Page 1


DECEMBER 29, 2016 – JANUARY 13, 2017

Downtown’s Year in Review This was a landmark year for Downtown, filled with grand openings and tragic losses. A multitude of parks, shops, stations and restaurants opened across Lower Manhattan in 2016, which — 15 years after the devasation of 9/11 — was the year Downtown came back better than ever.

But in addition to the triumphs, the year also saw its share of losses, from a deadly crane accident, to a tragic hit-and-run death, to the passing of beloved residents and formative Downtown leaders. In this issue, we take a look back at the major developments that made this such a transformative year.

File photo by Tequila Minsky

Associated Press / Mark Lennihan

File photo by Milo Hess

File photo by Tequila Minsky

Getty / Thos Robinson

File photo by Milo Hess

Photo courtesy of Travis Maclean

File photo by Milo Hess

Also in this issue: 9/11 artifact returned to new E-train corridor Page 5 File photo by Milo Hess


1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 16 N YC C O M M U N I T Y M E D I A , L L C

Former CB1 chair may be ousted from board Page 10

2016: The Year in Review FIDI NEIGHBORS Residents of the city’s fastest growing neighborhood banded together in January to create the Financial District Neighborhood Association in January, which has since dedicated itself to tackling some of the less charming aspects of Downtown living. Fidi’s population has doubled since the new millennium, and last year saw a massive surge in residential growth, with roughly 5,300 new locals moving in, according to a study by Community Board 1. And with an estimated 44 new Downtown residential developments bringing as many as 6,537 additional units to the neighborhood by 2018, that boom will only continue. But Fidi’s shift from a commercial to a residential area brings with it quality of life woes that are unique to Manhattan’s oldest neighborhood, including gridlock, endless construction, and legendary garbage piles as tall as a man and as long as a city block. The neighborhood association, which hosted its first meeting in February, has grown to about 200 members and continues to pick up steam as the group pursues solutions for the major issues

plaguing locals, by means such as lobbying local legislators to consider new regulations to curb the massive garbage piles, and pushing a petition on Transportation Alternatives calling on the city to fund a comprehensive traffic study of Lower Manhattan.

CRANE CRASH A crane collapsed on Worth St. in Tribeca in February, killing one man and injuring three other people — and led to a laundry list of reforms that have yet to be fully implemented. The 565-foot crane toppled down along Worth St. just before 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 5, leaving a two-block stretch of devastation between Hudson and Church Sts., crushing dozens of cars, damaging four buildings, injuring three people, and crushing 38-year-old mathematician David Wichs. A federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cast blame on contractor Galasso Trucking and Rigging in September, slapping it with $22,448 in fines for operating the crawler crane in high winds that exceeded the machine’s specifications.


File photo by Milo Hess

The 565-foot crane crashed down along two blocks of Worth St. between Hudson and Church Sts. on Feb. 5, killing one man and injuring three other people.

On the city’s end, an investigation by the Department of Buildings decided earlier this month that fault lay with crane operator Kevin Reilly, suspending his license and pushing for the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings to revoke it permanently. Meanwhile, the DOB is currently implementing the 23 recommendations made by a working group formed by Mayor de Blasio in June aiming to prevent similar accidents in the future.

EVACUATION DAY PLAZA Downtown history buffs won a contentious battle in February to co-name Bowling Green as Evacuation Day Plaza to commemorate the momentous day in 1783 when the British finally ended

the occupation of Lower Manhattan after the Revolutionary War. On Nov. 25 that year, the fleeing Brits had nailed the Union Jack to the top of the flagpole at Bowling Green and then greased the pole, but a patriotic former prisoner of war named John Van Arsdale managed to climb the flagpole and replace it with the Stars and Stripes just before George Washington’s triumphant return to Downtown. The Lower Manhattan Historical Society recently revived the long-dormant tradition of marking Evacuation Day, which was avidly celebrated in New York until about 100 years ago, and pressed the City Council to coname Bowling Green in its honor. But YEAR IN REVIEW Continued on page 4

The Perfect Bag for your City’s Bike Share Program Easily fits over the rack & expands the carry capacity by four times. INTRODUCTORY OFFER - 15% off + Free Shipping with promo code CNG1216 sWater Resistant s25 LB carry capacity s!DJUSTABLESTRAPSWITH HEAVYDUTYCLIPS s3ECURESTORACKWITH6ELCROSTRAPS s2EmECTIVELOGOANDTAPINGFOR INCREASEDVISIBILITY s#LIPONLIGHTFORNIGHTTIMESAFETY s%ASYFOLDUPDESIGNFORSTORAGE 16.5” w x 9.5” h x 11” d

urbybikebags.com 2

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017

Get Yours Today!

Photo courtesy of Arthur Piccolo

Downtown’s Councilmember Margaret Chin, center, beams in the Council chamber as she holds up the “Evacuation Day Plaza” sign just approved for Bowling Green, flanked by Lower Manhattan Historical Society co-founder James Kaplan on the left, and Bowling Green Association head Arthur Piccolo on the right. DowntownExpress.com


     !  #'  

(#/  ,(#,( ##0 %(##0

  !  " #$            

 ) ++  ) ++  ) ++  ) 11++ 6 ) )11

#&7#& 33 

  !  " '$  

//- > = 3&; 8 ? :%'    !  " *($  

3;'# (/ (#8    !  " (')  

.//8  3&% "%     - /   " $+  


%. 84-#,(#'  ,( #0  %(##0  30  $+  

#0/ 3& $39& -= -






* ) *+ 6 ) ++ 6 )  6 ) ++ * ) ++

3&' !'#  "#$ ! &3-! %&'(  33 3%' 


 & 3--- ( #

4#& 8 % 3##(  4 # 9%-3 3#  4 


  !  " '  " #*#  

#/ '  #/'#& #$   %&  


4%&5  '(%/

  !  " (*            

  /  !   0%0 "#$ 3&9! :%'   %&'(

) ++  


    !     #+  

* ) ++  )   )  * ) )+ *

) )+

%### ,(# #03#   ('. & 

% !  +(*  

#9 # #%/    !  #( ,

#'3#-3 #!%'   !  " (#(  


2%&'3& 4&  -3' 3. $ -   .       ()  

(#;3& ,(#-.  <#9% ('.  & 

   0 1    %2    " $$(  

, 9( ,3'(  #7 & & 

) 1+



December 29, 2016 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; January 13, 2017


YEAR IN REVIEW Continued from page 2

Council staffers initially refused to put Evacuation Day Plaza on the list of co-namings to be approved earlier this year, but in the face of local outrage, they relented.

CHOPPER DEAL The city worked out a deal with helicopter tourism operators in February that slashed by half the number of flights out of Downtown’s Pier 6, but guaranteed the industry’s survival, miffing residents and elected officials who sought to outlaw the choppers entirely. The deal, which was formalized over the summer in a new concession agreement and is expected to ground roughly

Photo by Jackson Chen

The city struck a deal in February to limit tourist helicopters operating from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, despite opposition from local residents and elected offi cials who wanted to shut down the industry entirely.

30,000 flights, was hammered out by the Economic Development Corporation in an effort to appease locals living around the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, who were subjected to some 59,000 flights in 2015. But the deal came as a disappointment to Downtowners such as 22-year Battery Park City resident John Dellaportas, who had hoped local lawmakers would kill the industry outright. “It’s a complete sellout by our elected officials,” Dellaportas said. “They promised us they were going to try to enact a complete ban, and instead behind our backs cut a deal with the helicopter industry.” Community Board 1 chimed in shortly after the deal was announced, passing a resolution that called on the city to cut off the industry after the new concession agreement runs out in 2018. Those Council members who had crusaded against the industry hailed the arrangement as a victory, while pledging to continue the fight to eliminate the heli-tourism industry eventually. “We have long called for a complete ban on nonessential tourist helicopters from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, and still support a full ban,” proclaimed a joint statement by pols including state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Congressman Jerrold Nadler,

Associated Press / Mark Lennihan

The $4-billion Oculus transit hub designed by Santiago Calatrava was under construction for more than a decade, but it still wasn’t quite done for scheduled opening in March.

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick.

EYE OPENING The long-awaited, $4-billion Oculus transit hub finally opened this year after more than a decade of construction, but it was a slow-motion process that didn’t finish until December.

It started with the softest of soft openings when the Port Authority welcomed the public into the vast, ribbed atrium designed by Santiago Calatrava in March, to meet its promised debut date, but only through one door, and with a conspicuous absence of fanfare. It was just as well, because the vaunted YEAR IN REVIEW Continued on page 11


December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017


A new connection with an old door Newly opened corridor linking E train to Oculus features haunting artifact from pre-9/11 station BY DENNIS LYNCH The Port Authority fi nally re-opened the travertine-floored entrance to the E train platform at the Oculus transit hub earlier this month after the agency shuttered it in 2005 to construct parts of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The corridor was part of the original World Trade Center concourse built in the 1970s. Unlike some other parts of the site, it survived the 9/11 attacks intact. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated it a historic area and the Port Authority deliberately sought to preserve much of it as it was, including the original travertine floors, wooden ramp, glass doors, and handrails. The Port Authority also left a somber reminder of the days following the 9/11 attacks — a cryptic spray-painted message on a glass door leading to the passage: an X-marked box with “MTF1 9 13” written next to it. The MTF1 stands for Massachusetts Task Force Force 1, a search-and-rescue team out of the Bay State that came to the WTC site following the attacks 15 years ago to help local emergency responders. A task force member painted that

on the door to mark that they had searched the corridor for survivors on Sept. 13, 2001. The X-marked box denotes that it was a dangerous area for rescuers, a Port Authority spokesperson said. The agency has set the door-turned-artifact behind a glass cover to protect it, along with a sign explaining its significance. The passageway connects to the Oculus at the northwest end of the hub and allows riders to transfer between the E train and the PATH train without heading above ground as they have during the transit hub’s decade-long construction. The Dec. 19 opening was the last major step in the completion of the WTC Transportation Hub, which now connects the PATH train to 11 subway lines via a concourse to the nearby Fulton Center station, as well as providing an underground passage to the Hudson River ferries docking at Battery Park City. The vintage corridor, built long before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is not currently handicapped accessible, and although the Port Authority says it will install a new accessible entrance in the future, it has not specified when.

Photo by Milo Hess

The cryptic markings on this door from the original station — preserved since the 9/11 attacks — shows the markings left by search-and-rescue teams as they scoured Ground Zero for survivors.











718.260.5500 • WWW.CITYTECH.CUNY.EDU/DIRECTADMISSIONS DowntownExpress.com


300 Jay Street, Downtown Brooklyn facebook.com/citytech • @citytechnews

www.citytech.cuny.edu December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017


Flipping the light fantastic Shifting, multicolored light show transforms Oculus interior into work of art BY DENNIS LYNCH This month the cavernous, angelically white Oculus has been transformed daily into a massive, multicolor art piece with the first-ever Oculus Holiday Lights installation running through the end of the year. More than six dozen upward-pointing lights hang some 30 feet above the building’s marble floors, bathing the upper expanse of Santiago Calatrava’s celebrated transit hub in 4.6 million lumens of slowly shifting hues. The designers, visual-light artists Susan Holland and Bentley Meeker, initially projected multi-colored geometric patterns, but decided to scrap the patterns in favor of single colors after a test run. They wanted to enhance and emphasize the Oculus’s grand architecture and felt a “radical attempt to transform any of the surfaces,” would distract from that, Holland said. “How could we respect the space but still shift the space?” she said. “After working through ideas of patterns, we decided a soft shift of color very gradually would speak to the elegance and grace of the building without distracting from it.” Holland likened the feelings she has in the Oculus to the feeling of standing “at the edge of a mountain.” “At one moment you feel tiny because the world is so enormous, but at the same time you feel enormous because of the landscape you’re seeing,” she said. “You feel tiny, because it feels kind of infinite, and at the same moment you kind of soar up and feel as big as the space and the lighting amplifies that.” The lights slowly shift through a pallet of red, orange, violet, fuchsia,

Photo by Dennis Lynch

magenta, blue, and violet, using a complex color mixing system to render seamless transitions. Creating these beautiful light displays has always been Meeker’s modus operandi.

Westfield / Bjorg Magnea

The colored lights can also be seen from the outside once the sun goes down.


Photo by Tony Falcone

Photo by Tony Falcone

Visual light artists Susan Holland and Bentley Meeker, originally experimented with using geometric patterns (top) in their Oculus Holiday Lights installation that runs through the end of the month, but decide to go with simple, slowly shifting color washes (below and right) that let the building’s architecture provide the texture.

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017

“I want people to be knocked out when they walk in and to want to sit there and watch this for however long,” he said. “For me, the quality of the light is most important, it’s totally the most important part of what I do, that really affects the experience.” Meeker called it the most challenging project of his life, but also one of the most rewarding — and one he would do again in a heartbeat. It’s the first installation of its kind at the Oculus, which opened over the summer, so Meeker and Holland worked from scratch without any idea of what they could realistically accomplish — or get away with — in the space. “I’m really proud of the way it looks,” he said. “I see people laying down with their camera’s pointing up in the middle of a train station. It’s really great, as someone who does things for private

Photo by Dennis Lynch

and corporate settings and for art installations on a fairly smaller scale. I don’t necessarily get that — no one is laying in the middle of 125th Street to look at the H in Harlem,” Meeker said, referring to one of his other projects. Looking up at a deep blue from the center of the Oculus, teenager Kansan Davin Harvey said it created a tranquil and calming atmosphere. From what she said, Holland and Meeker succeeded enhancing the Oculus’ capacious interior. “The art of architecture is the art of using space, I think it helps draw the eyes up. It makes it feel big,” she said. Some of the colors might conjure up thoughts of blue snowflakes, the red costume of Old Saint Nick, or the orange glow of a menorah, but the “Oculus Holiday Lights” installation doesn’t parOCULUS LIGHTS Continued on page 12



TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell


phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps 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.

Eating 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.

Reading 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.

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017



Courtesy of Councilmember Margaret Chin

The deed is done Mayor de Blasio, at center, signs a bill clamping down on the city’s handling of deed restrictions on Dec. 22, flanked by it main sponsors, Councilmember Margaret Chin, at left, and Borough President Gale Brewer, at right. The bill was their response to the controversial lifting of a deed restriction on former AIDS-patient nursing home Rivington House earlier this year, which allowed the Lower East Side building to be sold to a high-end condominium developer.


BROOKLYN The Community News Group is proud to introduce BROOKLYN PAPER RADIO. Join Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli and the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman every Thursday at 4:45 for an hour of talk on topics Brooklynites hold dear. Each show will feature instudio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.


Cops are hunting the scam artist who conned a 27-year-old woman out of $6,000 while she was working out a Broadway municipal building on Dec. 13. The victim told police that she was at work between Pine and Cedar Sts. at 11 a.m. when she got a call from a woman claiming to be a federal agent with the FBI, who demanded $6,000 in Target gift cards in lieu of arrest for providing bogus tax information. The victim then dutifully walked to a nearby pharmacy and purchased the small fortune worth of gift cards for the big-box department store, cops said. It was only later that the victim called the IRS and discovered she’d been scammed, according to police.

RETURN POLICY Three crooks tried to steal more than $1,000 worth of designer clothes from a Prince St. retailer on Dec. 12, but ultimately handed over their haul after an employee caught them red handed. An employee told police that he was inside the shop between Wooster and Greene Sts. at 1:30 p.m. when he spotted the suspects stuffing the clothes into a duffle bag before making for the exit. Fortunately, the worker cut them off, and the shoplifters sullenly handed back their ill-gotten merchandise, and then fled.

INSIDE JOB A thief cleaned out a woman’s jewelry box in her Murray St. apartment, taking home a small fortune in precious stones. The victim told police that the last time she saw her collection of gems and jewels was inside her home between Church St. and Broadway on Oct. 18, and that it wasn’t until Dec. 4 that she realized her nearly $11,000 collection of bling, including her diamond engagement ring, and numerous rings, earrings, and necklaces adorned with precious stones, had been stolen.

The thief could be any one of the numerous servants the victim had authorized to work unattended in her home, and detectives are keeping a close eye on the woman’s baby sitter and cleaning lady, according to police.

BAD BREAK Some crook looted a work van parked on Chambers St. on Dec. 13, nabbing a pricey stash of tools. The victim told police that his employee noticed a broken window on the vehicle where it was parked between Greenwich St. and W. Broadway at 8:10 am, when he peaked inside to discover that nearly $3,000 worth of gear had been grabbed.

FURRY FIENDS Cops busted two men for allegedly nabbing a fur coat from a Wooster St. fashion boutique on Dec. 9. An employee told police that the suspects were inside the shop between Prince and W. Houston Sts. at 5:30 p.m., when they were spotted nabbing the $2,150 coat and fleeing.

WATCH OUT A crook stole a watch worth more than $9,600 from inside a Liberty St. gym on Dec. 5. The victim told police that he’d placed his ritzy Navitimer watch inside a locker at the gym near West St. at 6:55 p.m., and returned after his hour-long workout to discover his locker had been opened and the watch stolen.

LOST LEATHER A thief with an eye for fashion stole a woman’s leather jacket worth a whopping $4,990 from a Sixth Ave. nightclub on Nov. 23. The victim told police that she’d stashed her jacket behind where she was sitting inside the watering hole between Walker and White Sts. at 10 p.m., but realized about an hour later that some crook had made off with it. — Colin Mixson





LISTEN EVERY THURSDAY AT 4:45PM ON BrooklynPaper.com/radio 8

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017

Transit Sam is on vacation until Jan. 14, but please note that alternate-side parking rules are suspended on Monday, Jan. 2 in observance of New Years Day


Drain the Trump Virtual flood swamps the Trump Building in protest of president-elect’s cabinet picks BY COLIN MIXSON Activists from the Sierra Club environmental group projected images and phrases on the façade of Donald Trump’s 40 Wall St. skyscraper earlier this month to protest the small army of climate-change deniers the presidentelect has nominated for cabinet positions and agency heads in his new administration. In particular, the light show singled out Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma attorney general and outspoken climate-change denier Scott Pruitt, who has made a career out of suing the very agency he’s now poised to lead, according to the Sierra Club’s head honcho. “Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. The group used a projector to light up the Trump Building’s façade with an image of rising flood waters swamping the Downtown property — a scenario growing ever more likely without drastic action to slow climate change, according to recent research, as fast-melting icecaps raise sea levels and warmer oceans drive Atlantic hurricanes further north toward Manhattan. The Sierra Club demonstrators, working with NYC-based activist The Illuminator, also projected phrases such as “Trump and Pruitt taking the ‘EP’ out of EPA,” and “Don’t let Pruitt Trump the planet,” onto neighboring buildings. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA over its Clean Power Plan, a policy unveiled by the Obama Administration last year that’s aimed at reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions from electric power generation by 32 percent within 25 years. Pruitt once even compared a group of Democratic state attorney generals who joined together to fight climatechange deniers in the energy industry to colonial America’s British nemesis, King George III, saying of their efforts, “Few things could be more un-American.” The president-elect is himself an outspoken skeptic of climate science, tellDowntownExpress.com

The Sierra Club / The Illuminator

(Above) Climate-change activists set up a projector outside the Trump Building earlier this month to show rising waters flooding the 40 Wall St. property. (Right) The Dec. 13 demonstration by the Sierra Club and NYC-based activist The Illuminator was in response to Trump’s naming Oklahoma Attorney General and outspoken climate-change denier Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

ing Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace, “Nobody really knows. I’m somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows.” Ironically, using Trump’s Downtown property to highlight the growing risk of rising flood levels may in fact be doing the Sierra Club’s climate-change nemesis a favor — as sea levels rise, the Trump Building may indeed be inundated. Storms like Hurricane Sandy, which submerged parts of Lower Manhattan in several feet of water in 2012, will become ever more common over the next century, with 9-foot floods becoming anywhere between three to 17 times more likely, according to a report published in October by scientists at Princeton and Rutgers universities, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In March, the New Jersey-based nonfor-profit Climate Central unveiled a report that detailed how the increased flooding that occurred around The Battery over the past several years was a result of man-made sea-level rises. “When a street floods with saltwater,

and you can’t drive home, or you have to sandbag your store, human instinct looks for the nearby cause: it was a very high tide, or a strong wind blew from the wrong direction,” said Benjamin Strauss, vice president for sea level and climate impacts at Climate Central. “But what if the tide or the wind were not enough to tip the balance? What if the waters would not have crossed the last lip, the critical threshold, without a few inches of boost?” Along with storms, the next century will be characterized by unprecedented rise in sea-levels that is projected to swallow 1.9 million US homes valued at $882 billion by 2100, according to realestate database company Zillow. Regionally, sea-levels are expected to rise by a foot over the next fifteen years, routinely inundating sixty-square miles of land throughout the tri-state area — including parts of Downtown if the neighborhood doesn’t get additional flood-proofing infrastructure — according to a report by the Regional Plan Association unveiled earlier this month.

The Sierra Club hopes that its light show will galvanize support among Trump’s opposition and pressure the president-elect into enacting policies that prevent the doomsday scenario predicted by scientists, and vowed to step up its opposition if he continues on his current path, Brune said. “Trump must choose whether he will go down in history as the person who put our planet back on a path to climate disaster while destroying relationships with nations around the globe, or whether he will accelerate the progress we have made to tackle this crisis and build on the booming clean energy economy,” said Brune. “If Trump keeps choosing to drag us backwards to the dirty energy of the past, he will find unfettered opposition every step of the way.”

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017


AWOL-KWARD! Former CB1 chairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s absenteeism could lead to removal from board BY COLIN MIXSON Former Community Board 1 chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes has failed to attend any full board meetings since stepping down as the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leader earlier this year, placing the long-time civic leader in violation of the bylaws â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and her fellow board members in an awkward position. Following the removal of another board member for poor attendance in October, the boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new leadership faces potentially having to take steps to remove Hughes, who for four years dedicated herself to public service as leader of one of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most influential community boards. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is a ticklish situation,â&#x20AC;? said Paul Hovitz, who serves as vice chairman of CB1. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For years, Catherine devoted herself to nothing else but CB1, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really odd for us as leaders of the board to be put in this situation to have to ask the borough president to remove her.â&#x20AC;?

The CB1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bylaws state that any member may be removed who misses three consecutive full board meetings, or more than four meetings in a single year. Those rules were cited in October when the board voted to give the boot to former member Elizabeth Avila â&#x20AC;&#x201D; who failed to attend 13 out of 15 full board meetings over the last two years. But Avilaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s removal from the board raised the specter of Hughesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s conspicuous absence from the four board meetings since Anthony Notaro replaced her as chair in June, and the new board leader has been trying to cajole his predecessor into giving him an answer as to whether she plans on continuing as a member of the board or if sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather bid farewell to her former fief, he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been very closeted about what sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s doing now and what her future is going to be,â&#x20AC;? Notaro said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She has such a wealth of knowledge, and energy, it

would be a shame for her to not participate. But I understand if thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what she wants to do.â&#x20AC;? Hughes told Downtown Express that her absence from board meetings is largely the result of a much-needed vacation following years of dedicating herself to the community, which included a six-year stint as CB1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vice chair before ascending to the top job, which she held for four years. She said that during her time off, she has focused on other issues a little closer to home. â&#x20AC;&#x153;After the years spent volunteering on rebuilding our community after 9/11, the 2008 collapse, and Superstorm Sandy, I took a little time to focus on family priorities,â&#x20AC;? said Hughes. Despite missing several meetings, Hughes said she has continued to dedicate herself to causes that she feels strongly about â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Downtown storm resiliency in particular â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s continued to participate with CB1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s


Courtesy of Catherine McVay Hughes

Former Community Board 1 chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes is causing angst among her fellow board members for failing to attend any of the last four CB1 meetings since stepping down in June. The panelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bylaws stipulate that any member who misses three consecutive meetings may be removed from the board.

Resiliency Task Force, in addition to exploring solutions for keeping Lower Manhattan dry in the event of another Superstorm Sandy. AWOL Continued on page 17


Please join us as we discussâ&#x20AC;Ś

  January 10 at 10:00 AM

$,&,$#$&(($ "+,,% ,$-!)*'!

RSVP at (212) 867-3520 or by e-mail at mbiggart@burnerlaw.com


December 29, 2016 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; January 13, 2017


YEAR IN REVIEW Continued from page 4

“transit hub” was only connected to one train line — the PATH. Nearly three months later, the concourse linking the Oculus to the 11 subway lines that converge at the Fulton Center station was finally opened with a grand back-patting ceremony in late May, but the dozens of retailers slated to fill the complex still weren’t yet ready to open. It wasn’t until August that the Westfield WTC shopping center made its debut, and even then some retailers were struggling with finishing touches on opening day and some storefronts were still empty. Finally, in late December, the Port Authority opened the concourse linking the E train to the Oculus, incorporating elements from the original pre-9/11 station.

LMDC PAYS OUT DEUTSCHE BANK DOUGH The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation — a joint city and state agency created to manage reconstruction after 9/11 — paid out $50 million in March to help fund 14 projects around Lower Manhattan with money from a settlement paid by a contractor responsible for the catastrophic fire at the Deutsche Bank building that killed two firefighters almost a decade ago. Half of that money was split between improvement projects at the East River Esplanade and Hudson River Park. The former received $15 million for paving and other improvements, including new railings and furnishings to open some beach access near the Brooklyn Bridge. Hudson River Park received $10 million to complete work around Pier 26 and make other improvements. Other recipients included the South Street Seaport Museum, the Flea Theater, the Battery Conservancy, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Manhattan Youth, the Downtown Alliance, and the Downtown Boathouse. The LMDC doled out the funds partially based on public input and the help of a working group of state, city, and local officials.

CBI CHAIR STEPS DOWN Downtown’s designated band of civic do-gooders, Community Board 1, came under new management this year after former chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes suddenly announced in April that she woundn’t seek a third term as leader, though she said she intended to remain on the board. CB1 chairs typically serve for three two-year terms, so her decision came as a surprise to the rest of the board. DowntownExpress.com

Hughes’s impending departure created a power vacuum that led to a shortlived leadership struggle between longtime board members Paul Hovitz and Anthony Notaro, and the pannel braced for the first contested chairmanship race in three consecutive elections. Hovitz himself declared his intention to run as mostly a desire to provide some sense of a contest, saying, “I think that nobody should really run unopposed — unless they’re John F. Kennedy, or someone like that.” But those words only served to make it all the more peculiar when Hovitz dropped out of the race in May, and instead announced his candidacy for vice chair of the board with Notaro’s endorsement, essentially joining forces with his former rival. Both Notaro and Hovitz went on to victory in June, while Tammy Meltzer took over as secretary from Adam Malitz, who remains on the board. Both Joel Kopel and Dennis Gault held on to their offices of treasurer and assistant secretary, respectively.

2014 conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on similar corruption charges could lead to a new trial for Silver, who remains a free man.

OVAL OPENS Following two years of renovations, the Battery Conservancy cut the ribbon in June at Battery Park’s new aptly named two-acre lawn, the Battery Oval. The Battery Conservancy celebrated the Oval’s opening with a fair featuring 90 “small batch” food and crafts vendors. The Oval is just that — an elongated circle of green space for locals and tourists to enjoy at The Battery. It sits at the center of the park at the meeting point of Battery Pl. and State St. Its open space provides plenty of room for sunbathing and its 38 trees offer plenty of shade. The lawn is pristine Kentucky Blue Grass that the conservancy picked for its hardiness. No noxious chemicals would be needed to keep the Oval green and attractive under the feet of thousands of visitors, the conservancy said, making the Oval decidedly pet- and child-friendly. The Battery Conservancy held a twoyear-long design competition for moveable outdoor chairs specifically for the Oval. Out of 679 designs, the Parks Department and Conservancy chose Canadian designer Andrew Jones’ flower-inspired Fleurt chair.

Commission in April, and the City Council gave the plan its seal of approval in June, seemingly putting an end to the whole torrid saga. But then Crain’s came along and rained on the developer’s parade in October, when the publication reported that developers looking to build out Water St., which is located in a designated flood zone, would be required to erect shops able to withstand 12-feet of sudden sea rise, which would necessitate all manner of expensive safety improvements.

Photo courtesy of Travis Maclean

Upper West Side resident Olga Cook was struck and killed in June by a hit-and-run driver while biking across Chambers St. along the Hudson River Greenway, which runs alongside the West Side Highway. Her tragic death spurred safety improvements at the notorious intersection.


SILVER SENTENCED In May, disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his 2015 conviction on seven counts of corruption, including extortion, honest-services fraud and money laundering. Judge Valerie E. Caproni characterized Silver as a “scheming politician,” and said she imposed the harsh sentence on the 72-year-old Democrat because she wanted to strike fear into the hearts of other politicians by making it clear that “they could spend their golden years in an orange jumpsuit.” Caproni ordered Silver to turn himself in to authorities by noon on July 1, but his lawyers were able to keep him out of the big house while he appeals his conviction, which legal eagles say he has a good chance of seeing overturned. A unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturning the

A controversial scheme to hand over two football fields worth of public space along Water St. to landlords for retail use was approved by the City Council, only for Crain’s to report that federal flood regulations may make development there prohibitively expensive. The covered walkways — also called pedestrian arcades — were concessions made to the city in the 1960s through the 1980s by developers that allowed them to build higher than zoning rules allowed. The arcades were meant to give pedestrians an alfresco roof in the event of inclement weather, but the Downtown Alliance panned the spaces as unattractive, uninviting, and underutilized, and said that converting the arcades to retail space would make Water St. more inviting. The plan was condemned by members of Community Board 1 in February, who saw the plan as a gratuitous giveaway to landlords, and complained that a shady push-poll sponsored by the Alliance was trying to concoct a false impression of public support. Nonetheless, the scheme was duly approved by the City Planning

HIT-AND-RUN HITS A NERVE An alleged hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of Upper West Side bicyclist Olga Cook in Battery Park City in June led to long-overdue safety improvements along West St. in Lower Manhattan. When 26-year-old Samuel Silva took a right turn onto Chambers Street from a southbound West St. lane, he allegedly collided with Cook as she headed north across Chambers St. along the Hudson River Greenway. Witnesses said he then sped off, only to be found three blocks away by an off-duty MTA police officer. Prosecutors tried to prod Silva into accepting a plea deal, but he’s so far refused, and his case will be heading into trial on Jan. 25. As Silva’s fate hangs in the balance, the city has already added safety improvements — including new signal phases, additional bollards, and high-visibility crosswalk paint — to the accident-plagued intersection which has seen 17 crashes over the past five years, according to Greg Haas, a city planner for the Department of Transportation. YEAR IN REVIEW Continued on page 12

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017


Photo by Catherine McVay Hughes

The one-acre Liberty Park in the heart of Downtown includes 19 planters filled with more than 50 trees, as well as shrubs and perennial flowers, offering visitors an escape from the frenetic bustle of Lower Manhattan life. YEAR IN REVIEW Continued from page 11

Similar safety improvements are expected to be installed at West St. intersection south of Chambers Street come Spring 2017.

LIBERTY PARK OPENS Liberty Park opened in June to give locals a long-awaited splash of green 25-feet up atop the 9/11 Memorial’s Vehicle Security Center. The $50-million plaza connects to the Liberty St. pedestrian bridge — which reopened the same day — offering an elevated connection over busy West St. to high-end shopping of Brookfield Place in Battery Park City. A 336-foot-long vertical garden dubbed the “Living Wall” running up the side of the bus garage features 22,000 plants growing out of the northern façade along Liberty St. Up top, the park includes 19 planters stocked with trees, shrubs, and perennial flowers, along with a sapling grown from the original horse chestnut tree in Amsterdam that inspired Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis. The park was hailed as a great success by locals, many of whom were merely happy that the space was put to use as an amenity for locals — not a park-

ing lot, according to then Community Board 1 chairwoman Catherine McVay Hughes. “It was almost just going to be the top of another garage,” Hughes said. “And with community input, it has become a wonderful green space. We’re very grateful to have this here.”

EATALY OPENS The opening of gourmet food market Eataly at 4 World Trade Center in August was the highlight of the year

File photo by Milo Hess

Celebrity chef and Eataly partner Mario Batali couldn’t resist snarfing down a snack at the high-end food mall’s preview event on Aug. 2.

for Downtown Foodies. The 40,000-square-foot Tuscan food Mecca of restaurants, markets, and food counters created by celebrity chef Mario Batali and his partners was a sorely needed amenity for Downtown residents who had long lamented a lack of culinary options in the fast-growing neighborhood. Eataly partner Joe Bastianich said that Downtowners have as much to offer the trendy market as Eataly offers them. “When Nicola Farinetti opened Eataly Flatiron in 2010, it changed the neighborhood and Manhattan,” Bastianich said. “As Eataly opens Downtown, the opposite will happen, and the store will evolve as part of the rejuvenation of this part of the City.”

SQUIRRELED AWAY Dowtown Express blew the lid of the mysterious disappearance of Battery Park City’s squirrels this summer. Squirrel populations in the waterfront neighborhood plummeted in 2016, according to locals, who claimed that the bushy-tailed nut hoarders had all but vanished. Anecdotal accounts of the squirrels’ sudden disappearance abounded, but the closest thing to an official survey of the local rodents came from Ira “The Squirrel Man” Rosen, an elderly Chelsea resident accustomed to feeding squirrels at the neighborhood’ Pump House Park on a near-daily basis. He claimed there were nine squirrels living there at the beginning of the year, but that the population had dwindled to just two by August. Many theories were floated to explain the sudden squirrel exodus, including that Hurricane Sandy had driven them away and that poisoned mousetraps installed around the Brookfield Shopping Center had all but wiped them out. The most likely theory, however, came from the chief agriculturist of the The Battery, a nearby greenspace, who

OCULUS LIGHTS Continued from page 6

ticularly scream “holiday” — but that was the plan, according to the artists. They didn’t choose the colors to represent any traditional holiday symbols and Westfield didn’t specifically ask for that either. If it weren’t for the wreaths hanging on the balconies underneath the lights, you wouldn’t be able to tell what time of the year it is. Holland said they wanted to create something “secular in the best sense of the word,” and focused on the “thoughts and feelings” of the holidays


December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017

said that the newly renovated public park just south of BPC was lousy with squirrels now that years of construction had come to an end, and suggested that the neighborhood’s squirrel population had likely just moved down to the greener pastures. Regardless, locals lamented the absence of their furry, tree-climbing friends, whose presence, they agreed, was much preferable to their absence. “Just trees don’t make a park, or grass or flowers,” Rosen said. “Then you’d call Macy’s a park when they do the flower show. For me, a park needs animals. Any place without animals, it’s too quiet, it’s too dead, there’s no life.”

Photo by Milo Hess

The Wavertree returned to the South Street Seaport Museum’s Street of Ships on Sept. 24 after a 17-month, $13-million, city-funded restoration in Staten Island.

PEKING DUCKS OUT, WAVERTREE RETURNS The century-old, four-masted barque Peking set sail for Germany in September after 40 years at the Seaport. Its final voyage took it to the maritime museum of Hamburg, the city where it was built in 1911. She was saved from the scrap heap by the South Street YEAR IN REVIEW Continued on page 13

rather than their traditional material representations. “I think that part of what we recognize about the holidays, the same with birthdays, is that it’s a time to pause and look at things differently,” she said. “Thinking outside yourself has to do with the holidays. Of course, lights don’t make you think of others, but it makes you stop and look at something bigger than yourself.” The Oculus Holiday Lights are on from 3:30 pm to 11:30 pm through December 31. DowntownExpress.com

RIP: Who Downtown lost in 2016 BY BILL EGBERT Downtown lost several prominent figures in 2016, starting with David Bowie in January. Fans flocked to Soho when the news broke and turned Bowie’s Lafayette St. home into an impromptu shrine, healing the sidewalk with flowers, candles, photos, and heartfelt notes. Bowie was a devoted denizen of Downtown since 1999, and headlined the May 2002 concert in Battery Park City that was part of the inaugural Tribeca Film Festival aimed at drawing people back to Lower Manhattan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. In March, the historic Seaport district lost a tireless advocate when Peter Stanford, the founding president of the South Street Seaport Museum, died at the age of 89. Stanford and his wife Norma created a preservation group called Friends of South Street in 1966, and founded the museum the next year, leading the institution for nearly a decade. It was under his watch that the museum’s last remaining tall ship, the Wavertree, came to the Seaport, and he returned to the Seaport in 2015 to see it off when the historic ship set sail for Staten Island for a $13-million, cityfunded restoration. A longtime leader of the Downtown Alliance, Bill Bernstein, passed away in late May after serving the Lower Manhattan business improvement district for nearly 20 years. Bernstein joined the Downtown Alliance in 1997 and as chief operating officer and chief financial officer of the group — as well as its acting president on three occasions — he helped guide the BID through some of the most turbulent times in Lower Manhattan’s history, including the aftermath of the

Photo by Nelson M. Chin

File photo by Tequila Minsky

Offerings piled up outside David Bowie’s Lafayette St. home after news of his death broke in January.

9/11 attacks, the 2008 Financial Crisis and, most recently, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Legendary punk-rock pioneer Alan Vega died peacefully in his Fidi home at age 78 in July. The co-founder of the proto-punk act “Suicide,” who once dodged an axe hurled from the audience during a performance in Scotland, mixed elements of what would come to be known as punk and electronic music, and introduced them into the mainstream through eccentric and sometimes violent performances which were billed on the first fliers to declare the new genre “punk music.” Vega eventually settled into a much quieter life in the Financial District with his wife Elizabeth Lamere and son Dante,

YEAR IN REVIEW Continued from page 12

Seaport Museum in 1974, but spiralling maintenance costs forced the cash-strapped institution for find the Peking a new home. But the Seaport didn’t have to go long without a tall ship at the dock, because later that month the museum’s flagship, the Wavertree, returned to the Seaport after a 17-month, $13-million restoration. The 131-year old, wrought-iron ship — the last of its kind in the world — first came to the South Street Seaport Museum in 1968, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

VIKINGS RAID NORTH COVE Lower Manhattan welcomed a curious band of mostly bearded and unshowered sailors in September DowntownExpress.com

whom he would accompany to local little league games — dressed head-totoe in black, of course. Earlier this month, the Downtown Alliance lost another formative figure when its founding chairman, Robert Douglass, passed away on Dec. 6 at 85. As a close aid to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Douglass helped lay the groundwork for the creation of Battery Park City, as well as helping David Rockefeller’s Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association launch the revitalization of Downtown, before helping to found the Downtown Alliance, and leading it from its inception in 1995 through 2015 — a career that earned him the monicker “Mr. Downtown.”

when the world’s largest Viking longship, the Draken Harald Hårfagre, landed at North Cove Marina after a five-week trip across the Atlantic and a summer sailing the rivers and lakes of North America. The three dozen sailors were greeted by a crowd of more than 100 Norsephiles when they pulled into a berth at the marina, many of them Scandinavianblooded New Yorkers swelling with pride at the accomplishments of their distant cousins. “Its just a beautiful ship,” said Lori Bentzen, who came in from Queens. “It’s like our ancestors did years and years ago, and they’re still doing it to honor their history. It’s beautiful.” The Draken Harald Hårfagre was commissioned by Norwegian energy tycoon Sigurd Aase. Aase tasked YEAR IN REVIEW Continued on page 14

Peter Stanford (above), founder of the South Street Seaport Museum, died on Mar. 24, aged 89. On Dec. 6, Robert Douglass (below), founding chairman of the Alliance for Downtown New York, died at 85.

Downtown Alliance

Getty / Thos Robinson

Even though it’s billed as “The World’s Largest Viking Ship,” the mast of Draken Harald Harfagre still can’t compare to the mast atop One World Trade Center.

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017


building will be 26 floors and built on the site of the old Syms clothing store at 77 Greenwich St. The lower floors will host the much-anticipated 476-seat school above ground-floor retail.

YEAR IN REVIEW Continued from page 13

his country’s best traditional shipbuilders to construct the ship using oldfashioned tools and methods available to their Viking ancestors. They based the design largely on archaeological sources and Viking literature, making the Draken the closest copy of actual Viking ships that exists today. Once back on solid ground, the seafarers said they were just happy to get a hot shower, do some laundry, and lay their heads on a real bed — not to mention get in some much needed R&R in the world’s greatest city.

A NIOU ERA In the November election, Democrat Yuh-Line Niou easily won the seat once held by disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, having defeated incumbent Alice Cancel and four other challengers in the September primary. A native of Taiwan, Niou will become the first Asian-American ever to represent 65th Assembly District, which covers Chinatown as well as Downtown and the Lower East Side. The former chief of staff of Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim fought hard for the seat, running against Cancel on the Working Families Party line after the local Democratic party tapped Cancel, a longtime Silver Ally, to run in the April 19 special election.

ON TARGET Target opened its first store south of Harlem on Greenwich St. in Tribeca in October, and has been a hit with shoppers from as far away as the Bronx. One shopper at the grand opening told our reporter on the scene that she’ll never again schlep to New Jersey or Brooklyn to do her bulk shopping. The store is one of the first of Target’s “flexible” small-format stores meant to cater to cosmopolitan crowds. The bigbox retailer fills out 45,000 square feet on the ground and second floor of a 13-story office tower — roughly a third of the size of its traditional suburban locations. Target slashed the automotive department, but added an organic grocery section, a Chobani-brand café, and millennial-focused fashion and cosmetics items. One shopper said the store was surprisingly roomy and that its aisles were wide enough to accommodate local stroller-pushing parents. But not everyone is happy about the nation’s second largest discount retail store opening up in their ’hood. A nearby jewelry store retailer said on opening day that “Target is not good anywhere,” and that it was meant “for remote cities,” not New York.

File photo by Milo Hess

Bullseye, Target’s face-painted bull terrier mascot was on his best behavior as he greeted shoppers when the discount retailer opened its new Tribeca location in October.




The 500-foot luxury condominium tower Trinity Place Holdings plans to at the site of the former Syms clothing store at 42 Trinity Pl. will host a 476-seat elementary school when it is completed in 2019.

NEW SCHOOL, BUT NO ‘GYMNATORIUM’ Downtown education advocates scored a major win this year when the Department of Education quietly announced to the Lower Manhattan School Overcrowding Task Force that it was dropping the “gymnatorium” — in which a gymnasium and auditorium are combined to save space — after locals blasted the policy during the design phase of the future Trinity Place School. Local parents, educators, and advocates had soured on the gymnatorium model after the combo room at the recently built Peck Slip School failed to provide adequate space for either function. The Trinity Place school will now have both a separate gym and a “multipurpose” room with a stage. “A gymnatorium is neither fish nor fowl. You can’t run great gym programs in there, and the plays are also half-baked,” said Bob Townley, founder of after-school-activity provider Manhattan Youth. “Between scheduling and layout, it just doesn’t make sense in a city like ours.” The church-owned Trinity Place

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017

After months of pressure from residents and elected officials, the Battery Park City Authority finally relented in October and voted to allow public comment at its monthly board meetings, starting in December. The decision came amid a series of scuffles between the BPCA board and residents over the authority’s apparent disinterest in input from denizens of the state-run community. Most controversial was a authority proposal to overhaul parts of South End Ave. based on plans drawn up by an outside con-

File photo by Tequila Minsky

Yuh-Line Niou was all smiles after winning the September Democratic primary for the 65th Assembly District, virtually assuring her eventual victory in November.

sultant with virtually no community input. Outspoken residents were cautiously optimistic about the sudden about-face in policy but the first public comment session at its December board meeting was somewhat contentious. The very first speaker went over her allotted twominute time limit and was cut off by board chairman Dennis Mehiel, who asked her to submit further comments in writing, much to her disapproval. Critics of the authority still want more local representation on the board — they’ve pushed Gov, Cuomo, who appoints the members of the board, to tap BPC residents for two open board seats in the hope it would better align the board’s decision-making with the desires of the community. — Bill Egbert, Dennis Lynch, and Colin Mixson

Photo by Bill Egbert

The first member of the public ever allowed to comment at a BPCA board meeting, a Cove Club resident who identified herself as “Jeanette,” got into an argument with chairman Dennis Mehiel over the strict two-minute time limit. Seated are the other two residents who spoke at the Dec. 7 meeting, Tammy Meltzer, at right, and Justine Cucca.


Ruminations on Nominations: Trump’s Cabinet of Deplorables BY MAX BURBANK Do we really need to “wait and see” what Donald Trump will be like in office? Not unless we assume he’s been punking us all along. Despite having time to visit with Kanye, fi x his desperate ego jones every day or so with a quick Nuremberg-style “thank you” rally, and get all swoony over the near-certainty that Putin will invite him to the Senior Prom, Trump felt he had to cancel a press conference addressing his conflict of interest plan on account of how super-busy he is with the transition. So let’s look at that. It seems like the people a president-elect nominates for his cabinet could be a pretty good indication of how he might govern. Steven Mnuchin, Treasury: This former Goldman Sachs partner is the kind of prehistoric, monster-size big fish you fi nd when you “Drain The Swamp.” Just speaking to guys like this made Clinton “unfit” to be president! Trump’s top fundraiser, Mnuchin personally contributed $430,000 to Trump and the RNC’s joint fundraising account. “Bribe” is a nasty word. “Purchase” might be better. Linda McMahon, Small Business Administration: Because what says “small business” like being CEO of the WWE? Sure, she’s a chick and that’s bad, but she ran a business based on passionately

insisting something totally fake is real. What could be better preparation? It’s like Trump school. Or, you know, Trump University. Wilbur Ross, Commerce: Billionaire investor, banker, rumored to be the “Grand Swipe” of Kappa Beta Phi — a Wall Street secret society of the sort that calls their leader “Grand Swipe.” And no, for the record, I did not make that up. Scott Pruitt, EPA: Knows a lot about the Environmental Protection Agency ’cause he’s SUING IT! A climate change denier, he once wrote of global warming, “The debate is far from settled” — presumably because he does not know what the words “debate” and “settled” mean. Trump chose Pruitt for EPA when he found out he could not name Cruella de Vil for Secretary of Puppies. DowntownExpress.com

Ben Carson, Housing and Urban Development: A former presidential candidate Trump once implied was a child molester, Carson turned down Health and Education, saying he “had no government experience.” But he’s a perfect choice for HUD, though, ’cause he’s like…urban, right? And presumably, at some point, he lived in a house. James Mattis, Defense: Hasn’t been

Andrew Puzder, Labor: This fast food CEO hates labor protections and the minimum wage, loves automation for it’s back-sass-free non-uppityness, and is very close to being named “A. Putz.” Nominated by Trump when he found out he could not nominate King Joffrey to be Secretary of Ned Stark. Elaine Chao, Transportation: Sure she’s married to Mitch “Yertle the

Perry, who once called Trump “a cancer on conservatism,” enthusiastically embraced his appointment, presumably because he’s strongly pro-cancer. Betsy DeVos, Education: Your kid’s English teacher probably has a master’s degree. Many high school principals have a PhD, and most states require one for Superintendent of Schools. Betsy DeVos holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, never went to public school, doesn’t send her kids to public school, and has never taught anything because she’s a full-time lobbyist and fundraiser. File this one under #DrainTheSwamp or #FindTheBiggestLeeches. Rex Tillerson, State: What you fi nd squirming around the rim of the plughole once the swamp is entirely drained. Chairman and Chief Executive of ExxonMobil, a company with billions of dollars in oil contracts with Russia, which can only go forward if we lift sanctions against them — so no problems there. He received the Russian Order of Friendship directly from Putin, a medal denoting that he and Tillerson are “just friends,” so Trump doesn’t need to be “jealous” but shouldn’t totally “rule out” some sort of “three-way thing” involving “shirtless stallion riding.” Michael Flynn, National

Image by Herb Rich

out of the military long enough to be legally eligible, but so what? Trump has a boner for generals left over from his days in a fancy schmancy military prep school. Also, Mattis’ nickname is “Mad Dog.” There’s probably a lot more to know about him, but that was more than enough for Trump. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General: If the middle name “Beauregard” doesn’t immediately suggest southern-fried racism, he once said he thought the KKK was “okay, until I found out they smoked pot.” In 1986 the senate found him too racist to be a federal judge — but Trump claims to be the least racist person you’ve ever met, so people he nominates can’t be racists. It’s just logic.

Turtle” McConnell, but she’s also qualified, educated, female, and Asian. What gives? Trump just got “One of These Things is Not Like the Others” stuck in his head. Rick Perry, Energy: The last two Secretaries of Energy have been the head of the department of physics at MIT and a Nobel Prize winner. Perry holds a BA in Animal Science from Texas A&M. Last time he ran for president, he wanted to eliminate the agency he’s now nominated to run, but couldn’t remember its name. In the plus column, he came in second-to-last on “Dancing with the Stars,” a performance almost good enough to make up for his having been Governor of Texas.

Security Adviser: Nazi, cyborg, frequent UFO abductee, current owner of the Spear of Destiny, married to a brace of Latvian sister-wives all under the age of 12: These are the kind of fake news items Flynn indiscriminately wolfs down like a starving mongrel eating its own vomit. Bonus points! NSA is by appointment, so does not need congressional approval. Stephen K. Bannon, Senior Counselor, Chief Strategist: This Decepticon transforms at will from a bloated alcoholic anti-Semite into a high-tech white supremacist bullhorn. Also the main reason you don’t need to “wait and see” anything about a Trump presidency unless you are currently blind.

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017



A great year (for helicopter parents) PUBLISHER

Jennifer Goodstein EDITOR


Colin Mixon Dennis Lynch ARTS EDITOR



Jack Agliata Allison Greaker Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco ART DIRECTOR



Milo Hess Jefferson Siegel PUBLISHER EMERITUS

John W. Sutter


NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC ONE METROTECH CENTER NEW YORK, NY 11201 PHONE: (212) 229-1890 FAX: (212) 229-2790 WWW.DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM NEWS@DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM Downtown Express is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech Center North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201 (212) 229-1890. The entire contents of the newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2016 Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

Member of the New York Press Association Member of the National Newspaper Association

© 2016 Community Media, LLC


BY LENORE SKENAZY It was the year of Pokemon Panic — any toy that gets kids outside must be stopped! — and the year a Florida school cancelled its “Powder Puff” allgirl football game, suggesting the girls bob for apples instead. It was the year that we saw the first academic study of bouncy house temperatures — ”something that no one had really examined in the published literature,” according to one of the researchers. Imagine that. But in all, it was a particularly great year for busybodies. A video of a man screaming at a woman who popped into the gas station while her kid waited in the car went viral — who could resist mom-shaming like that? — as did a video of parents getting their food at a buffet while their baby waited at the table. Why, that child could have vaporized while they got their spareribs! Cops asked one mom to leave a football game because onlookers thought her baby looked cold, while another mom’s kids were ordered to undergo a physical because she let them wait in the minivan while she got a Starbucks — an errand that took three whole minutes. And my friend Julie Gunlock, a writer in D.C., got chewed out by an FBI agent for running in to get a rotisserie chicken while her boys, 9, 7 and 5, waited in the car. She certainly is Public Enemy #1. And then there were these stories: 1) The police chief of New Albany, Ohio, helpfully revealed the age that kids are old enough to start going outside on their own: 16. “I think that’s the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom.” 2) Local television news in Fargo,

North Dakota, reported that a mom “felt scared” at the grocery because she kept running into the same couple in several aisles, “And when I went to the checkout they were right there.” Yep. 3) Kids at the Learning Collaborative, a pre-school in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, were not allowed to play on their new swings because the grass and dirt underneath are “too dangerous.” First the school must raise $1,100 to replace the grass with six-inch-deep mulch. 4) The Beaverton, Oregon, library will not allow children under 10 on the premises unless “within sightlines of parents” at all times. If an “adultresponsible caregiver cannot be located within five minutes, library staff will call the Beaverton Police Department.” 5) A 14-year-old Iowa girl, “Nancy Doe,” took two racy pictures of herself — one in a sports bra and boy shorts, one braless, but with her hair covering her breasts — and texted them to a boy. A few weeks later, she was accused of sexual exploitation of a minor: herself. 6) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised all women who are not on birth control not to drink any alcohol until they reach menopause. Explained Princeton sociologist Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, “The idea is that any woman of reproductive age should be treated as potentially pregnant at all times.” 7) Rhode Island legislators intro-

duced a bill that would ban recess if temperatures drop below 32 degrees. 8) A dying, wheelchair-bound sex offender with Alzheimer’s must move out of the Boynton Beach, Florida, hospice he is in because it is too close to a pre-school. 9) Nine hundred middle school students in Grand Island, Nebraska, were evacuated when a staff member noticed an unfamiliar box in the band room. The state’s bomb squad was summoned to open it, and discovered it held what some would indeed consider a threat to the community’s well-being: An accordion.* 10) And just three weeks ago a Long Island mom and dad shopping for Christmas lights at a Valley Stream Home Depot let their 4-year-old nap in the car. When they came out about 20 minutes later, they found firemen had smashed open the back passenger window to extricate the (perfectly fine, if startled) boy after someone had called 911 to report an “unconscious child.” A waiting ambulance then sped the tot and his mom to Cohen’s Children’s Hospital in Queens, while the dad was thrown in jail for five hours. That night when they all finally got home after 10, the doorbell rang at about midnight: Someone from child protective services was there to inspect their home. Now the dad is awaiting trial on charges of child endangerment. His court date is Valentine’s Day. Nice. May your year be saner and sweeter! *Okay, cheap joke. The accordion is actually my favorite instrument. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker, author of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, and a contributor at Reason.com.

Posted To THE LATKES DEBATE — TO SHRED OR GRATE? (DEC. 12, 2012) My mother’s family was RussianPolish, not Jewish, but very much latke-lovers. Grandma preferred to grate them by hand grater, fi nest grate (no food processors then), & mix in eggs, salt, pepper, flour–no onion–no baking powder–and bake in welloiled cast iron pan, in oven. Mom also eschewed onions & BP, basically same recipe, but dropped into hot oil on stove-top cast-iron pan. For years, I made basic fi ne-grated, or the other

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017

two larger grates on the grater, only salt & pepper, or occasionally added eggs & flour. I still enjoy the variations–3 levels of hand-grating (no food processor in my house) only seasoning, or egg & flour, or a bit of BP occasionally. Rarely have either sour cream or applesauce on hand, but I can turn fresh apples into homemade cooked apples with cinnamon in a few minutes, and yogurt passes well for sour cream–if there are no latkes in heaven, then I don’t wanna go there! Karen

SQUIRRELED AWAY: WHAT HAPPENED TO BATTERY PARK CITY’S SQUIRRELS? (SEPT. 7) I hate squirrels and rats but …… I’m surprised that Brookfield Place, can poison animals in such an irresponsible manner in NYC. In most places this would be a crime. When you leave poison out, you can’t really predict what animals will eat it. Poisoned animals can also flee the scene and die blocks away inside or POSTED Continued on page 17


Letters To the Editor, I believe your news article “Count on us” omitted one serious cause of traffic and pedestrian congestion—over development caused by tax abatement. This is a citywide problem, made worse in lower Manhattan by the narrow street grid and the continued closure of Park Row since 9/11. Air pollution, noise and traffic gridlock have been the result. This mix is further complicated by the various tour buses, street fairs, bike lanes, Citi bike docks, and construction, all of which reduce driveable street area and impede emergency vehicles. Further, I have observed that virtually ALL government workers have “free parking” placards, which falsely state (on the dashboard of their obvious commuter vehicles) that the vehicle is being used on official city business. And this is not just the “alphabet soup” workers (FDNY, NYPD, EMT), but a variety of state, federal and court workers who are encouraged to drive in because they park for free; thereby both depriving the City of Parking tax revenue, AND

POSTED Continued from page 16

under someone’s home where they will smell horrible for a week or two. It would be better to trap the rats and then drown them. At least then you would be able to account for what animals have been euthanized. I guess they were hoping no one would notice what they are doing. Bill Zardus


creating traffic congestion. We don’t need another million-dollar study to discover this most obvious cause of traffic congestion: on any government holiday—there is almost none. Let’s start by canceling all the of the placards and have the government workers use public transportation like the rest of us. John Ost Southbridge Towers To the Editor: With regard to the bike safety working group that “should be a model for getting residents involved” in the decision-making process with the Battery Park City Authority, I have some questions. Perhaps I missed information that was made public about this “working group”, but I would like to know (a) who convened it (b) who is on it (c) how/why they were selected, and (d) why it is a closed group. No one, as far as I know, has been elected to represent the BPC community on matters that affect the entire community. Twenty years ago these topics were discussed by open invitation. So do we now have self-authorized representatives convened quietly by

“Shaughnessy admitted that the contractor does not keep a log of when the checks are actually received, but contends that it deposits checks either the day they’re received, or the day after.” Absolutely not true. The rent money is not withdrawn from my bank account for up-to-seven days. I also contested a late charge last January and refused to pay the late fee unless Gateway produced the postmark on my rent envelope. They refused to do so. Rather than get into an extended dispute, I paid the January late fee. But there is hanky-panky going on with regard to this issue. No question. Dolores D’Agostino

BPCA to address the issue of bicycles on the esplanade while the rest of us are left in the dark and without a voice? Unilateral decision-making has many faces. Hand-picked members of a working group are not a model for representation of BPC residents and hardly constitute the authentic voice of the community. Bicycles on the esplanade is a particularly sensitive issue with me, and I have lived with the problem for many years under the pretext of all the “development” happening in the neighborhood after 9/11. I would like to know what is going on, but no information seems to be forthcoming. Dolores D’Agostino To the Editor: I don’t think your reporter is writing about the same sidewalk shed legislation I read. This bill is worse than nothing because it will give the “appearance” of accomplishing something important while doing NOTHING to eliminate the problem. There have ALWAYS been deadlines for removal of sidewalk sheds, but they

TWO MINUTES TO MELTDOWN: SPARKS FLY AT BPCA’S FIRST ‘EXPERIMENT’ WITH PUBLIC COMMENT (DEC. 12) Am I the only one reading of the effort by BPC residents to have a voice in their own governance who wonders if I am now living in a third world country? From the turbulence in our national mood during this post-Presidential election to the struggle at the local BPCA level to exercise a citizen’s right to freedom of speech, one gets the impression that we have been sent by horse-and-buggy back to political

AWOL Continued from page 10



Her absence from board meetings stands in stark contrast to her handson style of governing the board in her four years as its chairwoman, during which time she was known for attending an unprecedented number of community events, according to Hovitz. “I don’t know if she ever saw her family,” Hovitz said. “She was everywhere, at every meeting, at every photo op, at so many events, and

don’t get enforced and the fines for not doing so are insignificant. 1) This bill contains NO provision for the significant number of new DOB inspectors required to accomplish what this bill wants to do. 2) Without SEVERE fines to keep increasing weekly building owners will not care. It needs to be more expensive for them NOT to finish the work. 3) The idea that the city will come in and take over repairs for offenders is preposterous. Determining the work required, hiring contractors, supervising the work and then billing he owner — in fact, recalcitrant building owners will see the VALUE in letting the city come in do the work and then try to collect from the owners for years. Even “better,” owners will begin to counter-sue the city that the work was not done correctly, or by incompetent contractors and they’ll demand DAMAGES from the city! All this bill does is give FALSE hope and your article broadcasts this false information! Hope you find my comments useful. Arthur Piccolo Head of the Bowling Green Association

norms and behavior that pre-date the Magna Charta. It is also obvious — though no one has mentioned it— that if Battery Park City residents were to have a seat on the Authority Board, they would be hand-picked and virtually useless as advocates for the neighborhood. The BPCA leadership style, though it might be described by an adjective not printable here, is so autocratic and insecure that the only voice audible in such a process is at the top of the chain. The other “voices” are just a dog-and-pony show. Dolores D’Agostino

just dedicated herself, and that was admirable.” Whatever Hughes plans on doing, board members are sure to support it, just so long as she comes out with it soon, Hovitz said. “I don’t understand why she wouldn’t simply bow out gracefully if she didn’t want to be involved anymore, and why she’d put us in the position where people were saying, ‘what’s going on?’” he said. “If this was anyone else, they’d be removed.”

December 29, 2016 – January 13, 2017


From Oddballs to Oscar Bait 2016’s best films, unranked and unmissable BY SEAN EGAN While most of us are on the same page — we can’t wait to see the back of 2016 — this year’s movies will surely be looked back at more fondly. Whether reflecting our cultural climate or providing escapism, forging new trails or looking to the past, filmmakers ensured that going to the theater remained one of the few bright spots of a dark year. Below is a roundup of some the year’s finest offerings, unranked, but loosely grouped — because haven’t we all had enough of divisive debating for one year? These are the films that helped make 2016 worth it; hopefully revisiting them will help to make 2017 a little bit better too.

DARING NEW NARRATIVES Spanning decades and employing three actors to play its protagonist, Barry Jenkins’ soulful “Moonlight” follows the life of Chiron, a gay, black Miami man, as he grows up and grapples with who he is, and his place in a world stacked against him. Full of evocative imagery, masterfully naturalistic performances, and carefully observed relationship dynamics, it’s easy to say it’s movie “about” a lot of things: identity, poverty, toxic masculinity — take your pick. But above all else, it’s about Chiron; the boy, teen, and eventual man at its center. While the details of his story may not match your own, the emotions ring poignantly, deeply true, becoming universal in their specificity. Sure, a plot synopsis of “Swiss Army Man” — a movie where a shipwrecked Paul Dano uses the magical farts and erections of Daniel Radcliffe’s reanimated corpse to survive the wilderness — reads like a foulmouthed 12-year-old filled out a Mad Libs. But directing duo Daniels make damn sure they’re offering the most conceptually ambitious, thematically resonant fart jokes ever committed to film. As the movie tracks the two leads’ blossoming friendship, they mix humor so low it doesn’t even have a brow with resonant ideas about shame, love, and (of course) what it means to be human. Daniels’ confident direction ensures the movie doesn’t just avoid the dangerous tonal pitfalls twee-r indies fall prey to, but actively flips them off while speeding along its own bold, surprisingly moving path. In short, it’s the year’s most unexpected, original, idiosyncratic triumph.

Via A24

The young Chiron experiences a symbolic rebirth, in the beautiful “Moonlight.”

AUTEURS AT IT AGAIN Jim Jarmusch goes refreshingly small-scale in “Paterson,” which follows a week in the life of Adam Driver’s titular bus driver, going about life in the (also) titular New Jersey city. It’s a gentle movie, whose small pleasures (both narrative and aesthetic) accumulate to produce a quietly powerful portrait of an everyman, and a stirring treatise on creativity.


December 29, 2016 – January 11, 2017

Via Universal

Scarlett Johansson in a Busby Berkley-inspired sequence from “Hail, Caesar!”

Forever zagging when expected to zig, the Coen Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!” lets loose a veritable who’s who ensemble on a fictional 1950s Hollywood soundstage, running through meticulously crafted, immi-

nently quotable vignettes that imitate golden-age movies — from westerns to stiff-lipped dramas to lively BEST FILMS continued on p. 19 DowntownExpress.com

BEST FILMS continued from p. 18

(and hilariously homoerotic) musicals. It might be the notoriously mercurial brothers’ lightest and brightest film to date, but don’t mistake that for lack of substance. Squint just beyond the old school razzle-dazzle and you’ll be rewarded with a parable on religious faith as meaty as it is absurdist. After the triumph of 2014’s “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater took a victory lap this year with “Everybody Wants Some!!” — an ’80s-set college baseball comedy. In his oeuvre, it might be in the minor leagues, but it’s been a while since he’s turned his unobtrusively accomplished direction and plainspoken, poetic writing to material this addictively fun and deceptively deep. For movie lovers, that’s an achievement worth celebrating in and of itself.

MUSICAL MOVIES Right from its title cards, the joyous “La La Land” announces itself as a modern spin on the Technicolor studioera musicals of yore. Every candy-colored frame is a delight, enhanced by long takes where the camera dips and weaves around energetically choreographed song-and-dance numbers. It manages, however, to elevate itself beyond mere nostalgic curio, as underneath the (substantial) surface-level pleasures, writer/ director Damien Chazelle digs into his pet themes, considering the push/pull of art and commerce, reality and dreams — all while skewering modern Hollywood culture and hoary romantic tropes. In lieu of doing a press tour, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds invited director Andrew Dominik to document the recording of “Skeleton Tree” — a powerful album produced in the aftermath of the tragic death of Cave’s 15-year-old son. The result: “One More Time with Feeling.” Shot in the alluring combo of state-of-the-art 3D and charcoal-smeared black and white, it’s a haunting meditation on grief, rendered more gut-wrenching because of the broken, all-too-human icon at its center. The music, beautiful and damaged, is the only thing that cuts through the fog of loss with any clarity. A scrappy Irish import from “Once” creator John Carney, “Sing Street” tracks a teen discovering his musical gifts, and using them as an escape from the often overwhelming issues he experiences at home and at school. Perfectly capturing the giddy highs and precipiDowntownExpress.com

Via Summit Entertainment

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in the super-saturated musical “La La Land.”

Via Magnolia Pictures

The South Korean period piece/romantic drama “The Handmaiden” stuns with its twists.

tous lows of adolescence, and boasting an infectious collection of ’80s-tinged original songs, it’s a heartfelt gem.

FEMALE-FRONTED FOREIGN FILMS To say that Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” isn’t to everyone’s tastes would be a dramatic understatement — it opens, after all, with a viscerally upsetting rape

scene. But those who trust in the veteran Dutch director’s mastery of tone are in for the best character study of the year; a blackly comic tale that tackles its difficult subject matter with mature nuance. Anchored by Isabelle Huppert’s prickly powerhouse performance, it’s a film that refuses to give viewers any easy outs (or answers), and is all the more rewarding for it.

The greatest asset of “The Handmaiden,” Park Chan-wook’s recursive lesbian romantic drama, isn’t the fluid, precise camerawork, nor the sumptuous colors, nor the expertly delivered performances. No, it’s the narrative twists. In Chan-wook’s hands the twist, so often the crutch of lazy direcBEST FILMS continued on p. 20

December 29, 2016 – January 11, 2017


BEST FILMS continued from p. 19

tors grasping for profundity, is used not just to shock and induce adrenaline, but to genuinely enrich both the filmmaking on display and the story’s already-strong emotional core. It’s a sensual, suspenseful, stone-cold masterpiece.

ONLY IN AMERICA Yes, Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” captures a poor, suburban American milieu often ignored by blockbusters and indies alike. More importantly, though, she uses this backdrop to create a sprawling, not-quite-coming-of-age road trip movie that bustles with immediacy and poetic grace notes. Arnold sketches characters sharply and nonchalantly through Linklateresque conversation; her full-screen cinematography approximates an Instagram account run by Terrence Malick. Just hop in the van, and take a hit — I guarantee you’ll like where it goes. Everything about “Hell or High Water” is informed by the economic strife facing rural, southern America — but the timeliness of this dusty, Texasset neo-Western doesn’t overshadow its invigorating cops-and-robbers story. The archetypical narrative is populated with colorful, well-drawn characters; even the most minor roles feel perceptively real and lived-in. It’s thanks, no doubt, to Taylor Sheridan’s effortless screenplay, which the actors (most notably Jeff Bridges) chew on like so much tobacco, and spit out with rough-hewn grace. Unfortunately for the country, “Green Room,” a punk rockers vs. Neo-Nazi flick, has only become more prescient since its April release. Fortunately for cinema, however, director Jeremy Saulnier’s crafted a genuine whiteknuckle thriller that expertly taps into our cultural anxieties for maximum tension. Saulnier isn’t afraid to off his characters brutally, but unlike many others, he’s also not afraid to invest time on character development and examining moral ambiguity — which, combined with its DIY attitude, makes the movie an instant classic.

TO FEED THE NEEDS OF GENRE JUNKIES At a certain point watching “Arrival” — which follows a linguist deciphering the language of extraterrestrial visitors — you’ll realize that director Denis Villeneuve has been subtly toying with film grammar the whole time. It’s then


Via Disney

Donnie Yen does battle against stormtroopers as Chirrut Imwe in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Via The Weinstein Company

The boys are back in town: The titular teenage band from “Sing Street.”

you’ll understand that you’re not just watching an exceptionally smart and inventive sci-fi movie, but an exceptionally emotional and humanistic one, too. Visionary madman Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s dystopian sci-fi novel, “High-Rise” is a bonkers, blood-soaked tale of class warfare and societal collapse, laced with deadpan dark humor and gorgeous, nightmarish visuals — all scored to ABBA, natch.

December 29, 2016 – January 11, 2017

Catch it, in all its hyper-stylized glory, before its inevitable (and well-deserved) cult status is cemented. A belated entry in the burgeoning “Cloverfield” franchise, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a survival bunker-set chamber thriller, featuring career-high performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Honestly, that’s about all you want to know going in, in order to let this tense,

twisty little movie work its charms. The follow-up to last year’s “Buzzard,” “The Alchemist Cookbook” secures Joel Potrykus’ rep as both craftsman extraordinaire of engrossing (or maybe just gross) eating scenes, and as one of the most interesting indie auteurs working today. This strange brew of about a half dozen subgenres — psychological horror chief amongst them — Potrykus proves that even the lowest of budgets can’t hold back his skewed, unclassifiable vision from being hysterical (in all senses of the word) and effectively unsettling. Like its heroes, “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story” often feels like the orphaned underdog of the “Star Wars” franchise — and that’s a good thing. It digs deeper and darker than any of its predecessors (yes, even “Empire”), culminating in a stunner of a third act that unflinchingly drags the space opera down to ground level. And finally, with “The Neon Demon” Nicolas Winding Refn continued to playfully gussy up pulpy genre material with auteurist flourishes, daring viewers to cry foul. This particular fashion industry satire/horror flick plays out a lot like if David Lynch directed a Sephora commercial on Xanax, and employed a sentient box of crayons as cinematographer. Oh, and also Keanu Reeves is there. Somehow containing zero subtext, while also being nothing but subtext, it’s a garish, gory, Grand Guignol experience. DowntownExpress.com

‘Art Startup’ Alpha Effort Ponders Community Partnership Theater for the New City forum gauges goals and concerns BY TRAV S.D. The Johnson Theater, the largest of Theater for the New City’s four theater spaces, was at capacity on the night of Tues., Dec. 27, for the first in a series of free neighborhood gatherings called “Art Startup.” The initiative is being presented by Theater for the New City (TNC) as a response to “CreateNYC” — the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs’ recently launched “cultural plan for all New Yorkers,” which means to establish a “roadmap for the future of NYC arts and culture” by July 2017. For “Art Startup,” TNC made available a diverse panel of over a dozen arts professionals affiliated with the company, including actors, playwrights, choreographers, visual artists, teaching artists, and directors. Crystal Field, cofounder and artistic director of TNC, launched the meeting by announcing its purpose: to hear from members of the community, particularly from TNC’s “non-artist” neighbors on the Lower East Side, about the sort of art they would like to see in the future, and the particular barriers there might be to creating it. She expressed a particular fear that New York’s status as a sanctuary city might put arts funding at risk, given the results of the recent presidential election. The panelists were then introduced, and the floor was opened up for questions and comments from the audience. While the announced mission of the forum was for “the community to speak to artists,” based on those who spoke, the turnout seemed to consist mostly of fellow artists and arts administrators, although there were a few TNC fans and audience members who spoke about how important their productions have been to them, and some parents whose children had benefitted from arts education. Concerns expressed by attendees were wide-ranging. Representatives of a “not strictly legal” underground concert space in Greenpoint/Williamsburg expressed concerns about the physical welfare of artists in the wake of the recent Oakland fire, which took place in a similar venue. A man affiliated with the Chinatownbased Asian American Arts Centre DowntownExpress.com

Illustration by Ilana Hessing

TNC’s Johnson Theater was filled to capacity for the Dec. 27 debut of its “Art Startup” initiative.

Photos by Trav S.D.

L to R: Actress and TNC board member Vinie Burrows, choreographer Robert Gonzales Jr., and visual artist/curator Carolyn Ratcliffe.

mentioned their involvement in the Cultural Equity Group, an effort to bring greater fairness to the distribution of cultural resources in New York City. High among his concerns he said was the fact that, “We can’t pass our work on to the next generation, because we can’t afford to pay people [to be junior staffers].” Yazmin Colon of Educated Little Monsters in Bushwick spoke of gentrification, saying, “It’s inevitable, but the character that comes with it is not.” She said there was a tendency for newer residents to “disrespect the art that was already there and displace it,” and there is a need “to create new systems” to address that. A man who identified himself as a

Theater for the New City teaching artist Brandon Mellette.

TV professional who’d been involved with the Kitchen, The Wooster Group, and the Collective for Living Cinema,

spoke of the availability of space in outer boroughs and at houses of worship, and suggested the challenges of iconoclastic location may be offset by vigorous promotion. Another speaker mentioned that the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has announced a renovation plan for Tompkins Square Park, and that he is working on a proposal for a children’s outdoor theater for the playground on the park’s southeast corner. Several of those who spoke expressed their fervent wishes for the return of CHARAS/El Bohio, the art space that was long located in the former P.S. 64, but was displaced in December 2001 after then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani sold the premises to a private developer. Providentially, Chino Garcia, one of the founders of CHARAS, was on hand to offer an update, saying that developer Gregg Singer (who bought the building) has been unable to raise funds to convert the building, and that there is a movement back on to revive CHARAS. “We’re not just an artistic community but also a political community,” said panelist Viney Burrows. “The price of rent is a political issue,” he stressed, asking, “What are the ways we can come together, and what leaders do we need to put pressure on to make these changes?” Panelist Carolyn Ratcliffe mentioned her involvement with the Arts & Cultural Affairs Subcommittee of Community Board 3 and encouraged attendance at their next meeting, which will be at Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., btw. E. Ninth & E. 10th Sts.) on Jan. 9 at 6:30 p.m. Field concluded the meeting by remarking, “This is meeting number one. It is ‘A,’ not ‘Z.’ It didn’t have to be perfect. But I think this was a big success.” Then the two-hour forum adjourned for a free post-session repast proved by local businesses Iggy’s Pizzeria, McSorley’s Old Ale House, Moishe’s Bake Shop, Gena’s Grill, Haveli Banjara Indian Restaurant, La Palapa, China Star, Veselka, Paquito’s, Rai Rai Ken and Pinks. The date of the next “Art Startup” will be posted on TNC’s website: theaterforthenewcity.net.

December 29, 2016 – January 11, 2017


We Need a Little New Year’s NOW Entertaining notions for the first day of 2017 BY SCOTT STIFFLER Only the invention of a time machine at some point before that big ball drops in Times Square could save 2016 from being a fever dream disaster for everyone from staunch opponents of populist politicians to David Bowie fans. So, barring the rewriting of history (which we won’t realize has happened, if it happens), the only viable choice is to start next year off on the right foot. Here are three promising 01/01/2017 events that will stack the deck in your favor. Our president-elect may have the vocabulary of an average tween or a gifted toddler, but it’s the command of language deployed by others that always seems to get under his skin — and it doesn’t take much. A few well-composed words can conjure images and convey ideas that have the power to change minds, spark movements, and humble the mighty. With that in mind, the end of a widely panned 2016 and the looming spectre of uncharted waters ahead makes this 11-hour event all the more urgent. “An avenging engine of resistance and eager vehicle of the nascent year” is what The Poetry Project describes as the enduring aesthetic of its 43rd Annual New Year’s Marathon Reading — an “untamed gathering of the heart’s secret, wild nobility” featuring 150 new and emerging poets, performance artists, dancers, and musicians. Among the participants: 75 Dollar Bill, Ariel Goldberg, Che Gossett, Cheryl Clarke, Chia-Lun Chang, Edwin Torres, Holly Melgard, Justin Vivian Bond, Nina Puro, Penny Arcade, Rachel Trachtenburg, Reno, Steve Cannon, Steven Taylor & Douglas Dunn, Tammy Faye Starlight, Ted Dodson, The Double Yews, Thurston Moore, Unusual Squirrel, Wo Chan, Yvonne Rainer, and Anne Waldman (who founded the Marathon and will be feted at an April 27 gala). Part of the Project’s ongoing celebration of having hit the half-century mark, this installment of the Marathon has the additional distinction of serving as a benefit for, and launch of, a campaign to fund an expanded web presence and the live streaming of events throughout the coming year. “From the beginning, The Poetry Project has been the premier venue for poets in New York — a vital hub of fresh, innovative work,” said Executive Director


Photo by Jody Somers

Zalmen Mlotek will conduct “Light Up The Night,” presented by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Stacy Szymaszek. “Now we want to take the Project global and create a virtual community of poets and audiences who share our passion for bold new work.” Sun., Jan. 1, 3pm–2am, in the sanctuary of St. Mark’s Church (131 E. 10th St., at Second Ave.). Wheelchair accessible with assistance and advance notice. For tickets ($20 in advance), the full Marathon lineup and info on ongoing events, visit poetryproject.org or call 212574-0910. At the door, admission is $25; $20 for students/seniors/Project members. If the lack of civility in what passes for public discourse has knocked the wind out of you over the past year, spend the first day of 2017 by immersing yourself in the refreshingly polite customs of very old school New York City. Taking place inside Manhattan’s most stunning example of mid-19th century architecture, furnishings, clothing, and everyday wares, “Come Calling on New Year’s Day” invites you to knock on the door of Merchant’s House Museum and be welcomed inside, in a recreation of how friends and family would arrive at the Tredwell home, come Jan. 1, for a spirited celebration. There will be period-appropriate punch and confectionary, and tours of the house — which is decked out, through

December 29, 2016 – January 11, 2017

Jan. 9, as part of the “Christmas Comes to Old New York” exhibit that links the holiday traditions of the Tredwells to our own (tabletop Christmas trees, for example). By the time those decorations come down, winter will have become the guest who just won’t leave. To that end, a new exhibit opens on Jan. 19. “How the Tredwells Bundled Up” presents a treasure trove of rarely seen objects used during the chilly months. Nineteenth century inside temps were a far cry from our standard of 68 degrees; ink froze in wells, wash bowl water iced over, and people generally did whatever they could to keep warm — which is where foot stoves, quilts, and hand-knit joint warmers came into play. Tickets to the Sun., Jan. 1, 2–5pm “Come Calling” event are $20, $10 for Museum members. Merchant’s House Museum is located at 29 E. Fourth St. (btw. Bowery & Lafayette). Regular hours: Fri.–Mon., 12–5pm; Thurs., 12–8pm. Regular admission is $13, $8 for students/seniors. Visit merchantshouse.org or call 212-777-1089. Hot on the heels of their comedic crash course in language and culture (Dec. 25’s “Kids & Yiddish” sketch and song revue), The National Yiddish

Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) returns to the Museum of Jewish Heritage with “Light Up The Night.” Backed by a 16-piece orchestra, this high-spirited end product of meticulous research and loving restoration celebrates music from the Golden Age of Yiddish Theater. Ellstein, Goldfaden, Olshanetsky, Rumshinsky, and Secunda are among the featured composers you either already know or will appreciate upon discovery. Zalmen Mlotek conducts this theatrical concert, which also functions as a reunion: Much of the cast is comprised of performers from NYTF’s 2015-16 production of “The Golden Bride,” a 1923 operetta that inspired a new wave of NYTF programming dedicated to presenting concerts of Yiddish Theater masterpieces. “Light Up The Night” marks the premiere effort of this global initiative — all the more reason to go, and know that you where there when it all began! Sun., Jan. 1, at 2pm. In Yiddish with projected supertitles. In Edmond J. Safra Hall, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (mjhnyc.org; 36 Battery Pl., at West St. & First Pl.). Tickets are $30, $20 for Museum or NYTF members. To order, call 212-213-2120 x230 (group sales, x204) or visit nytf.org. DowntownExpress.com


December 29, 2016 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; January 13, 2017


>   &    ?   #     &     


                         ! " #$    %    &       #

         '     (  (   # ) & #*                    #            +      !" ,     !#$$ )      !$$$  %&' 


December 29, 2016 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; January 13, 2017


Profile for Schneps Media

Downtown Express  

December 29, 2016

Downtown Express  

December 29, 2016