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November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Pro-Clinton Manhattan Stunned,

Dismayed by Trump Upset BY JACKSON CHEN

future that comes along with that. “I think the country is very, very divided, the election has shown just that,” Tucker, said. “People aren’t even necessarily thinking about the next four years. I think they’re thinking about the next year, repairing things, and making people feel proud to be Americans again.” For Jane, an Upper West Sider who withheld her last name, four years of Trump “scares the heck of out me.” She added that while she had reservations about Clinton and didn’t agree with everything in her campaign, she was a much more suitable choice for the presidency. “She’s a pretty impressive woman, and she’s accomplished a lot in her lifetime,” Jane said. “I like that her life has been about service to the public whereas Trump has been about service to himself.” Jane acknowledged that there could be a chance Trump tones down his campaign rhetoric as president, but that she still didn’t agree with his approach of bullying others. “I’m really scared what he possibly could do because he’s so volatile in his emotional response to things,” she said. Most of those donning the red, white, and blue “I Voted” stickers on the Upper East and West Sides on November 8 said they had voted Clinton or declined to comment, while a small minority explained they had used their ballot as a statement. “I honestly didn’t feel like my vote was going to be the difference between Hillary and Trump, so I figured I could exercise a protest vote,” James Scanlon said, adding he wrote in Bernie

A

fter an exhausting 2016 election cycle topped off for some by extremely long voting lines, Manhattanites are in shock after Republican Donald Trump won the presidency over Democrat Hillary Clinton, who for four years had served as secretary of state to President Barack Obama, whose popularity is at a high point. To be sure, Clinton secured a commanding win in New York State, with 58 percent of the vote, but Trump’s path to victory was paved with several key battlegrounds like Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. With roughly 97 percent of Manhattan’s election districts reporting, the Democratic candidate earned more than 500,000 votes compared to about 60,000 for her opponent, according to the state’s Board of Elections. New York has voted heavily Democratic for decades, regardless of which way the nation was moving, but this time the disconnect with the overall results was jarring. Manhattanites grew more and more somber as the tallies continued moving in Trump’s favor into the early morning hours of November 9. “I think it’s a really bleak picture,” Caroline Tucker, a lifelong Upper East Sider, said. “We really need to heal and unite as a country, and I think [Trump is] the opposite person to do that.” Tucker, like many others approached on Election Day, said that Clinton was her obvious choice. But with Trump moving from his Fifth Avenue luxury building into the White House, people expressed serious concern about the

DANIEL KWAK

The president-elect appears on a Times Square jumbotron in the early morning hours of November 9.

JACKSON CHEN

Kate Draper, a lifelong Upper West Sider who voted for Clinton, said she would love to give the L on the forehead to Trump if she ever sees him.

c ELECTION DAY, continued on p.8 JACKSON CHEN

HOW WE VOTED LAST WEEK

Samuel Copeland, who has lived on the Upper East Side for more than five years, voted for Clinton.

TRUMP

CLINTON

Assembly District 67 (Linda Rosenthal)

10.42

85.73

Assembly District 69 (Daniel O'Donnell)

6.40

89.93

Assembly District 73 (Dan Quart)

18.17

77.34

Assembly District 75 (Dick Gottfried)

10.72

85.35

Assembly District 76 (Rebecca Seawright)

16.46

79.09

MANHATTAN OVERALL

9.87

86.36

NEW YORK CITY

18.40

78.59

NEW YORK STATE

36.83

57.90

JACKSON CHEN

47.81

Caroline Tucker, another Clinton voter who lives on the Upper East Side, described Election Day’s outcome as “bleak.”

US TOTAL ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | November 17 - 30, 2016

46.92

3


Trump Tower: #NotMyPresident Ground Zero

DONNA ACETO

Social media pulled out protesters who filled blocks heading up Fifth Avenue toward Trump Tower.

BY JACKSON CHEN

T

DONNA ACETO

Protesters vowed to keep up pressure on the president-elect’s new administration.

4

he roar of thousands protesting Republican President-elect Donald Trump filled Fifth Avenue on Saturday afternoon as throngs of demonstrators headed north from Greenwich Village toward his high-rise home in Trump Tower at 725 Fifth Avenue at 56th Street. “Show me what democracy looks like!” the crowd that spanned blocks chanted. “This is what democracy looks like!” Many in the crowd found out about the protest on Facebook, where they were instructed to meet at Union Square at noon. Demonstrators began their march at around 2 p.m., moving up Fifth Avenue until they were impeded by barricades set up by the New York Police Department, closing off the avenue at 56th Street just shy of the soon-to-be president’s Manhattan home. As the crowd pressed up against the bar riers, many raised their middle fingers and booed the 58-story tower. “Whose streets?” the protestors shouted in unison. “Our streets!”

While the protest remained peaceful, with only murmurs in the crowd about charging the barricades, there were 13 arrests related to disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration from Friday to Sunday, the NYPD said. “We reject the president-elect!” the masses yelled. Protestors stayed long after the sun set on November 12 , many of them promising they would stand against Trump’s win every day of his expected presidency. Some voiced the hope that the sheer massiveness of the protests that have followed Election Day would help affect change — with some of that optimism decidedly wishful thinking. “I’m hoping maybe the Electoral College will decide not to go with the votes of their states,” Susan Boynton, a Columbia University professor, said at the protest. “If there are enough demonstrations like this, they’ll maybe think about doing that.” Boynton and Rachel Lidov, with whom she

c #NOTMYPRESIDENT, continued on p.5 November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Thousands More Turn Out Sunday in Columbus Circle BY ANDY HUMM

A

day after a massive march up Fifth Avenue from Union Square, more than 15,000 people marched from the Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and back on Sunday in a multicultural display of support for vulnerable immigrants scapegoated by President-elect Donald Trump during his campaign. In response to the Electoral College victor who still wants to build a wall on the Mexican border — though he now says some of it might be just a “fence” — protesters chanted, “No more hate! No more fear! Immigrants are welcome here!” The march was led by Make the Road, which works with new immigrants across the city. But it was joined by legions of advocates for the rights of women, LGBT people, the environment, civil rights, and more. And after a week that left most New Yorkers in shock, the diverse, determined, and dedicated gathering had an unmistakably healing vibe to it. Carlos Menchaca, an out gay Brooklyn city councilmember, led neighbors from his Sunset Park district in the march. “We are filling our hearts with the love and courage we are going to need for the long game against this

administration,” Menchaca said. “First we need to clean house in our own city and our own party.” Dr. Wilhelmina Perry of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent said, “We won’t let our country be taken backward.” Mark Milano, a veteran of ACT UP and long-term survivor of HIV, said, “I just got back from having a brain scan!” But he was out there in a crowd that ranged in age from toddlers in strollers to strolling couples in their 80s. One child’s sign said, “I’m not giving up and neither should you,” echoing the message from Kate McKinnon on this week’s “Saturday Night Live,” who opened that show as Hillary Clinton playing piano and singing “Hallelujah,” by singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen, who died late last week. One sign that seemed particularly resonant read, “TOO MUCH TO WRITE.” “People say, ‘What’s the point? He won,’” Milano said. “But we are sending a huge message that a huge part of America does not agree with his positions. We have to resist. I have changed my Facebook profile to ‘Silence = Death’ because it applies now more than ever.” On “60 Minutes” that same day, Trump tried to soft-pedal his opposition to same-sex marriage, telling Lesley Stahl the matter is “settled

c #NOTMYPRESIDENT, from p.4 marched, said they heard about the protest through social media and wanted to exercise their rights of free speech and protest. “For one thing, it’s protecting our First Amendment rights,” Lidov said. “And it’s bringing unity to the movement against him, the many, many groups who are organizing against him.” For John Rubinstein, who explained he came out to protest to ensure a better place for his kids to grow up, his wish is that Trump not be allowed to take office. More realistically, he added that Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice for the vacant Supreme Court seat, should be approved by the Senate in this month’s lame duck session of Congress and that those unhappy with the outcome of the election must mobilize to defend the rights of immigrants, people of color, women, and the LGBT community. “Racist, sexist, anti-gay!” the crowd chanted. “Donald Trump, go away!”

MANHATTAN EXPRESS

In multiple languages, the crowd called for unity and love among those stunned by last week’s election.

law” and “I’m fine with that.” Yet during the campaign, he presented a list of 20 right-wing judges he would choose from to fill Supreme Court vacancies and made the specific pledge that they would overturn Roe v. Wade and revisit last year’s marriage ruling. In that interview, Trump reiterated his opposition to reproductive choice. The president-elect’s efforts to soften his posture on at least some issues in recent days was countered on Sunday with his announcement that Steve Bannon, his campaign CEO who has recently run the altright website Breitbart News, would be his chief White House strategist and senior counselor. n

MANHATTAN EXPRESS

A sign that summed up the feelings of many.

The sea of white signs communicated messages that ranged from the satirical, “Pussy Grabs Back,” to the simple, “Not My President.” Many in the crowd offered messages of unity against “hate and bigotry.” Throughout the march, Emily Kohl-Mattingley handed out safety pins — a symbol of opposition and unity derived from the after math of Brexit, when those opposed to the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union donned them to show support for immigrants who might feel threatened by the wave of nationalism sweeping Britain. “It’s to show a sign of solidarity so that if somebody is unsure when they’re riding a subway or in a public place, to know that they have somebody that supports them,” Kohl-Mattingley said, adding she had handed out more than 50 so far. “Not my president!” the protestors belted out.

DONNA ACETO

c #NOTMYPRESIDENT, continued on p.9

For many demonstrators, the issues raised by Trump’s election are deeply personal.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | November 17 - 30, 2016

5


DOE At Last Unveils UWS School Rezoning Plan BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Department of Education has presented its final Upper West Side rezoning proposal to the Community Education Council 3, which will vote on it on November 22. This most recent plan, announced at a CEC3 meeting on November 9, is the fourth iteration of the effort to rezone the schools within District 3, which runs from West 59th to West 122nd Street. With the gener al aims of increasing diversity and reducing overcrowding, the DOE, CEC3, and many other involved parties have long debated about where and how to draw the lines that dictate which zoned school families send their kids to. The DOE now proposes to re-site P.S. 191, currently located at 210 West 61st Street, to the new school building opening in Riverside Center that will be ready for the 2017-18 school year. P.S 452, currently at 100 West 77th Street, would move into the vacated P.S. 191 building. The Dual Language Middle School at 32 West 92nd Street, in turn, would be relocated to the 100 West 77th Street building. The Dual Language Middle School currently shares its school building with P.S 84, and its move would of fer that school relief from overcrowding. The map detailing those changes covered the portion of District 3 running north to West 116th Street and redraws lines for nearly a dozen schools. The DOE also presented a separate plan to rezone the northern section of District 3 that runs from Central Park North to West 122nd Street. In this portion of the rezoning, P.S. 241, at 240 West 113th Street, and its zone would be dissolved and absorbed by the neighboring P.S. 180, P.S. 76, and P.S. 185/ 208 zones. Most of the evening’s attention focused on the long debated rezoning of the district’s southern portion, where demographic disparities between P.S. 191 and P.S. 199 at 270 West 70th Street fueled the discussion. While P.S. 191’s student body is largely black and Latino, with many kids coming from families who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, P.S. 199 has a mostly white population as well as severe over -

6

NYC DOE

The Department of Education’s rezoning proposals for the southern and northern portions of District 3 on the Upper West Side.

crowding and long waitlists. Overcrowding, however, is an issue that also faces other schools in the district. “ Un f o r tunatel y, shar i ng the b ui l d i ng with the Dual Middle School was becoming unsustainable as our classes are expanding,” P.S 84’s principal Evelyn Lolis said at the meeting. “We lose our technology lab, art room, and so here we are trying to give the best to our students, trying to prepare them best for tomorrow’s world, and we can’t do that unless we’re flexible.” Several of District 3’s principals voiced support for the DOE’s plan because they see it as a way to address overcrowding in their own schools. “I’m really happy to see that these changes are taking place, the main reason is because overcrowding sucks, it really does,” Henry Zymeck, principal of the Computer School at the 100 West 77th campus, said. “When you drop your kids of f at school, sometimes you don’t realize how much it sucks, you don’t realize your kids don’t get the amount of time in theater they might need, or the amount of time in gym, or the cafeteria, or the yard.” While several District 3 principals were ready to embrace change, some parents and

a member of CEC3 are not ready to agree on any plans they continue to see as misguided and flawed. CEC3 member Noah Gotbaum charged the whole process is a “sham.” “We’ve already seen this plan, it’s a plan we submitted three weeks ago by the CEC, sent back to us by the DOE,” Gotbaum said, noting the CEC3 letter recommending its rezoning ideas sent to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña last month. He added that both the DOE’s final presentation and CEC3’s proposal letter should have been more transparent and discussed with the public for their input. As in past meetings on the rezoning, frustrated parents spoke up as well, even interrupting speakers at some point, asking, “Has it been decided? I can go home if it’s been decided.” “This process is rooted in bad data, it’s baked with sanctimony,” Gary Ramsey, a P.S. 191 parent, said, adding that parents should write to elected officials to have the CEC3 group disbanded for its lack of transparency. CEC3 will hold another public hearing on November 21 before its vote on the DOE’s final option the following day. n November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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7


Incumbents Joined By New State Senator as Tuesday’s Victors BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he local political landscape in Midtown and on the Upper East and Upper West Sides will largely remain status quo as all incumbent elected officials earned another term on November 8. In the State Senate’s District 31, which runs uptown from the Upper West Side, an open seat was contested by four candidates but easily captured by the Democrat, Marisol Alcantara, who garnered roughly 90,000 votes, or 77 percent of the total, according to the State Board of Election’s unofficial numbers. Adriano Espaillat, who sur rendered the State Senate seat to pursue the 13th District US House of Representatives seat being vacated by Charlie Rangel — which includes the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, and Harlem — also easily won, with more than 187,000 votes, or 81 percent of the total. Espaillat endorsed Alcantara to succeed him. Espaillat is the first Dominican-American elected to Congress, while Alcantara will become the first Dominican woman in the State Senate. “I want to thank all of those in the 31st Senate District who supported me,” Alcantara said in an email. “I am glad that our diverse and progressive district elected me as the first Dominican woman to the New York State Senate. I will work tirelessly to bring resources back to our district and serve as a strong advocate for our needs.” Even before she won election, Alcantara announced she would

caucus with the Independent Democratic Conference, a rump faction of her party, now numbering seven including her, that has led the Senate in coalition with the Republicans serving as its senior partners. Depending on the outcome of two tight races on Long Island currently too close to call, the IDC might be in a position to play kingmaker in the next session of the Legislature by deciding whether to return to the Democratic fold to give that party the majority or continue to sit with the Republicans and deny the Democrats the majority they would otherwise enjoy. Two House veterans — West Sider Jerry Nadler, who also represents portions of Brooklyn, and Carolyn Maloney, whose district includes the East Side and portions of Queens and Brooklyn — both won handily in the 10th and 12th Districts, respectively. State Senators Brad Hoylman of the West Side’s 27th District, Liz Krueger, who represents 28th District on the East Side, and José Serrano in the 29th District further uptown all also easily won two-year terms by comfortable margins. Area state assemblymembers were also returned to Albany, with West Siders Dick Gottfried, Linda Rosenthal, and Daniel O’Donnell, easily winning by racking up vote percentages in the high 70s and low 80s. Races were a bit more competitive in the 73rd District that covers the Upper East Side from Third Avenue to Central Park and the 76th District that encompasses the Upper East Side east of Third Avenue as well as Roosevelt Island.

c ELECTION DAY, from p.3 Sanders, the Vermont senator who campaigned hard against Clinton for the Democratic Party’s nomination and later gave her his full support. According to the Board of Elections, write-in votes in Manhattan totaled more than 5,500, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein earned more than 8,500, while Gary Johnson on both the Independent and Libertarian Party lines secured roughly the same amount. But many, many more were in support of the former New York senator and secretary of state and voiced dismay at the tightness of the race and the subsequent results late on Election Night.

8

JACKSON CHEN

Even with a GOP opponent who snagged a quarter of the vote, Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright enjoyed her strongest Election Night to date.

Democratic incumbent Dan Quart of the 73rd District won with 58 percent of the vote, earning more than 32,000 votes, while his opponent, Republican Rebecca Harary, tallied a large chunk of votes at 34 percent, or more than 18,000, according to the BOE’s numbers. Unofficial numbers show Republican challenger Jonathan Kostakopoulos, with 25 percent, or 13,000 votes, against Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, who won a second term, in the 76th District. The incumbent, with more than 37,000 votes, garnered 69 percent of the total. “I am very grateful for the 37,082 votes I received — far exceeding the total votes from two years ago and representing a higher percentage of voters who cast their ballots,” Seawright said in a statement. “This stronger-than-ever show of support will enable me to keep fighting the good fight in both our commu-

Caroline Malsin, an Upper West Sider for 38 years, said she voted for Clinton because she was the brightest and best equipped for the presidency. She added that in her professional capacity as a psychotherapist, she views Trump as an extreme version of a narcissist who can become dangerous after gaining power. “He’s been playing out of the Hitler playbook all along, tell a lie often enough and loud enough, people start to believe it,” Malsin said. “America is going to turn more authoritarian. He’s going to take away more rights, and he won’t follow through on any of his words for working people.” For those wanting to fulfill their civic duty,

COURTESY: MARISOL ALCANTARA

State Senator-Elect Marisol Alcantara replaces Congressmember-Elect Adriano Espaillat on Manhattan’s West Side.

nity and in Albany for the budgetary resources we need to maintain and enhance the quality of life on the Upper East Side, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island.” n

long lines at some voting locations soaked up several hours in their day last Tuesday. Patient, persistent voters shared images and videos online of the extremely long lines — curling around city blocks — they endured. Upper East Side City Councilmember Ben Kallos shared video of P.S. 290 at 311 East 82nd Street with a line that wrapped around two corners. He urged others to share their experiences if they’d been forced to wait excessively to vote. Reports came in about Yorkville Community School at 421 East 88th Street having several of their ballot scanners not working. As for the

c ELECTION DAY, continued on p.9 November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


DONNA ACETO

Many demonstrators were fierce in their commitment to oppose Trump going forward.

c #NOTMYPRESIDENT, from p.5 Like others, Kohl-Mattingley said that the protest gave voice to those crushed by Election Night results that gave Democrat Hillary Clinton a lead of at least 1.15 million in the popular vote, but Trump an Electoral College edge of 290-232, with Michigan not yet officially called. “I’m out here because I do not support Donald Trump or what he stands for,” she said. “I think he is set out to undo all that Obama has done and all the progress we’ve made in the last eight years.” Anti-Trump protests have swept dozens of American cities — including, as well, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles — over the past week, with many more planned in the coming days. “I want to let the world know that New York City and that America is not all racist,” said José Salas, who was protesting with his family and friends. “We welcome immigrants, refugees, we accept the gay community, the transgender community, and we’re just good people. Donald Trump is the incarnation of evil, sadly, but we must let our voices be heard.” n

c ELECTION DAY, from p.8 Upper West Side, videos and photos from voters showed long lines also circling around polling locations at P.S. 75 at 735 West End Avenue and P.S. 87 at 160 West 78th Street. But now that the nation has counted virtually all the votes and Trump has what he needed in the Electoral College — Clinton beat him by at least 1.15 million in the popular vote — Upper East and Upper West Siders are left wondering what the future holds. “I think he’s so unpredictable,” Samuel Copeland, an Upper East Sider who voted for Clinton, said of Trump. “It’s even hard to predict what those four years are going to look like.” n ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | November 17 - 30, 2016

9


On “Common Ground,” Bloomingdale Marks 52 Years of Music Education BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Bloomingdale School of Music celebrated its 52nd birthday on November 11 with free live music and a proclamation honoring Borough President Gale Brewer. For this bash, which actually came four days after the school reached this landmark, executive director Erika Floreska led Bloomingdale back to its original roots at the Broadway Presbyterian Church. Located at 601 West 114th Street, the church offered founder David Greer space to provide music education to the Upper West Side starting in 1964. “On that day in 1964, a dream came true for an organist at a church group, our friend David Greer,” Floreska said. “He believed in his heart and in his life that music is a way to bring community together. We are here to celebrate that incredible milestone of a 52-year mission that Bloomingdale has kept at its fore-

JACKSON CHEN

Vocalist Jocelyn Medina performs with Steve Gorn on bansuri flute and Mark Ferber on drums.

front and its core.” The music school, since moved to its current location in a five-story brownstone campus at 323 West 108th Street, continues Greer’s mission of guaranteeing that music education is affordable. To entertain and inspire kids about music, vocalist Jocelyn Medina, a faculty member, kicked off the show with a message of “Common Ground,” which also happened to

JACKSON CHEN

Saxophonist Daniel Bennett plays.

be the title of her closing song. The theme had particular resonance in the wake of last week’s election. Complementing Medina’s smooth vocals, fellow band member Steven Gorn delivered soothing notes from his bansuri flutes, while Pete McCann was on guitar, Evan Gregor on bass, and Mark Ferber on the drums. In between sets, Floreska reversed customary roles and pre-

sented the borough president with a proclamation from Bloomingdale praising Brewer for her dedication to music education in the city and the funding she provides to make that commitment concrete. After noting gratefully that she has given out, but never received proclamations, Brewer spoke about the dire need for music education in schools.

c BLOOMINGDALE, continued on p.11

Agencies Offer Peek at Midtown East Transit Improvements BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he city’s Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are teasing possible public realm improvements that could be in the offing as the result of the major Midtown East rezoning now underway. At a Community Board 5 Land Use Committee meeting on November 2, both agencies presented a sampling of projects that would be on the menu for developers looking to win approval for greater building density than zoning would otherwise allow. The Midtown East rezoning covers most of the blocks between East 39th and East 57th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Third, with the district extending east to Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets. The rezoning is intended to attract modern office building construction, and developers are offered more floor-to-area ratios (FARs, which compare total floor space to the size of the land a building sits on) if they purchase air rights from landmarked buildings in the district or tackle public realm improvement projects as part of their project. The agencies’ presentations to CB5 signaled their willingness to keep the community in the loop about their thinking. The DOT is looking at more than 300,000 square feet of improvements as part of the rezoning, according to the agency’s director of

10

public space, Emily Weidenhof. The majority of those improvements, she explained, would be small-scale and focused, such as curb extensions in the form of neckdowns or bus bulbs that would reduce the distances pedestrian face in crossing the street and improve the safety and efficiency of bus loading. Weidenhof, however, also talked about bigger projects, such as redesigning Park Avenue from East 46th to East 57th Streets by cutting down one lane of traffic in each direction to provide a combination of left turn lanes and median extensions. The DOT is also looking to repurpose underutilized streets as pedestrian plazas or shared streets. As an example, Weidenhof said there’s a plaza possibility at West 43rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues due to the low vehicular usage and high foot traffic passing by during peak hours. For shared streets, where cars are allowed to travel around five miles per hour and pedestrians have priority, the DOT said there are opportunities at East 41st Street between Lexington and Fifth Avenues, East 44th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, and Vanderbilt Avenue between East 43rd and East 47th Streets. The MTA has identified six stations in need of improvements located within the proposed Midtown East rezoning area: the Lexington Avenue/ 53rd Street station that connects to the

NYC DOT

A Department of Transportation rendering of a pedestrian plaza between Grand Central Terminal and the One Vanderbilt project currently planned for East 42nd Street.

51st Street station, Lexington Avenue/ 59th Street, Fifth Avenue/ 53rd Street, 47th-50th Streets/ Rockefeller Center, 42nd Street/ Bryant Park, and Grand Central/ 42nd Street. As with the DOT, the majority of the MTA’s public realm improvement projects are straightforward efforts aimed at improving straphanger flow and reducing congestion throughout the six stations. The MTA’s senior director of strategic initiatives, Fredericka Cuenca. presented proposed changes to the connected Lexing-

c IMPROVEMENTS, continued on p.11 November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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c BLOOMINGDALE, from p.10 “There is a real deficit in my opinion in the schools having high quality music education,� Brewer said. “We need, as a society, to have music, particular ly because of the last couple of days that have brought the need to have common ground, discussions, and debriefing.� The borough president said that, as Medina finished her first set, she watch two young girls who had to leave the event scream, upset to be torn away from the music. Brewer considered that moment an indicator of why Bloomingdale’s work is so important. As the faculty jazz band concluded its set, school supporters and others from the Upper West Side community mingled, chatting about recent performances at the school and the role Bloomingdale plays in the neighborhood. “In between Monday and Friday this week, we’ve witnessed something pretty miraculous, sad,

c IMPROVEMENTS, from p.10 ton Avenue/53rd Street and 51st Street stations that include creating wider escalators to eliminate long queues at transfer points and exits, removing a short, one-flight escalator, and creating additional street exits. CB5 members responded positively to the suggested transit and traffic improvements that could be coming. Sam Meller, a CB5 Land Use Committee member, said the last meeting where the rezoning was taken up left him disappointed but that he was pleased with what he is now seeing from the DOT and the MTA. “I remember coming away thinking it was just going to be resurfacing and making it prettier,� Meller said of the earlier presentation. “But what we saw today was something more significant philosophically above ground and towards making the subway system easier to navigate, which is an absolute necessity moving forward.� Despite their enthusiasm, CB5 Land Use Committee members asked questions about the governing body that will manage the Public Realm Improvement Fund and so call the shots on which

JACKSON CHEN

Borough President Gale Brewer (r.) receives a proclamation from the Bloomingdale School of Music's executive director Erika Floreska, while its Board president Kenneth Michaels looks on.

depressing, and, really, a deeply divided nation has sent a shock to all of us,� Floreska said. “I really hope tonight’s concert will help us reaffirm what we know to be true, that music is a place where we can come together to cross differences, to feel sorry, joy, hope, and to help fill the spaces when there are no words.� n

projects eventually make it onto the list for developers to select from. With no news yet on how much money will be available to the Public Realm Improvement Fund, what the costs of prospective projects are, and how its governing body will be run, Land Use Committee vice chair John Murray again stressed the importance of oversight and project prioritization. “It’s about making sure there’s a strong set of guiding principles established for what the priorities are before the board exercises their jurisdictional power to decide what gets done,� he said. Representing the Department of City Planning, Bob Tuttle said that the city would most likely not weigh in on decisions regarding the Public Realm Improvement Fund, instead leaving matters up to its governing body. Mur ray, however, voiced concern that special interests or those with direct ties to specific projects may influence how the governing body spends its funds. Tuttle said the cost projections for specific projects are still being developed and will be discussed at a later CB5 Land Use Committee meeting. n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | November 17 - 30, 2016

                  

   

   

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East 90th Street Pier Is UES’ Latest Park BY JACKSON CHEN

A

patch of just over 3,000 square feet of park space has been added to the Upper East Side as the East 90th Street Pier opens for year-round public use. In past years, the pier has intermittently served as a ferry stop for trips to either Yankee Stadium or Wall Street, but it mostly remained gated off. Through persistent efforts by the Friends of the East River Esplanade, the conservancy group that manages the waterfront park, the Department of Parks and Recreation has agreed to open up the pier as a public park from 7 a.m. to dusk every day. “Our group, the Esplanade Friends, have been working on this for so long together alongside the elected officials,” Jennifer Ratner, the founder and board chair of the conservancy, said. “Things moved along steadily but at a slower pace than I would’ve thought. Now that it’s actually happening, I’m really excited.” Ratner and the Friends group first approached the Department of Transportation, which then had jurisdiction over the pier, two years ago. After continued correspondence with city agencies, the parks department allowed the group to hold two Sunday events during the summer. After the success of those events, the agency decided to keep the pier open through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More recently, the Friends group held two additional Sunday events, on October 23 and October 30. As of the ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 3, the pier will now be open year-round in a neighborhood that has long been considered as lacking in open space. “As New Yorkers, we always look forward to public spaces because what they offer us,” Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. “They’re not just for physical health, but they’re also for mental health, and just being on this pier, looking at the beauty, always helps us to relax.” The opening of the East 90th Pier is one of many projects in the efforts to revitalize Manhattan’s accessible East River waterfront

12

JACKSON CHEN

Jennifer Ratner, chair of the Friends of the East River Esplanade, speaks at the opening of the East 90th Street Pier on November 3, as Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney look on.

from East 36th to East 125th Street, according to Silver. In terms of funding for these waterfront projects, $35 million has been secured from Mayor Bill de Blasio, $10 million from Rockefeller University, $6 million from the City Council, and an additional $2 million from Councilmember Ben Kallos. “We are dedicated to getting every single square inch of park space that we can,” Kallos said. “Because even with this addition, this district is still going to rank amongst the bottom according to New Yorkers for Parks in terms of the Open Space Index.” The councilmember referred to the 2013 Open Space Index study done by New Yorkers for Parks, a research group dedicated to park

space in the city. In the index, Kallos’ District 5 failed to meet many standards of open space availability and the proximity to residents. “There’s so many different places where we can have partner ships and bring more space to the Upper East Side and East Harlem communities to use together as part of one city,” Kallos added, pointing to several piers north of East 90th Street. During periods when the pier was underused and gated off, residents would oftentimes pass and were restricted to peering in. But for Deputy Borough President Matthew Washington, the pier should always have been open every day of the week. “I believed in seven-day use for

this pier for a long time,” Washington said. “I believe so much in seven-day use of this pier, I used to hop the fence to use the pier.” He noted that the pier didn’t belong to the parks department back then and he has since stopped hopping the fence, as in his youth days. With the park now open full time, Washington focused his remarks on making sure the parks department will have the resources to maintain the open spaces throughout the city. “Write to the mayor… write to all the elected officials to talk about the need for funding,” Washington said. “So that we can make sure this pier doesn’t have to close because it doesn’t have the right resources to make sure it stays open.” Elected of ficials among the crowd, like Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, and Community Board 8 members agreed that more open space on the East Side was worthy of celebration due to its benefit to all city residents. “We’re in Community Board 8, but people are here from Community Board 11 and further west,” Ratner said. “And that’s because a waterfront really does belong to the whole city.” Once the months warms up after the coming winter, Ratner said, her group would resume programming, with music and ice cream socials. Friends of the East River Esplanade hopes to roll out a full spring series of events in coming months. n

W IS BACK — NO NOT THE PRESIDENT! Six years after it was discontinued, the W train made its return debut on November 7, with its first trip out of Astoria at around 7 a.m.

Manhattan to the last stop in Queens at Astoria/ Ditmars Boulevard. The W line was suspended in 2010 due to agency budget cuts but the MTA will now spend $13.7 million annually for this new service.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority brought back the W

The agency asserted that even though there would be 20 fewer

train to coincide with the approaching December 31 opening date

trains daily going into and coming out of Queens, the shorter length

of the Second Avenue Subway. Since the Q train will eventually

that the W line traverses, compared to the former Q line that ran

divert past the Lexington Avenue/ 63rd Street stop and travel north

into Brooklyn from Lower Manhattan, would mean that straphangers

in Manhattan to the new 72nd, 86th, and 96th Street stations on

wouldn’t notice a change in service.

Second Avenue, its northern terminus until the end of the year will be the 57th Street/ Seventh Avenue stop. Replacing the lost Q service into Queens, the W trains will run local on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., from Whitehall Street in Lower

With the W train offering local service in Manhattan, the N train will now operate express between the Times Square/ 42nd Street stop and Canal Street on weekdays during peak, midday, and evening hours. — Jackson Chen November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Police Blotter FORGED DEVICE: DECEIVING THE DELI (19TH PRECINCT) Police are looking for a group of four suspects believed to be connected to a skimming device placed on an ATM inside Blue Moon Deli at 1773 First Avenue near East 92nd Street on October 20 at around 3 p.m. According to police, the four split into pairs where a man and woman distracted the 30-year-old employee and the two other male suspects installed the device on the ATM. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as three white males and a white female, all between 25 and 35 years old.

FORCIBLE TOUCHING: NO SHAME (MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT) Police said a subway creep groped a woman twice on October 20 at around 1 p.m. in the subway. According to the police, the male suspect came up on a 24-year-old female victim from behind and grabbed her butt on the Grand Central/ 42nd Street Station 7 train platform. After that, police said, the victim confronted the suspect after noticing they boarded the same train, laughing and groping her again. The victim snapped a cellphone shot of the suspect before he left the train at the 61st Street/ Woodside Station in Queens, according to police. Police released a photo of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male in his 30s, 5’6”, 145 pounds, and last seen wearing a dark shirt and dark pants and with a birth mark on his left arm.

was unconscious and unresponsive before being pronounced dead by the EMS at the scene. Police said the investigation into his cause of death is ongoing.

HOMICIDE: NYERS’ WORST FEAR (MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT) On November 7 at around 1:20 p.m., 49-year-old Connie Watson was pushed onto the number 1 train subway tracks at Times Square by Queens resident Melanie Liverpool-Turner, 30, according to police. Watson, unconscious and unresponsive when police reached her on the tracks, was pronounced dead. Liverpool-Turner was charged with murder, police said.

FORCIBLE TOUCHING: F TRAIN FREAK (MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT) Police are looking for a subway groper after an incident on October 27 at around 7 a.m. when a male suspect groped a 15-year-old girl aboard a southbound F train, police said. According to police, the suspect sat next to the victim before groping her chest and then fleeing the train at the 42nd Street/ Bryant Park station. Police said the victim was able to snap a picture of the suspect with her cell phone. The NYPD released that photo of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male, 45 to 55 years old, with salt-and-pepper hair and last seen wearing a dark-colored coat and blue jeans.

ROBBERY: PARK PERPS (MIDTOWN SOUTH AND 23RD PRECINCTS)

DOA: PUT IN THE GRAVE (19TH PRECINCT) A dead man was found outside the Russian Consulate at 9 East 91st Street on November 8 at around 7 a.m., police said. The 63-year-old man was found with unknown trauma to the head and

A group of individuals are wanted by police for several robbery incidents in September and October, police said. According to police, the first incident occurred on September 16 at around 12:35 a.m. near East 76th Street and East Drive in Central Park, where a man House HOUSE Calls CALLS

approached an 86-year-old victim and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, threw him on the ground, and removed his wallet with around $20 and credit cards. The victim suffered a bruised right cheek but refused medical attention, police said. On October 7 at around 3 p.m. at Transverse Road Number One and East Drive in Central Park, police said the suspects approached a 60-year-old pedicab driver and tried to jump into his pedicab to steal his iPhone 6S, but failed. Later that day at around 11:20 p.m., the individuals approached a 21-year-old man who was walking toward Fifth Avenue at East 69th Street and East Drive. The victim was punched in the back of the head and kicked while on the ground by the suspects who then took his Samsung Galaxy cellphone and Google Nexus tablet before fleeing north, police said. On October 10, police said, there were two more incidents. According to police, just after midnight, the suspects approached a 31-year-old man riding his bike south on Fifth Avenue at East 102nd Street. Police said the suspects tried to grab the cyclist’s backpack and hit the victim’s face before fleeing south on Fifth Avenue. Just a few minutes later on October 10, the suspects approached a 47-yearold man riding a Citi Bike north on East Drive at East 95th Street and demanded he get off the bike, police said. The individuals punched the victim in the face, causing him to fall off his bicycle, and stole his iPhone 7 before fleeing south inside Central Park from East 95th Street and East Drive, police said. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a group of black males, around 16 to 18 years old.

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EXPRESS OURSELVES

A Wilderness Called Manhattan

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS JACKSON CHEN LINCOLN ANDERSON SCOTT STIFFLER COLIN MIXSON YANNIC RACK ALEX ELLEFSON JANE ARGODALE JEFFERSON SIEGEL LENORE SKENAZY

ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY

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Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Manhattan Express, One Metrotech Center North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn 11201 or call 718-260-4586. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Manhattan Express. Manhattan Express is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, C.E.O. | Fax: 212-229-2790 Subscriptions: 26 issues, $49.00 ©2016 Manhattan Express, All rights reserved. NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC | ONE METROTECH NORTH, SUITE 1001 | BROOKLYN, NY 11201 | 212-229-1890

14

A

s last Tuesday evening’s election upset became undeniable, my friend Analisa in Chicago posted on Facebook, “Are men really that afraid of women?” And it suddenly hit me. In recent years — with the right wing’s fanatical hatred of President Barack Obama and then in repeated instances of young black men dying capriciously, or worse, at the hands of law enforcement — white America has been schooled in just how little appreciation it has for the lived experiences of African Americans in our midst. And now, I wonder: have I ever understood what it means to be a woman in our society? Parts of the country hostile to the idea of a black man leading America proved even more resistant to a leadership claim by a woman, despite her unquestioned command of policy, her tirelessness and refusal to step back from a challenge, and her commitment to issues of fairness so critical in the lives of everyday Americans. Misogyny — whether on the part of men who fear their patriarchal privilege is slipping away or in some women who have internalized the cultural norms that once ruled a society very different from what many of us hope we are living in — is one word we have to take away from this election. The other word is demagoguery, which is perhaps even more frightening. Donald Trump bullied his way to the White House. The many ways he did so have been widely reported, but to avoid repeating the list risks a forgetting… a forgetting that could normalize a man who brings aberrant ethical values to the world’s most powerful post. He first emerged as a political figure with darkly absurd claims that investigators he hired were uncovering evidence that Obama was not born in Hawaii. He slurred Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” and then impugned a federal judge’s impartiality because his parents came to the US from Mexico. He has stigmatized Muslim Americans, and waged an ugly Twitter war with the valiant

parents of a Muslim-American military hero who died so his fellow soldiers would live. He questioned the valor, as well, of John McCain, who spent seven years in a prisoner-of-war camp. “I like the people who weren’t captured,” said the reality TV star, who described his battle to avoid STDs as a young man as “scary, like Viet Nam.” He imitated a disabled reporter to the approving roar of a campaign crowd. In his so-called outreach to African Americans, Trump regularly described their neighborhoods as “hell,” their advances in society virtually non-existent. He insults women’s appearance routinely and was caught on tape talking about his celebrity giving him license to sexually assault unsuspecting women — his words there eerily echoed by numerous women who have accused him of just such behavior. In a debate against Hillary Clinton, he threatened to unleash a special prosecutor on her so that she would be locked up. And, when faced by polls suggesting he would lose, he claimed the whole business was “rigged” — especially in places like Philadelphia, Chicago, and St. Louis. Notice any pattern there? All of these examples are textbook bullying and demagoguery, and the final several in that list betray a hostility to democratic norms and an affinity with authoritarian impulses that should chill any sound-thinking American. We cannot normalize Donald Trump because we cannot normalize authoritarian demagoguery. In a riveting essay in Vox last week, Ezra Klein recalled that when Ben Franklin left Independence Hall at the end of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a woman eagerly asked him whether the nation was to have “a republic or a monarchy.” To which Franklin replied, “A republic. If you can keep it.” There is no hyperbole in quoting this wisest of American Founders now. Manhattan voters strongly rejected Trump’s message this year; he did not muster 10 percent here. Even with a win in Staten Island, the president-elect garnered just 18 percent of the vote citywide.

For many Clinton supporters, the reaction has been to proclaim #NotMyPresident, a clear rejection of any notion that Trump taking power can be viewed as the ordinary course of business. Trump enters the presidency laughably unprepared, his worldview unformed and often internally inconsistent, and his closest political allies drawn from the most odious reactionary forces in America. As chief strategist and senior White House counselor, Steve Bannon, most recently of Breitbart News, is positioned to be the key player in the Trump orbit — eclipsing the nominal honcho, Reince Priebus, who was named chief of staff. Breitbart News, under its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, was already well beyond the pale, but after Bannon stepped up upon Breitbart’s sudden death in 2012, it exploded into a cesspool of white nationalist, anti-Muslim, and misogynist cheerleading for the nation’s extremist alt-right. A recent string of hit pieces on Jewish figures have traded in disturbing anti-Semitic tropes. Other prominent players in the Trump transition include Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, whose nomination to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan in 1986 imploded when racist comments he made came to light; Myron Ebell, a climate change denier who is overseeing the incoming administration’s stewardship of the Environmental Protection Agency; and Rudy Giuliani, the often popular but controversial two-term mayor who won plaudits for his handling of the 9/11 aftermath but has been overwrought, even sinister in his public demeanor this year. T rump’s unprecedented rise puts the very idea of the American experiment at stake, along with the stability of the world, which relies on the US — for all its sometimes egregious sins on the world stage — taking some measure of responsibility for helping make the global system more fair. Many of us here in New York — as well as nationwide — find we have no principled choice but to stand firm in resistance and remain true to the nation we all want to call home. n

November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Facing Port Authority Growth, CB4 Maps Its Own Backyard BY EILEEN STUKANE

T

he sprawling entity that is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has slowed the forward march of its planned bus terminal expansion in Hell’s Kitchen by forming a working group with representatives from both states and reaching out for community engagement in the effort. The working group emerges after six months of contentious debate over the Port Authority’s spring announcement that it planned to expand the bus terminal, currently located between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, from West 40th to West 42nd Street. Without input from elected officials or Community Board 4, the Port Authority proposed using eminent domain — the process by which the government takes control of private property for public works projects — to seize blocks of buildings, a move that would upend lives and destroy vital neighborhood institutions. With the help of local and state elected officials, CB4 immediately mobilized, holding a town hall meeting attended by Port Authority officials, who then withdrew their initial design and oversaw a competition for architectural ideas. Only one of the competition’s five finalists — who separately proposed plans costing between $3 billion and $15 billion — included eminent domain in its concept, but the community was still not invited to participate in the process. Community leaders and elected officials boycotted a September meeting to review the proposals from the five finalists, citing continued lack of community involvement on the Port Authority’s part. That’s when change happened. Following the boycott, the agency established the New York/ New Jersey Working Group, which includes eight New Yorkers: Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad

YANNIC RACK

On weekdays, 220,000 people pass through the Port Authority’s bus terminal, but that total could grow by more than 50 percent by 2040.

Hoylman, State Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, City Councilmember Corey Johnson, CB4 chair Delores Rubin, and Community Board 5 chair Vikki Barbero. The five finalists’ designs remain a part of the discussion, though none is likely to be built as presented. To gain greater insight into where the process currently stands, this reporter sat down with Betty Mackintosh, who heads up CB4’s Port Authority Working Group, and Christine Berthet, the co-chair of the CB4 Transportation Planning Committee. Michael Lavery, the Port Authority’s government and community relations representative, declined to be interviewed for this article. According to the Port Author ity, 220,000 passengers, involving 7,000 bus movements, pass through the Hell’s Kitchen bus ter-

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | November 17 - 30, 2016

minal each workday. By 2040, the number of passengers is estimated to increase by between 35 and 51 percent, to as many as 337,000 passengers. The West Side bus terminal, built 65 years ago, will not be able to handle this increased capacity. In fact, it can barely manage the hundreds of thousands of people it has passing through it today, and an increasing number of buses are overflowing onto the streets, parked in lines along the curbs of Hell’s Kitchen. “The CB4 district, which is larger than our study area, has the third worst pollution in the city according to the New York City Department of Health,” Mackintosh stated. Berthet said, “The congestion in this neighborhood is double what the average is in the city.” Clearly a solution must be found. Observers agree that represen-

tatives from the two states sitting at the same table to resolve their transportation problems together represents a major breakthrough. Some proposals for solving the mess at the current bus terminal involve the staging of buses on the other side of the Hudson River in New Jersey. As well, it has become clear that what’s at stake is greater than the expansion of one bus terminal. A Port Authority Trans-Hudson Commuting Capacity Study released in September noted that the demand placed on the bus terminal could be reduced by other transportation initiatives. Among them are the Gateway Program that would increase track, tunnel, bridge, and rail station capacity — eventually creating four mainline tracks between Newark and Manhattan’s Penn Station with a new

c PORT AUTHORITY, continued on p.20 15


Russian Roulette BY DAVID KENNERLEY

A

re you ready to wake up?” is the tagline for the awkwardly titled “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” inspired by a particularly juicy slice of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” involving a love quadrangle gone awry. Indeed, this daring, dazzling musical (some might call it a popfolk opera, as it is completely sung-through) works strenuously to wake up a 150-year old classic and, in turn, electrify fidgety theatergoers who’ve steered clear of the hefty novel, by employing some of the most inventive staging to rock Broadway in years. Director Rachel Chavkin, in collaboration with Dave Malloy (libretto, music, lyrics), has exploded the standard proscenium stage format, comingling the action with the audience. In earlier incarnations — originating back in 2012 and nurtured by the boundary-busting Ars Nova theater group — this was easy because they built the space from the ground up, creating a supper club-style setting in tent-like structures on empty lots in the meatpacking and theater districts. Transferring the production to a Broadway house was a huge gamble (to the tune of $14 million); understandably, it had its naysayers. How could they replicate the delicate blend of actors, musicians, and audience in a large, traditional theater while retaining the unique vibe of the previous venues? There should be no doubt, however, but that the transfer is a success. The 1,400-seat Imperial Theatre has been retooled into a giant cabaret-style space, with plenty of seating onstage at little tables, and catwalks and platforms throughout the house. Elegant staircases connect the stage to the mezzanine.

16

CHAD BATKA

Josh Groban and Denée Benton in “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812,” now on Broadway.

The set, by Mimi Lien, evoking both a Russian manor and a music hall, is a sight to behold, made more magnificent by Bradley King’s lighting design, marked by huge chandeliers evoking the cosmos. “The Great Comet” features a large, talented cast of 33, with a majority making their Broadway debuts. What a thrill to see the exuberant actors and musicians run rampant through the theater, nimbly executing Sam Pinkleton’s choreography, often brushing up against your knees as they whiz by. If you’re lucky, one of them might toss you a little box containing a fresh, flaky pierogi or an eggshaped rattle so you can shake in time with the lively Russian-flavored pop score. The plot is so complicated that the Playbill includes a handy synopsis with a diagram so you can keep track. The self-referential opening number pokes fun at this

complexity, introducing characters with the repetitive simplicity of a child’s nursery rhyme. Andrey, a soldier off fighting in a war, “isn’t here.” Natasha, Andrey’s fiancée, “is young.” Anatole, who later seduces Natasha, “is hot.” Anatole’s sister and Pierre’s wife, Helene, is “a slut.” Pierre is “bewildered and awkward.” And so on. And if you’re really lucky, you might have one of the leads plop down on a stool beside you. And what formidable leads they are. Sporting a bushy beard and dweeby spectacles, Josh Groban, the classic pop singer with scant stage experience, is more than up to the task of portraying Pierre, a recluse stuck in a loveless marriage. If Groban seems slightly tentative in the highly demanding, pivotal role, his muscular yet silky baritone quickly makes us forget it. He learned to play the accordion just for the role and handles it with ease.

The “Are you ready to wake up?” query is directed as much to Pierre as to the theatergoer. The depressed, hard-drinking introvert is living on autopilot in a regimented Moscow society. Meeting Natasha reawakens his long-dormant lust for life. Even more astounding is Denée Benton, whose portrait of the yearning, conflicted Natasha has a striking, bittersweet honesty. This gifted Broadway newcomer, who took over for Phillipa Soo from the Off-Broadway version (Soo left to play Eliza in “Hamilton” to much acclaim), is definitely one to watch. As the cocky, philandering Anatole who “spends his money on women and wine,” Lucas Steele, reprising his Lortel Award-winning Off-Broadway role, is as dynamic as he is debonair. He has no trouble matching Groban’s vocals in both power and richness. If the music and inventive staging aren’t enough to keep you awake, surely Paloma Young’s costumes will do the trick. The period ball gowns and military uniforms, minstrel garb and peasant frocks — all with anachronistic modern accents — are sexy and stunning. In this otherworldly domain of “The Great Comet,” even the slightest tendency toward postprandial snoozing has been banished. n

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 The Imperial Theatre 249 W. 45th St. Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2 p.m. $47-$152; greatcometbroadway.com Two hrs., 30 mins., with intermission

November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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Dev Patel (“Slumdog Millionaire,” the two “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films, HBO’s “The Newsroom”) is the heart of “Lion,” a true story about a boy lost in Calcutta and adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) who returns to India 25 years later to find his birth family. Patel appears in conversation with filmmaker and Columbia University professor Annette Insdorf in conjunction with a screening of “Lion.” 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Ave. at 92nd St. Nov. 21, 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $42, $15 for those 35 and younger at 92y.org.

KIDS DANCING FOR KIDS In an afternoon of kids dancing for kids, the National Dance Institute presents “Words With Wings,” featuring more than 200 dancers – school kids 9 to 15 drawn from the metropolitan area — with choreography and music inspired by poets including Langston Hughes, Aja Monet,

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Timeless Judy Blue Eyes’ Vision of What Keeps Us Around BY DAVID NOH

A

s reassuring, endlessly rewarding, and lovely a New York presence as the Statue of Liberty herself — whom she somewhat resembles today in her classic profile — Judy Collins is returning to the Café Carlyle to bewitch us with her ever -uncanny voice, which seems to possess all the vast plains and mountains of this great, if seemingly crumbling country of ours. Her new show will feature a bold first step for her that she described in a recent interview. “Of course I sing some of my hits and some from my new CD, ‘Silver Skies Blue,’ my new CD I did with Ari Hest, who will be performing with me. Ari and I have written all the songs together. It’s very exciting, a first for me. I have written songs in the past but never a whole album, a big step. I met Ari a few years ago and he wrote the lead song for my duets album I recorded with Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne, Jeff Bridges, and Jimmy Buffet. We decided to work together and  spent a year writing songs, and here we are. You know, I have to keep myself excited and interested, and these are great songs, all important. “Ari really impresses me. I wouldn’t have done this work without him. He’s a career musician and wonderful singer, been around for about 15 years. He had a contract with Columbia and did a couple of albums for Sony. I’m very picky and wouldn’t go near someone if I didn’t think they were cooking on all burners. I just think he’s dazzling and his work is first-class.” I told Collins that, for me growing up, her voice was a beautiful, inescapable presence in my life and, miraculously, its silvery, crystalline timbre and elemental force seem unchanged decades later. Collins laughingly replied, “Well, it’s good luck, good health, a lot of good training, and, I think, just in general a fortunate combination of a number of things. I was a classical pianist, playing Mozart, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff as a young person before I found folk music. Then, when I started singing in concerts and touring, I started to lose my voice. In 1965, I was lucky enough to find a great teacher named Les Margulies, a genius, whom I worked with for 32 years. He knew what he was doing — not a lot do — and I was lucky.” If nothing else, Collins will always be known as the artist who gave Stephen Sondheim his first and only real pop hit, with her recording of “Send in the Clowns.” “Yes! And I just made a new Sondheim special for PBS with orchestra, which will come out during the November-December pledge drive, as well as a record, with just piano, of 10 of those songs, coming out in February. I finally accomplished a dream I had for 25 years of doing that. I hope to do the same for these songs that I did for ‘Send in the Clowns,’ so people will hear them in a different way and make a huge difference in their lives.

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SANDRINE LEE

Judy Collins with songwriting and performance collaborator Ari Hest.

“I had been nosy about Sondheim in 1973, when a friend brought me the cast album of ‘A Little Night Music.’ When I heard ‘Clowns,’ I just flipped out — ohmigod, I have to do this song! I was lucky because my record company, Elektra, was poised to do good work. I had certainly built my relationship with them, having huge hits with ‘Both Sides Now,’ ‘Some Day Soon,’ ‘Amazing Grace,’ and ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes.’ They were poised, with the album I was working on, to make the best out of it and they certainly did. I was with Elektra for 25 years and then went back and recorded more, which I still do, and I still get a check from them every six months. Fifty-five years. Amazing! I still see Sondheim in town, and I’m always so glad to know him. He appreciates what I do, which is very nice. ” “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” was memorably featured on the soundtrack of the film “The Subject Was Roses,” lending an extra layer to Patricia Neal’s poignant Oscar-nominated performance. “Yeah, it’s a wonderful song, which Sandy Denny wrote, and I was lucky to find it when I did. The director, Ulu Grosbard, called me just after I recorded it in 1968. He said, ‘I’m making this movie, and I’m downstairs editing it, while my kids are upstairs, playing your album. I keep listening to the song “Albatross,” and it fits right into the scene where Patricia takes this bus ride out to Montauk and I’d like to use it. What else are you doing?’ “I told him about ‘Who Knows,’ and played it for him. He said, ‘I’d like to add a few things to it, make it more upbeat at the end,’ so we

JUDY COLLINS With Guest Ari Hest Café Carlyle 35 E. 76th St. Nov. 17-19 at 8:45 p.m. Cover charge is $120-$195 Bar seating is $85-$95 Food & drink minimum is $75; $25 at bar Tickets at goo.gl/Ui6cDK

rerecorded it for him, which people usually don’t do, but we had a little time.” The other songwriter inextricably linked with Collins is Joni Mitchell, whose “Both Sides Now,” was a seminal 1960s anthem. “I was so lucky, because it was 1967 and, again, I was preparing an album. I had already discovered Leonard Cohen [with ‘Suzanne;’ Cohen died just days after this interview] and helped to make him famous, for which he’s always been grateful and helpful. I had heard her name, and her song ‘The Circle Game,’ and one night, at 3 a.m., I got a call from my friend, Al Kooper. He put Joni on the phone and made her sing ‘Both Sides Now,’ and I said, ‘I’ll be right over,’ and that’s how that happened. She’s a wonderful artist, and what a writer!”

c COLLINS, continued on p.20 November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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c COLLINS, from p.18 As if the ageless beauty of her voice weren’t enough, Collins is even more physically striking today than in her youth, with a superb personal style sense, not to mention her gorgeous mane of silver hair and laser blue eagle eyes. “You have to keep it simple, learn to stay healthy, exercise. I have to be an athlete to do this, 130 shows a year all over the place. I have to be up for it at all times. “ The Collins candor is also impressive, whether it’s her delightfully revealing patter in her stage shows (“I love to talk and tell my stories”) or her admirably public sharing of experiences with alcoholism, depression, and suicide [her son, Clark, took his own life in 1992, at age 33]. These topics, once kept so hush-hush, seem to affect everyone these days, on some level. “I’ve always been an activist. These were the secret things we couldn’t talk about and now we have to. I had tried for a number of years to write about suicide, then finally found a publisher, a great guy who was running an imprint at Penguin. “I found a place to write a book about suicide, and then one on creativity, and then one on surviving tragedy. I’d intended it to be for suicide survivors but they convinced me that it was really about survival in general, which I actually still don’t believe. I think suicide is very different, but it was okay. I don’t mind losing a few.

c PORT AUTHORITY, from p.15 Hudson River tunnel. Expanded Trans-Hudson ferry services and a 7 train subway line extension to Secaucus are also under consideration. “The study depicts a system where the bus terminal is just one piece,” Berthet noted. “The system goes into the Lincoln Tunnel, all the way to 495, where the buses are lining up and coming in. If you are going to double the size of the bus terminal, if you don’t double the size of the Lincoln Tunnel, what are you going to do? The whole system needs to be scaled up at the same time. From the community’s standpoint, it’s very important where the terminal is — but then from a transportation point of view, let’s not build an enormous terminal if the structure is not scaled appropriately. The Port Authority is starting to understand that it needs to think as a system. I think this is a very big step in the right direction.”

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“The world is a very difficult place to live in, and art and music and writing and painting are the things that we do so we can stay on the planet. I truly believe that, otherwise I think people would leave in droves. One of my favorite stories about 9/11 is about my friend, Emily Rafferty, who was president of the Metropolitan Museum until a few months ago, when she retired. Giuliani — you wouldn’t believe he had this much sense — called her on 9/12 and said, ‘Everything is closed. You have to open the museum!’ “There were no cellphones or email, so it was a lot of calling land lines and running over to people’s houses, but she did it. They got hold of everybody in this sort of handmade event, and the museum opened the next day and thousands of people came. Because they needed to see art and be reassured that people for centuries, ever since time began, have been going through terrible things and survived. Artists tell us that there’s more than what’s going on and what we’re seeing. That’s the only thing I give Giuliani credit for. He was a helluva prosecutor I must say, but he lost his mind along the way. A sad, sad man. A dangerous, sad man.” Although many of her contemporaries are holed up in California, Collins has always been the staunchest of New Yorkers, always lending a special glow to the many cultural events she attends in private life. “Oh, I love New York! I get to come home and, like last night, go to a lecture at the

The Port Authority owns the bus terminal’s land, but it also owns other plots of land on the West Side. The CB4 Port Authority Working Group is busy mapping out the community and locating the agency’s properties. “We’re also going to have some maps showing issues and problems we have, vehicular traffic, bus traffic, buses lining the curbside in the community district,” Berthet explained. “We’re systematically studying the area so that we understand what we’re doing when someone says, ‘Why not put a Port Authority building or garage in this or that location?’” The working group’s maps and graphics will encompass the area from Eighth Avenue to 12th Avenue, between 33rd and 42nd Street. “We will describe what the land uses are there ,” Mackintosh noted. “There’s a lot of Port Authority property there. We’re going to show the residential areas, the affordable housing.”

New York Historical Society where my friend Harold Holzer talked about Abraham Lincoln. He’s a wonderful scholar. A lot of my friends are writers and historians. It’s funny how that worked out. “I recorded in California but never lived there, except from 1943 to 49, as a child. I go there for business and concerts, so I certainly am there on a regular basis. I had a very good experience doing ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes.” It was a good time to be in LA.” I’ll say. It was the late 1960s, and Collins was one of the gorgeous, free-floating muses and queens of the scene, the lady of rocker Stephen Stills, who wrote “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” for her. “That was really something. I know, it’s very touching, that song. When he played it for the first time, we both cried. And I said, ‘Well, it’s not going to work. I’m not coming back. But it sure is beautiful!’” So, who does Judy Collins listen to? “Hugh Prestwood just put out a new CD, ‘I Used to Be the Real Me,’ which I love. He wrote ‘Hard Times for Lovers,’ which I recorded. Yes [laughs], the ‘naked’ album [because of her revealing cover]! He’s had a lot of big country hits recorded by other people, but isn’t actually well known as an artist. And, of course, I listen to the new albums by my peers to see what they’re doing. I heard Leonard’s new CD, which is amazing, and I always try to keep up with the new artists and find out what they’re doing. And the old classics, like Joni’s work.” n

She continued, “I think this bus terminal is one of the largest in the world in terms of people. So you’re trying to put one of the biggest things in the world into the smallest footprint. That’s where you have to think outside the box.” CB4 plans community meetings going forward to maintain the flow of information to residents and business owners, to sustain awareness and alertness, and to strengthen the relationship between the community and the Port Authority. This type of project, Berthet noted, “is going to be long, very expensive, very complicated, and you never quite know whether the right solution is going to emerge because politics become involved.” Still, Mackintosh and Berthet are optimistic. “I think the effort that we put forth in the spring was very effective,” Mackintosh said, adding, “The unification of our elected officials with CB4 was extraordinary. There wasn’t anyone marching to

a different drummer. That’s pretty amazing, and then the fact that the Port Authority shifted to a different process, it’s pretty miraculous.” “I agree,” Berthet said, “and that the electeds of New York and New Jersey are in the same room, that’s really unusual. Getting everybody in one room talking about a solution for both sides, to me, is very exciting and very big.” On Saturday, November 19, 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m., CB4’s Port Authority Working Group will host a panel discussion and present a preview of a slide show that will be more formally presented at a December 6 town hall meeting. Saturday’s meeting takes place at the Fordham University School of Law at 150 West 62nd Street. The formal slide show presentation takes place on Tuesday, December 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Metro Baptist Church, 410 West 40th Street. The discussion that evening will focus on how to integrate community needs with the Port Authority’s expansion plans. n

November 17 - 30, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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