YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Hell’s Kitchen Doorman Has a Handle on Filmmaking BY JANE ARGODALE There are, as the narrator of a TV series once told us, “eight million stories in the naked city” — and even more can be found if you take into account the parallel lives led by working artists with fulltime jobs. Thus, by day, residents INDIGO CHILDREN continued on p. 7
BP Plays ‘Triple No’ Hand in Affordable Housing Gamble BY ALEX ELLEFSON Borough President Gale Brewer has dug up an obscure and rarely used provision of the City Charter to fight for affordable housing in a controversial Chelsea development. The borough president invoked ADORAMA continued on p. 4
AMY JUST TRUSTS
The only “non-famous” member of the Stiller family, singular comedic sensation Amy workshops her new solo show, Aug. 23 at Dixon Place. See page 18.
Photo by Nicole Javorsky
A visitor to the High Line stops to stargaze.
SCOPING OUT STAR STUFF Amateur Astronomers Take a Night Flight to the High Line BY NICOLE JAVORSKY While Amateur Astronomers Association of New York member Carey Horwitz adjusts the telescope to my short stature, he explained that this astronomy club looks mostly at double stars and planets. They’re limited by the pollution in New York City, he noted. Within minutes of arriving at the weekly stargazing event at the High Line, I realized how little I know about astronomy. Yet, just a few moments later, I was looking at Jupiter through the eyepiece of one of the seven high-powered telescopes set up along the W. 14th St. portion of Chelsea’s elevated park. Faissal Halim, another member of the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA), helped me figure out how to use the telescope, by pointing the contraption at a building to start me off. It still took me a few tries to see anything, but thankfully Halim remained patient. Several times a week, at various locations in New York — including the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Central
© CHELSEA NOW 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Park, and Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza — AAA members like Horwitz and Halim point their telescopes at planets and stars, and give passersby a hands-on chance to ponder our place in the universe. Every Tuesday night, April through October, the AAA holds observation sessions on the High Line. They also present free monthly lectures at the Museum of Natural History from October to May, in addition to offering classes in astronomy and astrophysics (earlier this year, they held a class on the basics of astronomy, as well as a night sky photography workshop). Horwitz and Halim are two of over 700 members in this astronomy club that has been active since 1927. Members do their own observing — but as the lectures and classes show, they often opt to share their love of astronomy with the public. An AAA member for the past decade, Horwitz became interested in stargazing when, as a child, the things he was STAR continued on p. 12 VOLUME 08, ISSUE 33 | AUGUST 18 - 24, 2016
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Courtesy NYC DOHMH
A map of rat activity in Chelsea (the most heavily affected areas outlined in blue).
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
BY SEAN EGAN In New York, rats oftentimes serve as an inconsiderate neighbor (or tenant) whose bad habits and uncleanliness can cause health risks, and raise quality of life concerns. For many, in fact, hardly a day goes by where one doesn’t see a rat on the streets, in the subway, or even at home. That’s why on Tues., Aug. 17, the office of City Councilmember Corey Johnson (representing Council District 3), along with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) presented its second “Rat Academy” at the LGBT Community Center (208 W. 13th St, btw. Greenwich & Seventh Aves.). The program was intended to educate the community on ways to prevent and eliminate the troublesome rodents from their homes, businesses, and public spaces. After Erik Bottcher, Johnson’s Chief of Staff, reported that the Councilmember’s office receives hundreds of complaints about rats, he turned the floor over to the “the number one authority of the topic,” DOHMH’s Caroline Bragdon, who he referred to as “New York City’s rat czar,” in order to kick off the night. Armed with a thorough and informative PowerPoint presentation, Bragdon highlighted some recent statistics about the rat population in Chelsea. So far this year, there have
been 469 rat inspections in the area, and 16.6% of those inspections resulted in failure (she described “success” as below 5%). Furthermore, the city has provided 223 visits by pest control professionals to specific sites. Bragdon also noted that while there were 20 violations for un-remediated rat activity in the last six to seven months in the neighborhood, it represents a fairly low number citywide. She also stressed the importance of community mobilization to combat rats (including calling 311), and urged the assembled to visit the city’s rat portal (nyc.gov/rats) for resources and neighborhood rat stats, such as its “Rat Indexing” program, which targets certain areas for more in-depth surveillance. Also mentioned was the de Blasio administration’s commitment to fighting “rat reservoirs” (areas where large numbers of rats thrive). Next up, Danisa Arias, also from DOHMH, spoke about ways to identify rat problems, and preventative measures. Rat-proofing methods include sealing up any holes the size of a quarter or larger (preferably using steel or copper mesh and plaster). Securing garbage is also a must, as rats only require 1oz of food and water a day to survive — gallons-large bags provide enough sustenance for a colony of rodents. It’s all part of limiting access RAT ACADEMY continued on p. 10 .com
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
Development Dustup Could Determine Affordable Housing Protocol ADORAMA continued from p. 1
the “triple no” rule, used only 21 times since 1995, to challenge a City Planning Commission (CPC) decision to exempt a development project at 42 W. 18th St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.) from the new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program. The move will force a City Council vote on whether to override the commission. On Mon., Aug. 18, the commission approved Acuity Capital Partners’ special permit application to build beyond existing zoning regulations for the proposed 62-unit, 17-story condo building. However, Brewer argues new housing policy requires the developer make 20–30% of the units affordable in order to receive the permit. “One of the Mandator y Inclusionary Housing program’s biggest selling points was creating affordable housing wherever the city gives out special permits that allow more residential development,” Brewer said in a statement. “This project doesn’t include the affordable housing the law requires, and the arguments that it should be exempt are simply wrong.” However, because the development uses air rights from two adjacent landmarked buildings, one of which houses the well-known Adorama camera store, the CPC determined the permit does not increase the maximum permitted floor area of the site — an important sticking point in triggering MIH. Brewer argues the Commission was too lax in its interpretation of the new policy. Because the permit allows the developer to create 20 units more than allowed by zoning
regulations, she said the new affordable housing policy should apply. In an Aug. 10 Daily News op-ed, published ahead of the CPC vote, Brewer pointed out MIH rules “clearly state they must apply ‘where a special permit application would allow a significant increase in residential floor area.’ ” Brewer also noted the Chelsea development is the first application of its kind since the new policy took effect, and loosening the interpretation of the law “would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the creation of affordable housing in neighborhoods throughout Manhattan.” Future affordable housing protocol also appears to be a strong motivating factor in the CPC’s decision to exempt the development from MIH. On Aug. 15, The New York Times reported the Mayor’s Office, which worked aggressively to pass the affordable housing plan, is worried excessive enforcement could prompt court challenges to the program. A Department of City Planning spokesperson said in a statement that the goal is to enforce MIH wherever possible, but to do so “consistently and lawfully,” also noting, “To do otherwise, would seriously jeopardize the thousands of affordable apartments this legislation will yield for New Yorkers.” The borough president’s perspective on MIH is supported by Community Board 5 (CB5), which passed a resolution in May recommending the special permit be denied unless the new affordable housing rules are applied. “The words in the legislation passed by the council make it clear MIH applies in this case,” said CB5 District Manager Wally Rubin. “We
Photo by Jane Argodale
The CPC determined a developer can transfer air rights from the landmarked building above the Adorama camera store (second building from left), in order to build beyond zoning regulations in an adjacent building (left) without creating affordable housing.
applaud the borough president for sending this to the City Council.” The final call will have to be made by the City Council. “Triple no” can
be invoked when both the community board and borough president object to a land use application that is approved by the CPC.
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
Haru Sushi Sets Up Shop In Chelsea BY ALEX ELLEFSON Haru Sushi wants to make their brand a mainstay of New York’s many neighborhoods — and the first phase of their expansion is ready to roll out in Chelsea. On Thurs., Aug. 18, the Japanese restaurant celebrates the grand opening of their new location at the corner of W. 19th St. and Eighth Ave. This Chelsea restaurant is the first Haru Sushi to open in almost a decade — and part of a push by the company to stake out a claim in more parts of the city. “We’re very excited to be in a vibrant, food-centric neighborhood like Chelsea,” said Seth Rose, vice president of operations for Haru Sushi (harusushi.com). “We don’t want to be a chain that’s on every corner, but we feel there are enough neighborhoods throughout the city where we can put a location and be that neighborhood spot for people who enjoy sushi.” The company planted its first flag in the Upper West Side 20 years ago and later opened four other New York locations — as well as one in Boston
— until the economic turmoil in 2008 put a lid on any more expansion plans. Their last restaurant opened (ironically) near the New York Stock Exchange. However, the company is now in a position to grow again, said Rose. They plan to open another restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen later this year. The company also hired a new executive chef, Ben Dodaro, to add innovative items to their menu. Dodaro, who joined Haru Sushi almost two years ago, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and pupil of celebrity chef Michael Mina — rising up the ranks at Mina’s Nobhill Tavern in Las Vegas. “I’ve known Ben about five years. I’ve seen some of the projects he’s done and some of the innovative things he’s done. And I just thought he would be a great outside-the-box thinker,” said Rose. Dodaro works alongside Haru’s Sushi Chef Tatsuo Aoki to craft the menu. One of the items he said shows how the restaurant is breaking ground with its cuisine is the bluefin crab and corn fritter.
Courtesy Haru Sushi
Haru Sushi created the Chelsea Roll to celebrate their new location.
The fritter uses a traditional Japanese rice pearl breading on the outside, while also incorporating Asian flavors like ginger and Thai basil. It comes with a sauce that’s “got a big kick of Old Bay” seasoning — a uniquely American ingredient Dodaro especially enjoys. “I grew up in Maryland. So Old Bay speaks to me,” he said. “By mixing
Photo by Alex Ellefson
T:4.313”Haru Sushi’s newest location is at the
HARU continued on p. 11
corner of W. 19th St. & Eighth Ave.
HAVE YOUR ENERGY BILL SHOW UP IN YOUR INBOX INSTEAD OF YOUR MAILBOX.
On Aug. 18, 2007, one of the worst fires in New York City’s history rapidly consumed the Deutsche Bank building — a stone’s throw from what was the World Trade Center. The out-of-control raging inferno quickly escalated to a seven-alarm fire killing two firefighters, and injuring 105. One of the firefighters killed during the horrific fire was author Graffagnino’s son, Joey. Graffagnino refused to believe what decision makers were telling the public – that the fire was an accident.
After eight years of relentless research in pursuit of the truth – interviewing firefighters on the scene, government officials, observers, whistleblowers and eyewitnesses – Graffagnino uncovered the disturbing truth about a calculated conspiracy involving governmental agencies, corporate leaders and organized crime figures.
w w w. j a g raf fa g n i no.c om Joseph A. Graffagnino @Joe_Graffagnino Author.J.A.Graffagnino
The brave men who entered that blazing inferno had walked into a deathtrap, because there was no water to fight the fire. Water outlets inside and outside the building were bone dry.
August 18 - 24 , 2016
The Deutsche Bank Building Fire Conspiracy
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Doorman’s Directorial Debut Gets Its Digital Due
© 2012 Indigo Children LLC
The rural landscape is its own character in Eric Chaney’s debut film. INDIGO CHILDREN continued from p. 1
of an apartment building in the West 50s are regularly greeted by their doorman, Eric Chaney — a screenwriter and director whose 2012 debut, “Indigo Children,” will be released on iTunes on Aug. 23, and other online platforms, including Amazon, on Oct. 4 (see indigochildrenfilm.com). The film, which tells a story of young love between a teenage boy and girl from broken homes in a rural town, had a festival run in 2012, as well as a theatrical release at Greenwich Village’s Quad Cinema in 2014. Chaney, who grew up in Freehold, New Jersey and got his BFA in screenwriting at SUNY Purchase, has been working as a doorman for the last decade, and has been at his current building in the west 50s for four years. Though he is now a full-time, union doorman, he started out working part-time, at a job he got largely by chance. “There was one building that needed someone to work the Sunday shift,”
Chaney recalled, “and my friend told me that he could more than likely get me the job if he wanted to… at the time I was working as a screenplay reader and he kind of said that, ‘Oh, you know you could probably read a bit when you’re there, and the pay was pretty good.’ ” Of course, Chaney said, “Like any job, it’s a job,” but the work itself was enjoyable. “It’s been great, very eclectic mix of people. You meet the same kinds of people that you’ll meet in New York, you know, from all walks of life, when you’re doing a job like that.” Balancing that work with the demands of being a filmmaker has proven to be a challenge for Chaney, especially while making “Indigo Children,” which was filmed over four-and-a-half weeks on a “crude vacation” in a handful of towns in central New Jersey, and largely financed by Chaney himself, with a budget of $50,000. During preproduction and postproduction, he was working 49 hours a week as a doorman. “It goes quickly,” Chaney said of the movie’s budget, partially spent on hiring a pri-
© 2012 Indigo Children LLC
L to R: Isabelle McNally, as Christina, and Robert Olsen, as Mark.
vate freight train for the many scenes where the film’s two main characters watch trains pass through their town — in one scene, placing objects on the tracks to see what happens to them, and, in another, spray-painting one of the cars. “Indigo Children” follows the romantic relationship of teenagers Mark and Christina, who are drawn to each other in the midst of loss in both of their families. Set in a
rural town, the film has an incredibly strong sense of place, with sweeping landscape shots of trains, rivers, and forests. “I wanted nature to be a character in the film,” Chaney explained, describing the natural beauty of the landscape as “intoxicating” for him after spending a long time in the city. Chaney calls his driving force in filmmaking “that euphoric moment INDIGO CHILDREN continued on p. 20
Lesbian / Gay / Bisexual / Transgender / Queer Travel Research A major transportation company is conducting a market research study about past year travel. If you are 30-42 years old, employed, traveled in the past year, and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer, you may be eligible to receive $200 to participate. Some additional requirements apply. This group will be held at 4:00 PM on Aug. 30, 2016 in NYC – Near Grand Central in Manhattan.
Please contact Carla Campbell by email (Carla.Campbell@focussuites.com) or CALL us at (212.867.7373) between 9AM and 5PM (Mon. - Fri.) for consideration. Spaces are limited!
August 18 - 24 , 2016
POLICE BLOTTER THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER
Editor Scott Stiffler
Editorial Assistant Sean Egan Jane Argodale
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Graphic Designer Cristina Alcine
Lincoln Anderson Jane Argodale Stephanie Buhmann Jackson Chen Sean Egan Alex Ellefson Winnie McCroy Colin Mixson Puma Perl Paul Schindler Trav S.D. Eileen Stukane
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Account Executives Jack Agliata Lauren Blair Allison Greaker Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco Published by
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ASSAULT: Two with spray got away
DWI: Million dollar trooper puts Ritz on blast
INVESTIGATE/AIDED DRUG OVERDOSE: Near-death Dream
The NYPD is asking the public for assistance in identifying two suspects in connection with an assault that occurred at around 4:30am on Sat., July 30, at the Times Square 42nd St. & Seventh Ave. 2 train subway station. The victim, a 36-year-old man, was on the northbound platform when the two suspects began to verbally harass him. They then went on to punch him all over his body, and spray an unknown substance on his face, causing their victim to sustain scratches to his hands and irritation to his eyes. The pair fled, but was caught on surveillance cameras. The first suspect is described as a man about 19-20, 5’, with brown hair and brown eyes, last seen wearing a blue shirt, tan slacks, and sneakers. The second suspect, female, is also described as 19-20 and 5’, has black hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a gray shirt, blue jeans, and sneakers. Police ask anyone with information to reach out to the Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-577TIPS, visit nypdcrimestoppers.com, or text to 274637(CRIMES), then enter TIP577.
Drunk drivers: It doesn’t have to be like this. You can just turn off the engine, and get out of the car. Unfortunately, that simple solution didn’t cross one soused motorist’s mind in the early morning hours of Sat., Aug. 13. At 2:40am, an officer witnessed a gray 2014 Hyundai Tucson driving without its headlights on, and then proceed to run a red light at the southwest intersection of W. 18th St. and Ninth Ave. — colliding with a vehicle stopped in front it. Upon inspection, the officer noticed that the driver, a 30-year-old New Jersey resident, smelled distinctly of alcohol, slurred his speech, and had watery eyes. “I came from the Ritz, and I only had a couple drinks,” the status-conscious souse offered by way of defense. This didn’t fool the blue, who knew where he should go — the station, where the man blew a .159 BAC, and was arrested.
Contrary to the popular opinion espoused by public access pundits Wayne and Garth, there comes a time when one should not, in fact, “party on.” For instance: On Fri., Aug. 12, a 55-year-old Pennsylvania man, who had spent the night dancing at the establishment’s club, was discovered a little after 12:15am seated in the lobby of the Dream Hotel (355 W. 16th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), unconscious and not breathing. An officer responding to the situation dispensed a dose of Narcan (a kind of medicine that mitigates the effects of opioids/reverses overdoses) at the scene, and the individual was transported to Lenox Hill Hospital. Thankfully, the man was in “excellent” condition by the time he arrived at the hospital, breathing and once again conscious.
LEAVING THE SCENE OF PROPERTY DAMAGE: Hey! I’m walkin’ here! One out-of-towner learned a painful lesson about how ruthless New Yorkers can be when getting from Point A to Point B, on Fri., Aug. 12. At around 2pm, a 27-year-old Los Angeles man was walking westbound on the south side of W. 23rd St. at Ninth Ave., when he was struck by a vehicle travelling eastbound on W. 23rd St., making a right onto Ninth Ave. The stone cold motorist just kept on driving, however, leaving the scene of the man he hit. The man didn’t sustain any injuries, and the driver was not apprehended — but the victim was able to recall the New York license plate number of the four-door sedan.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Screen Crush At about 9am on Sat., Aug. 13, an unfortunate Uber driver picked up a female passenger in the Bronx who instructed him to drive to a location on the 500 block of W. 42nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) When the driver arrived at the location, and asked the woman to get out of the vehicle, she inexplicably became annoyed and agitated — going so far as grabbing the Samsung tablet docked in the car, and throwing it on the floor, causing the screen to break. The feisty female fare was not apprehended, and left about $150 worth of damage in her wake.
CASH FOR GUNS $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.
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212741-8211. Community Affairs: 212741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-7418226. Domestic Violence: 212-7418216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7pm, at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. They are on hiatus until Sept. 28.
THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Brendan Timoney. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. 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, 6:30pm, at the 13th Precinct. They are on hiatus until Sept. 20.
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
Top driver disTracTions Using mobile phones
Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps theyâ€™re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who havenâ€™t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a personâ€™s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
August 18 - 24 , 2016
RAT ACADEMY continued from p. 2
to the rats’ “Triangle of Life”: food, shelter, and water. Arias also cited various ways to identify rats, most notably through their droppings and urine stains. If a problem is detected, and action must be taken, she advised against using poisons (which could be harmful to pets and people) — and advocated bringing in professionals. Also introduced at the meeting was Nefertiti Granville, the case manager for Community Board 2 and Community Board 4, who handles rat issues and inspections in those areas. “A lot of times, people don’t know what to look for,” she noted. “That’s why I’m here,” she said, encouraging everyone to reach out to her. Periodically, members of the public directed questions and concerns to the moderators. A few concerned Village residents spoke out about excessive rat issues on Jane St., citing overflowing city garbage cans as an exacerbating factor. Bragdon told the crowd that DOHMH was aware of the issue and the city would make efforts to rectify the problem — one
of a number of times she noted that many rat issues stem from city-owned property, such as sewers, sidewalks, and parks. Julie Lawrence voiced concern about rats plaguing Alice’s Garden in Hell’s Kitchen (W. 34th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), which she helps maintain — an issue she believes originates with a nearby dumpster, used by a restaurant and mixed-use building. The officials advised her to report the problem, so that the Department could conduct an inspection, work with the neighbors and suss out the problem. The evening came to a conclusion with a raffle; Johnson’s office was giving away 30 rodent-resistant trashcans to lucky attendees, in order for them to start implementing the strategies discussed that evening. “I thought it was a very good presentation,” commented Chelsea resident and West 400 Block Association member Allen Oster, noting he learned more about the importance of preventative measures. “If you don’t have the defenses up, your offense is gonna fail,” he observed. “This training is a powerful way to give residents the tools and informa-
Photo by Sean Egan
Erik Bottcher (left), Caroline Bragdon (second from left), Nefertiti Granville (second from right), and Danisa Arias (right) strike a pose after the Academy, near some rodent-resistant trashcans.
tion they need to keep their buildings and neighborhoods rodent-free,” wrote Johnson in a statement to Chelsea Now after the event. “While we’re happy to work with anybody who sees rats in their building on a one-on-one basis, we also want people to know that there are a few things you can do to help prevent this from happening in the first place. I’m extremely grateful to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for holding this, I know the attendees benefited greatly.”
Courtesy NYC DOHMH
Be aware of the “Triangle of Life,” in order to limit rodents’ access to resources.
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
Don’t Miss A Thing! Visit Chelseanow.com!
Photos by Alex Ellefson
Diners can watch the sushi creations being prepared at Haru.
HARU continued from p. 6
different ingredients and coming up with different flavors, we’re able to give people something they might not find at any other sushi place.” Haru is constantly cooking up new creations. Their seasonal menu changes three times a year, and they also create a new sushi roll for every one of their neighborhood restaurants. The Chelsea Roll uses spicy blue crab, cucumber, tuna, and yellow fly-
ing fish roe to create fresh, cheerful flavors that speak to their new home. Although the Chelsea Haru grand opening is this week, the restaurant held its soft opening in May — and has slowly been adding features like the hot kitchen and delivery service to the new space. They also plan to add an outdoor seating area after Labor Day, Rose said. The restaurant already appears to be well-received. Earlier this week, guests filled many of the tables as well as most of the space at the bar.
Executive Chef Ben Dodaro, left, and Vice President of Operations Seth Rose are gearing up for the grand opening of the new Haru Sushi location in Chelsea.
Alicia Reitman, who lives a few blocks away, met up with a friend that evening for drinks at the bar. She said she’s visited the new restaurant five times this summer. “There are several sushi places in this neighborhood and this is one of the better ones. It’s a really nice environment. The food is really great. The service is really great,” she said. Rose said they chose to open the restaurant in Chelsea because they liked the community’s energy. New
corporate offices — like Google — will also boost their lunch businesses and was another reason they set up shop in Chelsea. “This could be a place where you could have a business meeting, you could bring a date, or you could just come to the bar by yourself and watch the game,” said Rose. “We’ve been doing sushi for 20 years and are excited to continue to grow. We are just going to try to keep it fresh and keep it exciting.”
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August 18 - 24 , 2016
Starry Starry Tuesday Night: Exploring
Photos by Nicole Javorsky
Visitors to the High Line gather around the telescopes set up by the Amateur Astronomers Association.
Carey Horwitz, left, and another Amateur Astronomers Association member search th
STAR continued from p. 1
As the sky darkens, High Line visitors crowd around the telescopes for their turn at spotting the stars and the planets.
Carey Horwitz sits behind a telescope and answers the questions of people walking along the High Line.
August 18 - 24 , 2016
able to see through a small telescope captured his imagination. This interest, though, ceased once he entered adulthood. Then, he recalled, “About 20 years ago, I thought I’d try it again.” Unlike Horwitz, I never played with a toy telescope as a kid (though as a native New Yorker, I probably wouldn’t have seen much through a toy telescope anyway.) I used this as my excuse for having no idea what to do, when looking through one of the AAA’s telescopes. A white speck against a black background was, at first, all I could see. “It’s small. After all, it [Jupiter] is about 400 miles away,” Horwitz told me. He showed me how to adjust the focus and, suddenly, I could see Jupiter. Several others soon lined up behind me to see the planet, with still more people scattered around to decide which part of the universe they wanted to get a glimpse of first. The event seemed to bring out all ages and ranges of experience. I overheard a young couple remark that they were visiting from New Zealand. Close by,
Horwitz discussed the AAA’s various programs with an older group of people. There were many families with young children (true to the path of discovery Horwitz followed, kids seem to be natural stargazers). At another telescope set up across from me, a family took turns looking through the eyepiece. The father lifted up his young daughter to the eyepiece of the telescope so she could also get the chance to see what’s beyond our planet Earth. Meanwhile, I overheard another child asking Halim, “Can I see a planet too?” Amidst observing the stargazers, I suddenly noticed a man walking toward us, slowly, and in silence. With a white lantern fashioned over his face (like an astronaut helmet, it seemed to me), the man made his way toward the telescopes at a snail’s pace. Several people near me laughed, and I caught the scene with my camera. Though the strange man ended up being part of a separate performance I passed by later that night, the incident was fitting, considering we were there to view what astronauts see from a different vantage point. .com
g Astronomy in Chelsea’s Elevated Park
he sky, deciding where to point the telescope.
While getting ready to leave, I looked over my shoulder and saw Horwitz at work, adjusting the telescope for another woman around my height. At first, I noticed her struggling to figure out how to use the telescope. It made me feel less alone in my limited knowledge of how telescopes work. Finally, she laughed and said, “Oh, wow.” With a smile on her face, she walked away. I smiled too, knowing exactly how she felt. For a night dedicated to contemplating the vastness of space and its far-away objects, the experience we shared left me feeling more connected than ever before. The Amateur Astronomers Association holds stargazing at The Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck, on the High Line at W. 14th St., Tuesdays through Oct. 25, from dusk to 30 minutes before the park closes. More information on their lectures, classes and other stargazing sites can be found at aaa.org. Also visit thehighline.org/activities/stargazing. .com
Photos by Nicole Javorsky
A man dressed to impress, or at least make an impression, walks past the stargazing crowd.
An Amateur Astronomers Association member looks through the eyepiece to adjust the telescope. August 18 - 24 , 2016
August 18 - 24 , 2016
A ‘Graphic’ Approach to Advancing Dialogue About HIV
Image by William Goedel, Chavel Guzma, Tanisha Richardson, Kristie Tse, Zilin Zhou.
BY PERRY N. HALKITIS, PhD, MS, MPH When asked about why I teach my HIV prevention and health promotion course at the New York University London campus each January, I am quick to indicate that I want my students to experience the delivery of health care and examine public health programming under the National Health Service (NHS) — a system of great pride to the British, and often heralded as of the best in the world. There is no falsehood in this statement and this conception serves as the foundation for the course. However, I would be disingenuous not to mention that this course provides me the opportunity to spend two intensive weeks working with some of the university’s most dedicated and talented graduate students — those working in public health dedicated to the eradication of this disease, driven by a social justice agenda, and firm in the belief that HIV/AIDS, like so many other diseases globally, is driven by social and structural inequalities, and in our country is fueled by poverty, racism, and homo- and transphobia. As a result, we not only study the epidemiological, biomedical, behavioral, and policy aspects of the HIV epidemic, but also engage in thoughtful conversations of power and privilege. To bring this learning to life — and to bring a public face to these studies — students engage in active learning throughout the two-week intensive course. They interact with staff and clients at AIDS service organizations, having open and honest conversations with many living with HIV. They speak with public health leaders about .com
the effectiveness of health programs and messaging; they hear from the health care providers and patients at clinics, while visiting the facilities; and they learn from some of the nation’s leading researchers who, like myself, work to bring our scientific knowledge immediately to the people who need it most. This year, Will Nutland, an HIV research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, spoke of his studies on PrEP [Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis; a daily pill regimen meant to prevent HIV infection] in the United Kingdom, and his concurrent activism as one of the founders of PrEPster (prepster.info), a public website that provides information and guidance to those seeking to access this prevention tool while the NHS debates its merits (the NHS has yet to approve Truvada for use as PrEP). It is within the context of the course that students are asked to examine how the principles, knowledge, data, and theories that they are studying can be used to improve the lives of so many. It is also with this notion in mind that the course assignments are designed, utilizing an action-based learning paradigm and rooted within the students’ inherent passion and commitment to health equity. This year, the 37 students were asked to work in groups to develop a public service announcement and an accompanying infographic on any area of HIV prevention targeted to any population in the US or UK. In short, they were asked to bring their learning to life for the health of the public. INFOGRAPHICS continued on p. 23
Image by Alexandra Bragg, Ruth Anne Holiday, Lyndsey Lewis, Jazmin Rivera, Grant Roth.
August 18 - 24 , 2016
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Werner’s Worrisome World Herzog demands we ‘Behold’ the Internet
Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
A scientist shows off a highly advanced, problem-solving robot.
BY SEAN EGAN Two teams of small cylindrical robots zip around a tiny soccer field in a lab, swerving to and fro, dribbling, passing, and shooting a ball into goals. An engineer brags that by the year 2050, these robots will have evolved to such an advanced state that they could defeat the FIFA world champions. After singing its praises, he affectionately picks up one of these automated, artificially intelligent Roombas — Robot Eight —and begins to describe its unique pattern of dot stickers. “Beautiful. Do you love it?” interjects Werner Herzog from behind the camera, vocally smirking. “Yes, we do. We do love Robot Eight.” This is “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World” in miniature — a fascinating look at technology, that’s equal parts worrisome and humorous. It’s the latest documentary from Herzog, known as much for his pessimistic point-of-view and formalism as for his eccentric personality and distinctive accent. Fortunately for fans, all aspects of the iconoclastic German filmmaker are on display, as he decides to aim his probing .com
camera toward the Internet’s past, present, and future. Now 73, Herzog famously didn’t discover cinema until he was 11, and made his first phone call at 17. He’s been similarly behind the curve when it comes to the Internet, reportedly only using email on rare occasions. Naturally, he researches the topic with an outsider’s eye, allowing him to dig into issues the average person would never think to broach. Things start out standard enough, with Herzog chronicling the Internet’s birth and salad days as a small interconnected community, with its potential for good shown in the form of a gameified online scientific research tool. Unsurprisingly, though, the bad eventually creeps in. There’s a trip to a rehab center for online gaming addicts, a look at hacker culture, and, most heart-wrenchingly, a segment with a family plagued by horrific online harassers in the wake of a personal tragedy. The clan in the latter segment observes that there’s “no dignity or respect on the Internet,” and suggest that it may be a “manifestation of the antichrist.” From there, the examination quickly spirals into
something strange and personal, as the filmmaker explores the offbeat subjects that catch his fancy (like a diversion to discuss Mars settlements with Elon Musk, or a trip to a colony of people “allergic” to electromagnetic fields). And this being Herzog, you can’t shake the feeling that he believes humanity just might be seriously (and hilariously) doomed, as a number of cataclysmic technological hypotheticals dominate large stretches of the film — such as a discussion of potential solar flares knocking out all systems and throwing the world into Y2K-esque rack and ruin, or talk of intense cyberwars between nation-states. Thankfully, Herzog knows better than to render this push and pull between technology and man an unbearably bleak slog. The director, narrating as per usual, is as verbose and droll as ever, dispensing his trademark detached and lofty observations and inquisitions throughout (“Does the Internet dream of itself?” he wonders). Distinct directorial flourishes crop up — the BEHOLD continued on p. 20 August 18 - 24 , 2016
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
THE WEST VILLAGE CHORALE SUMMER SINGS SERIES It’s easy enough to nod your head in agreement and beam a beatific smile when the calendar says “December” and a cheery caroler implores you to keep Christmas in your heart all year long — but just try to muster that sentiment during the dog days of August, when sunstroke-induced hallucination is the closest you’re likely to get to hearing those sleigh bells jingling, ring-ting-tingling too. But on August 22, you can rest assured that the sounds of a holiday classic wafting from Judson Memorial Church are firmly rooted in reality. That’s when the West Village Chorale (WVC) concludes the 45th season of its Summer Sings series by plucking a favorite from its holiday repertoire: Handel’s “Messiah.” Patrick Gardner, director of choral studies at Rutgers and conductor of the Riverside Choral Society, does baton duties, as you raise your voice alongside an assemblage of vocalists from the multiplicity of choruses in the New York area. Scores, intermission refreshments, and piano accompaniment are provided, alongside the very real sense that nearly eight full months into the year, it’s beginning to look (or at least sound) a lot like Christmas. Mon., Aug. 22, 7:30pm at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Sq. South, at Thompson St.). Tickets: $15 general, $10 students. Visit westvillagechorale.org for more info, including auditions for the group that begin on Aug. 30.
AMY STILLER WORKSHOPS “JUST TRUST” You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen; and Jerry and Ben, and also, Anne Meara — but do you recall, the least-known Stiller of all? If not, it’s the right time to discover what you’ve been missing. First seen by this scribe quite a few years back, in solo performance at PS122, Stiller burst onto the stage with a silent, frenetic, unbelievably lengthy Irish Step Dance — milking that genre’s hypnotic intensity and disciplined physicality for maximum comedic effect
August 18 - 24 , 2016
Photo by Davis Foulger
Photo by Alison Bert
It’s Christmas in August (on Aug. 22), when the West Village Chorale’s Summer Sings series closes out with Handel’s “Messiah.”
Tell me your troubles and doubts: Amy Stiller works it, workshop-style, when she brings “Just Trust” to Dixon Place on Aug. 23.
by revealing a slight, only occasional, hairline fracture in her brave façade. Aiming high and keeping up, her manic task implied, has its rewards: but stare at the struggle too long, and it begins to unravel under the weight of multiple absurdities. Flash forward to 2016, and Amy’s new project finds her “striving to emotionally survive as the only non-famous person in a very famous family.” Still in the workshop phase, “Just Trust” comes to Dixon Place for one night only, mere weeks after it kicked off Cornelia Street Cafe’s SOLOFEST series of one-person performances. “Trust” promises to be a fitting showcase for the wry, raw, selfaware, and, above all, empathetic Amy, who has managed to carve a distinct niche within the Stiller clan — as well as the crowded field of self-reflective writer/performers who mine the days of their lives for comedic gold. Tues., Aug. 23, 7:30pm at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets, ($15 in advance, $18 at the door; $12 for students/seniors), visit dixonplace.org or call 212-219-0736.
FRINGE AL FRESCO: “A HISTORY OF SERVITUDE” Through next weekend, all manner of dance, comedy, drama, and off-the-deepend FringeNYC productions are taking place at various Downtown venues, at the reasonable price of $18 per seat — but there’s no price quite like $0, and there’s
Photo by Jesse Dittmar
Don’t believe what you read in the books: “A History of Servitude” pulls back the curtain on well-known events. Part of the Fringe Al Fresco series.
no more authentic way to get back to the campfire roots of storytelling than seeing a show in the great outdoors. To that end, the largest multi-arts festival in North America includes a Fringe Al Fresco series of free, open-air productions. Featured in this year’s series is “A History of Servitude,” which takes you on a sweeping tour through time, and across the globe. An eclectic international cast — whose ranks include Philadelphia-born IsraeliAmerican actor Yair Ben-Dor, of ABC’s “Quantico” — uses Commedia del’Arte-style physical comedy, acrobatics, and song to examine history from a working
class point of view. Did Einstein’s maid put a bug in his ear when he was formulating the Theory of Relativity? Did Shakespeare live off the fat of a janitor’s genius, as opposed to that of Francis Bacon? Find out, when street theater troupe The Department of Fools focuses their penchant for satire on the folly of pride and the power of the underdog. Free. Runtime: 60 minutes. Sat., Aug. 20, 3:15pm; Sun., Aug. 21, 3:45pm; Fri., Aug. 26, 4:45pm; Sat., Aug. 27, 2:15pm. At FringeLOUNGE at the Clemente (107 Suffolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). Visit fringenyc.org and departmentoffools.wordpress.com. .com
‘Burrito Filled With E. coli’ is Easy to Digest
FOR YOUR BEST WEEKEND.
Alton and Warnock create a new comedy duo dynamic
Photo by Jenny Rubin
L to R: Andrea Alton, as Molly “Equality” Dykeman, and Allen Warnock, as Angie Louisa Angelone.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER The ominous title implies a severe adverse reaction — but “A Microwaved Burrito Filled With E. coli” finds its sweet spot early on, stays there, and earns an “A” rating by the time your 60-minute inspection has run its course. All is anything but quiet at Enchilada’s Shelly’s, a Mexican restaurant as low on the Yelp! review food chain as it is far along on the L train’s Brooklyn spectrum. Entering the side area dining room with very little grace and an instantly endearing lack of self-awareness, pill-popping, mullet-rockin’ security guard/poet Molly “Equality” Dykeman defiantly chicken dances away from the general direction of her pissed-off girlfriend, Giselle, and the rowdy lesbian wedding reception she’s just been kicked out of. Doomed to spend the rest of the night in exile, unsinkable Molly turns her attention to the menu and attempts to engage recent Kentucky transplant Angie Louisa Angelone, a chipper but woefully unqualified waitress whose entire wardrobe comes from a shopping spree at Jack’s 99 Cent Store. Between bouts of absorbing verbal abuse from her offstage manager (“Get your trashy little butt in here and take this tray of fishy tacos!”), Angie pours her heart out to Molly, and the broadly drawn outcasts end up forming a bond that’s as sweet and believable as the verbal sparring is fast and consistently funny. Written by its two performers, the dynamic between Molly (Andrea Alton) and Angie (Allen Warnock) really shouldn’t work, at least according to the universal rules of comedy adhered .com
to by successful duos. Both characters are prone to long-winded stories, and both yearn to be the center of attention — and whether the product of wishful thinking or obliviousness, both are prone to delusion and intense (if brief) bouts of depression. The “straight man/funny man” identities that the likes of Laurel and Hardy or Martin and Lewis clung to for the duration of their careers, Alton and Warnock gleefully toss back and forth like a hot potato — and director Mark Finley’s deft touch allows these exchanges to play out with elegant simplicity, communicating the change in status with nothing more than a knowing glance or the choice of who’s sitting and who’s standing. The result is a raucous, engaging comedy that consistently nails its aspiration to entertain, while allowing its characters to reveal hidden depths (transwoman Angie puts the “Q” in LGBTQ, while hard-living Molly veers back and forth between making a commitment and being committed). Here’s the part where I’d usually gush to the point of overflow with killer lines from the script (of which there are plenty), but your time would be better spent making reservations — to the show, that is. Best to give Enchilada’s Shelly’s a wide berth, though. You DO NOT want to know what’s in that burrito. Runtime: 60 minutes. Fri., Aug. 19, 5pm; Sat., Aug. 20, 7pm; Wed., Aug. 24, 8pm.; Fri., Aug. 26, 3:45pm. At The Huron Club (15 Vandam St., btw. Sixth Ave. & Varick St.). For tickets ($18), visit fringenyc.org. Also visit amicrowavedburrito.com.
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BEHOLD continued from p. 17
very prominent and painterly framing of an empty chair and, more inexplicably, a veritable mountain of muffins in the harassment sequence, for instance — and keep the filmmaker’s hand in the proceedings even when he steps back. He’s also got a knack for choosing engaging and entertaining interview subjects — starting from the prelude, as Dr. Leonard Kleinrock flamboyantly shows off the Internet’s birthplace in UCLA — as well as knowing the right questions to ask to disarm them. The net effect is a bit like helping an elderly relative set up their Wi-Fi, only to see them quickly become a deep web-spelunking conspiracy theorist. But even after taking Herzog’s deadpan paranoia with a hefty grain of salt, his core thesis still resonates: The human element is what is wrong with technology; the glitch, if you will. It’s through our complacency that technology has been allowed to rise, and be twisted for evil and destructive means. After all, we can’t blame nature for the ugliness of the Internet — we created it, and continue to welcome it into our homes and lives, pushing forward to an uncertain (and potentially dangerous) future. Nonetheless, Herzog ends on a note of tenuous hope. As a group of bluegrass musicians play their hearts out, far from the maw of technology, he suggests things may, in fact, turn out fine. Does the human spirit — or perhaps art — have the ability to triumph over the tools we’ve created? At one point, a scientist informs the director that in the future, there will be AI-imbued robots capable of creating their own films. He hypothetically wonders if they will be better than Herzog’s. “Of course not,” Herzog rejoins flatly, cutting the expert off. Despite all the ominous evidence to the contrary in “Lo and Behold,” it’s hard to disagree with him. Runtime: 98 minutes. Written & directed by Werner Herzog. Opens Fri., Aug. 19 at IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave., at W. Third St.). Call 212-924-7771 or visit ifccenter.com. Also visit loandbeholdfilm.com and facebook. com/loandbeholdfilm.
INDIGO CHILDREN continued from p. 7
of discovery,” that he found at every step in the process of making “Indigo Children,” from the writing of the screenplay to the editing and postproduction. While writing the film, Chaney said he took inspiration “from being in love for the first time when you were around that age in New Jersey,” and though the film isn’t autobiographical, he also drew inspiration from the skateboard culture he spent his teenage years in, where most people (excluding him) came from broken homes. “There’s a complete divide between the adult world and the world that the young people live in,” Chaney said of his impressive feature debut, whose few scenes featuring adults — Mark’s mother grieving for his deadbeat
August 18 - 24 , 2016
Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
Dr. Leonard Kleinrock shows off the machine that sent the first message via the Internet at UCLA in the prelude to “Lo and Behold.”
Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
A family harassed by online trolls in the wake of a personal tragedy posits the Internet as a “manifestation of the antichrist.”
(now-dead) father, his friend Armand yelling at his mother to take him with her as she drives off — speak to a basic unawareness of the inner lives of their children. Chaney is looking forward to future projects, with what he calls a “psychological, spiritual, dramatic thriller” coming next on his to-do list. Though it’s been challenging balancing the many different kinds of work he does, he’s optimistic. “I want to tell the truth about how the hardships can get you as an artist,” he said, “but a lot of great things happen too. A small movie like this playing at some festivals, getting a theatrical release, iTunes, this is all very exciting to me and I’m very grateful — and even more excited about the next film.”
© 2012 Indigo Children LLC
Mark’s moss-covered house in “Indigo Children.” .com
Buhmann on Art Gabriel de la Mora: Sound Inscriptions on Fabric BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN Before receiving his MFA degree in painting from Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute in 2003, the Mexican artist Gabriel de la Mora had studied and subsequently practiced architecture for five years. Though his focus might have shifted to visual art, his experience in that field continues to inform his striking sensibility for installation and organization. Since the early 2000s, he has collected found objects (some as obscure as shoe soles, for example), which he then transforms into conceptual contemplations of the nature of art. In the past he has explained that to him, the artwork already exists before the artist, and that it is, therefore, his role to transform. This particular exhibition was conceived in this spirit. Here, 55 pairs of found speaker screens are featured side-by-side, making for an enticing installation. Far from pristine, each of these objects has been marked by time, exhibiting accumulated layers of dust, for example. Upon close inspection, one can only imagine the many hours of eclectic music that were filtered through these screens, as well as random snippets of commercials, important news broadcasts and static. While they originally might have channeled the various voices and sounds of their time, they have now become defunct witnesses of an era long past. De la Mora, however, does not seem to approach his subjects with a strong sense of nostalgia. Instead, he views them as caches for historical information about everyday life. In this case, he studied all of the speaker grills with an almost obsessive devotion in order to reveal the unique underlying architecture of each one. Curated by Brett Littman, this exhibition serves as both an analysis of the objects at hand and a poetic contemplation of the fluidity of time.
Images courtesy Timothy Taylor, London; Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City; and Sicardi Gallery, Houston
“B-79” (2015; vintage radio speaker fabric; 19 x 13 3/8 inches each).
Through Sept. 2 at The Drawing Center (35 Wooster St., btw. Grand & Broome Sts.). Hours: Wed., Fri., Sat. & Sun., 12–6pm; Thurs., 12–8pm. Admission: $5 ($3 for students/seniors, free for members and those under 12, free for all Thurs., 6–8pm). Call 212-219-2166 or visit drawingcenter.org.
“B-196” (2015; vintage radio speaker fabric; 7 3/8 x 6 3/4 inches each). .com
“B-135” (2015; vintage radio speaker fabric; 7 1/4 x 5 1/8 inches each). August 18 - 24 , 2016
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Rhymes With Crazy
Bending Over Backwards to Teach Resilience
Image by Yiu-Lung Ho, Jami Jacobson, Annie Ristuccia, Ruifan Wang, Adrian Zongrone.
INFOGRAPHICS continued from p. 15
What emerged was a set of thought-provoking, provocative, and often boundary-pushing campaigns that informed the current biomedical, behavioral, and socio-political drivers of the HIV epidemic that they had studied. They also chose areas that were personally meaningful to them, allowing them to integrate the wide range of knowledge they had developed with their own commitments to social justice and compassion for those infected with and affected by HIV. The products that the students created advance our dialogue about HIV and underscore the idea that in our dedication to public health, we must be ever-evolving in our thinking and approaches. The HIV epidemic of 2016 is not that of 1986. In effect, the health challenges of each generation must be understood in relation to time and the particular struggles that each generation faces. Finally, these infographics serve to remind us that pubic health program.com
ming and research must be developed with, and for, the public — and with compassion to the realities of human life, summarized with great clarity by MPh student Jazmin Rivera: In academia, we are often surrounded by a bubble of abstraction. We study a health problem, we find a biomedical or behavioral intervention, we implement it and then we wonder why it fails. Public health is about people; HIV is a disease surrounded by inter- and intrapersonal stigma. We have to be mindful of the human experience when we plan programs and interventions. That is what public health is about. Perry N. Halkitis is Professor of Global Public Health, Applied Psychology, & Medicine, and Director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies at the College of Global Public Health, New York University (@ DrPNHalkitis; perrynhalkitis.com).
BY LENORE SKENAZY Kids will start leaving for college during the next few weeks, and it’s nice — or maybe just weird — to know that at least one university is offering a new class this fall in “adulting.” The program at East Carolina University will attempt to teach incoming students how to be successful adults. Sadly, this does not involve tips on how to pick stocks, or useful friends. It is a class on how to roll with the punches. Noting an increase of 1,800 counseling appointments over just two school years — which required the hiring of two new counselors — the university wondered if there was some way to make its students more resilient. The vice chancellor for student affairs, Virginia Hardy, conducted a study and came to realize the root of the problem: “Students don’t have an opportunity as much these days to manage failure, they don’t experience it in certain ways as much so they don’t know how to manage it when it happens,” as she told The Daily Reflector of Greenville. Now, it is anybody’s guess whether young people really can’t handle distress or are simply more accustomed than earlier generations were with turning to mental health professionals. And there’s something to be said for getting help rather than descending into darkness. There’s even something to be said for learning how to turn off the “You are a loser” tape-loop in the brain, which is a stated goal of the class. As a college student, I wish I could have turned off mine. But as Boston College psych professor Peter Gray has noted in his work on resilience: At least some college students seems to be seeking help for problems they could solve themselves. At his college, for instance, one student sought counseling after seeing a mouse in the dorm. Another came in after a spat with a roommate. So the dark underbelly of being mature enough to seek help is being immature enough to find everyday ups and downs overwhelming. Thus the class at ECU will teach students that setbacks are a normal part of life, as is frustration. In other words, it hopes to teach young people (at last) how to deal.
Can’t say I didn’t see this coming. This is exactly the life lesson we have, in our love and worry, failed to give our kids. Instead, for the past generation or two we have been always at their side, overseeing them, monitoring them, making sure they’re okay… to the point where they aren’t. This isn’t the fault of neurotic parents, the whole culture is complicit. My kids went to a variety of New York City public middle and high schools, and of which had tracking systems that allowed us to check how they did on homework, quizzes, and tests — daily! This excess involvement is the way that adults have taken over play. Today’s children grow up with their elders ever-present to organize the game, settle the scores, and slice the snacks. These youngsters don’t get a chance to improvise a wacky new move, because all the games count. They don’t get a chance to throw the ball a little easier to the youngest kid, because all the kids are the same age. They never get a chance to problem-solve whether the ball was in or out, or even choose the teams (talk about a people skill!), because adults do all that, too. Then these well-loved, well-behaved kids get to college and something as common as roommate troubles seem seismic — because for the first time, there’s no adult intermediary. Off they go to find one. So now, even as it offers its adulting class, East Carolina intends to reach out to elementary, middle, and high schools and try to restore some childhood resiliency. With any luck, this will give schools the academic cover they need to simply intervene a little less, and trust kids a little more. Then maybe the parents will, too. Childhood was never meant to be perfect. It has always had its lumps and bumps, physical and emotional. These prepare kids for adulthood. Humanhood. Even roomingwith-a-jerk-at-college-hood. A little more unsupervised time as kids can make unsupervised young adults a lot happier. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog, Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com). August 18 - 24 , 2016
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August 18 - 24 , 2016