VOLUME 29, NUMBER 17
AUGUST 25 – SEPTEMBER 07, 2016
Check please! Caught off guard
Cancel bolts from candidate forum to attend fund-raiser
BY ALEX ELLEFSON Campaign contributions took precedence over answering voters’ questions for Assemblymember Alice Cancel when she abruptly checked out of a well-attended candidate forum on Aug. 7 to attend a campaign fund-raiser. The freshman lawmaker — elected in April to succeed disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — is fending off five primary challengers, and her $13,554 in contributions is dwarfed by the war chests of her opponents. The forum, where candidates discussed issues related to Chinatown and the Lower East Side, drew a crowd of more than 300 people and was sponsored by 20 organizations. Cancel’s absence dur- A s s e m b l y m e m b e r ing the second half Alice Cancel of the debate rankled some audience members, who felt their new representative would rather glad-hand donors than make her case to constituents. “She’s not getting my vote,” said Chinatown resident Annie Tan. “Hundreds of people came to this event. She could have planned the fund-raiser at another time.” Cancel’s sudden departure surprised event organizers, who said the assemblymember agreed to attend more than seven weeks ago. “Two months of planning went into this and we had no inkling [Cancel] would not be there the whole time until she showed up,” said Liz OuYang, a political consultant representing APA Voice, the lead organization sponsoring the event. “I’m extremely disappointed because she was not able to respond to critical questions affecting the district.” A campaign representative for Cancel — who scrambled out of the packed auditorium in the basement of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association on Mott St. — said the scheduling snafu occurred because a personal friend planned Cancel Continued on page 4
Downtown is still short on crossing guards, but nobody appears to know by how many BY ALEX ELLEFSON For the second year running, Downtown doesn’t have enough crossing guards to post around local schools. As a stopgap measure, the NYPD will again have to assign traffic enforcement agents to oversee otherwise unguarded intersections when school resumes next month in order to cover another expected shortfall in the number of Lower Manhattan crossing guards. The substitutes were first introduced last year in the face of the chronic shortage of crossing guards posted at Downtown schools. Police have had difficulty
staffing the part-time positions — which splits the workday between morning and afternoon shifts and pays just $11.50 an hour for a maximum of 25 hours a week. “Every year, it’s a gargantuan effort to staff these positions,” said Tammy Meltzer, a member of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee. “We won’t know if a school will have crossing guards until the building opens. It’s always a great unknown.” The NYPD partnered with the municipal employee union District Council 37 this summer to hire 120 crossing guards for the upcoming school year, which starts Sept.
8, but community leaders still don’t know if the effort will bear fruit, in part because local precincts no longer play a role assigning crossing guards to schools. A policy enacted this summer consolidates authority over crossing guards with the NYPD’s School Safety Division. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick — who in March announced an agreement with the First Precinct find substitutes for nine crossing guard positions — said her office wrote to the mayor last week to ask about the new policy. “Whenever there is a change, crossing guards Continued on page 12
Photo by Milo Hess
Dancing on t he wa t er
Last week’s Battery Dance Festival invited Downtowners to view nightly performances at Battery Park City’s waterfront Wagner Park overlooking the Hudson River.
1 M e t r o t e c h • N YC 112 0 1 • C o p y r i g h t © 2 0 16 N YC C o mm u n i t y M e d i a , L L C
Fair share Locals declare Downtown’s weekend Shared Streets experiment a success
BY COLIN MIXSON The city piloted an event called “Shared Streets” in Lower Manhattan on Aug. 13, creating a zone that spanned 60-square blocks where cars were encouraged to slow to a crawl and pedestrians were beckoned off the sidewalks and into the road to play games and explore the area without fear of speeding delivery trucks. The event — the first for a major city — was not without its kinks, as traffic piled up on Broadway and bewildered tourists were hard pressed to leave the sidewalk, but the experiment was an overall success, according to one community leader. “I loved it,” said Financial District Neighborhood Association president Patrick Kennell, who brought his kids out for the day. “We had a good time and thought it was really cool.” The novel approach to the urban
streetscape saw barricades erected at intersections south of Spruce Street, where police and agents from the city’s Department of Transportation were stationed to urge drivers to slow to the snail’s pace of 5 mph while in the “shared” zone. But the leisurely speed limit was more suggestion than law, and drivers couldn’t be ticketed for not obeying it. As a result, many roadsters could be seen revving up once they were clear of the cops, according to one South Bridge resident. “They have no way of enforcing this 5-mph speed limit, and as they got past them the cars can speed up legally to 25 mph, and there’s nothing the police could do about it,” said Paul Hovitz. “So this business of enforcing 5 mph seemed kind of futile.” But that didn’t prevent locals from playing sports in the street. Kennell and his kids setup a game of baseball in the
Photo by Franz Lino
Sweltering temperatures on Aug. 13 couldn’t spoil Downtown’s “Shared Streets” event for these kids, who beat the heat the old-fashioned way — with an open fire hydrant.
road, in a scene that evoked the famous scene from “Wayne’s World,” where Wayne and Garth played hockey in the street outside Garth’s house, occasionally pausing between cries of “car!” followed by “game on!” “My kids and I were playing ball in the street,” said Kennell. “You yell, ‘car!’ and you run to the side. We all
shared and it works.” The event was not especially well attended, likely due to Saturday’s sweltering temperatures, which prompted a heat advisory from city officials suggesting locals stay indoors and keep hydrated. shared streeets Continued on page 15
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
cancel Continued from page 1
a last-minute fund-raiser that conflicted with the forum. Susan Lerner, executive director for the good government watchdog group Common Cause New York and one of the moderators of Sunday’s forum, said Cancel’s exit said a lot about how the assemblymember views her constituents. “It sends a message about the priorities of her campaign,” she said. “The candidate made a choice to stand up the voters in order to take money from donors.” Cancel, who struggled to attract campaign contributions ahead of the special election she won in April, is far behind her opponents in the money chase before the Sept. 13 primary. According to New York State Board of Elections campaign finance records, since April 15, Cancel has raised just $8,733. Meanwhile, over that same period, former Community Board 3 chairwoman Gigi Li has raised about 10 times that much: $88,811, and Chinatown activist Don Lee has raked in $65,177. The campaigns for district leaders Paul Newell and Jenifer Rajkumar raised $130,422 and $77,376, respectively, in those four months. Yuh-Line Niou, former chief of staff for Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, has raised $77,336 since April 15. Although candidates were given no advance notice about what questions would be posed during the forum, Lerner lamented that Cancel was not present for the discussion about whether to ban outside income for New York lawmakers — an especially important topic, considering that Silver’s corruption conviction centered around nearly $5 million in kickbacks from two law firms. Among the remaining candidates, Rajkumar said she supported capping outside income at 25 percent of legislators’ salaries. The rest said they supported banning outside income. Li added that state lawmakers should also have term limits. Newell proposed doubling assemblymembers’ salaries, so “we have the highest-quality legislators possible.” The five challengers all said they would not hold another paying job while serving in Albany. But a question about whether candidates should be allowed to accept contributions from real estate limitedliability companies, or LLC’s, proved tricky for some of the candidates. Real estate LLC’s, formed to shield stakeholders from debt, can hide the true
August 25 - September 07, 2016
Photo by Alex Ellefson
After Assemblymember Alice Cancel checked out halfway through the forum, the five other Democratic candidates remained to answer questions — from left, Don Lee, Gigi Li, Paul Newell, Yuh-Line Niou, and Jenifer Rajkumar.
owner of a property and have allowed wealthy developers to secretly funnel millions of dollars into legislators’ campaign coffers. Newell, who hedged his answer by saying he does not accept “money from people with business before the State of New York,” received a $250 contribution from an LLC that controls one property in Manhattan, records show. Meanwhile, Rajkumar, who told the audience she does not accept real estate LLC money, received a $250 contribution from an LLC that owns New York property. When asked about that contribution, Rajkumar said she understood the question to apply to “big real estate companies that dominate politics in New York,” instead of small property owners. Indeed, the contributions are relatively small compared to the flood of political money distributed through LLC’s owned by some of the state’s largest developers. An analysis by Common Cause New York found that Glenwood Management, a real estate company implicated in the corruption trials that brought down Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, used at least 50 LLC’s between the years 2005 and 2014 to contribute more than $12.8 million to New York State candidates and committees. When asked about the real estate LLC money received by Newell and Rajkumar, Lerner acknowledged that the most pressing issue is closing the
loophole that lets LLCs make donations as if they are individuals — allowing each LLC to contribute up to $60,800 per year to candidates. However, she said, candidates should have acknowledged any and all LLC contributions during the forum. “We would like to see them be a strong example,” she said. An analysis of campaign finance records also shows Li accepted a $500 contribution from the lobbying firm of James Capalino — who has been linked to the scandalous Rivington House property-flipping scandal. However, her campaign accepted the money before the city’s questionable decision to lift a deed restriction on the Lower East Side nursing home drew scrutiny from the press and investigators. Li’s campaign manager said the money was returned as soon as they learned of Capalino’s connection to the Rivington House deal, and pointed out that the candidate was one of the first community leaders to raise the alarm about the change to the deed restriction. Issues related to how the real estate boom has eroded the community’s access to healthcare, affordable housing and small businesses dominated the discussion at the forum. During her time at the event, Cancel addressed several ways she hopes to preserve the community — including repealing the 1971 Urstadt Law that gives Albany control of rent regulation in New York City. She also
proposed moving One Police Plaza out of Lower Manhattan, so that Park Row can once again become a free-flowing artery for New Yorkers and tourists to patronize Chinatown businesses. Newell later said no one on the stage had the authority to move the NYPD’s headquarters, though he and the other candidates did propose other solutions to make Chinatown more accessible. But Cancel missed out on the opportunity to discuss other important topics, such as the Chinatown Working Group’s rezoning proposal aimed at buttressing the community against mega-developments such as Extell Development Company’s 80-story residential tower at 250 South St. The Department of City Planning nixed the working group’s plan last year. However, the candidates said there are opportunities to continue negotiating with the city about rezoning the neighborhood, and vowed to support those efforts. Chris Kui, director for Asian Americans for Equality, said it was encouraging to see the candidates court voters in Chinatown, but said that Cancel’s decision to leave early for a fund-raiser showed “a lack of sensitivity toward the community.” “I feel like people expected her to be here,” he said. “It’s important for everyone who runs for office to listen to talk about the issues and get feedback.” DowntownExpress.com
RISE UP DOWNTOWN The China Institute
A portion of “The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove and Rong Qiqi,” a rubbing of an impressed-brick mural from the Southern Dynasties period (420-589 CE), which will be included in the China Institute’s upcoming exhibit “Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China.”
Far East Downtown China Institute moved to Financial District BY BILL WEINBERG In a sign of Manhattan’s shifting cultural center of gravity, the China Institute has just moved from its longtime Midtown location to Rector St., just blocks away from the World Trade Center site. The new office-tower digs may be a bit more sterile than the stately old mansion on 65th St., but the institute had “outgrown” its old home, said the organization’s president, James Heimowitz. “We’ve gone from 9,000 to 52,000 square feet, with state-of-the-art classrooms and galleries,” he said. An auditorium and exhibition space for pop-up art exhibits on the first floor are still being prepared. The classrooms on the second floor are already hosting events. Prominently placed in Heimowitz’s office is a bust of Hu Shih — the pioneering scholar and statesman, modernizer in education and literature, and the first Chinese national to receive a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He co-founded the China Institute with the American philosopher John Dewey and others in 1926. “The first mission was to help Chinese be more successful in academia in the United States, to provide a place to acclimatize,” said Heimowitz. “Chinese students at that time were excluded from social events and dorms, so the institute was a place to meet and socialize.” The China Institute was actually first launched with Boxer Indemnity funds — reparations that the Chinese government was made to pay to foreign powers after the 1899-1901 Boxer Rebellion, but which the U.S. later DowntownExpress.com
allowed to be used for the education of Chinese in this country. The institute was given the Frederick S. Lee House at 125 E. 65th St. by publishing magnate Henry Luce in 1944. That same year, it was accredited as a nonprofit educational institution by the New York State Board of Regents. Today the mission is a little different — and aimed more at Americans than Chinese resident scholars and expats. “China and the U.S. are the two most important countries on the planet for the coming time,” Heimowitz explained, describing a central part of the new mission being to “help Americans be more comfortable with China,” through programs in language, culture art and history. The institute is currently engaged in “professional development” of public school programs with the New York City Department of Education. A recent program the institute helped develop around the children’s book “We All Live in the Forbidden City,” by Chiu Kwong-chiu, about life in imperial China, was used in cities across the U.S. and in Canada. An upcoming exhibit at the new gallery will feature archeological treasures from the Six Dynasties period (roughly 220-590 CE). Lunar New Year celebrations at the institute last year featured the actor Liu Xiao Ling Tong, famous in China for playing the role of the Monkey God in the 1980s TV series based on the Ming dynasty epic, “Journey to the West.” On a more politically sensitive note, the institute this May marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
Open for business Oculus mall finally opens — well, parts of it, at least BY COLIN MIXSON The long-awaited debut of the Oculus transit hub’s retail stores drew massive crowds into the splendor of the $4-billion Santiago Calatrava-designed concourse, where locals as well as tourists flocked to (most of) the new mall’s many high-class outlets. “I like upscale window-shopping,” said Stuyvesant Town resident Jacqueline Seltzer. Seltzer was lured to the opening by a promotion offered by cosmetic retailer Kiehl’s, which opened along with dozens of other up-scale shops at noon on Tuesday, and provided the 50 first customers with coupons valued at up to $500. Seltzer was a little late to the action, however, and found herself in the back of a massive lined headed by Queens resident Nong Louie, who arrived at 8:30 am to snatch the promo coupon for a dear friend. Other attractions that drew crowds at the opening were performances by R&B signer John Legend, Leslie Odom Jr. from Broadway’s “Hamilton,” and the Harlem Gospel Choir. Roughly 60 retailers were prepared to open for the mall’s grand debut at noon, although a few only made it by the skin of their teeth. Workers could be seen scrambling to make the final adjustments to showrooms inside Bose, Links London, and Swatch, among other straggling shops. But even those tardy retailers beat out the remainder of the 120 total shops slated to inhabit the massive, 365,000-square-foot Westfield World Trade Center complex, with the Oculus as its centerpiece, which includes streetlevel retailers at WTC towers 3 and 4, along with subterranean galleries that run throughout the WTC campus. More than 40 stores weren’t ready to open on the big day, including H&M, Victoria, Duane Reade, Breads Bakery and Choza Taqueria, according to the Real Deal. The Oculus itself has been subject of considerable controversy over the course of its tortured, decade-long construction. The concourse, which was originally slated to debut in 2009 and cost roughly $2 billion, was opened without fanfare — or retailers — in
August 25 - September 07, 2016
March after ultimately ballooning in cost to $4 billion. The main entrances at either end of the hub’s spiny spine on Greenwich and Church Sts. finally opened on Aug. 16. But the boondoggle was largely forgotten by the hordes of consumers that descended from far and wide to witness the mall’s opening, according to Louie. “It was probably over budget and, to be honest, I know some people working on it and there’s been some issues,” he said, “but generally speaking I think it’s a positive for New York and for this area.” Among the many retailers open on the big day was Lower Manhattan’s first and only Apple Store, which alone can be expected to draw techlovers from as far as Jersey, who, courtesy of Oculus’s combined shopping and transit amenities, is only a few PATH stops away, according to one Jersey resident. “It’s only two stops to get here from Jersey City,” said Cory Dawson, “So it’s the closest Apple Store to me. These shops are literally the fanciest and closest to us from Jersey City, so it’s really convenient.” Dawson moved to New Jersey just last week from his apartment on West St., only blocks away from the Oculus. When he first moved to Downtown
Photos by Milo Hess
(Top) The double-decker mall inside the Oculus transit hub — originally slated to debut in the spring — finally opened to thousands of eager shoppers on Aug. 16. (Above) The main entrances at either end of oblong Oculus on Greenwich and Church Sts. also opened last week. (Right) Even after months of delays, workers were still scrambling to get some stores ready for the opening.
in 2014, another nearby tony shopping center, Brookfield Place, had yet to fully open and locals were forced to head uptown to enjoy any kind of upscale shopping, he said. But in the brief span of a few years, the neighborhood has reinvented itself from a retail desert into a shopping destination.
“Back then, Brookfield had its food court open, there was a Whole Foods, but there was no retail shopping really,” Dawson said. “It’s definitely a more complete package now. If you want to live in this area, you don’t need to go uptown for high-end fashion or electronics — or anything really.” DowntownExpress.com
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
Villagers grab their pitchforks East Village residents blast mayor for letting pal destroy affordable housing BY ALEX ELLEFSON Preservationists and community advocates lambasted Mayor de Blasio Monday for allowing a developer to demolish affordable housing in five historic East Village buildings to make way for a chic hotel. Dozens of protestors rallied outside the property — waving signs that read “save our neighborhood” and “housing, not hotels” — to call attention to the mayor’s cozy relationship with the developer who plans to level the row of pre-war buildings at 112-120 E. 11th St. “These buildings are being demolished to make way for [the mayor’s] friend, his contributor, his ally’s hotel development,” said Andrew Berman, executive director for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Protestors cited revelations in the New York Post that David Lichtenstein, CEO and founder of the Lightstone
Group, contributed $50,000 to a key state senate race at the request of a top de Blasio fund-raiser. The Lightstone Group, which snapped up the property in April, is partnering with Marriott International to bring one of the company’s millennial-branded Moxy Hotels to the East Village block. Demonstrators, some accusing the mayor of “graft” and “corruption,” said tenants had been flushed out of the building’s rent-regulated apartments. “This demonstrates the disinterest of the mayor’s promise for an equitable New York, as all of these affordable apartments will be lost, and its tenants injuriously removed with short notice,” said Kelly Carroll, director of advocacy and community outreach for the Historic Districts Council. It is unknown how or when the apartments were vacated. However, state Sen. Brad Hoylman, the lone
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Protestors slammed Mayor Bill de Blasio for allowing a political donor to level five East Village apartment buildings.
elected official at the rally, vowed to have the Department of Housing and Preservation look into what happened to the tenants. “It raises red flags for those of us
who care about affordable housing,” he said. Hoylman also pointed out the mayor Village Continued on page 9
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
WATERY DEATH Police fished a dead body out of the Hudson River on Aug. 23. Cops responded to a call about a body in the river at 8:58 p.m., where they found an unconscious man bobbing by the shore. Firefighters swooped in to recover the man, loading him into an ambulance that sped off to New York Downtown Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An investigation into the man’s death has been launched, although no arrests have been made, cops said. The city medical examiner is working to determine the man’s cause of death, according to police.
TAKING HIS LICKS Two goons beat the proprietor of a Spring St. liquor store after he tried to stop them from making off with two bottles of vodka on Aug. 22. The victim told police that he was minding his store between Sullivan and Thompson Sts. at 9:40 p.m., when he spotted the fiendish duo make for the exit with two bottles of ill-gotten liquor. When he went to intervene, the thieves let loose and gave him a shellacking, whacking him several with closed fists, cops said.
MONEY BAG A shoplifter poached a ritzy designer
village Continued from page 8
appointed Lichtenstein to the Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors — which the senator said puts the developer in “a unique position to do the right thing.” Community groups tried to block the demolition by asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider making the block a historic district. A letter sent to the commission in June — signed by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, the East Village Community Coalition and the Historic Districts Council — noted that the LPC considered the buildings landmark-eligible after conducting a 2008 analysis for a cityapproved rezoning. However, the LPC failed to calendar the request, which would have postponed the demolition of the 19th-centuDowntownExpress.com
bag from a Broadway boutique on Aug. 15. The thief waltzed into the high-class fashion outlet between E. Houston and Prince Sts. at 4:19 p.m., and nabbed one satchel worth a whopping $2880, a store rep told police.
EDGING HIS BETS Cops are hunting a razor-wielding thief who stole more than $700 worth of ill-gotten merchandise off the shelves of a Broadway retailer on Aug. 15. An employee told police that he spotted the victim inside the store between Canal and Lispenard Sts. at 3:07 p.m., and that he made a move to confront the sleazy shoplifter. But when it became obvious to the crook that the worker meant to thwart him, he brandished a box cutter, and cleared a path to the exit with threats of violence, cops said. Once outside, the thief hopped on a bicycle and sped off heading east on Canal St., according to police.
CROTCH ROCKET CROOK A bandit made off with a man’s motorcycle he parked along Thompson St. on Aug. 12. The victim told police that he left his Ducati crotch rocket near Spring St. at 6 p.m., and returned two days later to find his $13,500 ride was gone. — Colin Mixson
ry Beaux Arts structures. “They did nothing. For two months, we waited for a response from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The city’s agency, the mayor’s agency, charged with preserving our city, our history, our neighborhoods,” Berman said. Neither the Mayor’s Office or the LPC responded to requests for comment about taking action to block the demolition. Berman said the only thing that has changed since the LPC once considered the buildings landmark eligible is the ownership of the property. He urged the demonstrators to send a message to the mayor asking for them to be preserved. “You can send the mayor an email directly right now saying: I want you to preserve these buildings, stop being a hypocrite, live up to your promise, preserve our neighborhood, preserve our history,” he said.
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August 25 - September 07, 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-
August 25 - September 07, 2016
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
in a city rich in shades, here is a COLOR that includes all...
in in a city rich here in shades, here isthat a COLOR that includes all... in a city rich shades, is a COLOR includes all...
YouTube / Adel Euro
Iraqi dancer Adel Euro was killed by a Baghdad sucicde bomber while the Battery Dance Company was working to bring him to the U.S. for training.
Refuge in dance Battery Dance unveils campaign to rescue refugee dancers from Middle-East conflicts Battery Dance Company, which just finished up its annual, eponymous dance festival, announced a new charitable campaign this week aimed at bringing dancers from the Middle East to New York for training. It’s named for Iraqi dancer Adel Euro, whom the company was working to bring to the U.S. this summer when he was killed last month by a suicide bombing in Baghdad. This year’s Battery Dance Festival, which ran from Aug. 14–20 at Wagner Park, began with a tribute to the company’s fallen protege, and the Adel Euro Campaign for Dancers Seeking Refuge is intended to honor his memory by relocating, hosting and training Middle Eastern dance refugees in New York City over the next year. “The experience with Adel has taught us that getting these dancers out of danger is of the utmost urgency,” said Jonathan Hollander, president and artistic director of Battery Dance. “Every day, extraordinary talent is lost in conflict zones to senseless and random violence. Unfortunately, as we have learned from Adel’s story, there is no time to waste.” 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 training him 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 United States, DowntownExpress.com
but was waiting for him to finish law school first. He graduated in June, and was killed in the bombing less than a month later. The July 3 suicide bombing that killed Adel and more than 300 other civilians in a crowded Baghdad market was the deadliest terrorist attack in Iraq’s history. “Within days of hearing the news of his death, the artists, staff and board of the non-profit dance company made a commitment to do everything possible to help other dancers from the region seeking refuge,” said Battery Dance in a statement announcing the new effort. The Adel Euro Campaign for Dancers Seeking Refuge is seeking private donations and foundation grants to help relocate, host and train six Middle Eastern dancers who will form a performing unit under the artistic direction of Battery Dance’s senior dancer, Sean Scantlebury. The resulting ensemble will then tour U.S. schools and universities. The program’s goal is to raise $30,000. “We hope others will help us save dancers like Adel, who exhibit incredible dance talent but are limited in their opportunities and are at-risk due to societal constraints and conflict in their countries,” Hollander said. Those interested in contributing can visit the program’s crowdfunding page at: www.generosity.com/emergenciesfundraising/adel-euro-campaign-fordancers-seeking-refuge.
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
BACK TO SCHOOL
Tribeca teacher honored BY COLIN MIXSON All jokes aside, the Tribeca teacherâ€™s Tribeca resident Shakira Provasoli lack of pretension belies the invaluwas treated to a once-in-a-lifetime field able curriculum sheâ€™s spent the past trip to the White House last week, five years developing to leverage the where the public-school impressive hothouse teacher was honored â€” which features with the Presidential pest-eating ladybugs, Innovation Award for fertilizer-producing Environmental Educators tilapia, and numerous in recognition of a ground high-tech hydroponic breaking curriculum she systems â€” to infuse developed to support her her young students uptown schoolâ€™s greenwith an impressive house learning center. competence in, and But the self-effacing love of, environmenEPA elementary instructor tal science. humbly argued that sheâ€™s Tribeca resident Shakira â€œI want them to Provasoli was honored at the not the hero, and that love science,â€? she White House last week with the amazing hydroponic a Presidential Innovation said. â€œI want them to growing space atop the Award for Environmental feel confident about Upper West Sideâ€™s PS 333 Educators. their understanding deserves all the credit. of science and I want â€œItâ€™s definitely the chilthem to believe that drenâ€™s favorite place to go, itâ€™s not about they have the power to make a differme,â€? said Provasoli. â€œItâ€™s like having a ence in the world.â€? field trip, but they get to go every week.â€? Provasoli isnâ€™t afraid to use the
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
Photo by Sidsel Robards
Teacher Shakira Provasoli uses PS 333â€™s rooftop greenhouse to teach her Kâ€“5th-grade students about ecological systems and cycles, environmental interactions, and sustainable cities.
entrancing space to teach deadly serious science, using plants grown in the greenhouse to demonstrate the various effects of climate change, subjecting them to the effects of drought, storms, hot flashes, and various other ugly consequences of climate change. But her classes are designed to inspire hope, not despair, and Provasoli
crossing guards Continued from page 1
you have to find the right person to talk to. So we are in the process of developing an appropriate line of communication to ensure the understanding we had with the First Precinct continues,â€? she said. Noting there are still a few weeks until school resumes, Glick said she is optimistic her office will find a contact at the School Safety Division and is hopeful the new policy will work. â€œCrossing guards can get lost in the many responsibilities of the precinct,â€? she said. â€œI think putting them in the school safety division is attempt to link them more closely to the school.â€? Downtown parentsâ€™ long-standing frustration with the crossing-guard shortage boiled over in May 2015, after a driver injured a mother and narrowly missed a group of children in a notorious hit-and-run outside the Spruce Street School during the morning drop-off. In response to pressure from the community and elected officials, the First Precinct announced last November that traffic enforcement agents would safeguard unwatched intersections near the Spruce Street and Peck Slip schools. The station house expanded its use of substitute officers in March to cover nine intersections at eight elementary schools in Lower Manhattan.
instructs students that they can take control of their world and work to make it better by understanding the cause and effects of global warming, â€œItâ€™s a scary topic,â€? she said, â€œbut when you have the tools to change it and lessen the effects, they really can make teacher Continued on page 16
An NYPD spokesperson said two more crossing guard locations in the First Precinct have been added for the upcoming school year, but did not say whether those positions had been filled. Filling the vacant positions with traffic agents, or even patrol officers, is still only a stopgap measure, according to Glick, who said the city needs to make Downtown crossing guard positions more attractive to in order to find a long-term solution to the problem. â€œPart of the challenge is that itâ€™s a barbell job â€” meaning you work one end here and one end here, but thereâ€™s this open section in the middle,â€? she said. â€œAnd because Lower Manhattan is an expensive area, itâ€™s difficult to recruit people who live near the school and can go home for an hour or two.â€? The assemblymember said the city should consider expanding crossing guardsâ€™ responsibilities, such as supervising after-school activities or providing tutoring, so they can work throughout the school day. She said making the job more appealing will not only help fill the vacancies, but ensure crossing guards will be a familiar presence at local schools. â€œWe want crossing guards to get to know the families, someone the kids can recognize when theyâ€™re welcoming them to the school,â€? she said. DowntownExpress.com
BPC’s Irish Hunger Memorial closes for months of repairs BY COLIN MIXSON Battery Park City’s Irish Hunger Memorial has been shutdown and declared off limits to allow workers to dismantle the monument piece by piece as part of a $4.9 million restoration effort scheduled for completion in late spring 2017. The memorial has been leaking like a sieve since 2003, despite prior remediation efforts, and Hurricane Sandy didn’t do any favors for the elevated halfacre of transplanted Irish countryside. Nonetheless, the bucolic green space will be tiptop once the work is complete, according to Battery Park City Authority spokesman Nick Sbordone. “In a neighborhood renowned for its world-class parks and open spaces, the Battery Park City Authority proudly bears responsibility for the maintenance and repair of these incredible public assets,” said Sbordone. “We look forward to completing this necessary work
on the Irish Hunger Memorial so that it may be enjoyed by the next generation of visitors.” The Irish Hunger Memorial, located at North End Ave. and Vesey St. was designed by artist Brian Tolle to raise awareness of the famine that drove the mass migration from Ireland to the Battery Park City Authority United States by way of New York City The bucolic half-acre of Battery Park City’s Irish Hunger Memorial will be in the late 19th century. closed for more than a year for repairs and waterproofing. It was built in 2002 at a cost of $5.1 million, and almost immediately began sprouting leaks on its south side, causTo accommodate the new restoration rather than the official $4.9-million ing stains and cracks to form through- and waterproofing effort, workers will figure from the authority — complainout the memorial’s structure. be required to dismantle to memorial ing that the repairs would cost more A remediation effort to waterproof piece by piece, cataloguing the exact than building the memorial in the first the memorial’s cantilevered perimeter placement of every stone, plant, fence, place. was done in 2003, but the leaks per- and even the soil, before reconstructBut Sbordone countered that comsisted and worsened over time. The ing the memorial exactly as it was once paring construction costs between now monument is now considered at a “mod- the waterproofing work has completed, and 2002 is like comparing apples and erate-to-high” risk of further corrosion Sbordone said. oranges, and pointed out that the cost developing, and the decision to conductT:8.75” Critics have lambasted the proj- of building to memorial today would be further waterproofing was made as a ect for its cost — which had been closer to $8.9 million, taking inflation result, according to Sbordone. reported to be as high as $5.3 million, into account.
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
BY LENORE SKENAZY Can we please stop telling parents that it is normal to be terrified for even the shortest periods of time when kids are doing the most mundane of activities —such as walking to or from school? Because here’s what NBC’s Alyssa Newcomb reported the other day in an piece called “Back-to-School Safety Tech That Helps Keep Kids Safe” (The title alone reinforcing the idea that kids are not safe without us taking new, techassisted precautions): “No matter how mature and responsible a child is, those few blocks without adult supervision are enough to make most parents worry.” Since when? Since crime is back to the level it was in 1963? Since we are living in the safest times in human history according to Harvard’s Steven Pinker? Since even child deaths at the hand of a kidnapper — already extremely rare — are now one-fifth of what they were just 20 years ago? “Most parents worry” about a few block walk, in these particularly safe times, even if they know their kids are mature and responsible? That seems like some kind of illness. Yes, it is normal to worry if the neighborhood is truly crime-ridden. And naturally it can be worrying if a child is late getting home, or if it is the first week of school and the child is just getting used to the walk. But for parents to worry no matter how mature their kid, how short the walk, and how safe the neighborhood does not make sense. Igniting the fuse of fear makes sense for only two groups of people: The media, who depend on fear to keep us engaged; and the makers of tech tracking devices, who depend on our dollars
to stay in business. After all, if they can convince us that it is normal to fret any time we take our eyes off our kids, they can sell us products that keep our eyes upon them. And so reporter Newcomb goes on to list four products that track kids and apprise the parents of their location. The Pocketfinder is one. It goes in the child’s backpack “updates a parent’s smartphone with their location every two minutes.” Obsess much? It also alerts parents the second their child veers off the prescribed path. What a joy that makes walking home: Follow that squirrel for a block and mom calls 911. Then there’s Life 360, which is free and sounds like Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map, showing every family member’s location. But if you pay a premium (a ha!) you can get “expanded history data and a live adviser for urgent situations.” Just suggesting “urgent situations” makes the walk sound dire. The Canary, also profiled, is part of a $199 home security system, allowing you “to see live video and hear audio from their home. Parents can even replay the video clip from when their child walked in the door, ensuring that they were with only authorized house guests.” Maybe it should really be called the Stool Pigeon. It seems less like a normal household device and more like the
closed-circuit television above the door at a 7-Eleven. And finally there’s the August Smart Lock which let’s you “see and speak to whoever is at your door, even if you’re not home.” It also locks and unlocks your door, long distance “making it ideal if your kid forgets their key,” according to Newcomb. At $400 it might be more ideal to make your kid a few extra keys, or even hide one someplace clever. So now I, too, have some advice on how to keep your kid safe on the way home from school — advice that the television report, in its haste to hail technological solutions to nearly nonexistent dangers, forgot. Teach your children to: • Look left, look right, look left again when crossing the street. • Make sure that anyone turning sees them in the cross walk. • Ask strangers for help if they need it. Teaching “Stranger danger” removes all the people who could help them in an emergency. (Remember that Utah Boy Scout who was lost for three days because every time he heard a search party member calling his name, he scampered off to hide from the “stranger”?) However, teach your kids that they while they can talk to anyone, they cannot go off with anyone. And they should not get into someone’s car. Those are tips that make a lot of sense and, by golly, they are free! Of course, for a premium, I will add a new and pointless tip every month. Sign up now! Lenore Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, and a contributor at Reason.com.
Posted To Talking trash: Downtowners demand city kick residential garbage off the curb (Aug. 16) Can’t we have a discussion about how to create less waste in the first place? For one thing sidewalk trash outside condos includes huge quantities of water and soda bottles — where’s New York residents’ responsibility for our environment? Residents can drink perfectly healthy city water. Bottled water should be illegal except for emergencies. What are people doing about the
proliferation of plastic-packaged foods? Why can’t we have more loose foods and alternatives to plastic or styrofoam packaging? In general New Yorkers are let of the hook, even though we know that how we live in our city is destructive for the environment. Continuing to create mountains of trash on land and in the oceans is a horrible legacy for our children and grandchildren. Carole Ashley I share Carole’s sentiments. “Zero Waste Home” Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot. Miss Downtown NYC
Agreed with Ms. Ashley that the most important step is to treat the disease not the symptom, i.e., reduce dramatically the amount of garbage produced. Products have excessive and often non-recyclable packaging; people still do not sort recycling properly; etc. Nevertheless, the garbage problem also has to be addressed directly. Why is it that other large cities do not have this problem? How do they deal with it? If the trash must be on the street, then at least put it on the street, not the sidewalk. Convert a parking spot on each block to be a trash holding and posted Continued on page 15
shared streets Continued from page 2
Hovitz went so far as to criticize the city for not postponing the event, despite the months of preparation that went into it. “It just amazes me, the city issues an extreme heat advisory telling people to stay indoors or seek out a cooling center, and then on the same day closes the streets and invites people to come out and exercise,” he groused. Some street-sharers beat the heat with another old-fashioned practice — opening a fire hydrant and splashing around in the spray. Lower Manhattan is the oldest part of New York City and it shows its age in the narrow roadways and sidewalks of its “pre-grid” streetscape. Local stakeholders have for years been pushing for the city to conduct a thorough study of Downtown roadways
china Continued from page 5
Revolution with film and discussion. But criticism of this period of chaos and strife — even if it was unleashed at the whim of Chairman Mao — is permissible in contemporary China. Last September, the institute hosted a dinner presentation for China’s new president, Xi Jinping, in Seattle. Heimowitz stated clearly that the institute seeks to present Chinese perspectives in “unadulterated and direct form,” as an alternative to “news through a Western lens.” He added: “Let people decide for themselves.” “Through revolutions, liberations,
posted Continued from page 14
pick-up area. Of course, this will cause disputes as well, as no one will want that to be in front of their property. Which means that the actual spot may have to vary on each block. Whether some sort of dumpster should be placed there is another question; which is the worse eyesore and sanitation problem? Perhaps we need a competition for designs and solutions. Marcus The Bloomberg Administration enabled over-development here – and throughout NYC. The impact of over-development and the accompanying trash is particularly horrible here because of the narrow streets. The proliferation of hotels and expansion of Pace also contribute to the DowntownExpress.com
to determine new solutions to ironing out traffic woes in the area’s quaint but tangled streets. Shared Streets was envisioned as a way of not only getting locals out of the house, but of generating information that could lead to better traffic patterning in the future, although the data that was collected won’t be made available until the fall, according to a DOT spokesman. Locals are also optimistic that the event will draw greater attention to the area’s growing garbage woes, which have been exacerbated by both traffic difficulties and a rapidly swelling residential population, according to the former chair of Community Board 1. “Shared Streets would have been a lot more enjoyable if we didn’t have to share out sidewalks with bags of trash, especially on a hot day,” said Catherine McVay Hughes.
Some complained that the barricades discouraging cars from entering the 60-block “Shared Streets” zone caused terrible traffic jams around the periphery.
cultural revolutions, all of it — we’re still here promoting cultural understanding between the U.S. and China,” he summed up. The Six Dynasties exhibit — with relics on loan from museums in Nanjing and Shanxi — is being curated by Willow Weilan Hai, the institute’s gallery director. She was trained as an archeologist at Nanjing University — among the first generation of Chinese archeologists when academic life resumed after the end of the Cultural Revolution. She participated in excavation of a Neolithic site on the Yangtze River before coming to New York in the late 1980s.
“The Six Dynasties were a chaotic period, but they saw intellectual achievements in art, literature and music that are still important to today,” she said, taking obvious pride in the new gallery’s inaugural exhibit, opening Sept. 30. By then, the institute’s permanent entrance at 100 Washington St. should be open — just around the corner from the 40 Rector St. entrance now being used while the ground-floor galleries are prepared. “We are building a new cultural center for New York,” she said, pointing to the Financial District’s recent emergence as a museum district. China Institute is
now the third such entry, after the 9/11 museum and the Smithsonian-affiliated National Museum of the American Indian in the old Customs House on Bowling Green. Hai said, with a laugh: “We’re going to build up something new and challenge Midtown.” The China Institute will celebrate it’s new location at 40 Rector St. with a Mid-Autumn Festival and Open House on Sept. 10, featuring family-friendly activities from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., including Chinese lessons for children aged 4–7, lantern-making workshops, and children’s film screenings.
garbage problem. Sorry, but too many tourists and too many Pace students seem to think it is OK to litter, to leave trash anywhere. And also more garbage generated by the tsunami of food chains that have taken over since about 2011. js
mental impact studies are not required for this … and currently, pursuant to the rules, wouldn’t even show any problem should they be required for projects going forward. L:T
album promises disco fever, rapid weight loss (Aug. 9)
All the comments thus far are relevant and present good ideas. I like the idea to amend the zoning to require large buildings to have a place to keep their trash until pickup. Perhaps that should be true of all new buildings … not just “developments”. Better that than parking spots! I am familiar with the BPC solution, and agree that the presence of the compactors aren’t noticeable. But over-development of Downtown and our unfortunate human habit to create unnecessary waste is a major problem that must be addressed. Sadly, environ-
Photo by Franz Lino
What we all are forgetting is the plethora of on line shopping. It has created an enormous amount of garbage along with the thoughtless packaging of products. The large food companies would serve us all with smarter packaging. Last but not least we are a city of 9 million people within a 12 mile radius and therefore there is no other city that is comparable. We need smart engineers with NYC experience to design for our unique city! Ellen
Boogie Downtown: Tribattery Pops’ new
Disco never died, the rhythm never faded. In the Assembly I’ll belt out tunes regularly. Jenifer Rajkumar Such a shame because “handsome” Paul Newell has already committed to sing lead for future Pops disco gigs (including the BPC Block Party and Tunnel to Tower Run) and has appeared with us at the Fort (Sidewalk Cafe) at 6th and Avenue A back in May. Tom Goodkind
City to ask cars to ‘share’ Downtown streets with pedestrians on Saturday (Aug. 11) This is a very, very stupid idea. Diane Whelton August 25 - September 07, 2016
THE Thurs., Aug. 25-Wed., Aug. 31
ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING ARE IN EFFECT ALL WEEK
The Deutsche Bank Building Fire Conspiracy 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 ra f fa g n i no. c o m 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.
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August 25 - September 07, 2016
Students take Manhattan by storm this week, with college move-ins all over the city. But the biggest of all will take place Downtown at NYU with Welcome Day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Though students will gather there throughout the day to pick up their ID’s, move-in will take place at residence halls throughout the East and West Village and at Union Square. Have you seen the size of some of the trucks accommodating students? They belong at the Convention Center more than a dorm! In any event, they will stopping traffic whether moving or parked. Note that although Sunday is firstyear students’ move-in day, upper-class students will have one full week to move into their housing, so there might be residual traffic, but the most severe will be this weekend. Since NYU’s dorms are scattered, look for hold-ups below Union Square on Fourth Ave. and Broadway, as well as surrounding Washington Square Park and on Third Ave. just below 14th St., where students are sure to be claiming their space. There will be no road closures for NYU move-in day. Showdown in the Meadowlands! The Jets face the Giants at MetLife, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. It may be preseason, but bragging rights in the Big Apple typically bring out more than 75,000 fans, and since they can’t all use the Lincoln Tunnel or George Washington Bridge, the Holland Tunnel gets the spillover. The traffic impact will be felt in Lower Manhattan as early as 1:30 p.m., with stadium lots open for tailgating at 2:30 p.m. So traffic jams at the Holland Tunnel could last all afternoon and into the late evening. Canal and Broome Sts. will be hit the hardest. It’s also time to get ready for one of
teacher Continued from page 12
a difference.” That’s not to say that the greenhouse, with all its flashy gizmos and critters, doesn’t go a long way when it comes to engendering a love of science and the natural world. In fact, there are times when the greenhouse steers the lesson more than Provasoli would like. “You can’t imagine how difficult it is if a shipment of lady bugs arrived and, god forbid, I want to teach about some-
the city’s favorite traditions: New York Fashion Week. Beginning Saturday, the preparations for this iconic, week-long event will cause intermittent Downtown road closures in the area from the West Side Highway to Greenwich St. and from Spring St. to Clarkson St. This will begin Saturday and continue the rest of the week. There will also be service changes for some major trains. Pay special attention to the 2 train, which won’t run between Manhattan and Brooklyn from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Friday through Monday. During those times, the 3 train will not run between 14th St. and New Lots Ave. in Brooklyn, but the 4, N, Q, and R trains can serve as an alternative. From the Mailbag: Dear Transit Sam, Could you please elaborate on the rules of yielding to pedestrians at the different cycles of the Walk/Don’t Walk signals? Tia Dear Tia, Transit Sam’s rule is to always yield to pedestrians (and bike riders and other “vulnerable” users of our streets) whether they are in the right or wrong. The obvious rule is that if a pedestrian is facing the walking man (person?) she has the absolute right-of-way. If a pedestrian faces the solid (not flashing) red hand he is to stop and wait for the walking man. So what does a flashing hand mean? According to traffic engineers (who haven’t shared this much with the general public) it means “Don’t Start” to cross. But with countdown signals it seems the NYC pedestrian knows, with Olympic precision, how long it takes to cross the street and land on the sidewalk just as the traffic gets the green. Transit Sam
thing else,” Provasoli said. “Sometimes I have to laugh and understand I’m not as exciting as a ladybug.” The greenhouse at PS 333 was among the first at any public school in the city, although the non-profit-funded growing spaces have since expanded to other schools throughout the city, where teachers and students continue to benefit from the curriculum that Provasoli pioneered. “I’m pretty sure that it’s used as the basis for their teaching,” said Provasoli. DowntownExpress.com
The Ship Never Sails on Lilac’s Living History Pier 25’s lighthouse tender has gangplank, galley, gallery
Courtesy Lilac Preservation Project
The last steam-powered lighthouse tender in America is open to the public, free of charge, May through October.
BY TRAV S.D. New Yorkers pride themselves on their cosmopolitanism. There are a finite number of museums in this town; the notion of having “done them all” can be a tempting one. But I’ll lay dollars to donuts you’ve not been to the Lilac, where the exhibition “Adam Payne: Full Steam Ahead” is hanging through the end of September. Open since 2011, the Lilac is one of New York’s newer and lesser-known museums. Its relatively low profile among the cognoscenti might have something to do with the fact that she is a US Coast Guard Cutter, moored at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 near North Moore Street. For almost four decades (19331972), the Lilac served as a lighthouse tender along the Delaware River. Following her decommissioning, she served successive periods as a training vessel and the offices for a waterfront scrap business before being towed to New York and then acquired by the Lilac Preservation Project in 2004. The last steam-powered lighthouse tender in America, the Lilac is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible to become a National Historic Landmark. The Lilac is open free of charge to the public for self-guided tours between May and October. As a tourism experience, the Lilac is best suited for hardier visitors. It is a bit of an obstacle course, with a gangplank, uneven, shifting surfaces, and ladders to be negotiated. And the vessel is in the process of being restored. It is a rough and raw environment. But access to virtually all parts of this interesting ship is ample reward for the curious. Children and nautical buffs will especially appreciate the opportunity to stand at the ship’s wheel on the bridge, to make their way along the decks, and take in the engine room, galley, wardroom and cabins. A permanent exhibition tells the story of the ship’s history through historic photos and descriptive wall text. Unlike most historic ship museums, the Lilac also doubles as an art gallery — a savvy innovation given its proximity to Tribeca and Chelsea. All of the exhibitions have some maritime connection. Recent exhibitions have included a collection of paintings by Rachel Lussier, and a photography show called “Defending New York Harbor.” The current exhibition, “Adam Payne: Full Steam Ahead,” opened on Aug. 10. Payne is a conceptual artist whose work often consists of found objects (or “products”), which he reconceptualizes for the gallery space. “Full Steam Ahead” is described as “an exhibit of mariLILAC continued on p. 18 August 25 - September 07, 2016
Photo by Sam Monaco
Adam Payne with one of his “Full Steam Ahead” works, installed at the Lilac through September. Photo by Sam Monaco
LILAC continued from p. 17
In the main gallery space, Adam Payne’s drawing “Hi Ho The Derry O The Cheese Stands Alone” and the life jacket “To Help Give Up The Ship.”
time art in mixed media” and consists of objects and documents with nautical associations, altered to bring out new meanings. The pieces are installed throughout the ship. Seeking them out carries with it something of the fun of a scavenger hunt, even when the significance of the art is quite serious. Most of the exhibition consists of a series of life vests and life preservers stenciled with the names of explorers and given thought provoking names, like “Nice Face,” “Milquetoast,” or “To Help Give Up The Ship.” The most ambitious of these (in scale) is an entire life raft hanging in the engine room, accompanied by a sound installation. In an ordinary art gallery, these works would inevitably evoke ships, sailing, and the sea. In the Lilac, the poignancy and drama are foregrounded. We are in a vulnerable place; these objects represent lives, both lost and saved. Other interesting pieces include a series of nautical maps with signal flag designs hand drawn over the top in colored pencil. The provocative title of one of these is “Hi Ho The Derry O The Cheese Stands Alone” (the song lyrics are spelled out in the work in the code of the maps). The result is a sort of bi-level semiotics. What does it mean as a message? And what does that message mean when presented as art? The fact that the lyric is nonsense, if anything, reinforces the question. But don’t think about it too hard! As I say, this is one gallery where you want to watch where you put your feet. Says Payne, “Showing on the Lilac is a unique opportunity to interact with some of the history that has inspired these works. The Lilac’s work, servicing buoys and as a lighthouse tender, ensured lines of communication. Now the Lilac is used to help communicate with the past. Showing these works on this ship is a way to better understand nautical history and the individuals who made it.” Admission to the Lilac is free. “Adam Payne: Full Steam Ahead” is on view through Sept. 29. Hours: Thurs., 4–7pm; Sat. & Sun., 2–7pm. At Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 (at N. Moore & West Sts.). Visit lilacpreservationproject.org.
August 25 - September 07, 2016
Photo by Mary Habstritt
Wheel fun: Visitors to the bridge can take the steering mechanism for a spin. DowntownExpress.com
Meet The Man on the Fifth Floor Documentary filmmaker fetes Busby’s life in the Chelsea Hotel
Photo by Linda Troeller, courtesy Schiffer Publishing
Gerald Busby in his fifth floor apartment (from Linda Troeller’s 2015 “Living in the Chelsea Hotel” photography collection).
BY PUMA PERL What makes a successful businesswoman like Jessica Robinson walk away from her career to become a filmmaker? Over the course of 35 years running Robinson Creative Services, an advertising design studio, her client list included names like Condé Nast and American Express. Previously, as a creative director in advertising, she made videos for an equally prestigious list of clients, including The Graduate Center, CUNY. That pretty much sums up her film experience. As we sat watching raw footage of “The Man on the Fifth Floor: 3 Decades in the Chelsea Hotel,” Robinson elaborated on her inspiration. “One day [Dec. 16, 2007], I happened to open the New York Times to the Neediest Cases section, and there was Gerald Busby. I was shocked. Here was my friend, composer of Robert Altman’s ‘3 Women,’ child piano protégé, raconteur, and one of the most charming men I’d ever met, feaDowntownExpress.com
tured as one of the year’s neediest cases. What had happened? I had to find out. I had to tell this quintessentially New York story of culture and counterculture; this iconic story of New York City and a lost Bohemia. I had to become a filmmaker.” The events that brought Busby, now 80, to theDowntown attention ofExpress the New York Times could not have been imagined 1/8 page when he first arrived in the city several decades earlier. Nobody had yet even heard of HIV/AIDS. The bathhouses and clubs were jumping, and many gay men like himself were giddy with this new, post-Stonewall freedom. Busby and his younger lover, the late Sam Byers, both eventually tested HIV-positive. Sam suffered a long, lingering death, Busby by his side (he was 58 when Sam passed away; they’d been together for 18 years). Depressed and traumatized, he stopped composing and tried to escape through sex and drug binges. He went bankrupt. After three rehab stints, he finally found
sobriety in 2005, and returned to composing music. Several weeks after my meeting with Robinson, I knocked at the door of Gerald Busby’s fifth floor apartment in the Chelsea Hotel, where the “renovations” are ongoing; the halls were draped in plastic, and warnings against
photographing inside the building were taped up next to Stop Work Orders. Busby is one of about 80 residents who have hung in; a tenants union now protects their rights to remain in their rent-stabilized units. BUSBY continued on p. 20
Request for Proposals for the Development, Operation, and Maintenance of a Snack Bar at the John Street Service Building on the East River Waterfront Esplanade, Manhattan In accordance with Section 1-13 of the Concession Rules of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) is issuing, as of the date of this notice, a significant Request for Proposals ("RFP") for the development, operation and maintenance of a snack bar at the John Street Service Building on the East River Waterfront Esplanade, Manhattan. There will be a recommended proposer meeting on Thursday, August 25th, 2016 at 11:00am. We will be meeting at the proposed concession site, which is located at the intersection of John Street and South Street on the East River Waterfront Esplanade in the South Street Seaport, Manhattan. If you are considering responding to this RFP, please make every effort to attend this recommended meeting. All proposals submitted in response to this RFP must be submitted no later than Thursday, September 22nd, 2016 at 3:00pm. Hard copies of the RFP can be obtained, at no cost, commencing on Monday, August 8th, 2016 through Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays, at the Revenue Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which is located at 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 407, New York, NY 10065. The RFP is also available for download, on Monday, August 8th, 2016 through Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, on Parksʼ website. To download the RFP, visit http://www.nyc.gov/parks/businessopportunities and click on the “Concessions Opportunities at Parks” link. Once you have logged in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFPʼs description. For more information or to request to receive a copy of the RFP by mail, prospective proposers may contact Lizbeth Sanchez, Project Manager, at (212) 360-1376 or at email@example.com. TELECOMMUNICATION DEVICE FOR THE DEAF (TDD) 212-504-4115
August 25 - September 07, 2016
BUSBY continued from p. 19
When the nattily dressed Busby answered the door, smiling widely, I immediately understood why Robinson called him “charming.” From almost the moment we began chatting, I was entranced, you might even say smitten. He felt like a lifelong friend I just hadn’t met yet. Following the death of Sam Byers, he downgraded from a four-anda-half-room apartment to this studio. Somehow, even with the presence of a piano, computer equipment and artwork, it is his spirit that fills his room. There is no sense of material clutter. Our interview was freewheeling — speaking of art and AIDS, poetic inspiration, the links between brilliance and narcissism, existential film, whiskey, and addiction (his, and the winding roads of his journey). Busby also spoke of the five geniuses with whom he has had the good fortune to work: Paul Taylor, Virgil Thomson, Martha Graham, Leonard Bernstein, and Robert Altman. The late Thomson, a composer and critic, was also his mentor. Altman, he explained, was the most “mystical” of the five. “He wanted you to be the best, so he gave you the very best of what he had.” Scoring 1977’s “3 Women,” Busby learned to “put things together and turn them into something else.” He also forayed into acting with Altman, drawing on his fundamentalist experiences growing up in Texas to improvise the role of the preacher in 1978’s “A Wedding.” Busby’s life today is about writing as “fast and furiously as possible. Just go,” he said. “Instinct, intention, and, eventually, critical thought kicks in.” He no longer plays the piano, but works on his compositions eight to 10 hours a day. He listens to Mozart every morning and considers Bach the artist of construction. “They are both surprising and inevitable,” he explained. He rarely reads books, although he does utilize poetry as a muse for his compositions. “The most important thing to me at this stage of my life is being willing to make myself happy for no reason at all, to get reasonableness completely out of my thinking as the source of happiness and success. Reiki [healing meditation] is the center of that practice for me,” he revealed. “I’ve learned that if I make myself happy by being continually present to myself, reasons for happiness pour into my life. Health, success, friends and money all appear and support me. The key is to stop identifying myself with any negativity. This shows me what I really need to stay
August 25 - September 07, 2016
Courtesy Busybusbyfilms LLC
“The Man on the Fifth Floor” director Jessica Robinson behind the camera.
healthy and write music and fulfill my obligations. My objective is to relate to consciousness with total openness and regard emotion like a gas that passes through me.” “The Man on the Fifth Floor: 3 Decades in the Chelsea Hotel” is still in the fundraising stage; they have finally finished the rough cut and are ready to prepare the final cut. Top billing is shared by Busby and the Chelsea Hotel itself, and includes appearances by Larry Kramer, Brad Gooch, Linda Troeller, Craig Lucas, Paul Taylor, and other artists and former residents. Jessica Robinson and her production team are hoping for a December release. “It’s so easy to lose contact with the past because time keeps marching on,” she said. Looking back at the city’s iconic history from the ’70s to the ’90s, it astounds me to remember that it was a slower, darker world with all this amazing creative energy gurgling under the surface. It was a rich and creative stew, a wonderful piece of madness. Gerald Busby is a genuinely witty and idiosyncratic character whose life parallels an iconic era and that’s what makes this film so unique.” For more info about the film, and to make a tax-deductible donation, visit busybusbyfilms.com. View a teaser at vimeo.com/151860812. Learn more about Gerald Busby at geraldbusby.com.
Courtesy Busybusbyfilms LLC
L to R: Sam Byers and Gerald Busby, in 1976.
Courtesy Busybusbyfilms LLC
Playwright and activist Larry Kramer is among those interviewed for Jessica Robinson’s upcoming documentary on the life of Gerald Busby.
Buhmann on Art
‘The Waiting Room’ at the New Museum BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN For years, Simone Leigh has explored black subjectives, particularly those of women, to create object-based, sculptural explorations that are often informed by ancient African and African-American object-making. More recently, she has focused on how institutionalized control and indifference can lead to radical forms of self-care and social care. In 2014, for example, she created a socially engaged work in cooperation with Creative Time, which provided free treatments and workshops over the course of four weekends in the former Brooklyn home of Dr. Josephine English, the first black OB/ GYN in the state of New York. Leigh’s current installation and residency at the New Museum continues this theme. In “The Waiting Room,” Leigh ponders whether creating a space for wellness may in fact require an act of disobedience. The work was inspired by a variety of care environments, such as medicine markets in Durban, South Africa, as well as meditation rooms. Manifesting as a sanctuary for wellness and happiness, it involves a variety of public and private workshops, healing treatments, and “care sessions.” For these, Leigh has involved various professionals in the field of holistic health, and a private, “underground” series of intimate, in-depth workshops and classes for community partners offered at the Museum after hours. Additionally, a series of talks, performances, and events conceptualized as medicinal dialogues on aging, disobedience, abortion, healing performances, and toxicity complement the project. As “The Waiting Room” makes treatments for bodily and spiritual health easily accessible to all, the notion of holistic care as a mere luxury good diminishes. Conscious of the larger historical context, Leigh’s installation evokes other examples from the past when social inequality necessitated community-organized care. The United Order of Tents, a secret society of nurses that has been active since the time of the Underground Railroad, and the volunteers in the Black Panther Party’s police-embattled clinics that were active from the 1960s to the 1980s, serve as a source of inspiration. DowntownExpress.com
Courtesy the artist
Simone Leigh: “Landscape” (digital collage, 2016, from the series “Anatomy of Architecture”).
Courtesy New Museum, New York Courtesy New Museum, New York
From the care session “Herbs for Energy and Pleasure with Karen Rose.”
From the care session “Afrocentering with Aimee Meredith Cox.”
“Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room” is on view through Sept. 18 at the New Museum (235 Bowery btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). Upcoming public programs include “Black Women Artists
for Black Lives Matter” on Thurs., Sept. 1, 4:30–8:30pm and “Vanessa AgardJones: On Toxicity” on Sat., Sept. 10, 3pm. Museum hours: Wed–Sun, 11am– 6pm, Thurs, 11am–9pm. Admission:
$16 ($14 seniors, $10 students, free for ages 18 and under, pay as you wish every Thurs. from 7–9pm). For more info, call 212-219-1222 or visit newmuseum.org. August 25 - September 07, 2016
August 25 - September 07, 2016
August 25 - September 07, 2016
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August 25 - September 07, 2016