorkers gets sabotaged by the media by the time his campaign is halfway over. “Weiner” doesn’t give one much sense of what the candidate stood for as a politician, although he repeatedly mentions that he’s in favor of single-payer health care and making New York “a city for the middle class.” His politics seem more coherent when he was a congressmember than as a mayoral candidate. It’s possible that the filmmakers are trying to make a point about the way Weiner’s scandals overshadowed the substance of his political views, but their film overlooks them as well.
WEINER Directed by Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg Showtime/ Sundance Selects Opens May 20 Lincoln Plaza 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifcenter.com
I suppose it’s impossible to make a documentary on this mayoral race without focusing on Weiner’s controversies — no one made a film about Christine Quinn’s run, as far as I know. Like it or not, they’re the hook for “Weiner.” It’s an entertaining film, but one that partakes of the media circus it tries to criticize.
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Filmmaker Terence Davies.
Earning Those Emotions BY GARY M. KRAMER
ilmmaker Terence Davies’ latest film, “Sunset Song,” is a handsomely mounted period epic. Based on the novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, the film is a coming of age tale set in rural Scotland in the early 1900s. Chris (Agyness Deyn), a schoolgirl, lives a hardscrabble life. Her father, John (Peter Mullan), is stern, mistreating his wife and six kids. Chris finds some measure of happiness over the years when she meets and falls in love with the handsome Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). But the war intrudes, and Ewan must enlist. As Chris faces additional challenges, she also finds strength, and that makes for a powerful, uplifting drama. On the phone from London, Davies talked about why he chose to film Gibbon’s novel, which is not well known in the US, explaining that he saw a 1971 version of “Sunset Song” on BBC television. “I’d never heard of it, but I wanted to read it,” he said. “It’s difficult to read, but the story was wonderful. I never thought I’d get a chance to make it. It took 18 years to get to the screen.” The film opens when Chris is 14 and covers seven years of her life as she becomes more mature and more self-reliant, a theme Davies has addressed in many of his films, such as “The Long Day Closes” and “The Neon Bible.” The filmmaker did not grow up on a farm, but said that he identified with
Agyness Deyn and Kevin Guthrie in Terence Davies’ film “Sunset Song.”
Chris because of other aspects of his upbringing. “My father was very violent,” Davies said. “My family had such an awful time with my father. I was happy once he actually died. Such extremes will always be in me. I’m ecstatically happy and very low. Those swings are part of me — and what I write and how I shape it. Out of the blue you can hear someone has cancer, and it influences your whole day in an instant. Or you can discover a wonderful new poem.” He continued, “I was, as a child, aware of intense happiness. The moment of ecstasy became the most important thing at that particular time. I went to the movies a lot. Those images stayed with me and helped create that moment of ecstasy. I can recall what I saw, where I saw it, the route I took, and where I sat. I thought everyone responded that way.” Davies further explained that like movies, music was an essential force in informing his life and work. His 1988 film “Distant Voices, Still Lives” shows the power of music and how it touches people’s lives. There are ballads sung throughout “Sunset Song” with strong emotional meaning for the characters. “Music is so powerful,” Davies effused. “You respond viscerally to it. I think cinema at its best can be like music, should be like music. You go from wonderfully romantic to not so wonderfully romantic. You go on an emotional journey. You listen and respond to it.”
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
Digressing for a moment to describe the Great American Songbook as “poetry for ordinary people,” Davies praised composers Cole Porter and Stephen Sondheim, calling the latter, “the last great exponent of that wonderful tradition. It ends when Sondheim dies.” Citing Hoagy Carmichael’s “I Get Along Without You Very Well” as a prime example, he said that songs “tell you a lot about humanity, the way people talk about love and loss…. The songs were telling people about bad things in the most accessible way.” While memory and music are core parts of Davies’ approach to creating emotional resonance in “Sunset Song,” he also focused on establishing what he calls the “internal subtextual meaning” of scenes. The drama unfolds episodically, with sometimes days, months, or even years passing between scenes. In depicting seven years in 135 minutes, the filmmaker explained, he aimed to capture “the essence” of the book without being “absolutely slavish. It’s trying to find what is the story, not what people do, but what is psychologically going on.” The characters in “Sunset Song” are complex, and their lives are difficult. Summing up Chris, Davies said she is charming, witty, and has enormous strength. Despite her many hardships, she is no “long suffering” heroine, he said, mindful of how feminists might be unhappy with what could seem like a stereotypical female character. “My mother was gentle, but she was enormously tough without ever being hard,” he said. Davies said that growing up in the 1950s, he was sensitive to
cues in Douglas Sirk films like “Magnificent Obsession” and “All that Heaven Allows” that featured women front and center. “The main characters in those films influenced me emotionally,” Davies said. “There were rigid ways of behaving. That was true as much for men as it was women,” and he pointed to the experience of Ewan, a conscientious objector who feels compelled to join the military to avoid being conscripted, as an example of how people’s lives were constrained. “Sunset Song” might sound melodramatic, but it’s to Davies’ credit as a filmmaker that he never leans toward sentimentality. On that point, he observed, “I don’t like sentimentality. I find it embarrassing. It’s seductive. But as James Joyce calls it, it is ‘unearned emotion.’ It has to be true and felt. The scene where Chris holds Ewan’s clothes is not in the book, but it is deeply felt. The love she has is so deep. It’s easy to be sentimental. In most modern drama, people cry all the time. I am very strict about that. I think it’s cheap.”
SUNSET SONG Directed by Terence Davies Magnolia Pictures Now playing Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. lincolnplazacinema.com Film Forum 209 W. Houston St. filmforum.org
Manhattan Treasures UNFORGETTABLE CROONERS Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Mel Tormé are three great masters of the canon known as the Great American Songbook. Their velvety voices and mastery of sentimental serenades made them quintessential 20th century crooners. Music director Bryan Carter and his 22-piece ensemble that features vocalists Denzal Sinclaire, Benny Benack III, and Charles Turner pay tribute to these song geniuses. Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room, Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, Broadway at 60th St. May 20-21, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $70.50$90.50 at jazz.org.
ABOVE, BEYOND & ACOUSTIC Electronic supergroup Above & Beyond — Paavo Siljamäki on grand piano and Jono Grant on Rhodes piano and Tony McGuinness on guitars and vocals — continues its acoustic tour celebrating the release of its new album. “We had so much fun doing the first run of acoustic shows and it was really the reaction from our fans that convinced us to tour it more extensively,” the group says. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St. May 20-22, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $64$164 at beacontheatre.com.
COOPER HEWITT’S BEAUTY TRIENNIAL The fifth installment of the popular contemporary design exhibition series “Beauty — Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial” celebrates design as a creative endeavor that engages the mind, body, and senses. With a focus on aesthetic innovation, the exhibition features more than 250 works by 63 designers from around the globe, and is organized around seven themes — extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental, and transformative. Curated by Andrea Lipps and Ellen Lupton, the exhibition’s projects range from experimental prototypes and interactive games to fashion ensembles and architectural interventions. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2 E. 91st St. Through Aug. 21: Sun.-Fri.,10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Admission is $16, $10 for seniors, $7 for students at cooperhewitt.org; add $2 for purchase at the door. Free admission for visitors 18 and under, and on Sat., 6-9 p.m., pay what you wish.
THE RAY CHARLES SONGBOOK Singer and pianist Diane Schuur was
born in 1953, the same year that one of her heroes, Ray Charles, signed with Atlantic Records to craft the new sound of soul. Charles’ ingenious synthesis of gospel, jazz, blues, and country music would become his legacy and, for Schuur, a blueprint for possibilities. Along with 2012 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Drums Competition winner Jamison Ross and the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars, Schuur pays homage to “The Genius” by performing some of his most revered works. Among those joining in the tribute is trumpeter Kenny Rampton, music director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, who began his touring career at 21 with a nine-month stint in Charles’ band. Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater, Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, Broadway at 60th St. May 20-21, 8 p.m. Tickets are $40.50-$130.50 at jazz.org.
fused handmade lace, Adidas sneakers in place of high heels, handbags worn as hats, and humble cotton undershirts paired with floor-length taffeta skirts. “Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History,” organized thematically, explores key trends in his work — from the use of color and prints, to witty designs that touch on issues of race, religion, class, and politics. The core of the exhibition features iconic designs from the Isaac Mizrahi New York clothing label (1987–1998), the “semi-couture” collections (2003 – 2011), and the trailblazing line for Target (2002 – 2008). The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. at 92nd St. Through Aug. 7: Fri.-Tue., 11 a.m.-5:45 p.m.; Thu., 11 a.m.8 p.m. Admission is $15, $12 for seniors, $7.50 for students, free for those 18 and under. Free admission on Sat. More information at thejewishmuseum.org.
CRUISING THE EAST SIDE WITH THE KENNEDYS AND ROOSEVELTS John F. Kennedy, had he lived, would have turned 99 years old on May 29. One week in advance, the 92nd Street Y marks his birth by hosting a tour of Upper East Side sites connected to both the Kennedys and the Roosevelts — good Democrats all, except for Teddy (Roosevelt, that is!). See where JFK stayed and worshipped on his presidential trips to the city, the childhood home of First Lady Jacqueline, the residence where FDR and Eleanor were married, the townhouse where she endorsed Jack Kennedy, the site of her uncle Theodore’s home, and the venue where Bobby Kennedy revived his political career. Gather in front of the Park Avenue Christian Church on East 85th St. and Park Ave. at 11 a.m. on May 22 for a 90-minute walk. Tickets are $45 at 92y. org and must be purchased in advance.
LOOKING HIGH AND LOW FOR MIZRAHI Brooklyn-born Isaac Mizrahi’s inventive and provocative style has advanced complex fashion issues about high versus low, modern glamour, and contemporary culture. His runway shows were cast with unconventionally beautiful models of all ethnicities dressed in Star of David belts, Western-wear in-
It’s been 25 years since “Goodfellas” changed forever the rules of gangster movies. Bestselling author and producer Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Martin Scorsese, is joined by Irwin Winkler, the Academy Award-winning producer (“Rocky,” “Raging Bull,” and “The Right Stuff,” as well as “Goodfellas”), and Dechert law firm attorney Edward McDonald, who recreated his real-life role as the prosecutor in the film, to look back and celebrate. T. J. English, one of the nation’s top crime writers, moderates. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., Buttenwieser Hall. May 24, 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $32-$36, $15 for those 35 and younger at 92y.org.
haps a few lesser-known jazz selections. Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, Broadway at 60th St. May 24, 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. Reserve your seat at jazz.org/dizzys/reserve/168368 or 212-258-9595.
THE DICKERSON & COLBERT RAPPORT
John Dickerson, anchor of CBS’ “Face The Nation,” the top-rated Sunday morning public affairs program, and the network’s political director, sits down with CBS “Late Show” host and writer Stephen Colbert for a wide-ranging discussion. Maybe they can find the silver lining in this year’s election morass. Maybe not. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., Kaufmann Concert Hall. May 25, 8 p.m. Tickets are $55-$65 at 92y.org.
BACK TO THE TWILIGHT ZONE
BARI SAX IN THE LEAD
Baritone saxophonist Paul Nedzela, the youngest member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, returns to Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola as a bandleader, bringing with him a heavy-hitting group of firstcall musicians — pianist Adam Birnbaum, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., each of them a Jazz at Lincoln Center favorite. For this one-night-only showcase, they perform a combination of originals, classic standards, and per-
Symphony Space’s “Selected Shorts” presents “Tales from the Twilight Zone,” inviting listeners to enter the fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man with a lineup of thrilling, suspenseful, and profoundly original fiction from and inspired by the iconic television series. Robert Sean Leonard hosts, with readings by Zach Grenier (“The Good Wife”) and others. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. May 25, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30, $15 for those 30 and under at symphonyspace.org.
c MANHATTAN TREASURES, continued on p.27
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Benjamin Walker (foreground) and the cast of “American Psycho.”
BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE
AMERICAN PSYCHO Schoenfeld Theatre 236 W. 45th St. Sun.-Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $67-$147; telecharge.com
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has given way to iPhone buds and being seen in the right restaurant has become a count of Instagram followers and likes, but today’s hyper-connected world offers the same alienation — in fact, to a far greater degree — that Patrick suffered from a quarter century ago. It is both shocking and exhilarating to see him take matters into his own hands with rope, knife, and chainsaw. Sheik’s score is inspired with a wonderful sense of the music of the period, integrating songs such as “Hip to Be Square” and “ D o n ’ t Yo u Wa n t M e , ” w h i c h acquires a fairly sinister aspect in this context. Es Devlin’s set design is appropriately ice cold, and Katrina Lindsay’s costumes pay homage to the period
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
c PSYCHO, continued on p.27
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he best satire has truth at its core. If you want to plumb the source of today’s narcissistically isolated and social media-obsessed culture, where attention is a kind of currency and FOMO (fear of missing out) has recur ring emotional costs, look no further than “American Psycho.” Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel has been transformed into a dazzling, trenchant, and darkly delicious musical with a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik. The essential question asked by Patrick Bateman is “do I exist and how do I know?” Subsumed in a culture of appearances and consumption, Patrick makes a lot of money in investment banking, but he is essentially a cog in a wheel, creating nothing and contributing less. His frustration and rage drive him into a murder spree as if that offers the only way he can know he is alive. Never having read the novel or seen the movie, this material was completely new to me, though anyone who was around when the book first came out certainly was aware of the controversy it caused. What’s so captivating about the musical is that it both perfectly encapsulates the novel’s era and comments on contemporary issues. The Walkman
May 19 - June 1, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc
Manhattan Treasures c
MANHATTAN TREASURES, continued from p.24
CYNDI LAUPER & BOY GEORGE Cyndi Lauper and Boy George, whose May 25 show is sold out, have scheduled a second show on May 26, 7:30 p.m., and Rosie O’Donnell has been added to the line-up as a special guest. Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St. Tickets are $75-$155 at beacontheatre.com.
LATE NIGHT WITH BRANDON BAIN With a silky voice and easygoing delivery, Brooklyn-born vocalist and songwriter Brandon Bain offers five late-night performances of pop, jazz, and calypso standards. Just swing by! Jazz at Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle, Broadway at 60th St. May 31-Jun. 4, 11:30 p.m. The cover charge is $5 on May 31-Jun. 1, $10 on Jun. 2-3, $20 on Jun. 4. Student prices are $5, except $10 on Jun. 4. Complete information at jazz.org.
Choir from Flushing, the Suffolk Singers of Long Island, Manhattan’s C4: The Choral Composer-Conductor Collective, La Guardia High School Women’s Chorus of Queens, eVoco Voice Collective from Garden City, the Lavender Light Black and People of All Colors Lesbian and Gay Gospel Choir of New York City, and Rosenbaum’s Canticum Novum Singers. Composer Peter Schickele is the event’s special guest, and the concert concludes with an audience sing-along of Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia.” In the spirit of Symphony Space’s “Wall to Wall” events, audience members may come and go as they please, subject to seating availability, throughout the day. Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 2537 Broadway at 95th St. Jun. 4, 3-10 p.m. Admission is free, but for a reserved seat at $40, visit symphonyspace.org.
ADAM HASLETT, TONY KUSHNER & BEN WISHAW Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Adam Haslett (“You Are Not a Stranger Here”) joins Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) to discuss Haslett’s new novel “Imagine Me Gone,” an elegant, harrowing, and epic story of one family overshadowed by a father’s depression, trying to love and care for one another across the span of 40 years. Seamlessly weaving humor and turmoil, “Imagine Me Gone” provokes readers to think about how they see the most important people in their own lives. Actor Ben Whishaw (“The Crucible,” “Skyfall”) reads from the novel. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, Jun. 6, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $15 for those 30 and under at symphonyspace.org.
A RIOT OF CHORAL MUSIC ChoralFest USA is a marathon concert event created by artistic director Harold Rosenbaum to present performances of choral works written by American and non-American composers, both past and present. This year’s “Celebration of the Diversity of Choral Music in America” includes performances by groups from across New York State — including the John F. Kennedy High School Variety Choir from Bellmore, the University at Buffalo Choir, the Promise Church Children’s
A BOXER — AND A FIGHTER BY HER TRADE California’s junior US senator, Barbara Boxer, a Brooklyn native and lifelong Democrat, is leaving office at the end of the year after 24 years in the Senate and 10 in the House before that. She’s in New York to discuss her new memoir, “The Art of the Tough,” the current state of American politics, and the fact that next January 20 the nation will inaugurate either the first woman president or Donald Trump. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., Buttenwieser Hall. Tickets are $36, $15 for those 35 and younger at 92y.org. SYMPHONYSPACE.ORG
PSYCHO, from p.25
while also working as a cohesive whole. Justin Townsend’s lighting has a chill that reflects Patrick’s internal struggle, and L ynne Page’s choreography is evocative, precise, and powerful. Then, of course, there is Benjamin Walker as Patrick. He meets
the extreme physical challenges of the role with an increasingly intense level of desperation and panic. The tone of the piece shifts gears in the second act, from Grand Guignol to an internal journey for Patrick, but Walker takes us with him, evoking empathy and compassion for his bloodshed and allowing our
ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 19 - June 1, 2016
darker fantasies to unwind. The supporting cast is equally impressive, notably the men who surround Patrick, including Theo Stockman as Patrick’s superficial colleague, Tim Price, and Drew Moerlein as his nemesis, Paul Owen. The show recalls another bloody musical about a man lost
in his world, “Sweeney Todd.” In both, murder is revenge upon a world that marginalizes and cares nothing for the individual, and its cathartic dramatic power is inescapable. Revenge typically may indeed, as the saying goes, be a dish best served cold, but in the case of “American Psycho,” it’s just plain hot.
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