YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
CB4 Strategizes to Stop District’s Demolition ‘Epidemic’
Photo by Sean Egan
Critics of the DOB say approval for the demolition of 317-319 W. 35th St. was improperly obtained. DEMOLITION continued on p. 2
Gansevoort St. Redevelopment Gets Green Light From Landmarks
A HOUSE DIVIDED
Photo by Sean Egan
The sale of 404 W. 20th St. for $7.4 million set in motion the current dispute over proposed changes to the historic house.
Community Debates Fate of 404 W. 20th St. Photo by Yannic Rack
Opponents showed up in force at a June 6 public meeting of the LPC, but to no avail. GANSEVOORT continued on p. 7
BY SEAN EGAN Who can truly lay claim to pride of ownership, when it comes to what is widely regarded as the oldest house in Chelsea: those who say its structural and historic integrity must be preserved, or the person who bought it for $7.4 million and wants to make extensive renovations?
© CHELSEA NOW 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Built in 1830 and purchased in 2015 by British banker Ajoy Veer Kapoor, the home at 404 W. 20th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) sits within the Cushman Row of the Chelsea Historic District, making any attempts at alteration subject to review by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The renovations, which would significantly
increase the size of the house, would require most of the original house to be destroyed in the process, as the new owner attests that the house is structurally unsound. Prior to the proposal’s public hearing before the LPC this past April, 404 continued on p. 4
VOLUME 08, ISSUE 22 | JUNE 09 - 15, 2016
CB4: Audit, Special Planner Could Prevent ‘Illegally Proposed Demolitions’
Photo by Sean Egan
CB4 members, at their June 1 full board meeting, where suggestions to stop improper demolitions included the DOB appointment of a special planner for the West Chelsea, Meatpacking, and Hudson Yards districts.
At the time of CB4’s full board meeting, a sign at 317-319 W. 35th St. (no longer there when this photo was taken on June 6) noted its approval for demolition.
83 units of affordable housing because people were bought out or pushed out.” Some, like CB4 member Brad Pascarella, asked if they could target the professionals “rubber-stamping” these requests; Restuccia said this wasn’t an option, as the permit process allows registered architects and professional engineers to file the application for demolition. And, he said, the DOB doesn’t always confirm whether the buildings are protected before approving requests. Board members looked for ways to deal with these issues immediately, and for an audit of all buildings in these special districts. “This is such an epidemic right now; can’t we try to leverage to get a moratorium until they get their house in order? Because every time they approve [a demolition], we don’t know if it’s legitimate,” said CB4 member Brett Firfer. “We need to do something extreme here! There should be no more demolitions until we fix the system.” Board members thanked State Sen. Brad Hoylman’s Deputy Chief of Staff Eli Szenes-Strauss for addressing the demolition of buildings in their district, and following up on their requests for intervention when historic properties were involved. “Rick [Chandler, Commissioner of the DOB] woke up this morning to a slew of complaints on this, because they persist in accepting applications for demolitions in historic districts,” said Szenes-Strauss.
CB4 member Christine Berthet said she was also afraid that without the proper attention, these buildings would eventually become decrepit, and have to be demolished after all. “We need a solution,” said Restuccia. “This is not a citywide problem for us. It’s our local problem. We’ve never seen this many illegally proposed demolitions in such a short time. The city has to seal up and close these buildings so they don’t become filthy and dangerous.” Szenes-Strauss said, “Obviously, we need a proactive network of solutions. I imagine this will end up as patchwork of city and state legislation.” “We can’t wait for legislation while these buildings are left open,” replied Berthet. “We need a next-day discussion to get us in there.” CB4 Chair Delores Rubin echoed this sentiment, saying, “We need a larger spotlight on this issue. We need our elected officials to make enough noise to take this to the city office. We’d like to start seeing some action.” Elected leaders agreed, with Sen. Hoylman saying, “It’s unacceptable that years of hard work to create no-demolition districts are being de facto tossed aside. These are real people with real lives who are being displaced or losing the opportunity for future housing, and if DOB can’t implement a definitive solution, we’ll have to figure out how to mandate one. It’s a shame, but it’s the reality we’re facing.”
Photo by Winnie McCroy
DEMOLITION continued from p. 1
BY WINNIE MCCROY On June 1, Community Board 4 (CB4) came together for their full board meeting, and addressed a frequent topic of concern: the improper, often “illegally proposed” demolition of buildings throughout Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Concerned by the continued loss of affordable housing — especially the destruction of historically protected properties — they reached out to elected officials to urge the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to stop “rubber-stamping” demolition permits. The DOB said they are aware of the problem, and had recently taken steps to rectify the situation. During their meeting at Fulton Auditorium, CB4 voted to send letters to the DOB regarding the improper demolition of 821 Ninth Ave., and the improper approval for demolition of 859 Ninth Ave. and 401 W. 56th St., as well as 317-319 W. 35th St. “[That property] filed for demolition in March, and as of 5pm this Tuesday, they were still approved for it, despite the fact that we asked for the approval to be rescinded,” said CB4’s Housing, Health & Human Services Co-Chair Joe Restuccia. “They can’t demolish these buildings. We are asking [the DOB] to change their procedure, perhaps to appoint a special planner for the West Chelsea, Meatpacking, and Hudson Yards districts. As of now we have lost
June 09 - 15, 2016
Later in the meeting, when Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer arrived, she insisted, “We need to have a database of up-to-date landmarked and protected places in all the boroughs.” “We appreciate your recognition on these DOB issues, because we need to figure out a solution fast,” said Rubin. “We implore you to use whatever influence you have to stem the wave of illegal demolitions of our affordable housing stock.” After the meeting, Brewer vowed that she would continue to be front and center fighting these illegal demolitions and other drastic renovations that destroy Chelsea’s historic dwellings. “Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen are seeing a pattern of inappropriate requests for demolition from landlords,” said Brewer, “whether we’re talking about historic buildings that are supposed to be protected by the Landmarks Law, or we’re talking about rent-regulated housing that’s supposed to be protected by special zoning rules against harassment. Our city agencies need to do a better job enforcing our laws, and we need to be vigilant and fight back to protect both our historic resources and our dwindling affordable housing.” By the end of the public meeting, CB4 members agreed to send two letters to the DOB, one specifically dealing with the property at 317-319 W. 35th St., and another more general letter asking them to address the spate of improper demolition approvals going forward. But all agreed with Rubin when she said that, “We need to find a more drastic solution than writing a letter,” whether that meant involving the City Council, or pressing the mayor’s office to give this matter his full-court press. Chelsea Now reached out to the DOB after the meeting, and spokesman Joseph Soldevere said that the DOB’s Buildings Information System did include flags for landmarked buildings. He also noted that, “The Department’s new risk management group recently mapped all blocks of special districts with demolition restrictions, to help our plan examiners more easily identify improper demolition applications.” .com
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June 09 - 15, 2016
Preservationists Protest Changes to Chelsea’s Oldest
Photos by Sean Egan
At the rally, Mary Swartz of Save Chelsea urged “the LPC [to] reject the wholly inappropriate plans” for 404 W. 20th St., and read a statement of opposition from State Senator Brad Hoylman. 404 continued from p. 1
Community Board 4 (CB4) spoke out against the expansion effort, penning a letter to the LPC urging them to reject a proposal that “would demolish the entire house except for its street facade, and do further violence to this house and to the most historically sensitive and architecturally distinguished block in Chelsea.” While the owner is currently developing new plans after receiving feedback from the LPC on their proposal, locals and preservationists staunch in their opposition are continuing to draw attention to the situation. To this end, Save Chelsea, a local preservationist organization, staged a rally against the renovations on Sat., June 4. The rally, which occurred at 2pm in front of the disputed property, found a crowd of dozens — including elected officials — speaking out against the owner’s proposal, reiterating their main claim that the LPC has been misled into considering plans which would entail an unjust, unwarranted, and virtually complete demolition of all but the façade of the house, in order to build a so-called “megamansion.”
House, whose 339 W. 29th St. location puts it in the Lamartine Place Historic District, and whose owner has been in a years-long dispute over his construction of a fifth floor. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer was on hand at the June 4 rally to decry the LPC’s lax record of following their own laws. “[LPC] need to follow Landmarks Law to the N-th degree,” said Brewer. “Otherwise why do you have the law?” “LPC is supposed to be a check on unmitigated greed,” District 3 City Councilmember Cory Johnson elaborated, commenting on the renovations, as well as the trend of developers trying to alter landmarked structures in the community. “It’s our job to stand up for it.” Assemblymember Richard Gottfried noted that it was the neighborhood and community that gave the house its value, and that it was “profoundly wrong [of the owner] to benefit from the value of the community by trashing that value.” Representatives from the offices of State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and State Senator Brad Hoylman were also present.
PRESERVATIONISTS GIVE LANDMARKS A FAILING GRADE
HOW DID 404 FALL INTO DISREPAIR, AND HOW EXTENSIVE ARE THE DESIRED CHANGES?
The LPC, in general, was also heavily criticized in its perceived shortcomings in protecting the landmarks they ostensibly exist to protect, both in this instance and numerous others throughout the city — such as the Hopper-Gibbons
Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, expressed a commonly held belief amongst the group that the structural problems the new owner is grappling with at 404 W. 20th St. are
June 09 - 15, 2016
A back view of 404 W. 20th St. Current plans for the property would build out to match the neighboring building on the right (402 W. 20th St.).
“bogus or self-created, or both” — specifically due to flooding caused by a burst water pipe in February 2016 because the unoccupied house was not heated. “[404 W. 20th St.] is exactly what LPC exists to protect,” Berman said, noting that such benign neglect is all the more reason buildings of historic value are in such desperate need of protection. “I think we need to draw a line in the sand,” he declared, “and I think this is the perfect place to do it.” For their part, the owner and his representatives refute most of the arguments of Save Chelsea and their supporters. On the repeated allegations that the owner would be adding floors and expanding the basement along nearly the whole length and width of the property, both Shawn Felker, a close family friend of the Kapoors, and Michele de Milly, a Principal at Geto & de Milly, Inc., the public affairs firm representing Kapoor, attest that the owner’s revised design plan would not add any upper floors, and would maintain the house’s pitched roof. Felker, who also brokered the house’s $7.4 million sale for Kapoor, reported that the addition would only expand back as far as the neighboring building at 402 W. 20th St. does, also consistent with a number of other buildings on the block — and that the proposed basement would not span “almost the length and width of the entire property” as Save Chelsea asserted in a June 4 press release, but instead about half the yard. In addition, the façade of the building would receive a complete restoration, and “elements like original fireplaces will be retained, restored and reinstated,” according to a statement from William
Suk, the project’s architect. “Anything that can be saved, will be saved,” furthered Felker. These plans represent a significant scale back from the initial (and thus far only) plans presented to CB4 and the LPC, and take into consideration the feedback given by that organization and the community, explained de Milly. While these new designs were not readily available at press time, de Milly confirmed that they would be available to the public “shortly” after their forthcoming submission to the LPC.
LAYING BLAME AT THE DOORSTEP OF BUYER — AND SELLER Felker also took umbrage at comments from electeds and preservationists at the rally indicating the plans reflect greed on behalf of the owner, noting that this case is dissimilar to other situations involving the LPC and developers in Chelsea. He maintains that Kapoor plans on keeping the house a four-bedroom single-family home for him, his elderly mother, wife, and school-age son, rather than trying to turn a profit from the house. “Mr. Kapoor is not adding a floor, and he’s certainly not renting out any portion of this house ever,” said Felker. “They’re not trying to add any kind of rental component to this house whatsoever. So there’s no greed. He’s buying a house he’s going to renovate and move into, so I just don’t understand the greed component.” Felker also insists that the flooding 404 continued on p. 5 .com
Dwelling, as Neighbors Rally to New Owner’s Defense 404 continued from p. 4
caused by the burst pipe was never the impetus behind the renovations, and that its impact on the home was minimal. Long-term neglect on behalf of the previous owners was the cause of the structural damage sustained to the house, not the flooding, he insists. As evidence, Felker points to the city Department of Buildings (DOB) violations issued to the house back in September of 2015, shortly after the house’s purchase — months before the pipe burst in February — in which the DOB asserted that the building was “deteriorated,” with “sloped interior floors, tilted stairs and cracked walls” and required immediate repair. In order to address this issue, a number of wooden and metal support structures were installed throughout the home. A walking tour of the house also confirms these accounts of slanted stairs and cracked walls. This condition, to the Kapoor camp, justifies the expansive remodeling that would require a full rebuild of much of the house’s interior framing. A number of longtime neighbors are
in agreement, and have come out in support of Kapoor’s project, and have publically reiterated issues with the property prior to Kapoor’s purchase. Marion Buhagiar, the owner of 402 W. 20th St. and a former Save Chelsea member, testified at the project’s public LPC hearing, and wrote to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. In the body of her Nov. 4, 2015 letter, Buhagiar describes having “observed the steady deterioration of the structure” for decades, and notes that she “alerted the former owners to serious breaches in the east-facing wall that faces [her] property.” Another neighbor, Debra Guerrero (at 406 W. 20th St.) recounted past issues, including rats nesting in vegetation formerly at the site. In addition, along with Jose Antonio, she penned two letters to Srinivasan. In a June 2, 2016 letter, the couple stated that they have “strong support” for the project, and that “the most causal observer will realize the house is leaning and is badly in need of repair.” The previous owners of the home — Lesley Doyel, recently resigned as President of Save Chelsea and current board member, and her husband,
Photos by Sean Egan
An inside view of the house shows sloped stairs, a cracked wall, and wood reinforcements placed by the current owner after DOB violations were issues.
Nicholas Fritsch — refute the claims of neglect alleged by Kapoor’s reps and neighbors. While Fritsch does admit that the house “definitely needed work” and “serious renovation” — citing difficult and expensive upkeep as a motivating factor in the house’s sale — its condition was not neglected, and not so dire that it was unsalvageable and warrants the
proposed demolition and expansion. In a May 1 letter addressed to LPC Chair Srinivasan, Doyel and Fritsch — who did not organize nor attend the rally, and no longer reside in Chelsea (their home is now in Washington Heights) — firmly dismiss the accusations of neglect 404 continued on p. 15
June 09 - 15, 2016
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June 09 - 15, 2016
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Photo via facebook.com/hillaryclinton
“You like me! You really like me! Or maybe you’re just terrified by Donald Trump. Honestly, I don’t care as long as I get to be President.”
Dems Stage Schoolyard Brawl on Canyon’s Precipice BY MAX BURBANK Hillary Clinton made history Tuesday night, clinching the Democratic presidential nomination and becoming the first woman in United States history to lead the ticket of a major political party. The primary season is over — but the shouting will continue straight through November, and there will be a lot of it. In the long slog leading up to this victory, it was easy to imagine Clinton and Sanders as preschoolers with scary, oversized old people heads, having a playground slap fight: “It’s mine, mine, MINE! I’m the ‘sumptive nominee of Democrat Day Care. Bernie, the Associated Press said so! You have to lie down and be dead!” “You shut your mouth, Hillary! Super Delegates are strictly for cheaters and they’re all gonna change their minds and vote for me anyways!” “If Super Delegates are for cheaters and you change their minds, then YOU’RE the cheater, CHEATER!” “Only ’cause you were cheating with them already! You MADE ME DO IT, so it’s YOUR FAULT!” “Nuh-uh, Bernie, and when I’m President I’m going to make you sit at lunch with Debbie Wasserman Schultz!” “Joke’s on you, Hillary! When Goldman Sachs was handing out lunch money I was busy attaching an amendment to the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 requiring banks to use stricter H-1B hiring standards to ensure bailout funds weren’t used to displace American workers!” “Oh my God, shut UP, Bernie Sanders! I’m the NOMINEE!” “Not ’ ’ till the CONVENTION, Hillary Clinton, and if you do win, which you won’t, I might just take my ball and give it to Jill Stein! She’s NICE!” It would have been cute and funny, if this slap fight wasn’t taking place on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Plus, these kids have homework, a group project that’s due very soon. Surprisingly, the assignment isn’t “Win a playground slap fight,” it’s “Defuse a hydrogen bomb.” All the other kids on the playground have the same homework, but instead of working on it, they’re in a big ring yelling “FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!” They’re all red-faced and sweaty and after the fight is over it’s going to be very hard to go home and focus on their homework before it blows up and annihilates everyone and everything they’ve ever loved. And okay, yes, this analogy is getting a little thin. But only a little. It’s still a bit more chunky than anyone ought to be comfortable with. Sanders is meeting with President Obama on Thursday, but as of press time had not conceded. Democratic supportSTUMP SPEECH continued on p. 14 .com
Photo courtesy BKSK Architects
Rendering by BKSK Architects
A view of the existing south side of the Gansevoort St. block, seen from Ninth Ave.
The same view with the proposed redevelopment, which can now move ahead.
Preservationists Blast LPC For Backtracking On Height Guidelines GANSEVOORT continued from p. 1
BY YANNIC RACK The controversial upzoning of an entire block of Gansevoort St. can move ahead, after the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) this week voted to approve a modified plan to remake the historic row of market-style buildings in the Meatpacking District. Preservationists and local residents — who have fought the plan, dubbed Gansevoort Row, since it first came to light last August — blasted the LPC for backtracking on its own standards and allowing the developers to, in some cases, more than triple the height of the streetscape. “We got skunked,” said Keith Anderson, who lives around the corner from the site on Horatio St. and came to the LPC’s public meeting on Tuesday, June 7. “I think they completely disregarded the guidelines they had set,” said Elaine Young, another critic of the plan who helped start the opposition group Save Gansevoort. Young and her fellow residents particularly took issue with the fact that the LPC’s commissioners themselves had asked the architects at their last hearing in February to scale down the proposed buildings — and although they did, the plan’s opponents say the changes were by far not drastic enough. The commission had previously rejected the design, by BKSK Architects, because it was too “fussy” and some of the buildings were too tall. “It’s like this: Keep your word,” Young said after the meeting, holding up a sign that read as much. “But they didn’t.” The proposal, by Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate, aims to demolish some of the .com
low-slung former meat market buildings on the south side of Gansevoort St. from Ninth Ave. to Washington St. and replace them with buildings up to 81 feet high. Others would be restored and topped with multi-story additions. The developers and their architects argue that the higher structures are an echo of warehouse buildings historically found in the neighborhood, but their opponents say the proposal should stick to the largely lower tenements that more recently stood on the street. “We are disappointed that LPC has arbitrarily reached back to an earlier stage in the district’s history to justify replacing existing low-rise market buildings with massive new construction,” Save Gansevoort wrote in a recent letter to the landmarks commission. “If the rationale is to return Gansevoort Street to its earlier tenement configuration, then the new buildings at 60-68 and 74 Gansevoort must conform to the size of their predecessors.” Under the new plans, the two tallest buildings, at 60-68 and 70-74 Gansevoort St., will now be 61 and 81 feet tall respectively — only a few feet less than originally proposed and still considerably higher than the 50-55 feet that city records show the tenements at the site to have been, as the plan’s critics point out. “This is the last remaining block of one- and two-story market buildings in the entire borough of Manhattan,” said Zack Winestine, another leader of Save Gansevoort who lives on Horatio St. “It’s the epitome of what the Gansevoort Historic District is about, and these buildings are going to completely transform this block.” Recent changes made to the two buildings also include more simplified façades, as well as removal of previously proposed penthouse additions on both
Renderings by BKSK Architects
Changes to the original proposal, at left, include a smaller building at 50 Gansevoort St. as well as scaled-down structures at 60-68 and 70-74 Gansevoort St., which are visible in the foreground.
structures. The eastern end of the block, a two-story building at 46-48 Gansevoort St., will be restored and largely kept intact. Fifty Gansevoort St., which originally was to be demolished and replaced by a larger three-story building, will now simply be restored as well. “The change is pretty significant,” said Harry Kendall, of BKSK Architects. “We feel very confident that what we’ve done is appropriate.” The two-story building in the middle of the block, which currently houses the Gansevoort Market food hall, will largely remain the same and eventually become the new location for Keith McNally’s Pastis restaurant. Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora Capital Associates, said the next step would be starting demolition, although there is no specific timeline yet. “We have always said this neighborhood has not one, but many histories, and today’s action ensures the complete story of its evolution over the past 130 years will continue to be told to future generations of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement after the vote, according to DNAinfo. “Today is an important milestone,
and we are grateful for the guidance and input of local residents, stakeholders and particularly the Landmarks Preservation Commission, whose thoughtful and sensitive approach to the process will preserve the integrity and character of this neighborhood while allowing for its continued growth.” The block does have a restrictive declaration in place, which limits the types of tenants Aurora can lease to and includes a ban on housing or office space. LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that she felt the changed proposal fit in nicely with the surrounding area, which was partly landmarked as the Gansevoort Historic District in 2003. “I think, if you look at it in context, it very much reminds of the original buildings,” she said of the design. “It’s all very consistent with the district.” Before the commissioners voted 8-2 in favor of the proposal, she also noted that 900 people wrote emails to the commission in opposition to the proposal. “It’s so dismissive of the greater population [to approve this],” said Vera Lutter, another local resident. “It’s crazy. The damage can’t be turned back.” June 09 - 15, 2016
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GRAND LARCENY: Apple played for stooges by three The Apple Store at 401 W.14th St. (at Ninth Ave.) fell victim to a simple, but very effective trick devised by a trio of thieves. At about 4:30pm on Wed., June 1, the three men ran a scheme, in which two of them distracted the cashier, while the third reached behind the counter and removed the phones. They took their three-phone haul, and made their way to the Apple Store in Soho, where they ran a similar scheme. The three iPhone 6S models they took are worth an estimated $1,950, and while they have not yet
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7pm, at the 10th Precinct. They are on hiatus until Sept. 28.
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Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: David Ehrenberg. Call 212-4777411. Community Affairs: 212-4777427. Crime Prevention: 212-4777427. Domestic Violence: 212-4773863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct. The next meeting is June 21.
POLICE BLOTTER been apprehended, video of the incident is available, as are the services of the other Apple Store security guard, who can provide more details on the case to authorities.
ASSAULT: Assailant needs to mellow out Perhaps if one early morning patron of Gilded Lily (408 W. 15th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) had consumed his illicit substances on Sat., June 4 he wouldn’t have been so hotheaded — and might not have landed himself in doubly hot water with police. For reasons unknown, at about 3:20am, a 28-year-old stranger punched a 36-year-old man in the face, causing swelling and laceration to his left eye. The punchy perp, a Brooklyn resident, was arrested, and, to make matters worse (for him), police found him to be in possession of marijuana as well. The victim was removed to Weill Cornell Medical.
PETIT LARCENY: Wine and crime When someone at Don Giovanni Ristorante (214 10 Ave., btw. W. 22nd & W. 23rd Sts.) raided the restaurant’s liquor cabinet, they decided to snag something other than top-shelf booze. As reported to the 10th Precinct on Fri., June 3, on May 24, an iPad, a Mac Mini, and an iPad mini were removed from their places in the restaurant’s wine room while renovations were undertaken within the room. When they went to be retrieved post-renovation
on Wed., June 1, it was discovered that the computers had been taken by an unknown individual. Totaled up, the three items represent $913 worth of missing gadgets — though luckily there were cameras at the location, which should hopefully aid in their recovery.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Slashing spree cuts cars On Sat., June 4, a number of vehicles displaying NYPD restricted parking permits in their windows had their tires slashed by an unknown party. The vehicles were parked outside of 408 W. 36th St. (btw. Ninth & Dyer Aves.) from about 8pm to 2am (on June 5), and their owners discovered them to be defaced upon their return. The first victim was a 28-yearold man, whose red 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer had both passenger side tires slashed, as well as his front driver’s side tire. From that, a slew of other destructive vehicular crimes followed: a 29-year-old man’s gray 2007 Nissan Altima had its front passenger tire sliced up; a 33-yearold found the front driver’s side tire slashed on his green 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer; and a 30-year-old man’s black 2009 Mazda suffered a stabbed rear driver’s side tire. No one has been arrested yet in connection to the slashings, but there are a number of private security cameras in the area (at 408, 410, & 412 W. 36th St., and at the Edison ParkFast lot at Ninth Ave. & W. 36th St.), which could aid in identifying the culprit.
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June 09 - 15, 2016
$100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.
Stay Safe when driving in wet weather Drivers must modify their driving habits when weather compromises their visibility and makes road conditions unsafe. Rain can fall any time of year, but tends to be most problematic in spring. According to the Federal Highway Administration, wet roadways, and rain in particular, are the main cause of weather-related vehicle crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that, between 2004 and 2013, rain caused 573,784 crashes. To drive safely in the rain and avoid accidents, drivers should follow certain precautions.
• Maintain windshield wipers. Inspect and, if necessary change windshield wipers regularly to ensure they are working optimally. Always test wipers before driving in rainy weather. • Turn on lights with wipers. Reduced visibility is a major contributor to wet-weather accidents. Drivers’ views may be hampered by falling precipitation and glare from wet roadways. Cloudy conditions and fog also compromise visibility. When using windshield wipers, turn on your headlights as well. This makes your vehicle more visible to other motorists and improves your own ability to see the road and
pedestrians. • Recognize changing road conditions. Roadways accumulate oil and engine fluids that can float in rainwater, creating slippery road surfaces. This is usually a problem during the first few hours of a rainstorm or in areas that receive little precipitation and then are subjected to downpours. These fluids make rain-soaked roads even more slippery. Slow down, leave more room between vehicles and try driving in the tracks left by vehicles ahead. • Reduce speed. The automotive group AAA says hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water, can occur with as little as 1⁄12 inch of wa-
ter on the road. The group goes on to say that tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speeds to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. New tires can still lose some contact with the roadway, even at a speed as low as 35 mph. Therefore, reducing speed and avoiding hard braking and turning sharply can help keep the rubber of the tire meeting the road. • Rely on the defogger. Use the car’s windshield defroster/ defogger to improve visibility. Turn it on early and keep it on until the rain has stopped and visibility has improved.
• Recover from a skid. Skids can be frightening, but when skidding, resist any temptation to slam on the breaks. Instead, continue to look and drive in the direction you want to go and slowly ease up on the accelerator. • Skip the cruise control. It’s important to maintain control over the vehicle in rainy conditions, so avoid using cruise control. • Maintain tires. Proper inflation and tire tread levels can improve traction. AAA recommends checking tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start
shopping for new tires. Check tire pressure on all tires at least once a month. Get an accurate reading when tires are cold and adjust air pressure accordingly. • Avoid other distractions. Distracted driving can be hazardous during good road conditions and even more dangerous when visibility and other factors are compromised. Switch phones and other devices off so you can fully focus on the road and other drivers. Rainy weather can contribute to poor driving conditions. Drivers should make changes to speed and other factors to make wet weather driving as safe as possible.
June 09 - 15, 2016
Hustling Books, Meeting Moses, and Expanding My Territory
Photo courtesy Gerald Busby
Gerald Busby at Yale in 1960, shortly before moving to NYC and taking a job as typist in an advertising agency.
BY GERALD BUSBY As a typist in an advertising agency and the proud occupant of a tiny $50-dollar-a-month apartment at the corner of Spring and Mulberry Streets in Little Italy, I felt like I belonged in New York. It was 1963 and I had voted for John F. Kennedy and followed his presidency with excited political awareness that was new to me. I defended him to my parents in Texas, whose main complaint was his Catholicism. Their religious bigotry underscored the miracle he was in American politics. I believed he would never say bad things about gay people. I was, like my parents, confused about the difference between belief and reality. Then I saw him assassinated on television, and my world collapsed. I needed to be alone for the first time in my life — so I sold my Steinway model “M” piano, gave away all my books and LPs, and found a job as a traveling college textbook salesman with Random House and Alfred A. Knopf. I was interviewed for the job by a bright, charming gay man named George Rivers, whose appearance and behavior replicated and meticulously improved upon every quality I liked in young straight businessmen: smart, stylishly masculine, taciturn, and hot. I was overwhelmed when introduced to Bennett Cerf [a founder of Random House], who shook my hand and asked, “Are you one of our new field editors?” George smiled at me and I answered, “I think so.” My first territory as a representative of these elite and auspicious publishers
June 09 - 15, 2016
(Borzoi Books was the colophon of Knopf) was an area no other salesman wanted — West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. I got my wish to be alone. In fact, I never felt so alone as I did my first night in a Holiday Inn in Arcadia, West Virginia. Years later, in Robert Altman’s film “A Wedding” (1978), I played a Southern Baptist preacher. Altman encouraged me to write my own dialogue in a scene in which my character told Dina Merrill, playing a supercilious rich woman, “God spoke to me from a TV set as I lay in bed with somebody in a Holiday Inn in Arcadia, West Virginia.” Salesmen like me were called college travelers. My routine was to first visit the college bookstore, get a schedule of classes, and then see teachers who taught courses for which I had books. My list from Random House and Knopf was mostly in the arts and humanities. I longed to meet young, good-looking gay professors. When that happened, I took them to lunch and gave them copies of books they said they might adopt for their courses. My salesmanship was a performance, and my goal was to get them to like me. As I learned from the Texas Baptist evangelist Angel Martinez when I was 16 and saving souls in Alabama, seduction is the surest and quickest route to acquiescence. Now I was hustling books rather than Jesus. My second year on the road I was assigned to another territory, one of the most desirable: the Mountain States. In addition to Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, I had West Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska. Selling books on the road meant many hours every day behind the wheel of a car, something I had grown up with in Texas. But now it was mesmerizing to travel the vast open spaces of the plains. Driving across Kansas toward Colorado I caught sight of what seemed like a mirage on the distant horizon. It looked at first like purple clouds, then my heart quickened as I realized it was the Rocky Mountains. My excitement at the sight of those majestic formations was primal. The day after I arrived in Boulder, I found an apartment. It was my nest in paradise; George had told me I needed a place to call home in my territory. During my first week selling textbooks, I met Hazel Barnes, chairman of the anthropology department at the University of Colorado, and famous
as the translator of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness,” the seminal philosophical masterpiece of French existentialism. I was stunned and in awe to meet her and become her friend. This book by Sartre and Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or” had been touchstones of my philosophical studies at Yale. Meeting Hazel Barnes was like meeting Moses. There was also the advantage of Hazel’s being a Knopf author and consultant to Blanche Knopf, wife of Alfred. At Hazel’s recommendation, Blanche Knopf published the first English translation of works by Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir. I threw a cocktail party, for which I made the pâté, when Hazel’s translation of Sartre’s “Search for a Method” was published by Knopf. I also played a piano recital of Mozart, Beethoven, and Scriabin in the sanctuary of the Episcopal Church to honor Hazel. The love of her life Doris Schwalbe, an heir to the Libby-Owens glass fortune, kissed me and said no salesman had ever been that nice to Hazel. They lived on the eastern slope of the Rockies in a cantilevered house designed by a Japanese protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright. Straight male professors in the philosophy department who disapproved of Hazel and Doris’ lesbian relationship referred to them as “Hazel and Diesel.” Those professors might well have been jealous of Hazel’s astonishing output of major translations and original philosophical essays, totaling some 25 highly esteemed books. Her regular job at the university was teaching social anthropology. She got up at five every morning to write, and she cautiously put the work in her bedroom safe. The trip from Boulder to Salt Lake City was usually by way of Wyoming, and crossing the border into the natural grandeur of Utah was exhilarating. I learned early in my travels to arrive at my destination before dark, check into my hotel, and locate the best restaurant in town. In Salt Lake I always stayed at the Hotel Utah, right across the street from the leading department store, ZCMI (Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution). They sold good crystal burgundy wine glasses for low prices. You needed your own wine glasses back then, and your own liquor too. The Mormon way of reminding you that it was sinful to drink was to locate stores (all government-controlled) in out-ofthe-way and hard-to-find places. They
also moved them every few months and made you fill out a lengthy form before letting you buy any alcohol. The only gay bar in Salt Lake was right downtown and called the Radio City Bar. On my first visit there I ran into the composer Ned Rorem, who was a guest lecturer at the University of Utah. My cousin Ruth Jones was teaching creative writing and research at the university, and this was my first time to meet her. She was famous in our large family for being smart and playing the trumpet “better than any man.” That meant she was a lesbian. When she opened the front door of her house and invited me in, I knew we’d be close. She wasn’t pretty; she was lanky and had a tight weathered face like her mother Zada, one of my mother’s nine sisters. But Ruth was charming and funny and obviously glad to meet me, a gay relative who had gone to Yale. We practically fell into each other’s arms, talking endlessly about everything — including Kierkegaard, who, she had set out to prove in her PhD thesis, was a major influence on the English poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822–1888). I wasn’t really sure who Arnold was, but it didn’t matter. Ruth and I laughed and drank wine and talked and talked until her partner Marian Sheets told us to stop. Marian was the director of the Arabic Collection at the University of Utah, and she needed some sleep. I was euphoric when I left Ruth’s house that night. Meeting her was a joyous gift. She was my cousin, and she was smart and sweet and talked openly about being gay and living in a society that disapproved and made fun of her and Marian. Lying in bed back at the Hotel Utah, I repeated over and over everything Ruth and I had said to each other. I was surprised when I began to cry in my pillow. I loved her for being the first person ever to make me feel it was okay to be gay. Gerald Busby is a longtime resident of the Chelsea Hotel and protégé of Virgil Thomson. He is best known for his film score for Robert Altman’s “3 Women” and his dance score for Paul Taylor’s “Runes.” With Craig Lucas, Busby is currently writing an opera based on “3 Women.” Busby’s life at the Chelsea Hotel is the topic of “The Man on the Fifth Floor,” a documentary film currently in production. .com
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June 09 - 15, 2016
June 09 - 15, 2016
Sympathy for Who Was Once the Devil BY DUNCAN OSBORNE As Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin faces up to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of four felonies for a fight he was involved in, a groundswell of support for the 42-year-old is appearing on social media and there is little evidence of sympathy for the two gay men who accused him of attacking them in a Chelsea restaurant last year. “I think that what really should have happened here is these guys shouldn’t have pressed charges,” Robb Stone, an artist who lives in Chicago, told our sister publication, Gay City News. “If I was a sloppy drunk queen who got in a fight with my boyfriend and got our asses kicked, I wouldn’t press charges.” On May 27, Stone posted a picture of Jonathan Snipes, 33, and Ethan York-Adams, 26, on his Facebook page with accompanying text that described the couple, who have since ended their relationship, as “a pair of Privileged assholes.” The two “made a huge scene, and then picked a fight with another patron nearby –– physically attacking him with one of our man-purses. And when the man (who is also gay, and a Person of Color) kicked our asses, we cried foul and accused him of Gay-Bashing,” Stone wrote. By June 7, the post had 569 shares and 769 likes on Facebook. Stone described the reaction as “low-key viral” for the social media platform. A handful of the 105 comments on the post defended or expressed support for Snipes and York-Adams. On May 5, 2015, Snipes and York-Adams, who both testified they were drunk that night, first fought with each other in Dallas BBQ at Eighth Ave. and 23rd St. In his trial testimony, Snipes said he believed that someone called him a “faggot,” though he could not say who, and he struck El-Amin with his purse, which held his keys, a sunglasses case, a cellphone charger, and his résumé. El-Amin leapt from his table and pushed Snipes to the floor. The two men fought, were separated, and fought again. Then, as Snipes and YorkAdams stood with their backs to him, El-Amin, who said he was acting in self-defense throughout the incident, struck York-Adams with a wooden chair. Neither Snipes nor York-Adams had health insurance, and they both refused medical attention that night. They saw doctors days later, after being told that New York pays for healthcare for crime victims. Snipes spoke to some press on May 6 without disclosing that he began the fight. The incident was quickly characterized as a hate crime by the media. Some local politicians, including City Councilmember Corey Johnson and State Senator Brad Hoylman, who are both gay and represent Chelsea, protested outside the restaurant, also calling the fight a hate crime. El-Amin surrendered to police in June of 2015. He was indicted on five felony charges, none .com
Isaam Sharef via YouTube.com
A screen grab from video that circulated immediately after the Dallas BBQ incident last May showing Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin bringing a chair down over Ethan York-Adams’ head.
charged as hate crimes. On May 25, a Manhattan jury found El-Amin guilty on four of the five, acquitting him on a single count of second-degree assault against Snipes. Waddie Grant, who blogs at glistsociety.com, asserted last year that race played a role in the response by the LGBT community. El-Amin is African-American and Snipes and York-Adams are white. More recently, a blogger writing as “Son of Baldwin” on medium.com made the same point. Stone, who is white, shares that view. “We live in a society in which we are willing to believe that black and brown people are inherently violent and to me that’s what this case is all about,” he said. “If Mr. El-Amin was a white man would this case have played out the same way, would it have gone this far?” Dr. H. Sharif “Herukhuti” Williams, a professor of interdisciplinary studies at Goddard College, compared the El-Amin case to the one brought against Brock Turner, a white Stanford student, who was convicted this year of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and sentenced to just six months in jail. “Mr. El-Amin is facing a decade or more in prison,” Williams said. “The young man who raped the woman in California is getting six months… We exist in a society in which jail is too harsh for certain people, but not others. If jail is too harsh for certain people, it’s too harsh for all people.” William Dobbs, a gay civil libertarian, has critiqued the LGBT community’s reliance on law enforcement and its pursuit of hate crime laws as misguided. While the community’s original intent in pressing for these goals was to get police and prosecutors to protect LGBT people, the community is now complicit in a system that arrests, prosecutes, and incarcerates too many people, who are overwhelmingly people of color, he argued. “One way or another the words hate crime
Chicago artist Robb Stone’s Facebook post about the case.
have inspired and caused injustice,” Dobbs said. “This Dallas BBQ incident is a classic example… The cries of hate crime by politicians inflamed this incident and paved the way for [Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance] to bring five felony charges in what is really just an ugly bar fight.” The criminal justice system is inherently unfair to broad classes of people, including LGBT people sometimes, activists say, and relying on it can create injustice. “To be black, working class, or poor in the criminal justice system means you are more than likely to be disserved by that system,” Williams said. “The state is not set up to protect you… regardless of where you sit in the courtroom.” Snipes and York-Adams did not respond to requests for comment made via Facebook. Hoylman and Johnson did not respond to calls seeking comment.
June 09 - 15, 2016
STUMP SPEECH continued from p. 6
ers on both sides have understandably bruised feelings, and by understandable I mean petty and stupid. If the general election were between Clinton and Sanders, there’d be important differences of policy, worldview, and character to weigh. It isn’t. In order to properly assess just what’s at stake, let’s run a little thought experiment. Say you took a fat, scruffy, rabid orange monkey, and stuffed it down the turret of an M1A2 Abrams tank. Now the Abrams is a very sophisticated, extremely dangerous mobile weapons platform, and monkeys do not know anything at all about how to operate them. Don’t let that make you feel safe, because that monkey is going to be in the driver’s seat for a minimum of four years. It’s going to get very frustrated and angry and throw all kinds of monkey tantrums all kinds of times. Best case scenario, it gives itself a heart attack or stroke the first week it’s in there. Despite its obviously self-authored Doctor’s note, it’s not a young monkey. It’s overweight, out of shape, it suffers from a smorgasbord of untreated mental health issues, and I think I may have mentioned, it has rabies. Also, some people are saying maybe syphilis. I don’t
Photo via facebook.com/berniesanders
“I’m still going to win. I’m not crazy, you’re crazy!”
bring that up because I don’t really know enough about it to discuss it. I can’t agree or disagree with people saying the monkey has syphilis. A lot of people are talking about it, believe me. Barring a speedy demise, we have what I like to call the Paul Ryan scenario. See, Ryan is pretty sure the poor little guy will never figure out even the first thing about how a tank works. It’s all alone in there and even if it had someone to teach it basic tank operations, he wouldn’t be able to learn because he only speaks monkey.
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As far as that monkey is concerned, anything anybody might have to say to him about tanks is just meaningless, irritating noise. Ryan figures Congress can drive the tank by remote control. In about eight years, all you have to do is clean a gargantuan amount of monkey excrement off every surface and dig it out of every nook and cranny a monkey with abnormally tiny, stubby fingers could jam its poop into, which is pretty much all of them. It’s going to be unpleasant, time-consuming, and very expensive — but you might not have to throw the entire tank away. A lot of it could be salvageable. Here’s something I know about this monkey, though, and if Paul Ryan doesn’t know it, there’s some serious denial going on. It may be entirely ignorant on the subject of tank operations, but it’s a savant when it comes to destroying remote controls. No form of control has ever been successfully been placed on this monkey. Its father sent it to military school, and it somehow managed to come out worse. They say given enough time, a monkey could type the complete works of Shakespeare. Well, the monkey in my thought experiment is not inclined towards literature. He’ll be spending his time slapping buttons and pulling levers
until he figures out which ones will punish anyone who questioned it’s monkeyhood. Explosions will almost certainly be prioritized over aim. So suck it up, Democrats. Maybe you think the presumptive nominee is a neocon corporate shill. Maybe you think the Bernie Bros don’t deserve a single concession after all their abysmal sexist crap. Maybe you’re both right, but the slap fight has to be over now, because as a nation we are seriously considering GIVING A MONKEY AN ABRAMS TANK! See, the monkey is Donald Trump, right, and the tanks is the presidency, and I know in the first paragraph Trump and the Presidency were a hydrogen bomb, but…is anybody listening? Democrat, Republican, yet-to-be-named magical third party alternative, if you ever get a nominee you are totally, 100% happy with, all that means is you don’t know enough about the nominee. The kind of person it takes to become a major party nominee or president is not someone you should be entirely comfortable with. But we owe it to ourselves to make sure it is a person. Because a monkey with a tank is a very dangerous thing.
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June 09 - 15, 2016
Photos by Sean Egan
At the June 4 rally, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (foreground, right) decried the LPC’s lax record of following their own laws. 404 continued from p. 5
directed at them by Kapoor’s reps and Buhagiar. Doyel and Fritsch call the accusations a “fallacious narrative” constructed in order for the new owner to go forward with demolition, and point out that “nowhere does the [September 2015 DOB] report indicate that this property needs to be condemned or is uninhabitable, merely that structural issues must be repaired and corrected.” In a return letter addressed to them dated May 26, 2016, John Weiss, Deputy Counsel for the LPC, wrote: “I was in your home after its sale to the current owner when it was being inspected by an engineer from the Department of Buildings. I can attest that the house was not, at the time, in a neglected state as
has been alleged.” Felker noted that no covenants or stipulations, which would limit what the owner could do with the property after purchase, were made — and speculates that the previous owners did not include any upon the sale of the house because it would have significantly lowered the price it sold for. Fritsch, however, asserts that they sold the house “as-is” without an inspector, and that its contract included all the standard stipulations about applicable Landmarks Law — which presumably would negate the need for any extra stipulations. Kapoor and associates continue to navigate the LPC process, and Save Chelsea continues to fight against the plans. Chelsea Now will continue to follow this story.
“LPC is supposed to be a check on unmitigated greed,” District 3 City Councilmember Cory Johnson elaborated, commenting on the renovations, as well as the trend of developers trying to alter landmarked structures in the community. “It’s our job to stand up for it.” .com
June 09 - 15, 2016
June 09 - 15, 2016
‘Unexpected’ Excavates Early, Experimental O’Neill Seldom seen one-acts straddle farce and tragedy
Photo by Svetlana Didorenko
Greenwich Village bohemians get goosed in the 1916 satire “Now I Ask You.” L to R: Terrell Wheeler, Kim Yancey-Moore, Dylan Brown.
BY TRAV S.D. For almost two decades, the Lower East Side’s Metropolitan Playhouse has been performing the valuable public service of presenting long-lost plays from America’s past, mostly from the early 20th century or before — the era when melodrama was king, a style and aesthetic that fell out of public favor as the century progressed. A key figure in the public’s conversion to a greater preference for realism was Eugene O’Neill. An ironic consequence of that shift in consciousness is that O’Neill’s own works have come to be regarded as outdated, especially his early ones. The Metropolitan strives to breathe new life into them. Nine years ago, they presented a festival of five early O’Neill one-acts — and through .com
June 26, they’ll be doing the same with “O’Neill (Unexpected),” a double bill consisting of the plays “Recklessness” (1913), and “Now I Ask You” (1916). “Recklessness” is a delicious melodrama, a one-act clearly derived from Strindberg’s “Miss Julie,” in which the bored wife (Erin Beirnard) of a rich man (Kelly King) is having an affair with the chauffeur (Jeremy Russial). The husband discovers the truth, resulting in a domino effect of tragic consequences. (If you know O’Neill it should be very easy to imagine the climax, although the playwright does give us a nifty fake-out). “Now I Ask You” is more of a satire and a comedy of manners, rare territory for O’Neill — but fans of the playwright will recognize something of
the ironic tone he would employ in “Ah, Wilderness!” a couple of decades later. Here he pokes fun at Greenwich Village bohemians. A young middle class couple (Emily Bennett and Terrell Wheeler) tie the knot — but instead of going through with a conventional marriage, they sign a Free Love Agreement. Wanting to teach them a lesson, the girl’s mother (Kim Yancey-Moore) eggs the pair on in flirtations with their radical friends (Dylan Brown and Eric R. Williams). How’s that likely to work out? Hint and reminder: This is O’Neill, and the line between farce and tragedy can often be thin. Neither of these early, experimental plays was ever produced during O’Neill’s lifetime, and productions remain rare to this day. What’s “unex-
pected” about this pair of works is the surprisingly light touch the famously heavy-handed playwright brings to the table. And, while we often associate O’Neill with “low” naturalistic settings (ships, barrooms, farms and the like), these two works — like many of his very earliest plays — were more conventional for their time in taking place in the drawing rooms of the well-to-do. “There are two things I like about working on early O’Neill,” says Metropolitan’s Artistic Director (and “Unexpected” director) Alex Roe. “One is the exciting fact that many of these plays are almost prototypes of the later, better-known plays, their characters and plot points. The other [thing] is, O’NEILL continued on p. 18 June 09 - 15, 2016
Photo by Svetlana Didorenko
L to R: Erin Beirnard and Kelly King as husband and wife in 1913’s “Recklessness.”
O’NEILL continued from p. 17
Photo by Svetlana Didorenko
A new wife is hard to handle in “Now I Ask You.” L to R: Terrell Wheeler and Emily Bennett.
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that when you present these plays on stage, they still come alive. They remain potent and meaningful.” And that’s a point worth making. Historically, O’Neill stands at the juncture of two different eras. Especially in his early plays, he has one foot (at least) firmly planted in old school melodrama. Yet O’Neill had so much more going for him than the hack contemporaries George Bernard Shaw called Sardoudlists (after the much emulated but highly repetitive French playwright Victorien Sardou).
“When people are critical of melodrama,” says Roe, “it’s generally because it’s overly reliant on certain stock devices and its effects are unearned. But O’Neill is much subtler than that. He’s really got an uncanny ability to tease out complicated dramatic motivations and conflicts from his characters drawn from their psychologies and relationships. It’s as though he’s taken the old melodramatic climaxes, like an exploding steamship or a woman being tied to the railroad tracks, and replaced it with something more recognizable but equally devastating — like a breaking heart.” O’Neill’s naturalistic gifts allow Roe to direct as though he were putting on a contemporary American play, in a way that serves the expectations of both modern actors and audiences. And that’s important, because these plays are still relevant. “These plays capture a moment when America was in radical transition,” says Roe. “After World War One people started asking ‘What are the conventional norms and values that got us into this boat?’ They started looking for new explanations. Bohemians disrupting the social order, women seeking the vote, advocates for child welfare, and other social changes. And now we’re distanced enough that we can recognize ourselves going through a similar moment. It still resonates. These problems weren’t unique to O’Neill’s time. This isn’t just archaeology.” “O’Neill (Unexpected)” is presented June 10–June 26: Thurs.–Sat. at 7:30pm; Sat. & Sun. at 3pm. Additional performances Wed., June 15 & 22 at 3pm. At Metropolitan Playhouse (220 E. Fourth St., btw. Aves. A & B). For tickets ($25, $20 for students & seniors, $10 for ages 18 & under), call 800-838-3006 or visit metropolitanplayhouse.org.
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June 09 - 15, 2016
Just Do Art
Photo by Steven Schreiber
An excerpt from Lar Lubovitch Dance Company’s “Concerto Six Twenty-Two” is part of the Hudson River Dance Festival, June 15 & 16.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
HUDSON RIVER DANCE FESTIVAL Modern dance in all of its visual complexity and stylistic diversity — performed on a lawn near the water, with the promise of a spectacular sunset — is the siren call of this free showcase curated by Chelsea’s own indoor movement mecca, The Joyce Theater. Music from electronic pioneer Clams Casino and the fashions of designer Narciso Rodriguez give wing to bodies careening back and forth through time and space, when Stephen Petronio Company performs their 2014 piece, “Locomoter.” An excerpt from “Concerto Six Twenty-Two” will be one of the works from Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Created in 1986, it was inspired by support networks active during the height of the AIDS crisis. In celebration of their 30th Anniversary, Urban Bush Women present iconic moments from the company’s vast repertoire. Founder Jawole Willa Jo Zollar provides the music, with additional sound compositions by Trey Judson in collaboration with Kakilambe Drum Troupe. Free. At 6:30pm on Wed., June 15 & Thurs., June 16 (same program both evenings). At the Pier 63 Lawn (at W. 23rd St. & the Hudson River), in Hudson River Park. Visit hudsonriverpark.org/events. .com
THE FLYING DOCTOR BY MOLIERE (OVER AND OVER AND OVER) Everything old is new again (and again and again and again), when the game-for-anything good eggs from recently hatched theater company flexCO transform Central Booking art gallery into an everything-goes performance space, in which a short farce by Moliere is mounted multiple times. The plot: Lucile, betrothed to another man, favors Valere — who orders his dimwitted manservant to masquerade as a doctor, and prescribe a medicinal trip to the countryside for Lucile, who will then marry her true love. Nothing, of course, goes according to plan — and to heighten that effect, flexCo director Michael Doliner (who did the adaptation) raises the stakes with each performance, throwing live indie rock and bluegrass music, champagne, literature, and an airborne MD into the mix. Through Sat., July 2: Wed. at 7:30pm, Thurs.– Sat. at 8pm & Sun. at 2pm (Fri., June 10 performance is at 10pm). At Central Booking (21 Ludlow St., at Hester St.). For info & tickets ($5$30), visit flexcodot.com. JUST DO ART continued on p. 20
Photo by Steven Pisano
L to R: Kat Blackwood, Patrick Brady, Robyn Adele Anderson in “The Flying Doctor by Moliere (over and over and over).” June 09 - 15, 2016
JUST DO ART continued from p. 19
THE CHELSEA MUSIC FESTIVAL
Photo by Matt Harrington
Newton’s grasp of gravity is a thematic touchstone for this year’s Chelsea Music Festival, June 10–18. Seen here, opening night 2015 at Canoe Studios.
Photo by Remy
Stop by a candlelight vigil, in “The Death of a Black Man (A Walk By),” an immersive new play at Theater for the New City, through June 19.
At just 24 years of age, Isaac Newton invented calculus, explained the color spectrum, and came up with the concept of gravity. The Chelsea Music Festival — also a high achiever still in the flush of youth — has chosen “Gravity 350” as the theme for its seventh year. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as CMF pays tribute to Newton’s triptych of 1666 breakthroughs by showcasing worldclass and fast-rising movers and shakers in the fields of food, music, and art. Sitespecific festival events, which take place all around Chelsea (Aperture Foundation, Canoe Studios, General Theological Seminary, Leo Baeck Institute, St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church), include classical and jazz concerts, late night and daytime open-air happenings, visual and tasting feasts, and Saturday morning family-themed events. Among this year’s In-Residence group: composer Michael Gandolfi, multi-media visual artist Lukas Birk, and Chef Timothy McGrath. Noteworthy performing artists include double bassist Dominik Wagner, clarinetist Vera Karner, organist Stephen Tharp, jazz pianist Adam Birnbaum, The Lee Trio, and Momenta Quartet. June 10–18, at various locations. Visit chelseamusicfestival.org for the schedule of events, and to purchase tickets (ranging from Free to $68, plus applicable online service fees; discounts available for those under 30, students, and seniors).
Photo by Bahram Foroughi
The cast and crew of Offline Productions, hatching a plan for their take on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (at Theatre 80 through June 26).
June 09 - 15, 2016
THE DEATH OF A BLACK MAN (A WALK BY) Just walk on by, or walk a mile in the shoes of another? This new work from William Electric Black documents the harrowing consequence of hearsay and mistaken identity, during a day in the lives of victims, perpetrators, and survivors of inner city violence — specifically, murder by bullet, in the name of pride or vengeance. The third entry in his ongoing “Gunplays” series presented with the support of Theater for the New City, “Walk” uses poetry, rap, song, movement, video projections and intense audience immersion to examine the root causes, and the consequences, of a shooting in an urban playground. Through a series of non-linear vignettes, the audience experiences police investigations, protests, funerals, community deliberation, and shootings. Through June 19: Thurs.–Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., btw. E. Ninth & E. 10th Sts.). For tickets ($15 general, $12 students/seniors, $10 per for groups), call 212-254-1109 or visit theaterforthenewcity.net. Also visit gunplays.org.
OFFLINE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” One good madcap troupe deserves another — and they’ll get it, as the comedians, improvisers, and musicians of Offline Productions bring digital age sensibilities and an unpredictable performance style to their interpretation of Shakespeare’s motley crew of mismatched lovers, manipulated actors, and busybody fairies. Nothing is what it seems, but the consequences are real — when a magical, mystical land known as the Lower East Side takes the place of the Bard’s enchanted forest, and lines blur between the desires of noble lords and the dreams of starving artists. After the show, cast a spell of your own by visiting the William Barnacle Tavern (next to the theater), where they’ll be offering $5 “Puck’s Potion” or “Fairy Queen” specialty cocktails. Through June 26. Thurs., 7pm; Fri. & Sat., 8pm. Sun., June 26, 7pm. At Theatre 80 (80 St. Marks Place, btw. First & Second Aves.). For tickets ($25 general, $35 & $45 for premium seating, various discounts for students, seniors, groups), visit offlinenyc.com. JUST DO ART continued on p. 21
JUST DO ART continued from p. 20
Rainspace: NYU’s Frederick Loewe Theatre (35 W. Fourth St. at Greene St.). Call 212-252-3621 or visit washingtonsquaremusicfestival.org.
ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC’S SIZZLIN’ SUMMER SALE
Photo courtesy the artists
Early music ensemble Canticum Scholare will have its Washington Square Music Festival debut on June 14.
THE WASHINGTON SQUARE MUSIC FESTIVAL Having begun its 58th season on June 7, this reliably eclectic open-air classical concert series (always with an indoor venue at the ready, should it rain) continues for the next three Tuesdays. June 14’s program marks the first festival appearance by Canticum Scholare. The NYC-based vocal group, which specializes in music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, will join conductor Lutz Rath and the Festival Chamber Ensemble in performing Handel’s “Dixit Dominus.” Elsewhere on the program: works by Mozart and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. On June 21, Rath and the Ensemble present the first complete version of Hanns Eisler’s “Septet No. 2, The Circus” ever to be heard in the US (Eisler arranged the piece from his 1947 work on music for Charlie Chaplin’s “The Circus”). Also a program highlight: trombonist David Taylor in the world premiere of “Quatre Kakokosmoi” for bass trombone & strings. The series concludes on June 28, with Ron Wasserman leading the 17-piece New York Jazzharmonic band — with works including The Weavers co-founder Fred Hellerman’s “Fourth of July” (composed in 1987 for a symphony but never performed, it’s been re-orchestrated by Wasserman for his group’s jazz sensibilities). Thus ends this year’s series, at which point they’ve banished any doubt surrounding our opening observation about eclecticism! Free. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Tuesdays in June, 8pm, in Washington Square Park (main stage south; Fifth Ave./Waverly Place, btw. W. Fourth & Macdougal Sts.). .com
Photo courtesy ARC
ARChive of Contemporary Music opens its doors to the public through June 26, for a sizzlin’ summer sale.
While we were busy heralding the advent of the CD, mourning the loss of vinyl, praising the iPod, and debating the right to download our favorite tunes, the ARChive of Contemporary Music’s mission remained the same: amass the world’s largest collection of popular music, for use by artists and scholars. Two times a year, the general public benefits from the bounty of their pack rat mentality, at a sale that’s as carefully curated as the three million sound recordings in ARC’s permanent collection. The highlight of this summer event: 65,000 recently donated 45s. The other 30,000or-so items include pop, jazz, country, dance, rock, world, and Broadway music. There are hundreds of CDs for $1–$5 each; cassettes and Classical LPs, 2 for $1; plus music books of all kinds, 7” singles, VHS & DVD videos, and 60s psychedelic posters. The good news: all proceeds go to support the ARChive’s nonprofit music library and research center work. The bad news: you’ve missed the spirited June 9 members-only cocktail party and early shopping soirée. But don’t fret. Join ARC’s merry little band while you’re flipping through their bins, and you’ll score an invite to their second sale of the year, come December. Daily, 11am–6pm, Sat., June 11–Sun., June 26, at ARChive of Contemporary Music (54 White St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Visit arcmusic.org or call 212-226-6967.
FATHER’S DAY “FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” SING-ALONG Starting with (but not limited to) the fact that you’re alive to read this, Dad deserves a certain amount of respect — so don’t steal the old man’s thunder during his show-stopping rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man.” That’s assuming you’ve started a new “Tradition!” of your own, by allowing him to channel his inner Tevye — at what we’re confidently predicting will turn out to be the best go-to Father’s Day gift since the invention of the necktie. One thing’s for sure: The Museum of Jewish Heritage’s singalong screening of 1971’s “Fiddler on the Roof” is a socially acceptable way to come in costume as the film’s iconic characters, then belt one out — which, sad to say, is discouraged at the otherwise excellent revival now on Broadway. In the likely event this gathering of the musical theater tribe gives your family patriarch a taste for more, note that it’s co-sponsored by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene — whose summer residency program at the Museum presents a fully-restored performance
Image courtesy Museum of Jewish Heritage
Tradition! Father’s Day is a great excuse for dad to belt one out, at this “Fiddler on the Roof” singalong, June 19 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
of the Roaring Twenties romantic comedy operetta “The Golden Bride” (July 4–Aug. 28). The “Fiddler” event takes place Sun., June 19, 3pm, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (36 Battery Place). Tickets are $15, $10 for Museum or Theatre Folksbiene members, and $36 for families (up to four people). To purchase tickets, visit nytf.org or call 212-213-2120, x204 (after business hours, 866-811-4111).
THE NEW SOUND OF
BROOKLYN The Community News Group is proud to introduce BROOKLYN PAPER RADIO. Join Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli and the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman every Thursday at 4:45 for an hour of talk on topics Brooklynites hold dear. Each show will feature in-studio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.
JOSEPH LICHTER, D.D.S.
LISTEN EVERY THURSDAY AT 4:45 PM ON BrooklynPaper.com/radio June 09 - 15, 2016
June 09 - 15, 2016
Rhymes With Crazy
Lolita Llora, 95, Was Our Girl Next Door
BY LENORE SKENAZY When your grandmother dies, everyone knows what to do. Send a note, or at least express condolences. But when a neighbor in your apartment building dies, there isn’t really any protocol, maybe because there are so many different kinds of neighbors: the ones who live to clomp, the ones who put their garbage in the recycling, the “Hi, how are you?” buddies who chat for the length of an elevator ride. But as I walk past the door of my neighbor who died on Wednesday, my heart does a weird little plop, and my eyes sting. She was 95, so you couldn’t call it an untimely death. But with her went a piece of joy wrapped in neighborly obligation. Lolita Llora Walters was born to immigrants from Spain, in 1921. I can tell you her whole life story because every other day or so, I would try to stop by her home — in part for fun, and in part because the thought of her sitting there watching television by herself made me queasy. Most of the times when I’d knock on the door I was greeted by a cheery but exasperated, “Where have you been?” Into the armchair next to hers I’d
sink, in an apartment decorated in Old Lady Classic: China plates in the breakfront, a cuckoo clock on the wall. Figurines of birds, dogs, and saints sat on the shelves under seascapes and city scenes. These shared the wall with a few animal paintings by a family friend named Mr. Levine, long dead, who used to be an illustrator for the World Wildlife Fund. Many days Lolita would point to a Levine of meticulously rendered antelopes grazing against a stark white background and explain, “Mr. Levine did not like to paint sky.” For my part, especially as Lolita grew more and more housebound, I’d try to give a taste of the outside world. “Work was insane today,” I’d say. Or, “I’ve just been making soup,” and I’d give her a little overview of the shopping I’d done in the neighborhood. Then we’d share everything from gossip to history. Here’s a bit of the latter: When Lolita was seven — that’s 1928 — her older cousins were being taken by their parents to study at a convent in Quebec. Lolita joined them for the journey but when they got there, the cousins hated it. Not Lolita! She begged to stay. Although she was an only child and the cousins were heading home, her parents acquiesced. Thus was Lolita educated by French-speaking nuns until she was 17. Summers and holidays she’d come back home to Queens, and so she remembers going to the movies with her parents. She saw the Shirley Temple musical “Bright Eyes” — featuring the song “On the Good Ship Lollipop” — when it was a brand new hit. She attended the opening of Radio City Music Hall. When my family watched old movies on
Netflix, Lolita would sometimes join us, because for her, Charlie Chaplin wasn’t film history. He was the guy she grew up watching. “They don’t make movies like that anymore,” she’d say, and she was right. Now the movies talk. When Lolita graduated high school, she moved out to California and quickly got married. By age 20 she had her daughter, Linda — a little girl so pretty that Lolita’s friend told her, “You should put her in the movies.” That friend was Betty White. Everything changed when Lolita’s husband, a pilot, died in a car crash when Lolita was about 22. She moved back to Queens to be near family and raised her daughter here. I heard a lot about the daughter, including the fact, revealed to me very early on after we moved into the building in 2010, that she had died from rheumatoid arthritis about 20 years ago. That meant Lolita had no immediate family, which made being able to tell stories about Linda in her high school years (bullied) or Linda at college (brilliant) or Linda’s nursing career (a true calling, she worked with kids with cancer) even more urgent. Other moms could talk about what their kids or grandkids were up to. Lolita didn’t have that luxury. I couldn’t take the place of her beloved daughter. I wasn’t related. I wasn’t always around. I didn’t stay that long, most visits. But my mom is gone, and so was her child. A neighbor dies and it’s not like losing a grandmother. But sometimes…it sort of is. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog, Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com).
.COM June 09 - 15, 2016
An open le�er from Mount Sinai Health System
We wanted to let you know about some exciting news for the downtown community: Mount Sinai Health System just announced our plans to invest $500 million to create the new “Mount Sinai Downtown,” an expanded network of state-of-the-art facilities river to river below 34th Street.
This exciting transformation will take place over four years. In the meantime, Mount Sinai Beth Israel remains open, and all services will be available within our System. Over the course of the next four years, this $500 million investment will enable us to dramatically expand and upgrade primary, specialty and outpatient surgical care centers downtown. A centerpiece of the transformation will be the construction of a new hospital with inpatient beds, procedure and operating rooms, and a brand-new emergency room – at 14th Street and Second Avenue, just two blocks away from Mount Sinai Beth Israel. We want to reassure the community that Mount Sinai Beth Israel remains open for business and looks forward to continuing to provide healthcare for residents of the downtown community.
Kenneth L. Davis, MD President and Chief Executive Officer, Mount Sinai Health System
For additional updates and information, please visit our website: www.mountsinai.org/downtown. 24
June 09 - 15, 2016
June 9, 2016