VOLUME 29, NUMBER 16
Game of drones Governors Island hosts national drone-racing championships BY COLIN MIXSON It’s official — playing with radio-controlled toys is now a sport. Governors Island played host to the 2016 U.S. National Drone Racing Championships last weekend, where competitors ranging from teens to midlifers dueled in the air with homemade aircraft that soared at speeds of more than 120 miles per hour. Some devoted drone aficionados traveled from out-of-state to the island park for a chance to hobnob with the hobbyists turned athletes, while locals were enticed across the water by little more than the prospect of a thrilling show. “It’s nuts how fast these things go,” said Joe Astill, who settled in the Downtown area a decade ago, and currently lives near the South Street Seaport. The races featured two types of drones, including the common quad-rotor variety — which are stabilized by computer-controlled gyroscopes — with pilots guiding them at breakneck speeds through a course of padded hoops. The quad-copters were joined by the flying aces of winged drones — larger, faster, and more challenging machines bearing a greater resemblance to traditional airplanes, and which lack the userfriendly, fly-by-wire qualities of their smaller, multirotor cousins. Like the difference between an automatic and manual transmission in a car, wing pilots enjoy the more intimate connection between man and machine, according to Ian Jefferys, who flew out from Los Angeles to compete in — and ultimately win — the tournament’s winged category. “The experience of flying a quad, it’s disconnected from the environment in a way that wings are not,” Jefferys said. “With the wings, every little bump in the air, you have to manually correct for that. They also fly faster, go further, and all that other stuff.” Brand-name clothing and tech companies subsidized a few competitors, but most were self-funded hobbyists, who spent big money on their craft — and airfare, according to one pit guy. “I know me, I paid for all my airfare and lodging and food,” said Adam Dube, a Nova Scotian drone enthusiast who supported Team Legit. “There were a few guys that were paid — the top team pilots
AUGUST 11 – AUGUST 24, 2016
Talking trash Downtowners demand city take action to kick residential garbage off the curb
BY ALEX ELLEFSON With the residential development boom set to bring an additional 38 tons of garbage to Lower Manhattan’s sidewalks every collection day, locals are calling on the city to help prevent Downtown from becoming a literal wasteland. “The time is ripe for us to look at this. Our streets look like the 1968 garbage strike,” said Paul Proulx, a member of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, which recently met with Sanitation Department officials to discuss solutions.
The surging residential population in Lower Manhattan, where developments have added an estimated 4,623 new units to the area since 2010, has already created a garbage glut. The amount of residential trash picked up each day in Community District 1 rose by 13.6 tons between 2010 and 2015 — representing half the increase across the entire borough of Manhattan, according to city figures. With even more trash on the way over the next three years, community leaders are urging regulators to get in front of
the problem before their neighborhood is swallowed by a tidal wave of garbage. “This is going to be a top priority for us in the fall,” said Pat Moore, chairwoman of Community Board 1’s Quality of Life Committee. “We’re asking the city to come up with a plan so I don’t have to walk out of my building into a wall of trash.” Neighborhood advocates are calling for a range of measures to buttress their community against trash Continued on page 15
Rio on t he Hudson
Photo by Milo Hess
Olympic sponsor Citigroup brought some of the excitement of the Rio games — but none of the zika! — to Pier 26 this week with its “Rio on the Hudson” event from Aug. 5–11, featuring samba dancing, capoeira demonstrations, U.S. Olympian meet-and-greets, games, crafts, and even a faux Olympic flame. For more, see page 3.
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
Waxing Brazilian ‘Rio on the Hudson’ just like the Olympics — but with less poop in the water! Hudson River Park celebrated the opening of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this week with “Rio on the Hudson” at Pier 26. The six-day festival of sports and Brazilian culture — bankrolled by Olympic sponsor and Tibeca neighbor Citigroup — featured samba music, spectacularly costumed Carnival dancers, Brazilian food, and demonstrations of the nation’s dancecum-martial art capoeira, as well as fitness activities, games, crafts, and meet-and-greets with Olympic and Paralympic athletes. The opening night kicked off last Friday with the lighting of a flaming cauldron before the Rio Games’ opening ceremonies were shown live to spectators on the pier. Christie Rampone, former captain of the gold-medal U.S. women’s soccer team, greeted fans on the first day. Later in the festival, fellow soccer star Mia Hamm made an appearance, as well as track-and-field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee. For the duration of the free event, running from Aug. 5—11, Pier 26 was transformed into a sanitized simulacrum of the troubled South American nation — complete with a beach, palm trees, live samba music and dancers, and vendors selling authentic Brazilian food and drinks — but with none of the headaches facing the actual games in Rio, ranging from street crime to the Zika virus, to raw sewage and “super bacteria” in the water of some Olympic venues. Photos by Milo Hess
(Clockwise from left) Pier 26’s ‘Rio on the Hudson’ featured samba music, capoeria demonstrations and classes, a faux Olympic flame, spectacularly costumed Carnival dancers, meet-andgreets with Olympic stars such as former gold-medal U.S. women’s national soccer team captain Christie Rampone, a golf simulator for dad, and crafts for the kids.
August 11 - August 24, 2016
Mangia! Eataly finally opens at 4 WTC on Aug. 11 BY COLIN MIXSON Downtown’s restaurant renaissance is welcoming a new Italian addition on Aug. 11, when the much-anticipated, Tuscan-themed fusion of highend dining and market-style shopping, Eataly, opens its doors at 4 World Trade Center. The ritzy food mall will include 40,000 square feet of restaurants and food counters, where dishes are prepared using ingredients available for purchase at the Eataly market. The Tuscan food Mecca will also employ teaching chefs for an on-site “cooking school,” where customers can get advice on the preparation of various dishes offered at Eataly eateries. The first 100 customers to turn up at the foodie fun place, which opens its doors at noon on Aug. 11, will be awarded certificates entitling them to a
tasting tour in September, according to a spokeswoman for the hodgepodge of Italian restaurants. The culinary brain trust behind the foodie playground expects Eataly’s newest venue to adapt to the neighborhood as the area continues changing. “When Nicola Farinetti opened Eataly Flatiron in 2010, it changed the neighborhood and Manhattan,” said partner Joe Bastianich. “As Eataly opens Downtown, the opposite will happen, and the store will evolve as part of the rejuvenation of this part of the city.” Eataly is one several restaurants opening throughout Downtown to serve to the tony neighborhood’s booming residential population, which will see more than 6,000 new residential units opening south of Canal St. by the end of 2018.
Photo by Milo Hess
(Above) These nice racks were among the gourmet goodies on display at the new Eataly’s Aug. 2 preview event. (Right) Celebrity chef and Eataly partner Mario Batali couldn’t resist snarfing down a snack at the highend food mall’s preview last week. The Italian market’s long-awaited outpost at 4 WTC opened to the public Aug. 11.
City Vineyard opens the taps at Pier 26 By ALEX ELLEFSON Vines, vistas, and vino have finally come to Hudson River Park. City Vineyard, the long-awaited wine-centric restaurant at Pier 26, made its debut on the Hudson last week, offering 15 wines on tap, as well as outdoor seating on the terrace and roof from which to soak in expansive waterfront and city views. The new venue is a spinoff of Michael Dorf’s City Winery in Tribeca, and has been hotly anticipated since the Hudson River Park Trust tapped the vino impresario to create the high-end, glass-walled restaurant at Pier 26 more than a year ago. “City Vineyard will provide people the opportunity to feel like they escaped the city without having to leave the Tribeca area,” Dorf said in a statement. “Our goal is to focus on the food, wine, and beverage program to give people a unique dining experience and a place for them to truly unwind.” The 1,150-square-foot venue, with vines crawling up to the rooftop seating area atop a glass-encased indoor restau-
August 11 - August 24, 2016
Photo by Alex Ellefson
The main innovation of City Winery impresario Michael Dorf ’s new venture is that City Vineyard offers 15 wines on tap.
rant, uses every opportunity to expose guests to the shimmering city lights. The roof and terrace offer seating for 200 people, while the indoor space — scheduled to open September 16 — will accommodate 75 guests. Madelyn Wils, president and CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust, said the
new waterfront restaurant will round out visitors’ experience at the pier. “It completes the day,” said Wils. “People can come to enjoy the different activities and then settle down for lunch or dinner and a glass of wine.” The new restaurant is the latest puzzle piece to snap into place for the Hudson River Park Trust’s reboot of Pier 26. Besides the Downtown Boathouse, which moved back to the pier in 2014, the trust is also building an estuarium where residents can learn about the Hudson River’s unique ecosystem. Additionally, the trust hired landscape architecture firm OLIN to design a recreational space on the pier that will feature additional education exhibits about the environment. Wils said the design should be completed in three months. City Vineyard builds on the pier’s environmental focus by emphasizing sustainable agriculture and locally sourced ingredients — many of them drawn from farms near Dorf’s home in the Hudson Valley, according the restaurant’s general manager, Todd Whiteman.
Menu items are designed to complement the wine, which is poured from spouts tapping oak barrels attached to the walls. The vino is made nearby at Dorf’s City Winery. But Whiteman said they are working to outfit the new restaurant so the wine can be pressed and fermented on-site at the pier. “The whole concept is about tying the wine to the experience,” said Whiteman. Menu items for the outdoor space include shareable, small-plate dishes such as an artisanal cheese plate ($23), a cured meats board ($20) and housemarinated Mediterranean olives ($7). Whiteman said a cabernet-infused slaw, made with pressed grape leaves, is also in the works. The indoor menu will focus on seafood, and offer entrée options that run between $28 and $35. While the open-air parts of the City Vineyard will close between November and April, the indoor space — with floor-to-ceiling windows facing west, south and east — will operate yearround. DowntownExpress.com
Vino value Fidi eatery offers a very ‘Generous Pour’ BY COLIN MIXSON You can get a glass of wine for $25 — or clean out the cellar for $28. The Capital Grille Wall Street may not be advertising its summer offer as an all-you-can-drink wine buffet, but that’s the practical effect of the swank eatery’s “Generous Pour” option. “It’s definitely not something we advertise as unlimited, or all-you-candrink, although it is,” said spokeswoman Jaime Rodriguez. The summer-long sale, which ends Sept. 4, allows the Capital Grille patrons to purchase unlimited servings of select wines for a meager $28, including several vintages that usually sell for more than $20 a glass. But don’t expect servers to keep the wine flowing if you’ve clearly reached your own limit, according to Rodriguez. “We train our staff to serve alcohol responsibly and keep an eye on people,” she said. Generous Pour, which is now in its seventh season, was designed to give
wine lovers an opportunity to sample multiple wines with any given dish, and explore how different vintages pair with certain meals. Not only are patrons able to order multiple glasses at a time, but servers have been trained to suggest wines that compliment any given dish. “It’s something that’s not readily available where you can order two glasses of wine to see how they can pair with a dish in different wines,” said Rodriguez. “It’s about exploring new wines that you normally wouldn’t try.” Whites on offer include a Stellina Di Notte Pinot Grigio, a Provenance Sauvignon Blanc, and a Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay. Red’s include a Lyric by Etude Pinot Noir, a Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet blend, a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Penfold’s Bin Two Shiraz blend, the latter two being only available through the eatery’s special offer. And for $70, the wine bonanza
Photo by Colin Mixson
The Capital Grille’s Generous Pour offer allows patrons to partake in an all-you-can-drink wine buffet featuring seven vintages for $28 — with the purchase of an entrée.
can be paired with the Capital Grille’s Restaurant Week deal, which includes a choice of three main courses. Restaurant Week runs through Aug. 19. But don’t think you can just waltz into the bar and order all the wine ever made — you’ll have to order a meal before the unlimited wine offer is on the table. “The guest does have to order an
entrée,” said Rodriguez. “They can’t come in and get an appetizer or just sit down at the bar.” Entrées at the award-winning steakhouse range from its signature bone-in rib-eye with porcini crust ($56) to herbroasted chicken ($30). Capital Grille Wall Street is located at 120 Broadway, between Thames and Pine Sts.
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
BY JANEL BL ADOW Phew! It’s been hot around the ’hood — and I’m not just talking about the weather. WHERE’S THE FIRE?... That’s what neighbors were asking last week when New York’s Bravest responded to calls mid-week and twice on Saturday. New tenants on Peck Slip, above Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar at Water St., called in a beeping carbon monoxide alarm. On Saturday night the first call was around 5 p.m. and the second a couple of hours later. Basically the calls closed the café for dinner on a busy Saturday night. But Acqua staff served their drinking customers with smiles while firefighters did their best to sort out the troubles. One firefighter from the 10 Truck stationed on Liberty St. said that our South Street FDNY guys responded first. He said the tenants reported that the detector went off and they felt woozy. After a thorough search on both calls, and putting huge fans in the apartment to blow out the stale air, firefighters told the guys to go take a walk and get some fresh air. Nothing was found and the bistro was back in operation Sunday. A word to all neighbors: check the batteries on both your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. SEAPORT STS. ATTACKED: II… As noted last month, the Peck Slip School wants to close off Peck Slip during the school day and make it a playground — which would be a bummer for businesses, pedestrians, bicyclers and drivers. But now comes a second assault on one of the three east-west streets and four north-south roadways that serve the Seaport. Howard Hughes Corp. wanted to file a modification of its Pier 17 plan to the City Planning Commission last month. The “minor modification” shows a new access driveway entering on Fulton St. and exiting at Beekman St. It also showed the historic Tin Building drastically smaller. Members of the Community Board 1 Seaport Committee protested the changes, which would flood the neighborhood with delivery trucks (rather than contain them on South Street). Our Councilmember Margaret Chin got the move tabled — for now. The full community board is on hiatus in August and the Planning Commission needs to have a careful look at the proposal. Look for the idea to resurface in September. Save our Seaport has called on the commission to “require
August 11 - August 24, 2016
Photo by Janel Bladow
(Above) The FDNY was called out to Peck Slip twice Saturday evening by tenants above the Acqua eatery whose carbon monoxide alarm kept going off, but firefighters didn’t find a problem. (Right) The South Street Seaport Museum is hosting two “Family Ecology Sail” events on Aug. 21 and Sept. 25 aboard the historic 1885 schooner Pioneer.
the Howard Hughes Corp. to restore the Tin Building to its original size and to require the applicant to offer a workable truck traffic plan.” WANNA GET AWAY?... Nothing like a drive to the Catskill Mountains or a train ride up the Hudson River to make you feel like you’ve left your crazy, hazy city life behind. Seaport Sunday shoppers will have the opportunity to learn about lots of fun stuff to do on a day trip out of the city. EscapeMaker.com Pop Up Shop sets up this weekend, Aug.14 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m., with a guide to local getaways and farm escapes around the metro area. Farmers, producers, and winemakers (oh my!) within a few hours of the city will share info on how to visit farms, farm stores, breweries, wineries and more — by car, bus or train. Look for these experts at the Water St. farm stands, between Fulton and Beekman Sts. GROW SEA LEGS… But hey, we live in the Seaport, so why not take to the water? The South Street Seaport Museum has two fun days planned, with “Family Ecology Sail” events on Aug.21 and Sept. 25 from noon–3 p.m. Parents, children, relatives, and friends can all sail on the Pioneer and discover what lives underwater. As the historic 1885 schooner passes Governors Island for the fishing grounds of Bay Ridge, it’s all-hands-on-deck. Help the crew set a trawl net, haul it in, and discover the bounty below — a crab? A puffer fish? A surprise or two? Who knows? Then help hoist the sails as you round the Statue of Liberty with the wind. Marine-life experts will explain
South Street Seaport Museum
what was caught and describe how it lives under the sea. Examine plankton through a view-scope, help test the waters, and learn about the marine ecosystem around us. Tickets are $45 for adults and $40 for children 12 and under. They don’t recommend it for little ones 5 and younger, though. Book tickets at: goo.gl/WvosA3. CHECKMATE!... Agon, the company that organizes the World Chess Championship, just announced that this year’s title match will be held at the Seaport in the historic Fulton Market
building. The reigning champion, Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, 25, and his Russian challenger, Sergey Karjakin, 26, will be the youngest players to compete for the title in the history of championship chess when they face off Nov. 11–30 in the newly renovated Seaport fixture. There will be space for up to 300 spectators and tickets will cost up to $50, according to Agon. Plans include a swanky VIP lounge where aficionados will be able to play chess on sets supplied at the site and follow the games on video screens.
This rendering shows the swanky VIP lounge planned for the World Chess Championships to be held Nov. 11–30 at the newly renovated, historic Fulton Market Building.
EAT. DRINK. HANG. 11 FULTON ST, MAYâ€“DEC
August 11 - August 24, 2016
Dance on the water Battery Dance Festival returns to BPC’s waterfront Wagner Park
BY ALEX ELLEFSON The Battery Dance Festival brings its eclectic, international roster of performers back to Wagner Park this month for a week of free evening shows along the waterfront. The summer dance series, which runs from Aug. 14–20, takes place against a backdrop of the setting sun over New York Harbor. The Battery Dance Company’s annual event is now in its 35th year, and is the longestrunning free public dance festival in the city, attracting top-tier acts from around the world. “One unique aspect of this festival is the diverse dance styles. It’s a cross-section of overseas and local companies,” said Battery Dance Company founder and artistic director Jonathan Hollander. “The underlying philosophy is that people can come to see one specific company and get introduced to something new.” This year’s program will include a performance of “The Durga Project,” a Battery Dance original that premiered earlier this year at the company’s 40th-anniversary celebration. Created in collaboration with classical Indian dancer Unnath H.R., the dance weaves together elements of modern dance with Indian folk styles. The performance will take place during the festival’s closing ceremony held at Pace University’s Schimmel Center at 6 p.m. on Aug. 20. “The collaboration created some really unique and unusual movements. It brings a new flavor to dance,” H.R. said of his work with Battery Dance.
While the closing ceremony ends on a high note, this year’s festival opens with a solemn tribute to one of Battery Dance Company’s brightest hopes: Iraqi dancer Adel Euro, who was among 292 people killed by a car bomb last month in Baghdad. Battery Dance used Skype to train the 23-year-old dancer — whose inspirational story about aspiring to be a dancer in a deeply conservative country drew worldwide attention — and the company was planning to bring him to the United States to continue his training. “We loved him so much, and we all shared a vision of him being here,” Hollander said. “Our hearts are really broken by the loss.” To pay homage to Euro’s life, Battery Dance has brought three Iraqi dancers from Michigan for a special performance at the opening ceremony. Close to 10,000 visitors have turned out for the festival in past years. It used to be held in parks, plazas and other public spaces Downtown, but moved to Wagner Park two years ago when the ravages of Superstorm Sandy made most of the area’s other venues unusable. Hollander said the need for a new location to hold the festival turned into a blessing. “It’s been a spectacular success,” he said. “People love coming at dusk and seeing the sky change while the dancers perform. It’s really extraordinary.” This year’s festival features 38 different performances — and includes companies from Romania, Turkey, Austria, India and Belgium.
Battery Dance Company / Darial Sneed
(Above) The Buglisi Dance Theatre performed at the 2015 Battery Dance Festival, and returns this year. (Right) Dancers dazzled an audience of thousands at Wagner Park last year. (Below) Indian dancer Unnath H.R. collaborated with Battery Dance for “The Durga Project,” a mix of modern dance and Indian folk that premiered at the company’s 40th anniversary.
Jacqulyn Buglisi, artistic director for the Buglisi Dance Theater, is a longtime participant in the festival. She said she enjoys performing at the new waterfront location in Battery Park City — and always looks forward to the camarade-
rie among dancers at the festival. “It’s a great opportunity for so many different companies to perform together. And to do it in such a raw setting, under the sky and in front of the ocean, I really like the edginess of it,” she said.
A somber note at this year’s dance fest
YouTube / Adel Euro
In a video of his first stage performance in Amman, Jordan, which he posted to YouTube, Adel Euro talks about how he hopes to make his father proud.
August 11 - August 24, 2016
BY ALEX ELLEFSON Iraqi dancer Adil Faraj, who went by the stage name Adel Euro, was one of 292 people killed by a suicide truck bomb in Baghdad on July 3. The explosion tore apart a busy marketplace during the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, and took Euro’s life just as the Battery Dance Company was preparing to bring him to the United States for training. Battery Dance discovered Euro in 2014 through a series of YouTube videos he posted of himself dancing at home. The company reached out to him and began providing modern dance lessons
over Skype. Despite a stigma against male dancers in the Middle East, Euro persisted in his art — and Battery Dance began working to bring him to the U.S. Euro took the stage for the first time in April 2015, when Battery Dance brought him to Jordan to perform a solo act and an ensemble piece at the Amman Contemporary Dance Festival. Battery Dance was waiting for Euro to finish law school before bringing him to the U.S. He finished school in June, and was killed in the bombing less than a month later.
The opening ceremony of this year’s Battery Dance Festival at Wagner Park on Aug. 14 will include a tribute to the 23-year-old dancer, performed by a trio of Iraqi dancers flown in from Michigan by Battery Dance for the occasion. “I don’t think we pay as much attention to the individual loss of life when there’s a bombing in the Middle East — as opposed to Brussels or Paris or Nice,” said Battery Dance Company founder and artistic director Jonathan Hollander. “But these lives are precious and [Euro’s] death is seared into the mind of every American who heard his story.” DowntownExpress.com
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
KNOW WHAT TO DO Visit NYC.gov/knowyourzone or call 311 to ﬁnd out what to do to prepare for hurricanes in NYC. #knowyourzone
A man allegedly brawled with cops after they pinned him for jumping a turnstile at the Fulton St. subway station on Aug. 5. Two patrolmen were inside the station near Church St. at 1:10 p.m., when they said they spotted the 27-year-old suspect leap past the turnstile without paying. The alleged fare-beater managed to make it onto a train before the cops caught up with him, and he refused to comply when they ordered him back onto the platform. Instead, the suspect allegedly hurled one of the officers to the floor and then slugged him in the face, cops said. The officers managed to cuff the suspect after a heated struggle, and one of the cops complained of an injured hand following the tussle, according to the police report.
A thief nabbed some designer shades from a Spring St. sunglasses store on Aug. 3. A store rep told police the female crook walked into the store between West Broadway and Wooster St. at 2 p.m., and grabbed three pairs of glasses worth $1,114 before leaving.
CRAVEN CROOK A young punk sucker-punched a middle-aged man in an attempted robbery on Fulton St. on July 28, but the coward ultimately fled after his intended victim turned the tables and fought him off. The unvictimized victim told police that he was near Nassau St. at 8 p.m. when the goon waltzed up and socked him and then bellowed, “Give me your money!” But intended victim managed to ward of the attacker and sent him scurrying down the street none the richer, cops said.
FILM AT ELEVEN A sticky-fingered pickpocket got his picture taken as he relieved a woman of her wallet on Wall St. on Aug. 4. The victim told police that she was lounging on an outdoor bench between Broad and William Sts. at 5:30 p.m. when she noticed her wallet was missing. The woman wisely ducked into a nearby pharmacy for a bit of sleuthing, and obtained surveillance footage of the thief dipping into her purse, cops said.
MAC-CROOK AIR A shoplifter struck a South St. liquor store on Aug. 2, but eschewed liberating the libations in favor of a pricey laptop. The shop owner told police the crook strolled into his store between Peck Slip and Beekman St. at noon, and proceeded to grab the $1,200 Macbook Air he’d left on his desk.
August 11 - August 24, 2016
MOST WANTED Cops busted a wanted man on Grand St. on Aug. 3, after recognizing his face from a wanted poster, then allegedly found he was in possession of stolen clothes. The officers said they were between Greene and Mercer Sts. at 1:40 p.m. when they spotted the suspiciously familiar man. After stopping the suspect, the patrolmen realized he had nearly $1,500 worth of allegedly stolen clothes stuffed into his pants, according to police.
DIRTY DINNER Cops busted a man for allegedly beating and robbing a delivery guy on Battery Pl. on Aug. 3, taking his food and bike. The victim told police he was between State and Whitehall Sts. at 8:31 p.m. when the suspect socked him out of nowhere, before grabbing his parcel and bike.
TRACKED DOWN A man and woman were arrested for allegedly stealing a man’s van parked on Greenwich St. on Aug. 4, after the victim used a tracking device to notify police of their location. The victim told police he discovered his vehicle stolen from its spot between Spring and Canal Sts. at 11:10 a.m., but quickly located it after activating a tracking device he’d installed on the van. Corresponding with police, the victim was able to guide officers to the wayward vehicle, where they found the suspects inside, cops said.
BEeMER-ED UP A thief rode off with a man’s BMW motorcycle he had left on Sullivan St. on July 21. The victim told police that he parked his ride between Prince and W. Houston Sts. at 3:30 pm, and returned several days later to find an empty spot where his $14,000 two-wheeled beemer had been. — Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com
Justice delayed Beekman hit-and-run driver finally sentenced more than a year after injuring mother of two BY BILL EGBERT More than a year after she jumped a curb on Beekman St. near the Spruce Street School and ran down into a mother of two before fleeing the scene, an infamous hit-and-run driver finally saw justice on Aug. 3, receiving a sentence of up to six years in prison. Tiffany Murdaugh pleaded guilty on June 1 to charges of second-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment in connection to the Apr. 13, 2015, incident in which she narrowly missed a group of schoolchildren as she drove up the sidewalk during the Spruce Street School’s morning drop-off. Judge Gregory Carro sentenced Murdaugh to 2–6 years in prison for the reckless endangerment charge, and three years of post-release supervision in connection with the assault charge. Video from the incident showed Murdaugh, who lives in Philadelphia, swerving onto the sidewalk in her 2013 Dodge Challenger around 8 a.m. near
the intersection of William St. right next to the school. As she careened nearly half a block down the crowded sidewalk, Murdaugh slammed into Heather Hensl, who was on her way to work — literally knocking the 37-year-old mother of two out of her shoes and gravely injuring her left leg. After fleeing the scene of the Beekman St. mayhem, Murdaugh drove over the Brooklyn Bridge and got into another accident in Crown Heights, where she rear-ended another car and then abandoned her own. As weeks passed with police showing no signs of progress in the case, Hensl spoke to Downtown Express a month after the crash, pleading for justice. A week later, police announced Murdaugh’s arrest. After the five weeks it took to arrest Murdaugh, repeated delays and postponements of her case allowed more than a year to pass before she finally pleaded guilty in June.
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Pooch pa t r ol Locals got to meet cops of all shapes, sizes, and species at the First Precinct’s National Night Out event on Aug. 2 at the South Street Seaport.
DOES YOUR CHILD LOVE TO SING? Join the Trinity Youth Chorus Auditions Held in August & September Youth ages 4–18 are invited to join a group of talented young singers for the 2016-17 season. The Chorus meets in Lower Manhattan and is free to join. To schedule an audition, please contact: Melissa Attebury, Trinity Church Wall Street’s Associate Director of Music email@example.com or 212.602.0798
Learn more at trinitywallstreet.org/youth-chorus
August 11 - August 24, 2016
SAFETY NOT JUST DRIVERSâ€™ RESPONSIBILITY Safety should be a top priority for everyone sharing the road, including cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. The following are a few tips each of those groups of travelers can employ to ensure the roads stay safe for everyone.
sÂŹ "ICYCLISTSÂŹ MUSTÂŹ FOLLOWÂŹ THEÂŹ same trafďŹ c rules as automobile drivers. Stop for red lights and stop signs, signal lane changes or turns, and
drive on the correct side of the road. sÂŹ7ATCHÂŹOUTÂŹFORÂŹPARKEDÂŹCARSÂŹ Oftentimes, drivers exit their vehicles and do not CHECKÂŹ FORÂŹ ONCOMINGÂŹ TRAFlCÂŹ or cyclists. You can be hit by a swinging car door. sÂŹ -AKEÂŹ YOURSELFÂŹ ASÂŹ NOTICEable as possible. This could include using a light or HORNÂŹ ONÂŹ THEÂŹ BIKEÂŹ TOÂŹ SIGNALÂŹ your presence to drivers. sÂŹ !LWAYSÂŹ WEARÂŹ AÂŹ HELMETÂŹ and other applicable safety equipment.
August 11 - August 24, 2016
sÂŹ-AINTAINÂŹYOURÂŹBIKEÂŹSOÂŹTHATÂŹ it is safe to ride. sÂŹ$OÂŹNOTÂŹCARRYÂŹOTHERSÂŹONÂŹYOURÂŹ BIKEÂŹ SUCHÂŹ ASÂŹ AÂŹ FRIENDÂŹ ORÂŹ AÂŹ child) if it is not designed to do so. Riding on the handlebars or behind the cyclist can be dangerous. sÂŹ !VOIDÂŹ THEÂŹ USEÂŹ OFÂŹ EARÂŹ BUDSÂŹ or headphones while cycling. You want all of your senses to be available to avoid accidents. sÂŹ#YCLEÂŹOUTÂŹOFÂŹTHEÂŹWAYÂŹOFÂŹDRIVersâ€™ blind spots so youâ€™ll be more visible.
sÂŹ $OÂŹ NOTÂŹ RIDEÂŹ YOURÂŹ BIKEÂŹ ONÂŹ THEÂŹ SIDEWALKÂŹ WHEREÂŹ YOUÂŹ could injure pedestrians.
sÂŹ!LWAYSÂŹUSEÂŹSIDEWALKSÂŹANDÂŹ CROSSWALKSÂŹ WHENÂŹ AVAILABLEÂŹ )FÂŹNOÂŹSIDEWALKÂŹISÂŹPRESENT ÂŹBEÂŹ SUREÂŹTOÂŹWALKÂŹAGAINSTÂŹTHEÂŹDIrection of trafďŹ c. sÂŹ5SEÂŹTRAFlCÂŹSIGNALSÂŹASÂŹYOURÂŹ GUIDEÂŹ (OWEVER ÂŹ MAKEÂŹ SUREÂŹ all trafďŹ c has stopped before crossing the road or STEPPINGÂŹOFFÂŹOFÂŹTHEÂŹSIDEWALK sÂŹ+EEPÂŹCONTROLÂŹOFÂŹPETSÂŹWHENÂŹ
WALKINGÂŹONÂŹAÂŹLEASH ÂŹSOÂŹYOUREÂŹ not pulled out into trafďŹ c. sÂŹ 5SEÂŹ CAUTIONÂŹ ATÂŹ BUSÂŹ STOPSÂŹ -ANYÂŹ INJURIESÂŹ OCCURÂŹ FROMÂŹ pedestrians running to catch a bus or stepping out into trafďŹ c after exiting a bus. Remember, there will be another bus behind the one youâ€™re chasing and safety is more important. sÂŹ 7EARÂŹ BRIGHTLYÂŹ COLOREDÂŹ ORÂŹ REmECTIVEÂŹ CLOTHINGÂŹ IFÂŹ WALKing at night. sÂŹ $OÂŹ NOTÂŹ CROSSÂŹ HIGHWAYSÂŹ ORÂŹ interstates on foot.
Tribattery Pops album promises disco fever, rapid weight loss
BY COLIN MIXSON It’s like a Saturday Nigh Fever-dream. Local community band the Tribattery Pops, Tom Goodkind Conductor, recently released its latest album, “Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Days,” in which the group of professional and amateur Downtown musicians cover disco classics from the 70s, and — this time — they didn’t miss a note, according to the band’s irreverent leader. “We really didn’t make any mistakes on this record, and that’s a big accomplishment for us,” said Tom Goodkind, the man who puts the “Tom Goodkind Conductor” in the Tribattery Pops, Tom Goodkind Conductor. “Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Days” is the Tribattery Pops’ 13th release since the band’s debut in 2004, and covers disco tunes exclusive to the decade that gave birth to shag carpets, Quaaludes, and the polyester leisure suit. The band performs around six shows a year, which will include the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Run on Sept. 25, where audiences can expect to boogie down to
such tunes as “Hot Stuff,” “Staying Alive,” and “Disco Inferno,” among others. Goodkind, a member of Community Board 1 and former rocker with the neobeatnik folk revival group the Washington Squares, admitted that disco is pretty dumb, but said that’s part of what makes their latest album so great. “It’s horrifyingly stupid,” he said. “It’s the dumbest stuff I ever heard, and you love it right away.” Like any Tribattery Pops release, Goodkind struggled at times to wrangle enough local talent to make it happen. Originally, Assembly candidate Jenifer Rajkumar was slated to provide vocals for the release, but then she dropped out unexpectedly. “We’re ready for the year, it’s the middle of January, and she sends me a nice e-mail saying, ‘I can’t do it, bye,’” said Goodkind. “I said, ‘oh my god, she must have looked up the lyrics.’” Assuming Rajkumar thought better of performing “Shake Your Booty” while running for office, Goodkind went on to
The latest album from the Tribattery Pops covers classic disco tunes from decade of shag carpets, Quaaludes, and polyester leisure suits.
recruit his daughter Olivia, a student at Berkley College of Music, along with her friends, and a few members of the Men’s Choir of Downtown New York.
But Murphy’s Law prevailed. Goodkind’s daughter fell ill on the disco Continued on page 16
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
BY LENORE SKENAZY Our governor wants us to panic about a problem that does not exist: Sex offenders preying on kids playing Pokemon Go. About a week ago, state Sens. Jeff Klein (D–Bronx) and Diane Savino (D–Brooklyn) proposed legislation banning Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from playing the popular new phone game. The senators also demanded that the game’s developers eliminate any Pokemon within 100 feet of the home of a registered sex offender. Not to be outdone, Gov. Cuomo jumped on the Poke-wagon 48 hours later to make an even tougher, firstin-the-nation law: From now on, even a Tier 1 Sex Offender found playing Pokemon Go while on parole could end up in prison. That means that if you happened to be an 18-year-old who got a sext from your 16-year-old girlfriend, and this got you labeled a low-level sex offender (which is already crazy), you could play a game on your phone and end up in prison. It should be noted here that Pokemon Go is more like solitaire than poker. As you walk along, cartoon creatures suddenly appear on your phone. You “catch” them by tapping the screen. Now, I realize that anytime a politician mentions new and harsher sex offender restrictions, many voters cheer. That is why politicians keep proposing them. But these laws will not make our children safer, because they are based on the incorrect idea that registered sex offenders pose a big threat to kids. They do — on “Law & Order,” because that makes for an exciting
plotline: The creep outside the playground, preparing to pounce, or the criminal mastermind online, stalking children by decoding their posts. But in real life, which is as horrifying as it is mundane, the vast majority of sex abuse occurs at the hands of someone in the child’s life: a relative, family friend, or other trusted adult. “Stranger danger” sounds like a huge threat, but the FBI stats on children abducted for nefarious purposes show exactly what percent were snatched by registered sex offenders? In 2009: Zero. And in 2010, it was less than 1 percent. Even the group that put the missing kids’ pictures on the milk cartons, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has labeled stranger danger a “myth we have been trying to debunk.” What’s hard to believe or even understand is that registered sex offenders pose very little threat to children. A study of Washington D.C. neighborhoods compared blocks with registrants on them to those without and found no difference in the number of sex crimes committed. That’s because even though we have heard that people on the registry are insatiable child molesters, the surprising truth is that they have a very low level of recidivism. It is about 5 percent. That is lower than any other criminals other
than murderers. So the sex offender registry itself is a failed idea, a way of labeling hundreds of thousands of people who are, for the most part, not going to hurt anyone, much less a stranger. In fact, my guess is that you probably know someone — a friend, or a friend of a friend — who is on the registry, even though you know they aren’t a threat to anyone. Add to this the idea that registrants are going to use Pokemon Go as predator helper and you have created a fantastical scenario that would be a great plot point for a Liam Neeson movie — or maybe The Simpsons. But making legislation based on that fantasy is worse than mere grandstanding. Far from reassuring parents, it scares them even more by making it sound as if our kids are in constant danger the second they step outside. These laws ignore the wonderful fact that, in fact, it is the opposite: Kids today are safer today than they’ve been in 50 years. (And it isn’t just because they’re “helicoptered.” Adults are safer today, too, and we don’t helicopter them.) Crime is back to the level it was in 1963. The real danger kids face is in not going outside. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise, not child rape. Making it seem as if registered sex offenders are constantly on the prowl for tots and only harsh new laws can save them is a lie. The new legislation is pointless. Gov. Cuomo, and Sens. Klein and Savino are guilty of a new political crime: Fear-pokemongering. Lenore Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, and a contributor at Reason.com.
Posted To ARMADA OF HEROES: The story of the civilianled, waterborne evacuation of Downtown on 9/11 (July 29) I am a WWII vet and a retired Naval Officer. I remember this incident very well — I was on a wellness center treadmill watching TV — Thought first plane was a bad accident. When a second one came into view, it was apparent what was going to happen. How terrible! Am disappointed where America is today, both locally and worldwide. Our country has NEVER been better than in the 1940s & 50s, even with
the war. What an enormous thing we did across two oceans in saving the world! Moreover, our people were unified and trustworthy. Joseph Riley
Road work ahead: BPC residents meet to mull options for South End Ave. makeover (July 28) Ironically, on the stormy Monday on which some of the redesign proposals were on display, I was busy bringing my child to and from Kumon. To keep from getting soaked by the downpour, we used the covered arcades. Unfortunately, when trav-
eling through BPC North, we did get wet since there were no covered walkways, excluding Regal Cinemas “alley.” (Yes we did have umbrellas, for the smart asses out there.). Instead of thinking about getting rid of covered areas, more should be added to BPC. RDWM
Done deal: Whole Foods coming to 1 Wall St. (July 28) Though a supermarket is a great and needed addition to the Financial posted Continued on page 15
trash Continued from page 1
the impending trash avalanche, from coordinating specific pickup times with building managers to reimagining the city’s entire approach to garbage collection. “I think we’re just throwing everything at the barn wall and seeing what sticks,” said Proulx. Proulx, a zoning lawyer, said the city should consider requiring large-scale developments in high-density areas like Downtown to set aside space inside their buildings for trash storage and sanitation pickups. “Zoning is a good instrument for fixing these kinds of problems. There are already zoning requirements for commercial buildings of a certain size to have loading berths,” he said. “I would like to see this be a focus of agency heads.” A Sanitation spokeswoman said property owners can request to have garbage collection done inside their buildings, but it’s not required. Some want to go a step further and require new mega-towers to install specialized compactors that the Department of Sanitation can cart away and empty every day. The department already provides this service in Battery Park City. As Downtown Express reported in June, the waterfront development keeps trash off the curb using four trash compactors that handle refuse from more than 7,000 residential units and two local schools. At a July meeting of the CB1 Quality of Life Committee with a representative from the Mayor’s office, Battery Park City resident Sandy Gordon described how the compactors keep the streets litter-free. “My building has one of the major compactors for Battery Park City,” she said. “This is a huge facility, but I only notice it’s there when I walk in front of the open garage door. I don’t smell it, I don’t see it, it’s very discretely done, but it’s a huge volume of trash.” In the rest of Downtown, however, household refuse is piled on narrow sidewalks at 4 p.m. three days a week for collection — and may sit there
posted Continued from page 14
District, Whole Foods would not be my first choice. High prices, not-sohealthy food, arrogant workers, brain dead customers who need to learn how to properly push carts and understand that other people besides themselves exist in this world. Fairway, DowntownExpress.com
WASTELAND 6,537 new units by 2018 12,682 new residents 38,045 lbs more daily garbage 38 TONS more garbage stacked
Photo by Tequila Minsky
(Above) Mountains of garbage bags like this one outside 8 Spruce St. will become an ever more common fixture of Downtown sidewalks if the residential boom (left) continues apace.
overnight before Sanitation trucks take it away. Fern Cunningham, who lives near the 900-unit, Frank Gehry-designed building at 8 Spruce St., told the Mayor’s representative the piles of trash outside the tower demonstrate why the city’s current approach to waste collection Downtown is unsustainable. “Three times a week they put out six-foot-high mountains of garbage. It is the most disgusting thing ever. I do not understand how a building can have 900 apartments and no one thought about where they should put the garbage,” she said. Tommy Lin, director of constituent services for the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, responded by acknowledging that the sanitation problems in Downtown Manhattan are unique. “Where I live in Queens, we don’t have six-foot-tall piles of garbage. Every community has different concerns,” he said. “So if there is a trend or something
going on, this is something we can try to address.” Downtown’s convoluted layout, which grew out of the area’s colonial street map, makes adjusting to residential growth especially challenging. CB1 passed a resolution in June asking for the city to fund a mobility study aimed at making the increasingly dense neighborhood easier to navigate. The resolution grew out of CB1’s recent streetscape study, which found “cleaner streets” to be the number-one request among hundreds of pedestrians surveyed for the study. “The historic street grid creates unique circumstances here,” said Diana Switaj, director of planning and land use for CB1. “A lot of the streets and sidewalks are more narrow than other places in the city. So people have a lot less room to maneuver around the piles of garbage.” CB1’s streetscape study embraces the “smart city” concept that engi-
neering firm Buro Happold is exploring for their “Make Way for Lower Manhattan” project. Buro Happold is examining how strategies used by other historic cities to keep their roads clutter free can be implemented Downtown. “We believe it’s a good time to take a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening here and try a holistic, proactive approach to solving some of these issues,” Switaj said. Paul Leonard, director of communications for Councilmember Margaret Chin, said “all options to address the trash situation Downtown are on the table.” He said Chin is working alongside Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, chairman of the Committee on Sanitation & Solid Waste Management, to keep the sidewalks clear of garbage. But Patrick Kennell, head of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, cautioned that there is “no silver bullet” to solve Lower Manhattan’s trash epidemic. “This is going to require a lot of coordination and a lot of moving parts,” he said. “We recognize this is a complicated issue and it’s not going to be solved overnight. But this needs to be a top priority and we are going to continue to raise the issue.”
Best Market, or a host of others would be better. Jan David
Don’t be surprised to see yet another supermarket at 28 Liberty! Food Halls are opening at Eataly at the WTC and at the South Street Seaport (Jean George). We should never forget what a lucrative market this is. More than 300,000 Office Workers, almost 70,000 mostly affluent residents, more than 50,000 Higher Education Students attend class-
es here, more than 1 Million tourists (and climbing) visit every month and those tourists are staying longer as the number of hotel rooms double to over 8,000 in the next couple of years. That’s a Gold Mine for food markets of all kinds. It’s a wonder it took them this long to “discover” this neighborhood. Luis Vazquez
on the sidewalks every collection day
Jan, this may not be your first choice, but it is for many of us who live here. That said, other supermarkets are on their way as well: 70 Pine (Uptown Market) and the WTC (Market Lane).
August 11 - August 24, 2016
Dates: Thurs., Aug. 11–Wed., Aug. 17
ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING SUSPENDED MONDAY, IN EFFECT REST OF WEEK
NFL games during weeknights, even pre-season games, affect traffic much more than Sunday games. That’s because fans hit the roads during the afternoon peak period. We’ve got two consecutive games at the Meadowlands on Thursday and Friday nights. The Jaguars take on the Jets at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, and the Giants go headto-head with the Dolphins at 7 p.m. on Friday at MetLife Stadium. Now what does this have to do with lower Manhattan? It’s called the domino effect — traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel will get so jammed starting at 4 p.m. that drivers will head Downtown to the Holland. Thursday and Friday afternoons this week will be a mess on Varick, Canal and Hudson Sts. Somebody isn’t paying attention to the football schedule (or they hate the Jets) because Hudson River tunnel lanes will shut down just as fans return to Manhattan. The Holland Tunnel will close one eastbound tunnel lane from 11 p.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday morning. The Lincoln Tunnel will close an eastbound tube from 11 p.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday morning. Closures continue in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, with one tube closed from 8:30 p.m. Thursday to 5:30 a.m. Friday morning, and from 11 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday. There will be one lane in each
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
disco Continued from page 13
band’s only day of recording, and her friends bailed as a result. Bereft of vocalists, Goodkind was forced to improvise. Luckily, he discovered that one of the audio engineers at the studio had a voice, and she was quickly drafted into the band, he said. The Tribattery Pops’ albums are often acclaimed for their outstanding album covers — courtesy of band member Heidi Hunter — and this year’s doesn’t disappoint. “Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Days” depicts Jane Fonda in a workout leotard as afrotopped silhouettes groove in the background and Quaaludes fall from the sky. Initially, some band members objected to the image of Fonda, whose crotch was prominent in her workout onesie, so Hunter slapped a starburst over it with
direction in the remaining tube. Millions March NYC demonstrators continue to gather in City Hall Park in between Broadway and Park Row all week. Civil disobedience may cause backups on the Brooklyn Bridge. DOT’s Summer Streets continue this weekend. The citywide festival will close Centre St. between the Brooklyn Bridge and Foley Square, and Lafayette St. between Foley Square and Astor Pl. (as well as Park Ave. up to 72nd St.) from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Manhattan-bound traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge will take the FDR Drive or the Park Row South exit. The following crosstown streets will be open to cars: Chambers, Reade, Worth, Canal, Broome, and Houston Sts. The event continues the following Saturday as well. DOT’s Shared Streets will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday from Broadway to Water St. and from Park Row to State St. (City Hall to the Battery). This route will be shared with pedestrians and cyclists, so cars should not exceed 5 mph. The Park Avenue Underpass will be closed in both directions 10 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday. Take the FDR or Second Ave. instead. There will be no 4 train service in between Manhattan and Brooklyn this weekend, so take the N, R, 2, or 3 trains instead. The E train will be running on the F line between W. 4th St. and Jay St.-Metro Tech.
the words “High Energy 70s Disco” — and there were no further complaints. “Heidi put the sticker on her crotch, and they said, ‘Okay, that’s fine,’” said Goodkind. Goodkind also plans to release the new album in France, where Tribattery Pops’ previous offering of psychedelic covers, “Turn On, Tune Up, and Drop Out,” enjoyed viral success and garnered more than 100,000 clicks on Facebook. The band, which puts out an album every year, had envisioned as their next offering a jail-house performance of Johnny Cash tunes for former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, convicted last year of corruption and sentenced to a dozen years in the big house. But the disgraced legislator may see his conviction overturned after a recent Supreme Court ruling, so Goodkind may have to come up with another idea for next year’s album. DowntownExpress.com
Arcade Doc Gets High Score Filmmakers find a community at Chinatown Fair
Courtesy 26 Aries
Gamers found ways to adapt to change after the venerable arcade, Chinatown Fair (above), shuttered its doors in 2016.
BY SEAN EGAN “The first time we ever stepped into the arcade, we were just hit with this really strange feeling which we wanted to capture,” recalled Irene Chin, the writer and producer of “The Lost Arcade,” a documentary centered on the last video arcade in Manhattan, Chinatown Fair (8 Mott St., btw. Chatham Sq. & Worth St.). “It felt very alive. It also felt very unique and rare, especially in Manhattan,” noted director Kurt Vincent, citing the tactic of raising rents to strong-arm longtime DowntownExpress.com
locals out of business. “So that was our initial catalyst for starting the investigation.” Their start couldn’t have been more auspiciously timed — just a month after the pair’s first sojourn to the location in 2011, the neighborhood institution shuttered its doors, putting the final nail in the coffin of arcades, which had been on the downswing since their ’80s heyday. Armed with cameras and the connections they made from their visits, the pair began to sift through the storied history of the location, and soon the tight-knit
community fostered by the place came into sharper focus. As the film progresses, significant figures who called the arcade home gradually begin to emerge: Sam, the elderly Pakistani man who operated the arcade for decades; Henry, his teenage employee turned devoted manager; and Akuma, a foster home runaway who found a job (and a family) at Chinatown Fair. “It was a struggle to find the story, and I think the turning point happened when Irene and I both realized that what really made us want to make the movie
and tell the story was the people, and that’s when it sort of clicked,” Vincent commented. “It became much more of an emotional story based around the people we were connecting with, because to us, the arcade was more about humans and people coming together. That’s what we really found pretty powerful.” To this end, Vincent employs the wellworn building blocks of documentary: allowing archival material, candid footage, and talking heads to do the narrative ARCADE continued on p. 20 August 11 - August 24, 2016
Street Theater Tour Boroughs
Into Our Consciousness TNC marks 40 years of serious and zany community theater
Photo by Julia Slaff
“Election Selection, or You Bet!” — TNC’s 40th annual Street Theater musical — tours the five boroughs through Sept. 18.
BY TRAV S.D. “Nothing’s ever gonna change!” sings the chorus, in “Election Selection, or You Bet!” — the current summer Street Theater production from Theater for the New City (TNC). As far as the show itself goes, that’s a wonderful thing. Now in its 40th year, Theater for the New City’s Street Theater is a sui generis (much like “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” the company prefers to leave the word “show” or “production” implied). While its avowed mission is “to raise social awareness” and “create civic dialogue,” the styles that inform it pull it in many directions besides conventional urban agitprop: community theater, musical comedy, vaudeville, puppetry/mask, and more than a little Bertolt Brecht. For the past four decades, this unicorn of a show, which is performed in parks and blocked-off streets in all five boroughs, has been the brainchild of TNC’s artistic director, Crystal Field, who writes and
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directs every edition. According to Field, who spoke with this publication just days before “Election Selection” had its debut, the Street Theater can be traced back to 1971, when poet/playwright/architect/activist Robert Nichols approached her to direct a piece which he had written. Nichols was cofounder of Judson Poets’ Theater, architect of the 1969 redesign of Washington Square Park’s playground, and, since the early 1960s, a frequent collaborator with Bread and Puppet Theater. The new play, titled “The Expressway,” was designed to protest Robert Moses’ controversial plan to build an elevated highway that would cut through Little Italy. It was the first production of the Public Theater, and presented outside their building on Lafayette St. The production had 35 actors and a breakaway stage that was designed to fall apart when a car rammed into it. Her collaborations with Nichols became annual summer affairs. But,
Field said, “After a few years he decided he didn’t want to write the whole thing, so he’d write the first line of a scene or the first couple lines of a song and I’d finish the rest. In 1975 he moved to Vermont and the following year I started doing the whole thing myself, from start to finish.” The first full-fledged Crystal Field Street Theater show was “Mama Liberty’s Bicentennial” (1976), and this well-oiled, complicated touring machine has performed every year, without interruption, ever since — 40 productions, 12–15 locations a year across five boroughs, thousands of audience members, and hundreds of performers (including, for six years, a young Tim Robbins in his first professional acting roles). Another actor who started with the Street Theater as a child is MichaelDavid Gordon, who has remained with the show for the past 32 years. “The Street Theater is the greatest place in the
world for beginnings,” Gordon said, as part of a conversation with several cast members during an “Election Selection” rehearsal at TNC’s home base (155 First Ave., btw. E. Ninth & E. 10th Sts.). “I got my start here,” he recalled, “and now I return every year as a way of giving back.” Emily Pezzella, a cast member for the past seven years, called the Street Theater “a gift to the community.” “Audiences love this Street Theater so much,” said four-year company member Danielle Hauser, who added, “We’ve had shows where people jumped up and joined in the performance, and shows where audience members helped strike the set. At one show, the sound system cut out during the pre-show and the audience joined in singing until showtime. The key is Field’s rapport with audiences. She credits her adroitness in writSTREET THEATER continued on p. 19 DowntownExpress.com
STREET THEATER continued from p. 18
ing and directing for the masses to an illuminating, if harrowing, experience she had in the Street Theater’s early years. The company was performing in a Lower Manhattan neighborhood, working from a script with a lot of local lampoonery and rude elements (one of which, a purposefully off-key vocal chorus, seemed to set the crowd off). “People started throwing stuff at us, and chased us and we had to get the hell out!” Field said, remembering that moment as “an eye-opener. It taught me a lot about how to approach a neighborhood and how to write street theater. They don’t want to be talked down to or patronized. But they do want the issues covered.” Since then she’s gotten more sophisticated about the art of persuasion. Her mission is “to bring really serious subjects to the audience, but with no preaching. I want to hit a beautiful balance between the zany and the serious.” The emphasis is on change at the local level, Field emphasized. “It’s like Bernie [Sanders] says; political power starts at the bottom, the school board, the city council, the block association; fight for the small things and the change will begin to fan out.” The Aug. 6 performance of “Election Selection” was a testament to the public’s devotion to this local institution: I saw faces on the stage and in the audience that I have been seeing regularly at Street Theater performances for the past 15 years. People who were children when I first saw them are now adults; toddlers are now teenagers. Kitchen chairs and milk boxes used as seats make it feel even more like home. Another old friend is back: the beloved “cranky” — an enormous crank-operated scenic scroll with a large, changing backdrop of painting settings, a mainstay of the Street Theater for many years. Not surprisingly, the theme of this year’s show is the upcoming presidential election. Interestingly, while Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are mentioned, they’re not the focus of the show, despite their great potential for satire. The focus is on “The People” more than the politicians. A worker is suffering due to the “Jobless Recovery.” He finds a job working at the polls, where he meets a bunch of disaffected citizens, and one African American gentleman (Gordon), who supports Trump and dislikes Affirmative Action. Field plays an old lady whose constant refrain is “Nothin’s gonna change.” Our heroes fall onto the subway tracks and have a nearDowntownExpress.com
Photo by Julia Slaff
Puppetry and masks are part and parcel of TNC’s summertime Street Theater productions.
death experience. A fantasia ensues, containing a succession of people and events who brought change in American history: converted Muslim Muhammad Ali, the Latin culture organization the Young Lords, the suffragettes, and the rioters at Stonewall. The experience causes an epiphany in Gordon’s character. He emerges from the experience committed to change. But first there are battles: Pikachu and his cartoon comrades fight against a “Monster of War, Poverty, and Global Warming.” Finally, the characters organize and make strides to improve their community — and exhort the audience to do the same. This year’s Street Theater stands in welcome contrast to the withering negativity and anger we encounter daily in social media. One walks away with the refreshing thought that perhaps everything isn’t hopeless after all. I highly recommend it as an antidote for these troubled times. Through Sept. 18. Free and open to the public. Runtime: One hour, 15 minutes. Manhattan performances of “Election Selection” include Sat., Aug. 13, 2pm at Tompkins Square Park (E. Seventh St. & Ave. A); Sun., Aug. 14, 2pm at the Central Park Bandshell (72nd St. crosswalk); Sat., Sept. 10, 2pm at Washington Square Park (Fifth Ave. & Waverly Pl.); and Sun, Sept. 18, 2pm at St. Marks Church (E. 10th St. at Second Ave.). For the full schedule, visit theaterforthenewcity.net or call 212254-1109.
Photo by Tim Esteves
The story of our lives: “Election Selection” showcases a succession of people and events responsible for changing the American landscape.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
TNC’S AWARD-WINNING STREET THEATER COMPANY’S 2016 ANNUAL SUMMER STREET THEATER TOUR
“ELECTION SELECTION or YOU BET” (An Operetta for the Street) Book, Lyrics & Direction by Crystal Field Music Composed and Arranged by Joseph Vernon Banks
For a full listing of performance locations and times, or to donate visit us online at www.theaterforthenewcity.net
TNC’s 7th Annual
Dream Up Festival
19 Productions, 15 World Premieres! Musicals, Comedy, Drama, Experimental, International and more For a full listing of shows visit DreamUpFestival.org to purchase tickets visit smarttix.com or call (212) 868-4444 August 11 - August 24, 2016
Courtesy 26 Aries
Gamers congregate outside of Chinatown Fair prior to its closure in 2011.
Courtesy 26 Aries
A glimpse inside Chinatown Fair as it once was, bustling with people playing games and forging connections.
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
ARCADE continued from p. 17
lifting. It’s in the margins, however, where the filmmakers most effectively capture the spirit of camaraderie unique to the arcade and its community. Opening with a prologue accompanied by some poetic first-person narration, the film then explodes in a sequence of light and color, a frenetic montage of old school gameplay footage and eight-bit art. Set to Gil Talmi’s pulsating, glitchy score (aided in its warmth by the use of analog synths), these sequences periodically pop up and inject a sense of fun that informs the proceedings. Crosscutting between hyper-kinetic, half-forgotten arcade favorites, and the alternatively intense and jovial faces of patrons creates a haze of nostalgia that lingers endearingly over the whole endeavor.
“The feeling of being in the arcade is very dreamlike, so we were really trying to capture that visually,” Chin concluded, with Vincent verifying that they wanted the film’s sense of earnestness reflected in its visual tableau. “We filmed stuff on CRT [cathode-ray television] screens,” he revealed. “It would have been easier to just put it on our computer screens and film close-ups of video games on our computer screens, but to us that was inauthentic,” he explained. “You needed to see the scan lines.” The process of filming and editing wound up taking the team through 2015; for a film initially about a defunct arcade, a surprising amount of new developments cropped up over time. Fitting for a film so focused on togetherness and community, the pair launched a Kickstarter campaign, the success of which is evident in the wall of text devoted to backers in the credits. “Kickstarter’s awesome because people from all over get to know about your film,” Chin asserted. “It’s a good way to bring a community [together], especially one that’s a culture like gamers. They’re very much online and they’re a really great community, we found out, that supports each other — and they don’t want to see arcades die.” “I think the arcade experience, of people coming together around video games is a profound one that changed people’s lives, and I want people to see that video games are not just simply entertainment — and that’s what I think a lot of people don’t understand. To these people in the arcade, video games are so much more. They gave them a voice, they gave them an outlet of expression,” Vincent added. “Through the video games, it bridged the gap between these different types of people that otherwise never probably would have come in contact.” While the film begins on the bittersweet note of a closure, it ultimately becomes a hopeful celebration of a subculture and its resiliency. Gamers found ways to adapt to change: Old school fans migrated to a new Brooklyn arcade operated by Henry, while a reopened Chinatown Fair (under new management) nurses a fledgling scene of younger gamers. The sense of community then, is still tangible today, as Vincent recently witnessed firsthand in “a beautiful moment” at Chinatown Fair, when he attempted to try his hand at a Japanese racing import. “I sat down to play it, and I realized that the screen was all in Japanese, so I couldn’t understand how to even select a car. So the guy that was sitting next to me, he was my challenger, he walked me through it and helped me. And after he beat me, he introduced himself,” Vincent recalled. “It was the first time I had been to Chinatown Fair as a fan. I wasn’t there with a camera, I wasn’t working on the movie, and to have that happen, to be introduced and welcomed into this racing community, it was just incredible, and made me feel happy to see that the spirit of Chinatown Fair is very much alive.” Runtime: 79 minutes. Written by Irene Chin. Directed by Kurt Vincent. Opens Fri., Aug. 12 at Metrograph (7 Ludlow St., btw. Canal & Hester Sts.). Daily screening at 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm, & 9pm. Call 212-660-0312 or visit metrograph.com for more info. Also visit facebook.com/ArcadeMovie and 26aries.com. DowntownExpress.com
Hot Town The Lovin’ Spoonful’s ‘Summer in the City’ Turns 50 BY JIM MELLOAN When the days in New York City become particularly sweltering, it’s not too unusual for many boomers to hear in their heads a certain catchy piano riff, followed by the phrase “Hot town — summer in the city; back of my neck getting dirt and gritty.” The song, by The Lovin’ Spoonful, went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 50 years ago this Saturday, Aug. 13. It was the only No. 1 hit for the group. For me, growing up in the not-very-mean streets of suburban New Jersey, just 20 miles away, the song was memorably evocative of urban life in the summer, sweating through the days and chasing girls at night, promising a future of teens-and-20s tribulations and delights — “Come on, come on, and dance all night; despite the heat it’ll be all right.” The Spoonful’s leader and principal songwriter, John Sebastian, is a product of Greenwich Village. His father, John Sebastian Sr., was a professional classical harmonica player, an unusual vocation to say the least. He was widely regarded as the best in the world at his job, and many composers wrote scores specifically for him. John Sebastian Jr. started playing guitar in his early teens, and was appearing on recordings by jug bands and other folkie offshoots by the early ’60s. He met guitarist Zal Yanovsky, the clown of the group, through Mama Cass and Denny Doherty, who went on to become half of The Mamas & the Papas. The three, plus Sebastian, ever so tangentially, had been members of a New York City group called The Mugwumps. Yanovsky was a Jew from Toronto whose dad was a Communist and whose mother died of cancer early on. After high school Yanovsky had bummed around Canada homeless for a couple of years, with a brief stint at a kibbutz in Israel, before moving to DC and then to New York. Drummer Joe Butler was from Long Island, and bassist Steve Boone’s family had settled there early on. When Sebastian and Yanovsky were looking to complete the band, they rejected Stephen Stills and Neil Young; Sebastian DowntownExpress.com
also declined to tour with Bob Dylan as he put the band together. The name The Lovin’ Spoonful came from a song called “Coffee Blues” by Mississippi John Hurt, whom Sebastian had gotten to know. Lyrics include “I wanna see my baby ‘bout a lovin’ spoonful” — a reference to cunnilingus.
before “Summer in the City”: “Do You Believe in Magic,” “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” “Daydream,” and “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind.” All four were by Sebastian; the last two both went to No. 2 on the chart. In early 1966, the band supplied the soundtrack for the first film Woody Allen did as a
hallk.blogspot.com via MGM/Kama Sutra.
The Lovin’ Spoonful had their biggest hit with 1966’s “Summer in the City.”
One of the Spoonful’s early venues was a place called The Night Owl Cafe (118 W. Third St., btw. MacDougal & Sixth Ave.). After a couple weeks they were thrown out because they just weren’t that good. They moved to Cafe Bizarre, down the street, and got better. Eventually the Night Owl wanted them back, and promoted them big time. After the Spoonful’s initial success, they were considered as the basis for the show that would eventually become The Monkees. But the idea smelled too prefab for the band. The Spoonful had four Top 10 hits
writer: “What’s Up Tiger Lily?”; the one in which they took an existing kitschy Japanese spy flick and dubbed a completely different, silly script in English about a recipe for egg salad. “Summer in the City” marked a turn from the poppy sweetness of the band’s early hits to a harder, rocking sound. Its kernel originated with Sebastian’s younger brother Mark, who was 14. He left a tape of a song he had composed for John before he went to visit their dad in Italy. It was more from a kid’s point of view, talking about stickball games, but the “chorus” Mark came up with
survived with the music intact (“But at night it’s a different world…”). John wrote new verses, starting with “Hot town…” Bassist Boone contributed the piano lick, played on a Hohner pianet, and drummer Butler came up with the surreal lyric “wheezin’ like a bus stop.” This level of collaboration was unusual for the Spoonful. At some point the song brought to Sebastian’s mind Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and its onomatopoetic horns. He wanted to bring that feel to the recording. The group hired a “funny old sound man” from the old-time radio days who had a bunch of acetate discs of sound effects; they listened for hours to choose what they wanted. The sounds of honking horns and jackhammers completed the urban soundscape. “Summer in the City” was a high point for the group. Yanovsky was fired from the group in 1967, Sebastian left in 1968, and in 1969 the Spoonful disbanded. Sebastian made his first appearance as a solo artist on a January 1969 TV special hosted by Cass Elliot, and in 1976 had a huge hit with the theme song to “Welcome Back, Kotter.” The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. In the early ’70s, record companies were sending a lot of review copies of albums to The Wall Street Journal, where my dad worked, even though the paper did not review records at the time. My dad brought many of them home, enriching our education on contemporary (usually failed) commercial music. One of these records, a favorite of mine, was a 1971 reissue of Yanovsky’s 1968 solo album “Alive and Well in Argentina.” The title track was a countrified rocker about all the most famous Nazis doing fine in the Argentine. The Spoonful often referred to their music as “good-time music.” Yanovsky continued the tradition in his own special way. Jim Melloan is a writer, actor, musician, and editor. His radio show (“50 Years Ago This Week”) airs Tuesdays, 8–10pm on RadioFreeBrooklyn.com. August 11 - August 24, 2016
August 11 - August 24, 2016
Drones Continued from page 1
from the larger manufactures â€” they paid for lodging for some of their pilots, but most people paid out of pocket.â€? The sport combines knowledge of radio frequencies, engineering, and craftsmanship â€” most machines were handcrafted by their pilots â€” with prodigious flying skills, and it was the competitors with the best combination of those disciplines that came out on top, said drone pilot Wyll Soll. â€œI would say the best competitors put in a lot of time practicing. They go out flying eight hours a day, seven days a week, but it does also have to do with technology,â€? said Soll. â€œIf your tech lets you down, you donâ€™t fly.â€? The large crowds, numerous vendors, and the competitionâ€™s broadcast on ESPN 3 â€” all absent from last yearâ€™s tournament â€” along with the choice of Governors Island as the venue to host the latest championship struck some competitors as a validation of the hobbyâ€™s slow-but-sure recognition as a legitimate sport, according to Jefferys. â€œItâ€™s very cool to have this backdrop, you really feel like youâ€™re at the center of something cultural, even if itâ€™s a subculture of sorts,â€? the champ said. â€œIt feels very validating. You donâ€™t feel like youâ€™re a couple of hobbyists dorking around in a field somewhere.â€? Last weekendâ€™s competition was put on by the Drone Sports Association, which sanctions races in 40 countries. The U.S. national winners will represent America in the inaugural World Drone Racing Championships in Hawaii in October. Some competitors found the island setting more a hassle than a boon. Soll complained of strict regulations that
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Drone pilot Ian Jefferys flew out from Los Angeles to compete in the national championship â€” and won the tournamentâ€™s winged-drone category.
delayed construction of the course, and ESPNâ€™s wireless broadcast signal, which occasionally interfered with the connection between the pilots on the ground and their machines in the air. â€œIt honestly created a lot of issues,â€? Soll said. But for a bunch of guys used to flying solo in an empty field, the roar of the crowd as their flying machines made a low pass over the stands was well worth the inconvenience. â€œItâ€™s really cool,â€? said Jefferys. â€œUsually, playing with RC toys doesnâ€™t evoke that experience.â€?
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Photo by Franz Lino
Most of the aircraft flying in the race were home-built â€” and repaired on the fly â€” by the pilots or their pit crews.
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August 11 - August 24, 2016
August 11, 2016