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GILI GETZ

What Judaism Looked Like

Monday Night at Trump International 02 Health Department Owns Up to UES Rat Problems 06

February 09 - 22, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 03

Amazon Site You Can’t Reach on Your Laptop 08

Mint Theater’s World Premiere of 1933 Stage Gem 20 MANHATTANEXPRESSNEWS.NYC


Judge, Rabbis Joined in Resistance

to Trump Immigration Order BY PAUL SCHINDLER & MANHATTAN EXPRESS STAFF

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s a three-judge panel weighs t he gover n ment ’s app e a l of a bold February 3 temporary restraining order from a Seattle federal district judge, President Donald Trump continues to be frustrated — at least temporarily — in his effort to enforce a sweeping, though ineptly crafted and implemented order limiting immigration and refugee entry into the US. The hearing on the matter by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals capped nearly two weeks in which New Yorkers — at John F. Kennedy Airport, at a federal courthouse in Brooklyn and at Borough Hall there, outside the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, and in Columbus Circle, among numerous locations — gathered en masse to protest and even resist the new president’s action. District Judge James Robart’s decision, a temporary injunction blocking Trump’s order while the court weighed its merits, clearly signaled Robart’s sense that the president had exceeded his legal authority by imposing nationality and religious tests on immigrants without demonstrating any rational basis for his policy. Americans, in huge numbers, shared that conclusion, and demonstrations erupted nationwide and brought thousands of New Yorkers to JFK immediately after its implementation and into the st reets on repeated occasions before and since. One of the most dramatic demonstrations against the president’s immigration and refuge curbs came Monday evening, when 19 rabbis affiliated with the group T ’r ua h, T he R abbinic Ca ll for Human Rights, were arrested after staging a sit-in on Central Park West outside the Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle. Rabbi Jill Jacobs explained,

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giLI getZ

Nineteen rabbis affiliated with the Jewish social justice group T’ruah staged a sit-in on Central Park West outside the Trump International Hotel on February 6. Later, the group tweeted, “This is what Judaism looks like.”

“We took this action because we, as rabbis and Jews, know too well the dangers of closing America’s borders to those fleeing war, persecution, and terror. In the rhetoric employed against Muslims, we hear the echoes of the language used to close the borders to our own community beginning in 1924. And we took this action because our tradition teaches us the obligation of pikuach nefesh — saving a life above almost all else. Today’s refugee crisis is nothing less than a matter of life and death… Finally, we took this action because we are standing up for the soul of America, which has long defined itself as a home for people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds. When the core values of our country are at stake, we must speak out.” Among the other rabbis arrested were Rabbi David Ingber of Romemu, a congregation with services on West 105th Street, Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum and David Dunn Bauer of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, an LGBTQ congregation on West 30th Street, and Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Brooklyn’s Congregation Beth Elohim. The group included, as well, rabbis from around the nation. In a post on Facebook, Kleinbaum wrote, “Let’s keep what we

did in perspective, those of us arrested were white with excellent pro bono lawyers standing ready. Honestly, I can’t take credit for profound courage. I’m not facing daily bombings or fleeing in terror. I don’t face police brutality because I am black or brown. That’s real courage. But I will use whatever voice I DO have to speak in the name of my God and my tradition against the injustices being done.” Grassroots protests began on the eve of Trump announcing his order, issued on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day — which he bizarrely acknowledged without any mention of its six million Jewish victims — when thousands gathered in Washington Square in a rally hastily called by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. West Side City Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose father, the child of a Korean woman and a US GI, was adopted at age three in Seoul and brought to the US and whose maternal great-grandparents came here from Ireland, told the crowd, “We in New York City are going to be the face of resistance. Forty percent of New Yorkers are foreign-born. Why are we the greatest city in the world? Because of our people.”

Of the president, Johnson said, “We have a leader who is not just a demagogue, but a pathological liar with no impulse control, and the facts mean nothing to him.” T houg h i m m ig rat ion r ig ht s advocates were prepared for the worst, the breadth and arbitrariness of Trump’s order the next day shocked many. All refugee entry would be barred for 120 days, and entry by Syrian refugees suspended indefinitely. Most immigration would also be suspended for 90 days from seven Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The libertarian, and generally conservative, Cato Institute immediately took note of the fact that between 1975 and 2015, not a single American was killed on US soil as the result of terrorist attacks by nationals from any of the seven countries. Other observers pointed out that Trump’s family business has no dealings in those nations but does in other Muslim nations, such as Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 9/11 attackers came from. A s customs of f ici a ls bega n enforcing the president’s order on January 28, Americans spontaneously flocked to major airports

c RESISTANCE, continued on p.3

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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c RESISTANCE, from p.2 around the nation in protest. The demonstrators who gathered outside Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport were a strikingly diverse group made up of some homegrown New Yorkers and others from far-flung parts of the world. One shocked bi-national couple voiced the anxieties that affect their own lives. “It’s absolutely nerve-wracking because we are working on staying here,” said Camila QuinterosStein, 26, from Peru. “We are married and we are working on our green card, so I was like wait, I just submitted some paperwork, what do I do now?” Phoebe Quinteros-Stein, who is originally from New Jersey and married to Camila, said, “As the American in the relationship, I am pretty ashamed.” Camila added, “I don’t think this is the end of democracy. I think it is a wake-up call for a lot of Democrats and liberals to not accept that our conversation should be amongst ourselves... and to actually speak to people outside of our bubbles.” The outpouring of love for the refugees overwhelmed one Muslim man. “I’m from New York, born and raised in Queens, and I live in Westchester,” said Adil Iqbal, a 33-year-old doctor. When he learned of the president’s order, he said he knew he had to stand in solidarity for all people. “I’m grateful that I’m in New York City, the most tolerant place in the world. Islam is about peace, and I think the media has created

a huge misconception on who Muslims are across the world,” Iqbal said. “This is the fruit of that. For a decade and a half the media been injecting fear toward Islam, and they have gotten this idiot Trump elected.” Even as thousands held vigil at Kennedy, news of an emergency federal court hearing on a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on Trump’s order in Brooklyn on the evening of January 28 spread quickly on social media, and demonstrators headed to Cadman Plaza East near the Brooklyn Bridge. By the time the court’s decision came down at 9 p.m., a large crowd erupted in singing, chanting, and cheering alongside a live brass band. Inside, Judge Ann Donnelly had to shush whoops as she granted a temporary stay regarding a portion of Trump’s order, finding that returning some of those detained — already holding visas, green cards, or refugee status — could subject them to “irreparable harm.” “If they had come in two days ago, we wouldn’t be here,” said Donnelly. The attorneys who successfully intervened won widespread praise, as did the thousands who turned out in support of those struggling to enter the country. “This is just so beautiful, I am just so proud,” said Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, a Democrat who spent that day at Kennedy Airport with her colleague, Jerry Nadler, who represents Manhattan’s West Side. Velázquez, whose

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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

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Lex Line Riders Breathe Easier as Second Ave Subway Catches On

PATRICK CASHIN/ METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

The crowds surrounding Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA chair Thomas F. Prendergast for the January 1 inaugural ride of the Second Avenue Subway hinted at what became respectable first-month ridership numbers.

BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Second Avenue Subway is succeeding in relieving congestion for Upper East Side commuters on the Lexington Avenue lines, according to statistics released last week by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A month into service, the Second Avenue Subway saw more than 155,000 riders on Januar y 27, according to the agency’s numbers released on February 1. The ridership was calculated by the agency tallying the commuters who entered and exited the three new stations from 72nd to 96th Street as well as

used the line’s transfer point to the existing subway network. On that Friday, the Second Avenue Subway’s 96th Street station saw more than 30,000 unique riders, the 86th Street station served close to 46,000 commuters, and the 72nd Street station saw the most, at 51,000 subway riders. The Lexington Avenue-63rd Street station saw more than 28,000 passengers transferring to and from the F line. “The Second Avenue Subway has already become an integral part of the Upper East Side, and these ridership figures show just how important this expansion project is to the neighborhood and our economy,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a release. “This project is proof that government can still get big things done, and these early ridership numbers send a clear message that when we deliver on our promises New Yorkers respond.” The 155,000 riders still falls below the MTA’s estimated daily ridership of 200,000 for the Second Avenue Subway, but the agency said ridership has grown steadily at 8,000 additional users each week.

While the new line seems successful on its own merits, another barometer of the Second Avenue Subway’s impact was drawn from evidence of reduced congestion on the Lexington Avenue lines. According to the MTA’s numbers, the Lexington Avenue Line’s 96th Street station dropped from 55,000 riders to 41,000, the 86th Street station fell from 132,000 riders to around 95,000, the 77th Street station saw a reduction from 74,000 to 60,000 and the 68th Street station declined from 66,000 riders to 45,000. John Fallon, an Upper East Sider who is a member of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, said his commute can be as little as 10 minutes from the 57th Street station near his law offices to the 72nd Street station by his home. “Overall it’s great,” Fallon said, adding he’s been riding the line since its opening. “They’ve done a very good job and it came out a lot better than I expected. It’s very convenient.”

c 2nd AVENUE SUBWAY, continued on p.5

Maloney Says Second Ave Subway a Trump Infrastructure Priority BY JACKSON CHEN

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choing earlier press reports, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney on January 26 confirmed that President Donald Trump and his team have listed Phases 2 and 3 of the Second Avenue Subway among their infrastructure priorities for federal funding. According to documents obtained and reported on by the Kansas City Star two days earlier, Trump’s preliminary list of infrastructure priorities totals around $137.5 billion and includes three projects within New York City and another one elsewhere in the state. With $14.2 billion in funding earmarked on the list, the Second Avenue Subway’s Phases 2 and 3 would first expand the new line up to Harlem to link to the 125th Street Station of the Lexington Avenue 4, 5, and 6 lines, and then extend work south toward Houston Street. Other projects in the city on the new president’s infrastructure list include the Gateway Program that would create a new train tunnel underneath the Hudson River, linking Penn Station and Newark, and the Champlain Hudson Power Express that would bring wind and water energy into the city’s electricity network. Further north, the Peace Bridge that connects Buffalo

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JACKSON CHEN

US Representative Carolyn Maloney discussing the Trump administration’s commitment to the Second Avenue Subway project at a January 26 press conference.

and Canada was also included in the leaked list. “Everything has to start with a plan, and the first step is the infrastructure priorities that this administration will be backing,” Maloney said. “Fifty projects are on this list — I have not seen

this list — I just know that the Second Avenue Subway is on it. My job is to get it on the list and keep it on the list.”

c MALONEY, continued on p.18

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Parks Advocate Challenges Helen Rosenthal for Council BY JACKSON CHEN

A

fierce parks advocate from the Upper West Side has launched his first bid for elective office, a challenge to incumbent City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal for her District 6 seat. Cary Goodman, 66, who announced his run on January 27, has no experience in elective office nor has he served on his local community board, a launching pad for many city councilmembers. He last worked as a City Hall staffer in 1977, for Gilberto Gerena Valentín, a Bronx councilmember. Goodman is the executive director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District in the Bronx and worked as a public school teacher for more than a decade. He has recently become highly visible on the Upper West Side as a staunch vocal opponent of the American Museum of Natural History’s Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation expansion that would encroach on the surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park. Goodman explained he was inspired by President Barack Obama’s farewell speech, in which he said, “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.” Equally inspiring to him, the Upper West Sider said, was the January 21 Women’s March on Washington that brought out more than 500,000 participants. The challenger’s platform revolves around two major issues on the Upper West Side — the controversial Gilder Center expansion to be built at the museum’s Columbus Avenue entrance and the rezoning debacle within School District 3, where sharp socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic disparities exist among the schools. If he were to capture the District 6 seat, Goodman pledged, one of his first actions would be a freezing of city funding for the museum project. He would also propose legislation requiring community boards and borough presidents to hold a series of town hall meetings with constituents prior to — and not after, Goodman emphasized — endorsing, recommending, or approving major undertakings like the Gilder Center expansion. The political newcomer is taking aim at what he terms “Done Deal Democrats” — politicians who retain power by toeing the party line and

c 2nd AVENUE SUBWAY, from p.4 The attorney said he was initially critical of the potential disruptive nature of the station design and construction near him, but that the end result overall is positive. Fallon said the Q trains are usually not crowded, especially

JACKSON CHEN

City Council hopeful Cary Goodman, outside the American Museum of Natural History’s Columbus Avenue entrance where the Gilder Center would be built.

maintaining the status quo, he explained. “When you go the day after the elections in New York City and take a look at the percentages that people who are elected have, they’re comparable to the statistics that you see in dictatorships in South America or in the Soviet Union,” Goodman said of Council and other local legislative contests. “Everybody wins like 89, 90, 95

JACKSON CHEN

Incumbent City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal.

compared to the Lexington Avenue lines he used to frequent and has since not returned to. Business ow ners on or nea r S e c ond Avenue who su f fer e d through the lengthy construction of the line are now more hopeful of customers returning. Sammy Musovic, president of the Second

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

percent, these enormous dilapidated scores, but the question is how come?” In his view, it’s because most elected officials share the same political affiliations, belong to the same Democratic clubs, and endorse each other blindly. In her last election for District 6 in November 2013, Rosenthal secured 78 percent of the vote, though her September primary win came in a tight, multi-candidate race. “What they do is sort of shut out the rest of the community in having its input in decisions like this one [the Gilder Center],” Goodman said. “It’s like a club, sort of incestuous, and precludes the kind of robust community involvement that I think a project of this magnitude should have.” When asked about Goodman’s run against her, Rosenthal welcomed the challenger. “The wonderful thing about a democracy is that everyone can run for office,” she said in an email response. “Multiple-candidate races are critical for residents to become ‘high information’ voters with debate on different perspectives and ideas.” Goodman seized on Rosenthal’s use of the word “debate” as an invitation to appear on a stage with her, and, in a message to Manhattan Express, wrote, “I officially accept her offer. Let’s start next month.” In contrast to Goodman, both Rosenthal and her predecessor, Gale Brewer, who is now Manhattan’s borough president, served on Community Board 7, with the incumbent councilmember serving as the board’s chair for two years. “This is a great opportunity for all residents to become further engaged and informed and I welcome that,” Rosenthal said. “No one should ever run un-opposed, it’s not democratic.” Goodman said he expects to challenge Rosenthal in the Democratic primary, but has had conversations with the Republican Party and would be happy to be endorsed by the Working Families Party. “I expect to give her a really solid race,” Goodman said. “I think we’re going to raise a significant amount of money. Our campaign is not going to be inaccessible… I like people, I like talking to people, I like working with people.” Goodman has not yet filed information about a fundraising committee with the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Rosenthal’s committee currently shows a relatively modest balance of just over $21,000. n

Avenue Merchant’s Association and owner of three restaurants on the avenue, said he’s been seeing more foot traffic in the area. “It’s definitely gotten better, people are feeling more confident, and Second Avenue has become more i nv it i ng,” Musov ic sa id. “It’s definitely been helpful, not

a lot, but I see one of my restaurants... maybe like a three percent increase.” Musovic predicted that once the weather gets warmer, people will begin walking around and stopping by outdoor cafés, and that’s when his restaurants will really see a boom in business. n

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Health Department Owns Up to UES Rat Problems BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he city’s Department of Health a nd Ment a l Hyg iene ha s released results of a rat population sur vey on the Upper East Side, detailing just how widespread the rodent infestation is throughout the area. According to a “Rat Indexing” map the department presented dur i ng a Communit y Boa rd 8 meet ing on Ja nua r y 31, t here were 250 properties with signs of rat activity out of the 1,389 sites inspected in the Rat Reservoir program. The program is the department’s efforts to reduce rat activity in certain hot pockets throughout Manhattan and the Bronx, and evidence of such activity contributes to an area’s “failure rate.” A f ter a surge i n compla i nts related to the construction of the Second Avenue Subway, the health department completed the neighborhood’s indexing in November 2016. For the Upper East Side, the borders of its Rat Reservoir program stretched from roughly East 80th to 100th Streets and from Park to York Avenues, with a small chunk of blocks from East 80th to 84th Streets from York to East End Avenue also surveyed. Properties highlighted in red were those found with rat activity, and those marked dark red had an even higher rat presence, according to Caroline Bragdon, the health department’s director of neighborhood interventions. Bragdon said the indexed area’s failure rate is just above 18 percent and her department’s goal is to reduce it to below five percent. The Upper East Side is home to many restaurants, parks, and old infrastructure combined with ongoing new construction projects — all factors that contribute to conditions where rats can thrive. The most decisive risk factor for a neighborhood, Bragdon said, is the amount of garbage it produces, especially when not disposed of quickly and cleanly. According to accounts by local residents, the area near the corner of East 88th Street and First Avenue is home to many rats digging through improperly disposed

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JACKSON CHEN

Rat burrows near the corner of East 88th Street and First Avenue.

trash. Matthew Duemesi, who lives near that corner, said rats are a constant presence and can frequently be seen during nighttime hours. “When I’m looking out my window at 2 in the morning, they’re on t he st reets, t hey’re on t he curb, they’re fighting each other,” Duemesi said. “It’s a circus.” According to the Upper East Side resident of 17 years, there are obvious signs of rat activity, with droppings across the street near

an alleyway and large burrows in the tree pits nearby. Duemesi said he believed the rats flourish due to a combination of trash bags being left out too long and recent construction at First Avenue between East 86th and 87th Streets. The health department’s Rat Index identified a particularly severe stretch of infestation in the area between East 90th and 92nd Streets from Second to Third Avenue, which are denoted on the map in dark red. The area’s neighborhood asso-

NYC HEALTH

A map available at the city health department’s website shows the intensity of rat infestation in the area bounded by East 90th and 92nd Streets and Second and Third Avenues.

ciation, however, noted that the problem is far-reaching across the entire CB8 district. “They’re overrunning the city,” Elaine Walsh, the president of the East 86th Street Neighborhood Association, said of the rats. “They’re here all the time. They’re just present ever y day i n ou r lives.” Walsh appreciates the department’s efforts, but said an equal amount of attention — in terms of sanitation enforcement and extermination efforts — should be paid to the entire CB8 district instead of focusing solely on the trouble spots identified by the Rat Indexing boundaries. “It has to cover all the blocks from Park [Avenue] to the river, then all the side streets,” Walsh said. “What’s going to happen is when you treat those areas, you basically displace those rats.” T he hea lt h depa r tment specifically targets the areas indicated in red on its map, but it also encourages all residents to engage its case managers when they visit to do inspections. The agency does outreach to residents and building owners through the community boards, neighborhood organizations, and elected officials to explain best practices to combat rat populations. Bragdon emphasized the importance of building managers putting out their garbage as close to the time when trucks pick up as possible so trash bags don’t linger on the streets. Trash should be placed in sturdy containers or ratresistant bags that rodents won’t gnaw through, she said. Regarding trash cans the city places on corners, Bragdon suggested local residents try to find a sponsor to purchase a Bigbelly solar-powered trash compactor — which runs about $3,000 a unit. That product is considered the gold standard to replace the typical mesh trash baskets the city provides. Bragdon emphasized the health department’s commitment to continue working with residents and the community board to schedule additional neighborhood walkthroughs and solicit feedback for its next round of indexing. n

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Non-Profit Funding Scramble Shifts from City Hall to Albany

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JACKSON CHEN

Frederick Shack, the CEO of Urban Pathways, at the February 2 press conference.

BY JACKSON CHEN

W

ith a storm of uncertainty and unwelcome signs coming out of the new Trump administration, a coalition of non-profits are looking to the state and its budget to help shore up their frayed sector aga inst a w idely a nt icipated decl i ne i n federa l resources. Across New York, more tha n 300 non-profit organizations have teamed up to launch the “Restore Opportunity Now” campaign in response to the $152 billion state budget blueprint that Governor Andrew Cuomo released on January 17. During a February 2 press conference, non-profits, like Urban Pat hways a nd t he Federat ion of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), were joined by state legislators in issuing a rallying cry that the state bolster human services funding. “I’m going to welcome you to what is the not-for-profit version of the movie ‘Groundhog Day,’” said Frederick Shack, the CEO of Urban Pathways. “Ever y day we replay t he day before, a nd we’re stuck in this loop where we struggle to change the narrative. Unlike the movie, ours is not a romantic comedy, it’s more of a tragedy.” Shack said his team at Urban Pathways continues to provide ser vices to the city’s homeless

despite operating with an underpa id sta ff a nd receiv ing reimbursement from government contracts that covers “85 cents on the dollar” relative to its costs. A llison Sesso, t he execut ive director of the Human Services Council, an umbrella organization that represents non-profits, has been working on the same issue at t he cit y level. In contracts with both levels of government, non-profits face a similar squeeze, and they are appealing for more funding to prevent the shuttering of vital human services organizations. “ There’s no doubt that we as a state and nation are going to see shr i n kage i n ter ms of t he amount of dollars that are available for our services,” Sesso said of a Trump administration that is unpredictable and also likely unfriendly toward the needs the groups she represents face. “We need to make sure the nonprofits as institutions are shored up so that they can weather this storm.” According to FPWA’s director of policy, Emily Miles, the issue comes up over and over in conversations with constituent organizations — all of it testimony to the struggles non-profits face in providing salaries and benefits their staffs can live on. The pressure on staffs, Miles said, inevi-

c NON-PROFIT, continued on p.18

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

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An Amazon Site You Can’t Reach on Your Laptop BY JACKSON CHEN

A

mazon — which for years has posed a mortal threat to bookstores everywhere — is changing up its customary strategy, at least in a handful of cases nationwide. Here in New York City, it’s planning to open its first local brick and mortar book store at 10 Columbus Circle. In response, local independent bookstores are wary as ever of Amazon, though not necessarily concerned that the move materially alters the competition they already face from the online retail giant. Media reports of the Seattle-based e-commerce company’s intention to open a physical location in a third-floor vacancy at the Time Warner Center first surfaced last month. Ironically, the site once housed Borders, which closed up shop in 2011 when the company went bankrupt. Now, walls wrapped in Amazon branding promise an opening this spring. Amazon Books has already opened three West Coast locations — in California, Oregon, and Washington — and is planning stores in Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and now New York City. According to the company’s website, the offerings in its brick and mortar venues are determined by “curators” based on customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, and popularity. In what is surely intended to promote membership in the Amazon Prime program — which promises reliably speedy delivery of all the company’s offerings — in-store prices available to those members are the same as they would find online. Since online retailers have swallowed up a majority of retail sales in the book industry, the sentiment toward Amazon among independent booksellers is understandably bitter. Chris Doeblin, the co-owner of Book Culture with three branches on the Upper West Side, makes no effort to mask his distaste for the online retailer and its tight grip on the book market. “A holistic view has to be taken on how we live,” he said. “Rapaciously supplying most of this industry’s goods at next to no profit is damaging. What you end up creating is a hollowed out industry that isn’t capable of producing the benefit to the public in the long run.” Doeblin explained that Amazon’s dominance in the market drastically reduces margins for publishers, straining available resources for authors and editors who create new product. The damage Amazon.com has inflicted on local bookstores, he said, has already been done and he and others have little concern about what a brick and mortar location at Columbus Circle will mean for them. “The store they’re opening is pretty close to us, our store on 82nd and Columbus,” Doeblin said. “But I don’t really anticipate an effect on the sales of our store.”

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JACKSON CHEN

An Amazon Books retail location is set to open at 10 Columbus Circle this spring.

Across town, Chris Lenahan at the Upper East Side’s Corner Bookstore said a proliferation in the number of bookstores is a good thing overall. “I’m a big believer in bookstores, and the more we have the better,” Lenahan said. “It’s just a little irritating it’s them.” The Corner owner said while Amazon’s launch in 1994 had a damaging effect on his store’s sales, its opening a physical bookstore this year probably wouldn’t have a big impact on his sales. Corner Bookstore, Lenahan said, has carved out a loyal clientele that’s attracted to its expertise in books, its service, and the wide variety in its stock. As perhaps the best known independent bookstore in the city, Strand also enjoys an instantly recognizable brand — though on a larger scale — through a similar formula of better book offerings and informed curating of its stock. Outside of its main outpost at 828 Broadway in the East Village, Strand has two kiosks uptown — in Times Square and near Grand Army Plaza at Central Park’s southeast corner — that operate like pop-up shops tailored to the area’s readers. “I think that’s something you’re going to find with booksellers who are passionate and will advocate for the books we believe in and love,” Whitney Hu, Strand’s communications director, said. “If [customers] are looking for that community vibe, that’s something independent bookstores can offer more so, that sort of custom vibe that’s harder to replicate with brick and mortars across the US.” With tried and true formulas, independent bookstores are not worried about how Amazon Books opening up a retail store may affect them, but Hu offered an insight into why the online

retailer may be looking to break into East Coast markets with physical locations. “I think people recognized they’re absorbed with their phones, and the opportunity to step back and read fosters some grounding,” Hu said, pointing to a recent upward tick in the paperback market. “There’s something about browsing, the experience and a physical presence that people still seek, and Amazon is probably interested.” According to the most recent annual report from the Association of American Publishers, paperback sales last year grew for the second year in a row, while retail sales in stores increased 1.8 percent, from $4.08 billion to $4.15 billion. St i l l, t he A A P ’s numbers demonst rate the dominance that online retail sales have achieved, with their total nearly 42 percent higher than sales in brick and mortar locations. But Book Culture, Corner Bookstore, and Strand don’t expect Amazon Books’ new Columbus Avenue store to poach any of their sales. In fact, there may be a silver lining, as Doeblin noted, with more bookstores serving essentially as billboards to draw greater public attention to what’s new in the publishing world. The city’s local bookstores, undaunted by Amazon’s latest gambit, seem ready for a face-off on their home turf. “From our standpoint, we see this as more of a challenge,” Hu said. “You can win in the online space, but now you’re in New York City. You’re in our home court, and it’ll be interesting to see who’ll reign.” Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on its plans for Columbus Circle and beyond. n

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Valuing Midtown Development Right Sales Stirs Opposition BY JACKSON CHEN

R

epresentatives of landmarked buildings, preser vation advocates, a nd the Real Estate Board of New York all criticized a set floor price standard established for development right sales under the proposed Midtown East rezoning during a Februar y 6 public hearing at Community Board 5. The rezoning is aimed at bringing modern office development to the stretch of blocks from roughly East 39th to 57th Streets, between Third and Fifth Avenues, and extending east to Second Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Streets. The proposal is currently in the community board phase of its public review process. If the rezoning is approved, developers would be able to build with greater floor-to-area ratios (or FARs, which compare total floor space to the size of the land parcel on which a building sits) by purchasing unused development rights from landmarks in the district or contributing to a public realm improvement project. Striking a balance among better developments, landmark preservation, and benefits for the public, the city recently filled in some blanks by announcing how much of a percentage of the development rights sale would go into a Public Realm Improvement Fund (PRIF). According to the Department of City Planning, the required PRIF contribution would be calculated as the greater of 20 percent of the development rights sale price or 20 percent — set at $78.60 per square foot — of the value of the incremental square footage allowable under the rights purchase. The agency established a $393 per square foot standard after completing a market study on December 31. DCP added that the floor price would be adjusted by the City Planning Commission every three to five years. The fund will be run by a nine-member governing group that is expected to include elected officials and representatives of city agencies and local community boards. Though they often find themselves clashing over preservation issues, the landmarks and real estate communities agree that establishing a floor price standard of $393 per square foot would have detrimental effects, discouraging the development that is the rezoning’s aim. Paimaan Lodhi, the vice president of urban planning for the Real Estate Board of New York, said whenever REBNY and landmark groups agree on an issue, their united opinion is bound to carry more weight.

MAX

c CB5, continued on p.18 ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

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Spurred by New Bus Terminal Threat, Hell’s Kitchen Residents Forge New Coalition BY JACKSON CHEN

A

t the Hell’s Kitchen South Community Coalition’s first official meeting on February 7, members presented the results of an expansive neighborhood survey conducted since December and began discussing their goals moving forward. The coalition was first ignited as the community’s way of responding to its lack of public input into the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s planning for a new bus terminal project. The Port Authority’s aging facility on Eighth Avenue between West 40th and 42nd Streets is long overdue for renovation, but the agency has been forced to restart its efforts in the face of a concerted effort waged by unhappy residents and local elected officials. According to Joe Restuccia, a member of the coalition as well as of Community Board 4, the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood has a history of uniting to oppose unwelcome local development. The Hell’s Kitchen South Community Coalition began its efforts with an extremely detailed survey distributed throughout the neighborhood beginning in December.

Several dozen residents showed up for the coalition’s first meeting, which focused on sharing the survey results that included more than 250 comments, on topics ranging from air quality and transportation to neighborhood preservation and housing. Nearly 30 percent of the comments mentioned the need to improve air quality overall, with roughly 16 percent calling for better enforcement of restrictions on idling buses and more than 10 percent suggesting that part of the bus terminal be relocated to New Jersey. Regarding transportation concerns, close to 20 percent of respondents said tunnel and street level traffic should be alleviated, with one comment emphasizing the need to carry this out prior to building any new bus terminal. The survey specifically posed the question of “where to rebuild the terminal,” with 70 percent of the 254 respondents saying both New York and New Jersey should share the burden, 84 percent saying the terminal should only use land already owned by the Port Authority — rather than resorting to eminent domain to capture property currently in private hands — and 65 percent preferring any rebuilding on Eighth

Avenue, rather than moving a new facility west of Ninth Avenue. On other community concerns, residents wanted to see more affordable housing, parks, playgrounds, and green roofs, the preservation of a diverse small business environment as well as the area’s limited number of historic structures, and extension of the 7 subway line to New Jersey. The Reverend Tiffany Henkel, the pastor at Metro Baptist Church at 410 West 40th Street, said she was not surprised at the impressive number of survey responses the group received, given the keen awareness Hell’s Kitchen residents have of neighborhood issues. “It was good to collect [the survey results] in the way we did,” Henkel said. “The numbers don’t tell the whole story, but I think it does help us get a sense of where we’re starting and gives us a basis to start our goals.” Since it was the coalition’s first meeting, Henkel pressed to create some structure by forming a steering committee to oversee coalition operations and a planning committee to spell out the

c COALITION, continued on p.11

Police Blotter HOMICIDE: KILLED IN HARLEM (28th Precinct) Police found a 22-year-old man with a gunshot wound to his head on January 25 at around 8 p.m. outside of 218 St. Nicholas Avenue, between West 120th and 121st Streets. The man was transported by EMS to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival, police said. The victim’s name was withheld pending family notification and the investigation is continuing, according to the NYPD.

HOMICIDE: THREE YEAR OLD BOY’S DEATH A HOMICIDE (23rd Precinct) Police have ruled an incident where a three-year-old boy died in August a homicide. On August 3, Caleb Rivera was found outside his Jefferson Houses home at 2215 First Avenue at East 114th Street in distress and with bruising on his body, police said. Police responded at around 6 p.m. alongside

10

EMS, who brought Rivera to Metropolitan Hospital, according to police. The boy was later transferred to Cornell Medical Center where he died on August 5 at around 12:30 p.m., said police, who indicated the investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY: MASSAGE PARLOR MUGGER (19th Precinct) A man was looking for cash, not comfort, when he robbed the Wellness Massage Spa at 232 East 80th Street on January 20 at around 3:30 p.m., police said. According to police, the suspect entered the massage parlor, brandished a knife, and demanded money from a 40-year-old female. The suspect was able to make off with $200 and there were no injuries from the incident, police said. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male, last seen wearing a gray knit cap, a white T-shirt, a blue jacket with the letter R on the back, blue jeans, and white sneakers with black soles and laces.

ROBBERY: BRUTAL BAG SNATCH (24th Precinct) Police arrested 18-year-old Souleymane Diaby and charged him with second-degree robbery for an incident at around 3 a.m. on January 26. Police said Diaby, an Upper West Sider, allegedly approached a 72-year-old female in front of 2788 Broadway between West 107th and 108th Streets, and grabbed her purse. When the victim resisted, Diaby allegedly punched her in the face several times before taking her purse with $250, an iPhone, and credit and debit cards, according to police. Police said the suspect fled eastbound on West 107th Street while the victim was transported to St. Luke’s hospital for cuts to her mouth and bruises to her face. She was later released.

HARASSMENT: TERRORISTIC THREAT (19th Precinct) A man is wanted for yelling, “I have a bomb and am not afraid to die,” aboard a northbound 6 train on January 5 at around 6 p.m., police said. According to police, the 6 train was heading north from the 86th Street station when the man

made the terror threat that caused panic among passengers aboard. The man fled the train and there were no reported injuries, police said. Police released a sketch of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male, 25 to 35 years old, between 5’5” and 6’, and last seen wearing a black coat, blue jeans, and a knit hat.

HOMICIDE: SHOT IN THE HEAD (28th Precinct) Police have arrested and charged Malachi Colon, a 21-year-old East Harlem resident, with second-degree murder, criminally negligent homicide, criminal use of a firearm, and criminal possession of a weapon. According to police, Colon allegedly shot Natalie Vasquez, a 24-year-old East Harlem resident, on December 9 at around 2 a.m. Vasquez was found inside the King Tower Houses apartment complex at 1370 Fifth Avenue, between West 112th and 115th Streets, with a gunshot wound to her head. She was declared dead at the scene, police said.

c BLOTTER, continued on p.11

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Book, Music, and Lyrics by Max Vernon

JACKSON CHEN

Joe Restuccia reviewed the history of past Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood mobilization.

c COALITION, from p.10 community’s priorities regarding future major projects in the neighborhood. The pastor added that in addition to seeking members for the committees, the coalition is looking for anyone with special skills like data analysis or fieldwork. “We have passion and we have food and we have power, that’s kind of where we are,” Henkel said. “We need some folks to help us really get motivated and moving around preserving our neighborhood.” She said the coalition would meet every two months or so, with the next scheduled meeting for April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Metro Baptist Church, unless something comes

c BLOTTER, from p.10 ROBBERY: CENTRAL PARK MENACE (Central Park Precinct) Shaiquisse Mont, 20, was arrested and charged with robbery, assault, and an attempted criminal sex act in connection with an incident on January 19, police said. At around 3:45 p.m., Mont allegedly approached a female victim walking in Central Park at around West 109th Street and Central Park West and grabbed her by the neck, took her to the ground, and demanded money, according to police. Police said the victim said she had no money and the suspect instead took her phone. Afterwards, Mont allegedly pulled down his pants and demanded the victim perform a sex act on him, police said. Two good Samaritans came to the victim’s aid when she screamed and chased the suspect, who managed to get away fleeing northbound.

Visit

Manhattan ExpressNews.nyc for area precinct listing.

up to require an emergency meeting at an earlier date. The coalition’s ultimate goal is to develop a cohesive community vision so that the Port Authority will turn to it collaboratively going forward. “We learned a long time ago these public actions happen one way or another,” Restuccia said. “We’re not going to stop the action from happening. Our goal is to shape how the action happens. By us being organized, that’s what makes a difference and enables community board and elected officials to walk into a room and sit with Port Authority officials, negotiate back and forth, and determine what is the plan that helps us instead of wipes us away.” n

MISSING PERSON: IYONJAH COX (20th Precinct) Iyonjah Cox, 15, was reported missing and last seen on January 31 at around 7:30 a.m. leaving her home at 240 West 65th Street. Police released a photo of Cox (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black female, approximately 5’5” and 125 pounds, and last seen wearing blue Timberland work boots and black pants, with her hair in a ponytail.

MISSING PERSON: JOSIAH DEJESUS (23rd Precinct) Police are also looking for 11-year-old Josiah Dejesus, who was reported missing and last seen on February 7 at around 10 a.m. inside his 230 East 115th Street home. Police released a photo of Dejesus (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male, 4’5”, 80 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair, and last seen wearing a black baseball cap, a blue jacket, and black sneakers.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

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c RESISTANCE, from p.3 district spans many immigrant neighborhoods in Ma nhatta n, Brooklyn, and Queens, added, “Now we have to bring justice to all the refugees who are escaping violence in their countries to be here — this is who we are.” The energy expended that first day did not dissipate passion about the issue, and the following day, January 29, an estimated 10,000 gathered in Batter y Park, with America’s most enduring symbol of immigration, the Statue of Liberty, as a backdrop. The crowd chanted, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!” and “No ban, no wall!” — a message many bore on signs and banners. Numerous Democratic elected officials attended the rally — including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Velázquez and Nadler, along with fellow House members, including Carolyn Maloney, who represents Manhattan’s East Side. Schumer vowed that he would “not rest until these horrible orders are repealed,” and credited the previous day’s protests at Kennedy with allowing dozens of people being held to enter the country. But he warned the work was not over. “We have made progress for 42 [visa holders],” Schumer said, “but we have to make progress for thousands, and tens of thousands more, and hundreds of thousands more.” Schumer, who as Senate minority leader is the most powerful political opponent Trump has in Washington, received a lukewarm welcome from the crowd, in part because he supported some of the president’s less controversial cabinet nominees. Some demonstrators chanted, “Oppose the nominees” following his speech. Schumer has faced repeated protests outside his Park Slope home, some urging him to “stiffen his spine.” Later on January 29, Maloney asked a House committee to investigate “how the executive order banning and restricting immigration signed on Friday came to fruition,” according to a release from her office. She wants to know what federal agencies the Trump administration consulted in preparing the order. Throughout the week that followed, activism and street protests over the immigration and refugee ban continued in New York, with a

12

STEFANO GIOVANNINI

Yemeni deli workers offer a prayer at the start of a February 2 rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

February 1 rally in Foley Square, site of the federal courthouse in Manhattan, organized by the Syria Solidarity New York City and CISPOS: Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria. The following day, Yemeni deli workers protesting Trump’s immigration policy went on strike and f looded Brooklyn Borough Hall Plaza, carrying f lags from Iraq, Ira n, L ibya, S oma l ia, Suda n, Syria, and Yemen — and plenty of American flags, as well. They were showing their dedication to the American dream, said one business owner. “We are here to stay,” said Ahmed Abboud, who closed his Bay Ridge bodega to attend the rally with his brothers and staff. “We are the fabric of our communities, our city, and our country. People depend on us and our businesses, and we deserve to be here, our families deserve to come here, and we deserve respect.”

The rally began with an Islamic prayer followed by remarks from elected officials and community activists urging solidarity. “We are all Muslim today,” said Borough President Eric Adams. “You have the right to your American dream. And to be part of what America stands for. And this sends a loud and clear message.” The section of Bay Ridge sometimes dubbed “Bay Root” for its sizable Middle Eastern community was a ghost town that afternoon, with businesses dark for the rally, many with signs in their storefront reading, “Refugees and Immigrants are welcome here. No Muslim ban. No border wall. Our communities stand tall.” “I don’t even care that this is costing me,” said Hussein Bahar, who co-owns a bodega with his brother in Sunset Park. “This is too important not to. How can I stay at home and not come out and defend myself? The people need to know

we are upset.” Solidarity was also the theme of a February 4 rally that drew thousands, in sub-freezing temperatures, to the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. “LGBTQ people have been fighting oppression for time immemorial,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson, one of the lead organizers of the protest endorsed by more than 60 groups and scores of elected officials, “so when we see an administration come after vulnerable communities, we feel it deeply and personally. We are declaring with one voice that we are in this together.” Jamila Hammami, executive director of the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, said, “I am not a single-issue person. We are under surveillance. We worry about bombings. We worry about Islamaphobia in our own community.” Debbie Almontaser, president of the board of the Muslim Community Network, said, “We need to show up everywhere. We cannot do it without you, and you cannot do it without us.” Ishalaa Ortega of Immigration Equality, a transgender woman of color from Mexico, talked about how her life was at risk in her country of birth because of her gender identity and how reading about the Stonewall Rebellion at the age of 12 gave her hope. “Until January 20, the world called this the country of freedom,” she said. “The asylum process was a painful journey. But we are here to stay!” Speakers also spoke of threats to the LGBTQ community, with

c RESISTANCE, continued on p.13

DONNA ACETO MILO HESS

Senator Chuck Schumer addresses the crowd at Battery Park.

Cynthia Nixon speaks at an LGBTQ rally outside the Stonewall Inn on February 4.tery Park.

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c RESISTANCE, from p.12 actor Cynthia Nixon ridiculing reports that Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner represent the bulwark against proposals within the White House to roll back advances such as the employment nondiscrimination requirements t hat P resident Ba rack Oba ma imposed on contractors doing business with the federal government. “They couldn’t even get the president to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day,” she said. The crowd included some firsttime protesters. Three young men stood at the front of the barricades by the stage for more than three hours, having left their homes without their hats. Ryker Allen, 19, said, “I have to be here. I’m Mexican and queer. I’m here for my immigrant mother who came here illegally.” His friend Ryan Duffin, 22, an immigrant from Canada, said, “I don’t know what is coming next. I have the privilege of white skin. I want to be here for all of my friends who are from places like Iran and Libya.” Jordan Schaps, a former longtime photo editor at New York magazine, said, “I’ve got five friends getting together” to see what actions they can take as leaders in the photography field. “Protesting on Facebook is not enough,” Schaps added. Political leaders were out in force, including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem. While city and state officials are making promises of never going back, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she is not confident that all of the proposed Republican cuts in Washington can be made up by New York. “We receive $ 8 billion in food stamps here,” she said, adding that she is also alarmed about massive federal cuts to affordable housing monies that have gone to the New York City Housing Authority and into Section 8 funding. Before taking the stage, Senator Schumer told Manhattan Express, “The people are so aroused, the administration is becoming afraid.” He said he believes the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will fail and he predicted — incorrectly as events would later prove — that Betsy DeVos would be not be confirmed as secretary of education.

Schumer was met with cheers as well as some vigorous boos from activists outraged at his votes confirming some of Trump’s nominees. He gamely led the crowd in a chant of “Dump Trump” and said, “I stand with you. We are going to make sure the Supreme Court does not turn the clock back.” Asked how the protests outside his home make him feel, he responded, “Good. The energy is good.” Schumer claimed not to be concerned about “a few brickbats.” — Reporting by Lincoln Anderson, Ruth Brown, Lauren Gill, Andy Humm, Dennis Lynch, Naeisha Rose, and Caroline Spivack. n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

ANDY HUMM

J.D. Moran, Ryker Allen, and Ryan Duffin were among the thousands who braved the cold for more than three hours at the LGBT solidarity rally.

13


EXPRESS YOURSELVES

Movies, Mommies, and Predators PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

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BY LENORE SKENAZY

E

ver wonder where our obsession w it h ch i ld predators began? The answer just might be at the movies. And “M” is the picture that started it all. What a creepy film. It opens with a mother puttering around the kitchen, waiting for her daughter to come home from school. We see the clock on the wall. We see her expression grow from cheer to terror. And somewhere in the streets below, we see a man buy a little girl a balloon. If your pulse is racing already, thank Fritz Lang, director of that 1931 classic that taught filmmakers everywhere to hook audiences with the primal emotion of heartstopping fear for our kids. After bad guy Peter Lorre murders the girl he bought the balloon for — off camera, so we can imagine the worst — the city rises up to hunt him down.

He nonet heless ma nages to befriend another child on the street. But just as he is leading her off to buy candy, her mother appears. Hallelujah! A nd that is the moral of the story: Unless you want your children to get murdered, you cannot let them go outside on their own. Lang himself said he made the movie “to warn mothers about neglecting children.” “It almost feels like those hygiene films that warned you to brush your teeth,” said Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University. “That’s what I think ‘Adam’ did as well.” “Adam” is the made-for-television picture that came out in 1983, two years after six-year-old Adam Walsh was abducted from a Sears store in Florida and subsequently beheaded. Even more than “M” (which was, after all, German), it is the movie that branded strangerdanger onto the American collective consciousness. Until then, the majority of child

abduction mov ies were either police procedurals or family melodramas, said Pat Gill, professor emeritus of communications at the University of Illinois. “You often don’t see the child at all, or if you do, it’s got some gangster’s moll taking care of the kid,” Gill explained. “He’s not tied up or anything.” “Adam” changed all that. The two-part mini-series was ratings gold, and the media world began ordering more and more kiddie kidnappings. That’s why we’ve seen flicks about teenaged abductees (Elizabeth Smart), toddler murder victim (JonBenét Ramsey), and kids ripped from their bicycles (Amber Hagerman, for whom the Amber Alerts are named). Then there are all those “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” episodes. How do you proceed to kick it up a notch? You hire Liam Neeson. In 2008, we got “Taken,” the megahit in which Neeson is convinced

c SKENAZY, continued on p.15

Film, Panel Take Aim at Epidemic of Hate BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

W

it h hate fr ighteni ngly i n t he a ir these days, the word was emblazoned in blue on the marquee of Chelsea’s SVA Theatre on January 29. So was Brad Hoylman’s name — because the state senator, himself the victim of recent hate-motivated harassment, is trying to help people find answers to what is fueling the craziness currently gripping the country. More than 300 people turned out for a screening of a documentary looking at the roots of hate crimes, followed by a panel discussion about the “alt-right” at an event Hoylman hosted. Rebecca Teitel, the producer and director of the

film, “Hate in America: Stories From the Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” was on the panel, along with Oren Segal, director of the Center on Extremism at the AntiDefamation League (ADL), and Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Meanwhile, the name on everyone’s mind was Steve Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News — a news outlet he himself dubbed “the platform for the alt-right.” That weekend, P resident Dona ld Trump had elevated Bannon to the National Security Council, an unprecedented appointment of a political advisor to a sensitive policy post.

A headline about that shocking development was flashed on the movie screen behind Hoylman as he gave his opening remarks. “Make no mistake about it,” the West Side state senator said, “a white nationalist with an apocalyptic world vision will be at the table for ever y national security decision.” Trump’s imposition of a ban on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslimmajority nations several days earlier compounded the anxiety felt by many in the room. Hoylman noted how he had been targeted by haters in the wake of Trump’s election. A fter he went public with the fact that swastikas had been found carved into a service-el-

evator door in his Village apartment building, Hoylman found himself bombarded with vicious tweets from alt-righters, he said. New York Police Department statistics showed a 23 percent increase in reported hate crimes throughout the five boroughs in 2016, Hoylman added. The film follows veteran journalist Tony Harris as he conducts inter views to try to uncover the root causes of several recent he i nou s h at e c r i me s, ranging from Mississippi to Midtown Manhattan. These include the killing of James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old gay A frican-American man, by a group of young whites in

c HATE FORUM, continued on p.15

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c SKENAZY, from p.14 by his pushy ex-wife to let their 17-year-old daughter and her slutty friend travel to Paris without supervision. The girls land and immediately meet a cute but skeevy guy who asks to share their taxi. Moments after he drops them off, he and his gang of sex traffickers return. Neeson’s daughter sees the men grab her friend in the next room and speed-dials Daddy — a Special Ops type — for advice. Matterof-factly he tells her, “You will be taken.” So will you, dear viewer, on what is basically an excuse for vigilante sadism as Neeson hightails it to Paris. Without a hint of jet lag, he takes on an international team of traffickers, allowing the audience to enjoy all sorts of cruelty while feeling smug: Take that, you fiends! Meantime, it gave parents something else to be terrified of. A mom at a PTA meeting once solemnly informed me that there are more girls sex trafficked in America today than there were slaves before the Civil War. (Umm… wrong.) “Room,” by comparison, is a serious film. We know this because

the lead actress, Brie Larson, won an Academy Award for playing the mom forced by a captor to raise a son within the confines of a backyard shed. Her fictional character was taken at age 17 when she was kind enough to help a man who said he’d lost his dog. In all these pictures, a mom is overtly or subtly at fault: The mother in “M,” who didn’t walk her child home from school. The mother in “Adam,” who didn’t keep her son by her side at Sears. The mother in “Taken,” who sends her daughter to Europe unchaperoned. And even in “Room,” Larson yells at her own mother for teaching her to be nice to strangers. Maybe if she’d been a little less nice, she wouldn’t have been snatched. The movie industry has realized what newspaper editors, cable television producers, and grandstanding politicians already know: There’s no business like woe business, and most woeful of all are stories about missing children whose mothers could have saved them — but didn’t. Lenore Skenazy is the author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids” and a contributor at Reason.com. n

c HATE FORUM, from p.14 Jackson, Mississippi, in 2011. The youths singled him out, beat him up, and then intentionally ran him over with their truck. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking hate crimes since 1971, and, according to its data, the LGBTQ community is the group most often targeted for such crimes. However, in Anderson’s case, it wasn’t clear that he was singled out for his sexuality. He had been slightly inebriated and his white attackers, who had been drinking earlier at a party, were cruising for a black victim. The film also documents the 2012 massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin near Milwaukee, in which white nationalist Wade Michael Page killed six people and wounded four before fatally shooting himself. The film notes that Page had recently lost both his job and girlfriend, the types of setbacks that are often triggers for hate violence. Harris interviews a founder of the white nationalist group Page belonged to, who has since renounced racism and hate. What changed him, the man

explained, was that since having a daughter he’s had something more constructive and meaningful to put his energies into. The third incident in the film was closer to home. On May 5, 2013, Nicholas Porto and a friend w e r e w a l k i n g ne a r M ad i s on Square Garden around 5 p.m. when they were verbally harassed by eight or nine Knicks fans who started calling them “fags.” When one of the men mocked Porto’s jeans, he responded, “I made them” — after which he promptly found himself thrown to the gutter and punched and kicked in a rapid and brutal beatdown. After Porto spoke out about the incident, he, too, received hate mail. He said he also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. Shortly afterward, Mark Carson, a young gay man, was shot to death on West Eighth Street in the Village by a man who had been shouting homophobic insults at him. Hoylman is shown in the film noting that there were nine hatecrime incidents in his district that summer, which some called “The Summer of Hate.”

c HATE FORUM, continued on p.16

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c HATE FORUM, from p.15 After the film, Public Advocate Letitia James spoke, noting she had been at JFK Airport the day before, where she stood in solidarity with a female Muslim airport worker who had been harassed by a passenger who told the worker, “Trump is here now,” before kicking her. “Prejudice and vitriol goes to the top of power now,” James said. “The word has power and consequences, and so do presidential actions. But I tell you, this will not be normalized.” At that, the audience applauded. Teitel began her remarks by noting that, in light of Trump’s election, “the ending no longer seems pertinent,” in its assessment of the problem’s scope. SPLC’s Beirich said that what white nationalist Page and his group wanted to do was “turn back the tide of multiculturalism in the United States. We have an administration that wants to turn the tide back to a lot of what we saw in the film.” ADL’s Segal, however, stressed, “I think it’s important to focus on the Trump administration in terms of what they do, not what they say. We focus on what they do because that’s going to give us an ability to respond.” He also emphasized that not all Trump supporters are members of the alt-right. As to the alt-right itself, Segal said, “Yes, anti-Semitism is at the heart of the alt-right,” but added, “What extremist movement isn’t anti-Semitic?” According to a report by the ADL, anti-Semitic speech online spiked dramatically during the 2016 presidential campaign. From August 2015 through July 2016, Segal said, there were 2.6 mil-

TEQUILA MINSKY

The ADL’s Oren Segal, Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and film director and producer Rebecca Teitel.

lion tweets found to contain language consistent with anti-Semitic speech. Journalists were bombarded by a total of 19,253 antiSemitic tweets, but 63 percent of these tweets targeted just 10 members of the media. “One of them told us she was going to buy a gun to protect herself,” Segal noted, adding the journalist was even thinking of leaving the profession. Beirich explained that part of her job is to read Breitbart News. “It actually has a section on black-on-white crime,” she noted. Bannon, she said, is the “main offender” in the administration right now. “Trump is welcoming some of the worst elements of our society,” Beirich said. “This is the opposite of the Civil Rights Movement.

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The country has been working for decades to get rid of this.” She called Milo Yiannopoulos — a young gay tech editor at Breitbart whose scheduled appearance at the University of California at Berkeley several days later would lead to a violent confrontation with protesters and its cancellation — “the gateway drug.” “He tries to create the idea that he’s just kidding,” she said. “He now has a book deal,” Hoylman interjected, drawing groans from the audience. Segal explained that most US extremists are “unaffiliated” with specific groups. “People go online and pull a lot of what they connect with,” he said. “Most people will find hate on their phones walking down the street.” Added Beirich, “Dylann Roof can go online and never even meet these people,” refer r ing to the Charleston church mass murderer who killed nine people. Nevertheless, hate groups are on the rise. According to the SPL, there were 602 of them in the U.S. in 2000. Today there are around 1,000. “There’s no doubt it’s a backlash to demographic change” Beirich said. “These people do not like the direction of the country, which is away from whiteness.” Added Segal, “I have never seen so many hate messages reference a presidential campaign.”

“I was trolled after the swastika was found in my building,” Hoylman noted. “It said, ‘Hey Rabbi, what ya doin’?’” Was t hat some sor t of code word?, he wondered. Segal noted that online trolls’ current code for Jews is “skypes,” which is how they avoid automatic filters. “It will probably change by next week,” he shrugged. Asked by a woman in the audience about the alt-right’s hatred of Jews, Segal said that white supremacists think Jews are “not white… and are responsible for race mixing.” “ Wel l, t hat wou ld m a ke me proud, a s a Jew,” t he woma n responded. Teitel warned that with the new Trump administration, “It’s really unlikely you’re going to get the Department of Justice investigating hate crimes.” Hoylman asked if the current climate would likely make more people become racist. Sadly, the answer from the panelists suggested the answer is yes. “It was about Mexicans the first day, then Muslims,” Beirich said. “It normalizes it. The Civil Rights Movement was about de-normalizing it.” As the event ended, Hoylman said, “Everybody in the country needs to take stock of what they can do to push back on this attack on our pluralistic society.” n

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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c MALONEY, from p.4 The congressmember said she had earlier spoken directly with Trump’s transition team, who assured her that project was on the president’s priority list, with more than $14 billion in federal funding allocated for the Second Avenue Subway’s next two phases. While the list disclosed this week doesn’t guarantee funding — in fact, it has yet to be confirmed officially by the administration — Maloney considers it a victory that the MTA project made the list. “The first step is getting on the list,” Maloney said. “I’m thrilled we’re on the list. We’re competing with every project across the great United States of America.” The congressmember also confirmed that, in connection with Phase 2, the MTA has signed two contracts, one for environmental review and another for preliminary engineering and

design, and has issued a request for proposals to tackle the community outreach portion. Phase 2 was recently approved for the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts Program, laying the groundwork, so to speak, for the Second Avenue Subway to secure federal funding. Maloney added that the federal agency told her the Second Avenue Subway was the “biggest and best project in the entire United States.” The congressmember said she would be working to ensure the two phases remain on the administration’s list of priorities, but would not shy away from challenging some of the president’s controversial actions in his first few days in office. “What’s next is I’m going back to Washington to work on trying to reverse different policies that Trump announced that I oppose,” Maloney said. “There’s a lot to respond to. He did a lot of actions that we have to review and see what they mean and see what we can do to mitigate them.”

The congressmember told the Manhattan Express that what particularly concerned her were Trump’s ban on federal funding for aid groups that provide reproductive health and abortion counseling to women globally, his threat to defund sanctuary cities like New York City, and his immigration crackdown that would suspend Syrian refugee admission as well as entry into the US by citizens from seven majority Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Maloney said she would be working with other Democratic members of Congress in responding to Trump’s policies. She was more optimistic, however, on the issue of the Second Avenue Subway’s funding, which she said seems to have bipartisan support. “I’m looking forward to working on it,” Maloney said. “It seems to be an area that Democrats, Republicans, and the administration are united on so it should be easier to do.” n

c NON-PROFIT, from p.7 tably trickles down to the people they serve, whether they’re homeless, senior citizens, or children. Thursday’s press conference featured two allies that non-profits have in Albany. State Senator Brad Hoylman, a West Side Democrat, offered his support and said people need to start putting pressure on his colleagues. “We have to make certain Albany understands,” Hoylman said. “We’re going to be making the case that we need to restore the budget and make it a people’s budget and ensure that the human services sector has the resources it needs to look after New Yorkers.” In the State Assembly, Richard Gottfried, a Chelsea Democrat, said he is joining the non-profits

JACKSON CHEN

Urban Pathways’ Scott McDonald speaks, with the Human Services Council’s Allison Sesso, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, and State Senator Brad Hoylman looking on.

in asking for more money set aside in the state budget for human services. Rather than re-litigate the issue each year, Gottfried said,

c CB5, from p.9 “We believe the floor price, both as a concept and the stated appraised value, will discourage transactions and undermine the stated planning goals of the rezoning,” Lodhi said. “The proposed floor price of $393 per square foot seriously overstates the value of air rights in East Midtown.” Lodhi said the concept of a floor price should be removed outright because its arbitrary pegging is likely to deter any development right sales and is at odds w ith the spirit of the rezoning. Sounding a note of unison on the f loor price question, Andrea Goldwyn, the director of public policy at the New York Landmarks Conservancy, said landmarks would be disadvantaged if no one wants to buy their unused

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he’d like to see some form of legislation that would ensure funding in the budget for years to come. Being formerly homeless and

development rights. She added that the three to five year reevaluation range was insufficient because the real estate market is unpredictable and could shift drastically in a few years’ time. From the perspective of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the presence of a floor price would limit the resources available for its maintenance because it disincentivizes developers from buying its rights, according to Joseph Rosenberg, executive director of the Catholic Community Relations Council who was representing the Archdiocese of New York and the Trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The floor price, he said, was set at a “wholly unrealistic figure for an assumed minimum sales price.” “At this amount, it w ill surely stif le the marketplace for development rights,” Rosenberg sa id, “leav i ng bot h la ndma rks a nd

now working with Urban Pathways, Scott McDonald said he is acutely aware of how frustrating the situation is, having been on both sides. “There’s a lot of loneliness out there, hopelessness,” McDonald said. “That’s why individuals may rely on substance abuse and have tendencies to want to end their life. And I was there, a number of times.” When asked what would happen in a worst-case scenario, McDonald said, “ The human ser vices communit y goes away, a ll t he non-profits go away. It’s almost a doomsday scena r io where you have no place to address mental and psychiatric health and homelessness.” Governor Cuomo’s office had not returned a phone call seeking comment as of press time. n

the hoped-for public realm improvements underfunded.” Represent at ives of orga n i z at ions who spoke, however, com mended t he cit y for setting the contribution rate at 20 percent, since the initial proposed range stretched from 20 to 40 percent. Community boards affected by the rezoning proposal have a March 13 deadline for completing resolutions for consideration by the Department of City Planning. CB5 does not yet have a date scheduled for approving its resolution. “ T h is pla n w i l l br i ng subst a nt ia l new development to Midtow n East,” Goldw y n said, assuming the floor price controversy is resolved satisfactorily. “It has been successful in creating certainty for developers and has surpassed its predecessor in what it gives to the public, but that job is not complete.” n

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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High Infidelity

RICHARD TERMINE

Max von Essen with Elisabeth Gray (left) and with Mikaela Izquierdo in the Mint Theater Company world premiere of Miles Malleson’s 1933 “Yours Unfaithfully,” directed by Jonathan Bank, at the Beckett Theatre.

BY DAVID KENNERLEY

T

he Mint Theater Company is famous for unearthing old theatrical gems and polishing them to a brilliant luster for a new generation to enjoy. Plays that were hits back in their day yet, for whatever reason, got lost over time. With its latest production, “Yours Unfaithfully,” the Mint even tops itself. Although the prickly comic drama, about a couple experimenting with an open marriage, was published in 1933, it was so scandalous that it was never produced. The Mint can lay claim that it has a bona fide world premiere on its hands, albeit some eight decades after its author had intended. Written by Miles Malleson, a multi-talented yet equally neglected British dramatist and character actor who excelled on both stage and screen, the drama’s time has finally come. Under the astute direction of Jonathan Bank, the work feels f resh a nd v ibra nt, despite its 1933 setting. To his credit, Malleson wrote a comedy of manners about personal choice and sexual liberation that was free from the typical moralizing and dogma of the period.

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If the drama feels immediate and intimate, perhaps that’s because the story is torn from a page of the playwright’s own life (he was married three times and all of them were considered open relationships). While the plot might be unthinkable in a play staged in 1930s, it is completely fair game today — and ripe w ith dramatic possibility. After eight years, the once-idyllic marriage of Stephen and Anne has gone stale. Stephen, a novelist, has lost inspiration to write and has become a grouch, while Anne has grown impatient. To reignite his passion for life, Anne encourages Stephen to “go and get into mischief ” (code for “have an affair”). “A marriage ring ought be strong enough to stand occasiona l ot her l itt le ci rcles hooked onto it,” Anne declares. But when her reluctant hubby takes up with her attractive friend Diana (Mikaela Izquierdo) and indeed does seem reinvigorated, Anne tries to fend off crippling bouts of jealousy, with little success. Never mind that she recently had a fling with Dr. Alan Kirby (Todd Cer veris), who has since become a confidante.

Not that infidelity comes naturally to Stephen. His father (Stephen Schnetzer, who valiantly took over for John Hutton due to a sudden schedule conf lict) is a strict minister quick to judge lapses in morality, and often makes Stephen revert to the fearful little boy he once was. For his part, Stephen has a devil of a time reconciling his progressive views with his puritanical upbringing. None of this would fly were it not for a top-notch cast. The matineeidol handsome Max von Essen, fresh from his Tony-nominated turn in “An American in Paris,” is sublime as the conflicted, emotionally raw Stephen. He brings multiple layers of tenderness to the philandering husband, who is somehow both devoted and selfish at the same time. No less impressive is Elisabeth Gray as Anne. She is totally convincing as a pragmatic, forward-thinking wife who realizes she is not as liberalminded as she wants to be. The Mint is in top form here — the beautiful set of a country house liv ing room a nd ga rden is crafted by Carolyn Mraz, and sma r t per iod costumes a re by Hunter Kaczorowski.

D e s p i t e i t s a g e , “ Yo u r s Unfa ithfully” nav igates tr ick y terrain that resonates today, not only in regard to the price of free love, but also the combustibility of father-son relationships, the thrill of being a nonconformist, and the soul-crushing danger of fascists. “I think the ruling passion in my father’s life was to keep his boys strait,” Stephen says, with a note of despair. “And his chief weapon was fear… He used to tell us a whole lot of downright lies.” A line that, on the night I attended, elicited a burst of nervous laughter from the audience. n

YOURS UNFAITHFULLY Mint Theater Company Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row 410 W. 42nd St. Through Feb. 18 Tue.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. Wed., Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $65; MintTheater.org Or 212-239-6200 Two hrs., 15 mins., with two intermissions

February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Disruption, Before It Was the Fashion

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AndrĂŠ Holland and Carra Patterson in August Wilsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jitney,â&#x20AC;? directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

T

he f irst Broadway production of August Wilsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jitney,â&#x20AC;? from Ma nhattan Theatre Club, delivers the kind of moving and magnificent experience one always hopes for in that moment b et w e e n t he d i m m i n g of t he houselights and when the action begins on stage. The play, the first one written in what became Wilsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 10-play cycle chronicling American black lives in the 20th century, beautifully balances abstract theatricality with searing, believable characters. Set in a jitney station in Pittsburghâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hill neighborhood in 1977, the stories of men who drive what New Yorkers know as gypsy cabs f low, overlap, and intersect with the fluidity of jazz, which often inspired Wilsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s w riting and dramatic structures. The impressionistic sense of this world, where traditional cabs wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t travel and jitneys are essential to a marginalized community, filled in with episodic unfolding of the menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives as they interact in the station, ga ins dramatic heft as it slowly builds toward a quiet but devastating climax. T he gen ius of â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jit ne y â&#x20AC;? is i n t he way it summons t he cha l-

lenges facing these characters through snippets of their lives w it hout ever seem i ng polem ical. In many ways, it is reminiscent of a play from 50 years earlier, Elmer Riceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Street Scene,â&#x20AC;? which brought another peripheral world to life, in that case a New York tenement. T he c h a r a c t e r s i n â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jit ne y â&#x20AC;? a re a l l on t he br i n k of i ne v itable change. The jitney station is about to be boarded up, part of a n urba n renewa l prog ra m a i me d at upg r ad i n g t he H i l l, though whether that will really happen is open to doubt. T he station owner, Becker, is searching for ways to keep t he busi-

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c JITNEY, continued on p.23 A^]\a]`SRPg(

AUGUST WILSONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S JITNEY

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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

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February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


French Farce Brilliantly Adapted by David Ives BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

D

avid Ives is at it again. He’s taken an antique French play and turned it into a rollicking comedy that will leave you in awe of his linguistic facility, crying with laughter, and thoroughly delighted. Just as he upended Molière with “The School for Lies,” he has now taken on “Le Menteur,” a 1644 piece by Pierre Corneille. “The Liar,” Ives’ adaptation now at CSC, preserves the plot and farcical nature of the original while adding levels of contemporary intellectual silliness that recall the best of “Monty Python” in a brilliant blending of high and low comedy. The plot concerns a compulsive liar whose tall tales are mostly designed to bolster his own ego and make him seem much more than what he is (contemporary analogies surely coincidental, even if very satisfying). The provincial gentleman Dorante arrives in Paris to find a wife. On his first morning there, he meets the beautiful Clarice, whom he aggressively courts over her objections, going so far as to grab her by the… hand. (It’s 17th century France, after all!) He also meets Clarice’s companion, Lucrece, and acquires a servant, Cliton. And as luck would have it, he reconnects with an old friend, Alcippe. Busy morning. Alcippe is in love with Clarice. Dorante thinks Lucrece is Clarice, and Cliton falls for Clarice’s servant, the bawdy Isabelle who, unbeknownst to him, has a puritanical twin, Sabine. Meanwhile Dorante’s father is trying to marry him off advantageously. In other words, it’s typical French comedy of the period. Michael Kahn directs the whole undertaking with wit and verve, and the company is sensational. Christian Conn as Dorante, whose lies mount one on top of the other, is spectacular. Carson Elrod as Cliton is the perfect comic foil, with impeccable timing. Tony Roach as the besotted Alcippe is hilarious, and Kelly Hutchinson is marvelous as Isabelle and Sabi-

c JITNEY, from p.21 ness r unning for the men a nd the community he hopes to have a stabilizing inf luence on. His estranged son, Booster, is about to be released from jail, having been conv icted of murder. The youngest driver, Youngblood, is struggling to show his girlfriend, w it h whom he has a son, t hat he has changed and is ready to settle down. Older drivers whose lives are tied to their work wonder what will become of them. W hat all of these characters have in common is their search for a n ident it y i n a rapid ly

RICHARD TERMINE

Kelly Hutchinson and Carson in David Ives’ “The Liar,” an adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 1644 “Le Menteur,” at Classic Stage Company through February 26.

THE LIAR Classic Stage Company 136 E. 13th St.

ne. Amelia Pedlow and Ismenia Mendes as Lucrece and Clarice, respectively, are charming, gamine, and deft comediennes. Among the many pleasures of this production, the consistent juxtaposition of the Corneille and the contemporary — right down to Adam Wernick’s exceptional original music — is what makes Ives’ latest romp an immediate classic not to be missed. n

changing world over which they have little control, a theme that would animate much of Wilson’s subsequent writing. Under t he det a i led a nd bighearted direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the world of the play is vibrant and compelling. Through the characters, we see t he l i fe w it h i n t he jit ney st ation and get a sense of the world beyond the huge plate glass windows on David Gallo’s inspired, down-at-heels set. Every performance is fully realized, and the ensemble works toget her w it h effortless precision. Joh n Doug la s T hompson is

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | February 09 - 22, 2017

Through Feb. 26 Tue.-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. at 3 p.m. $61-$126; ovationtix.com Or 866-811-4111 Two hrs., 15 mins., with intermission

powerful as Becker. André Holl a n d i s c o mpl e x , w a r m , a n d intense as Youngblood. Ca r ra Patterson, who plays his gi rlfriend Rena, is the only woman in the piece, and she is grounded, focused, and moving as she f i g ht s for t he l i fe she w a nt s. Michael Potts as Turnbo, a highstrung, gossipy gadf ly, is amazing, as is Keith Randolph Smith as the comparatively complacent Doub. Harvy Blanks’ exuberant portrayal of Shealy, the numbers r unner who uses t he station’s phone, and A nthony Chisholm as the older, alcoholic Fielding are both outstanding.

It is impossible to see “Jitney” outside the context of the contemporary world. There are no white characters in the play, but their impact a nd inf luence ca n’t be avoided. Whether in displacing a community for urban renewal or denying cab service to a decaying neighborhood, this unseen force imposes undeniable burdens on the characters’ lives. The survival of these jitney drivers amidst this reality is profound, hilarious, and heartbreaking all at once. Given the political moment we are living through, this play disturbingly reminds us how little has changed in the past 40 years. n

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February 09 - 22, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc

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