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YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN

LONG BEFORE WE HAD A HIGH LINE OR HEARD ABOUT HUDSON YARDS Tenant Tales of Life on the Wild Wild West Side (see page 3)

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

© CHELSEA NOW 2017 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 09, ISSUE 18 | JUNE 29–JULY 5, 2017


Assembly Bill Restricts Chemical Compounds Linked to Chelsea Bombing BY JACKSON CHEN The State Assembly recently passed a bill to restrict access to chemical compounds that combine to create explosives, much like the product that was used in the Chelsea bombing last September. On the evening of Sat., Sept. 17, 2016, a pressure cooker bomb exploded on W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., injuring more than 30 people. The bombing was allegedly carried out by Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghani New Jersey man who authorities said was inspired by extremist groups like the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. Rahimi, then 28, was linked to another bomb (constructed of a pressure cooker, wires, and a cellphone) found on W. 27th St. that same night, though this device did not detonate. Rahimi is also the suspect in two other non-fatal, bomb-related incidents from that weekend in New Jersey: the bombing of a 5K run for the Marines in Seaside Park, NJ, and the discovery of undetonated pipe bombs at an NJ Transit station. As the Chelsea incident was unfolding, Westchester Assemblymember David Buchwald had been working on an effort to require licenses to store, use, and buy products that are meant to be

File photo by Michael Appleton, Mayoral Photography Office.

A rolling dumpster, thought to be the point of origin for the W. 23rd St. bombing of Sept. 17, 2016. Here, the day after, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo tour the area.

combined to create explosives, known as binary explosives. These products, sold as two separate chemicals that are not explosive on their own — ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder — are meant to be combined to create an explosive that is often used in target practice to offer shooters a visible indicator of an on-target hit. “We regulate fireworks, we make sure

Manufacturing

that other explosives require a license,” Buchwald said. “This is a product that once two parts of chemicals are mixed, they constitute an explosive under New York State law, so I don’t understand why that isn’t subject to the same scrutiny by New York State and local officials.” While Buchwald cites the brand of binary explosives named Tannerite as being used in the Chelsea bombing from

law enforcement officials and early media reports, the company is vehemently fighting to investigate if their product was used at all. Steve Yerger, the corporate investigator for Tannerite, said many incidents involving binary explosives gets reported as Tannerite, until it ultimately turns out not to be the brand-name product used. Yerger said the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who refused to cooperate with him, has impeded his investigation into the Chelsea incident. But, the investigator still contends that Tannerite was not used in the bombing last year. Yerger said that Tannerite was no different than common items like alcohol, gasoline, or ammunition, and that people should be targeting the users — not the product. But Buchwald added that the binary explosive brand, Tannerite, was used in a number of times across the country leading to injuries and fatalities. And in aiming to preempt a serious incident in New York, Buchwald first proposed this bill in 2015. “Government isn’t known for being proactive, but I’m always looking out COMPOUNDS continued on p. 8

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Former Cold Water Flat Now Surrounded by Hot Property BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Hookers from “corner to corner.” Red Trojans strewn on the street “like a ticker-tape parade.” A “no-man’s land.” These images are no longer synonymous with a patch of West Chelsea nestled between Hudson Yards and the High Line, and newly attractive to developers, residents, and tourists alike. Longtime tenants of a 29-unit, fivestory building on W. 29th St. between 10th and 11th Avenues — a stone’s throw away from where Hudson Yards begins on W. 30th St. — talked to this publication last week about the good and the bad that comes with a neighborhood in flux. “It was like 42nd before [Rudy] Giuliani cleaned it up,” James A. Aquino said about the block in the 1980s and 1990s. Aquino has lived in the building for 55 years. “This was the Wild West when I moved in,” Brenda Barr recalled on Fri., June 23, at her railroad-style apartment. After a quick stint in the East Village following her move from Chicago, Barr has lived in the building since 1993. “When I moved here 25 years ago, it was nothing but prostitutes out front,” Michael Bosket said. “Heavily prostitution. Scattered with nightclubs.” He continued, “We had to literally put the bedroom in the back of the apartment because there was so much noise in the street that you couldn’t sleep at night.” All three fondly remembered the ladies of the night that had names like “Baby,” “Candy,” and “Tiffany.” Barr said both the gals and guys on the street watched out for her when she came home late from working. WEST SIDE continued on p. 19

Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic

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POLICE BLOTTER PETIT LARCENY: Crime can’t be compartmentalized A 44-year-old tourist who thought he left his valuables in a clever hiding place learned a costly lesson — thieves will leave no stone unturned in their search for something to steal. After exiting the Chelsea International Hostel (251 W. 20th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) at around 10 a.m. on Thurs., June 22, the man spent the day touring the city. He returned at around 9 p.m. to discover $600 in US currency was missing from an all-too-obvious “special compartment” in his suitcase.

AUTO STRIPPING: Witness shines light on dark deed In the city that never sleeps, plenty of people end up eating at odd hours — which, for the unskilled or unmotivated, translates into cooking up an order for delivery. One such occurrence proved unfortunate for the person tasked with taking some tasty stuff to the 200 block of W. 22nd St. Around 3:40 a.m. on Sat., June 24, the delivery person arrived at the residence, chained his bike to a metal bar, and proceeded to hand over his bag of grub to the hungry customer. While this transaction was happening inside the building, an individual passing by on the street noticed a man removing lights secured to the bike. The witness (a 26-year-old male) called police, who quickly arrived to find the perp still on the scene and in possession of the lights — as well as a controlled substance. The 35-year-old thief was arrested for his twin transgressions, after the delivery person (a 30-year-old male) confirmed the bike lights were indeed his, and had been removed without permission or authority to do so.

PETIT LARCENY: Rubber romp at Reade “Go big or go home” exemplifies the winning attitude that has swept many a sports team to victory — but one cocky criminal found out the hard way that supersizing it can also earn you a trip to the big house. At around 8:30 a.m. on Sat., June 24, a man was caught attempting to leave a Duane Reade (at 315 W. 23rd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) with 16 boxes of Magnum condoms (total value, $388) along with one thematically appropriate source of hydration (a bottle of “Naked” brand juice valued at $4). Police arrived to confront the 25-year-old perp, whose humongous haul of plus-size safer-sex products could not shield him from arrest.

—Scott Stiffler PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY

NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 www.chelseanow.com scott@chelseanow.com © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC

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EDITOR Scott Stiffler ART DIRECTOR John Napoli GRAPHIC DESIGNER Cristina Alcine

File photo by Tabia C. Robinson

See you in September: The 10th Precinct Community Council is on hiatus through August, then resumes its monthly meetings on the last Wednesday of the month.

THE 10th PRECINCT: Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-7418226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council (on summer hiatus until Sept. 27) meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7pm, at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT: Located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Inspector Russel J. Green, Commanding Officer. Call 212-239-9811. Community Affairs: 212-239-9846. Crime Prevention: 212-239-9846. Domestic Violence: 212-239-9863. Youth Officer: 212-239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council (on summer hiatus until Sept. 21) meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7pm, at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.). Visit midtownsouthcc.org. THE 13th PRECINCT: Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Brendan Timoney. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council (on summer hiatus until Sept. 19) meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30pm, at the 13th Precinct.

CONTRIBUTORS Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Jackson Chen Bill Egbert Rebecca Fiore Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Puma Perl Paul Schindler Eileen Stukane

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Photo by Donna Aceto

Among the larger resistance groups was Gays Against Guns, formed in the wake of last June’s Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre.

Manhattan Pride March Takes on Bolder Political Hues BY DUNCAN OSBORNE A dozen queer activists were arrested during New York City’s Pride March as they protested the presence of police and corporate sponsors in the annual commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots that marked the modern LGBTQ rights movement’s start. “To the police — You cannot mass incarcerate us, brutalize us, murder us, and call it pride,” Hoods4Justice, the group that organized the protest, wrote in a statement that was posted on its Facebook page hours before the action. “To Wells Fargo, Citi, and remaining corporate sponsors — You cannot pillage our homes, brand us, rob us of our dignity, invest in our imprisonment, and spray us with water hoses in sub-freezing temperatures and call it sponsorship. To the politicians — You cannot sit idly by and call it allyship.” Hoods4Justice used a classic activist move — it never registered for the parade, instead jumping in with the 18 groups, including Rise & Resist, Gays Against Guns, ACT UP, and other activist organizations, that comprised the resistance section that was registered and situated near the start of the parade. The resistance — formed this year as a way for the Pride March to respond to Donald Trump’s election as president — was staged, prior to the kickoff of the march, on East 41st Street. In the several hours leading up to the parade, Hoods4Justice initially gathered at the rear of that contingent, but when the resistance organizations stepped onto Fifth Avenue moments after noon the group jumped to the front of that section. “We’re here to declare that today’s

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Photo by Donna Aceto

Refuse Fascism focused its fire on the threat it sees the Trump-Pence administration posing to liberal democracy here and around the globe.

Photo by Donna Aceto

ACT UP, here marching down Fifth Avenue, and other groups in the resistance contingent drew attention to health care threats posed by the Trump administration.

Photo by Duncan Osborne

A small contingent of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, led by Hawk Newsome (carrying the flag), marched with the Hoods4Justice group.

Pride and coming Prides are a no-cop zone,” June, a member of Hoods4Justice, told NYC Community Media as the group marched south on Fifth Avenue to cheers

and applause. The roughly 50 members carried banners reading, “There are no queer friendly cops,” “No cops no banks,” and “Decolonize pride.”

Hoods4Justice was joined by a small contingent from Black Lives Matter of Greater New York. The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club marched in front of both groups. It is always difficult to tell if the tens of thousands who line the march route are cheering specifically for the groups that are going by at that moment or just cheering for every group that goes by. Judging by the raised fists that frequently greeted the Black Lives Matter group, it was clear that the group was winning the crowd. The cheers were occasionally deafening. “It shows that the good people of New York care about Black Lives Matter,” Hawk Newsome, who is the president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York and an officer in the Jim Owles Club, told NYC Community Media during the June 25 parade. “The gay community stands PRIDE continued on p. 12 NYC Community Media


Corps Modifies Permit: Does Hope Float for Pier55? BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Summer has officially started, and though it’s cool to hang out in the cooling breezes over in Hudson River Park, things are heating up once again — as is so often the case — in the waterfront park. Earlier this month, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued a modified permit for the embattled Pier55 project, seemingly giving it new life. On June 5, the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city authority that is building and operating the 5-milelong park, and Pier55, Inc., the Barry Diller-led nonprofit that would operate and program Pier55, slated for off of W. 13th St., issued a joint statement. They confidently said the project “will move ahead expeditiously,” and promptly floated out a veritable armada of politicians’ statements in support of the plan. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Pier55 would ensure that people keep coming to Hudson River Park — not as if it isn’t already an extremely popular park. “Hudson River Park is one of New PIER 55 continued on p. 26

File photo by Tequila Minsky

Some piles for the Pier55 project have already been pounded, specifically for a small platform along the shoreline and for one of two pedestrian bridges that would have led to the $250 million pier. Opponents are hoping it will be a bridge to nowhere, but the Hudson River Park Trust is getting set to restart work on the project now that it has received a permit modification from the US Army Corps of Engineers.

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COMPOUNDS continued from p. 2

for ways to keep New Yorkers safe,” Buchwald said. “At the time, my view was we should get this bill done in New York State before New Yorkers are injured. Unfortunately, we can no longer say that.” And his bill recently passed the State Assembly on June 20 and is currently awaiting its fate in the Senate. Senator Marisol Alcantara, who represents parts of Chelsea, is the primary sponsor of the Senate counterpart to Buchwald’s bill. Alcantara said she became interested in the bill following the “deplorable and callous act” in Chelsea last year. “It didn’t make sense to me that explosive material like this was commercially available with no restrictions,” the senator said in a statement. “We can no longer be naive about the uses people will find for such materials.” However, Alcantara’s colleague, Senator Brad Hoylman, offered a more frank view on the bill’s progress. “I think it’s a good bill and I would strongly support it,” Hoylman said. “I think it’s going to be another case of the State Senate having to confront the gun rights lobby who I imagine are behind the scenes trying to kill this bill.” Hoylman, whose district includes the area that saw the Chelsea bombing,

File photo by Scott Stiffler File photo by Eileen Stukane

Foreground: Selis Manor resident Barbara Police and NY State Senator Brad Hoylman at a Sept. 19, 2016 press conference organized by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and held outside the Malibu Diner, in close proximity to the Chelsea bombing.

said the government should intervene when explosive products that require no license are being used with dangerous motives.

A view from inside Orangetheory Fitness (124 W. 23rd St.), whose surveillance camera captured the explosion, shows damage from the bomb blast to its own windows as the building across the street, whose storefront houses King David Gallery.

“When you have the disciples of ISIS being told to obviously use this chemical compound for such nefarious ends, that’s when the government should step

in,” Hoylman said. “The terrorists know something and it’s the responsibility of the State Senate to act in the safety of the public and ban the substance.”

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City Comptroller Scott Stringer, at the June 20 Pride Month celebration he hosted at Macy’s Herald Square, with Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Sue Wicks.

LGBTQ Job, Housing, Safety Disparities in Stringer Survey BY PAUL SCHINDLER A survey of LGBTQ residents of New York recently completed by City Comptroller Scott Stringer points to clear disparities in employment and housing opportunities, food security, and public safety that respondents experience due to their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. And despite one score in which the LGBTQ community seems better situated than the average New Yorker — access to private health insurance — transgender and other gendernonconforming (GNC) members of the community report widespread discrimination and harassment in the full spectrum of care environments. Stringer’s findings are all the more telling since the survey of 359 respondents was not based on a scientific sample. Those participating were disproportionately from Manhattan and from the non-Hispanic white population, and they skewed younger, better educated, and wealthier than New York City residents generally. That fact is significant given that the disparities found in the comptroller’s report were greatest in communities of color and among transgender and other GNC respondents. Stringer’s effort — which relied on social media and outreach to advocacy and service organizations — did yield a strong response from the transgender community, with 10 percent of the sample identifying as trans, while 47 percent said they were cisgender (that is, not transgen-

der) males and 40 percent cisgender females. Commenting on the survey results, Stringer said, “We’ve made big strides, but there is undoubtedly more to do. No one should face economic insecurity, harassment, or unequal public treatment because of who they are or who they love. We launched this survey to pinpoint the gaps in services, identify where New York City can improve, and spotlight how we can be a more inclusive city. In 2017, too many states across America are fixated on backwards ‘bathroom bills’ and want nothing more than to turn back the clock on progress. New York City must continue to be a leader when it comes to building communities where everyone feels safe and respected.” Among survey respondents, more than one-fifth, or 21 percent, said they had faced employment discrimination in the form of not being hired, not being promoted, or being fired or forced to resign because of their LGBTQ status. As with many other measures in the survey, trans and GNC respondents reported greater discrimination in employment, with 42 percent of them reporting such adverse impacts. A far larger nationwide study of transgender Americans carried out by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in 2015, with a total sample size approaching 28,000, found that 30 percent of respondents STRINGER SURVEY continued on p. 13

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PRIDE continued from p. 6

on the side of Black Lives Matter.” The police and Heritage of Pride (HOP), the organization that produces New York City’s annual LGBTQ Pride events, were clearly expecting Hoods4Justice, which was no surprise as a member was quoted in a June 19 USA Today article saying the organization would protest on June 25. Hoods4Justice was trailed down Fifth Avenue by about two-dozen police officers on bikes and another roughly 20 to 30 officers and commanders from NYPD’s Strategic Response Group, which handles what police call civil disorder, and other police units. When the group arrived at the east end of Christopher Street at roughly 2:30, about two-dozen members of Hoods4Justice stepped out of the march route and waited on a nearby corner. They were first penned in by police bikes and then with police stanchions. As the members moved west on Christopher Street on the sidewalk, they were followed on the street by members of the Strategic Response Group. The members of Hoods4Justice timed their move back onto Christopher Street so that they blocked the parade route just as the NYPD’s marching band, which was leading GOAL, the NYPD’s LGBTQ police group, arrived. Some members of Hoods4Justice either handcuffed themselves together inside of long black tubes that covered their arms or linked hands inside the tubes, preventing the police from easily separating them. The blockade happened just yards from the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots. Police brought out saws and threatened to cut through the tubes, and the entire process of clearing the disruption took about 30 minutes. The crowd was not sympathetic to the disrupters. “They shouldn’t be doing this,” said Steven, a 17-year-old who was watching the parade. “The parade is about acceptance, not resistance.” As some of the 12 protestors were led off by police, some in the crowd booed loudly. Asked if they were booing the police or the protestors, people on the sidewalk were unanimous in saying they were booing the people who had blockaded the parade. “All these guys are not the problem,” said Chris Laro, who described himself as a Vermont ex-hippie, referring to the police. “It’s not that it’s not a vital issue, but today’s not the time.” A number of people whom NYC Community Media spoke with during and after the protest had no idea what it was about and had to hear an explanation from this reporter fi rst

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June 29, 2017

Photos by Donna Aceto

Hoods4Justice demonstrators used long black tubes to thwart NYPD efforts to quickly end their blockade of the march.

A dozen demonstrators were eventually arrested.

before they had any reaction. It is unknown if HOP or the NYPD was the complainant in the arrests, but a man wearing a HOP T-shirt reading “Executive Board” could be seen conferring with police during the arrests. While this is not the first time people have been arrested while protesting during the Pride March, it would likely be a first if HOP asked that the arrests be made. James Fallarino, HOP’s spokesperson, did not respond to a call seeking comment, and the police department press office could not supply an answer. The crowd on Christopher Street cheered loudly as GOAL and LGBTQ members of other city uniformed services, including the corrections and fire

departments marched by. GOAL invited the LGBTQ police group from Toronto to march with it this year after it was banned from Toronto’s annual Pride Parade. The registered resistance contingent swelled to more than 2,000 people, effectively stealing the Pride show this year with its large group and loud message very near the front of the parade, which often more closely resembles a celebration. “The crowd was joyous, the crowd was thrilled with our message of resistance,” said Ken Kidd, the activist who took the lead on organizing the contingent. “They joined in with us when we said, ‘Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go.” Joining the resistance contingent

LGBTQ uniformed officers, such as these transgender police officers, who followed the demonstrators won cheers from the crowd.

were Housing Works, the AIDS services organization, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the LGBTQ synagogue, and Indivisible Nation BK, a Brooklyn activist group. Gay City News, a sister publication at NYC Community Media, also marched with the resistance. HOP initially resisted admitting the contingent into the parade at all, and also pushed back on the effort to have it located at the front. When HOP agreed to allow the resistance contingent a forward position, it capped the number of groups that could join the section. “All of the groups came together to say this is not normal, this is fascism, and we are going to be resisting until this Trump regime is over,” Kidd said. NYC Community Media


STRINGER SURVEY continued from p. 10

cited such discrimination. In the area of housing, nearly one fifth, or 18 percent of respondents, indicated they had experience with homelessness during at least one period in their life. Here, disparities within the overall sample existed on both racial/ ethnic lines and on the basis of gender identity. Forty percent of Hispanic respondents said they had been homeless during their lives, 27 percent of blacks, and 23 percent of Asians, while only 10 percent of white respondents said they had. Among transgender and GNC respondents, 38 percent said they had experienced homelessness versus 30 percent among the 2015 respondents to NCTE’s nationwide survey. Among the New Yorkers who experienced homelessness, 30 percent said they had accessed a city shelter, and 79 percent of that group said they found the experience “very unsafe,” with another 11 percent describing it as “unsafe.” From that Stringer concluded that the city needs to “focus on enhancing security inside homeless shelters,” though this finding likely also speaks to the vulnerability that an LGBTQ person in particular

NYC Community Media

might feel in such an environment. At present, the city is providing for specific LGBTQ-welcoming shelters only for homeless youth under 21. More than one third of all respondents said they had relied on government assistance during the previous five years, with 18 percent seeking food support, 12 percent unemployment insurance, eight percent education or job training, and seven percent HIV/ AIDS benefits. Food insecurity was greatest among transgender and GNC respondents (at 33 percent) and Hispanic respondents (at 31 percent). Black respondents and male respondents disproportionately accessed HIV/ AIDS services. Access to private health insurance was unusually high among respondents to Stringer’s survey, with 72 percent having access either through their employer, somebody else’s employer, or by purchasing their own insurance — sharply higher than the 45 percent level among city residents generally. Twenty-one percent of respondents used a government health care program — 11 percent Medicare and 10 percent Medicaid. Just over a quarter of Hispanic respondents relied on Medicaid. Nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent of

all survey respondents got their medical care in private doctor’s offices, while 17 percent accessed community health centers, and 10 percent emergency room or urgent care centers. Among transgender and GNC respondents, only 30 percent visit private doctor’s offices, while 41 percent go to community health centers. Hispanic and Asians respondents were also more likely than the survey sample overall to access community health centers. While 18 percent of women said they had visited emergency rooms or urgent care centers, only four percent of males had. If the LGBTQ community has better than average access to private health insurance, the health care picture is not all good. Overall, 47 percent of the survey participants said they had been denied public services or been subjected to verbal or physical harassment in public — in a wide array of contexts — with that number rising to a staggering 70 percent for transgender and GNC respondents. Trans and GNC participants cited health care settings — from doctor’s offices to emergency rooms to longterm care facilities — as particularly problematic places for being treated with respect and dignity.

Among the survey sample overall, respondents listed public transportation as the service where they most likely encountered unequal treatment or threats of harassment, followed by retail establishments, restaurants, hotels, and theaters. Stringer, in his conclusions, put particular emphasis on the need for the training of public transportation staff and health care workers, though the survey did not probe interactions between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement personnel, where there has long been a history of disparate treatment. Of the 359 respondents, 48 percent resided in Manhattan, 29 percent in Brooklyn, 12 percent in Queens, nine percent in the Bronx, and three percent in Staten Island. Whites made up 65 percent of the sample, Hispanics 19 percent, blacks nine percent, and Asians six percent. The sample skewed younger than the city’ s population overall, and fully 83 percent of the respondents reported having at least a bachelor’s degree, well beyond the average level in the city. On income, too, the sample was atypical, with 45 percent reporting household income exceeding $75,000, versus 37 percent for the population as a whole.

June 29, 2017

13


Talking Point

Middle Eastern LGBTQs Underrepresented in Health Research — And That’s a Problem BY PAUL A. BROWN, MA, MPH (COLLEGE OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH, NYU) This year, Pride Month took on a distinctly activist tone in response to the Trump administration’s flagrant disregard for the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ folks. While the demand for a more intersectional approach to LGBTQ activism is heartening, as an Arab American I can’t help but feel that the voices LGBTQ people of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) origin are not being heard at a time when anti-Arab, anti-refugee, and Islamophobic sentiment is at an all-time high. As an LGBTQ health advocate, I am particularly concerned that these voices are excluded from conversations on sexual health policy and advocacy. In August of last year, I had the opportunity to conduct a study out of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior

and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) examining discrimination and sexual risk among Arab men who have sex with men (MSM) living in the United States. The Shabaab study, as it was called, was my attempt to spark a dialogue around sexual health and HIV risk among LGBTQ people of MENA origin living in the United States. Although the sample was small, the results were intriguing: Half of participants had experienced some discrimination based on their ethnicity, and while no one reported positive or unknown HIV status, nearly 60 percent reported having tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection (STI), a risk factor for HIV. Research has shown that a combination of factors, including systemic discrimination, lack of access to resources, racism and homophobia, have conPhoto by Paul A. Brown

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NYC Community Media


Photo by Brenda Barr

Longtime W. 29th St. resident Brenda Barr took this condom “still life,” harking back to a different era for the block when it saw quite a bit of prostitution during the 1990s. WEST SIDE continued from p. 3

“Everyone was fi ne,” she said. “We took care of each other, which I miss a lot. It was a community. We all knew each other.” Bosket said they were very nice and he used to give them free condoms. “One of them picked my pocket one night, and then handed my wallet back to me and told me I better be more careful,” he recalled. Aquino and his family have a long history in the area and he said, “I can tell you a phone book about this building.” His mother, Theresa, was born next door at 514 in 1930, and moved to the building in 1954, he said. The building was originally two — one side was 508 and the other 510 — and was a cold water flat until 1936 when it got heat and hot water, according to Aquino. The building, which was built in 1900 or 1901, has changed hands about four times in the last 80 years, he said, noting that there are now four rent-controlled units left. Bosket said the building’s age should have been taken in consideration when construction began on nearby buildings at the same time. “The excavation for all three of those happened concurrently,” he said. “It caused tremendous damage to this building.” He and his partner had to move out for three days while the damage was repaired. Aquino said, “My bathroom’s all cracked. It has to be done over.” All three noted the noise of the evacuation and construction — and there are more years of it to come. “I call[ed] it ‘digging for oil’ when they were doing the shafts into the ground — the whole place [shook],” NYC Community Media

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

A building boom in West Chelsea coupled with the High Line and the construction of Hudson Yards has led to a busy corner at W. 29th St. and 10th Ave.

Barr said, adding that due to all the new buildings she no longer gets light. There are currently five active construction sites on W. 29th St. alone, Bosket said, which does not count the one behind the building or Hudson Yards. “I just think there should have been better coordination, consideration, and input from community members,” he said. Across the street, at what used to be a sheet metal place, according to Aquino, is now the Abington House at 505 W. 29th St. Past rentals ranged from $2,820 to $15,995, according to streeteasy.com. The Abington House advertises itself on its website as being “on the High Line.” People used to say that the trestle next to the building made it look slummy, Aquino said. “Our TV used to jump, you know, with the rabbit ears, years ago from the interference with the trains,” he recalled. The High Line gave the neighborhood “a shot in arm,” he said. “It was like a dumping ground up there with front ends of cars, old mattresses, and weeds. Now look at it.” (Barr said she used to go to the roof and take photos: “It was wild. It was great.”) Indeed, the High Line is now a selling point. Another development rising on 29th St. is called the Soori High Line. The 31-unit, 11-story building at 522 W. 29th St. has a range of units selling (or have been sold) from $3.7 to $22.5 million, according to streeteasy.com, which also notes the Soori will have private swimming pools in 16 of its apartments. “I sort of miss the days when the streets were a little less crowded, and, you know, it wasn’t nothing but gazil-

lionaires,” Bosket said. He said he has mixed feelings about how the area is changing. It’s nice that the there will be more services — dry cleaners, restaurants, things like that — but how affordable will they be, he said. Barr remembers when there were only a few establishments in the area, and tipped her hat to Michael Tzezailidis, owner of the restaurant Death Ave at 315 10th Ave. (btw. W.

28th & 29th Sts.), for trying to cater to locals as well. Bosket said, “It’s been interesting to see the neighborhood develop from like a no-man’s land — no one crossed Ninth Avenue or 10th Avenue. When I used to tell people I lived — I was almost ashamed to tell them I lived over here.” Now, he noted, that former “no-go” zone is “one of the most sought-after, highest-priced real estate areas in New York City.”

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MIDTOWN COURT continued from p. 5

gram� of the Center for Court Innovation, a nonprofit that seeks to reform the criminal justice system, according to its website. The Center for Court Innovation is a public-private partnership between the New York State Unified Court System and the Fund for the City of New York, according to its website. Crawford said that over time the court has evolved with the community in Midtown and “all for the better in being able to have additional types of programs and resources at the court.� “We have one judge there everyday hearing the cases, which means she gets to know the defendants who are coming through the court,� she said. The court works closely with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, partners with a range of community-based organizations, and “one of our most important partners is the community along with the New York City Police Department,� Crawford said. The Midtown Community Court has a catchment area, she explained, that includes Midtown South, Midtown North and the 10th and 20th precincts. The cases the court sees are summons, violations and misdemeanors, not felonies or serious violent crimes, Crawford said.

Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Sherene Crawford, project director of the Midtown Community Court, called it a “problem-solving court,� which offers alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenses.

The court does have a couple specialized parts, one of which is focused on human trafficking, she said. The cases involve prostitution, and “we find that if we’re able to treat them more as victims than offenders and offer them services and resources that is to everyone’s benefit,� she said. Crawford said the court sees a fair amount of young people and has an adolescent diversion part for those 16- to 20-years-old. Through a program called Project Reset, 16- and 17-year-olds arrested for low-level crimes, such as shoplift-

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UPNEXT is a workplace development and fatherhood program, Awinna Martinez, program director of UPNEXT, explained at the most recent Midtown South Community Council meeting.

ing, are able to do four hours of programming. If they complete the programming hours, the Manhattan DA’s office agrees not to write up the case so there is no criminal record, she explained. Project Reset was started in 2015, and, according to literature Crawford handed out, “Ninety-eight percent of participants successfully completed their restorative intervention and avoided formal case processing.� “The idea is we want to have things take place as quick as possible for anyone who’s receiving services at Midtown,� she said, noting that people can take part of individual or group counseling sessions as well as doing community service as an alternative to incarceration. Some people do their community service at the court, maintaining its facilities and being supervised by the court’s staff, she said. Others do their community services with business improvement districts, like the Times Square Alliance, a partner of the court, Crawford said. They help do street cleanup, painting over a wall with graffiti, planting trees or flowers, as well as preparing meals for the elderly, she said. The Times Square Alliance is also a partner of another program of the Center for Court Innovation called UPNEXT — a workforce development and fatherhood program, Awinna Martinez, program director of UPNEXT, said. Martinez explained to the crowd at The New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.) that it become clear that defendants coming through the Midtown Community Court needed skills to land a job — how to navigate the workplace, build a resume, and learn how to interview. It also become clear that a lot of men who were fathers were taking part of another program called Times Square Ink, she explained, and that

“these fathers had very specific challenges around meeting financial needs and taking care of their families.� Many men who had been incarcerated had issues with child support and were in arrears as it accrued while they serving time, she said. An earlier version of UPNEXT was started in the early 2000s called Dads United for Parenting, and that program and Times Square Ink merged to form UPNEXT in 2012, Martinez said. UPNEXT is a six-week program where fathers attend parenting classes and workforce development workshops as well as a series of cognitive behavioral therapy programming, which focuses on decision-making and positive social skills for the workplace and co-parenting, she explained. “At UPNEXT, we work with fathers but the primary goal is the positive development of the children,� Martinez said, noting it is a preventive program. If a child’s home life is stable, she explained, they often do better at school and avoid the criminal justice system. Graduates of the program are eligible for a transitional opportunity with the Times Square Alliance, which has been a partner for several years, Martinez said. After being vetted and interviewed, they are offered a three to six month job opportunity, which is “so beneficial for these fathers� — some come right from incarceration, she said. Martinez said about 50 percent get permanently hired with the Times Square Alliance. The Midtown South Community Council is on hiatus until Sept. 21, when it resumes meetings at 7 p.m., third Thurs. of the month. For info, visit midtownsouthcc.org. For the Times Square Alliance, timessquarenyc.org. For info on Midtown Community Court, Project Reset, and UPNEXT, use the “search� box on the upper right hand side of the courtinnovation.org home page. NYC Community Media


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Tales of Struggle Told in American Immigrant Yiddish NYTF’s ‘Golden Land’ is mindful of what made us great

Photos by Lou Montesano

The cast, during a recent rehearsal for the July 4-Aug. 6 run of “Amerike.”

BY TRAV S.D. A century and more ago, the world possessed 10 million Yiddish speakers. Tens of thousands of them immigrated to the United States every year, many of them choosing to make their homes in New York City. In 2017, the world looks very different. The number of Yiddishspeakers, worldwide, is now six percent of where it was during its peak, and efforts are underway to curb immigration to the United States on the basis of religion and national origin. But one institution from that earlier age remains to remind us of the importance of ancient cultural legacies, and the countless way immigrants have enriched and benefitted America. At 102 years old, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) is still going strong. In July, they will celebrate the immigrant experience and the place of Jews within it by reviving their popular Yiddish language history musical “Amerike — The Golden Land” and by holding a unique two-day Immigration Arts Summit. Both will be presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust,

22

June 29, 2017

L to R, the “Amerike” creative team: Christopher Massimine, Motl Didner, Bryna Wasserman, Moishe Rosenfeld, Zalmen Mlotek, Merete Muenter.

located in Battery Park City. “Amerike – The Golden Land” is described as “a richly textured evocation of New York City as it absorbed wave upon wave of Jewish immigrants from 1897 through the 1940s, filled

with authentic period songs and the stories of actual immigrants.” The production will be presented in authentic American immigrant Yiddish, supported by English and Russian supertitles, with live video, and a seven-piece

klezmer band. The show was co-created by NYTF artistic director Zalmen Mlotek (who serves as the production’s music director) and Moishe Rosenfeld. According to Rosenfeld, “Amerike” began in 1982 as a benefit concert at an 85th anniversary celebration for the Jewish immigrant newspaper The Forward, which was held at the Stevensville Hotel in the Catskills. It was developed into a full-length show and has enjoyed many successful revivals since the mid-1980s (the most recent was in 2012). “When we first put this show on,” Rosenfeld said. “The older people in the audience were immigrants. They and their children spoke Yiddish and understood every nuance. The piece’s power to communicate was deep and powerful. The laughs were robust and it was a huge success. Now we’re so far removed and we don’t have that Yiddish-speaking audience and so our objective is to reconnect and bring these works back to life.” The Folksbiene’s most recent proAMERIKE continued on p. 28 NYC Community Media


JUST DO ART BY SCOTT STIFFLER

SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT From raccoons to rain to birds to loony Trump supporters, the Public Theater will tell you that interruptions come with the territory when your Bard is based in an al fresco setting. But the unpredictable hijinks that have been known to play out in the comparatively cushy Delacorte Theater during Shakespeare in the Park seem downright tame compared to the pedigree of distractions that are par for the course for the hearty thespians of The Drilling Company. A summertime staple since 2001, the troupe’s cheekily named Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series has seen every manner of colorful Lower East Side life (honking horns, vocal passersby) make a bid for supporting player status. Undaunted, they will most certainly soldier on through two upcoming productions, the fi rst of which is “All’s Well That Ends Well” — whose comedic moments are, the Company notes, “interlaced with gut-wrenching pathos, causing it to be labeled one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays.’ ” Director Karla Hendrick calls this case of a famous French physician’s daughter in love with a man below her rank a story of “two young people united through diverse journeys through despair and darkness.” Darker still is where Hendrick stages the action: southeastern France circa World War II, just before (shades of our political present!) fascists overtake the great nation. Free. At La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot (114 Norfolk St.; E. side of Norfolk St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). “All’s Well That Ends

e e r F

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Anwen Darcy as Helena and Michael William Bernstein as Parolles, in “All’s Well That Ends Well” — playing July 6-22 in a Lower East Side parking lot.

Well” runs July 6-22 and “Henry the Sixth Part Three” (helmed by Hamilton Clancy) runs July 27-Aug. 12. Shows are performed Thurs.–Sat., 7pm. Seats available on a first come first served basis; blankets spread out once seats are gone (you can bring your own chair). Visit shakespeareintheparkinglot.com. JUST DO ART continued on p. 28

MATH METROPOLIS M T THE

NEW N EW YORK YO ORK MA M MATH ATH TH FE F FESTIVAL ESTIVAL

Sunday, y, July 9 10 am - 4 pm 28 2 8 Liberty Lib L ibertty Plaza Pllaza P NYC Community Media

momath.org

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Austin, Tennessee Pendleton pours passion for Williams into helming late-period ‘Play’ BY TRAV S.D. Austin Pendleton is a man of many reputations: renowned actor of stage and screen, theatre director, teacher, and artistic director of the now-defunct Circle Repertory Company. His current project is a revival of Tennessee Williams’ late work “The Two-Character Play,” produced by Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company. The linking may be fortuitous. Pendleton has previously directed prominent productions of several Williams’ works including “Vieux Carre,” “Orpheus Descending,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Small Craft Warnings.” And, last season, Playhouse Creatures presented a successful double bill of the late Williams one-acts “A Recluse and His Guest” and “The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde.” Pendleton’s passion for Williams stretches back to his earliest days in the theatre. “My fi rst encounter with a Tennessee Williams play became the fi rst time I knew there was such a thing as a great

Courtesy the artist

Austin Pendleton directs “The Two-Character Play,” the latest in his long association with works of Williams.

playwright,” Pendleton said. “When I was 14 I saw a good community theatre production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ in my hometown in Ohio. I’d had no idea before that, that you could get that involved with a character in a play. I didn’t know you could go to the theatre and actually worry about somebody. The fi rst time I directed

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Courtesy Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company

Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company continues their deep dive into the work of Tennesee Williams.

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June 29, 2017

a play as an adult, I directed my mother [professional actress Frances Manchester Pendleton] in a production of ‘The Glass Menagerie.’ The characters haunted me for months. Williams writes about people we would never imagine would have impact on us, but they do. Tennessee Williams does not write ‘everyman’ characters. He writes these strange people but the whole world embraces them.” “The Two-Character Play” was written during a time of tumultuous tran-

sition for Williams. During the 1960s he plunged into radical experimentation, a transformation which drove both critics and audiences away. Many of these last works have been revived in recent years to great acclaim. “The Two-Character Play” is an existential ordeal in the manner of Beckett. A brother-sister acting team, who may be insane and have been abandoned by the rest of their company, present to us a play within a play. The work is full of sadness and alienation and NYC Community Media


ultimately may be more rooted in reality than his original audiences could have known or appreciated. Williams fi rst presented an early version of the play in London in 1967. He continued to work on it, and presented a re-written version called “Out Cry� in Chicago in 1971, fi nally bringing it to Broadway in 1973. That production closed after 12 performances. It took the public and the critical community decades to catch up with Williams’ vision. There have been numerous critically acclaimed productions over the past several years. “It’s one of his most personal plays,� Pendleton said. “He was inordinately fond of it. I’d acted in a 1982 production, the last one during his lifetime, and it got good reviews. When it came time for me to direct the current production I thought I’d remember some of the things the previous director Tom Brennan had said [about the play’s meaning], but I couldn’t remember a thing. Any interpretation you come up with, you come up with in the moment when you’re doing it. You’re starting all over again.� The director appears to have found a key, at least for this production. “I knew Tennessee a bit and about his life,� Pendleton noted. “He was, especially in his last years, in a state of perpetual crisis. He carried his feelings about his sister around with him in his work all those years, and it came out in some of his greatest characters; Blanche, Laura. Critics began to decide it wasn’t worth watching him do this any more and it hit him hard. ‘The Two-Character Play’ seems torn out of those feelings. It takes place in this frozen country, everybody’s walked out. The characters speak in code to each other. It’s haunting and disturbing and funny like all of his plays.� June 29 through July 16 at Duo Multicultural Arts Center (62 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). Performances: Thurs. & Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 5pm & 8pm; Sun. at 3pm; Wed., July 5 & 12 at 8pm. Admission: $35 general seating, $49 premium (front row seat, glass of wine), $15 for students (must show ID at the door). For reservations, visit playhousecreatures.org.

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PIER 55 continued from p. 7

Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most cherished parks and valued resources,â&#x20AC;? Cuomo said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The development of Pier55 will ensure that the park continues to attract millions of residents, tourists and travelers each year, while showing off the very best that New York has to offer. I applaud the Army Corpsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; decision to issue a modified permit, which will keep this innovative project moving forward.â&#x20AC;? Mayor Bill de Blasio added, â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is a major step forward for a new public park on our waterfront. It has been a bumpy road, but I look forward to the day when New Yorkers from across the city can come and enjoy this remarkable open space, and all the cultural and community programming it will offer. We are grateful for Mr. Dillerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s generosity in making this largest-ever donation to a city park,â&#x20AC;? de Blasio said. Chuck Schumer, the US Senate minority leader, said the city needs Pier55 and its arts programming to remain a cultural leader. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The project envisioned by Hudson River Park Trust and Barry Diller will be another jewel in the crown for New York City,â&#x20AC;? he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;making sure our cultural attractions and recreational spaces are second to none.â&#x20AC;? Councilmemer Corey Johnson lauded the nature and arts that will be part of Pier55. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pier55 presents a unique opportunity for the creation of innovative public open space in a district starved of parks,â&#x20AC;? Johnson said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The pierâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lush plant life will also provide refuge to native birds, butterflies and bees. The Village is known throughout the world as a source of groundbreaking theater, music, literature and dance, and the three performance spaces built into the parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s design will help us continue this artistic legacy. These are

File image courtesy The Villager

A design rendering for Pier55, a $250 million â&#x20AC;&#x153;fantasy arts islandâ&#x20AC;? proposed for off of W. 13th St. in Hudson River Park. It would be situated on a new footprint between the old wooden-pile fields of the former Piers 54 and 56. Pier 54 formerly was the Hudson River Park Trustâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main entertainment pier, for movies, music, dances and more. But the Trust â&#x20AC;&#x201C; wanting to do something new and spectacular and create a wider pier, as well, which would be better for events â&#x20AC;&#x201D; removed the old Pier 54â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crumbling concrete deck as it moved ahead with ambitious plans for Pier55, whose construction would be mostly funded by media mogul Barry Diller. At lower left is the original arch for the historic Pier 54, which is where the Carpathia brought the Titanicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s survivors, among other notable events.

among the reasons why this project was approved overwhelmingly by Community Board 2 (CB2) and why I hope Pier55 is completed.â&#x20AC;? Rich Caccappolo, chairperson of the CB2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, said the initial project proposal went through a lot of scrutiny during its review process at the community board.

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Questions, potential issues and concerns that were raised were addressed and the result was an improved plan for an amazing new space, including an incredible venue for performances, managed by an extraordinary team, in a public park under public control,â&#x20AC;? Caccappolo said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We wanted it then and we want it even more now, because we know it will be a beautiful, unique new park that will be incredibly beneficial for a neighborhood, for the Hudson River Park, and for the entire city.â&#x20AC;? Also hailing the issuance of the modified permit was Michael Novogratz, chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, the parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main private fundraising wing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What a great day for everyone who loves Hudson River Park!â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s truly unfortunate the park has had to use precious resources fending off a misguided action to keep public parkland from being built, but weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re thrilled that the Army Corpsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; has issued a modified permit and that a project with broad

community support can now move forward.â&#x20AC;? In March, however, in a ruling that hit the dazzling $250 million project like a tsunami, federal Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that the Army Corps had erred in issuing a permit for the 2.75-acre â&#x20AC;&#x153;arts island.â&#x20AC;? In Schofieldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opinion, the Corps had violated the Clean Water Act in determining that the entertainment-and-recreation-focused pier was â&#x20AC;&#x153;water dependent.â&#x20AC;? The plaintiffs in the case are Tom Fox and Rob Buchanan, two members of The City Club of New York, who contend that the glitzy pier project, to be fi nanced mostly by power couple Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, was originally cooked up in secret, out of the publicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s view. Judge Schofield said the Corpsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; mistake was so â&#x20AC;&#x153;egregiousâ&#x20AC;? that she rescinded the permit, leaving the Pier55 plan â&#x20AC;&#x153;dead in the water,â&#x20AC;? according to the plaintiffs and their attorney, Richard Emery. All that has been built, so far, is part NYC Community Media


of one of two pedestrian bridges that would lead out to the “island pier,” and a small ledge extending from the bulkhead (Village shoreline) a bit. In late May, as the deadline to appeal the ruling was about to expire, the Corps and the Trust fi nally fi led notices of appeal of Schofield’s ruling. But the Trust, in late April, also modified the Pier55 design. The new design “involves no visible changes to the pier design itself,” according to a Trust spokesperson. In turn, earlier this month, when the Corps issued the modified permit, the Trust scrapped its notice of appeal. “We decided to drop the appeal after the issuance of the permit,” the spokesperson said. The April design modification includes a couple of main changes to the plan. First, concrete “fi ll” — flowable concrete — which was to be poured into hollow “pot”-style support piles that are one of the project’s signature design elements, has been replaced in the plan by prefabricated concrete piles for any piles below the waterline. (The presence of the “fi ll” in the plan was what triggered the Clean Water Act review in the fi rst place.) Second, a barge included in the original plan, which was to contain dressing rooms for actors and be a sort of “staging area” for them, has been nixed. Instead, the actors’ dressing rooms are now designed to be in “interstitial spaces” in the pier, according to the Trust spokesperson. As the spokesperson explained, “The interstitial spaces below the pier deck will serve the same function as the barge, but not be visible to parkgoers.” According to the Trust spokesperson, the modified permit does not need to be reviewed or approved by the court, even though Schofield did sink the prior permit. “The modified permit renders the judge’s objections irrelevant because of the elimination of the fi ll,” the spokesperson said. “The modified project eliminates the small amount of 280 square feet of flowable concrete fi ll below spring high tide within some hollow piles, and replaces them with prefabricated piles. “With the Corps’ approval of this modified application, construction will move forward expeditiously,” the spokesperson stated. “We expect construction to start sometime this summer — largely on the two accessways — and continue through the fall.” Fox and Emery say their understanding was that Diller’s investment in the construction of Pier55 is “capped” at $185 million, that he signed an agreement to that effect back in April when the design was modified. But now the project’s cost has ballooned to $250 million, they note. But the Trust spokesperson said, “One hundred eighty-five million dollars was never a ‘cap.’ Instead, it is the amount that would come from the donor and is based on the detailed cost estimate that was developed for the project following the concept design phase. As previously noted, Mr. Diller/Pier 55 will be responsible for all [cost] overages. At the same time, the public contribution is capped at $20 million.” Fox and Emery have also asked what the public’s commitment to the project is, to which the Trust spokesperson said, “The public funding cap is NYC Community Media

$20,232,000, $17.5 million of which has been committed since the project’s inception. The additional $2,732,000 was approved by the Hudson River Park Trust’s board in January.” Meanwhile, Fox and attorney Emery remained confident that the project still does not pass muster. “We continue to evaluate all options,” Emery said. “We have not reached any fi nal conclusion of where and how we proceed. But it is clear to me that the challenge will continue.” He warned, “They start work at their peril.” Emery noted one strategy they might take is to argue that Pier55 still is adding “fill” to the river — in that the old pile field of Pier54 remains in the river, but now the Trust also wants to add hundreds more concrete piles as part of the Pier55 project. The Trust decided to strip the decaying concrete decking off of Pier54 — the authority’s former main entertainment pier — leaving just its wooden support piles in the river, and instead build the new Pier55 on a completely new footprint just to the north. Fox, who formerly ran New York Water Taxi,

was an early leader of Hudson River Park during its planning stages as the fi rst president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy (which completed the Hudson River Park’s concept and fi nancial plan) from 1992-’95. He was also a member of the Hudson River Park Alliance (which supported the Hudson River Park’s founding legislation) from 1996-’98; and a board of directors member of Friends of Hudson River Park until 2011. Asked his thoughts the Trust’s press release with all the political “big guns” supporting the Pier55 project, Fox said, “So that means they are all wrong. Would not be the fi rst time!” Fox, who cut his teeth in waterfront activism fighting the Westway highway-and-landfill megaproject back in the 1980s, is not cowed by political pronouncements of faits accomplis. “Just like Jane Jacobs won so many battles versus Robert Moses, who always tried to make his projects sounds like done deals,” he said, “we beat three presidents, two governors and three mayors in court and Westway sleeps with the fishes. Same place Pier55 is going,” he declared, “Davy Jones’s locker.”

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AMERIKE continued from p. 22

duction, a revival of the 1923 operetta “The Golden Bride,” was a smash success, and according to NYTF CEO Christopher Massimine, provided impetus to revive the present work. “In a way the two shows are opposites,” he said. “ ‘The Golden Bride’ was a fantasy about American life in the 1920s. ‘Amerike’ is the realistic story of the immigrant experience: the xenophobia people faced, and the political unrest.” Sound a little like 2017? Rosenfeld offered that this too was an inspiration for the revival: “Because of the times we’re living in, a musical about immigration at the turn of the century made sense. We’re going to be doing this show right across the water from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. There’s an important synergy. The Jewish immigrant story is the story of all immigrants. We all had trouble coming over [to America.] We all had struggles, but we made it ours.” In that spirit, in addition to the production, NYTF will be hosting a two-day Immigration Arts Summit on July 17 and 18. The summit will feature a keynote address by John Leguizamo, with participation of such diverse figures as former NBC television journalist Ann Curry, Larry Kirwan of the band Black 47, performance artist Jenny Romaine, and Frank London of The Klezmatics. Also performing will be a culturally variegated collection of New York City arts organizations, including the Pan Asian Repertory, Repertorio Español, Irish Repertory Theatre, the Kairos Italy Theater, the Irish Arts Center, the Turkish American Repertory Theatre, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and Israel’s Office of Cultural

Image courtesy NYTF

“Amerike” production sketches by Izzy Fields, the show’s costume designer.

Affairs in the USA. The Summit concludes with a free outdoor concert at the Robert F. Wagner Park on Tues., July 18 at 7pm. “Amerike – The Golden Land” and the Arts Summit will be presented at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Pl., at West St. & First Pl.). Opening Performance on Tues., July 4 at 7pm. Then, through

Aug. 6: Wed. at 2pm; Thurs. at 2pm & 7:30pm; Sun. at 2pm & 6pm. For tickets ($35-$60), call 866-8114111 or visit nytf.org (where you will also find info. on the Summit; $10 for one day, $15 for both). Directed by Bryna Wasserman; movement & staging by Merete Muenter; music direction & arrangements by NYTF artistic director Zalmen Mlotek.

JUST DO ART continued from p. 23

SOULPEPPER THEATRE COMPANY Despite their clean streets, extreme politeness, and stellar reading comprehension skills, our neighbors to the north have never made a national sport out of rubbing our noses in it (a moot point when you’re so damn good at hockey). They’ve even taken the high road by not pointing out the fact that many fine Americans are, or at least were, Canadians (see: Alanis Morissette, Ryan Gosling, Pat Kiernan). Now, add 65 members of Toronto-based Soulpepper Theatre Company to the list of impressive imports. Their monthlong Off-Broadway residency at The Pershing Square Signature Center will take over all five stages to present 11 plays, musicals, and concerts. Two works of distinction begin their run on the second day of the month: Soulpepper’s “highly theatrical” adaptation of the 1915 W. Somerset Maugham novel “Of Human Bondage” is the mostawarded show in Toronto history, having garnered a slew of “Canadian Tony” (aka Dora) awards, including Best Play, Best Ensemble, and design nods for its set, sound, and lighting. “Kim’s Convenience” (the “most successful

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June 29, 2017

Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann

Soulpepper founding member Diego Matamoros in “Cage,” July 12-16.

Soulpepper’s much-awarded “Of Human Bondage” stage adaptation plays July 1-26.

Canadian play of the last decade”) looks at Canada’s immigrant community through the lens of a multigenerational, family-run Korean variety store. Elsewhere on the schedule, Soulpepper founding member Diego Matamoros is among the trio who uses the ideas (and last name!) of John Cage for “Cage” — a meditation on time, space, and memory that manages to work Zen Buddhism and apes into the mix. The musical “Alligator Pie” is performed (and was created) by those who grew up grooving to the rhymes of Dennis Lee (“Canada’s Father Goose,” he’s better known in these parts as lyricist for Jim Henson’s much-loved “Fraggle Rock”). Finally, at least as far as this roundup is concerned, a trio of concerts: “True North” acknowledges Canada’s 150th birthday with a collection of songs that speak to the country’s national character. “The Secret Chord” is a tribute to the late Leonard Cohen (yet another Canadian of distinction), and “The Melting Pot” looks at immigrant cultures that planted their feet in Manhattan and proceeded to create the soundtrack of the 20th century. July 1-29 at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W. 42nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). For tickets ($25-$80), call 888-898-1188 or visit soulpepper.org. NYC Community Media


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NYC Community Media

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

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

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Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

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

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

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

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NYC Community Media


TALKING POINT continued from p. 14

tributed to poor health outcomes such as depression, drug and alcohol use, and increased rates of HIV for Black and Latino LGBTQ people. At a time when LGBTQ people of MENA origin are facing similarly discriminatory circumstances, why is no one seeking to learn more about the health outcomes and potentially risky behaviors of this population? The fact of the matter is that we know next to nothing about the health outcomes of MENA populations living in this country, never mind those who are LGBTQ. It is high time public health researchers investigate this severely understudied population. Researchers will face several challenges on this front. For starters, defi ning what it is to be “Middle Eastern” is not an easy feat. While many policies explicitly target American Muslims for surveillance, detention, and deportation, the racialization of Islam in this country has meant that many nonMuslim people from the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere have been targets of anti-Muslim policies as well as victims of xenophobic and racist assaults. The recent shooting death of Khalid Jabara by a racist neighbor in Tulsa, or the absurdly common targeting of Sikhs for enhanced airport screening, illustrates this point. Thus, studies focusing solely on Muslims would be to the exclusion of many from the region who may suffer the deleterious effects of social isolation stemming from various forms of discrimination. Yet despite the Muslim/Middle Eastern equivocation, simply reporting research on “Middle Eastern/North African” LGBTQ people would dilute important distinctions in the myriad cultures, values, beliefs, and attitudes seen throughout the region — distinctions that influence risk behavior and health outcomes. In the Shabaab study, I did my best to narrowly define my population of interest: Arab MSM. Try as I might, I knew that the study’s eligibility criteria would still inevitably oversimplify the lived experiences of many people from a geographic region that extends from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Paradoxically, my study would also exclude many from the region who likely share similar experiences of Islamophobia and xenophobic discrimination, including Berbers, Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turks, Persians, etc. Second, reaching this population for study will be another hurdle for health researchers. For starters, findNYC Community Media

ing even the simplest demographic or health data for this population is extremely difficult. Due in part to lobbying efforts by early Arab immigrants to the United States, people of Middle Eastern origin are counted as white by the decennial Census and most public use data from large scale surveys do not have an Arab, Middle Eastern, or North African ethnic category in their demographic questions. Additionally, finding queer MENA folks to participate in studies on sexual behavior and HIV risk is even more challenging. This stems from two major issues. First, obtaining community leader buy-in, an otherwise useful way to reach marginalized communities, is difficult. While some prominent leaders, such as Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, have broached the subject of LGBTQ rights, discussions around LGBTQ issues, sexual health and drug use are difficult to engage in for many MENA communities. Second, explicitly queer Middle Eastern and North African spaces are virtually non-existent save for a few major urban centers. Unless you live in New York or Los Angeles, chances are good that there is no Middle Eastern equivalent of Latin night at your local gay bar. These are often excellent spaces to recruit potential participants for LGBTQ research. A dearth of these spaces makes study recruitment a daunting task for health researchers. Third, assumptions about sexual behavior and HIV risk (or lack thereof) among MENA populations, even LGBTQ ones, means funding opportunities for such research are few and far between. Perhaps because HIV prevalence in the MENA region remains low compared to other parts of the world (despite recent, alarming trends), health researchers in the US reason that MENA populations living here are similarly a “low-risk” population. This is an erroneous assumption and, simply put, we just don’t know whether it is true. The result of all this is a vicious cycle: With scant data from population surveys to point to, researchers have a difficult time making the case to fund even pilot data — and without pilot data, the case for larger studies is even more challenging. While the challenge may appear to be insurmountable, I believe there are certain steps that can be taken to improve our understanding of the health outcomes of LGBTQ MENA communities living in the US. First, activists and community members should continue to push for, and encourage inclusion of, a MENA racial or ethnic category

in population surveys. A campaign to include such a category on the Census has been going on for at least a decade (I worked on one such campaign in 2010). This effort should be extended to health outcomes surveys such as The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Second, researchers should be mindful of how these communities are grouped together in study cohorts. Studies on LGBTQ Muslims should certainly be conducted, but lumping all Muslims together as a cohort may not be useful; American Muslims represent an extremely diverse range of nationalities, ethnicities, languages, creeds and ways of worship. One of the things that researchers of minority LGBTQ communities look at is rejection or isolation from one’s community because of sexual orientation or gender identity. To cast Islam as a single “community” and ascribe to it experiences of rejection among LGBTQ Muslims would mischaracterize the lived experiences of these communities and would play dangerously into stereotypes of an already maligned religion. Finally, as a public health advocate, I understand that addressing community health does not just occur in the

lab or the clinic. Social isolation is one of the major factors associated with poor mental health and risky behavior among LGBTQ folks. Thus, I’d like to leave a few thoughts with my LGBTQ brethren seeking to forge intersectional alliances against the growing tide of homophobia, transphobia, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant vitriol in this country: Do not treat queer MENA folks as victims of their culture(s). Do not assume they have forsaken their ethnic/national/religious/cultural identities for their chosen LGBTQ ones. Do not assume that homophobia supersedes their struggles with racism, Islamophobia, imperialism, war or settler colonialism. Good public health programs are data-driven, evidence-based, and community-led. We have a ways to go to fully realize and address the health needs of the LGBTQ MENA community. In a time when both science and protections for marginalized communities are under assault, we must fight to address these needs harder than ever before. Contact the author at shabaab. study@gmail.com. For info on CHIBPS, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/ chibps.

the climax is just the beginning

a new play by S. ASHER GELMAN

THE LOFT at the DAVENPORT THEATRE 354 W 45th St (btw 8th & 9th Ave) afterglowtheplay.com ­ June 29, 2017

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June 29, 2017

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