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Midtown East: 11 New Landmarks 03

UWS School Rezoning Embraced 13

Trump-Era Manhattan 16

Stephan Russo’s

Four-Decade Commitment to the Upper West Side 06 NOW OPEN AT

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December 01 - 14, 2016 |

In One Fell Swoop, 11 Midtown East Buildings Landmarked BY JACKSON CHEN


he Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated 11 buildings in the Midtown East neighborhood as landmarks in an important early stage of the major rezoning of the area. The Midtown East rezoning plan, which aims to promote modern office building construction in an area from East 39th to East 57th Streets and Fifth Avenue to Third, with the district extending east to Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, relies on developers’ ability to purchase unused development rights from landmarked buildings in order to exceed the density limits they would otherwise face. As that plan begins its rollout, the LPC considered a dozen buildings deemed worthy of landmarking. The 12 buildings considered on November 22 — 11 of which received unanimous support by the commission — were identified according to the period in which they were constructed. The Minnie Young Residence at 19 East 54th Street and the Martin Erdmann Residence at 57 East 55th Street fall into the pre-Grand Central Terminal era, built prior to the construction of the transit hub in the early 20th century. Numerous other sites from this era — including St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Villard Houses, on Madison Avenue between East 50th and 51st Streets — have already won landmark designation in the Midtown East area. The majority of the designated buildings were built in what the LPC calls the Grand Central/ Terminal City Era, which extends from early last century until 1933. The nine buildings in this category — which complement 17 already designated, including Grand Central itself, the Waldorf Astoria, and Saks Fifth Avenue —



The Minnie Young Residence at 19 East 54th Street, one of two new landmark designations from the pre-Grand Central Terminal Era.

The Hotel Lexington at 511 Lexington Avenue between East 47th and 48th Streets.

are 18 East 41st Street, the Hampton Shops Building at 18-20 East 50th Street, the Yale Club of New York at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue at East 44th Street, the Pershing Square building at 125 Park Avenue across 42nd Street from Grand Central, the Graybar at 420 Lexington Avenue at East 43rd Street, 400 Madison Avenue between East 47th and 48th Streets, the Shelton Hotel at 525 Lexington Avenue at East 49th Street, the Beverly Hotel at 557 Lexington

Avenue at East 50th Street, and the Hotel Lexington at 511 Lexington Avenue between East 47th and 48th Streets. In designating these buildings within Grand Central/ Terminal City Era, the LPC noted the impact that the construction of major regional transportation infrastructure at 42nd Street had on the development of Midtown East. The remaining building under consideration, 601 Lexington Avenue at East 53rd Street, also known as the former Citicorp Tower, was categorized under the Post-Grand Central/ World War II Era because of its more recent construction. Built between 1973 and 1978, if designated, the building would be the city’s youngest landmark. According to the LPC, research on the building is still being carried out, but the commission hopes to vote on landmarking status for 601 Lexington by year-end. Most of the proposed designations garnered little opposition during public hearings split between July 19 and September 13. Representatives of the Pershing Square building owner SL Green and of the Real Estate Board of New York spoke in opposition to that designation, but the rest won widespread support for landmarking from stakeholders. In comments about the 11 designations, the LPC’s chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, praised the collaboration among city agencies that would “further enhance the New York urban experi-


The Shelton Hotel building at 525 Lexington Avenue at East 49th Street. | December 01 - 14, 2016

c LANDMARK, continued on p.10 3

#QueensResponds to Trump By Marching to Midtown


City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (left of Van Bramer) lead a march from Long Island City to Trump Tower on November 18.



espite an anonymous death threat against out gay City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the Sunnyside, Queens, Democrat, the Council’s majority leader, went ahead with a November 18 march across the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower to rally against the president-elect. Hundreds of protesters gathered at Dutch Kills Green in Long Island City that day for the #QueensResponds March. “We don’t share his values,” Van Bramer said of Trump. “Queens is a diverse county that appreciates and loves all its neighbors, including the undocumented. We reject racism and all forms of hatred. We are not going to sit back and let folks do horrible things, not even the president-elect.” The emailed warning to Van Bramer, from an unknown source, arrived two days earlier, shortly after the councilmember did a mass email calling for the November 18 protest. “Rest of the people from Queens do not agree with your homosexual lifestyle, so get the fuck out of this country you fucking traitor,” the email read. “I will keep a close eye on your every moves [sic] so that when it’s time to execute traitors, I will try my best so that you [sic] name is included in that list of traitors. Execution is the penalty for a traitor, that is the Law Of This Land!” The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force immediately launched an inquiry into the threat, Van Bramer telling Manhattan Express the unit was “all over it.” As the newspaper went to press, a police department spokesperson said the matter was still under investigation. On the evening of November 16, more than 700 people packed the Sunnyside Community Services Center to speak out against Trump’s and Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s structural


and systematic racism toward the Muslim and other immigrant communities, as well as their misogyny and homophobia. The email threat referred to those in attendance as “communist socialists.” That town hall meeting and the march three days later served as a clear message that while Trump was born and raised in Queens, it’s not the same borough as in his childhood. “This is not normal or acceptable, but we will not back down,” Van Bramer said the day after the threat. “We still plan on marching tomorrow and fighting the racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic demagoguery of Donald Trump. Queens is the most diverse county in the country, and we know that our differences make us stronger. We will fight for these values every single day, no matter what. I am not scared, and I will not back down. Too many are at risk. We must all stand up and peacefully resist.” Other elected officials at the Saturday protest included New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Councilmember Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn. Happy with the turnout, Van Bramer said he was excited to see what the future would hold. “I want them to stay active, to keep speaking up and to speak up even more,” said Van Bramer said of his constituents who joined the protest. As Van Bramer addressed the crowd, fellow members of the LGBT community waved rainbow flags as others in the rally chanted, “Donald Trump has got to go,” while holding up “NOT MY PRESIDENT” signs. “What are Queens values?” said Van Bramer. “We reject racist attorney generals… we reject misogyny… we reject jokes about sexual assault.” In her speech to the crowd, Mark-Viverito


The marchers cross the Queensboro Bridge on their way to Trump Tower.

recalled an incident earlier in the week with a constituent. “As a Latina, I am deeply troubled by what I see,” said Mark-Viverito. “A constituent asked, ‘Madame Speaker, are they going to segregate us?’ I found out he was talking about the Muslim registry,” an idea that Trump’s prospective chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said, on November 20, the incoming administration was not planning but would “not rule out.” “We are living in dark times and I will not be silent,” added Mark-Viverito. Stringer thanked Van Bramer for organizing the rally and said a few words of his own before the protesters took to the bridge. “Let’s give a round of applause to someone that’s personally been threatened… [and] reject scapegoating of our Muslim brothers…reject anti-Semitism,” said Stringer. As the demonstrators recited, “Your hands are too small to build the wall,” while walking to Trump Tower, motorcyclists revved their engines, bicyclists fist-pumped the air, and drivers honked in support of their protest. Maksaba Zaman, a Muslim-American woman originally from Bangladesh now residing in Woodside, had a few choice words for Trump and his presidency. “I don’t want him as a president,” said Zaman, 40. “I have been living here for 27 years… Muslims are not terrorists… I follow the rules and pay my taxes every single year and he doesn’t even pay taxes.” Amy Shin, 39, from Forest Hills expressed concerns for college students. “I work for CUNY and we have a lot of undocumented students who are fearful and tense and don’t know what is going to happen next,” said Shin.

c #QUEENSRESPONDS, continued on p.23 December 01 - 14, 2016 |

NYPD Details Trump Tower Security Restrictions


Inside Trump Tower looking toward Fifth Avenue.



etails of the new security plan surrounding Trump Tower were revealed by the New York City Police Department in conjunction with the US Secret Service on November 18. With Republican President-elect Donald Trump still in residence at his 725 Fifth Avenue corporate headquarters, the NYPD has already implemented several vehicular and pedestrian restrictions to enhance his security now that he has won election. Last Friday, police officials


Visitors to Trump Tower being screened before entry.

detailed the security plans that had been in place for more than a week. According to Carlos Gomez, the NYPD’s chief of department, East 56th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues will be closed off to vehicular traffic. As for the pedestrians who live on the block, are looking to shop, or simply wish to get to Fifth or to Madison, they would be subject to a screening — which amounts to a bag check, according to the NYPD — by police officers and Secret Service agents. Those interested in visiting the interior of Trump Tower would also be subject

to a screening, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. Fifth Avenue will remain open to buses and passenger vehicles, Gomez said, but currently only two out of five traffic lanes are available because of barriers that have been set up. As for the protests outside Trump Tower, a regular occurrence since the president-elect’s surprise November 8 victory, Gomez emphasized that the NYPD has plans ready to cover any contingency. The chief of department explained that small groups of protestors would be allowed on the sidewalk to

ensure that street traffic flow continues. But whenever a larger demonstration occurs, the NYPD will consider shutting down traffic on Fifth Avenue. “We saw that occur last Saturday when we had 20,000 protestors in front of Trump Tower,” Gomez said on Friday, referring to a demonstration on November 12. “So far, we’ve closed Fifth Avenue on three occasions in the last 10 days due to demonstrations.” Gomez explained that trucks

c TRUMP TOWER, continued on p.14

De Blasio Has Chosen His 2017 Opponent: Trump BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


ddressing a crowd of several hundred people who had gathered at Manhattan’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to wrestle with how to respond to Donald Trump winning the White House and continued Republican control of Congress, Mayor Bill de Blasio had a simple message — unity. “Those of us on the left have to be unified,” the mayor said at the November 20 town hall meeting. “This is how we fight back. We fight back by gathering in the same room in solidarity.” The mayor carried the same message to an even larger crowd at Cooper Union’s Great Hall the next day saying, “I want to thank everyone for being here because this is a moment when New York City needs to stand tall. We need to stand together.” The appearances serve a dual purpose. They calm a city that is worried about Trump’s threats to deport immigrants, register and track Muslims, and end Obamacare, and they continue | December 01 - 14, 2016

de Blasio’s 2017 reelection campaign with the mayor promising that the city will protect these groups from the new administration in Washington. At its heart, it is an anti-Trump message. “I think that’s the theme of the campaign,” said Ken Sherrill, a professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College. In 2013, de Blasio ran a populist “tale of two cities” campaign. He talked about creating pre-K for all, which he has done, and enacting paid sick leave at many employers, which has also been done. The city has seen job growth, though many of those jobs are low-wage. While the mayor will claim progress on building affordable housing, any opponent would likely dispute that. Economics resonated with voters then and now. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders used such a message during his failed effort to win the Democratic nomination for president. Trump also ran on an economic platform, railing

c DE BLASIO, continued on p.14


At a November 20 town hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledges the city’s cooperation in resisting Trump administration moves against communities from immigrants to LGBT New Yorkers.


Stephan Russo’s

Four-Decade Commitment to the Upper West Side BY JACKSON CHEN


t was 1975 when Stephan Russo, fresh from a two-year stretch as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, settled on the Upper West Side. Though his new neighborhood starkly contrasted with the South American barrios he had recently worked in, he was eager to continue his work in community organizing and empowerment. With no small amount of pluck, Russo sought out an opportunity with the Goddard Riverside Community Center, what was then a 16-year -old nonprofit serving the Upper West Side out of small brownstone. “So I walked into 161 West 87th Street, gave them my résumé, got an interview with the director,” Russo recalled. “I said ‘Wow, this is going to be a long shot because they’re not going to hire me, I’m this white, middle-class kid who’s just come into this neighborhood.’” But to his surprise, Bernie Wohl, who was then Goddard Riverside’s executive director and would soon became Russo’s mentor, offered him the newly created job of youth outreach worker. Russo recalled his earliest days in that role, walking the streets between West 86th and West 96th Streets, approaching neighbor hood youth in the streets, on playgrounds, and at the area’s public housing complexes to introduce them to Goddard Riverside and find out what needs they had. The neighborhood during that era was no stranger to local kids dropping out of school as well as gang-related activities, Russo said, with many of the youth he met alienated from basic pillars of growing up like support in their homes and in the classroom. “They thought we were cops,” he explained. “Here it is this young white guy and my partner. They wouldn’t trust us. Eventually, we



Stephan Russo, with a scrapbook that includes pictures from his days four decades ago in the Peace Corps

would wear them down.” Conversations followed a typical pattern, Russo recalled. “Oh, you’re here again.” “Yes, I’m here from Goddard Riverside Community Center. What are you doing? What’s up? What’s going on?” “Why do you want to know what’s going on with me?” It was only through his and his partner’s persistence and suggestions of group outings — with an occasional bribe of free pizza, Russo admitted — that the barriers eventually came down. “Over time what happens is kids get to know you, they trust you,” he said. “But you have to go out and enter the space, you have to enter the territory of that young person so they can really trust you… and it takes a while.” Forty years later, Russo, who for the past 18 years has been the

executive director of a larger Goddard Riverside Community Center — which now has its home base at 593 Columbus Avenue at West 88th Street — still appreciates the work on the streets that he insists was the key to his success in making him and the agency leaders in the community. “What does it mean now 40 years later, now I’m running this organization for the last two decades that has 26 programs and all these different sites from early childhood education to senior programs?” Russo said. “[Being] a 25-year outreach worker going out to the streets and working with those kids, that has made me a better executive director of this larger agency.” Since then, Goddard Riverside has expanded to offering programs for all ages alongside its original youth programs with a staff of 447 — 267 full-time and 180 part-

time—and a roughly $26 million budget, according to its latest annual financial disclosures. Having built field experience over near a quarter -century before stepping into an executive role, Russo said, he’s able to understand the challenges and difficulties his staffers encounter. And despite his role as executive director, he doesn’t shy away from showing up alongside his staff members from time to time, whether the occasion promises warm feelings or potential conflict. In one recent instance, a tenant in one of Goddard Riverside’s housing programs, aware of his title, screamed at Russo. But he also had the chance last week to visit the nonprofit’s daycare center to join the children and their parents in a Thanksgiving potluck lunch.

c RUSSO, continued on p.23

December 01 - 14, 2016 |

In East Harlem, Modest Hopes on Small Business Saturday

Our Perspective Moving Forward By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW


Jessica Taige of Jessie’s Nutty Cups and Carey King of the New Harlem East Merchants Association chat with a passerby at the pop-up shop below the Metro North station at 125th Street and Park Avenue on Small Business Saturday.



mall business owners in East Harlem may have jumped aboard the don't-forget-us shopping holiday that follows by one day the blockbuster Black Friday, but they weren’t holding out unduly great expectations for Small Business Saturday. The “Shop Small” day was created in 2010 by American Express to follow directly on Black Friday’s big box store bonanza. With a seventh year under its belt, AmEx — in a report done with the National Federation of Independent Business — is touting increasing numbers regarding those aware of and shopping during Small Business Saturday. According to its report on the 2016 results from November 26, there was a 13 percent increase from last year in shopping at small businesses throughout the country. Additionally, AmEx’s report noted that 72 percent of American consumers are now aware of Small Business Saturday and more than 6,700 organizations held events in their communities to celebrate. In East Harlem, the local mer chants association is in its second year observing the day and organized a pop-up shop at the community plaza at East 125th Street and Park Avenue.

“Anything we can do to help draw attention to our small business owners in the neighborhood is a great success,” Carey King, the director of the New Harlem East Merchants Association (NHEMA), said. “Traditionally, Black Friday has been the day that gets all the attention, and so it’s really a community-building thing for all our local merchants to put on an event to highlight everything that is good about all the creative and independent merchants.” With holiday music blasting in the background, King was spreading the motto of “Shop Small” to neighborhood residents. One of the main features of the pop-up from 1 to 5 p.m. was Jessica Taige’s online small business of handmade peanut butter cups, Jessie’s Nutty Cups. It was Taige’s first time participating in promotions, but she noted she was already sold on the trend of supporting small businesses first. “I know I personally have started looking when I go into stores for the more off-brand, small-business brands,” Taige said. “Black Friday is like the huge stores; Small Business Saturday is specifically targeted for smaller businesses like me so I feel like that’s going to be a lot more useful.”

e’ve just been through what has been the most divisive, exhausting, and unsettling presidential election in our lifetime. Many people – especially immigrants – are apprehensive or even terrified. Anti-Black, anti-Muslim, and antiSemitic incidents are happening online, in schools, and workplaces, and on the streets with more frequency. Swastikas and Nazi graffiti have appeared on more college campuses and storefronts. The entire world is worried. We are facing incredible challenges, but we cannot succumb to pessimism or despair. If we do, the worst of what this election has unleashed will be normalized and grow in power. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to strengthening our movement for social and economic justice and defeating the forces of hatred and bigotry in our society. It will take hard work, meaningful dialogue, and sustained action to build a country that is fairer and better for all working people, especially those who have been left behind and harmed by globalization and the current economic order. Many immigrant workers, white workers, women and people of color feel trapped in an economy that fails them and only seems to reward those at the very top. Yet too often working people today who share common interests but come from different backgrounds speak past each other, not to each other. We must bring working people together across their differences and help them understand their common interests and why it’s so crucial to fight and organize as a unified twenty-first century labor movement. And we have to press our political leaders and representatives – not only Republicans but also Democrats – that they must improve economic fairness, close the widening economic gap, improve the job prospects of working people, and make it easier for unions to organize so they can represent their members in the halls of power and influence. We have done it before, and now we must now do it again. None of us have all the answers. But we do know that it is a different era, and there are both new challenges and new opportunities for connection that didn’t exist in previous decades. Together, we must create new ways of bringing working people together, and new ways of showing those who may be misguided, angry, and misinformed that racism and prejudice are not the way forward, that a growing economic gap is not the way forward. We must transform and rebuild our country from within and bring all communities into a larger progressive movement that lifts up all working people: A larger progressive movement that takes the energy and learns the lessons from the Occupy Movement and Black Lives Matter and the Sanders campaign and the Fight for Fifteen. A larger progressive movement that is inclusive and diverse. And we must remind ourselves over and over again what Dr. King so eloquently taught us: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

c SMALL BUSINESS, continued on p.9 | December 01 - 14, 2016


Midtown South Pursues Permanent Fix For Homelessness BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC


or the Coalition for the Homeless, a major piece of the puzzle to get people off Manhattan’s streets for good is providing permanent housing rather than looking to the city shelter system as a solution. Under the group’s approach, known as the “Housing First” model, a homeless individual or family gets long-term affordable housing, which, depending on need, sometimes comes with support services. Giselle Routhier, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, spoke about the necessity of supportive housing at the November 17 meeting of the Midtown South Community Council (MSCC), a group that was already focused on the homelessness issue. “Supportive housing is crucial for homeless individuals who are living with severe mental illness or other disabilities, including physical [or] developmental,” Routhier told the crowd at the New Yorker Hotel on Eighth Avenue and 34th Street. “It’s really proven to be effective at getting people housed and keeping them housed.” Housing is the first step in recovering from dif ficulties a person may be dealing with as a result of living on the street, Routhier explained. When a homeless individual has a stable place to live, he or she is best situated to tackle problems including substance abuse and mental illness, she said. As the Coalition’s policy director, Routhier said, she oversees advocacy in New York City, the cardinal principle of which is a housingbased approach to homelessness. The group has pushed both the city and state for more supportive housing units. Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to 15,000 units for the city, and Governor Andrew Cuomo made a pledge to create 20,000 units statewide. Routhier said de Blasio has already made progress on his commitment, with several hundred units slated to come online this year. While the Legislature allocated funding in the most recent state budget for the first


6,000 units, that money has not yet been released, she explained. “We’re in a really unfortunate gap period where the new units have not come online yet and… most of the old units are actually not funded anymore,” Routhier said, noting that there are six or seven applicants per each unit of supportive housing and “it’s a tough spot we’re in right now.” In response to a question from Community Board 4 member Allen Oster, Routhier said the Coalition supports a move by the city that would require developers to set aside half of affordable housing units within a community for the homeless. CB4 opposes that plan. After the meeting, Oster said, “I think CB4 has worked very hard to get affordable housing in our community.” In her presentation, Routhier explained that the Coalition provides 11 direct service programs, including a mobile soup kitchen called the Grand Central Food Program. Three vans run routes throughout Manhattan and the Bronx, which give out hot meals at set stops, she said. The Coalition was founded in the early 1980s as the result of a lawsuit involving a homeless man denied space in a city shelter because there were no more beds available, Routhier said. A founder of the group argued that according to the New York State Constitution, there should be a right to shelter, and that right was established for homeless single men at that time. The same right was eventually extended to homeless single women and homeless families with children, Routhier explained. “New York City is very unique,” she said. “We’re the only municipality in the United States that has a right to shelter for families and single adults. That’s important to recognize and remember.” According to a recent US Department of Housing and Urban Development report, which compared Los Angeles and New York City, 75 percent of the homeless in LA are unsheltered while that number is five percent here, she said. MSCC’s president, John A. Mudd, invited Routhier to speak


Giselle Routhier, policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless, speaking at a November 17 meeting of the Midtown South Community Council.


John A. Mudd, MSCC’s president.

at the meeting as part of his drive to build a consortium of city agencies and nonprofit organizations to help the homeless. “When it comes to homeless, our philosophy is to do outreach, outreach, outreach,” he said. Mudd recently spent time with people who were part of a homeless encampment on the street where he lives — West 38th between Eighth and Ninth Avenues — asking them why they were living on the street rather than in the shelter system. Partnering with the nonprofit Urban Pathways, he worked to clean up the encampment, which he said was starting to attract prostitution and drugs.

“We gave them a lot of warning that we were coming to clean it up,” he said. “We gave them a lot of access to a lot of different kinds of shelters.” In a phone interview the day after the Coalition for the Homeless presentation, Mudd emphasized that they were very sensitive in how they broke up the encampment. The Friday before the removal, he spent about four hours talking to people there. “We were well received by them because they know we want to help,” he said. On October 24, a police officer, an Urban Pathways employee, and Mudd went to the encampment and threw out chairs, milk cartoons, and garbage, but left personal belongings alone. He said there are other nearby encampments — on West 30th Street near Eighth Avenue, and on Eighth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th Streets — that he wants to clear by helping the homeless people who live there. Midtown South Community Council’s boundaries run from the east side of Ninth Avenue to Lexington Avenue, between 29th and 45th Streets, but Mudd also helped with an encampment in Hudson Yards at West 35th St. at Dyer Avenue, between Ninth and 10th Avenues. The encampment, which has since been broken up, had people staying there going back to the summer, said Robert Benfatto, executive dir ector and president of the Hudson Yards/ Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, a business improvement district, in a November 21 email. According to Benfatto there are no other homeless encampments in the Alliance’s coverage area, which spans the blocks between Ninth and 11th Avenues, from West 42nd Street south to West 30th Street. Homelessness, he said, is a major concern for the Alliance, but not a major problem. For his part, Mudd said he is enthused with the progress he is making. “Everyone wants to resolve the problem,” he said. “The more we continue in this direction, it’s the right direction.” n

December 01 - 14, 2016 |

c SMALL BUSINESS, from p.7 Taige, who has run her business for more than two years, is one of the relatively new entrepreneurs participating in the day, but the merchants association also recruited veteran small business owners into the mix. Sade Tyler, the owner of Omo Sade African Skincare and Cosmetics, has been in business since 1989 but has bounced around and eventually landed at her fifth storefront at 2084 Lexington Avenue, just below East 126th Street. While participating in NHEMA’s Small Business Saturday promotions, Tyler let out a curt “eh” when asked if the holiday benefitted her store. Tyler said that it was being in business for nearly 30 years that has secured her a dedicated customer base. While she noticed a strong current of customers on Friday, she attributed that to many shoppers having the day off from work. The beautician, however, did not diminish the important positive thrust behind trying to support small businesses. “There’s actually a recognition of small businesses, that we still exist,” Tyler said. “It’s a wonderful thing. That’s what I really liked about the concept, and I think if they keep doing it for a few years it gets people to think about small businesses.” With East Harlem suffering from a high number of empty storefronts, local business owners agreed that any form of promotion was a plus. Princess Jenkins, the owner of The Brownstone, a contemporary women’s lifestyle boutique, likened supporting small businesses to investments into your community. “It’s so important that people

understand the relationship of small businesses to the community,” Jenkins said. “We are the people who are going to hire, teach, and train young people. We’re the same ones who are going to keep the neighborhood clean, and we’re the same people who are going to bring the very best of what we’re offering to our residents and customers.” Jenkins admitted the sales and traffic she got at her store on 24 East 125th Street did not reflect a huge surge on Saturday, but the idea behind it was worth it, she said. Proving she walks the walk of her talk about community, she

opened up a chunk of her retail space to create a pop-up shop for a greeting card company owned by another small merchant, Tanea Smith. Though Small Business Saturday is in its seventh year nationwide, the shopping holiday as it exists in Manhattan, Jenkins noted, faces the challenges of an environment that offers a glut of shopping options. She and her likeminded peers in East Harlem agreed that even though there has recently been more attention paid to small businesses, a lot more work is needed for them to compete effectively with


Sade Tyler (left) of Omo Sade Skincare works with a customer.

the likes of Walmart or Macy’s. “With the promotion of Small Business Saturday, it helps people to at least think small before they go big,” Jenkins said. “It’s a mindset change. It’s going to take time.” n


Princess Jenkins inside The Brownstone. | December 01 - 14, 2016


Landmarks Preservation Weighs Interiors at One UN Plaza BY JACKSON CHEN


nterior spaces of One United Nations Plaza got their first public hearing on November 22 for possible designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The commissioners are considering the lobby reception area, vestibule, and hallway as well as the Ambassador Grill dining and bar areas of the ONE UN New York Hotel building, formerly known as the United Nations Hotel, for interior landmark designation. The building is on East 44th Street, just west of First Avenue. Both the Ambassador Grill, which was completed in 1976, and the hotel’s lobby, completed in 1983, were designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, an architecture firm based in Connecticut. Those in support of the landmarking have said that the postmodern interiors were the work of “a master in his prime,” with Roche, who is now 94, bathing the space in a kaleidoscope of reflective surfaces that embody a glitzy, disco ball aesthetic. Preservationists sounded the alarm once they learned that the building’s owner, Millennium Hotels, had plans to alter the space. Theodore Grunewald, a veteran of many Manhattan preservation fights, soon stepped up to save the hotel’s lobby and the Ambassador, working with an informal group of activists, Save the Grill. “Very few hotels have as distinctive as an interior as this does,” Grunewald said, describing the space as Pablo Picasso in 3-D. “It has very distinctive marble and mirrored columns, sort of a cubist’s abstraction of a column.” Grunewald found allies in Docomomo US, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving modern architecture nationwide. In January

c LANDMARK, from p.3 ence of the old coexisting with the new.” Other commissioners voiced satisfaction that prior to the Midtown East rezoning getting fully underway the LPC was able to secure landmark protections for such a broad swath of historic buildings. “We’re all aware especially in this year that the city is undergoing rather dramatic transformation,” Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron said, noting the large construction site just west of Grand Central on 42nd Street where a 1,401foot tower will eventually stand. “I think the most stunning is the experience of the demolition site at One Vanderbilt at 42nd, 43rd [Streets] and Madison and Vanderbilt [Avenues].” She added, “It’s heart-stopping to come by it and you think and wonder what on earth could fill it... still there’s this kind of ache around that site. I just think the designation of these


of this year, Docomomo’s executive director, Liz Waytkus, filed a request for evaluation for the hotel interiors with the LPC. According to Grunewald, there was evidence of minor alterations underway before the LPC calendared the interiors on September 20. At the November public hearing, architects and preservationists described the interiors as unique and meritorious. “The design is a reflection of a time in American history of deep cultural change,” Waytkus said. “The Roche Dinkeloo interiors uniquely capture that moment and offer a road map that will continue to influence future design in New York and beyond.” Preservation advocates raised a question as to why the LPC excluded a lounge area adjacent to the lobby for landmark consideration. Waytkus said that omission would impair the public’s ability to enjoy and understand the space and strongly urged the LPC to include it into their bundle for consideration. A representative from Roche’s firm voiced concern about what he described as the breaking up of a cohesively designed space. “After reviewing the LPC drawing showing the lobby space being divided in two parts, we are concerned about the boundary being proposed,” Wes Kavanagh, design principal at Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, said. “This is one architectural space and should be designated as such.” LPC research staffers explained that after surveying the entire interior level, they felt that since the lounge and seating area was separated by columns and a change in grade from the lobby and had fewer distinctive features, it wasn’t strong enough to include in the package of interior landmarks they put before the commission.


Inside the ONE UN New York Hotel.

Grunewald said he believed the LPC’s exclusion of the lounge area was an accommodation to Millennium Hotels and added he would continue his effort to have it included in the overall package under consideration. “We feel strongly that even if the lounge were repurposed for another function, it would still be able to utilize the original décor of Kevin Roche’s architecture,” Grunewald said. The commissioners ultimately chose not to vote after the public hearing and instead sought additional research from LPC staff before revisiting the item on a date not yet set. Millennium Hotels, through a spokesperson, indicated it would not comment on the landmarking consideration. n

buildings both individually but especially in aggregate, this 11 goes some way in filling that gaping hole.” Commissioner Michael Goldblum said he hopes to see more collaborative work like this going forward between the LPC and the Department of City Planning. “It’s just been an amazing effort, not only because of the number and the speed at which it’s been done, but because of the approach,” Goldblum said. “The notion of not making a district but really looking at the area as a whole in concert with City Planning to try to identify examples of buildings that were representative of periods of development and make sure those works were saved.” In the future, Goldblum added, he would like to see additional initiatives like this happen on a “more integrated systemic basis,” so that the city is able to holistically balance preservation and modernization. n


The Beverly Hotel at 557 Lexington Avenue at East 50th Street

December 01 - 14, 2016 |

Natural History Museum Asks: What Bugs You? BY JACKSON CHEN


he American Museum of Natural History held an Insect Investigation Day on November 16 to solicit feedback and public interest about the insectarium planned as part of its Gilder Center expansion. In conceptual designs presented to the community late last year, the museum teased what the interiors of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation could look like when completed, with elements including insect halls. Though brainstorming is not yet complete on the specific design of the new space — which still awaits full city approvals for construction to begin — the museum used the Insect Investigation Day to gauge what interests visitors might have by showcasing different activities in a series of table presentations. “We wanted to get an early understanding of how people learn about, become engaged, be thrilled or delighted,” Ruth Cohen, the museum’s director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, said about the insects. “And yet we definitely wanted to explore the ick factor of some of the insects because we really want this new hall to be rich in experiences for visitors.” Julia Zichello, AMNH’s senior manager for exhibition education, was alongside other museum staffers offering more than a dozen experiences that ranged from interacting with live insects to virtual reality headsets exploring the insides of weevils. At Zichello’s table, people were playing with tobacco hornworms, which she described as a “big, fat, green, charismatic caterpillar,” as well as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, which are decidedly less charismatic. “We’re trying to explore the idea of how willing people were to hold live insects,’ Zichello said. “They would get excited, scream, and say, ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’ but five minutes later they would then be holding the bug.” There were definite hits with the crowd of roughly 1,200 that passed through in the three hours of live insects and virtual reality, with Cohen noting that visitors were particularly intrigued with one station that featured insects that employ biomimicry — an evolutionary response that affords them protections by borrowing attributes of other bugs — and another that explained bee colonization. “We are striving for people to understand the diversity the insect world represents,” Cohen said, noting insects were the largest of the museum’s collections. “We want people to be awed by the beauty of some of nature’s most freakish designs.” n | December 01 - 14, 2016



PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | Cloudy skies and a chilly breeze did little to dampen the

the Macy’s flagship store. With Santa Claus riding in the place of honor at the parade’s conclusion,

holiday cheer at the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as millions of happy spectators

the parade marks the annual start to the Christmas Season in New York.

turned out on the Upper West Side and in Midtown — and tens of millions tuned in on television.

This year’s performers included Tony Bennett, who appeared with Miss Piggy to sing “Santa Claus

Beginning at Central Park West and 77th Street — where on Thanksgiving Eve crowds gathered

Is Coming to Town,” and Sarah McLachlan. Among the many favorite balloons, one was particularly

to watch the massive balloons being blown up — the parade traveled around Central Park to Sixth

special — Felix the Cat was modeled after one first used in the 1927 parade, in the event’s fourth year,

Avenue, where it headed south to Herald Square before turning right on 34th Street on the way to

and last seen 85 years ago.


December 01 - 14, 2016 |

CEC3 Resolves Long Running Debate, Embracing DOE School Rezoning




Community Education Council 3, with president Joe Fiordaliso at center and Noah Gotbaum the second person to his right, on November 22.



n a lopsided 9-1 vote, Community Education Council 3 has approved a controversial rezoning of the Upper West Side’s school district that has sparked fierce and passionate conversation from the parents affected. Following a protracted public debate about how to rezone several schools within District 3, which included numerous hearings, the Department of Education presented its final plan to CEC3 on November 9. The district covers the West Side from 59th Street up to 122nd Street, but the DOE’s rezoning proposal taken up by CEC3 on November 22 covered only a portion of the district, extending as far north as West 116th Street and redrawing the lines for nearly a dozen schools. A second DOE rezoning plan for the remainder of the district was tabled by CEC3. Following several options presented at early stages in the public discussion, the DOE settled on a plan that included moving P.S. 191, currently at 210 West 61st Street, to a new school building at Riverside Center, and shifting P.S. 452, located at 100 West 77th Street, into the vacated West 61st Street building. The proposal also called for the Dual Language Middle School at 32 West 92nd Street — the building also houses P.S. 84 — to move to the 100 West 77th Street building. CEC3 has hosted a series of often-contentious public meetings about the rezoning, and most of its members concluded that the DOE option represented the first step in addressing long-neglected prob-

lems of overcrowding and stark racial and socioeconomic disparities among schools in the district. “A new map means a new reality, but we’re taking a new step to fix a wrong,” Manuel Casanova, a CEC3 member said. “This proposal puts all the schools on a path to be successful.” Casanova added that he understood there would be frustrations from some parents with CEC3’s vote, but he urged those unhappy with the plan selected to refocus their efforts on bettering their newly zoned schools. “I’m confident in the path we’re taking as an Upper West Side community,” Casanova said. “It’s a path that if we look at other parts of the country, they will say, [we] got it right.” But even with most of the CEC3 members sold on the plan as being one of many baby steps needed for improving the district, one dissident member remained unrelenting in his criticism. “I have made it plain that I am the only member on this council who is against this plan,” said Noah Gotbaum. “We’re going to take a vote tonight, but in truth the vote was already taken.” According to Gotbaum, when CEC3 sent its letter recommending a zoning plan to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña in October — a proposal very much in line with what the DOE came back with — that action was, in essence, a vote. The dissenting CEC3 member again reiterated that the letter should have included | December 01 - 14, 2016

c CEC3, continued on p.23


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c TRUMP TOWER, from p.5 would be unable to travel southbound on Fifth Avenue between East 60th and 55th Streets and eastbound on East 56th Street from Sixth to Fifth Avenues. “This is the security plan we presently have in place,” Gomez said at the press conference last Friday. “We are doing this for over a week now and, operationally, every day it is getting more fluid, we’re working more efficiently.” Moving forward, the NYPD will work with the Secret Service to modify the plan as the situation changes, especially when Trump moves into the White House in about two months. Planning was further complicated by Trump’s

c DE BLASIO, from p.5 against perceived unfair trade deals and lost jobs. Trump promised to bring back industries that have struggled, such as coal and steel manufacturing. “Old fashioned, New Deal, Fair Deal politics sure has been doing

announcement on November 20 that his wife, Melania, and his son, Barron, would continue living in Trump Tower until the end of the school year next spring. While New Yorkers who frequent Midtown will sacrifice some convenience in return for the presidentelect’s safety, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believed people would eventually get adjusted to the new reality. “We are used to handling situations that other places couldn’t even imagine,” de Blasio said. “I think New Yorkers, after we get through legitimately grumbling, we will then go on with our lives.” Local Midtown residents have received praise for their resiliency from both the mayor and the Secret Service, but concerns from local

businesses and residents in the immediate vicinity of Trump Tower as well as from visitors to the area have surfaced. According to City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who represents the area, his office has received some amount of complaints regarding the street closures. “We have to take care to ensure the area does not simply feel like a warzone and allow for local businesses to continue to survive and even thrive,” Garodnick said. But the councilmember also noted that there was a balancing act between security and accommodation that could be found to maintain the customary vibrancy of Fifth Avenue. “We all acknowledge we are in an unprecedented situation here, and

one which requires attention to both security and to the flow of people and traffic,’ Garodnick said. “The most important thing is that Fifth Avenue continues to move, for the sake of the significant number of commuters who pass through that corridor, as well as emergency vehicles.” Further down the road, O’Neill said, the NYPD and the Secret Service would settle on a “long-range plan.” Asked whether a special police command in charge of Trump Tower’s security was being considered, the commissioner said that option was “not off the table.” Given the dramatic increase in NYPD expenditures for ensuring Trump’s security, O’Neill said the NYPD is in conversations with the federal government. n

well recently, and that’s a politics that downplays identity, with the exception of Trump playing up race,” Sherrill said. The mayor has shifted. At least for the moment, de Blasio is using a theme that looks more like Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign for president.

“It’s very interesting because in some ways the strategy mirrors the Clinton message for the last election,” Sherrill said. “He insulted this group, he insulted that group, we’re better than that.” While Clinton also talked about economic issues, she played in identity politics and presented herself as the only alternative to Trump, who was “unfit” for the presidency. “It may be insufficient,” Sherrill said. “All in all, it helps [de Blasio]. I think that Donald Trump is the perfect foil, but the one potential downside is that somebody will run a 2013 Bill de Blasio campaign and he will have a hard time defending against that.” The mayor’s greatest threat comes from a Democrat challenging him in next year’s primary. While he can claim successes, it may be that there are enough Democratic voters who are upset by the city’s more visible homeless population, by slow job growth, and by hearing stories about housing problems to deliver a loss to de Blasio. “The thing about af fordable housing, or unaffordable housing, is that most people have not had to move because they could not afford the rent, but it may be that enough people may know someone who has that they worry it could happen to them,” Sherrill said. “The strategy of someone running against him would be to say that solving a tale of two cities is a lot of bunk, working people still can’t find a place to live in the city.”

Some on the left would certainly approve of de Blasio’s promise to resist any efforts by the Trump administration to deport immigrants, but those voters, by definition, would not face deportation themselves and that message may be less powerful among them. Bradley Tusk, a former Bloomberg administration official, made recent public efforts to recruit a candidate to oppose de Blasio next year. A Republican would probably not perform well in 2017 in a city in which 78 percent of voters went for Clinton and just 18 percent backed Trump. A Republican candidate for mayor would struggle if Republicans in Washington actually implement some of their controversial proposals. Tusk did not respond to a message seeking comment. The mayor may yet return to his economic populist theme of four years ago by arguing that his administration has made progress on the issues he campaigned on. That would turn the race into a referendum on his performance, something the mayor and his campaign may choose to avoid given that the city has not unambiguously improved. Running against Trump and Washington might be his only choice. “What de Blasio appears to be doing this time, most charitably, is to say we’ve made substantial progress on the issues we talked about four years ago,” Sherrill said. “The question is whether the claim is credible to the average voter.” n

EAST SIDE CALL TO ACTION In response to the November 8 election of Donald Trump, City Councilmember Dan Garodnick is teaming up with several other East Side elected officials as well as progressive nonprofit groups to host a discussion and resource fair about how the community can advance “New York values” in the face of the abrupt change in direction in Washington. According to Garodnick, the aim of the event – planned for Thursday, December 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the High School of Art and Design, 245 East 56th Street – is to help residents “get involved in advocacy on the local level, fight

Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

for causes in which they believe, and offer support to their neighbors.” Garodnick will be joined by Rashida Richardson, the legislative counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union, Daniel Altschuler, an organizer at the social justice group Make the Road New York, Yasmin Safdie, senior manager of organizing and advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which serves the LGBT and HIV-affected communities, and a representative from Planned Parenthood NYC. Another 20 community organizations will participate in the resource fair. The event is co-sponsored by Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Liz Krueger, and Assemblymember Dan Quart. For more information, contact Garodnick’s office at 212- 818-0580.


December 01 - 14, 2016 |

Police Blotter HOMICIDE: TRI-STATE MURDER (17th Precinct)


Police arrested two men and charged them with the murder of Joseph Comunale, whose body was found in Oceanport, New Jersey, on November 16. The two male suspects, James Rackover, a 25-year-old Upper East Side resident, and Lawrence Dilione, a 28-year-old New Jersey resident, face prosecution for second-degree murder, concealment of a human corpse, and tampering with physical evidence. Dilione was additionally charged with the hindering of prosecution. Rackover is known as the “surrogate son� of prominent jeweler Jeffrey Rackover. Police said that on November 15 Connecticut law enforcement contacted the NYPD regarding the missing 26-year-old Comunale, who lived in Stamford. According to police, he was last seen at Rackover’s residence at 418 East 59th Street, on November 13 at around 7:30 a.m. Police said Comunale was stabbed 15 times in Rackover’s apartment, where it looked like the two tried to cover up the blood with bleach. Police did not identify a motive for the killing.

The police are looking for two suspects in connection with citywide incidents of skimming devices placed on hospital ATMs. According to police, the devices were installed between August 24 and November 1 and allowed the suspects to create copies for making unauthorized cash withdrawals. Skimming devices were installed at Memorial Sloan Kettering at 1275 York Avenue, between East 67th and 68th Streets, at New York Presbyterian Hospital at 525 East 68th Street, and at hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens. Police identified one suspect as Atanasiu Bogdan-Valentin, 36, and are looking for another man. Police released a photo of Bogdan-Valentin and photos of the second suspect (available at, whom they describe as a mustached man last seen wearing a green hat, green shirt, green jacket, and dark frame glasses.


A 19-year-old was shot in his left shoulder on September 4 at around 12:30 a.m. in front of 845 Columbus Avenue, between West 101st and 102nd Streets, police said. The victim was transported to Harlem Hospital in stable condition, and the police are looking for an individual who entered the location with what looked like a gun in his waistband. Police released photos of that individual (available at, whom they describe as a black male in his early 20s, 5’11� and last seen wearing a two-toned blue sweater and blue jeans.

A 59-year-old Upper West Side cyclist was hit and killed by the driver of a white box truck at West 88th Street and Broadway on November 17 at around 11:30 p.m., according to police. The preliminary investigation showed that the 30-year-old truck driver was going north on Broadway when he swerved to avoid a parked vehicle at West 88th Street and hit the cyclist, Jing Yin Jiang, who was riding an electric bicycle. When police arrived, they found Jiang unresponsive and unconscious and had EMS transport him to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was declared dead. The driver had remained on the scene of the tragedy, and police said the investigation is still ongoing.

ROBBERY: BIGOT ON A BOARD (20th Precinct) Two guys yelled anti-white sentiments at a pair of victims before hitting one of them with a skateboard and stealing his jacket on November 18 at around 6:30 p.m., police said. According to police, the two victims were on West End Avenue between West 76th and 77th Streets when they were approached by the slur-slinging suspects. One of the suspects hit a male victim in the face with a skateboard and pushed a female victim to the ground, police said. Afterward, they stole the man’s jacket and fled to an unknown location, according to police. Both victims were attended to by EMS and transported to St. Luke’s Hospital. Police released a video of the suspects (available at, whom they describe as a male with dark complexion, 5’10�, and last seen wearing dark clothing and a black helmet and holding a skateboard, and a male with a light complexion, 6’4�, possibly a pink Mohawk, and last seen wearing dark-colored clothing.


GRAND LARCENY: WASHINGTONS, JEFFERSONS, AND HAMILTONS (Midtown North Precinct) Six victims between May 25 and November 6 had their property stolen as they waited for the actors of the famous hip-hop musical “Hamilton� outside of the Richard Rodgers Theater at 226 West 46th Street, police said. According to police, an individual used the victims’ credit cards for a shopping spree of more than $2,200 at various locations including Macy’s, Junior’s, Rite Aid, Target, DSW, Burlington Coat Factory, and Duane Reade. Police released photos of the suspect (available at, whom they describe as a black female with black hair and glasses, last seen wearing a black jacket, a grey sweater, black pants, and a grey scarf.

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HOMICIDE: DEADLY CUT (23rd Precinct) Police discovered an unconscious Philip Erby inside his 325 East 106th Street home on November 27 at around 8:30 p.m. According to police, the 72-year-old victim was seen with a cut to the head and was transported to Metropolitan Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead. Police said there have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing. | December 01 - 14, 2016

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ART DIRECTOR Michael Shirey





y a nearly 10-1 margin, Manhattan voters rejected the candidacy of President-elect Donald Trump on November 8. The shock of his upset victory, coupled with the widely held view that he is unfit to hold the nation’s highest office — not to mention the world’s most powerful post — created a sting that for many has not come close to wearing off. Among the protesters who have descended on Trump Tower, there is a widespread belief that the next president should not be “normalized” lest his extreme views on a wide range of issues be taken as reasonable starting points for negotiation. The president-elect did himself no favor on that score in his selection for White House senior counselor of Steve Bannon, a self-professed alt-right champion who somehow managed over the past four years to make even crazier and more irresponsible than it had been under its late founder. Even as Trump’s critics debate the appropriate posture to take toward him as he assumes office, there are some concrete issues New Yorkers need to start thinking about in terms of what the future holds. For years, under a succession of mayors, New York has held itself out as a “sanctuary city,” where immigrants, whether documented or not, could feel safe,

knowing that municipal law enforcement and other administrative powers and resources would not be employed to backstop the federal government’s targeting of peaceful, law-abiding residents for deportation or other punitive measures. Trump and his loudest supporters have expressed outrage at local governments thumbing their nose at federal authority in this way. The new administration is likely to punish sanctuary cities, and New York must show the sort of resolve that Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly pledged in recent weeks so we do not become handmaidens of Trump’s noxious anti-immigrant jihad. Even without a change in policy, Trump’s rhetoric has already led to baleful results — with widespread reports, even in New York, of harassment and hate crimes aimed at immigrants, especially those whose appearance suggest they are Muslims. The NYPD in recent years has demonstrated a strong commitment to battling hate crimes, and the police, joined by prosecutors and the mayor, must keep up a policy of zero tolerance for harassment and violence aimed at immigrants, religious minorities (including Jews, who, like West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman, have experienced a recent uptick of anti-Semitic attacks), and other groups.

c MANHATTAN, continued on p.17

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Some Day, We’ll All Be the Butt of These Jokes BY LENORE SKENAZY


ear that joke about old people? It kills ‘em every time. An elderly man comes into a bar and notices a lovely lady about his age having a drink by herself. He pulls up a stool, leans over, and asks, “So… do I come here often?” Sure, laugh. Or cry. Fact is, we’ll all be that man or that lady some day — God willing. In the meantime, we can tremble or simply grab a copy of “Die Laughing: Killer Jokes for Newly Old Folks,” the new book by William Novak. The cover shows a cane slipping on a banana peel. But the real joke is on the rest of us who didn’t think of this great idea first. Novak, 68, is the author of 25 other books, and, by the way, father of B.J. Novak, writer, actor and executive producer of “The Office,” on which he played Ryan Howard. Papa Novak is best known as co-author of “The Big Book of

Jewish Humor.” But he said he was between books when he hurt his shoulder and had to go to physical therapy. So he was stretching, aching, and dealing with doctors when he realized: This is not a unique experience. What the world needs is a joke book about the changes that eventually come to your body, your routine, your love life, and, especially, your short term memory: Doctor: Mr. Jackson, your test results have come back, and I’m afraid I have a double-dose of bad news. Mr. Jackson: Just tell me. I can handle it. Doctor: Okay. You have cancer, and you also have Alzheimer’s. Mr. Jackson: That’s terrible. But at least I don’t have cancer! So Novak started collecting jokes. As he did, he realized two things: First: No joke is ever told for the first time. Proof? Two older men, acquaintances

but not really friends, are sitting on a park bench. One turns to the other and says, “Remind me, was it you or your brother who died last winter?” Novak said that when his friend told him that joke, he loved it and immediately decided to include it. Then, a few weeks later he was in Vermont and found “The World’s Oldest Joke Book.” It was literally a book of knee-slappers from fourth century Greece — and it included the “you or your brother...?” joke. But if Novak realized there are no new jokes, he also came to understand that what is eternally new is the strange sensation of having been a young person but now gradually experiencing all the things you associate with old people. To make some sense of this, Novak arranged the jokes into chapters on things like “Long marriages,” “New partners,” “Sex,”

c JOKES, continued on p.17

December 01 - 14, 2016 |

c MANHATTAN , from p.16 Another area where Manhattanites must exercise vigilance is in schools, not only regarding harassment of immigrants and religious minorities, but also in the treatment of LGBT students. New York State has an anti-bullying law protecting students based on categories including sexual orientation and gender identity, but Trump’s selection of Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general and Betsy DeVos as education secretary — both social conservatives with harshly anti-gay records — clearly points to a reversal of the Obama administration’s aggressive efforts to ensure safety and dignity for LGBT students in the nation’s schools. New York need not change its current policies, but administrators and teachers should be mindful that rhetoric voiced at the highest levels in Washington could well demean earnest advances made in recent years in creating a climate where all students enjoy the protections youth need so they can focus on their education. Backsliding in the commitment to all students is not an option in New York, which ideally should be a model for how public schools can celebrate difference while promoting excellence. Another major challenge New York is likely to face will come from Trump’s threatened dismantling of Obamacare, something which now seems more likely given the nomination of Georgia Congressmember Tom Price as secretary of health and

c JOKES , from p.16 along with “Death” and its funnier counterpart, “The afterlife.” When I was reading these jokes, a strange thing happened to me: I heard them in my father’s voice. That’s not just because my dad loved to tell jokes — toward the end of his life “Got any new ones?” was what he asked me for most. It’s because jokes themselves are almost an artifact of a dying era. “Funny people these days, they do routines and many are terrific. But they’re not ‘Two guys walk into a bar,’” according to Novak. “One of my goals is to preserve the art of the joke, which I fear is leaving us,” he said. The guys who’d grab a mic and

human services. Price’s appointment not only imperils the broader availability of coverage through the employer mandate and the state exchanges, but also the Medicaid expansion that made health care available to larger numbers of low-income Americans. Despite Trump’s campaign pledges regarding the sanctity of Medicare, Price has long been an advocate of the most radical Republican proposals for restructuring — read, privatizing — that program and turning complete responsibility for Medicaid over to the states, of course with less funding attached. All of this is bad news for New York: fewer people with health coverage, the real possibility that preexisting conditions might once again be used to deny coverage, and more meager public support for Medicare and Medicaid. And this is not even taking account of the way in which Obamacare has provided substantial incentives for the emergence and growth of community-focused nonprofit health centers serving neighborhoods where preventive care had previously been scarce. New York has always patted itself on the back for being a place that tried to take care of all its citizens. Should the new administration reverse course on social safety net advances made by past administrations from Obama all the way back to FDR, this city will be put to the test. If we believe Trump’s vision is misguided, we need to put our money where our mouth is and point to a different way. n

rat-a-tat-tat, “My wife drove her car into the living room”-type of gags aren’t here anymore. Where’d they go? Here’s a clue: Two old friends made a pact that whoever dies first would come back and tell the other what it’s like. So one day Pete gets a call from Richard, who died of a heart attack. Pete says, “What’s it like?” Richard tells him: “I start off with a big breakfast. Then I have sex, and after that I lie in the sun. Then it’s time for lunch, followed by a nap and more sex until it’s time for dinner...” Pete is thrilled. “I had no idea Heaven would be like that!” “Who said anything about Heaven? I’m a bull in Wisconsin.” We should all be so lucky. n | December 01 - 14, 2016






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hanks to the gods of timing, New Yorkers have the opportunity to see two of French actress Isabelle Huppert’s best performances simultaneously, in Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” and Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Things To Come.” Hansen-Løve has said, “I rate her as the greatest French actress.” I agree, except that I would take “French” out of that sentence. “Elle” subjects Huppert’s character Michele to extreme sexual violence only to celebrate her resilience and ability to survive a difficult life, even while suggesting she’s fundamentally a cold, unpleasant person. “Things To Come” is much different. A brief episode of stalking by a creep, which starts at an Abbas Kiarostami film, is the closest it comes to the brutality of “Elle.” Hansen-Løve’s film is much more down-to-earth and naturalistic. While relatively plot-driven, it’s also content to observe a few years in Nathalie’s (Huppert) life. The emotional ups-and-downs are much closer to most women’s lives than those of “Elle,” but, in a more subtle way, they’re still painful. Nathalie is a high school philosophy teacher in Paris. Devoted to her job, she says that she’s not out to start a revolution but to get her students thinking for themselves. She’s burdened by an elderly mother (Édith Scob) who constantly makes demands on her time, calling her at 5 a.m. in the midst of panic attacks. Nathalie spends a lot of time with a former student, Fabien (Roman Kolinka), who has become an anarchist writer. Then one day, her husband tells her that he’s leaving her for another woman, after 25 years of marriage. Her life has been turned upside down, but she explores the options still open



Isabelle Huppert and Roman Kolinka in Mia Hansen-Løve’s “Things to Come.”

to a single middle-aged woman. Hansen-Løve constantly employs Steadicam tracking shots, particularly while following people walking. She likes to play around with sudden leaps from interior spaces to exteriors. There are a handful of images captured in dingy glass or mirrors. The colors tend to be bright, even when the lighting is dim. In many ways, “Things To Come” is a thoroughly French film, starting with the fact that its protagonist is a philosophy teacher who recalls the radicalism of her youth. Beyond that, as she edits a book on philosophy, a friend is editing a series of essays on philosophers like Michel Foucault and Theodor Adorno for the high school students. The film’s relationship to radical politics is

ambiguous and, perhaps, ambivalent. Hansen-Løve’s partner, Olivier Assayas, celebrated a chaotic early 1970s student revolt in “Cold Water” and returned to that period to give a much more detailed depiction of the radical left in “Something in the Air.” Hansen-Løve, 35, is about 25 years younger than Assayas. May ’68 and the entire counterculture was over and done with before she was born. Yet she treats the era with a gentle respect, suggesting that becoming a communist was a healthy rite of passage for someone like Nathalie when she was young, even if Nathalie eventually realized the ideology’s flaws. She finds something ridiculous in contemporary manifestations of radical politics, such as a student strike that

finds freshmen calling their teachers “scabs” as they debate whether they should be able to enter a building to teach. A visit to an anarchist commune is more complicated for Nathalie. The film suggests that some of its ideas may be valid, but Nathalie has aged beyond the notion of searching for an “alternative lifestyle.” While the commune debates the politics of crediting individual authors, they don’t seem to be getting actual writing done. For her part, Nathalie is more interested in looking for her lost cat, Pandora, than discussing politics with them. There aren’t really many films like “Things To Come.” Even in France, female protagonists in their 50s or early 60s are relatively rare. “Things To Come” plays like an Éric Rohmer re-boot of Paul Mazursky’s “An Unmarried Woman,” if one can imagine that. (Hansen-Løve cites Rohmer as an influence herself.) Many of Huppert’s best roles have involved testing the limits of female sexuality; in Michael Haneke’s “The Piano Teacher,” she sliced her vagina with a razor blade. “Elle” continues her work in that vein. “Things To Come” shows how equally good Huppert can be in a gentler context. n

THINGS TO COME Directed by Mia Hansen-Løve Sundance Selects In French with English subtitles Opens Dec. 2 Lincoln Plaza Cinema 1886 Broadway at W. 62nd St. IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.

December 01 - 14, 2016 |



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- | December 01 - 14, 2016

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.


Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.


Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.


Torn from the Headlines



John Slattery and Nathan Lane in the revival of Ben Hecht and Charles Macarthur’s 1928 “The Front Page,” directed by Jack O’Brien, at the Broadhurst through January 29.

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he Front Page” is a rollicking, screwball comedy in the classic tradition that seeks to do nothing but entertain. If it reminds you of the profit-driven sensationalism of today’s media, well, that’s probably a sign of how prescient this nearly century-old play was. The lavish production, thanks in large measure to Douglas W. Schmidt’s fantastic set, now at the Broadhurst may also remind you of a time when producers could afford to have a cast of more than 25 and the world they could create with that. The play is set in a newsroom as a convicted murderer is about to be executed. Hardly the stuff of contemporary comedy, yet through a series of twists and turns, the killer escapes and mayhem ensures. There’s also a subplot as ace reporter Hildy Johnson is about to leave the news business for an upwardly mobile marriage and a cushy job in PR. The set-ups are obvious, but Ben Hecht and Charles Macarthur’s 1928 play is full of such rapid-fire repartee and outrageous characters that it doesn’t matter. Under Jack

THE FRONT PAGE Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St. Through Jan. 29 Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $67-$167 at Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 45 mins., with intermission

O’Brien’s sure-handed direction, the breakneck speed and slapstick comedy are consistently entertaining. The cast features all kinds of Broadway royalty — Jefferson Mays, John Goodman, Holland Taylor, Sherie Rene Scott, Dylan Baker, and Robert Morse — all of whom are at the top of their comic games. Then there’s Nathan Lane as Walter Burns, the hardnosed publisher dedicated to nothing but scooping up profits, and John Slattery as Hildy. They are a flawless comedy team, playing perfectly off one another and, like the rest of the cast, seeming to have a marvelous time. As are we. n

December 01 - 14, 2016 |


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c CEC3, from p.13 public input and discussion. “This council voted, they stood up and said this is the plan, essentially take it or leave it,” Gotbaum argued. “It wasn’t done in a public forum, it wasn’t done with public discussion on the details. It was done via email.” While the CEC3 dissenter acknowledged that P.S. 191, a struggling school with a disproportionately high percentage of economically disadvantaged youth of color, was in need of rezoning, he predicted that the next CEC3 would have to return to that issue in a couple years’ time due to the shortcomings he saw in the DOE fix the council has now approved. Other CEC3 members didn’t argue that the rezoning is a panacea to the complex issues of diversity in the Upper West Side school district, but they argued that it represents an important first step in an evolving discussion about how to break down segregated patterns in the area’s schools. “We’ve been working to try to find a balance for a long time,” Joe Fiordaliso, the CEC3 president said. “This balance requires a mix of zoning changes and policy commitments... I believe that this proposal is in the long term interest of District 3.” Despite CEC3’s clear intention to endorse the DOE plan, parents present at the meeting made their voices heard about the impact the rezoning would have on their families. Many spoke up about the possibility of overcrowding in a number of district schools and the lack of parental input in the decision-making. For Leah Savitt, a longtime parent on the Upper West Side, CEC3 should have more vigorously held

c #QUEENSRESPONDS, from p.4 There was, however, also a Trump supporter present, and he spoke up in defense of the president-elect. “I support Trump because for eight years the Democratic Party has done nothing to support blacks but keep us in disarray, so if Donald Trump can provide anything more than we are getting, I am willing to accept that,” said Calvin Hunt, 50. “This is the job he was elected to, so let’s give him a chance.”

the DOE’s feet to the fire. “You are all letting a real opportunity slip by,” Savitt said to CEC3 members. “You have the opportunity to push the DOE to provide you with the right data, the right projections, the right educational impact statement, the right transportation studies. We as parents have been pushing and haven’t had access to that information.” She added, “You’ve been content to accept crumbs from the table, you’ve accepted worksheets and spreadsheets filled with inaccuracies and mistakes.” Just as many parents who were critical, however, voiced support for the rezoning, with teachers at P.S. 84 joining its students’ parents in expressing gratitude for a decision that will give that school room to breathe once the Dual Language Middle School is relocated. The DOE’s final proposal also won support from City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, whose district covers a majority of the school district. Rosenthal was active throughout the long rezoning debate and put her influence strongly behind the plan adopted. “I thought carefully about this rezoning plan, this plan and its several iterations,” Rosenthal said. “A rezoning plan must address three issues. It must support educational excellence, it must create more diversity within our schools, and it must address passive issues in our schools.” Satisfied that key questions including overcrowding had been tackled, Rosenthal added, “The plan that addresses those issues would be the plan I support. I believe this iteration from the DOE does that…there is still a lot to be done on this issue but this plan is a solid beginning.” n

But Cheryl Eissing, 24, who traveled to the march from Franklin Square in Long Island, better reflected the prevailing opinion of the crowd. “I am afraid of rape culture getting worse,” she said. “I think that it is really scary that people want to normalize hate rhetoric and a lot of things that shouldn’t even be a part of the conversation anymore when it comes to politics. Human rights are no longer a question. I think it’s very sad that we took a step backward.” n | December 01 - 14, 2016


Stephan Russo in his office at the Goddard Riverside Community Center office on Columbus Avenue.

c RUSSO, from p.6 More often, though, Russo’s packed schedule restricts him from being in the field as much as he’d like. “One of the challenges is you move away from the direct work with the people that you want to help,” Russo said of how his typical day has changed over the years. “But my attitude is you use the same skills whether or not you’re running a meeting of the board of directors or whether you’re running a meeting of 10-, 15-, or 16-year-olds.” After running and caring for Goddard Riverside for nearly two decades, Russo is now just a few footsteps away from passing the baton to a new executive director. Reflecting on his legacy, he said he is proud that he’s been able to grow the organization while staying true to the principles he was introduced to when he first started at the agency as a young man in his 20s. Under Russo's leadership, the nonprofit has expanded its programming to reach all ages, from their early childhood education centers for those under five, to providing home-delivered meals, low-income housing, and a senior center. Spread through 21 locations across the city, the 26 Goddard Riverside programs also cover legal representation for tenants in affordable housing, supportive housing for homeless adults, and college prep and counseling for school kids. “The word social justice means something here because every one of our programs and what we do is to try to create a fairer and more equitable society,” Russo said. “Sounds grandiose, but I think it’s one of the guiding principles.”

With no set termination date, he admitted he’s looking forward to taking a breather, but said he would be available to help Goddard Riverside with any transitional needs. From Russo’s account, his may be big shoes to fill in a job he described as a 60 to 70-hour commitment every week — by choice, he emphasized. Betsy Newell, president of Goddard Riverside’s board of directors, said she got to know Russo when he started as a young outreach worker and watched him gain mastery over the ins and outs of every program at the nonprofit. “He’s a social worker by training so he is deeply committed to helping people,” Newell said. “I think the biggest part of his footstep is Stephan knows everybody in the neighborhood... he’s constantly stopped by people, the families, kids, the elderly.” Newell said the board voted on November 30 to approve a new executive director, who will be announced on December 1, the day after Manhattan Express went to press. She acknowledged Russo would be a tough act to follow. With over 40 years of community service under his belt, Russo has built an organization likely to ensure that his contributions will endure. Over such a long span, he explained, he’s been able to appreciate the changes that have transformed Goddard Riverside. “People’s involvement in this place really, really is meaningful, and you don’t see that over a couple of years,” Russo said. “But having seen it over a long period of time is extremely gratifying. In this kind of work, if you really want to make a difference in people’s lives or deal with some of these social issues, you have to see it over time.” n


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