YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Soup Kitchen Braces for Trump Budget Cuts BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen — the largest soup kitchen in the city and the second largest in the country — could lose federal funding if proposed Trump administration budget cuts go through. The Trump administration is asking Congress to cut about $18 billion SOUP KITCHEN continued on p. 3
‘Diller Isle’ Dead in the Water? BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Has “Diller Island” suddenly transformed into Atlantis? Could the extravagant plan be sinking into the murky depths of the Hudson? And, if so, ironically, it all might be because of the quirky “pot”-shaped concrete support piles that are the project’s signature design element — which would need to be filled with pourable concrete after being installed in the river — as opposed PIER55 continued on p. 6
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
L to R: Vanessa Smith, project manager of New York City Mural Arts Project, Ariel Willmott, director of Fountain House Gallery, and Andrew Frank Baer, lead muralist, in front of artwork by members of the Hell’s Kitchen community.
At Fountain House Gallery, Art Frames Focus on Mental Health BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC A new city arts program is looking to build connections and spur discussions between communities and those living with mental illness.
The New York City Mural Arts Project is in its pilot year, and is working with artists, community groups, and the community at large to use art to tackle issues such as the stigma surrounding
mental illness. The project is under the auspices of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) MURAL continued on p. 2
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VACATION © CHELSEA NOW 2017 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
VOLUME 09, ISSUE 13 | APRIL 6-12, 2017
Courtesy NYC Mural Arts Project
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
A new city arts program wants input from the community to create a mural that will address mental illness and stigma.
A wall at the exhibition asks people to add their thoughts about Hell’s Kitchen and what mental illness looks like to them.
Mural Project Breaks Down Wall of Silence Surrounding Mental Illness MURAL continued from p. 1
and collaborates with community organizations. At Fountain House Gallery in Hell’s Kitchen (702 Ninth Ave., btw. W. 48th & 49th Sts.), the community is invited to participate in the mural-making process, whose elements include open studios and design reviews, as well as drop-in paint and drawing sessions dur-
ing which participants contribute their thoughts about their neighborhood and what mental illness looks like to them. “A lot of people haven’t bought a watercolor set since they were nine, and so this is liberating. It’s about expressing yourself,” said lead muralist Andrew Frank Baer (andrewfrankbaer.tumblr. com). The gallery — established by Fountain House (fountainhouse.org), an organi-
Holy Week and Easter Services at St. Peter’s Chelsea Episcopal Church
Holy Week Services: 4/8 Saturday Sacred Music 7:30pm La Compagnia Amarilli Free Concert
4/14 Good Friday 12:00pm Good Friday Liturgy
4/15 The Great Vigil of Easter 7:00pm Sung Eucharist
4/9 Palm Sunday 9am Family Service 10:00am Liturgy of the Palms & Holy Eucharist 6:00pm Evening Prayer 8:00pm Compline
4/10 Monday 4/11 Tuesday 4/12 Wednesday
4/16 Easter Sunday 9:00am Family Service 9:30am Toddlers Easter Egg Hunt in Rectory Garden 10:00am Festal Eucharist 11:15am Easter Egg Hunt in Rectory Garden 6:00pm Evening Prayer
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4/13 Maundy Thursday 5:30pm Community Meal 7:00pm Maundy Thursday Liturgy 9:00pm All-Night Vigil at the Altar of Repose
346 W. 20th St. (8th & 9th Aves.) 212-929-2390 | stpeterschelsea.org All are welcome here! 2
April 6-12, 2017
zation that helps those with mental illness — serves artists living with mental illness. Gallery director Ariel Willmott said the mural arts project is in line with its mission. “A huge part of what we do is trying to address the stigma around mental illness through art, so this truly felt like a perfect fit since it would be utilizing the talents of our artists and general Fountain House members to create an artistic vision that would be challenging the stigma around mental illness,” she said. The gallery has done outreach to the community before, hosting events — art openings, curator and artists talks, book swaps — that are open to the public, and Willmott said that a lot of its foot traffic comes from people who live and work in Hell’s Kitchen. Vanessa Smith, project manager of the New York City Mural Arts Project (nycmap.org), said working with community-based organizations, such as the Fountain House, is helping “to spread the word about some of the goals of DOHMH through this project, specifically around stigma reduction for mental illness, and then starting to create new type of dialogues through our events.” She added, “A big goal of ours [is] this sort of idea of creating new opportunities for social connection and connectivity.” Dr. Gary Belkin, executive deputy commissioner of mental hygiene at the DOHMH (nyc.gov/health), said in a phone interview that the project learned much from a Philadelphia mural arts program called Porch Light (porchlightvirtualtour.org). The Hell’s Kitchen, East Tremont, and West Bronx neighborhoods have been chosen for the community mural
project — based, noted Belkin, on the DOHMH’s assessment of areas that had providers and places with higher need. Out of the city’s 59 community districts, Clinton and Chelsea ranked 12th highest for psychiatric hospitalizations and 16th for alcohol-related hospitalizations, according to a 2015 Community Health Profile for the neighborhoods. The city put out a request for proposal for artists, looking for those whose past work “seemed similar in scope and approach,” Belkin said. The city chose Baer for the Manhattan mural, and Tova Snyder for the two Bronx murals (the project is partnered with VIP Community Services in the Bronx). There have been other public murals that focus on mental health, Belkin said, but this is the first program that is part of the “public mental health strategy.” The New York City Mural Arts Project received $500,000 in funding, which the DOHMH got from the New York State Office of Mental Health. Next year, the project aims to do five community murals. Smith said the project’s steering committee included Community Board 4 and Community Board 6 in the Bronx, and said that the boards are critical to getting things launched in any community. When Chelsea Now visited the gallery on March 23, community-made drawings and paintings abounded, and tempting markers and paints waited patiently to be used. A “Community Wall” was dedicated to people’s thoughts about their neighborhood and what mental illness looks like to them. Among the messages, written on PostIt notes: “broken but full of love,” “a MURAL continued on p. 10 .com
Loss of Federal Dollars ‘Could be Devastating’ to Local Soup Kitchen SOUP KITCHEN continued from p. 1
from “discretionary spending bills for the current fiscal year that have been long settled,” Politico reported on March 28. If Congress approves the cuts, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program’s budget could be reduced by $20 million, according to Hunger Free America (hungerfreeamerica.org). After Politico reported the cuts, an Excel spreadsheet outlining them was forwarded to the nonprofit organization, Magen Allen, a spokesperson for Hunger Free America, said in an email. The program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Program (FEMA), provides funding for food banks and pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless prevention programs, said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, said in a phone interview. Berg called the cut “cruel” and “historically bad,” and noted it is unusual to take away money that has already been appropriated. The result of the proposed cut is that “more people are going to be turned away. More people are going to go hungry,” he said. “The idea that these Chelsea Now file photo by Hannah Albee
SOUP KITCHEN continued on p. 11
A line forms at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, which serves 300,000 meals a year.
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April 6-12, 2017
Timothy Caughman Remembered as Living in a ‘State of Joy’ BY PATRICK DONACHIE Timothy Caughman was remembered at his funeral by well-wishers and elected officials as a generous and warm individual who loved conversing with fellow New Yorkers. Caughman, 66, was fatally stabbed near the corner of W. 36th St. and Ninth Ave. on the evening of Mon., March 20, in what was quickly determined to be a race-based attack. Mayor Bill de Blasio was on hand to speak to parishioners at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens, at 10660 Union Hall St., on Sat., April 1. Caughman was born in Jamaica and grew up in the South Jamaica Houses. He was living in Manhattan when he was killed. “He was attacked because of who he was, plain and simple. And don’t think for a moment it was an attack on one stray man, because it was an attack on all of us,” de Blasio said during his remarks. “It was a racist attack. It was an act of domestic terrorism; we have to call it what it is. But it was also an attack on all of us, because this city stands for something. So, it’s no surprise that evil came calling here.” According to Manhattan District
Photo by Nat Valentine
Mount Zion Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens was the setting for Timothy Caughman’s April 1 funeral service.
Attorney Cy Vance, James Harris Jackson traveled to New York City and walked the streets of New York for three days, seeking a black person to murder. Jackson allegedly found his victim in front of 462 Ninth Ave. in Manhattan (at W. 36th St.), repeatedly stabbing Caughman before fleeing, said Vance, who also noted that Jackson had traveled to New York to murder because he thought the act would get more publicity.
In the early morning of Wed., March 22, after video of the incident surfaced, Baltimore resident James Harris Jackson turned himself in to police at the Times Square subway station, confessing to the killing. The next day, he was arraigned for murder as a hate crime, and was later charged with murder as an act or terror, in addition to assorted weaponsrelated charges. De Blasio referred to previous speakers, who had mentioned Caughman
as living in “a state of joy,” which the mayor said could be difficult to maintain in a city as frenzied as New York. “We all have to work hard to try and find the joy, sometimes even when it’s staring us in the face,” he said. “Timothy understood something that maybe a lot of us don’t understand well enough. He understood what was good around us and he obviously had a love for his fellow human beings.” De Blasio did not explicitly refer to President Donald Trump, though he did allude to a need to “understand the forces of hate that have been unleashed in recent months,” and also chastised reporters who had focused on mistakes Caughman made rather than the fact that he had been killed in a racist attack. “He was a black man killed by a white man whose goal was to find black people and kill them. Period,” the mayor said. “And it was noted, and then quickly the media, and our society in general, moved onto other topics. Let me be straightforward: What if it had been a black man who traveled to another city with the sole purpose of killing white people?”
—Additional reporting by Sean Egan
CHELSEA COMMUNITY CHURCH HOLY WEEK BURSTS FORTH WITH JOYFUL SOUND PALM SUNDAY, APRIL 9, NOON Speaker, Rev. Dr. Peter Heltzel (Disciples of Christ); tenor Anthony Santelmo Jr. will sing “Burst Forth and See” from Handel’s Messiah.
EASTER, APRIL 16, NOON
Speaker, Rev. Beth Perry (United Church of Christ); Broadway tenor Arbender Robinson will sing “We Shall Behold Him.” Music Director/Organist Jeff Cubeta will lead the CCC choir singing “This Is a Day for Rejoicing” and “Instruments, Waken and Publish Your Gladness.” Trumpeter Jake Henry: “Fanfare for the Third Day.”
CHELSEA COMMUNITY CHURCH A diverse, nondenominational, lay-led church, founded in 1975, welcomes people of all faiths and of uncertain faith.
SUNDAYS AT 12 NOON IN HISTORIC ST. PETER’S CHURCH
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April 6-12, 2017
Surging Senior Population Prompts Stringer Blueprint BY JACKSON CHEN In an effort to address the needs of a surging senior population, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has released a blueprint of policies for ensuring their welfare and supporting the work of those who provide care for them. At a Tues., March 21 press conference at the Greenwich House Senior Center at Washington Square, Stringer unveiled a new report, “Aging with Dignity: A Blueprint for Serving NYC’s Growing Senior Population,” that calls on the city to examine where neighborhoods housing seniors and agencies serving them could be buttressed (access the report online via comptroller.nyc.gov/reports). “We need to act today — not tomorrow,” Stringer said. “Seniors are the anchors of our communities, and we must ensure they have the support they deserve. According to Stringer’s report, the senior population rose 19 percent over the past decade from about 947,000 in 2005 to 1.13 million in 2015, representing about 13 percent of New York’s total population. The number of those 65 and older is expected to hit 1.4 million by 2020. Borough-wide, 14.6 percent of
Courtesy Office of the Comptroller
City Comptroller Scott Stringer, joined by United Neighborhood Houses of NY’s Nora Moran (left) and LiveON NY’s Bobbie Sackman at the Greenwich House Senior Center on March 21.
Manhattanites were 65 and older as of 2015. Only Staten Island, at 15 percent, exceeded that concentration of seniors. The Upper West Side’s Community Board 7 coverage area along with several community boards in Queens represent the only NYC neighborhoods with senior populations exceeding 30,000. But as the city’s senior population rises, their overall support seems to be dropping, according to Stringer’s report — a serious concern given that more than 40 percent of seniors depend on government programs for half of their income, and that 60 percent of them spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. For groups working on issues involving seniors, the trends Stringer’s report lay out are not surprising, but they do increasingly merit prompt attention. “The trend of aging will not go away until that last boomer turns 65,” said Chris Widelo, AARP’s associate state director for New York. “And people are living much longer, healthier lives. We see it right now as a crisis on the horizon.” Stringer’s report laid out a threeBLUEPRINT continued on p. 10
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April 6-12, 2017
Permit Problems Could Cast Pier55 PIER55 continued from p. 1
to traditional straight concrete piles that are just pounded right into the riverbed as is. Talk about “going to pot.” In a stunning decision in federal court on March 23, Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers erred in April 2015 when it issued a permit for Pier55, the glitzy $200 million “entertainment fantasy island” proposed to sit off of W. 13th St. in Hudson River Park. In turn, due to the “seriousness of the…deficiencies” in the Army Corps’ permit, the judge vacated it — meaning she yanked the permit. So, the project now lacks a critical requirement, without which it cannot move forward. Media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, had committed to providing most of the financing to build the pricey pier, which has the support of both the governor and the mayor. The successful suit against the project was brought by two members of
Courtesy Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio
A rendering of Pier55, showing its unique “pot”-style support piles. The concrete that would be flowed into metal tubes to create these high-style piles would be, legally speaking, a “pollutant” to the Hudson River Park estuarine sanctuary, which is officially a “special aquatic site” under the Clean Water Act, a federal judge ruled.
The City Club of New York — longtime Hudson River Park activist Tom Fox and boater Robert Buchanan —
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HOLY WEEK At The Church of St. Luke in the Fields Saturday— April 8
Good Friday — April 14
7:30 pm The Seven Last Words of Our 9:00 am Morning Prayer Savior on the Cross—Eduardo Bellotti, 1:00 pm Good Friday Liturgy organist 6:00 pm Stations of the Cross Palm Sunday — April 9 7:30 pm Meditations on the Blessing of the Palms and Holy Eucharist Passion of Christ—Music and Readings 8:00 am Said Eucharist 9:15 am Choral Eucharist* Holy Saturday — April 15 11:15 am Choral Eucharist* 8:00 pm The Great Vigil of Easter 1:15 pm Service of Healing The Paschal Vigil and First Eucharist of Easter with Baptism, Conrmation, Mon. Tues.— April 10, 11 Reception and Rearmation 6:15 pm Said Eucharist of Baptismal Vows.
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April 6-12, 2017
and also argued by attorney members of the club, including lead attorney Richard Emery. Another lawsuit against the plan that the same plaintiffs had fi led in state court, however, repeatedly washed out, culminating in the Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — ultimately refusing to hear the case in October 2016. But the result in federal court on March 23 was clearly a jolting torpedo hit on the dazzling designer pier. “At a minimum, the project is comatose,” Emery said on Friday, “and I don’t think it’s going to recover. We’ll see.” Fox said, “Unless they appeal it and the judge’s decision is overturned, it’s dead in the water. The Trust could appeal, but the Corps would need to join in the appeal because the decision is against the Corps. Right now, the project has no permit; it can’t continue. They would have to go back and appeal it, or perhaps redesign it and reapply for a permit — but that doesn’t happen overnight.” The Hudson River Park Trust — the state-city authority that is building and operates the 5-mile-long West Side waterfront park — teamed up with Diller to create the Pier55 plan. In a statement on Friday, the Trust downplayed the judge’s ruling as “largely procedural,” yet did not immediately say it would appeal.
‘DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED’ “We have won four challenges in four courts on this project,” the Trust’s statement said. “Not one of those decisions determined the proposed project would harm the environment — and neither does this one. But even if largely procedural, we are deeply disappointed by this ruling, and are reviewing it carefully to determine our next steps.” A spokesperson for Diller said he is not issuing any additional comments beyond the ones given by the Trust. Assemblymember Deborah Glick — whose district includes the Pier55 site — on the other hand, praised the ruling. “I think this was a great decision,” she said, “and we’ll see what the next step in the court challenge is.” Asked for comment on the ruling, a spokesperson for City Councilmember Corey Johnson said to use Johnson’s statement that he gave on the Pier55 project in January 2015. “We have reasons to be excited about this endeavor,” the councilmember said, in part, back then, adding, “We must ensure that the natural habitat of the Hudson River be preserved with the utmost care. Any construction must be done in consultation with relevant environmental agencies and organizations.” Terri Cude, chairperson of Community Board 2 (CB2), noted that the board was a booster of the project. “Community Board 2 supported a .com
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park at Pier55, as we have such limited locations and resources for truly open spaces in our area,” she said. “We’ll wait and see the outcome of this lawsuit and any appeals, and will keep working to retain and add recreation, open space and cultural opportunities where they’re most needed.”
‘NOT WATER DEPENDENT’ Basically, Judge Schofield said, the Army Corps violated the federal Clean Water Act by incorrectly finding that the “basic use” of the Pier55 project would be “water dependent,” which enabled the Corps to grant a permit for the project’s construction. In other words — the glitzy, 2.75acre arts pier with an undulating landscape that was planned to host scores of annual events, drawing thousands of people to the waterfront park, simply does not need to be on a pier — alternative locations exist, and they don’t have be over water. On the other hand, something like a boat launch, for example, the judge’s decision notes, obviously is water dependent. As Emery explained, in an interview the day after the decision, “They have to scrupulously look at other alternatives — including land-based. They could do it on Gansevoort Peninsula. They could do it at the tow pound [on Pier 76 at W. 38th St.] It could be a lot [of] places. It doesn’t have to be in the water.” .com
The Army Corps had two basic responsibilities: first, to determine the project’s “basic purpose,” then, to determine if that “basic purpose” is “water dependent.” The Army Corps defined the project’s basic purpose as “providing a vegetated pier platform within Hudson River State Park with an amphitheater and public restrooms; and to continue to provide safe public-access pier structures within Hudson River State Park.” However, Schofield wrote, “Had the Corps properly defined the project’s basic purpose, it almost certainly would have found that the proposal is not water dependent. … A project whose fundamental goal is to provide park and performance space is not water dependent, regardless of whether the Trust prefers to build such a space on a pier.”
A ‘CONCRETE’ CASE Specifically, the “trigger” for the project’s scrutiny under the Clean Water Act, according to attorney Emery, is the fact that the law “prohibits the discharge of any pollutant, including dredged or fill materials, into the nation’s navigable waters, except in compliance with [the act’s] provisions… .” In the case of Pier55, that “pollutant” would be concrete: The permit the Hudson River Park Trust applied to PIER55 continued on p. 12
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POLICE BLOTTER IDENTITY THEFT: Feasting fraudulently Identity theft is certainly no picnic — but in the case of an unfortunate 48-year-old woman, it certainly came with enough food for one. As reported to police on Sun., April 2, she received a bill at her home address for a number of purchases that were not made by her. The purchases, totaling $591, came from the Monroe, Wisconsinbased electronic retailer The Swiss Colony, and were largely comprised of foodstuffs — including baklava, Bavarian creme torte, crab, wine, wild game meat, and dubious sounding “meat stix” and a “cheese log,” along with a few pricey articles of clothing and a mini-arcade machine for good measure. They were made on a credit account opened using the victim’s personal information without her knowledge, and she is understandably worried about its continued usage. This is but the latest case of online identity theft reported to the 10th Precinct — a kind of crime police have noticed an uptick in recently.
PETIT LARCENY: Phone alone She might not have literally flushed her money down the drain — but she sure came close enough on Fri., March 31. At about 6pm that evening, a 36-yearold woman visiting from Trinidad and Tobago went to the restroom at the Jacob Javits Center (655 W. 34th St., btw. 11th & 12th Aves.), set her phone down unattended, then forgot to pick it back up when she left. By the time she realized she no longer had her phone and returned to the restroom in search of it, the device — a $700 Samsung
THE 10th PRECINCT: Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-7418226. Crime Prevention: 212741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7pm, at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced.
April 6-12, 2017
Galaxy Note 5 — had vanished. Using Android Device Manager, she was able to track the phone’s last location to W. 42nd St. and Seventh Ave., but was not able to recover it.
PETIT LARCENY: Urban Outﬁtters ﬂeeced For reasons unclear, at about 1:40am on Fri., March 31, a man on the 500 block of W. 42nd St. admitted to police that he had, during the period from Feb. 6–March 21, acted in concert with an already-arrested defendant to undertake a number of petit larcenies. In that time, the 21-year-old Brooklyn man used old receipts at an Urban Outfitters store (526 Sixth Ave., at W. 14th St.) to get refunded inappropriate monies to give to his female partner, racking up $900 of ill-gotten cash during that monthand-a-half period. He was arrested.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Grafﬁti express It might not be a Banksy piece, but this graffiti art nonetheless has a blunt message, is thoroughly annoying, and is going to end up costing a pretty penny. On Wed., March 29, New York City Transit employees discovered that an L train, which had been laid up on a spur track at the 14th St. and Eighth Ave. subway station from about 11:30am to shortly before 4pm, had been thoroughly vandalized in the interim. The tag — which, for the record, was 30 feet long by four feet high — spelled out the word “Dimebag” in ostentatious lettering, using red, white, blue, purple, black, and green paint. The estimated cost of removal is $1,250, according to NYCT.
MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT: Located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Inspector: Russel J. Green. Call 212-2399811. Community Affairs: 212239-9846. Crime Prevention: 212239-9846. Domestic Violence: 212-239-9863. Youth Officer: 212239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7pm, at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & W. 35th St.). Visit midtownsouthcc.org. .com
‘Flip Fifth’ Plan Will Create Protected Bike Lane BY DENNIS LYNCH The city will create a southbound protected bike lane on Fifth Ave. this spring, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the week of March 20. The protected lane will run along a roughly 17-block stretch along Fifth Ave. from its intersection with Broadway at Madison Square Park down to Eighth St., one block north of its southerly termination at Washington Square Park. The lane will replace a 5-foot-wide unprotected bike lane — where the bike lane is currently bordered by traveling vehicle lanes — installed along that stretch in 1978. Transportation Alternatives, a main proponent, is calling it “Flip Fifth” because the existing bike lane and eastern parking lane basically will be flipped. On the east side of Fifth Ave. between 23rd and 14th Sts., the city will install a green, 6-foot-wide bike lane closest to the sidewalk. Offering the bike path protection will be a 3-foot buffer area, plus an 8-footwide parking lane. This will leave three 10-foot-wide travel lanes of moving traffic, and another 8-foot-wide parking lane on the avenue’s west side. The idea is that the wall of parked cars protects bicyclists from traffic. There will also be some small pedestrian islands between the bike lane and the car lanes. That will shorten the walk across Fifth Ave., but these refuges for walkers won’t be raised or protected by a curb. Farther downtown, the configuration from 14th to Ninth St. is similar, but with some differences. Going from east to west, there will be a 6-foot-wide bike
spots — 20 parking spots between 23rd and 14th Sts., 10 between 14th and Ninth Sts., and eight between Ninth and Eighth Sts. The city identified this section of Fifth Ave. as a Vision Zero Priority Area. One person was killed and twodozen others severely injured along the stretch between 2010 and 2014, according to the DOT. Janet Liff, the co-chairperson of Transportation Alternatives’ Manhattan Activist Committee and a public member of Community Board 2 (CB2), said she was “very impressed” with the design. Liff lives on Fifth Ave. herself and has been “doored” by cars on the existing Courtesy DOT A rendering by the city’s Department of Transportation showing how bike lane. She said many bicyclists have nicknamed this stretch the “black diathe new protected Fifth Ave. bike lane will be laid out. mond bike lane of New York City,” referlane bordering the sidewalk, but with a 5-foot buffer ring to dangerous ski slopes. “It’s so treacherous. You’re forced in and out of area, followed by a 9-foot parking lane, two 11-foottraffic all the time,” she said. wide travel lanes, and another 9-foot parking lane. Liff added that many advocates wanted the lane There will also be changes to signal durations for vehicles and bikes, including some split-phase sig- extended the extra block to the park. However, she naling at 14th and Eighth Sts. By using split-phase said, many vehicles turn off Fifth Ave. at Eighth St., signals, the Department of Transportation (DOT) making it safer south of there. CB2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee requestseparates pedestrian crossings and vehicle turns at a ed the pedestrian islands between bike lanes and travel given crosswalk to better protect pedestrians. The DOT said the plan would not reduce Fifth lanes be fortified with a curb or concrete barriers. The Ave.’s capacity, but would eliminate 38 parking full board of CB2 has approved the overall plan.
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April 6-12, 2017
MURAL continued from p. 2
struggle to understand” and “seeing the unseen.” Baer emphasized that he wanted to hear from the community at large. “In the past few weeks if I saw someone come in and seem engaged with the work, I would try to introduce myself, and encourage them to interact with it,” he said, noting that he is at the gallery frequently. “There’s no need to feel inhibited when making art.” While this is the first time he is lead muralist, Baer has worked on similar projects, volunteering at Groundswell (groundswell.nyc) — a community arts group that has painted almost 500 murals — and working with Los Muralistas de el Puente (losmuralistasdeelpuente.com), an artist collective that has created over 20 community murals. Last November, Baer started weekly workshops with Fountain House Gallery artists where “we would gather ideas, gather words, gather images — see what’s important to them,” he said. Willmott noted it was important the artists came together to build a relationship and explore ideas before embarking on the mural process. The public was invited to give input and meet Baer at the mural project’s March 8 “Open Studio” inaugural event.
BLUEPRINT continued from p. 5
pronged approach to address the most important challenges, focused on affordable housing, senior-friendly communities, and supportive services. Looking at affordable housing for seniors, the comptroller’s report recommended that the city automatically enroll eligible New Yorkers in the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption program that provides a rent freeze for those 62 and older whose household income is $50,000 or less. The report predicted that automatic enrollment would capture 26,000 beneficiaries not currently enjoying the rental assistance. For those who own, the report recommends expanding the Senior Citizens Homeowner’s Exemption, which grants a property tax exemption to those 65 and older, by raising the maximum household income from $37,399 to a $50,000 threshold. Stringer also urged the city to create a program that would offer more incentives for seniors or their landlords to install safety measures like widened doors, grab bars in bathrooms, and no-slip surfaces. The comptroller’s report endorsed expanding “AgeFriendly Neighborhood” programs across the city, as well. Launched in 2010, the initiative aims to draw on input from local seniors to enhance services, safety, transportation, business discounts, and other benefits available to those 65 and older.Currently, only 12 of the city’s 51 Council districts have such programs, but that list includes Manhattan Districts 6, 8, and 9, which together cover the portions of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, as well as East and Central Harlem. Separate from that program, the report also calls for an overall strengthening in the city’s senior center network and a range of transportation improvements from bus shelters and benches to subway accessibility upgrades. And to help those who care for seniors, Stringer is also calling for more funding for the Department
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“I definitely love the aspect of the [Fountain House Gallery] members being able to directly engage with the community on something — like, they’re working together on a project,” Willmott said. “I think that changes the energy. This space being an active space as opposed to a more passive, viewing and conversation experience. If you look around, there’s art supplies and people can just draw and add their work to the exhibit — that makes this very unique.” Baer added, “Honestly, I think a lot of community engagement comes from people coming in, talking to people every day; seeing a mother look at the wall and talk to her kid about stigma. It can be really touching to encourage them to contribute.” Smith explained that there were two types of stigma: the stigma one has against oneself that can create negative perceptions, and the stigma of how the public views mental illness in certain ways. “It’s hard for individuals — and then also [for] people that don’t live with mental illness — to grapple with those two,” Smith said. “These open studios have been really powerful for us to talk about stigma in a way that you just don’t see that often.” The mural is still in the design phase, as Baer works on threading the themes together. Smith said once the mural is finalized and approved, it will be converted
into a black and white image that will be put on a thin material called polytab (aka parachute) cloth. It “becomes a coloring book in a lot of ways,” she said. “So it’s very easy for people to engage with this project.”
for the Aging (DFTA) as well as for non-profit senior service providers throughout the city. The comptroller hopes that additional funding would eliminate the waitlist of 750 seniors currently looking for homecare, and the 1,700 still looking for social services case management. Stringer’s report acknowledged that his recommendations would involve additional cost — unspecified in the report — but asserted, “The cost of inaction would mean more seniors living in dangerous and unsafe conditions, and greater long-term strains on city programs as a result of higher demands for service.” Widelo and other senior advocates were on hand with Stringer to voice support for solutions to problems they said have gone unaddressed for years. Just to return senior programs like Meals on Wheels to a stable footing, Widelo said, about $15 million would be needed, and he recommended another $44 million on top of that to give senior services momentum to tackle the growing needs. However, Widelo said, the problem is more than just money. “It’s not necessarily something you can throw money at, but I think we know there are certain problems that aren’t adequately funded,” he argued. Support from the federal government is a particularly worrisome topic for those who work with seniors. The fate of the Affordable Care Act, for example, remains in limbo despite the Trump administration’s first-round failure at eliminating President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, and healthcare is just one area threatened by potential cuts. Bobbie Sackman, the associate executive director of public policy for LiveON NY, a group that does both advocacy work and program development, worries that senior access to healthcare and affordable housing in the city is at risk. “There’s a war on old people in Washington,” she said, pointing out that seniors are part of every community and demographic group within the city.
“Aging needs to be looked at as a women’s issue, an immigrant’s issue, an affordable housing issue, because seniors can often get siloed out.” In line with that perspective, Stringer, on April 2, drew attention to an online survey that SAGE — Services and Advocacy for GLBT Seniors — and the Stonewall Community Development Corporation are currently conducting to assess the needs of LGBTQ New Yorkers 50 and older. Sackman warned that the reliance New York seniors have on the DFTA poses another risk given that the agency, in her words, is “limping into a bad economic time.” If funding sources tighten up further, the department could go from limping to crawling, she said. Sackman’s view of DFTA was echoed by Nora Moran, a policy analyst with United Neighborhood Houses of NY, a coalition of 38 settlement houses and community centers. “Older adults are the fastest growing population in New York City, yet services from the Department for the Aging remain underfunded,” she said. “It is time for New York City to take leadership over this issue and support older adults so they can age in their own neighborhoods.” “When you get to a certain age, you’re invisible and don’t matter anymore,” Sackman said of the experience too many seniors face in the city. “Where are the resources? In many cases, it’ll end up with seniors getting hurt.” The LiveON NY official acknowledged that the city has a robust infrastructure of services and service providers, but that the system is in urgent need of greater support. For her, Stringer’s report spells out how the senior services sector can be restored to a healthy position. “We’re trying to get the word out,” Sackman said. “Don’t leave seniors aside and invisible in this because it’ll be to their detriment — and to the city’s detriment, as well.”
Courtesy NYC Mural Arts Project
As part of the New York City Mural Arts Project, the community is encouraged to draw and paint.
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[organizations] will find donations in the private sector is crazy. There is no magic bullet for replacing federal money.” Berg said programs like Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen would “get slammed.” “This is an assault on the working poor, the food-insecure, seniors, and women and children. This could be devastating,” said Michael Ottley, the director of operations for the soup kitchen (holyapostlessoupkitchen.org; 296 Ninth Ave., at W. 28 St.). Through the federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program, Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has received about $23,000 annually for several years. According to Ottley, the soup kitchen serves 300,000 meals a year — so that money goes to about 4 percent of that total (or 11,780 of meals served), Ottley said. The total operating cost/budget to run Holy Apostles’ feeding program and other services is $2.9 million a year, Ottley noted. “Of course every bit helps,” he said in a phone interview. “The jury’s still out. There’s definitely going to be a reduction. Yes, there’s going to be cuts — but to what extent, who knows? I’m worried.” The city receives on average about $4 million annually from the federal program, according to Ottley and the United Way of New York City, the administrator of the program. The city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA) is a grant recipient and fiscal conduit supporting over 30 emergency food providers, a United Way of New York City spokesperson said in an email. Federal funding does not pass through the city’s budget and the HRA does not administer the Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding, Lourdes Centeno, press secretary for HRA, said in an email. The grants go directly to emergency food programs that apply to the United Way of New York City, and the HRA receives a small allocation from the grant — this year it was $100,000 — which is used to buy additional food, Centeno said. In 2011, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program’s annual funding was cut by 40 percent from $200 million to $120 million, and has remained flat since then, according to the United Way spokesperson. United Way of New York City’s current allotment is a little over $4.3 million. “While we are confident that New York City will continue to receive funding from the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, this will decrease as a result of proposed federal budget cuts,” Nicole Gallant, senior vice president and chief impact officer of United Way of New .com
Photo by Justin Cristaldi
May 18’s annual “Farm to Tray” fundraising event is especially vital this year, as Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen braces for a possible loss of federal dollars.
York City, said in an email statement. “This reduced funding significantly limits our ability to assist New Yorkers with food, utilities and rent assistance — vital crisis supports that are needed in order to help New Yorkers on a path to stability and self-sufficiency.” Cuts to other programs and providers, which add to what the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen does, will also affect how the organization operates, Ottley said. He pointed out it could increase the population the soup kitchen serves with potentially less funding to do so. Currently, the city is working on its budget for fiscal year 2018. Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen also receives $62,000 a year from the city’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, Ottley said. Freddi Goldstein, deputy press secretary for the mayor’s office, said a clearer picture of funding for that program should emerge at the end of this month when Mayor Bill de Blasio releases his executive budget. The city will “vehemently fight any cuts” at the federal level, she said by phone. “We are fighting any dollar they propose to cut.” City Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office declined to comment. Ottley said he had been considering adding a Saturday meal service that would include providing brown-bag lunches, but the funding uncertainty is giving him pause. “It’s a challenging time for us,” he said. “It’s scary out there for a lot of reasons.” Ottley said he hopes Holy Apostles can be a sanctuary, a place to provide hope
during these times. A major event for the soup kitchen is Farm to Tray, an annual sustainable evening food and wine benefit, that will take place on May 18, he said. Also, TheEdwardMorganBallet will
be performing at the church April 21–23 with proceeds going to the soup kitchen (visit edwardmorganballet.org for more info). For more info about Farm to Tray, visit farmtotray.org.
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filled with pourable concrete, the attorney said. “Once there is an ounce of fill, it triggers the Army Corps review,” he noted. “It’s the same problem.”
PIER55 continued from p. 7
the Army Corps for was to allow it to pour “flowable concrete” into tubular piles that would be pounded into the riverbed to create the project’s distinctive “pot”-style supporting structures. Emery likened these piles to “mushrooms,” adding they are clearly a critical element of the design. “The ‘mushrooms’ require fill,” Emery explained, referring to the concrete. It’s possible that the project now could be redesigned so that standard, solid concrete piles would be used, as opposed to ones that needed to be filled with pourable concrete after being pounded into the river — but Emery was skeptical. “I’m sure that Diller and von Furstenberg are wedded to the mushrooms,” he said. “They’d have to start the review all over. They would have to do an environmental assessment. It would set things back at least a year.” If the Downtown power couple and the Trust do now want to redesign the project, Emery hopes that at least this time the process will be transparent. “They did it in secret before,” he said.
The Trust and Army Corps have 30 days to appeal Judge Schofield’s ruling on the first permit. “They can appeal it to the Second Circuit,” he said, “but the decision is so well-written and so well-reasoned. I would doubt it would be heard. I’m very confident in this judge’s decision.” Last Thursday’s ruling came as a painful blow to supporters of the Trust and the ambitious Pier55 project. After CB2’s monthly meeting that same night, a board member who is a booster of the park, after being asked about the shocking setback, replied, “That damn City Club.” Asked if he saw comparisons in this case to the lawsuit that defeated the Westway megaproject in the mid-1980s — where it was found that a highway tunnel-and-landfill scheme would have endangered striped bass that wintered in the river — Emery said “not really.”
‘IT’S ABOUT THE RIVER’
In addition to bungling the basic use of Pier55, the Army Corps didn’t even define the park’s waters correctly, the judge determined. The Hudson River Park’s founding legislation designated the park’s waters as an “estuarine sanctuary.” As Schofield wrote in her decision, “The Hudson River Park Act states as its sole purpose in creating the Estuarine Sanctuary the protection of fish and wildlife resources.” On the federal side, the equivalent definition for the park’s waters is a “special aquatic site” — which, if there is fill or dredging involved in the project, triggers the Clean Water Act review as to whether the basic use of the project is water dependent. But the Trust argued — and the Army Corps compliantly agreed — that the park’s waters are not a special aquatic site, and not managed principally for the preservation and use of fish and wildlife resources, but rather are “designed to serve four distinct park purposes: resource protection, public access and recreation, education and research activities.” Unswayed, the judge wrote: “Defendants’ arguments are unpersuasive. … In this case, the New York State Legislature clearly stated that its intent in creating the Estuarine Sanctuary was to protect fish and wildlife resources,
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30 DAYS TO APPEAL
Courtesy The Villager
Construction workers installed more-traditional-looking piles for a part of the Pier55 project this past summer.
without expressing any additional purpose.” The Hudson River Park Act does say the Trust is required to manage the estuarine sanctuary to provide environmental education and research (think the River Project), boating, fishing, swimming and authorized commercial maritime uses. However, the judge wrote, the park’s waters are managed “principally” for the preservation of fish and wildlife resources.
CORPS ‘CONTRARY TO LAW’ Schofield slammed this key blunder by the Army Corps — having deemed the park’s waters not a special aquatic site — as clearly “contrary to law.” The Trust also tried to argue that Pier55, as an entertainment and recreational site, fits within the park’s “missions and goals.” But again, Schofield returned to the idea of the project’s “basic purpose,” and whether that purpose even needs to be on a pier. In short, she said, there are “practicable” alternatives — meaning, the planned performance venue simply doesn’t need to be in the Hudson River.
In fact, due to changes in the project, the Trust had recently filed to modify its Army Corps permit for Pier55. Basically, the Trust had determined that to build the project per the original designs, it would have been way too expensive, so some modifications were made. The formerly undulating pier deck was flattened — with a sort of “filler” material added to create the pier’s rolling hills. Also, some of the piles underneath the center of the pier were simplified — as opposed to using the rounded “pot”-shape style, these were changed to standard-style, straight piles. Yet, the difference would not really have been visible to the eye since the “pot” piles would still have been used around the edges, with the other piles basically hidden further inside, according to renderings provided by the Trust. “We’re obviously going to move the court to vacate that, as well,” Emery said of the permit-modification application. “I think it’s automatically vacated because it amends the one that was vacated.” The modified project still contains some “pot”-style piles that would be
“It’s really about the river. It’s not about snail darters and the Westway thing,” Emery explained of Thursday’s decision. “The consciousness that we have an asset of priceless proportions in the Hudson River; the Legislature recognized that when they created the Hudson River Park in 1998. The Trust was given a stewardship of the Hudson as a protector of the estuarine sanctuary. This is about preserving the Hudson and recognizing it for what it is — one of the great natural resources of the world — and not for putting vanity projects in the middle of the estuarine sanctuary, so Barry Diller can see it from his office,” he scoffed. So how could the Army Corps have botched the decision so badly? “In my view,” Emery offered, “the politics got to them.” In fact, the City Club filed a Freedom of Information Act that revealed that US Senator Chuck Schumer and his staffers met with the Corps to lobby on behalf of Pier55. And, of course, both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo openly supported the project. This past July, during the litigation in state court, after the Appellate Division had slapped a stop-work order on the project, Cuomo took the unusual step of issuing a press PIER55 continued on p. 20 .com
April 6-12, 2017
East Side Stories of the Famous and Infamous Metropolitan Playhouse fest fetes everyday life on the LES BY PUMA PERL I’m one of those New Yorkers who loves authentic New York settings. If the Lower East Side is involved, even better. Sitting in the pleasantly funky Metropolitan Playhouse with its artistic director, Alex Roe, I immediately grasp that the backbone of the annual East Side Stories theater festival is its commitment to preserving and supporting the heritage through a marvelously inclusive format. The festival consists of “East Village Chronicles,” a series of four one-act plays set in the neighborhood, and “Alphabet City,” six interview-based solo performances which tell the stories of long-term local residents. Both elements of the East Side Stories program — all of them world premieres —scrutinize and celebrate what Roe described as “famous, infamous, and everyday lives.” The plays are generally submitted by emerging artists. A single director (this year, Michael Hardart) is chosen for “Chronicles,” which helps shape the program, and may include subtle threads — perhaps in the use of a specific prop throughout. Three of the four works that comprise this year’s “Transformation” theme are based on influential events and famous figures in Lower East Side history, including Peter Cooper, Fiorello La Guardia, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Janis Joplin. The contemporary offering, Jen Plants’ “The Bowery Waltz,” is described as “a comedy with dancing” (the title is derived from an imitation of a street fight between a drunken man and his equally inebriated female companion). The storytelling project began 14 years ago, with a homeless man named Carlos Roman who hung out near the corner bodega. Roe had gotten to know him, and thought that neighborhood people might be interested in doing monologues based on their own lives. A friend suggested that actors conduct interviews and present the stories. Roman was the first participant, with Roe as the actor. He never attended a performance, but telling his story and impacting others made a difference in his life. They stayed in touch and he eventually found housing
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Photo by Alex Roe
“Cooper Union, Cooper Union” puts a musical spin on the origin story of Peter Cooper’s “biggest and best idea.”
Photo by Jessica Chou
World traveler, novelist, and influential master tattooist Jonathan Shaw.
Uptown — “Not that we had anything to do with it,” said Roe. “I’m not saying
this is transformational.” Though in my opinion, it just might be.
The list of people who’ve participated in the project includes fairly well-known LES denizens like “Mosaic Man” Jim Power and filmmaker Jonas Mekas, alongside people who have never been formally recognized. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the story of a woman who works as an AIDS caregiver was told,” Roe recalled. Actors audition for the project and identify their own subjects; some have a specific person in mind, for others it’s serendipitous. Often, there is no correlation in gender, race, size, or appearance. “It’s about capturing the essence of a person,” explained Roe. “The way they stand, how their voices sound; in terms of dress, we may choose a signature item. If you were portrayed, EAST SIDE STORIES continued on p. 16 .com
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EAST SIDE STORIES continued from p. 14
maybe it would be a hat like yours,” he told me. I was wearing a hat only because I was en route to an appointment with my hairdresser, Joey Paulina — who, coincidentally, had been a subject several years back. He also works as a drag performer, the type who does backflips in gowns and stilettos. One evening, actress Sylvia Roldán Dohi stopped by Lucky Cheng’s (a Hell’s Kitchen drag restaurant formerly located in the East Village) looking for a subject. “It was mad cool to be seen as a rendition of what life in the East Village means, and being part of keeping it as it’s meant to be. Sylvia did a great job of slipping into my high heels!” Paulina said. One of the interesting pairings this year is that of Jonathan Shaw and Julie T. Pham. One of the interesting pairings this year is that of Jonathan Shaw and Julie T. Pham. Shaw is a world-traveling outlaw artist and novelist whose time as a master tattooist widely influenced the culture. Iggy Pop called him “the great nightmare anti-hero of the new age.” Actress Pham was born in Saigon to a family of entertainers who toured with various Vietnamese opera troupes. She had never even walked into a tattoo shop prior to meeting Shaw. So how did these two connect? “I was visiting the city for pre-promotional meetings for my new book, ‘Scab Vendor: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist,’ ” said Shaw, “and happened to be hanging out in my old shop, Fun City Tattoo, when Julie walked in asking questions about the place’s history.” Pham had been wandering around the East Village hoping to find someone to interview for the project and noticed the shop. “I had never been in a tattoo parlor before, so why not now?” she remembered thinking. “Jonathan introduced himself as the former owner and was so talkative and helpful — so unexpected for someone you would
Photo by Alex Roe
Can a building have a soul? “Emigrant” looks at the life of 105 Second Ave.
find in a tattoo parlor!” “It was a total coincidence that she happened along on a rare visit by me, since I just happen to be the living embodiment of the place’s history,” said Shaw. “I gave her a copy of my new book, referring her to the afterword, which sums up the history of the shop with my personal history. At this point, she must have realized what a fortuitous confluence of circumstances she was looking at by me just happening to be here. We walked over to Odessa and I gave her an initial interview and emailed her a bunch of press material related to the subject matter she was interested in, and the rest is history, as they say.”
Photo by Jeffrey Mosier
Julie T. Pham’s chance encounter at Fun City Tattoo led to her onstage portrayal of Jonathan Shaw.
Shaw was scheduled to fly out of the city in just several hours, so Pham “ditched dinner reservations and shared pierogies and tea with Jonathan.” She agrees with his assessment of the fortuitous circumstances. “I’ve found the most unlikely celebrity in the oddest place ever! Is this possible?” she recalled thinking upon meeting the multi-faceted Shaw. “I couldn’t believe how open, kind and generous he was to
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me. I was, and am still, in awe!” Through April 23: Wed.–Sat. at 7:30pm; Sat. & Sun. at 3pm. At Metropolitan Playhouse (220 E. Fourth St., btw. Aves. A & B). Single tickets: $20 for adults, $15 for students/seniors, $10 for children under 18; Festival Pass: $40. For reservations, call 800-8383006 or visit metropolitanplayhouse. org. Artist info at missjuliepham.com and facebook.com/jsfuncity. .com
would like to extend a special thank you to our 2017 Impact Award Sponsors Presenting Sponsor:
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April 6-12, 2017
Acting the Dickens Out of Shakespeare Theater Reconstruction Ensemble conjures a wry â€˜Hamletâ€™
Photos by Suzi Sadler
â€œHow to Hamlet, or Hamleting Hamletâ€? is in possession of all the fears and foibles that come with putting oneâ€™s stamp on Shakespeare.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER Like the gingerly placed lampshade that allows a ghost light to bathe its fi nal scene of battle-weary camaraderie in a calm and forgiving glow, thereâ€™s an oddball logic to the fits of madness that play catch and release with four brave souls determined to
act the Dickens out of Shakespeare. Performed with everything from gleeful buffoonery to seriously Elizabethan emoting to sheer panic, Theater Reconstruction Ensembleâ€™s â€œHow to Hamlet, or Hamleting Hamletâ€? is an intense, 70-minute whirlwind that lampoons, lionizes, psychoanalyzes and
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April 6-12, 2017
Sticking their necks out and getting a little ruffled: L to R, Sam Corbin and Nathaniel Basch-Gould.
rationalizes the countless thespians and academics whoâ€™ve put their stamp, for better or worse, on the circa 1600 tale of a melancholy Dane undone by poisonous acts. Seated in a front row thatâ€™s ominously close to the stage (or actually part of it?), Sam Corbin, Joshua William Gelb, Nathaniel Basch-Gould and Emily Marro begin the mega-meta proceedings in the guise of chatty audience members given to inappropriate coughing, embarrassing confessions of intestinal distress, and hushed, endearingly neurotic improvised chatter upon realizing the playâ€™s the thing â€” and theyâ€™re in it now â€” and it ainâ€™t â€œHamilton.â€? â€œMaybe the show is just some sort of discussion about the play â€˜Hamlet,â€™ â€? they speculate. â€œOr like a PowerPoint presentation? Maybe a TED Talk?â€? Spurred into action when a technician wheels in a rack of period costumes and fi res off a plume or two from the fog machine, the friends suit up, turn their chairs to face the audience, place palm on top of palm on top of palm, and strike the fi rst of several sĂŠance-like tableaus that will, with fever dream effectiveness, conjure brilliant little bits and pieces of the play â€” but never enough to send you out of the theater able to say that you actually saw â€œHamlet.â€? Itâ€™s not for lack of trying, though. The thoroughly befuddled foursome never seems to quite get over making that transition from observer to participant. Itâ€™s an awesome responsibility to summarize, analyze, and agree upon what this well-trodden
text wants to say or has to offer â€” and in their epic attempt to do so, the charismatic and insanely skilled actors fi nd in Hamlet (the person, not the play) a kindred spirit. Just as that title character is willing to throw the kitchen sink at his vow to avenge dear old dead dad, Theater Reconstruction Ensemble pulls out all the stops while staying mission-focused on its quest to make sense of things. Frequent spasms of spirit possession by Shakespearean stock characters, a slapstick battle with the upstage wall, a desperate attempt to steer the play by hijacking the stage managerâ€™s headset, and the passing of an electrical current between twitchy thespians might seem at first to be nothing more than a collection of loony, pyrotechnic distractions. But like the sweet prince who feigns madness, thereâ€™s a solid method at work here that says more about our drive than our destination. â€œOkay, thatâ€™s a good answer,â€? says Gelb at one point, slipping out of character and, more or less, back into himself. â€œThatâ€™s a good answer. Itâ€™s not exactly the answer Iâ€™m looking for. But itâ€™s good. Could you tr y again? Itâ€™s the same riddle.â€? Written by John Kurzynowski and Jon Riddleberger; conceived and directed by John Kurzynowski. Through April 14: Tues., Wed., Thurs, Fri. at 7pm; Sat. at 2 & 7pm; Sun. at 2pm. At HERE (145 Sixth Ave.; enter on Dominick St., one block south of Spring St.). For tickets ($18), visit here.org or call 212-352-3101. Artist info at reconstructionensemble.org. .com
Those Who Can’t Do, President Qualiﬁed or not, Trump just keeps on truckin’ BY MAX BURBANK Let’s do a little thought experiment. It’s midnight and your toilet is totally plugged, just jammed up all to hell. You’ll call a plumber first thing tomorrow — but right now? You’re too irritated to sleep. Flipping through the channels, this infomercial catches your eye. It stars some chubby-ass, orange dope with a comb-over and a third grade vocabulary. You’re about to change channels but he mentions he’s rich, so he’s gotta know something. And coincidence, he’s talking about plumbing! His idea is, when your toilet’s plugged? You don’t want a plumber. The very last thing you need is a plumber. Their whole deal is scamming you into thinking only they can fix toilets. So this guy says hire him because he has never worked on a toilet in his ENTIRE LIFE! So you hire the guy — bad hair, obvious learning disability, and all. How do you imagine things end up in this thought experiment? Is your toilet flushing like a champion, or are you standing ankle deep in cold sewage, gingerly dodging turds as you high step toward the door in the vain hope you get there before the water level reaches the electrical outlets? That’s America right now, because, surprise! A late night infomercial huckster with no plumbing experience is never going to MAKE YOUR TOILET GREAT AGAIN! They can only make it much, much worse. Listen: Trump. Can’t. President. You wouldn’t say a coked up orangutan was bad at piloting an F-22 Raptor. It doesn’t know how, and even if it could learn (spoiler: it can’t), it’s not going to, because it thinks it probably knows how already and it’s pretty busy tweeting about the overrated Meryl Streep’s failing career! Remember all the way back at the Republican Convention, the whole “I alone can fix it” speech? That’s not just egotism or hyperbole, that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the system! Trump wasn’t elected “King” or “Dear Leader” — a president needs the cooperation of a whole lot of people, many of whom possess free will! Not everyone is Devin Nunes! Even executive orders, the most “alone” thing a president gets to do, are judged by (and I know this is weird) .com
JUDGES! The travel ban didn’t even cosplay as constitutional. It’s like Trump had a fake nose and moustache eyeglass set all ready to slap on it, but then went “You know what, screw it, I got golf.” And this shouldn’t have been a surprise, because he’s never made a secret of the fact that he knows less about how our government actually works than most middle school students — as well as every single immigrant who ever became an American citizen because they had to TAKE A TEST AND PROVE IT! He does not know what the three
Trump only understands three things: Golf, kleptocracy, and his theory that the best people for a given job are folks who know as little as is humanly possible about it. Trump isn’t just winging it, he’s completely surrounded himself with people who are winging it, from his
B. Now we have to take time out of our schedule to give you a swirly and stuff you in a locker. He forgot that the main reason Trump chose him for the job is that he’s supremely unqualified to do it. No, if you’ve been following the news this last week, you know the most powerful man in government is Jared Kushner. As of press time, Kushner is in charge of… well, I have to keep to a word count, so I’ll just say “everything.” Kushner is the perfect choice for Trump. He’s not just unqualified; his lack of qualifications fit a very specific profile. He’s a svelte, young, silver-spoon prep school weasel, born into wealth, handed a real estate empire, and married to Ivanka. There’s only one person on earth Trump wants to be more than himself, and it ain’t Bannon. None of this is meant to comfort you. The Trump administration may lack the skills to become an effective dictatorship, but a collection of
Illustration by Max Burbank
President Trump alleviates the solemn responsibility of leading the free world by “playing trucks.”
branches of government do, and might not know their names. To the degree that he understands separation of powers, he is against them. Worse yet, he doesn’t seem to care! It’s too much for him to focus on! Do you know where he was the first time the healthcare vote got cancelled? Sitting in a truck on the White House lawn, bouncing up and down in the seat making truck noises, surrounded by actual truck drivers!
personal physician to his cabinet to his closest advisors. Pop quiz: Who is the most powerful man in Government right now? Steve Bannon would say he was, but the so-called brains of the operation turns out to be only marginally more capable than a turnip or Ben Carson. He blew any chance “Repeal and Replace” had when he told the Freedom Caucus, “This isn’t a negotiation.” That’s like walking onto the court at a Knicks game and telling them, “This isn’t basketball,” because: A. Clearly it is basketball, and,
unqualified, incompetent egomaniacs can still do an awful lot of damage. Right now the only people in a position to put the breaks on any of this are Republican congressmembers. Many of them are fully aware of just how dangerous Trump and company are, but they also know if they cross him, they might not get re-elected. The collapse of western civilization versus personal temporary unemployment? That’s a real “Sophie’s Choice” for men of their caliber. There’s nothing wrong with hoping for a few profiles in courage — but you shouldn’t hold your breath either. April 6-12, 2017
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release urging that the construction be allowed to proceed. “It was highly improper,” Emery said, “for Cuomo to put his finger on the scale like that.”
TROUBLED BRIDGE OVER WATERS That stop-work order was partially lifted, allowing the Trust to pound in a small number of more-traditional piles to support a small platform and one of the bridges that would connect to Pier55. The work had to stop in the fall, though, because pounding piles in the river is only permitted during certain seasons. “I’m pretty sure they’re non-fill piles,” Emery noted of the ones that have already been put in. So what will happen to that lonely bridge remnant off of W. 13th St. if Pier55 never gets built? “It will soon be known as ‘The Bridge to Diller’ — which will be to open water,” the attorney quipped. Tom Fox, one of the two City Club plaintiffs, was the president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy, the Trust’s predecessor, from 1992 to 1995, and was active in the park’s planning as early as the mid-1980s. Like Emery, he too saw political influence behind their earlier losses in the state courts.
A NEUTRAL COURT “If at first, you don’t succeed — try, try again,” Fox said. “We found someplace where the judges aren’t appointed by Cuomo. And it’s good to see somebody enforce the law. I’m sure they’ll appeal; they have an awful lot invested in it. But now it’s in a more neutral venue.” Recalling the early planning of the Hudson River Park, Fox said, “The reason we mapped it as an estuarine sanctuary was to prevent these sort of things. There’s also no reason why this can’t go on Gansevoort,” he said of the Diller project. “Gansevoort Peninsula is six acres of landfill.” A portion of Gansevoort is slated for future use as a marine-based transfer station for recyclable trash. But Fox said, so far, he hasn’t seen any funding in any budget having been allocated for that project. A Trust spokesperson, however, said the Gansevoort transfer station is still in the works. At any rate, Fox said, there would be room for both the garbage-hauling barges and the glitzy arts venue to share the peninsula. He added that when Pier55 was recently redesigned, Diller’s lease was
April 6-12, 2017
Courtesy The Villager
A rendering shows a redesigned Pier55 with a flat deck. The undulating landscaping above it would then be created with some sort of filler beneath the plantings. In the earlier design, the concrete deck itself was undulating, which would have proven far too expensive to build.
also renegotiated and his investment in the project capped at $185 million. And if the project goes over budget, Fox wondered, “Then whose dime is that? Who pays for it?… . We do,” he said.
PUBLIC PROCESS NEEDED The planning in Hudson River Park needs to be done in the open, he stressed — or you get a situation like this one, with pier projects needing to be significantly redesigned and influential donors worried about costs spiraling out of control. “Public review and involvement isn’t a bad thing,” Fox said. “But it also
means you have to listen to people.” Under the Hudson River Park plan, three piers are specifically supposed to be used for “maritime interpretation” and waterfront history — Piers 26, 54 and 97. Pier55 was proposed as an alternative to rebuilding the decrepit Pier 54, the park’s former main performance pier, and was to be located on a new footprint between the old pile fields of Piers 54 and 56. An amendment to the Park Act was required to allow that. Fox, however, would like to see Pier 54 rebuilt on its old footprint. “For 100 years, the West Side was the launching pad, like Cape Canaveral,” Fox said of the trans-Atlantic liners
and other ships that plied the Hudson’s waterways. “We can’t lose the story of who we are — and who we are is where we came from. I can picture the survivors of the Titanic coming off the Carpathia [at Pier 54] and walking to the Riverside Hotel three blocks away.”
ALTERNATIVE VISION As for what he could imagine at a rebuilt Pier 54, Fox said, “Holograms of the Titanic, the history of the Lusitania, the flags of all the oceanliner companies, the oyster houses that PIER55 continued on p. 23 .com
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Courtesy Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio
A design rendering of the proposed Pier55 project, which would overlap the old pile fields of Piers 54 and 56.
PIER55 continued from p. 20
fed the working men of New York’s West Side.” Meanwhile, for her part, Assemblymember Glick criticized the Trust for using an old environmental impact statement (EIS) from the park’s original general plan to assess the Pier55 plan’s impacts. And, like Judge Schofield, she said the Pier55 scheme is clearly not water dependent. “I always believed there should be a new, full EIS,” Glick said, “because from the time the park’s development began in 1998, many, many new developments have occurred along the waterfront in the park: It would be appropriate for all of those to be part of a new environmental review. And, of course, water-dependent uses for anything that is new. And a brand-new pier into the water was totally inappropriate, I’ve always believed. It’s one thing to redevelop some of the existing piers — but a
non-water-dependent pier should not be… and without a new EIS — totally inappropriate.”
PLAN B…PIER 40? Tobi Bergman, a longtime waterfront park advocate and the former chairperson of CB2, said — speaking for himself — that he was disappointed at the court ruling. CB2 passed a resolution backing the Pier55 plan when David Gruber chaired the board right before Bergman’s tenure. “Community Board 2 supported the proposal for Pier55,” Bergman said, “because we saw new park space and a new cultural institution that would add something special and important to the park and the community. Most people who attended our public hearings were won over by the quality of the created parkland and the proposed new performance venue. But I think all of us understand that a judge has considered this and made a decision based on the
law, and if it stands, we can only hope that there will be another place in our neighborhood where this project can move forward. … Pier 40?” Bergman currently chairs the CB2 Future of Pier 40 Working Group, which is considering the Trust’s plan to redevelop the massive 14-acre W. Houston St. pier so that it could provide more revenue for both the pier and the entire park. Pier 40 is home to playing fields that are heavily used by local youth sports leagues, which the Trust has committed to retaining. “To me, the most exciting part of the project was the programming,” Bergman said of the Pier55 idea. “If it can’t go at the planned location, I would like to see it go somewhere else in the park or in the community. I thought it was a great design. The reason I say put it at Pier 40 is it sounds like a park use that might be good for the whole mix there. Maybe it could go on the roof.”
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April 6-12, 2017
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
April 6-12, 2017
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
April 7, 2017