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Throngs in Manhattan Offer Raspberries to Hometown Prez 04 Preserving Waldorf, One UN Plaza Art Deco Gems 07-08 January 26 - February 08, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 02

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January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Upper West Sider Gives Back to His Home of 45 Years BY JACKSON CHEN

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ictor Gonzá lez ser ved five years in the United States Air Force and more than 10 years as a tenant association president and as a Manhattan community board member. His current public service, however, relates to the 44 years he’s lived in the city’s public housing. At 67 and as a proud resident of the New York City Housing Authority’s Rabbi Stephen Wise Towers on the Upper West Side, González, on January 18, was reappointed to the NYCHA board by Mayor Bill de Blasio. Retired after 33 years with United Parcel Service, González spends most of his time helping people, he said. A warm smile, framed by a neat gray goatee, squinted his eyes as he greeted multiple neighbors on his walk over to Caridad, a local Dominican joint he frequents. Appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2011 as the NYCHA board’s first resident member and reappointed in 2013, González will be joined as a resident member on the board by two newcomers from Brooklyn — Jacqueline Young from the Lenox Road Houses and Jacqueline Arroyo from the Louis Armstrong Houses — as he begins his seventh year of service. “No one understands the challenges and importance of public housing more than our residents,” de Blasio said of the three appointees. “As active leaders in their N YCHA communities, they will help move us forward as we work tirelessly to protect and strengthen public housing.” González’s history with public housing started with his interest in strengthening the city’s commitment to NYCHA. After years of advocating and working with various housing organizations, he was curious about the moving cogs behind the system. His interest eventually led to him serving as the Wise Towers Tenants Association president and as the Housing Committee co-chair at Community Board 7. And while the N YCHA board, w it h t hree resident members, three non-resident members, and the chair and CEO Shola Olatoye,

JACKSON CHEN

Victor González outside of the Rabbi Stephen Wise Towers on West 90th Street.

operates similarly to community boards, his role there does have major differences, González said, especially in scope. “Being the first resident to ever be appointed to the board, there was no roadmap to follow,” González said of his first term. “As a tenant association president, I was only responsible for like 300 families within the development, as opposed to a board member, where I now deal with over 400,000 residents.” As a resident board member, González felt responsible for acting as the agency’s ear for NYCHA residents to voice their everyday concerns, which he would relay to the chair and other agency executives. “It has been a privilege to work with Board Member Victor Gonzalez,” the current chair, Olatoye, said in an email message. “His positive attitude and desire to get involved at all levels so that he can help his fellow residents make him a true champion of public housing. I look forward to working with him and the new resident board members, as we continue to create safe, clean, and connected public housing for this and the next generation of New Yorkers.” González brings more than his decades of first-hand knowledge to his role as a resident board member. His value, he explained, comes in good measure because

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | January 26 - February 08, 2017

he is someone who freely speaks from the heart, though he admitted those sincere words are often “shot from the hip.” And from talking with González, it’s clear that his animated hands are a big part of how those words are articulated. Going into his third term on the board, he’s now focused on improving the agency’s partnerships with other organizations. Being an Air Force veteran, González said, he hopes to better connect NYCHA and the US Department of Veteran Affairs to improve the agency’s Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing program, where homeless veterans can receive vouchers for housing. Similarly, the Wise Towers resident wants to improve the relationship between social workers and their clients in the city’s senior citizen housing programs through more communication and engagement. “Moving forward with engagement is a very important thing,” González said. “And now everyone’s mindset is on engaging the residents, finding out what their concerns are, working with them and all the executives together.” According to González, his particular approach to taking action came out of his upbringing by his mom and dad in East Harlem — or El Barrio, as residents there typically termed the neighborhood. “My mother, a very strong, very

religious person, she always told me, ‘Son, help people no matter what; don’t worry what anybody else does. You do what you need to do to help your fellow neighbor, and the guy upstairs is watching,’” González recalled. “That stuck with me all my life.” Turning to his father’s influence, he added, “Then the old man, my dad, he told me, ‘Yeah, but be tough, don’t let nobody come and crap on your head and tell you eh-eh.” His tenure at UPS of more than t h ree decades may have been long, but he has lived in Wise Towers for two-thirds of his life. When asked when he first arrived at the public housing complex, González immediately recalled, “January of 1972.” His prompt response might suggest just how important Wise Towers has been in his life, but in fact there’s a more significant reason for his quick recall — it was that same month that he first began living with his wife, who resided there. Forty-five years later, González is an adamant believer in NYCHA as the only way the city can hope to address its serious housing challenges. “I don’t know what everyone else’s conception is, but as far as I’m concerned, public housing is the last true bastion of affordable housing,” he said. n

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Throngs in Manhattan Offer Raspberries to Hometown Prez BY PAUL SCHINDLER

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n massive numbers, a diverse group of New Yorkers — women, men, children, many in families, of all ages and races — marched through Midtown Manhattan to express their concerns, anxieties, and anger about the tone and polices President Donald Trump brought to the White House with his inauguration on January 20. “I watched the inauguration and it scared me,” said Charles Gould, a marcher who lives in Williamsburg. “We have to be active now more than ever.” Gould said he been considering joining the January 21 Women’s March on New York City, but made up his mind for sure only after watching the new president’s swearing-in on Friday. “ T he i naugurat ion woke me up,” he said of Trump’s 16-minute speech widely viewed as “dark” in its “America First” tone. “I had been on the fence about coming today. He isn’t pulling back from his campaign style and then there was the executive order to pull back Obamacare.” Lisa Blumbert of Chatham, New Jersey, on hand with a friend and neighbor, also referred to Trump’s behavior and rhetoric on his first day of office. “We’re just so freaked out about what’s happening,” she said. “I was very disappointed by his speech yesterday. It was dark and meanspirited.” The march began at 10:30 a.m. at Second Avenue and 48th Street and proceeded south to 42nd Street before heading west. The crowd quickly filled the entirety of Second Avenue and then 42nd Street, with many people still in the streets after dark fell by 5 p.m., traveling north from 42nd Street on Fifth Avenue toward Trump Tower. In a tweet, Mayor Bill de Blasio put the crowd size at 400,000. Rallies in cities nationwide and globally brought out enormous crowds

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MANHATTAN EXPRESS

Marchers fill 42nd Street near Grand Central Terminal.

in parallel Women’s Marches. The crowd size in Washington was estimated at half a million, and crowds of 250,000 turned out in both Chicago and Los Angeles. Marches took place in locations from London, Paris, and Berlin to Mexico City and Buenos Aires and from Cape Town to Sydney and even Antarctica. There are always heated debates about crowd sizes when protests are involved, and in an extraordinary and bitter appearance in the White House press room early Saturday evening, Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, lashed out at the media for what he said were inaccurate reports about the size of the crowd for the inauguration itself. Spicer, who took no questions, misstated Washington, DC, mass transit numbers for inauguration day, and also falsely claimed that Trump drew the largest swearing-in crowd in history — despite aerial photographs showing large empty areas in the space between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. Trump himself used an appearance before CIA staffers on Saturday afternoon to talk about the enormous crowds at the inauguration and complain about the media’s efforts to minimize the turnout. Spicer was correct in calling out a Time magazine reporter for an incorrect tweet that a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., had been removed from the Oval Office, though that reporter had already apologized to the president, an apology Spicer had earlier accepted. What was undisputed was that the new Trump team, in its first hours in office, deleted pages from the White House website on issues ranging from climate change to LGBTQ rights. Though the calls for the marches in New York, Washington, and elsewhere initially focused on concerns about the threats the Trump

MANHATTAN EXPRESS

Marchers voiced support for immigrants, refugees, and ethnic and religious minorities.

c RASPBERRIES, continued on p.14

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Tens of Thousands Gather in Resistance on Inauguration Eve BY JACKSON CHEN

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star-studded rally outside Trump International Hotel aimed to ignite a 100-day resistance movement against the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. “We are here united in protecting our family, friends, neighbors, fellow New Yorkers, and people across this great nation during his time in office,” actor Rosie Perez, a Brooklynite, said at the January 19 event. “Donald Trump is from this city, he is a New Yorker, and yet he has spread a message across the country that is the opposite of who we are as New Yorkers.” Kicking off the evening, Perez introduced Hollywood icons like Robert De Niro, Mark Ruffalo, Alec Baldwin, and Julianne Moore, alongside Michael Moore, Natalie Merchant, and Cher, all united in standing against a Trump administration. “We’re all rooting for the new administration to abandon the divisive, racist, misogynist, ignorant plans it’s trumpeting and lead us with intelligence and compassion,” De Niro said. Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the thousands of attendees in cheering the final night of Barack Obama’s administration. As soon as the mayor mentioned the peaceful transition of power taking place the following day in Washington, the crowd was united in booing, but de Blasio emphasized that Trump’s first day in the presidency also would be the first day of action for the many who oppose his plans for the next four years. “Some people think we’re going to be dejected, some people think we’re going to be in a state of mourning, that we’re just going to shirk away from playing any role in our nation,” the mayor said. “No, tomorrow we begin to organize, tomorrow we gather together, look at the thousands here tonight and this is only the beginning.” The thousands came from all over New York, with many from Westchester County joining the large number of West Village residents in united resistance to the Trump presidency. “This isn’t about politics, this is about Donald Trump. Those of us in Manhattan have been used to this for the last 30 years,” Nick Beef, a West Villager said. “It’s a man who talks and has no action… it’s all about him, not our country.” Coming down from Westchester County, Theo Allen was proud to carry signs protesting the president-to-be. “This president has decried women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ community members, and has div ided us, not united us,” Allen said at the rally. “As a citizen of these United States, I cannot allow us to be a divided nation.” One of the main organizers of the rally,

JACKSON CHEN

Hoisting the American Flag, protesters had a simple message for the soon-to-be president: No!

t he f i l m di rector a nd act iv ist M ichael Moore, had a sta rk but a lso empower ing message for the crowd that filled Central Park West. “First the bad news, as sad as we think it’s going to be, it’s going to be worse,” Moore said. “But here is the good news, the good news is there’s more of us than there are of them!” Moore noted that the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, won close to three million more votes than Trump and there were more nearly eight million others who voted for neither the Republican nor Democratic candidate. “This is the beginning of our 100 days of resistance, and that’s just the first 100 days,” Moore said. “Every day you have to contact your member of Congress or one of your two senators. It takes three minutes, wake up, brush teeth, make coffee, contact Congress, that’s the new morning routine.” Ma ny had already begun ta k ing action by organizing the Women’s March on Washington for January 21, the day following the swearing in of the nation’s new president. In New York City and in cities nationwide and across the globe, similar marches were planned (see pages 4 and 14 ). As the rally concluded with Natalie Merchant leading a celebrity-jammed cover of “This Land Is Your Land,” the crowd began moving toward Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, where they were met with a large force of New York Police Department officers and barricades. But, the

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | January 26 - February 08, 2017

JACKSON CHEN

Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, one of the rally’s organizers, speaks to the crowd.

words of Moore, Ruffalo, and Baldwin fueled the crowd to continue their protest, no matter the restrictions. “Donald Trump and Steve Bannon and Mike Pence and all these people that are part of the Trump administration, they think you’re going to lay down,” Baldwin said to the crowd. “Are you going to lay down?” The crowd shouted back, “No!” “Are you going to fight?” “Yes!” “A re we going to have 100 days of resistance?” “Yes!” n

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New Push to Landmark 42nd Street Library’s Jewel Box Reading Room BY JACKSON CHEN

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library advocacy group garnered more than 1,900 signatures in less than two weeks on a petition to landmark the iconic Rose Reading Room and several other interior spaces in the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. The Committee to Save the New York Public Library, led by its president Charles Warren, launched its petition on January 10 in hopes of getting the attention of Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Meenakshi Srinivasan and the NYPL’s president and CEO Anthony Marx. “Everybody wants this… these are some of the most magnificent rooms in the City of New York and only a couple of them have landmark protection,” Warren said of interiors within the Schwarzman Building. So far, only the Astor Hall on the first floor, the McGraw Rotunda on the third floor, and the staircases that connect them have been designated as interior landmarks. The committee’s petition calls for landmark status for the Rose Reading Room on the third f loor and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room that leads into the reading room. Warren and his supporters are also looking for a total of nine other individual designations of other rooms within the library, including:

JACKSON CHEN

The Rose Reading Room in the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

• The Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Gallery • The North-South Gallery • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art and Architecture Room The committee’s efforts already have the support of preservationist groups such as the Historic Districts Council and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. In 2013, those two groups were joined by Community Board 5 in requesting landmark designation for several interiors of the Schwarzman

Building, an effort that yielded no results. In May 2014, an ornamental plaster rosette fell from the ceiling of the Rose Reading Room and triggered the NYPL’s full inspection of the reading room and the space immediately next to it. The reading room only reopened in October 2016, and the committee now hopes to secure its permanent protection through city landmark status. While not a landmark, the NYPL has kept the Rose Reading Room in prime condition since its opening in 1911 and is currently work-

• The D. Samuel and Jeane H. Gottesman Exhibition Hall • T he DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room • T he Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division Room • The Celeste Bartos Forum • The Edna Barnes Salomon Room • The Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room for Rare Books and Manuscripts

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JACKSON CHEN

The Rose Reading Room after its recent renovation.

ing on restoring a chandelier in the adjacent Bill Blass Public Catalog Room. “For over 100 years, the New York Public Librar y has been a great, proactive steward of the 42nd Street library and its magnificent and historic Rose Main Reading Room,” the library’s director of media relations, Angela Montefinise, said in an email. “We will continue to make preservation of these spaces a priority to ensure that they inspire the public now and for generations.” Warren agreed that the interiors have been well looked after by NYPL, but still wants to see landma rk designat ions w it hin t he building, which would cause the NYPL and the LPC to work jointly in taking care of the historic interiors. The committee president said the LPC’s recent landmarking of interior spaces at One United Nations Plaza and calendaring of the Waldorf Astoria could indicate the Schwarzman Building’s interiors, most notably the Rose Reading Room, might be on their way, too. A spokesperson for the LPC told Manhattan Express that the agency received a referral for landmark designation “several years ago,” when the Rose Reading Room was closed for renovation and could not be formally considered. “Now that it has re-opened, the agency can review the space as a potential Interior Landmark,” the LPC’s Damaris Olivo said in an email message. Olivo emphasized that the LPC “worked closely w it h t he New York Public Library in their intent to restore the space” in the work just completed and that since the building itself is landmarked, “any proposed interior work can be monitored by the Commission.” “It’s one of the biggest, grandest rooms in New York, in America really, and it’s almost two blocks long,” Warren said of the Rose Reading Room. “This is like not having Grand Central Station designated as a landmark.” n

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


City Preserves Disco Aesthetic at One UN Plaza, Ambassador Grill BY JACKSON CHEN

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he Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously designated the Ambassador Grill and the hotel lobby at One United Nations Plaza the city’s most recently built interior landmark on January 17. The commission’s designation covers the building’s main lobby area, the connected vestibule and hallway, and the Ambassador Grill dining and bar areas of the building’s ground floor on East 44th Street, just west of First Avenue. The Ambassador Grill and the hotel lobby, constructed in 1976 and 1983 respectively, were both designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates (KRJDA), a Connecticutbased architecture firm. “We’re very excited and pleased [LPC] made that decision because they were important interiors to have survived,” Kevin Roche, the firm’s design principal and the architect of the spaces, told Manhattan Express. “We’re very proud of them and they’ve been there for quite a while.” The Ambassador Grill and hotel lobby are the LPC’s 118th interior landmark and had been supported by many in the preservation community. During the public hearing in November, preser vationists, including Theodore Grunewald, were joined by Docomomo US, a

KEVIN ROCHE JOHN DINKELOO AND ASSOCIATES LLC

The lobby of One United Nations Plaza has been designated a landmark.

nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving modern architecture across the nation, and KRJDA executives in rallying for protection of spaces viewed as emblematic of the disco era. “This is going to be New York City’s youngest landmark, this is the first interior that represent the 1970s,” Grunewald said. “It’s really a

precedent-setting breakthrough because in terms of preservation of our architectural heritage, this is new territory.” LPC research staff noted in their reports the praise the spaces received from noted

c UN PLAZA, continued on p.8

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LPC Mulls Waldorf Interiors, With Pleas for Starlight Roof

WALDORFNEWYORK.COM

Preservationists, though happy the LPC is considering interior landmarking designations in the Waldorf Astoria, are urging the commission to include the 18th floor Starlight Roof.

BY JACKSON CHEN

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here’s no decision yet regarding a proposed landmark designation for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel’s interiors, but during the first public hearing on the question many voiced their desire to have the Landmarks Preservation Commission include the hotel’s 18th floor Starlight Roof as part of the landmarking.

During the LPC’s public hearing on January 24, several preservationist groups came out to offer testimony supporting the designation of the luxurious interiors that witnessed a great deal of history over the past 85 years. Many may assume the grand hotel’s interiors are already landmarked, but preservation advocates rang the bell when Anbang, a Chinese insurance giant, purchased the prop-

c UN PLAZA, from p.7 a rchitectura l cr it ics who sa id t hey were highly representative of the late 1970s to early ‘80s with their kaleidoscopic ref lective designs. While many touted the interiors as the work of a master in his prime, Roche said he wasn’t particularly focused on creating a legacy when he did the work, but rather in creating what he wanted. “I never thought of it,” Roche said of the design process. “I was just doing what I felt like doing at that moment in time. I wasn’t really trying to belong to any particular period. It was an opportunity to bring some life and activity to that corner of New York, which is very dead outside the UN.” But commissioners were clearly impressed by the quality of Roche’s work, pointing out that the designation of the grill and lobby spaces furthers their mission of capturing notable works that reflect specific time periods in the city’s history. “I think [these critics] speak, as well as the public testimony, to the importance of these interiors to the time,” commissioner Fred Bland said. “And I think that what this commission is always trying to achieve is architecture that represents its time.” LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan noted the difficulties in landmarking interiors since the commission’s criteria require that space be

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erty in 2014 and reports arose of its intention to do gut renovations. Facing backlash, the company is now cooperating with the LPC on a possible landmark designation after the commission quickly took up the issue. Andrew Dolkart, an architectural historian on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said that many

publically accessible and remain intact, factors that were both met. The space, she said, was “a classic example of late post-modernism that is legible through its design, its materials, and its aesthetics.” Those calling for the landmarking were pleased that the Ambassador Grill and hotel lobby would be joining the likes of Grand Central Terminal and Radio City Music Hall.

KEVIN ROCHE JOHN DINKELOO AND ASSOCIATES LLC

Kevin Roche’s 1983 interior is viewed as emblematic of the disco era in New York.

“We are delighted to see these important and dazzling spaces get the respect and credit they deserve,” Docomomo’s executive director, Liz Waytkus, said. “Designating the Ambassador Grill and UN Hotel lobby offers the preservation movement a chance to celebrate but also reflect, as their designation confirms the continuum of

consider the Waldorf Astoria “the unofficial palace of New York and a major social center of the city.” Dolkart said the hotel’s completion in 1931 proved to be an important boost to the city as the country slogged through the Great Depression, and remains one of the greatest interior spaces in the city. According to the Art Deco Society of New York, the Waldorf Astoria is an architectural masterpiece that exemplifies a cohesive Art Deco style. Since the building was designed with all elements in mind, interior and exterior, Meghan Weatherby, the group’s director of operations, said they deserve equal protection. “The aesthetically interconnected nature of these interior design elements exemplify the Art Deco ideal of an all-encompassing, unified aesthetic,” Weatherby said. The Waldorf Astoria, the group maintains, is more than simply architecturally significant as its

c WALDORF, continued on p.23

the landmarking process.” While the LPC’s action represents an enormous victory, preservationists and even the architect himself are scratching their heads at why the designation left out a lounge and seating area adjacent to the hallway that was included. “It was a little strange and I wonder why they bothered to exclude it,” Roche said of the seating area. “But if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. I have no idea what they’re going to do with it.” Roche said he offered his work pro-bono on any re-design plans the owner of the interiors, Millennium Hotels, has for the lounge area, but has yet to hear back from the company. From Grunewald’s perspective, collaboration between Roche and the owner could bring a positive outcome for the lounge area. Noting that the designation still requires City Council approval, which could be derailed by Millennium’s opposition, Grunewald said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the designation. “We’re disappointed the lounge was excluded from the designation especially since the area could easily accommodate new functions without destroying its architectural character,” Grunewald said. “We hope the owner will reconsider preservation of this area in spite of the fact it doesn’t have any regulatory protection from the landmarks commission.” Representatives of Millennium Hotels could not be reached for comment. n

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Police Blotter ATTEMPTED ROBBERY: TRY MACEY’S INSTEAD (19th Precinct) Police are looking for a duo who tried to rob a Sephora at 750 Lexington Avenue, between East 59th and 60th Streets, on December 14 at around 5:30 p.m. According to police, two suspects, one male and one female, grabbed items off the shelf and tried to walk out without paying when they were stopped by two store employees, a 24-year-old female and a 21-year-old male. Police said the two suspects dropped the items and sprayed the employees with what police believe to be pepper spray before fleeing south on Lexington Avenue. EMS arrived on the scene to treat the employees. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male, approximately 20 to 25 years old, 5’7”, 180 pounds, with a dark complexion, and last seen wearing a black hat, black jeans, and a black bubble coat, and a black female, approximately 20 to 25 years old, 5’5”, 135 pounds, with a dark complexion and long black hair, and last seen wearing a purple bubble coat, blue jeans, and white sneakers.

MISSING PERSON: THOMAS MORGAN (28th Precinct) Police are asking for help in locating Thomas Morgan, a 17-year-old Harlem resident who

went missing on January 13. Police said he was last seen leaving his house at 95 Lenox Avenue at around 10:30 p.m. Police released photos of Morgan (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as 5’10”, 185 pounds, with a medium build, light complexion, black hair, brown eyes, and last seen wearing red-checkered pajama pants and a red-and-blue hooded sweatshirt. He was possibly barefoot.

MISSING PERSON: YURIDIA MERINO (23rd Precinct) A 32-year-old East Harlem resident, Yuridia Merino, was reported missing on January 12 at around 9 a.m. She was last seen leaving her home at 212 East 105th Street, according to police. Police released a photo of Merino (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as 4’11”, 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, and last seen wearing a hooded black jacket.

COLLISION: SUDDEN SLAM (17th Precinct) Police said that on January 24 at around 10:15 a.m., Charles Cuttino, a 54-year-old East Harlem resident, “suffered from a medical condition”

while driving a Mercedes-Benz SUV and collided into a Kenworth truck driven by a 38-year-old man near the intersection of East 46th Street and Third Avenue. Cuttino, unconscious and unresponsive when EMS reached him, was transported to New York University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad’s preliminary investigation showed that the Cuttino was traveling northbound on Third Avenue and approaching East 46th Street before colliding with the truck, which was also traveling in the same direction.

HOMICIDE: CHARGED WITH MURDER (20th Precinct) Police arrested 23-year-old Bronx resident Daquan King and charged him with second-degree murder in the death of 54-year-old Sayvon Zabar, who was found by police unconscious and unresponsive with no visible bodily trauma at his home at 155 West 81 Street on January 4 at around 10:30 a.m.

ASSAULT: SIX TRAIN SMACKDOWN (19th Precinct) Following a verbal dispute on December 11 at around 6:45 p.m., a female suspect is wanted for punching a 43-year-old woman, police said. The

two were aboard a southbound 6 train near the 68th Street-Hunter College stop when the argument took place, according to police. As the situation escalated, the suspect punched the victim in the face, knocking her glasses off and leaving her with a cut on her nose, police said. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a light-skinned female in her mid 20s.

PUBLIC LEWDNESS: ASIAN PERVASION (Midtown South Precinct) On December 29 at around 8 p.m., a male suspect exposed himself to a 30-year-old woman and her 10-year-old daughter on the downtown platform of the 42nd Street-Bryant Park station, police said. Police released a photo of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a male Asian, approximately 40 years old, 5’7”, and 175 pounds, with black hair, and last seen wearing black shoes, a black jacket, and blue jeans.

Visit

Manhattan ExpressNews.nyc for area precinct listing.

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he Department of Parks and Recre at ion ha s presented three suggestions regarding what the Upper East Side’s Queensboro Oval could become, but Community Board 8’s Parks Committee is making clear it will not negotiate over any plan to keep it privately controlled. The Queensboro Oval on York Avenue between East 59th and 60th Streets has been operated by the Sutton East Tennis Club since 1979, but in recent months, the community has ramped up efforts to retake the space and return it to use as a full-time park for the public. In response, the parks department agreed to hold off on its plans to request proposals from private operators and has joined the community in trying to figure out a viable compromise. On Ja nua r y 12, representatives from Parks presented three opt ions to CB 8 ’s Pa rk s Comm ittee. Emphasi z i ng t hat t he t h ree pla ns did not represent a n ex haustive list, the agency indicated it was seeking initial feedback from the community, according to David Cerron, the parks department’s chief of revenue, concessions, and controls oversight.

T he f i r st opt ion i nclude d a multisport sy nthetic turf field accommodating softball, soccer, football, lacrosse, and more, with a projected cost of $6.11 million and a three-to-five-year completion timeframe. The second option, coming in at $5 million and the same timeframe, would split the roughly 1.2 acre park into two parts, one side for a similar multipurpose field and the other for four outdoor tennis courts. In both Options 1 and 2, Cerron noted, funding would still have to be identified. O pt ion 3 wou ld go t h roug h a request for proposa ls, seeking a concessionaire that would operate a private facility for six mont hs, open t he pa rk to t he public for six months, and mainta in t he proper t y yea r-round. This option most closely resembles the current setup, though Sutton East over time has been taking up more of the year with its tennis club. CB8 members wholly rejected the third option and reiterated they were not willing to agree to any sort of configuration where residents must pay to play. “Any auction where this space

c SPEEDY, continued on p.11

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c SPEEDY, from p.10 is used for a fee is not accepta b l e ,” C B 8 ’s P a r k s C o m m i ttee member Tricia Shimamura sa id to t he pa rks depa r t ment officials. “At the end of the day, if you’re here to take back feedback, a ny opt ion where community members are charged to use that space is not going to be acceptable.” T he on ly opt ion t hat CB8 seemed open to work i ng w it h and improving on was the first opt ion of a mult ipur pose field that spans the entire park. CB8 didn’t fully commit its support to that proposal, however, instead offering feedback including the add it ion of a r u n n i n g t r ac k , as proposed by Fred Bondy, a 49-year neighbor of the Oval, or seating and greenery. The parks department, in forgoing its original RFP schedule, has put itself in a difficult position. Even if it were to opt for a private operator of the space, it could not get one lined up and ready for August, when Sutton East’s license expires. It also does not want Queensboro Oval left empty at that point, but no renovation plan has yet been determined. Pa rk s cou ld renew t he cu rrent operator’s license for a year or two, Cerron explained, while it works with the community to finalize a new plan for the space. According to the parks departm e n t ’s M a n h a t t a n b o r o u g h commissioner, William Castro, construction of either the first or s e c ond opt ion w ou ld t a ke roughly a year. But other steps requ i red pr ior to a ny r ibboncutting — like scoping sessions, desig n approva l, a nd sendi ng the project out to bid — can each take months to settle, creating an overall timeframe running as long as three to five years. Si nce t he O va l is located under the Queensboro Bridge, it falls w ithin the Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction, accordi ng to Cast ro. Work i ng with the DOT, Cerron explained, there would be some restrictions about any changes made regarding park elements such as trees, u nderg rou nd i n f r a st r uct u re, and lighting. CB8 member Matt Bondy, one of t he ea rl iest voices ra l ly i ng support for opening up the Oval,

said he is pleased to see some movement but dissatisfied with the slow pace. “When we’re talking about this five yea rs later, you’re talk ing about a capital plan that takes three to five years to implement,” Bondy said. “Had this planning started when we first began talking about this, when the license expires in August, you could’ve been ready to go. I think that’s very unfortunate.” Other CB8 members agreed, ada m a nt t hat a s soon a s t he current lease expires, the agency should simply return the land to the community, even if it would

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | January 26 - February 08, 2017

just be the bare clay surface. P a r k s C o m m it t e e c o - c h a i r S u s a n E v a n s s a i d c o m m i ttee members attended a meeti ng w it h Pa rks Comm issioner Mitchell Silver, Castro, and other agency employees where Silver asked if they wanted the Oval to be returned as just dirt. “I s a id yes, t he com mu n it y wants it back as dirt and we will take care of it from there,” Evans said. “It is a public space, [Sutton Ea st] have no r ig ht to be there, they have been there too long, end of stor y. We wa nt it back and if it’s dirt we get, dirt we will work with.”

Ultimately, CB8 Parks crafted a resolution that rejected Option 3, suppor ted t he concept of a multi-use field, but stressed that the park should be returned to the public as soon as the lease ends in August. “This lands belongs to the citizens of New York City, it is public land, it belongs to us, whether it’s being overseen by this group or that group, it doesn’t so much mat ter, t h is is ou r proper t y,” CB8’s Park Committee co-chair Peggy Price said. “We have said up ‘til now that we want it back, and there’s no good reason to not get it back.” n

11


  

Midtown West Super-Projects

Tackled at CB5 Forum

         



          



                

  

       

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PRACTICE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND URBANISM

A rendering of the interior of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism’s proposed redesign of Penn Station, facing the Farley Post Office, where Madison Square Garden would be relocated.

BY JACKSON CHEN

T

o bring some organized planning to the cluster of crucial transportation projects in Midtow n West, Communit y Boa rd 5 hosted a forum exploring the future options for the area. L ocated w it h i n a roug h ly 10 -block a rea, t here a re fou r major proposed projects in the nei g hb orho o d, i nclud i n g t he replacement of the dilapidated Port Authority of New York and New Jersey bus terminal at 625 Eighth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Street, the Gateway Progra m t hat would create a new t r a i n t u n nel u nder ne at h t he Hudson River, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lau nch of Moy n i ha n T ra in Ha ll to moder ni ze Penn Station, and the possible relocation of Madison Square Garden (MSG) from its current site above Penn Station to the back of the Farley Post Office Building across Eighth Avenue. Wit h a l l t hese items hav i ng been discussed at the community board level at one point or another, CB5 aimed to spur discussion that would connect all the large jigsaw puzzle pieces in a cohesive manner. “All of these projects fall either within our district or immediately across the street,� said Stefano Trevisan, a CB5 member leading the January 19 forum. “And yet coordinated planning for these clearly interconnected transporta-

tion projects between and among the organizations responsible for them was nowhere to be found.� T rev isa n ex pla ined t hat t he community board has reached out to the Empire State Development Cor poration t hat is in charge of spearheading the proposed Moynihan Station project; Amtrak to talk about its expansive Gateway Program; the Port Authority regarding its controversia l bus ter m i na l replacement; and “anyone we could� for what community board members consider the dire need for moving MSG to pave the way for an improved Penn Station. In that process, CB5 recognized that there didn’t seem to be any coordination among these agencies. T he boa rd’s for um, “Mov i ng Madison Square Garden and the Battle for a Better Penn,� showcased a rchitectural a nd pla nning experts who discussed tying together all the major transit projects that would, in total, completely overhaul Midtown’s western edge. One proposal at the center of three of the four projects came from the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism and its founder, Vishaan Chakrabarti. Their idea would move MSG to the Farley Post Office and recycle the structure and foundations left behind into a new glass-encased commuter hub. Chakrabarti said that while brainstorming for an idea

c CB5, continued on p.13

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c CB5, from p.12 of what to do with an empty site if MSG moved, he was captivated by an old photo of the building’s skeleton. “ There are foundations down there, there’s a structure that’s actually quite handsome with just an incredibly ugly skin on it,” he said of MSG. “If the Garden were to move... could this structure be recycled, could it be the new commuter pavilion that we need located precisely in that location, that we need above the center of the tracks and platform?” Cha k raba r t i’s desig n would remove several columns of the e x i st i n g st r uct u r e t o r e duc e the cramped feeling of the station, have a glass exterior to let in light, and give commuters a sense of where they are in Midtown. The aim would be to make the area feel more like a public plaza than a dejected train station. Chakrabarti said his firm estimates that this reconfiguration would be very feasible with a $1 billion price tag. “We believe there’s this donut of planning going on with each entity in their own individual fiefdom,” he said of the projects surrounding the current site of MSG and Penn Station. “And we believe this sort of idea injects jelly in the heart of that donut by pulling all of that together in a fairly simple and straightforward way.” According to Tom Wright, the president of the Regional Plan Association, all the projects tie t o get he r st e m m i n g f r o m t he Gateway Program — which would improve and expand rail infrastructure between Newark and Penn Station — and its expected

impact on the region’s grow th. Wright’s group proposes that the Gateway effort be broadened to create a nother station at East 31st Street and Third Avenue and then tunnel under the East River to reach Sunnyside, Queens. “We have this extraordinar y wealth of rail infrastructure that really makes New York City possible,” Wright said. “Both our subways and our commuter railroads are the lifeblood of our city and region. But the weakest link of it is the northeast corridor and the tunnel under the Hudson River.” In mentioning the northeast corridor, Wright referred to Penn Station’s pivotal position at the center of t he A mt ra k net work that connects Washington, Baltimore, a nd Philadelphia w it h points north to Boston. At present, he explained, the century-old tunnel between Newark and Penn Station only has a two-train capacity, and it was f loode d a nd da m a ged du r i n g Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But by making the Gateway project as ambitious as possible, he asserted, the responsible agencies could coordinate each project to have a positive impact on the others. “ W hat we need to see is t he Gateway project built w ith the m a x i m u m c a p a c i t y i t c a n ,” Wright said. Then, referring to a proposal to expand Penn Station with an annex one block south, he added, “We need Penn South, we need Moynihan Station, which by the way will provide an early relief to allow us to do this kind of work on the West Side. And eventually we’re going to need Penn Station to be the station we all dreamed and talked about.” n

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Huddled Mass of Humanity Jams DC at Women’s March BY EILEEN STUKANE

W

o m e n w it h t he i r b a b i e s cradled in w raps, women with toddlers, pregnant women, mothers with their teen and adult daughters, women of color and of sexual diversity, females from a few months old to over 80, concerned gay and straight men — cisgender and transgender — fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, citizens from across the countr y stood shoulder to shoulder with barely inches of air between them, and everyone was smiling. This was the January 21 Women’s March on Washington, a sea of some 500,000, ma ny wea ring homemade pink pussyhats as commentary on President Donald Trump’s recorded comments that he could grab a woman’s genitals

DONNA ACETO

Crowds gathered near the West Building of the National Gallery of Art for the rally that preceded the massive march.

c WOMEN’S MARCH, continued on p.15

c RASPBERRIES, from p.4 presidency posed for women’s rights and health, including abortion access, marchers raised a full range of issues in their signs, their chants, and in comments to Manhattan Express. Lara Tyson, an Upper West Sider who has taught in public schools for a decade and currently works in Harlem, held up a sign reading “Teachers against Betsy DeVos,” the president’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Education who has been a leading advocate for charter schools in her home state of Michigan. “It’s ridiculous to hire a lobbyist against public money for public schools,” Tyson said. “She knows nothing about student loans or Pell grants. Charters have been a total failure in Michigan. They’re there to fake people into thinking there is choice. There is not oversight there.” Others voiced a more generalized concern about the threats many communities in the US could face under Trump. Ella Fine is a 13-year-old girl who was marching with her mother, Jocelyn. “I think equal rights for everyone is so important and I don’t think our president agrees with that,” Ella said. “I think it’s important for us to fight for equality.” Ella added she is “upset” by Trump assuming the presidency. Pastor Astrid Storm leads St. James Episcopal Church in Scarsdale. She explained, “I’m here for the same reason most people are here — for women and for women’s rights.” Storm said 12 people from her congregation

14

MANHATTAN EXPRESS

MANHATTAN EXPRESS

Marchers carried American Flags, Mexican Flags, and Rainbow Flags.

The genesis of Women’s Marches worldwide was the new administration’s policies toward women’s rights and health.

had traveled from Westchester County to Midtown to participate, and were part of a group of roughly 100 people from nearby churches. Melissa Faliveno, a young woman from Greenpoint, emphasized her solidarity with women across the nation. “I don’t want to accept or condone misogyny or homophobia or xenophobia or racism,” she said. “I am marching for all the women in my life and their daughters and for those women who don’t feel safe marching today. And I am marching to resist.” Joanna Leff, who lives in Crown Heights, carried a sign for Equality NY, a political action committee formed in 2016 to advance LGBTQ

rights in the wake of the demise of the Empire State Pride Agenda, which had carried that mantle for more than 25 years. “We’re all here for the same thing, to defend women’s rights and human rights and LGBT rights,” Leff said. “I am worried about how the next four years are going to go and how things are changing already.” Comments from at least a few marchers suggested that concern within the LGBTQ community about what a Trump administration could herald is keeping some circumspect in their criticisms.

c RASPBERRIES, continued on p.15

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c WOMEN’S MARCH, from p.14 whenever he may choose. Creative signs, also mostly homemade, shouted out support of equal rights for all and dismay at the bigotry, misogyny, and crudeness of the new president. “This Is Only The Beginning,” was the sign Kristen Rogers wore as she directed crowds as part of the organizing crew. An attorney, she traveled from California because she felt that “it’s more important than ever that people band together and truly participate in our democratic process. What we’ve seen in the discourse of this past election cycle needs to be addressed head-on consistently in the next four years.” She added, “In two years we have midterm elections and it’s critical that we have incredible turnout among Democrats and progressives so we can affect the redistricting cycle.” The DC march was the heart of a worldwide swell of Women’s Marches Saturday that drew an estimated three million people. In her speech from the podium, longtime feminist leader Gloria Steinem said that 370 such gatherings were taking place in every state and on six continents (see page 4).

LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT

c WOMEN’S MARCH, continued on p.18 c RASPBERRIES, from p.14 “We’re here to show our support for those who are under attack,” a Sunset Park man marching with his husband said. “Building unity and speaking out against injustice, tyranny.” The man, however, declined to give his name. “I work in the public domain,” he explained. His husband identified himself as Joseph Canale. A woman carrying a sign labeled with the logo of the Human Rights Campaign, the Washingtonbased LGBTQ lobby, and reading “Equality, Justice, Love Make America Great,” said, “We have to do something. We can’t just sit down and let this happen. Keep resisting. Keep fighting. Telling our legislators how we feel. Keep speaking up. I am very concerned about LGBTQ rights, about violence and hatred against all minorities.” The woman, who lives in Westchester County, was marching with her young daughter and her mother, who was celebrating her 78th birthday on Saturday. Asked her name, the woman said, “I’d rather not.” T he spir ited crowds a lter nated cha nts throughout the day, and addressed a variety of issues as they did so. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go” and “Donald Trump, go away, racist, sexist, anti-gay” were the most common refrains, but the crowd also chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here.” And in a reminder that many in the crowd have ambivalence about the prospect of Trump at some point over the next four years giving up his position, marchers also chanted, “Pence sucks, too.” n ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | January 26 - February 08, 2017

15


EXPRESS OURSELVES

Chaos and Canards Take Center Stage PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jackson Chen Lincoln Anderson Scott Stiffler COLIN MIXSON Yannic Rack Alex Ellefson Jane Argodale jefferson siegel lenore skenazy

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Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Manhattan Express, One Metrotech Center North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn 11201 or call 718-260-4586. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Manhattan Express.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

T

here’s little that any reasonable observer could have expected Donald Trump to do in his first days in office that would have eased the anxieties of the estimated three million people — including 400,000 in Midtown — who turned out for Women’s Marches worldwide the day after his inauguration. But it’s now very clear that the new president had absolutely no interest in even trying. From a strikingly dark Inaugural Address to a series of stupid fights t h at rei n force questions about his honesty and that of his team to a burst of policy actions and edicts that ref lect a sharp right turn and an autocratic temperament, Trump has proven he intends to bring the chaotic and crude style of his campaign to the presidency. None of this provides any cause to hope that

reason a nd st abi l it y can reign in the worst instincts of this arguably unbalanced man. With four of his predecessors sitting behind him on the dais at the Inauguration, Trump said, “For too long, a sma l l g roup i n ou r n at ion’s c apit a l h a s reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.” The barely masked disdain for the former presidents might have been more palatable as a Trumpian populist rallying cry had he not named a cabinet full of billionaires, whose net worth CBS News has estimated at 50 times greater than the cabinet of George W. Bush, the last Republican president. T r u m p ’s r e m a r k s included a stark portrait of American society jarring in its disconnect with the reality on the ground, one that in acknowledging the disadvantages faced by the most economically challenged among us managed to

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c CHAOS, continued on p.17

Of Thee I Sing, Baby!

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American anti-Semites to any US role in taking on Hitler’s Germany. From that unpromising start, Trump moved into a weekend of childi sh sk i r m i she s over issues like the size of the Inauguration crowd and whether it was a media myth that he was antagonistic toward the intelligence community, which 10 days earlier he had suggested was acting like “Nazi Germany.” Both he and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, u n a mbi g uousl y l ie d about t he si ze of t he inaugural crowd, and when they were called on it, Kellyanne Conway was dispatched to warn ominously that if the press “keep referring to our press secretar y in those types of terms, I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.” Tension bet ween t he W hite House and the media is nothing new, but the president saying

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suggest deep pathology in the communities where they live. “For too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system f lush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential,” the president said. “This American carnage stops r ig ht here a nd stops right now.” Pivoting to foreign relations, Trump sketched a retreat from America’s traditional global leadership role in favor of a focus on “America First,” a phrase the Anti-Defamation League has urged him to avoid given its genesis in the pre-Pearl Harbor resistance by

BY LENORE SKENAZY

T

he shower is where America does it — in private, with no one judging, just because it feels good. I’m talking about singing, of course, that once-universal pastime that uplifts the soul, re-boots the body, and doesn’t demand a monthly fee. So why aren’t we singing all the time? In “La La Land,” the hit movie that may sweep the Oscars, everyone on screen bursts into song. Yes, that’s what a musical is: an embarrassing admission that we’re all a-tingle with music, just waiting for the chance to explode. But aside

from Disney, most moviemakers have not been pumping out songand-dance movies for, oh, about half a century. There’s a reason more Americans knew Carrie Fisher than her mom, Debbie Reynolds, star of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Musicals were once the most American of movies. Now action movies are. But with the success of “La La Land,” that may be about to change — and maybe we’ll change, too. Singing is so basic to human happiness, some scientists believe it might have evolved even before language. It was the way stories were passed down before writing, because it is a lot easier to remem-

ber a song than a paragraph. And that’s why kids still sing their ABC’s — our brains are built to embed music. What’s more, when actual language eludes us — for instance, after a stroke — sometimes music doesn’t, since it is processed in another area of the brain. After my mom had lost almost all her memory, I could sing a few songs from her childhood and she could, out of the fog, join in. The power of music is mysterious. One study of cancer patients found that an hour of singing

c SKENAZY, continued on p.17

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


that reporters “are among the most dishonest human beings on earth� evidences an unprecedented hostility toward a free press. By Monday, Trump had moved on to a new canard: his claim, absent any evidence whatsoever, that three to five million “illegal aliens� — his particular obsession — had cast votes against him. His call on Wednesday morning for a “major investigation� into that issue suggested we may once again start hearing about the dire need for cumbersome restrictions on access to the polls, the kind of measures that have tamped down voting in urban communities in the past. Where the president focused on governing — as opposed to divisive quarreling — the implications were equally troubling. His vague executive order allowing agencies to softpedal enforcement of Obama-care provisions threatens to deprive Americans of health care before the Republicans have presented any replacement plan. With executive orders issued or expected within days on diverting money to start work on the southern border wall — Trump insists we’ll be reimbursed by Mexco — on stripping government funding from sanctuary cities, and on reducing entry into the US by refugees and residents from some Muslim-majority countries, the president is making good on the anti-immigrant fearmongering he and his crowds relished on the campaign trail.

c SKENAZY, from p.16 boosted their immune proteins. It also lowers blood pressure. Even people with lung disease feel better when singing. And of course, it is bonding. Sing with a group and you are one — a fact understood by anyone who has ever been in a choir, or in the military, or on a bus to summer camp. But Americans (heck, humans) have been singing less and less ever since technology started to do it for us. While in the pre-Edison era most middle class families had a piano around which to sing, the record player and radio made it easy to hear music anytime. The smart phone made it even easier. And since the people singing on tape, television, and iTunes (but not necessarily YouTube) sing bet-

The gag order on recipients of US aid overseas providing counseling on abortion will not merely eliminate discussion of that option from the services provided to poor women around the globe, more importantly it will thin the ranks of groups qualified to offer any kind of sexual health services, including prenatal care, contraceptive alternatives, and HIV/ AIDS prevention and treatment. People will die as a result of this move. The scrubbing of issues from climate change to LGBTQ rights from the White House website signals that the right-wing zealots who have dominated his early appointments enjoy the upper hand in the new administration. His reversal of President Barack Obama’s actions on the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines represents the first victory for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s climate science-denying nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, where new restrictions placed on employees who previously communicated with the public have raised concerns about a gag order there as well. Americans are being warned not to trust the media. Are we now no longer going to be hearing from our government climate scientists? This is a dispiriting, though hardly surprising start. Each new day is likely to bring fresh bad news, and we should all mark next Thursday, in particular, on our calendar. That’s when the president will announce his choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. n

    

 

   

  

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ter than the rest of us, we started to believe that this is a task, like neurosurgery, best left to the professionals. So, barring the occasional “Jingle Bells,â€? or “Happy Birthday,â€? most of us sing only to ourselves if we sing at all. Even the clergy report that congregants are singing less. This is a loss of such gargantuan proportions, it is as if we stopped walking or dancing. What would it take for us to bring singing back into our everyday lives? • Make singing a regular part of school: By the time kids are in eighth grade, only a third have a music class. What’s more, there doesn’t seem to be much agreement on which songs to teach. So even though my kids went to public

c SKENAZY, continued on p.23

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | January 26 - February 08, 2017

                  

   

   

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c WOMEN’S MARCH, from p.15 On a bus from New York City the day before the March, women explained their dedication and drive. Anne Beaty, from Connecticut, unfolded a banner that read: “Nasty Women Revolt” and said she was meeting a friend traveling from Paris. Alex Trinkoff, from Long Island, and her daughter Kyra Shor, who lives in Brooklyn, both Smith College graduates from different eras, have long shared feminist views. “I have felt extremely vulnerable since the election,” said Shor. “I’m sick of feeling not valued. I want my voice to be heard. My mother has been taking me to feminist rallies since I was a baby. It feels as if things have gotten worse.” Trinkoff made clear, “I’m walking for my daughter. What I say and what I do matters. We have to stand against rhetoric that incites violence and promote the love quotient.” Despite a chilly, gray mist, the mood of the marchers was sunny. Ann Grant, a public defender from Massachusetts with her sevenmonth-old daughter Vivian wrapped tightly to her chest, said of her child, “It’s important that she start her civic duty early. This presidency is going to require a lot of dissent and a lot of action by the people to demonstrate that they don’t approve of his creeping autocracy.” Grant held a sign that read: “There’s More To Protest Than I Can Fit On My Sign.” Also in the crowd, a group of five activists, several from the group Women of Green, who had driven 1,800 miles from New Mexico. Their sign encouraged everyone to “Meditate, Listen, Organize, Dance, and Make America Beautiful Again.”

Tess Young, a dancer, personal trainer, and member of the New Mexico contingent, said that she was “born and raised in Korea, so I know when you have a country with a bad leader, the country is really in trouble. I’m here to participate.” Greg Newcomb, who works in advertising and graphic design and lives in DC with his husband, explained, “We’re a gay couple. We believe in human rights. We are supporters of equality for everyone. We have a lot of women in our lives, strong, powerful women that we are here to support. I’ve said to friends, ‘I came out of a vagina so I believe in supporting those who gave us life.’” Young marchers included Accalia Frey, a 17-year-old freshman at Hofstra University, who worked behind the scenes at the presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the Long Island college. “I’m not really happy with this president so I wanted to be able to come here and express my views,” she said. Even younger was six-year-old Sophie Cr uz, accompa nied by her undocumented parents, who offered a heart-melting speech from the stage. “Let us fight with love, faith, and courage so that our families will not be destroyed,” she said, “I also want to tell the children not to be afraid, because we are not alone. There are still many people that have their hearts filled with love.” Sophie spoke in English, then repeated the same words in Spanish, and ultimately led a call to action that filled the air with hundreds of thousands of voices: “Si se puede!” or “Yes we can!”

DONNA ACETO

A marcher grabs a selfie with feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

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DONNA ACETO

Support for LGBTQ rights was another prominent part of the march.

The stage welcomed more than 40 other speakers as well as several dozen performers. “Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs a re,” Stei nem told crowd ea rly on. “ Trump and his handlers have found a fox for every chicken coop in Washington. A Twitter finger must not become a trigger finger.” Turn to the issue of reproductive choice, she added, “If you cannot control your body from the skin in, you cannot control it from the skin out. You cannot control your lives — our lives — and that means the right to decide whether and if to give birth without government interference.” In that vein, Scarlett Johansson made an impassioned plea in support of Planned Parenthood, talking about the difference it made in her life when at age 15 she was able to seek guidance and care from the organization. Then, addressing the new president, she said she was marching in support of her daughter, “who may actually — as a result of the appointments you have made — grow up in a country that is moving backwards, not forwards, and who potentially may not have the right to make choices for her body and her future that your daughter Ivanka has been privileged to have.” New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth, and California’s Kamala Harris were among Democrats from the US Senate who addressed the crowd. “ This is about our countr y,” said Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in battle. “I didn’t shed blood to defend this nation — I didn’t give up literally parts of my body — to have the Constitution trampled on. I did not serve along with men and women

DONNA ACETO

Women’s issues formed the basis for an organizing effort that broadened quickly.

in our Armed Forces to have them roll back our rights.” Among other familiar names who came to the stage were filmmaker Michael Moore, actresses America Ferrera and Ashley Judd, activist and academic Angela Davis, political commentator Van Jones, singers Janelle Monáe, Maxwell, Alicia Keyes, and Toshi Reagon, and the march’s four co-chairs, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Tamika Mallory. The stage program, scheduled to end at 1 p.m., stretched until 2:30, by which time the crowd wanted to start moving and chants of “March, march” began. W hen ma rchers bega n t heir route from the Capitol end of the Wa sh i n g ton M a l l tow a rd t he Ellipse above the Washington Monument, the enormous crowd made movement nearly impossible and organizers scrambled to improvise a more viable route. In the end, the Women’s March on Washington was judged the largest nonviolent demonstration in history. n

January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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The Fire This Time BY GARY M. KRAMER

T

he extraordinary documentar y “I A m Not Your Negro” uses text from James Baldwin’s u n f i n i she d w ork “ R e me mb e r This House,” along with archival footage ranging from the author speaking at Cambridge University to his appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show,” as the cornerstone for examining the oppression and invisibility endured by A frican Americans — then and now. Director Raoul Peck judiciously intercuts Baldwin’s texts and appearances with images drawn from school integration battles and vintage Hollywood films as well as more contemporary footage of Rodney King and the Black L i ve s M at t e r mo ve me nt . T he result, a Best Doc Oscar nominee, is a sobering, stirring probe into race’s impact on America. “To be a Negro in this country a nd to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time,” Baldwin, who lived from 1924 until 1987, eloquently states at one point in the film. V i e w e r s o f “ I A m N ot Yo u r Negro,” however, a re as li kely to be inspired as enraged. In a recent phone i nter v iew, Peck explained that his film is “about the words and the importance of this man and his work.” “My motivation — and I started 10 years ago, before Obama — was that there was this feeling that the way we were handling the discussion about race in this countr y was resolved,” he said. “We have Black Histor y Month, and Martin Luther King Day, and a black bourgeois, which profited from the Civil Rights Movement. The ones who a re still poor or are in the ghettos and victims of violence, it’s their fault. We were going further and further away from Ba ldw in, who was lesser and lesser known in this country. He was seen as a has-been or

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MAGNOLIA PICTURES

James Baldwin, as seen in Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro.”

a minor writer, and there was all this ignorance.” Peck, who was born in Haiti, said that he came to appreciate Baldwin after someone gave him a copy of “ The Fire Next Time,” and has been reading and reflecti ng on t he aut hor ever si nce. Working alone, Peck secured the rights to Baldwin’s body of work from the author’s estate, and he took the time to make the film he wanted. “ T he f ilm was about how do I make sure James Baldw in is remembered, and his words come back center stage?,” he explained. To do t his, t he documenta rian decided he had to confront the audience directly w ith the author’s words. He features no talking heads in “I Am Not Your Negro” — “because no one has to interpret Baldwin,” Peck insisted. “It has to be as direct and raw as Baldwin can be so the present generation has access to what I had access to when I was young,” he continued. “So they can see through the confusion of a media world where people are getting data without any information.” T he f i l m tog g les back a nd forth in time to contrast history with current events to show how

things have — or sadly, have not — changed in the decades since Ba ldw i n w rote h is books a nd gave his speeches. Pe ck i s succe s sf u l i n m a king these connections resonate because of the care he took in assembling the film. When the f ilmma ker discovered a quote of Baldwin’s, he would also find notes from the author such as: “I was listening to this music when I was talking about that…” Discoveries prompted Peck to invest igate: W hat was t hat music? Because he did his homework, the film is richer and more illuminating. One of the best qualities of “I Am Not Your Negro” is Baldwin moving audiences — both at the time and those today who w ill see him speaking in Peck’s film — to think about representations of African Americans in popular culture and political discourse. W hen Ba ldw i n u npacks t he image of Joan Crawford in 1931’s “Dance, Fools, Dance,” admiring her beauty and talent, he also quest ions t he lack of roles for African Americans in the musicals of that era. Peck appreciates Ba ldw i n’s ability to stir such introspection.

“No one who sees my film can be innocent anymore,” he said. “You’ve seen through the machine. You can watch the musical and beautiful people dancing in a magical world, but then you question — where are the others? You can’t watch those films the same way again.” That perspective, Peck asserted, can change the way Americans engage the culture and the political system. “It should be part of our education, how to watch images, TV, and the entertainment industry,” he said. “Baldwin likens it to the use of a narcotic. Reality shows are there to empty your brain, and if your brain is full of ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta,’ how can you make a revolution?” He continued, “ The magic of a musical — you can get into it, and let yourself go. But that’s soft power. This idea goes everywhere in the world. I grew up watching ‘Tarzan’ and John Ford films, and even in Haiti, playing cowboys and Indians as a child, no one wanted to be the Indian. That’s how ideology functions, as well. The same is true with gender images of women or a little girl. Nothing is innocent. I wish that people will get that from the film and question what they are watching.” Baldwin certainly questioned and critiqued what he saw, in his writing and his speeches. Peck’s astonishing film “I Am Not Your Negro” could well prompt renewed participation in the conversations Baldwin started. n

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January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c WALDORF, from p.8 construction reflected the city’s evolution as a global destination. World leaders and dignities have long made the hotel their home base in the city, and it has traditionally also been the first choice of US presidents in town on official business. While many preser vationists praised the LPC for reacting so expeditiously after the property was purchased in 2014, they appealed to the agency to add the Starlight Roof. The 18th floor restaurant originally had a retractable roof that allowed diners to see into the night sky, but it was permanently closed in 1950 to accommodate air conditioning. Still, the Historic Districts Council argues that the interior elements are largely intact and deserve preservation. “While HDC understands the rationale of its disjointed nature from the other spaces because of its high-floor situation,” Barbara Zay, HDC’s manager of preservation and research, said at the hearing, “we hope thorough evaluations of this room’s historic resources were considered and that they will not be lost.”

c SKENAZY, from p.17 school, K–12, they don’t know “My Country ’Tis of Thee” or even “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” You can argue that we have a wider world now, but sharing at least a few songs is an easy way for people to connect. • Stop trying to sing like Mariah: Nowadays when we sing, we think we have to sound like the professionals. (See: Karaoke.) But that’s like saying that anyone who wants to play basketball shouldn’t bother unless he has the word “Jordan” in his name. Singing is actually a skill that almost everyone gets better at the more they do it. (Not great at. Just better.) • E stablish your own glee club: Around the country, people are starting informal groups where people get together and sing. This

Zay is hoping the LPC will work with the new owner in preserving the Starlight Roof ’s mar velous ceilings. Some of the hotel’s employees are showing their support for interior landmarking. Jeff Kalfus, a private dining waiter and wine server at the Waldorf, appeared at the hearing to testify on behalf of many of his coworkers. In the 16 years he’s been at the Waldorf, Kalfus said, he’s learned much about the building’s rich history, Frank Sinatra performing at the Starlight Roof just one among many stories he’s heard. “The Art Deco and the rooms are so beautiful,” Kalfus said. “It’s just an amazing place and we don’t want the new company to just dismantle it, we want them to preserve and restore it.” Even though roughly half of the hotel’s employees opted to leave after Anbang offered buyouts, most of them still cherish their workspace as illustrative of a glamorous element in the city’s history, according to Kalfus. “I love my job, it’s like being invited to a party everyday,” he said. “It’s just a special place.” n

sounds so fun that I’m thinking of starting one myself — provided everyone sings better than I do. • Join the party: In the meantime, find a place — church, synagogue, mosque, community center — where people are already singing and join in. In turn, whoever’s in charge should remember to promote the kind of songs the average person likes to sing — not too complex, not too soprano. There’s a reason folk songs lasted through the centuries. They’re written for the folks, not opera stars. • Start singing!: Do it while waiting for the bus. And if I happen to be standing next to you, I just may join in. Lenore Skenazy is the author and founder of the book and blog “FreeRange Kids” and a contributor at Reason.com. n

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January 26 - February 08, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc

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