YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
NCO Program to Bring New Sheriffs in Town BY SEAN EGAN In his second Community Council meeting as the commanding officer of the 10th Precinct, Captain Paul Lanot spent the evening of Wed., Oct. 26 examining new problems, addressing old issues, and looking forward to the future. Getting right down to business, 10TH PRECINCT continued on p. 4
Bucks Trend: Dem Donations Dominate in Chelsea, Clinton BY DENNIS LYNCH It shouldn’t be a surprise that the vast majority of people in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen are liberal and support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Those people are showing their support with donations, much more than in previous elections, according to the folks at RentHop VOTE continued on p. 5
FLECK SHINES IN NEW SHOW
Performance artist John Fleck puts his stamp on the gothic horror genre, in “Blacktop Highway.” See page 17.
Photo by Kyle Froman
Masala Bhangra Workout creator Sarina Jain (center) with her students.
A DANCE INSTRUCTOR is a Person in Your Neighborhood
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC For many New Yorkers, it is a dream to be able to walk to work. Some dance instructors for the Ailey Extension in Hell’s Kitchen get to live the reality. Robin Dunn has lived in Hell’s Kitchen since 1992, and literally belted out lyrics when asked about the Ailey Extension opening on W. 55th St. in 2005. “Can you feel a brand new day?” she sang.
© CHELSEA NOW 2016 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Housed at the Joan Weill Center For Dance (405 W. 55th St., at Ninth Ave.), the extension offers over 20 different dance and fitness techniques, including hip-hop classes that Dunn has taught since it opened. Dunn, a Woodside native, started dancing when she was 10, after seeing a friend dance a solo at a recital. Her mom signed AILEY EXTENSION continued on p. 3 VOLUME 08, ISSUE 44 | NOVEMBER 03 - 09, 2016
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Dance Teachers Tap Routine Just Steps From Residences AILEY EXTENSION continued from p. 1
her and her sisters up for tap, jazz, and ballet classes at the Charlotte Pollak Dance Studio in Queens. She was a teaching assistant at Pollak’s school and started working professionally as a dancer when she was 17, Dunn explained to Chelsea Now in a phone interview. Dunn also took classes at the Ailey School, where she studied ballet, Horton, and Dunham. In 1989, Dunn was introduced to hip-hop dance pioneers Mr. Wiggles and Buddha Stretch and studied with both, she explained. Dunn said she was blessed with tradition first and then hip-hop, and she “made the translation, created a pedagogical approach. I speak both languages.” In 2003, Dunn started teaching hiphop at the Ailey School, which offers professional training for aspiring dancers. She taught at the Ailey School until 2012, she said. At the Ailey Extension, she teaches a Beginner Hip-Hop class and an Absolute Beginner Hip-Hop class. There is nothing typical or ordinary about Dunn’s class, which begins with students lying on the floor and meditating. She laughed when she explained that if people are late, they always ask, “Is this hip-hop? Is this hip-hop?” After the breathing exercises, there is warm-up and the students learn the choreography. Dunn says she makes sure to “sprinkle” what she called the three gifts — she has her students say, “Ain’t nobody flyer than me!” “You are the best there is,” and “Don’t hold the good hostage.” “When I can make them smile, laugh and dance — I feel good,” she said. Dunn said she credits Pollak for
teaching her how to be an instructor and the importance of a student’s experience. She teaches fundamentals so that a student can be prepared to take more advanced classes. “I’m a farmer — I know how to plant the seeds to help people grow,” she said. In addition to Pollak, her mom, Edith E. Dunn, who passed away last year, was a huge influence. “My teaching has gone to a whole other level because I feel the two of us teach together,” Dunn said. “She’s the engine that keeps me going still.” Dunn says she is always encouraging neighbors and local merchants to take her class. She said the extension connects neighbors, and that there is a “sense of community within the building itself.” “The Ailey Extension was created in 2005 to fulfill Mr. Ailey’s lifelong commitment to bring dance to the people,” said Lisa Johnson-Willingham, director of the Ailey Extension since 2011. She was referring to Alvin Ailey, the legendary choreographer who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. The extension’s slogan is “real classes for real people,” and to that end there are over 80 classes offered to the general public, she said. A person only needs an interest — not a background in dance — to take a class, Johnson-Willingham explained in a phone interview. “It’s a very welcoming environment,” she said. Everything from Beginner Ballet to Zumba Fitness to world dance techniques (such as Afro-Cuban Folkloric and Samba Reggae Workout) is offered — to name just a few choices. Currently, construction is underway on a 10,000-square-foot expansion of the Joan Weill Center For Dance that
Courtesy Alvin Ailey Extension
A rendering of the $25 million expansion of the Joan Weill Center For Dance, at 405 W. 55th St. at Ninth Ave.
will add three floors to the west side of the building, according to a press release. The expansion will add four dance studios, two flexible classrooms and administrative offices, and renovate existing lounges, locker rooms, restrooms, and the company’s costume shop.
The $25 million expansion is slated to open in fall 2017, according to a spokesperson. In May 2015, Community Board 4 denied a variance for the expansion, which AILEY EXTENSION continued on p. 10
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Open House: Thursday, November 17, 6:00 - 8:00pm 146 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212.242.7802 Photo by Kyle Froman
Robin Dunn (center) has taught at the Ailey Extension since it launched in 2005. .com
www.cityandcountry.org November 03 - 09, 2016
10th Precinct Council Cautions Against Slick Scams
Keep your home, family & ﬁnances above water Photo by Sean Egan
L to R: Det. Petrillo, Officer Triantis, and Capt. Lanot address the Community Council’s questions and concerns. 10TH PRECINCT continued from p. 1
Captain Lanot announced that the precinct had seen a significant uptick in grand larcenies over the last 28-day period — comprised largely of cyber crime. “We saw a lot of those scams go on,” he commented. Lanot noted that these scams often target elderly people, and frequently take the form of a Craigslist ad for an apartment the person posting the ad doesn’t actually own, or some other such enticing transaction. “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is,” Lanot said. “Don’t fall for it.” He also cited another common scam, in which a criminal places calls pretending to be from the IRS (or some other similar agency), and asks the listener to purchase money cards to take care of an alleged debt. “No one’s going to call you from an agency threatening you,” Lanot noted. “Don’t let yourself be pressured over the phone by anybody.” Lanot then had pamphlets handed out, on identity theft and Internet crime, with helpful tips as to how to stay safe while online — chief among them, protecting your passwords and personal information. Next, while fielding questions from the public, Lanot was prompted to share some exciting news with the crowd after Miguel Acevedo, president of the Fulton Houses Tenant Association, asked about the NYPD’s new Neighborhood Coordinating Officers (NCO) program, and its status in the 10th Precinct — and Lanot eagerly announced that the precinct would be a part of it. According to an NYPD statement
November 03 - 09, 2016
announcing the initiative, NCOs are officers assigned to specific neighborhood beats (two per beat), and spend a third of their time on the clock meeting with community members/ leaders, identifying problems (with an emphasis on youth crime prevention), and becoming immersed in the area. In practice, it is meant to help the police better use resources to serve their areas of coverage, and tailor their methods of crime prevention and issue-solving for what is best for their community. “I call them the ‘Neighborhood Commanding Officers,’” Lanot quipped, asserting that the NCOs would improve efficiency and relationships with the community, and report more directly to the public. “They’re going to own their sector…they’re the people who make it happen.” He expressed hope that, with the NCOs reporting on what they learn, he would be able to better serve the public as Commanding Officer. While not able to provide a concrete date for the implementation of the NCO program, after the meeting, 10th Precinct Community Affairs was able to confirm that it would be put into action in the near future. This news comes in tandem with another recent announcement from the NYPD establishing that by 2018, there would be over 150 specialized “victims’ advocates” stationed at precincts city-wide — reaching out to victims of crimes and providing emotional support for those dealing with trauma. Closing the meeting on a positive 10TH PRECINCT continued on p. 12 .com
Trumped: Donations Soar for Clinton, Flop For Republican Rival
Image via RentHop.com
Image via RentHop.com
Clinton dominates between W. 23rd & W. 34th Sts., where only 22 people donated to Trump’s campaign.
In the past, btw. W. 48th & W. 59th Sts., more people donated to Republican candidates than Democratic rivals — but this election has flipped that trend.
VOTE continued from p. 1
who mapped donations in the city by zip code to get a feel for how New Yorkers were showing their support with their wallets. As of September, 98% of donors in Chelsea and at least 92% of voters living between W. 23rd St. and W. 59th St. gave to the former Secretary of State over Republican rival Donald Trump and this election’s two third party candidates, the Green Party’s Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson. That is higher than the 88% of unique donations Clinton has received from donors citywide. More than four times as many people in the 10011 zip code (covering Chelsea and parts of Greenwich Village) gave to Clinton’s campaign than they gave to past Democratic candidates. Not only have many more people donated to Clinton than they have to previous Democrats, but only a fifth of the people who donated to Republicans in previous elections have donated to Trump this year. Nobody in that zip code gave to Trump until July, and in the following three months only 22 donated to his campaign. The story was similar north of Chelsea: Clinton squarely dominated in all of those zip codes while Trump flopped. In previous elections, the gap between the number of donors to each party’s candidate narrowed in each zip code moving further north to 59th St. More people living west of Fifth Ave. and between 48th and 59th Sts. actually donated to the Republican candidate in previous elections than they did to the Democratic candidate, but Clinton captured 92.1% of donations through September. .com
The results suggest that many moderate Republican donors are wary of supporting their party’s brash populist nominee this year, which reflects the dilemma the GOP’s leadership has been in this cycle. The exact reason for the spike in Democratic donors this year is unclear. But given the well-documented lack of enthusiasm for Clinton even among her partisans, it may well be that it’s simply the specter of a Trump presidency that has moved so many from our area to give to her campaign. Image via RentHop.com
—Additional reporting by Bill Egbert
Results for the zip code covering south of W. 23rd St. to parts of the Village show that the area is one of the most pro-Clinton locales in the city.
Poll Position: Know Where to Vote BY DENNIS LYNCH The 2016 Presidential Election — with all its surprises, scandals, and revelations — is almost over. Here’s all the info you will need on Election Day (Tues., Nov. 8). Visit the New York State Board of Election’s voter registration search (voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us) to find out where, and if, you are registered to vote. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, it’s too late to hit the polls. If you are registered, then you can find everything you need to know about the election on the city Board of Elections’ Poll Site Locator (nyc.pollsitelocator.com). The locator will spit out your polling place, its hours, and information about all of the elections on the ballot. You can
even get a look at a sample ballot, by visiting nyc-static. electionhub.com/sampleballots/382426/10/2016G1V2_ Style_403.pdf).This sample is for 242 10th Ave., so your ballot may differ depending on your address. Along with the next leader of the free world, you can cast a ballot for US Senator, US Representative, State Assemblymember, State Senator, Justice of the Supreme Court 1st Judicial District, and Judge of the Civil Court in the County of New York. Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton will be watching the results roll in at the Javits Center (655 W. 34th St., btw. 11th & 12th Aves.) from 6 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. You can sign up for tickets or learn more at hillaryclinton.com.
YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
November 03 - 09, 2016
Diner Founder Fed Neighborhood’s Appetite for Performance BY GERALD BUSBY Carl Laanes was the most aesthetically demanding man I ever knew. He was also the most consistent supporter of young artists. With his creation of the Empire Diner, Carl consolidated these qualities and transformed the western reaches of Chelsea into a chic New York destination. I met Carl in the early ’70s at a party in the Chelsea loft of painter Mark Beard. Charles Ludlam, founder of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, and Virgil Thomson, composer and music critic, were there. Off to one side, Carl, in animated conversation with a young artist, suddenly shouted, “well, if you don’t think Picasso was one of the greatest painters who ever lived, I can’t talk to you.” Carl was head of the graphics department at the Museum of Modern Art, and he had strong opinions about art, music and food, which he expressed with irrepressible, sometimes strident, vigor. He came to dinner at my apartment in the Chelsea Hotel, and I played him some of my music. He liked the food and the music, and hired me to cook at Ruskay’s, his first restaurant, located at Columbus Ave. and W. 75th St. The same night I cooked, Michael Parloff, a Juilliard grad student, played solo flute music for the diners. Carl was taking flute lessons with Michael. I was so inspired by Michael’s virtuosity that I wrote a suite for solo flute called “Noumena.” That’s the piece I sent Robert Altman
to consider me as composer for his new film “3 Women.” I got the job, and Michael went on to become principal flutist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, a position he held for 30 years. In 1975, Carl and his partners, Richard Ruskay and Jack Doenias, found a run-down diner on the northeast corner of 10th Ave. and W. 22nd St. Carl created the Empire Diner. Everything about the design and function of that enterprise, from the waiters’ clothes to the lighting of the room, was subject to Carl’s fastidious direction. He insisted that the overhead lights be exactly the intensity of the candles on the black glass tables. The effect was elegant and alluring. At the shiny black-lacquered Kawai upright piano right next to the restroom, Harry Connick Jr. played his first gig in New York for $25 and dinner. The Spike and the Eagle’s Nest were just a block away, and gay men in leather and Levi 501s were enticed by the glamour of the Empire Diner. There were episodes of confrontation incited by unknowing straight men who wandered in at 3 a.m. looking for eggs over easy and found instead men in leather and chains eating endive with Roquefort dressing. One might say that Carl’s creation on 10th Ave. triggered the gentrification of Chelsea, especially the art galleries that began to open nearby. Photographers and filmmakers were drawn to the chic Art Deco diner in the middle of a shabby New York neighborhood. The famous movie actor from Hitchcock’s film “Psycho,” Tony Perkins,
Photo by Steven Colucci
lived around the corner on W. 22nd St., and I remember himcalling me out of the kitchen one busy Sunday brunch. He thanked me for poaching the eggs softly and not putting too much lemon juice in the hollandaise. Besides bringing young artists of all kinds together at the Empire Diner, Carl brought all kinds of gay and straight people together in an exciting and happy atmosphere. It was an only-in-New-York theatrical scene. Everyone there was a performer. Cooking there and playing that Kawai next to the restroom got me started as a composer. I’m sure there are many other artists in New York who feel equally grateful for Carl Laanes’ support. He died Sept. 12, 2016, right after a trip to Italy. He’d taken a young painter to see Venice for the first time.
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November 03 - 09, 2016
Night and Day for Empire Diner’s New Dawn BY DENNIS LYNCH After changing hands several times over the past few years, a formidable group of restaurateurs have cooked up their own plan to revive Chelsea’s iconic Empire Diner on 10th Ave. and W. 22nd St. Celebrity chef John DeLucie and the partners behind Chelsea’s established comfort food dealer Cafeteria are renovating the landmarked diner, and plan to open its doors early next year. Aesthetically, this Empire will look a lot like it did during its glory days, but the new proprietors hope to turn what was for decades a mostly “nocturnal” haute haunt into an around-the-clock destination. “We’re trying to keep all the significant architectural elements of the space, but trying to make it a bit lighter and welcome and more comfortable,” said Mark Amadei, who co-owns Cafeteria. “As Chelsea has evolved, its gone from being a place where there was no lunch business to a place with a really vibrant daytime art gallery scene. Now there’s people coming from the High Line looking for places to eat, so we wanted it to be welcoming during the day and night.” The owners have not yet set exact
hours, but the Empire will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week. They also more than doubled the size of the second-floor catering space to seat 35 people. Amadei didn’t get into specifics about the menu, although he expects the burger to be a top seller. They will change parts of the menu seasonally, and he said people can expect “quality ingredients” and “comfort food from around the country.” “We want to have a menu that’s going to be comfort food, with a good amount of options. I don’t want to say its similar to Cafeteria, but that’s what we do,” he said. “We’re looking to do a menu that is unpretentious, delicious comfort food, that is large enough to keep people engaged.” Amadei and his team are the Empire’s fourth set of owners in the last seven years. The folks who renovated the circa1946 diner in the late 1970s successfully turned the aging establishment into a destination for late-night revelers and celebrities, cementing it in New York City lore in the process. Madonna, Steven Spielberg, and Julia Roberts were just some of the celebrities who stopped in for grub at the diner over
Photo by Sean Egan
Hopefully they’ll get the recipe right this time, when new ownership reopens the Empire Diner in early 2017.
the years, but the Empire’s reputation among celebrities, club-goers, construction workers, and its presence in tourist guidebooks couldn’t save it in 2009, when the owners lost the lease. In 2010 it opened as the not-so-popular Highliner, but it closed in 2012. Celebrity chef Amanda Freitag opened it again as the Empire Diner in 2014, but closed shop within two years. Neither were highly-rated by customers or critics, and carried two-and-a-half and three-star Yelp ratings, respectively.
Amadei’s success in Chelsea with the long-standing and highly popular Cafeteria restaurant bodes much better for Empire’s future. The diner may be back for good, at least he thinks so. “What we really want to be is a neighborhood place; it’s really about bringing the comfort back to the Empire Diner,” Amadei said. “Chelsea is the coolest neighborhood in the city, and West Chelsea is just starting to come into its own. We want to be the neighborhood watering hole.”
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November 03 - 09, 2016
POLICE BLOTTER CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF A WEAPON: Knife Man On Thurs., Oct. 27, the only tip one unfortunate service industry worker was offered was that of a knife. At around 10:15pm, a confrontational man brandishing a stainless steel knife returned to a Boston Market (271 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) he had previously been told to leave because of his behavior. According to the 22-year-old employee working that night, the man threatened him for telling him to leave earlier, stating plainly, “I’m going to kill you,” and lunging at the employee with his blade. Fortunately he didn’t sustain any injuries, and police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter to arrest the 42-year-old would-be assailant.
to pay his fare, according to the 25-yearold driver who brought him there. When this conflict caused officers nearby to approach the scene, the rabble-rousing rider got belligerent. “You can’t tell me what to do,” he said confidently, while shoving his hands firmly in his coat pockets. Sadly, for him, he was mistaken, as telling people what to do is, in fact, part of the police’s stock and trade — including telling him to put his hands behind his back in order to be cuffed. The man refused to do so, instead adopting a defiantly aggressive stance, while attempting to pull his hands away from them. This tact failed miserably however, as the tough guy was wrestled to the ground and arrested.
CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA/CONTROLLED THEFT OF SERVICES: SUBSTANCE: 17th Street Uh-uh, can’t tell me nothin’ smokers, smoked On Sat., Oct. 29, one bad ol’ southern boy discovered that the only free ride you get in New York is to jail. When the outof-towner arrived on the 500 block of W. 42nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), the 27-year-old North Carolina man refused
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cigarette on the 400 block of W. 17th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), in plain view. Though the man flicked it away, the police were undeterred, and recovered it from the ground. “I found it on the floor,” the smoker offered to the authorities, apparently believing this to be a factoid relevant to the proceedings, and not just more than a little gross. The cops certainly weren’t particularly concerned with where the weed came from, but instead where the 21-year-old was going — the big house, specifically. The next day, in a building on the same block, police witnessed a man holding a smoking pipe, which contained methamphetamines in it. The authorities recovered the pipe, and confronted the individual. “I took a puff,” the impressively lucid 46-year-old Brooklyn man admitted, while police discovered another bag full of “alleged methamphetamines” in his pants pocket. He too, was arrested.
PETIT LARCENY: Mechanic panic He had the getup and everything — but that didn’t stop one 68-year-old woman from feeling like a fast one was being pulled on her on Sat., Oct. 29. At about 12:15pm, while driving at the northeast corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 28th St., the woman was approached by a man wearing a mechanic’s uniform urging her to pull over because her engine was smoking. The woman then opened the hood of the car, and saw smoke pour out — at which point the “mechanic” asked for $100 to fix the car, which she provided. Something about this convenient confluence of events (and perhaps the incident’s proximity to Halloween) seemed a little fishy to the woman, who felt uneasy enough about it to report to the police that she felt like she was scammed. She may be right; it bears mentioning that a very similar scam
was reported in these pages recently, sans costume.
GRAND LARCENY: Mr. Robber’s neighborhood While some may lament the city’s lack of neighborly intimacy, sometimes the proverbial good fences we set up are a useful defense mechanism — a lesson one 30-year-old man learned that the hard way after letting his guard down on Sun., Oct. 30. Upon leaving his W. 42nd St. residence (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) at 5am with $60 cash in his hand, he encountered a good-natured stranger on his block, who struck up a conversation with him. It seems, though, the man was less interested in picking his brain than his pocket, as at some point during their chat, the man suddenly grabbed the cash out of his companion’s hand, and fled eastbound on W. 42nd St. Police, however, conducted a canvas of the area, and his victim was easily able to identify him. It turns out that the 40-year-old thief already had two open dockets; he was promptly arrested.
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-9243377. Detective Squad: 212-7418245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7pm, at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced.
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AILEY EXTENSION continued from p. 3
the Board of Standards and Appeals eventually approved. When asked about this, Johnson-Willingham said that “any changes we’re going to communicate [to the community] throughout the expansion and construction.” She added, “This community has been so supportive and great coming into the building and taking classes.” Johnson-Willingham called it a “winwin situation” for the extension to have instructors who live in the neighborhood. Peter Brandenhoff has been teaching ballet classes at the extension for beginners, advanced beginners and intermediate students for two years, and has lived in Hell’s Kitchen for about four. Originally from Denmark, Brandenhoff studied at the Royal Danish Ballet School. After graduation, he moved to the United States in 1991, he told Chelsea Now in a phone interview. For 15 years, he was with the San Francisco Ballet, and got his first taste of teaching when the company did outreach in South Africa, he said. At the extension, he teaches the basics of ballet with an emphasis on dancing, he said.
November 03 - 09, 2016
Photo by Kyle Froman
Photo by Joe Epstein
Peter Brandenhoff works with a student during one of his ballet classes.
Ailey Extension Director Lisa JohnsonWillingham.
“Ballet is hard because it has a very slow progression,” Brandenhoff explained. Especially for adult classes, he tries to incorporate an element of athleticism. Ballet, he said, can be difficult to do once your body has gotten settled. For Brandenhoff, the most rewarding part of teaching is “when I see somebody figure something out — how to master a step — that’s the best thing there is. To see the smile on their faces and the light
“We put it all together at the end and jam it out,” she said. Jain says most anyone can pick up the choreography and then perform it, and that she doesn’t want anyone to walk out feeling frustrated by the moves. She loves teaching at the extension, where she has had two classes per week since she started. “The friendship[s] I have built there over the years [are] mind-blowing,” she said. “Something about the energy at the Ailey Extension stands out.” Forging close ties with her students has been helped by Jain living in Chelsea since 2005, after moving to the city at the tail end of 2000. Jain loves the uniqueness of the shops and restaurants that still populate the neighborhood. Her students push her to think about music selection, creating new steps and routines, and how she can challenge them. “It’s such a satisfying feeling to know I make a difference in their world,” Jain said.
in their eyes — priceless.” When he moved to New York City five years ago, he tried other neighborhoods and boroughs before settling in Hell’s Kitchen. He said he tries to get his neighbors to come to his class, especially when at one of his favorite haunts, Kahve, a coffee shop at 774 Ninth Ave. (btw. W. 51st & W. 52nd Sts.). “I do my best to recruit people when I’ve been there,” he said. Preconceived notions about ballet — tights are required, you have to have a special body type, or be able to do the splits — make it harder to pitch to people than, say a Zumba or a spin class, he said. No tights are required for his classes at the extension, Brandenhoff noted. “One of the things that sets the Ailey Extension apart in my experience is [the students] like having a good time; they like taking risks,” he said. He said that is indicative of people who live in Hell’s Kitchen with many residents who are still young at heart. A cardiovascular workout from dance is key for Sarina Jain, an instructor at the Ailey Extension since 2009 and the creator of a workout called Masala Bhangra — “the original Indian dance program,” Jain said in a phone interview. Her parents came to the United States in the 1970s from India, and Jain was born and raised in California. She created the Masala Bhangra Workout in honor of her father, who died when he was 47, she said. “I found my calling when everything happened with my dad,” she explained. Jain called the workout “old-school aerobics meets India,” and says she takes the class on a journey — channeling scenes from Bollywood movies. Class starts with a warm-up, and then Jain teaches a series of movement.
For more information about classes and times, visit aileyextension.com.
Photo by Christopher Duggan
Students from The Ailey School perform 2016’s “roofbreaking” ceremony for the Ailey Extension. .com
We are NYC’s transit workers. We safely move nearly 8 million bus and subway riders a day: 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. And with growing ridership, we will transport 150 million more riders in 2016 than just a few years ago - with the same number of workers. These are uniquely dangerous and stressful jobs. We are physically assaulted hundreds of times each year. Spitting incidents are at all time highs. Thousands of our brother and sister transit workers, meanwhile, are injured annually by on-the-job industrial accidents. Twelve were killed on duty since 2001. Our contract with the MTA is expiring. We will kick off our campaign for fair raises, solid beneƓts and no givebacks with a rally on 1ov. 15th in Lower Manhattan. We are NYC’s transit workers and We Move NY.
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Transport Workers Union Local 100 John Samuelsen, President 195 Montague St. Brooklyn, NY 11201 www.twulocal100.org
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November 03 - 09, 2016
Gay City News at 15: No Turning Back BY PAUL SCHINDLER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF GAY CITY NEWS For the past decade and a half, Gay City News (Chelsea Now’s sister publication) has strived, with every issue, to provide thoughtful, incisive, and comprehensive news and arts coverage for the nation’s largest and most diverse LGBT community. Thankfully, that has turned out to be a huge but also very exciting job. When we launched in early 2002, New York State did not yet have a gay rights law. Sodomy laws, with criminal penalties for gay sex, were still in effect in about a quarter of US states. Only one country in the world — the Netherlands — gave same-sex couples full civil marriage equality. The progress since then has been breathtaking. But, it’s also been uneven. For half the life of this newspaper, the LGBT community faced a hostile administration in Washington, with a president who won a second term, in part, based on his campaign putting same-sex marriage bans on the ballot in as many states as possible to pull out social conservatives on Election Day. Barack Obama’s election in 2008 promised new hope for many Americans, and LGBT voters largely shared that assessment, but on the same day America chose its first AfricanAmerican president, California overturned marriage equality with Proposition 8, proving how far we still had to battle to
win over our fellow Americans’ hearts on our freedom to marry. The fight for dignity and equality accelerated considerably in the past eight years, with the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy jettisoned in 2010, gay marriage secured in New York the following year, the Defense of Marriage Act struck down in 2013, and full marriage equality achieved last year. And in the past several years, the Obama administration has moved in an impressively comprehensive way to advance non-discrimination policies and practices for gay, lesbian, and transgender Americans through executive action. Obama will be remembered as our most pro-LGBT president to date, but his “evolu-
10TH PRECINCT continued from p. 4
note, a long-standing Community Council issue was brought up — homelessness. This time however, the officers received cheers rather than complaints. “There’s been an enormous, noticeable increase in police presence,” at Eighth Ave. and W. 23rd St., one woman commented, noting that she had seen a reduction of homeless people and associated issues in the area after the subject was brought up extensively at the last Community Council
tion” came at the speed it did only through the persistent demands of our community. Ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a very close call in 2010. And had the administration not been pressured and cajoled on its marriage equality posture, it’s unlikely that Attorney General Eric Holder would have arrived at the historic 2011 administration decision to stop defending DOMA or the president himself would have endorsed marriage equality the following year. And as Obama prepares to leave office, we still don’t have the political juice on Capitol Hill to pass basic civil rights protections in law for our community nationwide. This is no time to turn back. In Albany, we must build on
meeting. At this point, Lanot took a moment to recognize Officer Triantis, who has taken the lead in helping to straighten up the area and address the homelessness crisis there. According to Triantis, some of his effective efforts include clever solutions — such as asking liquor store owners to slightly raise the prices on tiny bottles of booze — that have seen great results thus far. In addition, Triantis has used his interactions with the homeless population to try to guide them to services, such as Holy
promising new efforts to re-establish our political standing after the cratering of the Empire State Pride Agenda late last year. In Washington and around the nation, we must insist on comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation — with no special outs for those who would hide behind purported religious beliefs as license to treat us as less than full citizens. The talk this week that some advocacy groups may be prepared to trim their sails in order to avoid messy fights over public accommodations protections — which guarantee the rights of everyone to access business services, public spaces, and even bathrooms — is wrong-headed. Retreat is not an option. We’ve come too far for that. The next big task ahead of us is to ensure that the progress made during the Obama years can be expanded under a Hillary Clinton administration. In less than a week, we’ll know what we are facing in Washington come January. Even in the best of outcomes, with Democrats restored to leadership in both the Senate and the House (the latter a tall order, indeed), we will have to play smart ball to have our priorities — the Equality Act, first among them — addressed in a very crowded legislative calendar. When 2016 becomes 2017, Gay City News will be there, continuing in our mission to produce the best and smartest reporting we can. May we continue to live in exciting times.
Apostles Soup Kitchen (296 Ninth Ave., at W. 28th St.), that could provide assistance and further resources. He expressed hope that, with his efforts working so well thus far, he could expand his area of coverage in the future (including to Ninth Ave.). The next Community Council meeting takes place on Wed., Nov. 30, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct (230 W. 20th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). For more info, call the Community Affairs office at 212741-8226. Follow the 10th Precinct on Twitter: @NYPD10Pct. .com
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.
November 03 - 09, 2016
Silverstein Feted by Museum of Jewish Heritage BY BILL EGBERT One of the leading figures of Lower Manhattan’s struggle to recover from the destruction wrought by the 9/11 attacks was honored last week by a Downtown institution dedicated to remembering one of history’s most profound stories of devastation, perseverance, and restoration. The Museum of Jewish Heritage celebrated the contributions of Larry Silverstein — the chairman of Silverstein Properties and a founding trustee of the museum — at the museum’s inaugural luncheon of the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Real Estate and Allied Trades Division on Oct 27. “The Museum of Jewish Heritage was proud to recognize our beloved Trustee, Larry Silverstein, and his family, whose extraordinary contributions to building our city have ensured so that the Museum’s neighborhood of Lower Manhattan will have an enduring legacy for generations to come” said Bruce C. Ratner, the museum chairman. “Larry is a great American hero and we couldn’t be more pleased to honor him.” The stars of the New York real estate community gathered at the 4 World Trade Center last week to honor Larry and his wife Klara, along with their children, Roger, Lisa, and Tal Kerret, for their commitment to supporting the museum and their leadership throughout the arduous process rebuilding Lower Manhattan.
“This point of recognition for the Silverstein family is quite special as we raise funds to support the Museum’s future as a world-class Holocaust museum that serves as a beacon of hope to all New Yorkers and to those who visit from far and wide,” said Michael S. Glickman, the museum’s president and CEO. The event brought together more than 450 guests and raised more than $3.2 million to support the museum’s mission of Holocaust education and remembrance — as well as it efforts to combat anti-Semitism, which has seen a disturbing rise over the past year. The Silverstein’s were inspired by the museum’s new alliance with the real estate industry and allied trades. “My family and I are delighted to support the launch of the Real Estate and Allied Trades Division of this incredible Museum,” said Larry Silverstein. “This event was an opportunity for me to bring together the four great passions of my life: my family, my faith, my colleagues in business, and the great Downtown neighborhood the Museum calls home.” The Luncheon host committee included Milton Cooper of Kimco Realty, Jeffrey J. Feil of The Feil Organization, Winston C. Fisher of Fisher Brothers, Eugene M. Grant of Eugene M. Grant & Company, H. Dale Hemmerdinger of Atco Properties & Management, Peter S. Kalikow of H.J. Kalikow & Co., George Klein of Park Tower Group, and Bruce C. Ratner of Forest City Ratner Companies.
Museum of Jewish Heritage / Melanie Einzig
L to R: Klara Silverstein, founding museum trustee Larry Silverstein, museum chairman Bruce Ratner, and museum vice chairman George Klein, gathered at the the Museum of Jewish Heritage for a luncheon on Oct. 27 to honor the chairman of Silverstein Properties for his commitment both to building the museum, and to rebuilding the neighborhood of Downtown.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is dedicated to educating people of all ages and backgrounds about the diverse history of Jewish life over the past century — before, during, and after the Holocaust. It is the new home of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, now in its 102nd season.
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Stump Speech: Election 2016
Wincing Through the Waning Days of Hillary & Donald’s Dance BY MAX BURBANK There are a host of reasons media coverage surrounding the race for the White House is recognized as being bad. Mainly, as we all know, it’s rigged (or RIGGED!, as the Trump campaign likes its CAPS LOCK setting). Not as in the dictionary definition of that word, implying actual rigging by actual riggers, but because it’s so unfair. No major paper or network has endorsed Trump; that’s totally unprecedented, very nearly statistically impossible, and it cannot be plausibly argued that it has anything to do with Trump being a whole big bag of awful. There’s another big reason coverage has been so poor though, and, as a very important, widely read and critically admired pundit, I’m in a unique position to let you in on it: We can’t prepare. Every word you’ve read about this entire election has been a first draft, and as any Freshman Creative Writing 101 poorly-paid adjunct professor will tell you, first drafts are garbage. And not the nice kind of garbage you’d consider making a sachet of to stick in the back of your frilly unmentionables drawer, either — the real stinky kind. Case in point: I knew this deadline was coming up. Halloween was fast approaching and my plan was to be spooky drunk Monday evening and violently hung over Tuesday morning. I prepared. I read deeply, took notes, made an outline, wrote a rough draft — all that writer crap. I wanted a polished column in the can before the first baby Deadpool whined about the total lack of chocolate in my candy bowl — but then, on Friday, BAM! SWEET CRIMMINY, WE GOT MORE EMAILS! Holy, what the, it’s a whole big DUMP of CLINTON EMAILS, the FBI is gonna OPEN UP… they’re gonna…with the incriminating…It’s a GAME CHANGER on account of…of…EMAILS! RUN FOR THE HILLS! So all my preparation went in the crapper and you are reading a first draft — which I think you already knew, on account of how objectively terrible this column is. Okay, before we do any looking into what this is all actually about, let’s see if we can bypass what sounds like work by reviewing what we already know about Hillary Clinton and emails: They are bad. She should not .com
have them, write them, receive them, or do things with them on account of mostly they are “classified,” a word that means you have to be very careful with them or Bad Hombres could learn all our secrets, unless the Bad Hombres are Russians, in which case, good. There are also “servers” — a word we all pretend to know to look less stupid when the IT guy at work has to flip the switch after we accidentally stepped on the “surge protector” (two words that describe a thing which is like an extension cord, but blockier). When a woman person, in this case Hillary, does bad things with emails and servers, they need to be “locked up” and probably “executed” (two words usually preceded by other words like “trial,” “judge,” “jury,” “verdict,” and “guilty” — but in this case, not, because SHE DID A EMAILS!). Knowing all this, do we really have to dig deeper about what these new emails are and where they came from and what they’re about? Really? Fine. I think I may have mentioned a hangover F. Scott Fitzgerald would have been embarrassed by, but fine. Bastards. The FBI confiscated a laptop belonging to one Anthony “Weiner” Weiner, aka Carlos Danger, aka Thin Tony “Nobody Wants To See That On Their Phone” Weiner. Allegedly it contains emails belonging to his estranged wife who, because this is the Lifetime Movie version of an election, also happens to be a top advisor to Hillary Clinton. Allegedly, some of these emails are from Clinton, and allegedly, they prove beyond doubt that she is a genderbent Dr. Doom who can only stop emailing to perform really late fourth-trimester abortions. Are you happy now? Do you know enough? No? Eugh, you people. Fine. James Comey, Director of the FBI and well-known corrupt cog in Hillary Clinton’s vast criminal enterprise, informed select members of Congress of new evidence proving Hillary Clinton was “extremely guilty” of wrongful emailage and “double super perjury” regarding her “perfidious emailery” and that he was sorry he’d been such a traitorous worm previously, #MAGA. I’m kidding. Comey wrote: “The FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant and I cannot predict how long it will take
us to complete this additional work.” Translation? I found a thing and I don’t know what it is yet, and I won’t know until after the election is over, but I do know my three paragraph letter has the words “Secretary Clinton,” “email” and “server” in it, so you monkeys will go predictably nuts and the media will cover this story as if my letter had any actual content, which it clearly does not. That ought to be well worth violating the FBI’s long-standing practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations this close to an election. Less than a week. My column should have been about the long slog from Iowa. I’d have spared a line or two for an old Socialist Jew who had a shot at being the Democratic nominee. Imagine how that would have flown with the Friends of Pepe! I could have looked at Clinton’s political track record (something she actually has), or that the very possibility of a female American President is amazing and inspiring and hopeful. I’d certainly have covered Trump publicly undermining our electoral system and refusing to say he’d acknowledge the results of the election to “keep us in suspense,” because what’s more suspenseful than a credible threat of violence at the polls? But no. As a member of the media my eye is fixed on the latest shiny, spinning object. Less than a week to go until the election and it’s all emails, all the time. More than a year of shenanigans all comes down to “The existence of email means Hillary Clinton must perish for high treason” vs. “There is nothing a human being, no matter how highly placed, can do with email that has any bearing on reality.” Trump is right: The media is RIGGED. He’s just wrong about what it’s rigged for. It’s not rigged for Democrats or Republicans or insiders or global banking conspiracies. It’s rigged for simplicity and sensationalism. And if you combine the two? Well, that’s some prime media smack, isn’t it?
If nothing else, Comey’s letter about a thing he found that might be a big deal but he won’t know until after the election proves that Trump is full of crap about anything being rigged specifically against him. You thought it couldn’t get stupider, but it can, it did, and it only stops getting stupider on November 9 if we are very lucky, or if we’ve been very, very good. Review the last year before you vote. Have we been good? Is it too late to start?
Image by Michael Shirey
Image by Max Burbank
November 03 - 09, 2016
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November 03 - 09, 2016
Horror is the New Fleck Tone, in ‘Blacktop Highway’ ‘NEA Four’ performance artist takes a solid turn down a dark path BY SCOTT STIFFLER Halloween will be a thing of the past by the time “Blacktop Highway” parks itself at Dixon Place, but that doesn’t mean you should pass up the opportunity to grip your ticket and enter the creepy old house John Fleck has stocked to the hilt with death, dread, grief, greed, sex, secrets, and lye (and, also, lies). “I like to scare and shock people,” said Fleck, the defunded-circa-1990 “NEA Four” performance artist and, later, busy TV actor, whose new multi-character solo show lingers on the palate like a sweet confection laced with something bitter, possibly toxic, that you can’t quite put your finger on. Nominally the story of an upscale stranger with car trouble who stumbles upon a taxidermy-filled estate occupied by brother Frank, sister Jane, and a caged creature of dubious parentage, “Blacktop” unfolds as the manic, humorously self-aware live presentation of a screenplay whose constant revisions serve to amp up the drama — and, at times, appeal to the vanity of its writer/performer (“a man in his mid to late 50s” becomes “a non-smoking very attractive man in his early to mid-30s, his lush head of hair blowing in the wind from an open car window; a man steering his own course.”). Grim and goofy, disarming and disturbing, it’s informed as much by familiar Hollywood set pieces and plot twists as Fleck’s knack for hurling kitschy, misty, emotionally complex satire at interpersonal relations, religion, and the raw power of repressed sexual energy. But wait, why gothic horror as the vehicle? It’s hardly an obvious choice for the man whose autobiographical and absurdist theatrical endeavors include “Nothin’ Beats Pussy,” “Psycho Opera,” and “I got the He-Be-She-Be’s.” To be fair, though Fleck has made his mark in the sci-fi genre, having appeared in “Babylon 5” and several incarnations of the “Star Trek” franchise. “I always loved horror,” Fleck insisted. “I had this thing about ‘The Werewolf’ — I liked to pretend I was ‘The Werewolf,’ and I remember, as a kid, we’d play ‘Godzilla’ in the driveway.” It’s interesting to note, then, that a destructive monster looms large throughout “Blacktop Highway,” as does a gravel-filled, 50-foot strip of driveway that leads from the titular stretch of slickened road to the house where doom awaits. “I kind of grew up in a somewhat dysfunctional family,” Fleck explained, “so you act out things to get it out of your psyche when you can’t share it in the family.” Don’t project too much onto that. An undercurrent of autobiography is standard issue in any creative endeavor — but here, Fleck combines what may or may not be his own secret shames with a .com
Photo by Rafael Hernandez
Long-suffering sister Jane floats above it all, as a pitiful creature strives to nail his vocal lesson.
movie junkie’s fondness for tropes and an anthropologist’s fascination with the crave/recoil response when confronted with facts that are probably fiction. Lest you think you’re being lectured to (apart from the point where there’s an actual lecture), Fleck heaps upon this foundation thick layers of sight gags, slapstick and prop comedy, puppetry, virtuoso vocal and facial contortions, and video projections that turn the black box theater into a cinema where the watcher becomes the watched (the screenplay direction “Cut to the attractive man’s POV” is this show’s breakout drinking game phrase). “Here’s the thing,” Fleck confessed, “It’s not the greatest horror story. It’s based on old clichéd scenarios. The deconstruction is what interests me,” he noted, and not just in reference to the spook house genre he both respects and subverts. “Observation affects behavior,” says Fleck, in the guise of the smug “Blacktop” professor-type who interrupts the action to name-drop the late French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s 1981 “Simulacra and Simulation” treatise, insisting that from this moment on, our man Fleck is “very aware that he is being watched” and, in our own awareness of that fact, the audience becomes “the überwatchers.” “We live in a hyperreal world where there’s no
longer a difference between reality and the appearance of reality,” said Fleck of the show’s Baudrillardinspired, ever-peeling layers of revelations and shifting perspectives. “People want know, ‘Is this all fiction?’ But in a way, I could look at all these characters that came out of my psyche as a mirror aspect of myself; this quest for the pretty face, and me being an aging gay man; the quest to stay young instead of accepting the reality of wanting to change that.” This is just one of the deep insecurities we’re prodded/tempted/encouraged to project onto Fleck, who at one point turns to the audience and quips, “I’m too old to get a job in Hollywood, so I made my own [movie] and play all the parts.” Fleck admitted his bitter little Norma Desmond/Baby Jane routine is “somewhat exaggerated, as we in the theater tend to do,” although work on the small screen has dried up since a long stretch of steady work in episodic and procedural dramas: Check out his IMDb profile for a multitude of unsavory characters, including “Gravedigger,” “CEO” and, yes, “Wolf”. But Fleck isn’t disavowing, or dissing, the dues paid through such steady work. After all, he noted, “I squirreled away enough bucks when I was workFLECK continued on p. 21 November 03 - 09, 2016
Overall, You’ll ‘Like It’ and That’s ‘That’ Celebration of Puerto Rican cultural has a winning score
Photo by Marisol Diaz
The cast of “I Like It Like That” (Caridad De La Luz, center).
BY MICHELE CARLO On a metal-gated, garbage can-lined street of tenements and storefronts, the eloquent, energizing rhythm of Salsa music whirls through a doorway. In this record store and upstairs live a family unified in love; soon to be divided by life. Is there a riot or a celebration going on…or is it both? Are we to witness a story of hope and achievement, or loss and betrayal — or will it be both? And then there’s the music again; the unmistakable, transporting Latin music. Welcome to “I Like It Like That,” a musical set in El Barrio, aka Spanish Harlem, during the 1970s. The decade NYC nearly went bankrupt and blacked out; where crime, drugs and graffiti ruled the streets; and where a group of woke individuals turned protest into a force for social justice and change whose reach still exists today. A neighborhood whose music came to represent its people and culture during a time when all seemed poised on the wrong side of a sword. And through it all, a father struggles to keep his family hale and whole. It’s a celebration of old-school Puerto Rican culture: street parties and Valencia cake, culture clashes between generations amid poverty and neglect, the battle between the lure of the street and the desire to become something more than the powers that be want you to believe you can be (along with the backlash that you’re not “keeping it real” if you do choose to leave). I know this NYC; I grew up in it as well, albeit in a different neighborhood. Yes, the dialogue was sometimes an excuse to get to the next song — but what songs! The numbers include works by seminal musicians Eddie Palmieri, Hector Lavoe, Tito Puente, La Lupe, Johnny Pacheco, Willie Colon, Fania All-Stars, and more — plus Manny
November 03 - 09, 2016
Rodriguez and Tony Pabon, who wrote the title song. And, since this is a musical, we forgive any momentary timeline confusion or clunkiness of phrase while transfixed by the joyous explosion of hips, hair, and feet. Just ask the friend I brought that evening, a full-blooded Caucasian WASP who I thought might leap from her seat in delight at any given time. Unfortunately, many of the “inside” jokes and references that had the sold-out, mostly Latinx crowd roaring weren’t understood by her. And even though the English translations of many Spanish lyrics (and lines) projected on the walls and doorways of the sets were as legible as they were artistically effective, therein lies a dilemma. At times, I didn’t know what the odd word or phrase was either, as I am one of those Nuyoricans-of-a-certain-age who grew up speaking English at home; many of my parents’ generation thought it more important to assimilate, as our culture wasn’t as accepted as it is now. Yet this is just one of our many Nuyorican stories. and one which we’ve seen variations of before. Is it an anachronism in today’s Latinx nation? A misplaced nostalgia? Or is it something more — an homage to a specific place and time when you and everyone you knew were young, bristling and hopeful? That is doubly important to me because I don’t think that Latinx culture — and certainly not my own Puerto Rican heritage — has yet to have the nuanced, universal portrayal that sees us as just people; that takes us out of stereotype and into mainstream acceptance. I spoke with actress/poet Caridad De La Luz, who wholly and wonderfully embodied the role of socially aware sister, China. She told me how the timeline in the show connected with her, too, and since her parents met
through salsa, the music is especially close to her heart. She also said, “When I was around six or seven years old, I saw ‘West Side Story’ over and over, emulating Rita Moreno’s character Anita, and promised myself one day I would be in a musical about our people. With ‘I Like It Like That,’ it’s my dream come true. It’s our East Side Story, the story of how our music brought all kinds of people together.” As I left the subway on my way home from the theater, I saw the waning moon and thought of “Moonstruck,” the 1987 film about an Italian-American family set against the backdrop of their neighborhood, and how their lives were truthfully portrayed down to the breakfast egg-bread frying in the cast iron pan. It’s groundbreaking to me because portrays this family as believable people, as opposed to the prevailing stereotypes of the time. And I don’t believe the Puerto Rican-American experience has had such a portrayal…yet. But that’s another thread for another time. “I Like It Like That,” is a show that has legs — 20 of them. Its score should be an album. I’d wish it to have a long, successful run beyond the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre’s self-contained audience. So how can it reach, and win over, the mainstream audience any show must achieve for commercial success? Can it be our “Moonstruck?” I can’t answer that. But if it isn’t…it’s pretty darn close. And I liked it — just like that! Through Nov. 30. Tues.–Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 5pm & 9pm; Sun. at 3pm & 7pm. At the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre (304 W. 47th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For tickets ($55–$85), visit ilikeitlikethat. com or call 212-581-9859. Also visit pregonesprtt.org. .com
The Force Awakens Gina Gibney’s long revolution expands big-time downtown
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Nigel Campbell in Gibney Dance Company’s “Folding In.”
a secure community settlement for dance artists. Shifting into high gear, Gibney used earned income from its studio rentals to pilot-test a residency for mid-career artists. The Mellon Foundation has now funded that residency program, which will serve 30 artists over three years. “Instead of paying to turn on the lights,” Gibney explained, “they were paying for added programming. Funders love that.” The same year Gibney was expanding at 890, DNA was close to eviction from its space at 280 Broadway. The company finally went belly-up in 2013 after failing to implement a long-term funding strategy as part of its effort to “come up with a stronger model,” as DNA’s director said at the time. Gibney Dance stepped in, signing a lease on 36,000 square feet at 280 and hosting a wall-breaking party to mark its gut renovation into the Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, which houses performing arts space, studios, and resources for the arts and social justice communities. Now, like Ailey,
the company is also embarking on an expansion, adding 10,000 square feet to the downtown complex, which will house seven smart studios equipped with technologies to create and disseminate high-quality digital content. The company will also deepen the social justice work that has been at the core of its activities since the beginning through its now-global Community Action programming that uses dance and creativity to empower domestic
abuse survivors and their families to take back control of their lives. The center will also provide social justice and community action services and training, and also cultivate partnerships, like the one with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, with whom Gibney Dance conducted a symposium on bullying and abusive relationships. GIBNEY continued on p. 21
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Rob Redding is quickly becoming known all over the art world for his Smear Paintings and is continuing his growing career with his “Black on White” Show in NYC this November.
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BY BRIAN McCORMICK For years, people in the dance field talked about, experimented with, and funded research on “new models” — alternative organizational structures and approaches to creative work, presentation, fundraising, audience development, and press/marketing practices. While some of these were enabled or empowered by the rise of social media, surprisingly little institutional progress has been made. Due to calcification of leadership and a lack of innovation, the field remains largely unchanged, leaving artists at the mercy of an out-moded system. There is, however, a beacon of hope across from City Hall in Lower Manhattan, where Gina Gibney is building (on) an empire rebels can be proud of. Some may see this as a recent development that capitalized on the 2013 bankruptcy of Dance New Amsterdam (DNA), but the reality is Gibney has spent her entire adult life working on this — well, at least the last 25 years. Gibney Dance Company was founded as a performing and social action dance company in 1991 aimed toward women in need. They used a community action model; while other companies had a dramaturge on the payroll, Gibney had a clinical advisor. 890 Broadway, in the Flatiron District, became the company’s artistic home. With the security of space, Gibney focused on “keeping the company, and being a community actor, while making it viable, and trying not to lose money,” she told our sister publication, Gay City News. “For 20 years we had been working on the same scale, with the same problems, and no momentum,” she said. “The tipping point came when we had enough money earned from the studio space that funders began to pay attention, and expressed a desire to invest in what they saw as a stable entity.” In 2010, the company expanded its footprint at 890 Broadway into an eight-studio community center, and introduced a slew of new programming, events, and partnerships with Dance/NYC among others. Like Mark Morris Dance Center and the Ailey Center, Gibney blossomed into
November 03 - 09, 2016
Can’t Walk Away ‘Renée’ still finds a way to haunt me BY JIM MELLOAN Fifty years ago, on Oct. 29, 1966, “Walk Away Renée,” by the Left Banke, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s intricate string arrangement made it a prime example of what came to be called “baroque rock” — already pioneered by George Martin’s arrangements of Beatles songs such as “In My Life” (Lennon actually asked him to play something “baroque-sounding” on the piano), “Yesterday,” and “Eleanor Rigby,” and later echoed by many of the Bee Gees 1967-1968 hits, the Supremes’ “Reflections,” and even Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” with its keening dobro. The Left Banke’s harmonies were reminiscent of many Beatles tunes, as well as those of the Zombies and the Mamas and the Papas. In fact, 16-yearold keyboardist and co-writer Michael Brown (who died last year, at age 65, of heart failure) got the idea for the oboe solo from the flute solo in The Mamas & the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” I moved to England just as the song was topping the charts here. I may have heard it in America, but the Left Banke’s version of the song did not chart over there. But a year later, the Four Tops had a No. 3 hit with it in England (No. 14 here). While unmistakably soul, the Tops’ version retained the plaintive strings and harmonies, evoking the same specific kind of rainyday-glo melancholy. Brown’s father was Harry Lookofsky, a bebop jazz violinist who had put out an album called “Stringsville” in 1958, and who had played with Toscanini, Quincy Jones, and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He owned a studio called World United Studios at W. 48th St. and Broadway. He gave Michael keys to the studio, in exchange for some cleaning and sometimes sitting in as a session pianist. Michael brought his friends in to sing and jam when the studio wasn’t booked. They weren’t great players, but they were great singers. Lookofsky took an interest in the group, and wound up playing all of the strings on “Walk Away Renée.” The song was inspired by Brown’s crush on bass player Tom Finn’s girlfriend Renée Fladen (now Fladen-Kamm), a
November 03 - 09, 2016
In 1966, “Walk Away Renée” was here to stay, after peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
platinum blonde teenager. Brown wrote the song a month after meeting her. “I was just sort of mythologically in love,” he has said, “if you know what I mean, without having evidence in fact or in deed...But I was as close as anybody could be to the real thing.” Fladen was present during the recording of the song, and Brown was unnerved. He later said, “My hands were shaking when I tried to play, because she was right there in the control room. There was no way I could do it with her around, so I came back and did it later.” A near-perfect story of young, desperate, unrequited love and a resulting masterpiece — but almost certainly not the whole story. The writing credits go to Brown, Bob Calilli, and Harry Sansone. The latter two were never in the band. I haven’t been able to find anything about Calilli except that he was a friend of the Bronx-born Sansone. Sansone was
a friend of Brown’s, although I haven’t been able to find out how. Sansone was at least 10 years older. In a strange 10-minute YouTube interview from 2012, and a National Catholic Register article from July of this year, Sansone continually refers to the song as his own. (A passionate commenter on the YouTube video says, “The NCR article is a poorly sourced puff piece, written by a presumably well-meaning reporter who was bamboozled by a liar.”) The lyrics start with “And when I see the sign that points one way.” Sansone, who comes across more like a boxing promoter than a songwriter, claims that he was inspired by the one-way sign at the corner of Hull Ave. and E. 207th St. in the Bronx. He says he used to see it every day when he was coming out of grammar school. Other accounts say Brown got the inspiration from a oneway sign at the corner of Falmouth St.
and Hampton Ave. in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. The last verse starts with “Your name and mine inside a heart on a wall.” Sansone says there was a heart with “Tony loves Toni” (or maybe vice versa) inscribed near the handball court outside the school. The name Renée, he says, wasn’t based on a real person, merely inspired by the fact that the Beatles had written a song about a French girl named Michelle. He says the song was written in the Bronx with Brown and Calilli, with “a number of other young kids that used to hang out with me” present, and that the Left Banke was formed and asked permission to record the song sometime later. Sansone notes, correctly, that when Frankie Valli recorded the song, he changed the word “block” to “street.” “In New York City,” he explained, “we lived on a block, not on a street. New York City has blocks and lots. Frankie Valli… used the word street. He comes from Jersey; he lived on a street, not a block.” The band’s first live performance came after the song’s release in a gig set up by Sansone at Our Lady of Solace’s Church in the Bronx. They arrived in a limousine with Renée in tow, and were greeted by screaming girls, befitting the rock stars they had just become. Could the truth be somewhere between the two stories? There’s no doubt that Sansone did at least contribute to the song. Perhaps the song was written more or less as Sansone describes, Brown took it downtown and put it on the back burner, and after he met Renée the name struck a chord, and he was inspired to revisit the song and complete it. I used to have a crush on a girl named Linda, and I would get hot and bothered when Paul McCartney’s “The Lovely Linda” came on. There’s another YouTube clip recorded just before the interview of Sansone playing the song. The chords aren’t quite right; at best it’s a simplified version. Perhaps Sansone contributed a sizeable part of the lyrics and refined them, and Brown, unquestionably the better musician, refined the music to complete the classic song. Regardless, the song remains a touchstone for longing hearts everywhere. .com
FLECK continued from p. 17
ing in that medium, and now I’m at a point in my life [where] I don’t need to hustle for the TV jobs and am instead focusing on my performance art and theater. I did a feature film with Margaret Cho called ‘Alaska Is a Drag.’ I just finished acting in a David Greenspan play in LA called ‘Go Back to Where You Are,’ and I’m planning on doing a Pinter play in the spring. I want to be ‘live.’ ” This renewed dedication to theater, it turns out, is steeped in irony. Fleck credits the creation of “Blacktop” to an Internet project that never saw the light of day. “I have this old crone in me,” he said regarding what would become the character of long-suffering sister Jane, “that I got in touch with when I did [Lady Enid in Charles Ludlam’s] ‘The Mystery of Irma Vep,’ so it just kind of evolved. I originally thought about this piece [“Blacktop”] as a web series. I was gonna call it ‘The Door.’ This old woman would answer the door, and there’s a big secret inside.” Our dear readers are strongly advised to enter the doors of Dixon Place, and discover that secret for themselves. Your time will be duly rewarded, promises the man whose Downtown theater credits date back to the early ’80s and include the “Blacktop” host venue as well as PS122 and La MaMa. “I think the power of live theater,” Fleck insisted, will trump the experience of sitting at home “just looking at a screen. I want something to make me feel like I’m a f**king human being, not a robotized media head.” Let’s hope that message reaches the masses — or at least the guy who recently asked what he was up to next. “I said I was going to New York City to do my solo show,” Fleck recalled, “and he asked, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s what I am. I’m a performance artist/theater person.’ And he said no one he knows ‘goes to live theater anymore.’ And I said,
GIBNEY continued from p. 19
Perhaps most incredible among Gibney’s accomplishments is the fact that her company members are now 52-week salaried employees with health care and the month of August off. She accomplished this by redesigning their jobs to include activism and advocacy. “What does a company residency look like?” Gibney asks. Since last year, each company member has been assigned an advocacy fellowship. “They envision and implement something they deeply care about using the resources of the organization,” she explained. “We activate dancers as leaders of the community, provide their projects with incubation and mentorship by senior staff. They each choose the area they want to focus on.” .com
Photos by Rafael Hernandez
Wing man: Even caged creatures can take flight in the dreamy world of John Fleck.
‘Well, if that’s the case, then this an act of defiance and rebellion on my part.’ I truly feel theater, at its core, is about reminding us of our shared humanity — and it has to be live.” “Blacktop Highway” is performed Fri. & Sat., Nov. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19. All shows 7:30pm, at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets ($18; $15 for students/seniors), visit dixonplace.org or call 212-2190736. Artist info at johnfleck.net. Written & performed by John Fleck. Directed by Randee Trabitz. Video design by Heather Fipps. Costume design by Christina Wright. Puppet design by Christine Papalexis. Original lighting design by Anne Militello.
And they are making a real difference. Dancer Nigel Campbell developed and now co-directs Move(NYC), a rigorous, tuition-free summer dance intensive for talented locals teenagers who lack the financial means to attend summer dance programs like those at Jacob’s Pillow or ADF. This community-based philosophy can also be found at work in some of the curatorial programming, like “Double Plus,” shared evenings of work by artists chosen by other artists. “Artists are coming to us with ideas,” Gibney explained. “We want to have a strong artist-driven selection process, as well as selective presenting curated around a strong point of view. And we are working on how to make that process fair.” As for her own dance-making, the choreographer joked she hasn’t been “cranking them out in the last five years,” but she’ll present her
A live feed of Fleck’s face on the monitor, from a performance of “Blacktop Highway” at REDCAT in Los Angeles.
new evening-length work “Folding In” during the first two weeks of November. “We can’t do one thing all the time in this field. There has to be an acknowledgement of cycles and processes and demographics,” the dance magnate elaborated. “We wear many hats and embrace and use those things. But I put it all behind me when I walk into the studio and breathe the same air as the dancers. Admittedly, making this new work has been slow, stretched out over time, but it feeds me in a way nothing else does.” “Folding In.” Nov. 2–5 at 8pm; Nov. 10–11 at 8pm; Nov. 12 at 2 & 5pm. At 280 Broadway (enter at 53A Chambers St.). For tickets ($1520) and info on programs, services, classes, and events at both Gibney Dance Center spaces, visit gibneydance.org or call 646-837-6809.
Photo by Christopher Dugga
Gina Gibney is a visionary artist, activist, and entrepreneur who has been rethinking and improving dance infrastructure in New York City for 25 years. November 03 - 09, 2016
November 03 - 09, 2016
Rhymes with Crazy
What Happens When Robots Take Over? BY LENORE SKENAZY We don’t kill off our retirees just because they’re not working anymore, so don’t worry about our future robot overlords killing off us humans when we’re no longer working, either — which we won’t be, since robots will be doing everything faster and better than us, just as machines have been taking jobs from us since the invention of the sawmill. And in that future, robot-ruled time, we might have the choice to actually become one of the superbots by donating our brain after we die, then coming back (sort of) as the brain of a computer just like us, down to our likes, dislikes, sense of humor — and maybe even our looks. That, my friends, was just part of the trippy argument going on at a monthly event called The Soho Forum (thesohoforum.org), where free, open-to-thepublic debates examine issues of interest to free-will-loving libertarians. I’m not quite sure how robots and libertarians find common cause, but in any event the question to answer was: “Will robots eventually dominate the world and eliminate humans’ abilities to earn wages?” One professor — Robin Hanson, an associate professor of economics at George Mason University — briskly insisted that in the future, we will see the ascendancy of “Ems” — remarkably human robots that emulate us, because they’re modeled on our own brains. Or at least they’re modeled on the people who would make the very best worker-robots, as he claims in his book “The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth.” But that’s not who will choose, said the “robots will not take over” debater,
Bryan Caplan, also an author and econ professor at George Mason. When we get around to creating worker robots from human brain scans, he claimed, we will scan only the most docile, efficient workers, to create docile, non-human-killing Ems. And this is where it started getting weird(er): Hanson believes that company chiefs will still want to hire the most-brilliant workers, which means they’ll end up cloning (or replicating, or whatever the word is) jerks. “We expect the highest productivity workers will be chosen,” said Hanson. In other words, the Ems will be clones of the cutthroat people most of us hate. And, being cutthroats, eventually they’ll cut ours throats. “Although it may well be that the first five generations of robots will keep humans around because they feel some vestigial warmth toward our species,” Hanson said. How comforting. Caplan was having none of it. Why on Earth would we clone the cutthroats who want to kill us, he asked. Well, over the eons we’ve had quite a lot of experience breeding new beings to do our bidding: our pets and farm animals. We’ll do the same with humans — cloning the absolutely sweetest ones who also have a fierce work ethic. “We’ve got 7 billion people to choose from,” he pointed out. “A normal employer has five.” The moderator, Gene Epstein, economics editor at Barron’s magazine, tried to make peace. “You’ll tweak it,” he nodded to both. Caplan was not convinced that the day of the Ems will ever come, because
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who would volunteer to become one? “First thing, you’re actually dead. They have to slice your brain in pieces. Very few people would want their biological death in order to have a computer simulation,” he said. “Today we can’t conceive of it,” agreed Hanson. But when humans in the future see that the Ems talk and look and act like “real” people — except they never die — then the prospect might become attractive. Hanson made it sound as normal as wearing glasses, another biological enhancement people eons ago could not have conceived. And that was Hanson’s big point: Of course this stuff sounds bizarre to us. But think back 1,000 years to the subsistence farmers. If you’d told them that someday we’d be able to talk to someone across an ocean, there’s no way they would have understood (much less believed you). And now we have Skype and FaceTime. Would the Ems own property?
Would they eventually fight? Or would the Earth become a paradise with Ems doing all our work? Those issues were not resolved. In fact, nothing really was. A before-and-after poll of the audience found that the exact same number had changed their minds from negative to positive, and vice versa. It was the least strange moment of a very strange night. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker who authored the book, and founded the blog, Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com).
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