YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
At Chelsea Market, Retail Growth and Vertical Flatline BY WINNIE McCROY High above and down below, big plans are in the works for Chelsea Market — but the building’s vertical expansion has been delayed, as Jamestown searches for an anchor tenant. The investment and management company did, however, recently announce plans to invest $35–50 million into doubling the size of the food and shopping destination’s retail MARKET continued on p. 5
No Renovations Yet at 404 W. 20th St. BY SEAN EGAN The saga of, and controversy surrounding, 404 W. 20th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) promises to continue after a Tues., June 14 hearing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) sent the applicant back to the drawing board to alter their plans for the site’s renovation once again. Considered to be the oldest dwelling within the Chelsea Historic District, 404 is therefore given protective status, making alterations to the 1830 structure subject to LPC approval. Recently, contention has arisen over plans the new owner — British banker Ajoy Kapoor — has for the structure, with tension increasing steadily since the project’s first public hearing before the LPC in mid-April. The revised plan, changed after incorporating feedback from an earlier appearance before the LPC, represents a significant scale back from the original proposal. However, 404 continued on p. 6
Photo by Donna Aceto
Speaker after speaker emphasized that hate is no response to Orlando.
Grief and Resolve, at West Village Vigils BY PAUL SCHINDLER Two vigils in the West Village on the evening of Sun., June 12 — one crowd numbering in the thousands, another in the hundreds — voiced shock, grief, and anger over the murder of 49 patrons at an Orlando, Florida gay bar in the early morning hours of the same day. Speaker after speaker emphasized that the violence cannot be isolated from a climate of anti-LGBT hatred that continues to persist across the nation, but also pledged to continue building community to respond to hostility and bigotry where it exists. At the same time, both crowds rejected the notion that hate is an appropriate
© CHELSEA NOW 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
response to the violence, specifically called out efforts to pit the LGBT community against the Muslim community over a tragedy in which the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, is reported to have phoned 911 just prior to the melee and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Mir Seddique, Mateen’s father, told NBC News that his son, who legally changed his last name a decade ago, was angered several months ago when, accompanied by his own young son, Mateen witnessed two gay men kissing in Miami. The picture of the shooter has been complicated considerably since Sunday, with news that he may have frequented the bar as a patron and, perhaps
alternatively, his wife drove him there several times in a potential scoping of the site. The attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub came on the night it was holding its weekly Latin evening. Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation New York, which took the lead in organizing a rally outside the Stonewall Inn that drew several thousand people, told those assembled, “We come together because this is a community that will never be silent again. I ask every person to think of someone you knew who was killed because of anti-LGBT hatred. VIGILS continued on p. 2
VOLUME 08, ISSUE 23 | JUNE 16 - 22, 2016
West Village Vigils Send Messages of Hope
Photos by Donna Aceto
CBSTâ€™s Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Reverend Fred Davie of the Union Theological Seminary, and Reverend Vanessa Brown of the Rivers of Living Water singing â€œWe Shall Overcome.â€? VIGILS continued from p. 1
Think of a time when you felt unsafe in your own community. And I want every single one of you to think not of what anyone else, not of what I, but of what you can do to change that.â€? Saying the LGBT community should draw strength from the 49 Pulse night-
club patrons who were killed, Kidd said, â€œWe must go forward in love.â€? Mirna Haidar, a representative of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, told the Stonewall crowd that she has faced discrimination in the US as a Muslim refugee and as a gender-nonconforming woman, but urged everyone to avoid allowing the LGBT community
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June 16 - 22, 2016
The June 12 Stonewall vigil emphasized the ongoing battle against anti-LGBT bigotry.
to be set against Muslim Americans because of the Orlando massacre. At that point, a heckler started screaming, â€œIt is a Muslim issueâ€? over and over again. The crowd turned on the heckler, shouting, â€œNo hate. No hate.â€? Haidar noted that federal blood donation guidelines bar sexually active gay and bisexual men from giving blood, a stinging stigma that the community continues to bear due to unscientific fears. Michael Pruslow, who came down to the West Village from his home in Washington Heights to attend the vigil, voiced discomfort with the focus on the word â€œhate.â€? â€œItâ€™s not about hate,â€? he told our sister publication, Gay City News. â€œYelling that is just the same thing as what happened. We need more love. We need to love each other.â€? Explaining, â€œI was just a mess this morning,â€? Pruslow said of the Stonewall gathering, â€œWe need to be here. People are so quick to chastise each other, even within the gay community. There is a way to fight without violence.â€? As Pruslow spoke to the newspaper, the crowd replaced its â€œNo hateâ€? chant with â€œMore love, more love.â€? Despite the conciliatory words emphasized throughout the Stonewall event, which began with the crowd singing â€œWe Shall Overcome,â€? several speakers pointed to persistent lingering homophobia in the US that must be confronted. â€œThis massacre did not happen in a vacuum,â€? said Ann Northrop, a longtime activist who is co-host (with Gay City News contributor Andy Humm) of â€œGay USA,â€? televisionâ€™s weekly LGBT news hour. She noted an early morning tweet
from Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, since deleted, that read, â€œDo not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.â€? Northrop concluded, â€œWe must triumph over this hate.â€? Tom Duane, the former state senator and city councilmember, told the crowd, â€œNow Marco Rubio cares about us. Now Bush cares about us. Where the hell were they during the Republican primaries that were spewing all that hate?â€? Kevin Graves, a DJ and activist, framed the alternatives the nation faces in responding to Orlando. â€œMake no mistake,â€? he said. â€œThis country is at a crossroads with two alternatives. One is the path of hate and fear. The other is one of love and kindness. Choose the path of love. And action.â€? But for many in the crowd, the immediate need was for solace. Michael Bruno, an Upper West Side resident, explained, â€œI really didnâ€™t know what to do. This is the only place I knew to come to get away from all the media reports. I heard there was going to be a crowd.â€? Gemma Blanks, who lives in Forest Hills, Queens, said, â€œHearing about it online, I needed to immerse myself with my community, my family. There is an obligation to be here to offer my condolences to the families of those people killed.â€? Blanks, with a mixture of weariness and determination, added, â€œWeâ€™re fighting today. It never ends. We really shouldnâ€™t have to be fighting so hard. But we are.â€? Several blocks away, on the steps VIGILS continued on p. 14 .com
June 16 - 22, 2016
Photo Cropped: Costumed Character Zones Come to Times Square BY JACKSON CHEN During the nighttime hours of June 8, The Department of Transportation (DOT) began the process of painting in defined zones within Times Square’s pedestrian plaza, leaving portions of the sidewalks and many of their tip-seeking habitués more than a little blue. DOT workers completed four “Designated Activity Zones” (DAZs) — eight-foot by 50-foot spaces painted “Techno Teal” to contain any commercial activities, such as posing for photos with costumed characters or desnudas — along Broadway and Seventh Ave. At that time, DOT’s Manhattan Deputy Borough Commissioner, Edward Pincar, noted the agency, with an assist from its 10-member street ambassador team of English and Spanish speakers, would implement the remaining four DAZs beginning on June 13. As for police enforcement, any costumed characters, ticket sellers, or desnudas who solicit money or sales outside the teal-painted areas will receive a ticket starting June 21. Captain Robert O’Hare, the NYPD’s Times Square unit commanding offi-
Photos by Jackson Chen
Abdelamine el-Khezzani removes his Spider-Man mask to appear before a City Council Transportation Committee hearing earlier this year. Emily Weidenhof (DOT’s Acting Director of Public Space), Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins, Edward Pincar (DOT’s Manhattan Deputy Borough Commissioner), and Captain Robert O’Hare (NYPD’s Times Square Unit Commanding Officer), btw. W. 46th & W. 47th Sts., on June 9.
cer, said violators would typically be charged with a civil offense, but could also be liable to criminal charges and arrest based on their conduct and pattern of violations. Arrest, O’Hare emphasized, would be a last resort. He voiced hope that the NYPD will get compliance from the area’s tip seekers. Outside the slim DAZs, a majority of
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the Times Square pedestrian plaza will be labeled with signs and white-painted tape as “Pedestrian Flow Zones” for passersby or locals who want a clear path for easy passage through the hectic area. The DOT said the remaining areas that are neither DAZs nor flow zones will be general use areas, or, as the Times Square Alliance dubs them, “chill zones.” While DOT is laying down the paint, the Alliance will be responsible for maintenance, according to Scott Gastel, a DOT spokesperson. The City Council voted to give DOT the authority to revamp the Times Square plaza — as well as the city’s 72 other pedestrian plazas — on April 7. The agency has created regulations and will monitor them going forward and make adjustments if needed. Some outspoken costumed characters who make a living through the tips of photo-seeking tourists were vehemently against the new laws and — not
surprisingly — they remain staunch in their opposition. Abdelamine El-Khezzani, who frequents the Crossroads of the World as Spider-Man, said he and his fellow superheroes plan to wait until the zones are fully installed and enforcement begins before taking steps to challenge the new regulations. “We have to show the government this idea is disallowing us to make a living,” El-Khezzani said. “They’re going to be surrounding us with signs they’re going to design. We are not going to be making a living in these zones.” Spider-Man and other costumed characters, like the Dark Knight aka José Escalona-Martinez, said they’re expecting to receive tickets or face arrest due to their disobedience as soon as June 21. Once they do, they’re planning to fight back through legal channels, with their attorney making the argument that their constitutional rights are being violated. “We just wait to see how this is going to go,” El-Khezanni said. “Once they start giving us trouble, then we’re going to sue them.”
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June 16 - 22, 2016
One of the “Techno Teal”-painted DAZs, at W. 46th St. & Broadway, with the installation barriers and yellow tape not yet removed. .com
Chelsea Market Vertical Expansion Delayed; Lack of Tenants Cited AD FR MI EE SS IO N
#ONLYINQUEENS Courtesy Jamestown
A current view of Chelsea Market’s entrance and façade. MARKET continued from p. 1
property space. In the meantime, they are making good on the majority of their promised contributions to the community — made as part of an often contentious, years-long process during which Jamestown asserted that their plans to build atop the existing structure were necessary to meet a projected demand for more tech sector office space. “The vertical expansion on the west end is not expected for four or five years now. Originally we expected it to start in 2017, but it’s not going to happen that quickly,” said Lee Compton, Co-Chair of the Chelsea Land Use Committee of Community Board 4 (CB4). In 2012, CB4 approved Jamestown’s plan to add 300,000-square-feet of office space atop Chelsea Market, creating 1,200 long-term jobs and 600 construction jobs. In 2014, STUDIOS Architecture released renderings for this nine-story addition to the west side of the Chelsea Market, known as BLDG 18. This March, Jamestown President Michael Phillips told Crain’s New York Business, “When we go vertical on the tower, we’ll have new demand,” referring to the expansion of the office space, which will bring additional workers to shop and eat at Chelsea Market. He noted, however, that they won’t begin office expansion until they have secured an anchor tenant for the space. For now, Jamestown has begun renovating the largely unused lower level of Chelsea Market to create 80,000-squarefeet of retail space. They will move several large concourse-level businesses to this basement level, at a price point significantly lower than the $400 persquare-foot ground floor. .com
“Great retail is organic: It lives and breathes, and you always have to think about how to make it better,” Phillips told Crain’s. “Adding the lower level gives us precious square feet in [a real estate] market where there isn’t a lot of retail like this.” Jamestown has also begun transforming a boiler room into space for a new restaurant. Phillips told the media his aim is to convert the entire basement level over the next five years, linking it with a central corridor, providing access for shoppers. “They are already changing the lower level of concourse into retail, and we expect them to move several businesses there, freeing up space on the main level,” said Compton. “The Manhattan Fruit Exchange and Buon Italia are moving downstairs, and a main staircase to the lower level will be built in that space.” The expectation is that Jamestown will put more retail shopping destinations on the lower level — so those shopping specifically for food will encounter less congestion, as most tourists are expected to stay on the main concourse. “We are proud to be part of the Chelsea community and are looking forward to expanding the retail space within Chelsea Market, providing local Chelsea residents and guests with more dedicated access to great food and places to shop for hard-to-find ingredients,” a Jamestown spokesperson told Chelsea Now. When Jamestown initially sought approval, it agreed to a host of concessions, which would support the community. Construction delays have not
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MARKET continued on p. 14 June 16 - 22, 2016
LPC Considers Revised Plans For Historic District House 404 continued from p. 1
it still failed to garner a Certificate of Appropriateness, which would give Kapoor and his associates the green light on the renovations. Meanwhile, an opposition effort headed by local group Save Chelsea and supported by several elected officials asserts that the proposed changes represent an unwarranted demolition of all but the house’s façade — and exemplifies the LPC’s inability, or unwillingness, to execute its namesake mandate of preservation. Further controversy has surrounded the alleged disrepair of the building, which the owner believes makes such an extensive remodel necessary — as Kapoor’s reps claim extensive damage happened on the watch of former owners Nicholas Fritsch and his wife, Lesley Doyel (a current board member, and recently resigned president, of Save Chelsea). Fritsch and Doyel strongly refute that claim. This narrative set the stage for June 14’s hearing. While Kapoor was present, it was the project’s architect, William Suk, who gave the presentation. Suk introduced the presentation with a series of historical photos illustrating the changes that the house had undergone over the course of its 186-year life — in order to position the structure as one of steady evolution. Side-by-side comparisons of the house as it currently stands, the mid-April designs, and the revised plan were the crux of Suk’s presentation. Specifically highlighted was the way the height of the building would change. In the updated plans, the roofline would only be increased slightly from how it currently stands, noted Suk, and would include hardware like an elevator bulkhead, and would slope back to maintain the house’s historic roof style. This is notably smaller then when a penthouse was included in the previous plans. With the general height reduction, the back extension of the house had been reduced as well, ditching the penthouse floor — though the contested basement level expansion was still present from the earlier plans. The designs still depicted a four-floor (including basement) extension stretching out to where the neighboring building (402 W. 20th St.) does, and a smaller three-story one stretching farther into the yard. Elsewhere, while the building would alter the freestanding left wall, and expand into the 30-inch side yard (a historically significant feature, according to preservationists), it
June 16 - 22, 2016
Courtesy LPC/Suk Design Group LLP
A view of what the back extension would look like (current plans on the right).
Courtesy LPC/Suk Design Group LLP
L to R: A view of the front of 404 — as it stands, from April’s plans, and from current plans.
would include wooden clapboard siding, as an homage to the material used on the original wall. Once the architect was done with his statements, LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan accounted for the project’s rocky history, announcing that the LPC had received a number of letters against it — including missives from Community Board 4, the Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA), Save Chelsea,
and from Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Senator Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Suk protested these letters, claiming, “They have not seen this design,” and were referencing the old plans, as the Kapoor camp had not yet released the updated ones. Srinivasan, however, informed Suk that the plans were indeed available in full on the LPC’s
website days before the hearing (tinyurl. com/gq8l39g). In a post-hearing interview, Bill Borock, President of CCBA (and author of their letter), confirmed that the groups had, in fact, seen the new plans prior to composing their letter, as did a representative from Assemblymember Gottfried’s office. The CCBA letter posits that the 404 continued on p. 16 .com
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June 16 - 22, 2016
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June 16 - 22, 2016
PETIT LARCENY: Cruising for trouble Most people take for granted that they shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them — let alone steal an iPad from that very hand. But that’s just what one 22-year-old employee of World Yacht did on Wed., June 8. According to a police report, at about 4:45pm, the sneaky subordinate unscrewed an iPad (valued at $1,000) from its mount, and proceeded to take the tablet from his workplace (located on Pier 81, northwest corner of W. 41st St. & 12th Ave.). Naturally, the renegade employee can be identified, as video evidence is available of the incident — so his chances of sailing off with his loot seem slim.
PETIT LARCENY: Grande Mochachino theft Proving that leaving your belongings unattended is just as irresponsible an idea when out drinking and dancing into the wee hours of the morning as it is when out to get your post-partying cup of morning Joe, one man managed to have his iPhone 6s stolen, in broad daylight, at a Starbucks. At around 8am on Fri., June 10, the man put his phone on a charger on the wall of the coffee chain (76 Ninth Ave., at W. 15th St.), and left it unattended. Upon his return some time later, he discovered that the pricey device (average going rate, $650) had been removed. The last location the phone could be tracked to via app was W. 133rd St. & Broadway, leaving the fate of the unattended smartphone up in the air.
one resourceful 50-year-old decided to turn the entirety of the 300 block of W. 26th St. into an impromptu biergarten on Sat., June 11, strolling between Eighth and Ninth Aves., leisurely sipping from a tallboy of Budweiser at around 1:45am. Intrigued by his casual consumption of that 24oz domestic delight, an officer investigated the situation. Their run-in revealed that the man was not only in possession of a controlled substance, but also had multiple credit cards not belonging to him on his person. The open-air imbiber was promptly arrested.
CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA: Four 400 block 420s On Sat., June 11, police officers ensured the only “j” being rolled up that night was “justice,” when they caught a quartet of dope-smokers on the 400 block of W. 17th St. over the course of an evening. In the first incident, at about 8:50pm, officers witnessed a 25-yearold man smoking a marijuana cigarette in plain public view; they recovered the reefer and arrested the individual. A short while later, at 10:15pm, they caught a 20-year-old Queens man doing the exact same thing, toking up a jazz cigarette. That presumed D.A.R.E. dropout offered the police some constructive feedback while getting arrested, declaring “F**k you; you guys don’t have anything to do. I was just smoking.” Contrary to his weed-addled opinion, though, they did have much, much to do; namely busting some more of the burnouts littering the
CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY: Busted for cards, with Bud under stars
CASH FOR GUNS
With the weather this fair, it seems everyone wants to enjoy a nice cold brew outdoors, flocking to — and thoroughly overcrowding — bars with backyards. In order to avoid overcrowding,
$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.
street, polluting the air with their ganja. The next person to get rolled up by the authorities was a 42-year-old New Jersey man who was partaking in a little whacky tobacky at about 11:15pm. They capped the evening off (around 12:30am on Sun., June 12) by arresting a 45-year-old man openly smoking a kush-filled cigar (and found to have even more Mary Jane in his pocket) — able to go home secure in the knowledge that they’d protected Chelsea from the chronic dangers of the Devil’s lettuce.
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.
THE 13th PRECINCT 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.
Your Weekly Community Newspaper Serving CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN WWW.
Drowsy Driving can be as Dangerous as Driving impaireD The public is well educated about the dangers of driving while impaired by medication, alcohol or illegal drugs. But drivers may not be aware that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. Driving when tired can be a fatal mistake. Just as alcohol or drugs can slow down reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of accident, so, too, can being tired behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is reportedly what caused the fatal crash in June 2014 between a limousine and a Walmart truck that ended the life of comic
James McNair and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver, Kevin Roper, was going 20 miles over the speed limit and was almost at his drive time limit, according to preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year occur as the result of an overly tired driver. Various studies demonstrate that drivers who have remained awake for 18 hours prior to driving
mimic the driving performance of intoxicated motorists. In fact, drowsy driving can be confused with driving with a high blood alcohol content. Sleepiness can arise relatively quickly, and according to Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of the behavioral biology program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and a leading expert on sleep and fatigue, it’s difficult for drivers to assess just how sleepy they are. “Sleepiness affects the part of the brain responsible for judgment and self-awareness,”
he says. “When you’ve reached the stage where you are fighting sleep, the effect of any method of reviving yourself can be very short-lived.” Furthermore, people do not have to be in a deep sleep to actually be asleep behind the wheel. Micro-sleeps occur when certain brain cells temporarily shut down for a few seconds. A person is not completely asleep but in a sort of fog as if they are asleep. When sleepiness sets in, the best course of action is to pull off the road. Opening the window, turning on the radio
or blasting cold air is, at best, only a temporary solution. If driving with passengers and feelings of sleepiness appear, hand the keys over to a passenger and have them take over driving, if possible. Otherwise, a short nap and a cup of coffee can be used in combination to increase alertness. It’s also a good idea to avoid beginning a long road trip in mid-afternoon around the hours of two or three o’clock. While alertness generally dips in the evening hours, due to the circadian rhythm, alertness also dips in the late after-
noon, prompting drowsiness. A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety found that as many drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the afternoon hours as reported falling asleep late at night. Driving in a warm, quiet car also may spur drowsiness, as would driving after a heavy meal. Driving tired is just as dangerous as other impaired driving. Slow reaction times and unawareness of surroundings can contribute to accidents that are otherwise avoidable..
June 16 - 22, 2016
A Late Bloomer Learns to Score BY GERALD BUSBY I was 38 years old and sitting, alone, in a music practice room at Colorado State University in Fort Collins when it became clear that composing music was the thing I loved most. It wasn’t the result of some startling new piece I wrote, or somebody saying, “Hey, you’re really good at that.” From my earliest performances as a prodigy playing a full recital at the age of 12 or just showing off as a gospel piano player touring the South with the Mexican evangelist Angel Martinez, my motivation was always being admired. I knew how to spin and embellish the simple 19th century harmonies and rhythms of Baptist hymns. And there was a practical incentive with regard to saving souls and collecting money: If I could make the women at a revival meeting cry when they heard my hymn arrangements, their husbands would give us money. That was the formula and I’m still somewhat baffled by its significance. There was something sexual about it. Then there was the theory and mechanics of music. At Yale I studied fugue writing with Quincy Porter, and modal counterpoint with Richard Crocker. When I wrote home to ask my mother for money to buy a “Liber Usualis” — the source book of Gregorian chant, she responded by saying she didn’t know Yale was a Catholic school. But it wasn’t until that afternoon in Fort Collins that I dared call myself a composer. In that small practice room, I started meticulously to copy on music manuscript paper every note of a piece I had been improvising since I was 15. It was my “Homage to Rachmaninoff,” inspired by that composer’s famous “Vocalise,” a piece I fell desperately in love with when I accompanied a tenor who ended his recital with that tour de force. It crawled under my skin and infected my consciousness with melancholy and yearning. Its sequence of seventh chords was almost as good as coming and it made me cry. Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” expressed perfectly my longing for the real thing — a man who would love me, and whom I would love. “Longing For The Real Thing” is the subtitle I gave my film score for Robert Altman’s “3 Women” one rainy December night in Los Angeles. It was the summer of 1969 when I returned to New York, now selling textbooks for Oxford University Press. I was determined to make my way as a composer. I kept it mostly to myself since I had written only a few pieces for harpsichord, and I was intimidated by friends who studied composition with Roger Sessions and wrote complex 12-tone music. My approach was totally improvisational. I was still paying homage to Rachmaninoff and all the 20th century composers I’d had crushes on — Gershwin, Ravel, Schoenberg, Bartok, and Prokofiev. When the school year ended, I had three months off with a car, and I stayed with Joe and Gordon, two gay friends living at Westbeth Artists Housing (on Bethune St.). I cooked for them in exchange for a place to sleep. Both were pianists who had met at the Eastman School of Music. After Eastman, Joe studied with Juilliard’s pre-
June 16 - 22, 2016
Photo by Joanna Ney
Gerald Busby in full cowboy mode, ready to teach piano (or cruise at the Spike and the Eagle’s Nest).
eminent piano teacher, Rosina Lhevinne. He was a brilliant pianist and would throw parties at Westbeth with guests such as the writers James Purdy and John Gruen. Entertainment after dinner was nothing less than all of Chopin’s Etudes, which Joe performed with undaunted flair and vigor. Joe was also an ambitious composer and invited Virgil Thomson to dinner. I was in the kitchen cooking when Virgil arrived saying right away, “I left the wine I brought you in the cab. The driver couldn’t change a twenty.” Joe immediately let Virgil know he’d read his autobiography and music criticism and knew details about specific performances of “Four Saints in Three Acts” and “Mother Of Us All,” Virgil’s most famous works written in Paris with Gertrude Stein. Virgil was famous for his repartee, but he didn’t respond to Joe’s attempts to engage him that way. After tasting my chicken roasted in a 500-degree oven on a bed of rock salt, Virgil looked up from his plate and said, “Who made this food? This isn’t kiddy stuff.” I delightedly acknowledged the compliment and said that I also was a composer. Virgil looked me in the eye and said, “Well, I don’t want to hear any of your music until I’ve tasted more of your food to see if you can put things together and turn them into something else.” He’d described orchestrating — and that moment was the beginning of a solid, practical relationship between Virgil and me, the effects of which continue to the present day. I quit my job as a traveling salesman and started cooking at Ruskay’s, a restaurant Carl Laanes opened with two friends on Columbus Avenue and 75th Street. Carl designed the Empire Diner (10th Ave. & W. 22nd St.), where I played Haydn sonatas on an upright piano next to the bathroom. I had a few piano students whom
I saw once a week at Princeton, but I needed more to make ends meet. Virgil suggested I teach rich women and their children. He made some phone calls and I found myself knocking on the front door of Cynthia O’Neal’s house on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I had just come from working out at the W. 63rd St. Y and was wearing my cowboy outfit — Levi 501 jeans, a leather vest, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat — the same clothes I wore to cruise at the Spike and the Eagle’s Nest. It got me in the door at Cynthia’s, and she became a regular student of mine. Mozart’s “Fantasy in D-minor” was the piece I taught her. One Sunday morning I got a call from Leonard Bernstein saying Cynthia had recommended me to teach his younger daughter. Cynthia’s principal role in the lives of her rich and famous friends was that of facilitator. It wasn’t unusual during a piano lesson I was giving Cynthia for Lauren Bacall or Felicia Montealegra (Leonard Bernstein’s wife) to knock on the door asking where to find “proper wainscoting.” I was soon teaching Nina Bernstein in their apartment at the Dakota on a baby grand that Baldwin had given Leonard in exchange for his endorsement of the brand. Cynthia took me to see Rudolph Nureyev dance with the Royal Danish Ballet Company at the Met, and after the performance we went backstage to greet him. He was wearing a white bathrobe, and his bare feet — large, damaged, and covered with bandages — were perched on his dressing table. His partner Wallace Potts rushed to embrace Cynthia as she introduced us all. Wallace was a southerner from Alabama, and we became fast friends. He had met Rudolph in Birmingham during one of the great dancer’s tours, and they became lovers. Wallace and Rudolph spent time with Paul Taylor at his home in Mattatuck, and Wallace gave Paul a reel-to-reel tape of my music. Paul called me rather early one morning to say he liked my music and wanted me to write a piece for his company. He asked me to go with him for a six-week summer engagement at Lake Placid, New York. We would stay at the Northwood School and create a dance to be premiered at the final performance. It was my first commission, and Paul wanted a 25-minute chamber orchestra piece. I of course said yes, though I’d never orchestrated or written a dance. At Lake Placid in the library of the Northwood School, I wrote “Runes,” a seven-movement dance suite for solo piano. Paul choreographed each movement as I wrote it, and I performed it with the dancers at their final concert. It was a hit, and to my relief Paul said it should remain a solo piano piece. He asked me to go with the company to Paris for the European premier of “Runes.” I was ecstatic. My relationship with Cynthia was intense and dramatic. She contributed immensely to my success, though our relationship ended when I wrote the score for a TV film that her husband Patrick directed (having had one other score under my belt, for the 1977 Robert Altman film, “3 Women). Looking back, I see BUSBY continued on p. 16 .com
June 16 - 22, 2016
After Orlando Massacre, Collective INTERVIEWS & PHOTOS BY JANE ARGODALE A Monday night vigil for the victims of June 12’s early morning mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida gay bar was held at the site of the Stonewall Inn. The Christopher St. bar became widely acknowledged as the birthplace of the modern LGBT rights
movement, after several nights of rioting occurred following a June 1969 police raid of the establishment, whose queer patrons were regularly harassed and intimidated. The speakers — including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and numerous LGBT rights advocates — called
for New York’s tough gun laws to be im country, and touched upon the larger safety in the LGBT community, terroris Among the attendees, however, there was speeches, and a more consistent desire to
ROSETTA GIBSON, 45 In general, whenever somebody kills “in the name of,” it’s offensive. Of course, it’s personally offensive when it’s one “oppressed minority” supposedly killing another oppressed minority. I’m not necessarily believing this hype that it was somebody saying that they consider themselves a Muslim, inspired by ISIS. The older I get, the more I believe in a “that was Satan” kind of thing, because that was just too unbelievable — unbelievably evil, for lack of a better word. When you mourn with others, hopefully there’s an idea that you’re not alone. No [I’m not looking forward to speeches from elected officials]. Speakers from clergy, yes. Speeches from elected officials, no. ’Cause I kind of think politicians are full of shit. It offends me when we try to say “it’s us against them, it’s us against them, it’s us against them” — no matter who “us” is, and that’s what I think [Donald Trump and other politicians] are trying to do.
DARIUS HANDS, 25 I am from Florida. My college friends and I used to take road trips down to Pulse, and my identical twin grew up in Orlando, and he visited Pulse pretty much every single weekend. This place was really like a home to us in college a couple years ago, so to see it like that was truly heartbreaking, and just coming out to see and be a part of this and be a part of the community is really good. I don’t know if I have any specific expectations for [the vigil]. I’m just here for more of… I don’t know, it’s hard being away from everyone in Florida who is experiencing this, so I don’t know, I think I’m coming from more of a selfish aspect of it just to feel with other people who are here. I have some of my friends who are also coming who are also from Florida, so I just want to be around a bunch of people who feel what we’re feeling. Honestly… I’m not into labels. You can label it a terrorist attack or a hate crime, whichever one you want to take — it’s still a horrific crime. A lot of people died. I know a lot of people who have friends that died, so just getting into the whole “Is it a terrorist attack? Is it a hate crime?” It’s probably both, so whichever label you want to put onto it, I’m okay with both. I am [looking forward to the speeches], I’m pretty much really into politics, and I think this should be a bipartisan effort, so
June 16 - 22, 2016
CABRERA: I’m hoping to hear from Governor Cuomo, but also Republicans who hopefully will also be here, because this is not a one-sided issue. There are gay Republicans, there are straight Republicans, so I’m hoping to hear from everyone. I don’t even really pay that much attention to Donald Trump, because if you think about it, [the Orlando shooter] was an American citizen. Blocking our borders wasn’t gonna keep him out, so how are you going to justify that? I think that the overall debate and overall tenor is, we have to accept our Islamic brothers and sisters. This is an attack on them just as much as it is an attack on us... so hopefully it won’t turn into that. Of course there will be some people who try to demagogue this issue, and Donald Trump is going to be number one at it, but I expect nothing less.
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NAT CABRERA, 21 & JIMHOLY LONG, 20
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Mourning at Site of Stonewall Riots
mplemented across the national dialogue on sm, and Islamophobia. s varying interest in the mourn collectively. As
the crowd grew in anticipation of the vigil, Chelsea Now spoke to a few people to find out what brought them to Stonewall, how the tragedy in Orlando was impacting them, what they were hoping to come away with, and what they thought about the national response to the shooting and its aftermath.
KAYLA WASIL, 25 I wanted to come and show my support and be a part of the human memorial, remembering and celebrating the people who were hurt and killed. I wanted to see the turnout… It kind of warms your heart to see this many people turn up and be supportive when terrible things happen. Even just being here and seeing how many people are here also in support. [The Orlando shooting] didn’t affect me personally, or directly in any way, because it’s not like I have friends who were there — but you know, being a member of the GLBT community, there’s always a fear that something like this is going to happen and then something did. And you know, it’s scary, it’s angering, and it makes you scared but also stronger in a way, where you wanna stand up and... do everything you can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I get most of my news online, so I’m not seeing directly a lot of the portrayal of it being called terrorist versus a
hate crime — but I’ve been hearing a lot about it secondhand. Obviously, it can be a terrorist attack and a hate crime, but it’s important that it’s a hate crime also, and it shouldn’t be used to justify Islamophobia. That’s bullshit, and not everyone who is Islamic hates gays. Everyone needs to be treated on an individual basis. I’m interested [in Governor Cuomo and other elected officials’ speeches], I honestly didn’t know they were speaking ’cause I joined the event last night on Facebook when I think it was less organized, and I didn’t find out that they were speaking until I was on my way here, but I am interested to hear what they have to say.
ANDREW HARWIN, 65
re both queer, and at least I the people who were lost, eswas basically all queer people something that in the media reabout. It was just really taken ueer angle rather than an interhad to do with race and queerk that’s something that should ut.
about the terrorist attack is that defined as an act of violence for al purpose, and... we’re not sure urpose of the attack was. There bout how [the Orlando shooter] ated to ISIS or he was supporta branch of ISIS... I can’t really at. The thing is, I’m really worof Islamophobia at this moment, st generation Afghan-American hat we’re worried about Syrian and Syria and Afghanistan are .com
two different countries. I’m Asian-American and my family escaped the Cultural Revolution, came to the United States, immigrated here at first illegally — and then my dad was the first-born, and he became legalized and married my mom; and she got a green card. So, like, I’m just really passionate about issues like that.
CABRERA: I’m hoping that they’ll recognize the
intersections of what happened in Orlando; not just LGBT-ness, but related to race and ethnicity; that it was queer people of color, trans people of color — and that’s what I hope is recognized, the violence against that community.
I’m hoping to get a sense of solidarity, just everyone coming together, showing love and support. Like, I love that sign over there, “Another queer Jew against Islamophobia,” ’cause us minorities are kind of all in this together, and we can’t let this divide us between Muslims and gays because queer Muslims — they exist.
It’s really important for LGBTQ people in New York to come together as a community to grieve, and to affirm our commitment to our equality and our rights and our respect as human beings. I felt compelled to be here. What has gone on, it is just really important to come together in our grief and also in our anger, and to commit to moving forward with change in spite of these attacks. It’s just the same as Stonewall — we will not sit by and let this kind of violence keep happening to us. And granted, it’s a natural reaction to all of the change that’s been coming… since Stonewall. But it’s just natural that there’s going to be a reaction and we have to stand up. I’m interested in hearing what [Cuomo and other elected officials] have to say, I’m interested in the support that I expect they’ll be giving us. But I’m more here to just simply be in community with the other lives. I do think it’s important that our politicians here affirm their commitment to support us, and just take a stand against this kind of violence. This kind of behavior is just simply not acceptable, no matter who it’s aimed at. I don’t know what kind of issues [the Orlando shooter] was dealing with in his own personal life, his own inner conflicts. I just think it’s a sad commentary on the, I’m going to say shadow, in our society. I’m really, really angry about the availability of assault weapons, and I feel very strongly that we have to get rid of politicians who support the NRA — but I don’t think that’s the entire answer. We’re changing attitudes and, unfortunately, with change comes reaction; and we have to stand firmly. I wasn’t here at Stonewall, but I was here a couple days after. I’m very pleased to know people who were involved in the gay liberation movement from the beginning. June 16 - 22, 2016
A rendering of Chelsea Market, viewed from the West Side Highway.
MARKET continued from p. 5
stopped them from meeting these goals. Jamestown has made significant financial contributions to at least a dozen projects, including construction and operating funds for the Tech Up computer training program at Hudson Guild; a food worker training program and food incubator space in Long Island City; a $57,000, three-year nutritional program at two local schools; landscaping and displaying public artwork on the concourse; sponsoring Fulton Houses’ holiday party and several $10,000 Thanksgiving tur-
key giveaways; $100,000 annual contributions to the James Beard Foundation; $1,500 to PS 11’s Annual Gala and $1,000 to the Corlears School; and a $50,000 annual gift to Friends of the High Line. “They are definitely meeting their good faith efforts. They have proved to be a very good partner and an integral part of the community here,” Compton said. “The only thing I noticed is that the delay in the vertical expansion of the west end delays their contribution to the High Line. They were going to make a financial contribution for its upkeep; that was key
A rendering of Chelsea Market, view from 10th Ave., looking south toward the High Line.
to the western vertical expansion. Now the contribution is going to be delayed. But we certainly have the impression that the High Line is doing okay.” Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line, said Jamestown had been a good neighbor, and confirmed that the delay in this contribution would have no significant impact on them. “They would provide capital construction support, because when that’s built, we’ll be able to create some back-ofhouse storage space, bathrooms, and community meeting space,” Hammond
noted. “So we’ll use those funds for that, as well as the general upkeep of the High Line. The delay doesn’t affect our day-today operations, because it wasn’t meant for that.” Compton invited Phillips to return to CB4 in the fall with an update, as the initial process was met with persistent opposition from many in the community and on the board. But he was pleased with their current progress, declaring that Jamestown is “doing an extraordinary job,” and asserting, “I don’t think the community as a whole realizes everything that they’ve done.”
VIGILS continued from p. 2
of Judson Memorial Church across the street from Washington Square Park, a group of interfaith leaders led a more somber vigil that emphasized the dangers of Orlando polarizing Americans with a false choice between the LGBT and Muslim communities. “We reject any divisions based on faith,” Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah told a crowd of several hundred. She noted the poignant intersection of Shavuoth, the Jewish festival celebrating God giving the Jewish people the Torah, Ramadan, the Islamic commemoration of the first revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad, and LGBT Pride Month. As Judson’s Reverend Donna Schaper offered a prayer to the “God of many names” and spoke of the incomprehensibility of the violence in Orlando, a heckler passing by yelled out, “I’ll tell you what the problem is. It’s radical Islam, and they should all be arrested immediately.” Faisal Alam, the chair of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, told the crowd, “There are no words for me to share my feelings as a queer Muslim.” Then saying, “I can go on and on about how Islam condemns violence,” he noted that a white man heading to the Pride celebration in West Hollywood –– identified as James Wesley Howel of Indiana –– was arrested in Santa Monica after police found possible explosives, assault rifles, and ammunition in his car. The assault rifle used in the Orlando attack, he said, was the
June 16 - 22, 2016
Photo by Donna Aceto
The NYPD had a visible presence at June 12’s Stonewall vigil.
same model used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut. “The religious right, the political right will use this as a wedge,” Alam warned. “We must stand against Islamophobia.” Sadya Abjani, who is also a member of the Muslim Alliance, said her first “selfish thought” when she heard the news this morning was, “Don’t let the shooter’s name be Muslim.” Reverend Chloe Breyer, executive director of the Interfaith Center of New York, told the crowd, “Islamophobia is not the answer to homophobia.” Saying she “felt broken” when she heard news of Orlando that morning, Reverend Vanessa Brown,
senior pastor of the Rivers of Living Water, an LGBT congregation, said, “There is a religious and political agenda that produces a climate of hate. We know that.” Brown ended by saying, “We are crushed down, but this is my word for anyone who can hear me: We are not destroyed.” The Judson vigil ended just like the Stonewall gathering began, with the singing of “We Shall Overcome.” Equality Florida, the LGBT rights group in the state, has started a GoFundMe page to support victims of the Pulse nightclub attack: gofundme.com/ PulseVictimsFund. .com
Stonewall Vigil for Orlando Victims Pivots to Gun Control Debate
Photos by Donna Aceto
Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about the need for greater gun regulation.
BY DUNCAN OSBORNE What was billed as a vigil for the people murdered by a gunman in a gay Orlando nightclub quickly became a rally in support of gun control legislation as elected officials, the head of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), and even a trauma surgeon called for tougher federal laws to control such weapons. “We passed gun control laws in this state,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo early in the June 13 event, which drew thousands to the West Village, filling Christopher St. from Waverly Pl. to Seventh Ave., with the crowd spilling onto Grove St. “We are saying to our federal government, ‘We know it can be done.’” In 2013, New York passed the SAFE Act, which bans assault weapons and strictly limits other weapons’ features, and more tightly regulates their sale. While NYAGV describes the law as “one of the strongest gun laws in the country,” it has had some implementation problems. Referring to assault weapons, Cuomo continued, “This is an American curse, it is not an international curse.” The crowd was already primed to talk about the issue. Before the rally began, the crowd was chanting, “What do we want? Gun control. When do we want it? Now.” Cuomo was initially heckled by a man in the crowd, though his complaints were inaudible. The heckler was quickly shouted down by other audience members. Leah Gunn Barrett, NYAGV’s executive director, told the crowd that the Orlando gunman had been .com
The crowd spilled out from the block of Christopher St., from Waverly Pl. to Seventh Ave. on Monday evening, in a vigil for the Orlando victims.
interviewed by the FBI twice, but was still able to buy a gun in Florida. “We need to restrain this legal means of terrorism,” she said. The gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early in the morning on June 12. He injured another 53 people. Police killed Mateen after storming the club in an effort to rescue people who were being held inside. The victims were overwhelmingly Latino and young, and included many gay, lesbian, and transgender patrons. The murders sparked vigils across the country, including a June 12 vigil that was also held outside the Stonewall Inn. That earlier event drew about 1,000 people to the bar. The 1969 riots that started following a police raid of Stonewall are seen as marking the start of the modern LGBT rights movement. New York City’s LGBT community regularly meets at the site during momentous events. Dr. Sheldon Teperman, who heads the trauma surgery unit at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, described the wounds caused by assault weapons, saying they “explode organs and sever limbs.” He said that the high one-to-one ratio of deaths to injuries was typical of such guns. “We need to take that seminal piece of legislation, the SAFE Act, and spread it across this nation,” Teperman said. Even speakers who made comments that were closer to what is typically heard at a vigil joined the gun control chorus. City Councilmember Rosie Mendez,
an out lesbian who represents Manhattan’s Lower East Side, discussed Mateen’s motivation in the deaths, which has been described as a hate crime, but took note of Mateen’s weapon. “He killed 50 [later revised to 49], but he attacked us all,” she said. “He attacked us because of who we are and because of who we love… If a ban existed, I am sure this would not be called what it is being called, the greatest mass murder in US history.” Mayor Bill de Blasio, who spoke last, sought to assure the crowd. “When thousands of people come together, it is a renunciation of hate,” he said. “We say to Latino New Yorkers, ‘We stand with you and we will protect you.’ We say to LGBT New Yorkers, ‘We stand with you and we will protect you.’ We say to Muslim New Yorkers, ‘We stand with you and we will protect you.’ ” The mayor brought Chirlane McCray, his wife, and Police Commissioner William Bratton with him. When Bratton spoke, the heckling and booing was so loud that his comments could not be heard. The crowd was growing impatient toward the end of the roughly twohour event, so when McCray began to speak, audience members began to yell, “Say their names” referring to the victims. In a moving close, the rally ended with people stepping to the podium and reading aloud the names of the 49 victims as people in the audience held small lights or lit cellphones in the air. After each name, the crowd responded with “presente.” At a vigil, it means he or she is here. June 16 - 22, 2016
BUSBY continued from p. 10
it clearly as an example of my ego interfering with my career. The job of scoring Patrick’s film probably came about through Cynthia’s recommendation. It paid well, and I had a budget sufficient to hire my favorite musicians in New York to record. That was a wonderful gift, but I reacted in a selfish and thoughtless way — primarily because Patrick wasn’t Robert Altman. I kept comparing him to Altman, and I complained to Virgil that Patrick didn’t participate in the recording of the music or its placement in the film. He didn’t even give us dinner when we worked all night! Virgil responded, “It is Patrick’s privilege to behave any way he wishes.” It took me years to realize what Virgil’s words meant: If I wasn’t willing to let Patrick be exactly who he was, whether I liked it or not, I wasn’t willing to let myself be who I was. Cynthia and I did the est (Erhard Seminars Training) training because Patrick had done it and seemed transformed. Patrick said things to me like, “The only enemy you have is your ego.” In the spirit of est I told Cynthia that I liked and admired Patrick but didn’t like working with him. “How dare you think
of yourself as special!” she screamed at me. She was right. After Patrick’s death, Cynthia changed her name to Cy and, with Mike Nichols’ sponsorship, founded “Friends Indeed.” It was for years a major support system for thousands of people living with AIDS in New York. “Runes” was an immediate success in Paris at the Théâtre de la Ville. My dressing room had one window that looked out on the Seine. In the pit, waiting for my nervous fingers, was the Bösendorfer Concert Grand that the great Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli had played the night before in a recital that included Ravel’s “Gaspard de la Nuit.” Michelangeli played that masterpiece better than anyone else. He toured the world with a Japanese technician who, over a period of two days just before a concert, made the touch of the keyboard completely even. It was magical to play. When I walked onstage to take my bow as the composer/pianist on opening night, the audience rose to their feet, half of them shouting BRAVO, and the other half yelling BOO. I was numbed by these loud opposing responses. As I walked off into the wings the stage manager patted me on the back and said, “Controversy, very good.” I had a new boyfriend named Rafe
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(Picture) June 16 - 22, 2016
Blasi. He was a unit publicist for movies that were about to open, and he knew Robert Altman’s publicist. Rafe sent him a cassette of my music. I was still working as a cook at Ruskay’s, where every evening an instrumentalist, usually a pianist, would entertain the patrons while they ate. The musicians got $25 and dinner. Michael Parloff, a graduate student at Juilliard, was one of those instrumentalists, and, from the kitchen as I cooked, I listened to him play every solo piece in the flute repertoire. “Noumena” was the piece I wrote to showcase his abilities as I heard them. Michael was a brilliant virtuoso and was the principal flutist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 30 years. “Noumena” was the piece I sent Altman when he was looking for a composer for “3 Women.” Altman liked “Noumena” and the music of two other composers. He gathered his staff in his office on a Friday afternoon and gave them drinks and grass. When everyone was a bit drunk and stoned, he stopped their chattering with, “I want you to listen to some music.” The room fell silent. Everyone knew this was about “3 Women.” He signaled the audio engineer to begin playing the three tapes in succession. As each cassette began, Altman looked at his watch to determine exactly how much time elapsed before anyone started
talking again, the point at which they had stopped listening. The piece with the longest period of silence won. It was mine. Altman told me later that he was looking for something abstract, but it had to have visceral appeal for people who generally hated modern classical music. Altman called to give me the good news while I was peeling carrots in Ruskay’s prep kitchen. He asked me to meet him in three days in Sam Cohen’s office at International Creative Management. I arrived carrying a bright yellow plastic briefcase I had bought in Toronto when I was a traveling salesman. Altman greeted me warmly and said, “Have you ever composed music for film?” I answered, “No.” “Have you ever orchestrated or conducted an orchestra?” I shook my head no. “Well, can you?” “Yes,” I said emphatically. “Okay,” he grinned, “the job’s yours.”
404 continued from p. 6
noted that while the façade might retain its significant appearance, that the back extension still was too much for the house, and that its footprint would alter the character of the backyard space of the surrounding area. She concluded that she wished the project would reflect “an understanding and legibility of the rear a little more clearly,” as well, and urged Suk to “take a look at that again” in order to reflect more accurately the character of the house. Having noted all of this, the LPC decided not to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness to the applicant — meaning further revised plans and another hearing are on the horizon for 404 W. 20th St. “It was gratifying to hear that the Commission was taking into account the opposition of the community and officials,” noted David Holowka, an architect and Save Chelsea member who attended the hearing. While still stressing the importance of keeping abreast with new plans and developments, he asserted, “I think it makes me feel hopeful that they’ll preserve something of substance for the house.”
April hearing should have resulted in denial from the LPC, because of the “false information/testimony that influenced its initial decision” and that the owner’s plans would leave the house “essentially demolished.” The electeds echoed this sentiment, writing, “This inappropriate proposal would transform the house into a much larger building that would be almost unrecognizable in comparison to the original house.” Moving forward, Srinivasan acknowledged that the house was an “interesting case” because there would be “a lot of rebuilding going on behind [the] façade,” which many consider a demolition, while also noting that some of the issues with the “overwhelming” initial proposal had been addressed. Nonetheless, she was still not wholly onboard with the project’s current iteration, where the changes still seem to be too drastic. “I think it’s important to retain more of [the building’s] legibility,” Srinivasan asserted, saying she would “recommend [the architect] restudy this, and incorporate the wall and roofline.” She also
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.
River To River Delivers
Annual fest highlights Lower Manhattan arts
Photo by Darial Sneed
Choreographer Emmanuelle Huynh’s “Cribles/Wild Governors,” from 2015. Among this year’s outdoor performances: Eiko Otake’s “A Body on Governors Island,” on June 19.
BY SEAN EGAN It’s time once again — the 15th time, in fact — for New Yorkers to take in boundary-pushing creative work against the backdrop of Downtown’s waterfront. Run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), June 16–26’s River To River Festival presents free music, art, theater, and dance in unique venues (as well as outdoor spaces) below Chambers St. This year’s highlights include: Jillian Peña’s Foucault-inspired dance piece “Panopticon;” “M is Black Enough,” a Poets House-sponsored evening of music and spoken word; and Saya Woolfalk’s festival-spanning, .com
multi-disciplinary work “ChimaTEK: ChimaCloud Control Center.” Earlier this week, we spoke with some of the artists whose work is amongst the most promising to be presented during the fest. Read on about these events, and visit rivertorivernyc. com for the full schedule.
MUSIC: OLGA BELL’S “KRAI” This live performance of Olga Bell’s critically acclaimed 2014 album “Krai” was actually supposed to be one of the highlights of last year’s festival, but wound up getting cancelled due to inclement weather. While currently on tour in Europe to promote her new
record, “Tempo,” Bell is making the time to return to River To River, for a belated rain date. “It’s difficult to perform this record, to really take it on an extensive tour or anything, because to play it the way that it was written requires six people singing and six people playing instruments,” Bell said. “So every performance of ‘Krai’ is really special, and it’s sort of an honor to have the resources to put it on.” Described by Bell as “a smorgasbord of folk styles from across Russia” that’s then “presented alongside electronic and pop structures,” the song cycle will be brought to life by musicians — including guitarist aRafiq Bhatia, and Aaron Arntz (who toured
with bands Grizzly Bear and Beirut). In addition, the June 22 performance’s venue of the plaza at 28 Liberty holds a special significance to Bell. “I’m excited to play the piece outdoors; I’ve never done that before. A lot of ‘Krai’ is sort of a love song to the natural world, of these nine regions in Russia, so that will be cool,” she commented, describing how she explored those places via Google Maps and researched their folk traditions in preparation for the album. “And the fact that the concert is free and open to the public is awesome, because there’s literally no barrier to entry.” R2R continued on p. 18 June 16 - 22, 2016
Photo by Maria Baranova
A view from a previous production of “GO FORTH,” Kaneza Schaal’s performance piece inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Photo by Noah Kalina
Brooklyn-based musician Olga Bell brings her acclaimed 2014 song cycle “Krai” to life on June 22.
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THEATER: KANEZA SCHAAL’S “GO FORTH” Another pre-existing work being built upon in its River To River iteration is “GO FORTH,” Kaneza Schaal’s performance piece, inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which functions as a translation of seven of the text’s chapters (June 18, 19 & 25). “The piece grew out of my thinking about mourning rituals and how we make space for the presence of the absent in our lives,” explained Schaal, who began this line of thinking after suffering the loss of her father and considering the “ritualized grieving process” she experienced. By all accounts, the resulting meditation on loss, grief, and rituals has been as affecting as it is hard to classify. “We’re trying to pull on as many different languages of performance as we can,” Schaal noted, adding that the production features elements as disparate as dance and 16mm film. “There is text, and movement, and we worked with designer/fine artist Christopher Myers.” The result of this collaboration with
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Myers — a photo exhibit inspired by tomb paintings the pair saw in Egypt — is a new addition for River To River. Like Bell, Schaal has nothing but praise for the LMCC and the fest, noting that the wide net it casts and its accessibility helps bring in audience members that may not otherwise attend. “I set out for the piece in my own process of losing a loved one, and it was very gratifying to have audience members find that work useful for them individually,” Schaal said. “I hope that audience members get to consider how we individually and collectively process death.”
DANCE: EPHRAT ASHERIE’S “RIFF THIS, RIFF THAT”
Dancer/choreographer Ephrat Asherie collaborates with her brother Ehud at this year’s River To River Fest.
One exciting premiere is the result of a collaboration a lifetime in the making: Ephrat Asherie’s dance piece “Riff this, Riff that” (June 20 & 21), which is the result of working with her brother Ehud, a jazz pianist. While Asherie is known primarily as a hip-hop, house, and break-dancer, this new work — featuring an ensemble of six dancers and a quartet of musicians — focuses on jazz. “I’ve been looking at the authentic jazz dance roots of these dances,” she said, noting the similarities between the “buoyancy and joyfulness and exu-
berance” of music and dance of the 1920s/30s/40s, and her modern day style. “That is really at the root of all of these contemporary, street, and club styles that I do.” The piece features newly arranged jazz standards, and highlights the talents of individual dancers. “You get to see how all of those elements and each of those voices kind of can play off each other in a more formalized, choreographed vignette,” Asherie noted, while ensuring that — fitting for its focus —
Photo courtesy the artist
there will be a “precise balance between choreography and improvisation” in the work. Ultimately, the piece functions as a lesson about New York, with Asherie hoping that the connections drawn between past and present highlight the city’s progressive history regarding dance, community, and connection. “I feel very strongly like this kind of piece is something that represents very much ‘Only in New York.’ Like, ‘Oh yes, this is what this place is about.’ ” .com
All-In for Photojournalism at The Half King Chelsea gastro-pub has food for thought on the menu BY NORMAN BORDEN Before West Chelsea became an art district dense with over 300 galleries, and even longer before an elevated public park would once again transform the neighborhood’s relationship with tourism and foot traffic, The Half King bar and restaurant opened on a deserted stretch of W. 23rd St. — which now happens to be less than 100 feet from an entrance to the High Line. When it was established in July of 2000, the three co-owners — journalists Scott Anderson and Sebastian Junger and filmmaker Nanette Burstein — had envisioned Half King as a neighborhood place where members of the publishing and film industries could meet and talk shop. By the fall, weekly non-fiction readings on topics of interest to the co-owners had been added to the menu, along with a rotating schedule of photography exhibitions. “Sebastian and I had done a lot of war reporting,” Anderson recalled, “and we’d both worked with some pretty amazing photojournalists over the years… I recognized there was a limited number of outlets where they could show their work.” So Half King became “one of few venues where straight-ahead photojournalism can be displayed,” he said, noting that the forum they provide “allows the photographer to show their work largely among their peers, and is a great opportunity for photojournalists to get together and see what others are doing.” Writer and editor Anna Van Lenten
and James Price (an editor at Getty Reportage) were hired as co-curators in 2010 to make the photography series more consistent. As a result, Half King is operating on a “strict schedule now,” Van Lenten said, with new shows every seven or eight weeks. “We’ve standardized the frame sizes (32 x 23 inches) and operate like a gallery/salon, even though we don’t look like one.” That’s for sure — the 11 photographs in each show are displayed along the walls of a separate dining room that seats 50, and is closed off from the bar and other diners. “The openings are meant to be super focused discussions around the story or book launch, very casual and intimate,” Van Lenten explained. “We turn off the lights and do a slide show that lasts from 45 to 90 minutes and encourage the audience to ask questions. We show narrative photography. They’ve spent years immersed in stories they bring to us; they’re quite intense, and know their subject top to bottom.” In her ongoing search for future exhibitors, Van Lenten asks other photographers to recommend people they like. She also pays attention to award shows, Facebook and Instagram, and she subscribes to lots of newsletters. In any case, “The bar is high. The work has to be beautiful and visually distinctive; the story has to be compelling either because the photographer took an alternative approach or had an interesting evolution; and
Photo courtesy The Half King
L to R: Half King founders Sebastian Junger, Nanette Burstein and Scott Anderson.
Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas
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“The family of Adán Abraján de la Cruz.”
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June 16 - 22, 2016
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the photographer has to speak English well enough to give a talk on opening night.” One excellent example of Van Lenten’s credo is the current exhibition: “Family Matters,” by Mexico City-based photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas. It’s a bittersweet story that began when 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, Mexico disappeared on September 26, 2014, taken by the police and then handed over to a narcotics gang. The photographer had been working on assignment with one of the families and had asked for photos of their missing brother. There were none — all they had were cellphone photos that could be accidentally deleted or lost if the phone was changed. Since nobody printed pictures, she realized these families could suffer another loss — the memories of their missing loved ones. Zehbrauskas decided to start a personal project where she would take family portraits for free and hand out the prints on the spot. Shooting “Family Matters” called for driving eight hours back and forth from Mexico City to Huehuetonoc, Guerrero, going through dangerous narcotics gang-controlled territory. Having worked in the area for 10 years as a freelance documentary photographer, she said, “You have to stay alert for kidnappings and shootings.” In the town, Zehbrauskas set up a table by the church where family members could meet her for their free pictures and people could clearly see what she was doing — taking portraits with her iPhone and using a small Canon printer to produce the photo on the spot. “I’ve taken lots of photos,” Zehbrauskas said. “Eighty portraits on my first trip in 2016, and I also give my subjects large prints on my return trip from Mexico City. I’m paying my expenses with a Getty Images Instagram grant I was awarded in September 2015 to document under-represented communities. I upload this work on Instagram and also publish on the New Yorker Magazine’s live feed.” At the exhibit’s opening on May 24, it was standing room only as Zehbrauskas showed about 40 images in a fascinating hour-long slide presentation. Her comments added a greater understanding and deeper .com
Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas
“Don Gerardo and La Rubia.”
appreciation of the project and its challenges. Her talk also demonstrated the unique opportunity that photojournalists from around the world have to show and discuss their work. In my view, many of the 11 images in the exhibition can be considered to be in the realm of fine art photography. One outstanding example on view now is “Don Gerardo and La Rubia.” I see this photo as an intimate portrait of a man and his friend, a horse — the composition, lighting, and the print are all beautiful, as are the subjects themselves. Also impressive was the portrait of “The family of Adán Abraján de la Cruz.” Adán was one of the 43 missing students. This photograph was taken after the First Communion of Adán’s eight-year-old son, Angel, in Tixtla, Guerrero. You not only see the sadness in this photograph, but also feel it. Angel’s mournful, wistful look is haunting, reinforced by his mother and Adán’s parents standing with him.
Another photograph, the faceless portrait of 19-year-old Xalpa, is a powerful reminder of the students’ disappearance on the night of September 26. Xalpa was one of the survivors and understandably didn’t want his face shown. You can only imagine what he saw and the pain he feels now. Sadly, there are many more stories of missing people in Mexico, and Zehbrauskas hopes her continuing work on “Family Matters” will help keep the families of the victims from feeling abandoned. With stories like these, The Half King Photography Series has more than fulfilled the co-owners’ original intent. As for the future, Anderson said that changes in the neighborhood (most notably, rent increases) have made it “increasingly difficult for a small business to operate. We’ve had a good run. Our lease is up for renewal in 2019, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.” In the meantime, there are burgers,
Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas
beer, and plenty of food for thought at The Half King. Adriana Zehbrauskas’ “Family Matters” is on view through July 17 at The Half King (505 W. 23rd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: M–F, 11am–4pm; Sat. & Sun., 9am–4pm. Visit thehalfking.com and halfkingphoto.com or call 212-462-4300. Twitter: #hkphotoseries. June 16 - 22, 2016
June 16 - 22, 2016
Rhymes With Crazy
The Journey of a Lifetime Begins with Footsteps BY LENORE SKENAZY Solomon Feuerwerker grew up as an alien. Not “alien” as in “immigrant.” Alien as in someone from another planet. That planet was Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While many people in Williamsburg lead lives most of us can relate to, Solomon was the youngest of 11 children in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family. The religious sect he grew up in, Satmar Hasidim, believes in large families and distrusts the modern world. Members wear distinctive clothing — the men are in black suits, white shirts, and payot (side curls) — and speak Yiddish. They do not mingle with outsiders. They do not watch any media. Boys like Solomon go to sex-segregated schools and are forbidden from studying almost anything other than religion. No algebra. No biology. No non-Jewish studies beyond what a fourth or fifth grader would get at public school. Which is why it is all the more remarkable that about a week ago Solomon stood up in front of a crowd of 300 and announced that he had been accepted to medical school. The crowd went wild. This was the annual Downtown gala sponsored by Footsteps, the organization that helped Solomon and hundreds of others find their way out of ultra-Orthodoxy to lead lives of their choosing. Footsteps is not anti-religion, it is pro-freedom. Its slogan is, “Your life, your journey, your choice.” “Our core value is choice,” says Lani Santo, the group’s executive director. “We really help people think through the consequences of their various decisions.” Because people leaving ultra-Orthodoxy are often
shunned by the community they left behind, including their own families, Footsteps provides counseling, practical help, and a home base for those who lose their entire support system. The gala was organized to celebrate the milestones in the lives of Footsteps participants, since few had family members to cheer them on. Instead, the audience of Footsteps supporters whooped for a member who just got her first tech job, and another who just became an Uber driver. Several members had become engaged, provoking joyous applause. Then Solomon took the stage as the evening’s keynote speaker, and the audience sat in stunned silence as he told his story. “You need to understand just how insane it is for me to be here,” the 26-year-old began. “I grew up in a typically sized family in Williamsburg: I have 10 siblings. Exposure to the mainstream world is almost non-existent. Some people say I’m an immigrant in my own country, but I prefer ‘alien.’ An immigrant might know about science and history and politics — an alien doesn’t. An immigrant has read books and watched television — an alien hasn’t. An immigrant has spoken to people of the opposite sex without feeling like the world is about to end. An immigrant might be culturally unaware, but at the same time be an informed citizen of the world. An alien is just an alien, and let me tell you, if an alien is going to successfully transition to immigrant, they need Footsteps.” Solomon heard about Footsteps through the grapevine while he was in his teens. By then he’d already been sneaking off to the DVD store in the Puerto Rican part of his neighborhood and voraciously renting action flicks. These taught him colloquial English, and gave him direction: He wanted to be a
cop, just like the guys in the movies. But then he went on a tour of Hunter College sponsored by Footsteps, and his life changed. Classes in art and sociology! Laboratories! Students of every stripe talking, studying, laughing together. Footsteps was founded by a Hunter student, Malkie Schwartz, who’d made her way out of ultra-Orthodoxy and wanted to help others who chose that path. Solomon enrolled — and immediately floundered. “I had never tackled the concept of the atom, or seen a periodic table of the elements,” he later recalled. “I did not even know that all living things were made up of cells.” He had to make up for lost time and, at first, he couldn’t. He was in danger of failing, but reached out for help. By the next year, he rose to the top of his class in chemistry. He continued to climb, getting A’s in his coursework — while working part time — and becoming a mentor to others following in his, well, footsteps. He began volunteering at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and doing genetics research. And last year, he did it. He graduated with a degree in sociology. He put off applying to med school, however, to stay on for a year at Hunter… teaching organic chemistry. Now Solomon is heading to Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Yes, he will be an immigrant from New York. But not an alien. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog/Twitter feed, Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com).
‘Memory’ Charts Destruction of Cultural Identity Lower East Side-based filmmaker Tim Slade brings his most recent work to neighborhood venue Anthology Film Archives, prior to a screening at the British Museum that will be followed by worldwide release — a local-to-global distribution tactic that’s appropriate, given his film’s focus on the global catastrophe resulting from a century’s worth of war waged against numerous individual cultures. Based on Robert Bevan’s 2006 book of the same name, “The Destruction of Memory” looks at the agents and instruments of cultural destruction, as well as those who have dedicated their lives to protecting, salvaging, and rebuilding in response to the loss of art, architecture, and literature — and, by extension, identity. Interviewees such as the DirectorGeneral of UNESCO and the Prosecutor .com
of the International Criminal Court discuss the current situation in places like Syria and Iraq, while linking past decisions that have, Slade notes, “allowed the issue to remain hidden in the shadows for so many years.” Sophie Okonedo (Tony-nominated for her current role on Broadway, as Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible”) narrates. Director/Producer Slade will open the house to questions immediately following the screening. Tues., June 21, 6:30pm, at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Ave., at Second St.). Visit nycdestructionofmemory. eventbrite.com for tickets ($17.50 general, $13 for students). Visit destructionofmemoryfilm.com for more info.
Photo by Derek Wiesehahn, courtesy Vast Productions USA
Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina, during its rebuilding. June 16 - 22, 2016
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