YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Ink Dries on Penn Deal BY SEAN EGAN After months of working under the unpredictable and potentially disruptive cloud of a new presidential administration, Penn South has officially closed on a deal with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), granting them a significant federal loan refi nance. The new arrangement will help the housing cooperative PENN SOUTH continued on p. 2
Troubled Watering Hole Warrants SLA Scrutiny BY WINNIE McCROY After years of enduring the weekend crowds flowing from Il Bastardo restaurant (191 Seventh Ave., near W. 21st St.), Chelsea residents have had enough of the drunken patrons, vomiting, public urination, nuisance incidents, and occasional violence. The NYPD has conducted hearings with the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), and called firsthand witnesses forth to testify. SLA continued on p. 3
Photo by Allen Oster
Crowded Clement Clarke Moore Park is among three local park and playground areas slated to close for much-needed repairs and upgrades.
Upcoming Upgrades to Open Spaces Come at the Cost of Closures BY SEAN EGAN “The neighborhood has certainly changed over the last 25, 30 years,” said the West 400 Block Association’s Allen Oster. “The population has changed. There’s a million kids here
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now, and that’s a great thing for the neighborhood. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough open space for everybody.” It’s a common refrain among locals who are raising kids with boundless
energy and few nearby options to burn it off. Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen are notoriously park-starved, a situation which will be somewhat improved by PLAYGROUNDS continued on p. 4
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VOLUME 09, ISSUE 13 | APRIL 27-MAY 3, 2017
HUD ReďŹ nancing Secures Penn Southâ€™s Affordable Status for â€˜Decades to Comeâ€™ PENN SOUTH continued from p. 1
(located btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves., and W. 23rd & 29th Sts.) remain an affordable haven in Chelsea for years to come, and save the 6,000 residents of the 10-building complex significant funds annually. Approved officially at a signing on Wed., April 26 at HUDâ€™s 26 Federal Plaza NYC office, the refi nancing measure provides Penn South with a federally-insured $187.5 million loan with a fi xed interest rate until 2052. This number is slightly lower than the $190 million that was originally sought after, but the figure nonetheless marks a major victory for Penn South residents. Chelsea Now spoke with Penn South General Manager Brendan Keany on the afternoon of Tues., April 25, shortly before he left the iconic co-op to attend a loan pre-signing of the â€œvoluminousâ€? but momentous paperwork. While on the phone with us, Keany was still busy finalizing details, even fielding a call from the bank between explaining the details of, and sharing his thoughts on, the imminently-confirmed deal. â€œIt will do a number of things for us,â€? explained Keany, who spearhead-
Photo by Wyatt Frank
New developments Hudson Yards, left, and Manhattan West, right, with Penn South in the foreground.
ed the efforts to secure the loan, going back as far as 2015. â€œIt will reduce our
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April 27-May 3, 2017
annual debt service by approximately 3 million dollars, and it will ensure that when our regular mortgage would have ballooned in 2021 â€” we were very concerned that we would have much higher interest rates at that point â€” [it] will safeguard us against future interest rate hikes, because the term of this loan is 35 years, and the interest rate is 3.23 [percent].â€? When last Chelsea Now reported on the situation in early February, the City Council had just passed a measure ensuring that the â€œshelter rentâ€? tax abatements Penn South currently enjoys (which helps to keep it as affordable as it is) would be in place for the co-op through to 2052, rather than the 2030 date theyâ€™d previously expire. The official approval of the loan deal by HUD was contingent on these crucial abatements being approved, in order for them to be in place for the duration of the loan. In the intervening weeks, efforts were spent finalizing all the paperwork related to the deal. â€œHUD would feel very uncomfortable if in 2030, the city, for any reason, werenâ€™t to renew our tax abatement status, and we had to pay full real estate tax. The financial burden would be very substantial for fi xed income people, and wouldâ€Ś potentially put the loan into jeopardy,â€? Keany explained. A further beneficial wrinkle of the renegotiated City Council terms would
be that the money that Penn South collects every year in the form of a surcharge to its high-income tenants (determined by an annual assessment), would be fully retained by Penn South â€” rather than split with the city, as is the current arrangement. â€œIt also provides a means for the housing development to keep up with its infrastructure needs without having to be overly concerned about going to middle income shareholders to foot the bill,â€? said Keany, noting this arrangement would add about $4 million to the housing developmentâ€™s treasury and savings per diem, which â€œwould be used for re-roofing our buildings, re-piping our underground utilities systems, and all kinds of major capital projects that we will have to do.â€? Prior to the loanâ€™s commitment, significant worry had spread amongst Penn South residents earlier this year surrounding the deal. The process had not come to fruition as the last days of the Obama administration ticked by â€” and the threat that the Trump administration, and his HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, would be less receptive to the deal that had been brewing, was very real. â€œIt was teetering,â€? Keany recalled. â€œIt was at a very difficult period in time because the outgoing administraPENN SOUTH continued on p. 23 .com
State Liquor Authority Investigates Disorderly Conduct at Il Bastardo Restaurant SLA continued from p. 1
Hearings took place on April 19 and 25, and the next one is scheduled for May 18. “On weekends when they have their brunches, they seem to have fostered a culture of young people drinking to excess,” Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA) President Bill Borock recently told Chelsea Now by phone. “And what I’m most surprised about is that it’s not just guys! Young women are coming out drunk, vomiting, being rowdy, and falling down on the sidewalk. I live on 20th Street right off Seventh Avenue, and we recently got a picture of two young women urinating on the side of our building.” Several other neighbors commented on the large number of inebriated young women exiting Il Bastardo, with Alison Rose calling the weekend brunch fiasco “a circus of girls’ tits and asses, frankly.” “Everyone is incredibly inebriated, boobs falling out, bumping into you, vomiting,” said Rosa. “They’re loud, smoking, and unpleasant. It’s an outof-control feeling of recklessness. And they’re making a shitload of money off this dangerous, volatile mess. It’s like a train wreck, with half the people holding the other half up, girls holding their friends’ hair while they’re vomiting. It’s not what this — or any neighborhood — wants to be.” Competitive figure skating coach Kenny Moir said his apartment overlooks Il Bastardo, and he’s often called 911 about the drunken crowds. He recalled a recent New Year’s Eve when there were “so many emergency vehicles collecting drunk patrons that Seventh Avenue shut down!” It made Moir look back fondly to the good old days when nightclubbers quietly hit The Limelight and the VIP Club, and “rarely needed to be toted out by the EMTs.” He blamed unresponsive doormen, pointing to the time he witnessed “a woman in a really elegant cocktail dress and stiletto heels lying on the ground at 3 p.m. on a Sunday.” He said Il Bastardo staff ignored him when he asked them to provide her with medical attention. In another incident, Moir said he saw three or four cars double park to hold a twerking contest between them, adding, “These women could barely stand up, and they’re getting into vehicles and driving? I found out a bunch of people called 911 about this, and were told that they couldn’t do anything, because they hadn’t committed a crime yet.” .com
Chelsea Now file photo courtesy CCBA
May 18 will be the third time in two months the State Liquor Authority has met regarding quality of life complaints stemming from Il Bastardo.
Borock said Il Bastardo representatives told him if he didn’t witness these “rowdy” people exiting their restaurant, they could not be held to blame, saying they tried to deflect the problem onto the local liquor store. “But obviously, when you see the crowds on the sidewalk, you know it’s them,” said Borock. “It’s crowding, quality of life offenses, fights including a stabbing, and the regular presence of ambulance and police. It’s been ongoing since 2015 at least.” Bruno V. Gioffre, the liquor license attorney for Il Bastardo, said the restaurant had taken steps to reduce the number of patrons and had already seen a change. “They have already done certain things to curtail the issues presented by the Community Board to them, and it’s come out through some residents who have testified so far that things have been changing in a positive direction, and we hope it will continue in that same direction,” said Gioffre.
our disciplinary proceedings,” said SLA General Counsel Christopher Riano. Borock said he attended previous hearings on two cases months ago, and was told that one was dismissed, and another was with the commissioners. He said that an administrative judge hears the case and makes a decision in four to six weeks, then their decision goes to the SLA Board of Commissioners in Albany for review. They either let the judge’s ruling hold, or overturn it. Borock said the second case they heard months ago is now with this Board in Albany, and they have four more hearings set. He added that they had also brought their issues with Il Bastardo to the attention of Community Board 4 (CB4), which issued stipulations. While Borock did not feel this was enough, he conceded that CB4 would work to find a solution that suited the entire community. CB4 District Manager Jesse Bodine noted that CB4 is an advisory body, with no ability to close any business or strip any permits, saying, “That’s not
our ability, nor should it be. But we have a nuisance reporting protocol, because we have so many bars and restaurants in our area that occasionally conflict with neighbors.” Chelsea Now has followed CB4’s of problems with this establishment, reporting in a Dec. 8, 2016 article (“State Liquor Authority Hears Litany of Complaints Against Il Bastardo”) that two dozen community members had shared their stories with a pair of SLA representatives. Among the incidents was a case when “patrons severely beat and stabbed a man on the corner of Seventh Ave. and W. 21st St. following an altercation after leaving Il Bastardo.” “I don’t want to even use my name, but I have to speak out,” said Diane, a 20-year resident of Chelsea. “I witnessed a stabbing in the middle of the street. Five police cars from Precincts 10 and 13 were there for hours, and an ambulance took the person away. When they held their hearing about this two months ago, the two offers who witnessed the stabbing didn’t show up. Police need to turn up and give their evidence! Margarita Marsicone asked me to get to the April 25 hearing at 9 a.m. to go over the pictures I took, and if she asks me to testify, I will.” A Jan. 12, 2017 article (“State of the Boozin’ Address: Local Bar Scene Booming”) revisited these quality of life issues, with CB4 Chair Delores Rubin noting that laying out guidelines with operators before opening often helps curtail such issues. But from Bodine’s perspective, the problems were due to problems with the restaurant’s operations and occupancy, which he said they have had plenty of time to solve by dealing with crowds and over-serving. “What restaurant do you know that SLA continued on p. 10
SLA STEPS TO THE PLATE For their part, neighbors were happy to hear that new SLA Associate General Counsel Margarita Marsico reached out on April 17 to accept written statements from residents. Several neighbors recently testified at April 19 and 25 SLA hearings — and it was not the first time the SLA had heard a case against the restaurant. “We have a number of cases open against this premises, alleging a profound course of misconduct by the licensee. The SLA always takes the concerns of the local community into serious consideration during the course of April 27-May 3, 2017
Courtesy Friends of 20th Street Park
Friends of 20th Street Park, at a 2011 rally in front of the future micro-park on W. 20th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.
Much-Needed Park and Playground Improvements Prove PLAYGROUNDS continued from p. 1
the forthcoming construction of a socalled “micro-park” being built on a lot at W. 20th St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) — after Friends of 20th Street Park (20thstreetpark.org) spent years engaging electeds, interacting with the NYC Parks Department, and raising funds through, among other things, a 2014 victory in Council District 3’s Participatory Budgeting process. The park is expected to open in 2019. In the more immediate future, however, several existing locations are slated for renovation and improvement: Clement Clarke Moore Park (10th Ave., btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.), Mathews-Palmer Playground (W. 45th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), and Chelsea Waterside Park Playground — aka Chelsea Waterside Play Area (at W. 24th St. & 11th Ave.). While the improvements are much-needed, the resulting overlap in the spaces’ closure could result in challenges to locals who rely on the parks — challenges with no clear, current solutions. Clement Clarke Moore Park’s new designs were the latest to be fi nalized, as Parks Department officials presented fi nished renderings to the public at a March Community Board 4 meeting.
April 27–May 3, 2017
Courtesy NYC Parks Dept.
A depiction of planned improvements to Clement Clarke Moore Park, whose upgrade will necessitate its closure for a year.
The plans include new planters and safety surfacing. Also, the drainage issues that have been plaguing the park for years in its water play area are slated to be fi xed, as the pool area will be leveled out. “In addition to the two water seals, they’re going to be putting in some more of these jets that will be squirting out from the surface, so we’ll have some more water activity in the pool
area,” explained Oster, referring to the popular seal-shaped play fountains that inspired the area’s unofficial name: “Seal Park.” “We’re going to jazz up the planting areas. There’s going to be new play equipment installed,” Oster noted, adding that the new equipment would be ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) accessible. “[Mathews-Palmer Park] was being
frequented more by adults doing illicit activities and smoking and doing drugs of sorts, so it wasn’t feeling like a welcoming space for kids and families,” observed Chana Widawski of the Hell’s Kitchen Commons. “The design is supposed to be conducive to more kind of community events and being able to sit around and socialize and to be accessible to people of all ages.” .com
Photo by Ted Gorodetsky
Chelsea Waterside Play Area in its current form, with signage indicating things to come. Work is expected to begin fall 2017 and last about six months.
Promising and Problematic Improvements the Parks Department has planned for the space include repairs to the existing handball and basketball courts, new play equipment, water play areas, a theater space (including a stage and instruments), more seating, and better lighting and entrances. The playground renovations are slated to happen concurrently with the restoration of Arnold Belkin’s mural “Against Domestic Colonialism,” which members of the Hell’s Kitchen Commons have been advocating for years. Operating outside of the Parks Department system, Greg Wasserman of the Friends of Hudson River Park had to get the ball rolling with the Hudson River Park Trust when he began to notice Chelsea Waterside Play Area falling into a state of disrepair. “The playground is basically 15 years old and the average playground lasts about that period of time. So really, if you think about design life, we’re in the tail end of when those things are typically designed for, and its age is starting to show through,” Wasserman elaborated, noting that the safety surface is suffering from wear and tear, and drainage has been a longstanding issue. “The kids have learned that they can clog that drain .com
and basically fi ll up a portion of the playground to function as pool, which is obviously not what it was designed for.” Now, at the tail end of a long fundraising process (ongoing at tinyurl. com/jwyvdkb), Wasserman and the Trust have a “truly incredible design” in place. The entire playground is centered around the concept of “imaginary play,” and uses no traditional play equipment — instead opting for unique amenities like repurposed sculpted animal heads from an old slaughterhouse. The centerpiece is a large, colorful structure known as “pipefish tower,” a piece of play equipment designed to resemble the native Hudson sea life and a pier pillar. “It’s really just a neat way to take average kids’ play — running and climbing and doing all the things that kids want to do — but doing it on something different that’s also tied to the park, which I fi nd exciting,” explained Wasserman. “For a lot of people nearby, the public playgrounds are all they have, so we want to make sure that people have the opportunity to use something really special.” While all involved are looking forward to the improvements the
Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
A diagram highlighting the major areas of a Chelsea Waterside Play Area, including separate water areas for toddlers and older children.
PLAYGROUNDS continued on p. 12 April 27-May 3, 2017
MSCC Talks Dumpsters, Dispensers, Immigration Under Trump Administration BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Amid talk of so-called sanctuary cities and federal grant withdrawal threats, the Midtown South Community Council (MSCC) invited a speaker to their Thurs., April 20 meeting to talk about shifts in federal immigration enforcement. Ioana Calin is a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society (legal-aid.org), and after the election switched from its criminal defense division to immigration. “A non-citizen can be anyone who is undocumented either because they came here without any documentation, or they’re a visa overstay. Anybody who’s not a citizen and is arrested, there… can be severe immigration consequences,” Calin said. Under the Obama administration, she explained, there were different priorities when it came to enforcement — being deported — that depended on the outcome of the criminal case. “Under the new executive orders that were passed at the end of January this year, under the new administration, all of that has changed,” she said. Now, if an undocumented immigrant is arrested, they are a priority for enforcement, Calin told the crowd at The New Yorker hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th &
April 27–May 3, 2017
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Ioana Calin, a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, talked about changes under the new administration for undocumented individuals.
35th Sts.). “That’s a really big difference because that says it does not matter if your case is dismissed, it doesn’t matter if the pros-
ecution, the [district attorney]’s office, declines to prosecute, doesn’t matter if you go to trial and you get acquitted — you are priority for removal,” Calin said. She said that those who have been convicted of minor offenses — say petty larceny, which is theft under $1,000 in New York — are now targeted and put into removal proceedings. Another change is what happens to those caught illegally crossing into the country from Mexico. Under the Obama administration, if a person was caught while trying to cross the border, they were fingerprinted and then turned around to go back through Mexico, Calin said. This policy was known as “catch and release,” she said. Under the Trump administration, if a person is apprehended at the border, they will be placed in a detention center. Bond, Calin said, will not be available for at least the first six months and it could take anywhere from nine to 12 months for the removal proceedings. Calin recommended that people get New York City’s municipal identification card (IDNYC; nyc.gov/idnyc), and also encouraged them to have emergency plans in place in case of detention or deportation — by keeping documentation in two places, and if their children were born in the United States, to make sure they have up-to-date passports. She also recommended appointing a guardian to make decisions, such as those regarding school or medical care. Calin stressed that as of now, people
have not been deported at a higher rate than the last administration, but that there will likely be an increase in the near future. New York City has a detainer law that says the Department of Corrections will not cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), Calin said. There have been a few exceptions, such as when ICE has a federal judicial warrant in addition to a detention order, and the person has been convicted of a serious violent crime in the past five years, or is on the terrorist watch list, she said.
DUMPSTER DILEMMA Residents of W. 36th St., near the Midtown South Precinct (which is located at 357 W. 35th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), spoke about an issue with the stationhouse’s two dumpsters. “We have a petition respectfully requesting that we remove the dumpsters from West 36th Street,” resident Brian Weber said. “The petition highlight[s] a number of the key issues that we’re experiencing. We understand that the dumpsters were put there in efforts to corral the trash that had been previously been left out on the street, but it’s created a number of unintended consequences.” Fifty-one residents from 348 and 360 W. 36th St. and nearby signed the petiMSCC continued on p. 14 .com
‘Please Keep Going,’ Hillary Clinton Tells LGBT Center Crowd BY PAUL SCHINDLER “I know the election hit a lot of us hard,” Hillary Rodham Clinton told the crowd at this week’s Center Dinner in a drolly delivered bit of understatement. After the knowing laughter subsided, the former secretary of state, who won last year’s presidential popular vote by nearly three million votes yet is not sitting in the Oval Office, added, “Even when it feels tempting to pull the covers over your head, please keep going; please remember those who came before us.” Speaking to more than 900 guests of the LGBT Community Center gathered on April 20 amidst Cipriani Wall Street’s gilded elegance, Clinton then recalled the roles of Larry Kramer and Peter Staley in ACT UP, marriage equality pioneers Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell, and the surviving family members of hate crimes victims, including Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, in honoring activists “who fought for their families [and] never lost faith that justice would prevail; all the people who risked their jobs, their homes, even their lives to fight for the fundamental rights and dignity of all people. Because you marched, you organized, you brought lawsuits, you ran for office, we made progress.” The challenge facing those activists, the crowd at Cipriani, and LGBTQ Americans generally, the 2016 Democratic standard bearer said, is that “we have to face the fact that we may never be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBT issues.” Instead, Donald Trump, Clinton argued, is at the helm of a brutal backlash. “The progress we fought for and that many of you were on the front lines for and that we’ve celebrated and maybe even taken for granted may not be as secure as we once suspected,” she said. “When this administration rescinded protections for transgender students, my heart broke for all the parents who are advocating so fiercely for their child’s rights to live, learn, and go to school just like anybody else.” Cuts to HIV/AIDS research, prevention, and treatment, Clinton warned, threaten “all of our efforts to achieve an AIDS-free generation — and we were on the way.” And, she noted, at times the Trump regime’s hostility is gratuitous. “Each time this administration elevates an outspoken opponent of LGBT equality, sometimes in particularly .com
Clinton said, “I know this is a little like preaching to the choir. But that’s okay, I love standing ovations.” But if the Center crowd rained love on Clinton, she in turn took care to praise the Center, noting its role as birthplace of ACT UP and recalling a tour there last year where she discovered a “beautiful welcoming space… a hub for LGBT rights in New York City — but more than that, a beacon of hope, a refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in every corner of our country.” Clinton also praised Center executive director Glennda Testone’s announcement at the dinner that it is launching a new “advocacy and mobilization program” to allow it “at a moment’s notice to inform and mobilize” the community on critical issues, an effort currently in the planning stage and about which more details will be available by June.
Photo by Donna Aceto
Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses more than 900 at the LGBT Community Center Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street on April 20.
cruel ways — like replacing the first openly gay secretary of the Army with someone who called being transgender a disease,” Clinton said, “I picture all of the joyful, beaming couples that I’ve met, on rope lines, backstage at rallies, at the Center, who were excited to get married, start a family, and begin their lives together.” The issues at stake, she said, range from the LGBTQ community being counted in the federal Census to the future of the Supreme Court – and beyond the nation’s borders, as well. “In recent weeks, we’ve heard terrifying accounts from Chechnya of gay and bisexual men being taken from their homes and families, tortured, and even killed,” Clinton said. “And when government authorities were confronted with these reports, their response was chilling. They said you cannot arrest or repress people who do not exist. The United States government, yes this government, should demand an end to the persecution of innocent people across the world.” The enormity of the threats posed by the Trump administration, Clinton seemed to acknowledge, can at times be overwhelming. “When you feel a little down, when a good friend or loved one says, ‘Quit yelling at the television set,’ just remember, we need to resist, insist, persist, and enlist and make sure our voices are heard,” she said toward the close of her
15-minute remarks. “Keep fighting together side by side for equality, and we’re going to make sure that nobody turns the clock back on what we have achieved as Americans.” First and foremost on the agenda, Clinton reminded the crowd, are the 2018 midterm elections. “We can never stop fighting,” she said. “We need to dedicate these next years, the next two years, the next four years, and beyond to supporting people and organizations that are advocating for the best of American values around the world, here at home, and we also have to win elections to make it clear where our country stands.” With her audience repeatedly cheering her insistence they stay engaged,
“This is the right step,” Clinton said of the new initiative. “This is absolutely essential that you do this.” When she announced the new program earlier in the dinner, Testone told the crowd that three donors had each issued $25,000 matching challenge grants. Four more donors in the crowd immediately pledged $25,000 each — more than enough to redeem the challenge grants. Testone also elicited donor commitments from the crowd on hand for more than $100,000 to support the Center’s internship program and $15,000 to fund its free legal clinic evenings. In her remarks, Testone argued that while the gains the community has made may be “fragile” given the new political climate, LGBTQ people themselves are “not fragile,” but are instead ready to “resist.” All told, the event raised at least $1.75 million.
April 27-May 3, 2017
POLICE BLOTTER ASSAULT: Bodied and bloodied
go to CityMD instead, to get his injuries checked out.
In New York City, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, well, you could miss the deranged stranger charging right at you in broad daylight. That happened to a 34-year-old man on Thurs., April 20, who was minding his own business, walking southbound on the east side of Eighth Ave. shortly before 5pm, when, for reasons unknown, a total stranger began screaming at him and acting irate. “Come at me man,” he yelled at the passerby, who politely declined the offer by doing his best to ignore him. It was for naught though, as soon thereafter, at the northeast corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 16th St., the aggro anon ran directly toward the man and punched him in the right ear, causing him to fall to the ground. As the blindsided pedestrian lay with his right ear and left hand bleeding on the sidewalk, the punchy perp fled southbound on Eighth Ave., into the nearby A/C/E subway station. The man did not pursue his attacker, as he opted to
PETIT LARCENY: Trunk trouble A 28-year-old man parked his car at the northeast corner of Ninth Ave. and W. 21st St. on Sun., April 16, and after coming back to retrieve it on Fri., April 21, noticed that the interior was in a state of disarray that it was not left in days before. Worried about this development, he got out and checked his trunk, and discovered that someone had taken his $545 Tumi Alpha suitcase from within. Currently, it’s unknown if there’s video evidence at the scene, and the vehicle showed no signs of forced entry.
ASSAULT: Public mastication On Fri., April 21, a patron of the adult store Rainbow Station (203 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 20th & 21st Sts.) took the rare opportunity to take a very literal bite into crime. At around 3am (known
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as “the witching hour” to both sex shop professionals and paranormal investigators), a 28-year-old man began to argue with another customer, who was brandished with a marijuana leaf tattoo, who was also perusing, uh, wares in the shop. Eventually, the argument got so heated that the tattooed troublemaker lashed out, and bit the other man on the left cheek. While the attack caused a minor laceration to the victim’s cheek, he refused medical attention at the scene. The other cheek was not turned, however, for his assailant (also 28 years old), who was arrested promptly.
from the establishment’s inventory, and asked that the security officer search the bag of a 29-year-old employee they suspected of being the culprit. When the club’s security officer followed through, and inspected the employee as they were leaving work around 5am, he found the whole host of grifted goods (estimated value, $154.50) in the employee’s possession: two steaks ($50), bottles of Jameson ($42) and Johnnie Walker Black ($48), in addition to three avocados, six limes, tomatoes, and bottles of Evian and Perrier. The Bronx man was arrested, and, presumably, fired.
PETIT LARCENY: The Dream job While the toothy attacker in the above item learned the repercussions for biting the hard way, the next day, another man discovered that the worst thing to bite, perhaps, is the metaphorical hand that feeds. On Sat., April 22, the supervisor at the Dream Hotel (355 W. 16th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) discovered there were a number of items missing
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.
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.
CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.
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April 27–May 3, 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
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 27-May 3, 2017
SLA continued from p. 3
needs all of these security guards? We have restaurants throughout our district that serve hundreds of people a day and don’t need security,” said Bodine. “So until that is resolved and their method of operation is changed to not require this, I don’t think you’ll have a real resolution of these quality of life and safety issues. It’s who they serve, and how they serve.” Diane did end up testifying at the April 25 SLA hearing, and said that the police officers who witnessed the stabbing are scheduled to testify at a May 13 SLA hearing.
CB4 CHARTS HISTORY OF BAD BEHAVIOR This pattern of problems can be traced back to early in the restaurant’s history. In April 2009, when the restaurant applied for renewal of their sidewalk cafe license, CB4’s Quality of Life Committee expressed concerns as to whether the business needed one or two sidewalk café permits, noting that there “may be a conflict regarding the alcoholic beverage service which appears to be licensed for sidewalk service for the wine bar but not specifically
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for the restaurant.” They also asked that outer boundaries of the restaurant be marked on the sidewalk, as required by Department of Consumer Affair’s sidewalk café regulations. Then, in Oct. 2015, CB4 reached out to Michael Jones, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the SLA regarding the restaurant’s advertising of a latenight “Midnight Brunch” featuring a DJ and dancing. Referencing community complaints, CB4 requested the SLA send an inspector, pointing out that their records show the establishment as having a closing time of 12 a.m., seven days a week. In a Jan. 12, 2016 letter to Il Bastardo owner Robert Malta, CB4 outlined restaurant General Manager Sherif Ibrahim’s December 7, 2015 hearing before the Quality of Life Committee to respond to constituent complaints. They reminded the owners of the existing stipulations, and gave the restaurant 20 days to resolve all violations. Existing stipulations confirmed the establishment was licensed to serve alcohol to 74 people at a time; CB4 noted that it was operating “at more than double the capacity… 169 verses 74.” CB4 reminded Il Bastardo that their stipulated closing time was midnight, and that amplified music, live
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enough changes to mollify neighbors. “These issues were brought to their attention, they said they’d work on them, but obviously, that’s not the case. What they’ve done is insufficient,” said Bodine. “They can show how much money they’ve spent on security, on a system to get people in and out better, on a waiting area, on all of that, but at the end of the day if they’re known as a ‘day club’ for drinking, then it’s going to be very difficult to change the quality of their impact on the neighborhood.” But Gioffre maintained that there was still a way to go forward in a positive fashion, noting how Malta had taken steps to deal with earlier noise complaints. He said that they hope that after all the evidence was in, no findings would be substantiated against Il Bastardo. “The last thing any establishment’s owner wants to do is be a bad neighbor. He is hoping to sort of work out the differences and come to a happy medium so he can generate business and income, but not infringe upon the neighbors,” said Gioffre. “We want to find a way both can coexist. We have definitely made some concessions, and are willing to make further ones in the best interest of the neighborhood.”
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bands, and dancing were prohibited. New stipulations included the agreement to cease all commercial and private events not produced by the restaurants owners or staff (i.e. no outside promoters); and the need to post one “black tie” security guard for every 50 patrons congregating outside and creating a public nuisance, noting, “this problem has been found to be especially serious during Il Bastardo’s weekend brunches, which also generates excessive noise.” Other new stipulations included mandates to: post at least three security guards outside whenever large crowds congregate; stagger meal reservations; facilitate customers use of taxis; create a waiting area inside the restaurant; and finally, “in an effort to prevent over-inebriation, as per code, Mr. Ibrahim agreed to stop offering ‘unlimited drinks’ on site, and to cease advertising the same.” By Jan. 22, 2016, Ibrahim notified CB4 that they’d hired an individual to take care of the matters agreed upon, and had met with the 13th Precinct commanding officer and Detective Ray Dorrian about the situation. Apparently, adding security guards, a waiting area, and cutting off the flow of unlimited drinks has not yet resulted in
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New York Celebrates Empirical Evidence and Truth with a March for Science PHOTO ESSAY BY CHRISTIAN MILES Decked out in everything from lab coats to T. rex costumes — and carrying signs leaving no doubt about the link between science and creativity — tens of thousands participated in the New York City satellite of April 22’s global March for Science (marchforscience.com). The march began at Central Park West and 72nd St., charted a course down Broadway, and ended at W. 52nd St. — where it flowed into the Earth Day celebrations already in progress in Times Square. Speakers, including stem cell researcher (and event co-chair/executive director) Jill Dvornik and Bill Ulfelder (NY executive director for The Nature Conservancy), were interspersed with youth speakers from NYC public schools who explained why science is important and exciting to them, how science personally related to their daily lives, and why funding for science must always remain a priority in our community.
Noteworthy among the impressive displays were two Syrofoam giants by Cafeteria Culture (which were originally used to help pass legislation removing Styrofoam from NYC public schools) and a scaled-down traditional Polynesian sailing vessel, which was carried by representatives from the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea to raise awareness about saving our oceans and traditional Polynesian culture. In spite of the onset of rain toward the end of the route, people were clearly reluctant to disperse. A memorable performance by the all-female percussion ensemble Batalá New York echoed through Times Square, attracting more to the cause and ending the day on a joyful, celebratory note. Congratulations belong to the organizers for successfully creating an inclusive, cooperative, and safe environment for all participants that ended without any incidents of violence or arrest.
April 27-May 3, 2017
The Play’s The Thing: Plans Taking Shape to
Courtesy NYC Parks Department
Work will begin soon on upgrades to Mathews-Palmer Playground. PLAYGROUNDS continued from p. 5
Image courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
The toddlers’ water area of a revitalized Chelsea Waterside Play Area will include animal head statues from a former W. 39th St. slaughterhouse, repurposed as fountains.
April 27–May 3, 2017
construction will bring, they’re less enthused by the issues that will arise from the concurrent shutdowns of these already all-too-rare recreational green spaces. According to the Parks Department’s website (nycgovparks. org), both the Clement Clarke Moore Park and Mathews-Palmer projects are scheduled to take about a year to complete, with work beginning in the fall for the former and this spring for the latter. By contrast, work on Chelsea Waterside Play Area is expected to take only six months to complete, and would be under construction in the off-peak fall and winter seasons. “To be honest, I don’t know what these families and kids are going to do,” Oster commented. “Once these parks shut down it’s going to really be a problem in terms of keeping these kids busy — outside of letting them run around in the street. It’ll be a challenge, I’m sure.” “We’re making sure the Trust is coordinating with the people in Parks, and making sure that we’re all aware of the various timelines and how they .com
Compensate During Construction Closures
Photo by Ron Haviv/VII Photo Agency
Photo by Sean Egan
Candlelight yoga has been among the “Healthy Hell’s KitcheNights” activities programmed in Mathews-Palmer Playground by the Hell’s Kitchen Commons neighborhood coalition.
Arnold Belkin’s mural in Mathews-Plamer Playground (“Against Domestic Colonialism”) will be restored, thanks to years of grassroots effort by Hell’s Kitchenites.
intersect,” Wasserman noted, explaining that the Trust team is ensuring the “construction timeline is accelerated” by doing as much advance work as possible. “I’m a neighborhood parent with two young kids, and so we all want to make sure that the kids have places to play.” “The idea is we hope lots of neighbors will step up to help organize and forge collaborations and create the types of programming we’ve done in Mathews-Palmer park in parks and public spaces all around the area,” Widawski elaborated of her group’s contingency plan.
“I guess maybe over the summer or sometime around there, maybe we can look at the rec center,” Oster suggested, referring to the Parks Department’s Chelsea Recreation Center (430 W. 25th St., btw. Ninth & 10 Aves.). Oster also speculated about PS11’s playground (on W. 21st St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) as a potential option. “Maybe with the help of some parents, maybe some of the schools, maybe we can figure out some programs, some time slots for kids.” Nonetheless, the trio believe that the closures will eventually pay divi-
Courtesy NYC Parks Department
An aerial rendering of the W. 20th St. micro-park, highlighting the shade-providing trees and synthetic-turf centerpiece. The park is expected to open in 2019. .com
dends that make the inconvenience worth it. “I think it’ll be a safer park for kids to be in,” Oster said, expressing hope that the changes will result in “a little bit more use by the adults in the neighborhood, alongside the kids.” “We want people in the neighborhood to be excited about it and use it, and 15 years from now want it to still be heavily loved and used,” said Wasserman of the Waterside Play Area. “We’re really hoping when it opens everyone just says ‘Wow, this isn’t just another playground,’ and it really becomes somewhere kids
really ask to go to and play.” “With more and more development happening in this neighborhood and around this city we’re living in a concrete jungle,” mused Widawski. “My hope is that we have more and more green space in the city; that our parks become really like outdoor community centers for us to be able to gather and socialize and connect with each other. I think it’s good for our individual personal health; I think it’s good for our communal health and well-being. Our public space is critical, and even more important right now.”
Photo by Michelle Song
From May 2016’s Imagination Playground Day event at Clement Clarke Moore Park.
April 27-May 3, 2017
tion, and placing two dumpsters in our doorway isn’t it.” The city’s Department of Sanitation (DOS) collects the trash three times a week, and Spataro said they are constrained by the department’s policies and what they’ll pick up. Sanitation also dictates the sizes of dumpsters. The parties agreed to meet with the DOS to work something out. “I think if we come together we can find a solution,” Mudd said. “And that’s what we’re here for. I would love to see this resolved.”
MSCC continued from p. 6
tion. The residents say the front-loading dump trucks that collect the trash from the dumpsters are loud. “To make matters this usually occurs at six in the morning — between 6 and 6:30 in the morning,” Weber said. “It wakes up everyone in our building.” John A. Mudd, the president of the council, gave some background on the issue. The precinct’s neighbors had complained about the amount of trash it put out — a problem that was compounded by people throwing things on top of the garbage, he said. Captain Stephen Spataro, executive officer for Midtown South Precinct, said the stationhouse has 500 people working in the building to serve the community. “The building was constructed 50 years ago in a different time, before the Environmental Protection Act, before a lot of things,” he said. “It was a different world then. We’re constrained by the limits of the design of the building as it was constructed half a century ago.” The garbage was collected in the back, and the precinct received complaints that it was unsightly, he said. The complaints persisted when the trash was moved to the front, and the dumpsters seemed like a solution. “The fact that we need two dumpsters shows how much refuse there
April 27–May 3, 2017
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Captain Stephen Spataro, executive officer for Midtown South Precinct, listened to resident concerns about the stationhouse’s dumpsters.
is accumulated,” he said. But residents are unhappy with the large dumpsters, and say a different solution is needed. “These dumpsters
are right outside our front door,” Weber said. “We understand that there’s waste management issues with the precinct, but there has to be an alternative solu-
The council has also launched a Newspaper Dispenser Design Contest, as it looks to replace plastic ones. “The MSCC is looking for innovative designs for an aesthetically appealing outdoor Newsrack/Newspaper Dispenser to improve pedestrian safety and passage in the Midtown South area,” read their April 18 newsletter. “The design should be streamlined, should showcase the publication, should be immovable, and able to withstand damage and the elements.” For more information, visit midtownsouthcc. org or email email@example.com. The MSCC meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7 p.m., at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.).
I Survived, But Will Lower Manhattan Healthcare? BY ARTHUR SCHWARTZ I woke up on the last Saturday in January feeling awful. My heart said, “Code Red.” The first decision was where to go. I live a block from Northwell’s Lenox Health Greenwich Village emergency department, so I figured that would be the fastest way to get an EKG. I went there and told the guy at the front desk, “I think I am having a heart attack.” He told me to have a seat, and I responded, “Did you hear what I said? I said ‘heart attack!’ ” He got up, grabbed a nurse, and they took me right into a room. They hooked up an EKG machine, and immediately a tech said, “Yes, yes.” I said, “Yes what?” “You are going in an ambulance to the Beth Israel cath lab,” I was told. Fearing that doctors were leaving Beth Israel, I replied, “Can’t I go to NYU? “No, we don’t have an arrangement with NYU,” they said. I then got wheeled on a gurney and entered the ambulance. The EMT medic asked me my name, and I asked, “Am I having a heart attack?” “You are in the middle of one,” he responded. My brain rotated among three related thoughts. First, that I could die any second. The second was how my chances of living were reduced because I must be driven all the way to First Ave. to receive treatment. The third was how much worse my chances would be two or three years from now if Beth Israel were to close. At least the second and third thoughts keep me from focusing on the fi rst. I arrived at Beth Israel and the EMTs wheeled me up to the cardiac cath lab — which was closed. They then took me down to the emergency room, where I saw my son Jacob and yelled, “Get me out of here!” Of course he couldn’t. Soon, I was immersed in wires and IVs and, within minutes, I was transferred to the now-open cath lab, where they ran a wire up to my heart and then sedated me big-time. Someone stuck some consent papers near me, I signed, and they added two stents to my heart. Most importantly, I was alive! And my heart, which suffered some damage, is functioning well. One can speak intellectually about hospital closings and how additional minutes in an ambulance can cost lives. I now speak from “the heart.” If Beth Israel had not been here, I might not be alive. Or, the damage to my heart might have been more extensive. Of course, it would have been even better if Northwell’s Lenox Health Greenwich Village were a full-service hospital. The doctors at Beth Israel were outstanding. The cath lab folks and the emergency room technicians saved my life by doing their jobs with precision. The cath unit is a proud group. They are the fi rst line in saving the lives of people with heart attacks, or people at risk of heart attacks. The surgeons and equipment are top of the line. The nurses have 20 to 30 years of experience. .com
Photo by Maggie Berkvist
Arthur Schwartz recovering at Beth Israel Hospital this past January after undergoing cardiac surgery.
Last May 26, Mt. Sinai’s president, Kenneth Davis, said that Beth Israel Hospital was “transforming, not closing,” and that “nobody was closing the doors, taking away the keys and telling everyone who is employed here that they are [no longer] employed, [or] telling patients to fi nd another place.” He repeated that “this is not a closure,” but the nurses told me otherwise. So I began to dig deeper. Other than stent surgery, heart surgery no longer takes place at Beth Israel. So, if someone arrives in an ambulance and the ER determines that a bypass is needed, the patient returns to the ambulance and gets sent to Mt. Sinai up on E. 99th St. The nurses told me that whole floors at Beth Israel are closed down, and that nothing at the hospital is being “transformed.” Staff members are leaving in droves since, they say. The staff I met emphasized that there is a constant need for 250 to 300 beds, and that Mt. Sinai’s plan for a 70-bed hospital at E. 14th St. and Second Ave. is a joke. Also, Beth Israel takes everyone — insurance and no insurance. They all believe that if the current Beth Israel (at E. 16th St. and First Ave.) closes, Lenox Health Greenwich Village (at W. 12th St. and Seventh Ave.) will send people to Bellevue (at E. 27th St. and First Ave.), which is an overcrowded city hospital, or Lenox Hill Hospital on E. 77th St. A nurse said the extra time traveling to the Upper East Side could have cost me my life. After I got out, I learned that the state Department of Health (DOH) commissioner — who reports to Governor Cuomo — had approved nine applications by Mt. Sinai Beth Israel either to alter its Union Square East Phillips Ambulatory Care Center (PACC) and New York Eye and Ear Infi rmary facilities or, more importantly, eliminate critical (and profit-making) parts of Beth Israel. These applications are what the state DOH has approved since that “closing in four years” announcement was made: • The elimination of 26 inpatient physical-medicine and rehabilitation beds. According to Beth Israel, “In the fi rst six months of 2016, there were 290 discharges, with 3,396 patient days — a 71.6
percent utilization rate.” The 26 beds brought in a $17 million profit in 2015. • The dismantling of 73 inpatient beds in the maternity unit — 42 for mothers and 31 neonatalcare beds — effective May 22, 2017. Also, the closure of 45 bassinet well-baby nurseries ended its status as a Level III perinatal center. According to Beth Israel, the maternity beds had a 56.7 percent occupancy rate in 2016. As recently as 2013, Beth Israel had 10.5 deliveries per day and a neonatal occupancy rate of 44.6 percent. (In its application, Beth Israel notes that those rates have declined notably in 2017. Could it be because word is out that the hospital is closing down?) This unit brought in a $39 million profit to the hospital in 2015. • The elimination of 20 inpatient pediatric beds (closed on Jan. 24, 2017). During the fi rst six months of 2016, Beth Israel had 761 patients in these beds, for a total of 1,709 patient days — a 21.2 percent utilization rate. These beds brought in $9 million in profit to the hospital in 2015. • The elimination of the cardiac-surgery operating room. Between 2012 and 2015, Beth Israel performed between 287 and 325 cardiac surgery procedures per year. These surgeries brought in a $17 million profit in 2015. • The elimination of all five pediatric intensivecare unit beds. During the fi rst nine months of 2016, they served 112 patients, who were in the beds a total of 402 patient days. As recently as 2012, the occupancy rate was 41.7 percent. These five beds brought in a profit in excess of $1 million in 2015. • A $10 million demolition of a building at 321 E. 13th St., next to the New York Eye and Ear Infi rmary. • A $4 million renovation at 10 Union Square East to create an urgent-care walk-in center. • The addition of a second MRI to the Union Square East PAAC at a cost of $5.5 million. That such moves could be made — secretly — without public hearings or even public notice from the state Health commissioner, much less Mt. Sinai, and without studies about the impact is a breach of the public’s trust. When Beth Israel closes, there will be no Level I trauma hospital south of 114th St. on the West Side (since Roosevelt Hospital on W. 59th St. is also being “modified”). And below Bellevue, at E. 27th St., there will be no Level I trauma-center hospital, either. There will only be four hospitals between the tip of Manhattan and 70th St. where someone can deliver a baby or have cardiac surgery. The new 70-bed hospital Mt. Sinai plans to open at E. 14th St. and Second Ave. will not serve these needs, or many others. Come to the “Crisis in Lower Manhattan Healthcare Town Hall Meeting,” on Thurs., May 4, at 6 p.m., at Local 32 BJ (25 W. 18th St.). Arthur Schwartz is male Democratic district leader for Greenwich Village and political director of New York Progressive Action Network. April 27-May 3, 2017
The Inside Track on Outsiders Art on A Gallery merges mediums and champions community BY PUMA PERL Last week, Wendy Scripps, the owner of Wendigo Productions and Art on A, and I met up at the Bowery Electric’s Friday Happy Hour to chat about her work and her vision. This year, she is the Acker Award recipient for community activism; many folks acknowledge her as “The Godmother of the Lower East Side,” based on her mission to keep the Downtown scene alive. “I love the outsiders, because I was an outsider,” said Scripps, who was born and raised in Northern California. “My parents moved to the Upper West Side when I was about 20, and a year later I found my home in the East Village. I never felt like I fit in before, but this neighborhood fit like a glove. When my mother told me about my great grandfather, Samuel Gompers, an immigrant who grew up down here, I understood the connection even better.” Looking around the bar, one could see living proof of the East Village family she has nurtured. Raffaele Mary, widely known as Raff, was serving up the drinks. She is authentic rock and roll: former singer for Cycle Sluts from Hell, a writer, blogger, and general manager of Wendigo Productions and Art on A. In the DJ booth stood bassist Sam Hariss, member of The Sweet Things, one of the local bands that often plays at the rock shows presented by Wendigo. Kelly Virginia Vinson, a Texas-born neighborhood artist and East Village resident whose jewelry creations are sold in Art on A’s shop, occupied one of the barstools. “I have trunk sales at the gallery, and every year there’s a holiday party and there are so many friends selling their work and buying gifts for others” she told me. “Wendy does so much more than people know about. She is also associate producer on films by Dean Dempsey [“Candy Apple”] and Michael Levine [“Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream”].” The creation of Art on A grew organically under the umbrella of Wendigo Productions, founded in 2010, by Scripps, Rik Rocket, and other friends. The original focus was promoting and booking local bands. “I feel like I understand the way musicians think,” reflected Scripps. “We were the nerdy kids, the misdiagnosed kids. I was severely dyslexic and thrown in special education classes even though I read independently on a college level. I drew in full perspective at age 10. Our minds go on overload and we find different ways to communicate.” The original tiny storefront was located on Avenue B, and they began inviting bands and local artists to display their merchandise in the window. They tried an art show, and decided to find bigger digs and open up a gallery. “It’s hard to get gallery shows if you are outside the norm. We love the outsider art,” said Scripps. And the “outsiders” love Art on A, which seamlessly Courtesy the artist
Katrina del Mar’s “Feral Women/Filmed Portraits” exhibit includes this photo of Kembra Pfahler.
April 27–May 3, 2017
ART ON A continued on p. 20 .com
A New Life for ‘Dead End’ Gritty, forgotten gem gave us Bowery Boys franchise BY TRAV S.D. Some names of the theatre deserve to have been forgotten; playwright Sidney Kingsley (1906-1995) isn’t one of them. Kingsley invented not one but at least three original genres of the stage and screen. His forte was to take a fascinating American subculture, obsessively research it, and then depict it on stage. In 1933’s “Men in White,” he gave the world its first “heroic doctors in a hospital” show, pioneering everything from “General Hospital” to “ER.” It was one of the few bona fide hits of the Group Theatre. In 1949’s “Detective Story,” Kingsley created the police procedural, blazing a trail that would lead to things like “Dragnet,” “Law & Order,” and “The Wire.” But the setting and characters of another of his Broadway smashes would come to have the longest shelf life of all: 1935’s “Dead End.” The Axis Theatre Company is reviving this forgotten gem at their home in Sheridan Square through May 20. “Dead End” originally ran on Broadway for two years. Produced at the height of the Great Depression, it told of a group of poor, directionless, (and apparently hopeless) New York City street urchins, and some well-meaning adults who try to help them. It went on to become a 1937 Warner Brothers film starring Humphrey Bogart, Joel McCrea, Sylvia Sidney, and the kids from the original Broadway cast, including Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, and others. Their popularity launched several successful comedy film franchises starring the kids under different names: the Dead End Kids (1935-1939), Little Tough Guys (1938-1943), the East Side Kids (1940-1945), and the Bowery Boys (1946-1958). In the intervening time, the world of the play evolved from one of hard-hitting social realism to one lowbrow slapstick comedy, featuring such plot devices as robots, genies, and mad scientists. Nowadays, that is what most people remember about the Bowery Boys. It is rare for audiences to have an opportunity to grapple with the original source material. “I was obsessed with the Bowery Boys when I was a kid,” recalled the revival’s director, Randy Sharp, “and have been fascinated by them ever since. There’s something about these New York City street kids that’s very American. I’ve had the Bowery Boys make appearances in some of my past shows, like ‘Hospital’ ” (Sharp’s annual multi-epi.com
Photo by Pavel Antonov
Jon McCormick (foreground) and Lynn Mancinelli in rehearsal for “Dead End.”
sode experimental soap opera parody, which can ultimately also trace its lineage to Kingsley’s “Men in White”). Ordinarily, Axis produces Sharp’s own original plays, but on occasion the company will take on an existing work and give it their own patented stamp. In the past, for example, they have done Georg Büchner’s “Woyzek” and Benjamin A. Baker’s “A Glance at New York.” Significantly, the latter play is a gritty 1848 gaslight melodrama about life among New York’s working class, not unlike “Dead End.” According to Brian Barnhart, Axis’ producing director, the company considered such plays as “The Philadelphia Story” and “Our American Cousin” (the play Abraham Lincoln was watching the night he was shot) before settling on “Dead End.” With a cast of 14 (some Axis veterans and some newcomers), this is the largest cast production the company has ever presented. The original 1935 production had a cast of 35, when the economics of theatre were very different. The entire cast is onstage throughout the length of the show. “One of the immediate challenges of ‘Dead End’ is how to deal with its iconic, stamped-out characters,” noted Sharp. “The hooker with the heart of gold; the snotty kid; the bad guy. In
real life there is no such thing as a ‘Bad Guy.’ So who is that? Why does he talk like that? Maybe the Bowery Boys aren’t so cute. They seem to be enacting something dark and not very joyful. These are real children and adults living in tenements. Audiences were being exposed to the fact there was an unimaginable divide between rich and poor at the time, one even greater than there is now.” Audiences less familiar with the Axis house style should know not to expect an “on the nose” production. What is on view will be quite different from what one might have experienced at the original play or film, or subsequent revivals in 1978, 1997, and 2005. While Kingsley’s original text (with some cuts) remains the framework, in Axis productions one often fi nds the moment-to-moment behavior of characters surprising and unpredictable, with motivations and line-readings not the obvious ones. For this reason, to this observer, Axis productions are never boring. Undergirding this production is a tapestry of live sound, organically devised by the cast through improvisation. Frequent Axis collaborator Paul Carbonara (of Blondie) is composing an original score at Sharp’s direction that will draw from
Hollywood movie soundtracks. One thing the Axis production will have in common with other theatrical versions and not the famous film, however, is a much franker treatment of language, references to sex, and depictions of violence and poverty, all of which were softened or expunged from the Hollywood film. “In 1935 there was no Internet,” said Sharp. “Kingsley was using the theatre as a tool to literally educate people about conditions happening feet outside their door. It was a snapshot of real life during the Depression. The challenge is how to rediscover that now. Everyone has seen [images of] poverty and been inured to it. I want to reawaken them. How do we look at this again? I don’t want the audience to just sit back and let it skim over them. This is about a literal dead end, with no way out. These people still exist. We can’t dismiss them.” “Dead End” runs through May 20: Wed. & Thurs., 7pm; Fri. & Sat., 8pm. Additional performances Mon., May 1, 7pm (official opening Wed., May 3). At Axis Theatre (One Sheridan Square, btw. Washington Pl. & W. Fourth St.). For tickets ($30 adults, $20 students, seniors; $15, artists & those under 30), visit axiscompany.org or call 212-8079300. April 27-May 3, 2017
Take Two A pair Tribeca Film Festival reviews KING OF PEKING | Written & Directed by Sam Voutas | Runtime: 88 minutes | Sat., 4/29, 7pm at Cinépolis Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) | Sun., 4/30, 6:15pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave., at Vesey St.).
REVIEW BY RANIA RICHARDSON One of the joys of watching foreign films is being immersed in another culture. The sights, sounds, people and places can shrink our world and create compassion for those from around the globe. We can also discover commonalities and mutual concerns. In the “King of Peking” we travel back to China for one summer in the 1990s and meet a father (Big Wong) and young son (Little Wong) who drive a mobile cinema from village to village, screening Hollywood blockbusters for the locals. When their projector fails, the ingenious father comes up with a plan to secretly copy films and sell them as home video discs by using the resources of his janitorial job in an old Beijing movie theater (video discs were very popular at the time, and an entire subculture of bootlegging took hold internationally). Hilariously, the father-son pair do their own dubbing for the new underground business, and even recreate classics in the DIY-style seen in films like “Be Kind Rewind” and “The Wolfpack.” Big Wong is at odds with his ex-wife for custody of their son, and he thinks that the illegal scheme will give him the money he needs for leverage. In the ruthless environment he lives in, though, his plan for easy money is too good to last. His ex-wife doesn’t present the best lifestyle for parenting, either. She works in transit all day as a low-level railway snack vendor, calling out, “Instant noodles, Spam, beef jerky” on train cars. She is suspicious of her ex and accuses him of exploiting Little Wong by forcing him into child labor. Writer/director Sam Voutas, an Australian living in China, was inspired to write the story after his film “Red Light Revolution” was pirated. While “King of Peking” does present piracy in a negative light, its larger theme is the effect of cheating the system in general, and the unintended consequences of a father’s questionable activities on his son, albiet with a lighthearted spin. Wong wants respect and admiration,
April 27–May 3, 2017
Photo by Angus Gibson
Zhao Jun as Big Wong and Wang Naixun as Little Wong in “King of Peking.”
but doesn’t see the larger picture. He is doing the best he can in a difficult environment where jobs are hard to get — and to keep — especially for one with more pluck than skill. Nevertheless, without maintaining his ethics, he loses the trust of Little Wong, with whom he once shared a close-knit bond. The endearing Mandarin-language tale depicts the meaning of parenthood and the transformation of a family through forgiveness and patience. Atmospheric and endlessly amusing, the film is also a tribute to the film industry. With Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) being the second largest foreign language spoken in New York City (after Spanish), “King of Peking” is right at home in the Tribeca Film Festival. A general audience crowd-pleaser, it would be a great pick for Chinese speaking families and for New Yorkers of all stripes who would like a glimpse of China in the not-so-distant past. TAKE ME | Directed by Pat Healy | Screenplay by Mike Makowsky | Runtime: 84 minutes. | Thurs., 4/27, 5pm & Fri., 4/28, 8:45pm at Cinépolis Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) | Sat., 4/29, 3:30pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave., at Vesey St.).
REVIEW BY CHARLES BATTERSBY The core of any good story is char-
Photo by Nathan M. Miller
Pat Healy as Ray Moody and Taylor Schilling as Anna St. Blair in “Take Me.”
acters who undergo a change of status. The mighty are brought low, the underdog rises to the challenge, or the oppressed cast off their chains. Nothing captures this dynamic quite as well as sadomasochism, where the submissive demands to be punished while the dominant complies. The film “Take Me” isn’t really about S&M, but it does involve a professional kidnapper, his consenting victim, and great deal of humorous confusion about which of the two in really in charge. Surviving a traumatic event can also be a life-changing moment. Ray (played by director Pat Healy) tries to help people get in touch with their most primal selves, by kidnapping them — consensually, and for a modest fee. Early on in “Take Me,” Ray demonstrates these ther-
apeutic results by kidnapping a portly fellow to help cure his overeating. Later on, he shows off a wall full of pictures of other satisfied customers. Despite Ray’s extreme enthusiasm, his unconventional business isn’t going well. His financial problems seem to be solved when a mysterious woman named Anna (played by Taylor Schilling from “Orange Is the New Black”) wants to book a lengthy kidnapping session, at a high price. Ray, and the audience, have reason to be suspicious right from the start. Ray likes to think that he runs a legitimate business, providing an alternative form of therapy, rather than an erotic fantasy. Anna, on the other hand, seems more TFF REVIEWS continued on p. 20 .com
April 27-May 3, 2017
ART ON A continued from p. 16
merges mediums. As Raff pointed out during my visit to the gallery, “We all come from several worlds. Rik is an artist and the original guitarist of the Toilet Böys. People know me from the rock world, but may not realize that I studied at Parsons.” The shows and the artists reflect that sensibility. October 2016’s “The Art of New York Rock” exhibition presented the artwork of musicians included in Steven Blush’s book “New York Rock.” Included were Chris Stein, Rick Bacchus, and many others. The closing party featured live music, with crowds spilling over into the street. March 2017’s “The Art of New York Waste” exhibition celebrated the underground rock and roll newspaper, with work by editor-in-chief/photographer Lucky Lawler and many other contributors. Robert Butcher, an artist and photographer who was included in the New York Waste event, talked to me about his September 2016 solo show, “American Madonnas & Liars,” which included images of both Raff and Scripps, and explored the interaction between subject and viewer. “I met Wendy at Manitoba’s [99 Ave. B] and loved her straightway,” said Butcher. “It was like speaking to an old friend. Wendy is benevolent, a benefactor, and a patron with a unique vision. She’s the glue that holds us together.” Scripps intends to continue her mission by exploring different fronts, both personally, and for the community. “I don’t like to be onstage,” she said. “I’m a behind-the-scenes person. I’m working on a nonprofit to help artists stay in the neighborhood by securing housing. For myself, I would like to study poetry and writing. Someday, I want to publish my memoirs.” Currently on view is a look into the world of artist, Katrina del Mar, a multifaceted East Village resident. She’s an art and commercial photographer, visual artist, painter, filmmaker, and also fronts a punk band, The Shirtlifters. Del Mar’s show, “Feral Women/Filmed Portraits,”
TFF REVIEWS continued from p. 18
interested in pushing Ray’s boundaries regarding how sternly he punishes his clients. Much like a cash-strapped dominatrix, Ray takes the job. Anna’s “kidnapping” quickly turns into a series of zany misunderstandings. However, there are several possible explanations. Was Ray set up? Anna? Are both of them being manipulated by some malevolent third party? Most of the movie is spent watching the two try to figure out what’s happening. The two
April 27–May 3, 2017
Photo by Joseph Alvarez, courtesy Wendigo Productions
Wendy Scripps, owner of Wendigo Productions and Art on A Gallery.
Courtesy the artist
Courtesy the artist
Wendy Scripps as featured in “American Madonnas and Liars,” an Art on A exhibit. Art by Robert Butcher.
Katrina del Mar’s “Jade with gold nail polish” (2016, oil pastels and gold leaf on black paper, 22x30 in.).
returns her to her roots as a visual artist with a riveting exhibition of photo portraits, filmed portraits, and black velvet
paintings and drawings. During the run of the show, some of del Mar’s films will be shown, and raucous opening and clos-
ing parties are to be expected. “I’m super excited to be showing at Art on A, to be working with curator Rik Rocket and with Raffaele,” she said. “They are East Village legends, both badass rock ’n rollers whose art practices are cross-disciplinary, encompassing music, writing, and visual arts. I’m grateful to Wendy Scripps for doing her part in keeping the art and music scene going in this rapidly gentrifying city. The corporate culture is trying to make a corpse out of our amazing city, to drain the blood and flatline the pulse by ousting the artists. We are here fighting to keep the heart and soul of the city alive and well!” Katrina del Mar’s “Feral Women/ Filmed Portraits” exhibition runs April 27-May 18, at Art on A Gallery (24 Ave. A, btw. Second & Third Sts.). Gallery Hours: Mon., Thurs., Fri. & Sat., 1–8pm; Sun., 1–7pm. Call 212-300-4418 ort visit artonagallery.com. Also visit wendigoproductions.com and katrinadelmar. com.
characters are experiencing the same events, but from wildly different perspectives, and only one of them is fully aware of what’s going on at any moment. The audience is then left to puzzle out which of many possible twists will turn out to be true. Most of the film features these two characters alone in a room or car. It’s almost a theater piece as opposed to a film, and Ray’s work actually is a form of bad theater. Pat Healy plays the role as though Ray is ineptly trying to replicate “tough guy” characters from movies
about hard-boiled kidnappers. His obvious toupee, and inconsistent grit make him seem like the long shot in a battle of wills against Anna. Meanwhile, Schilling plays Anna as a femme fatale half the time, but she’s also a damsel when convenient. The audience is less certain of her motivations, while Ray is wearing a paper thin persona. Some audience members will see that final plot twist coming right from the start, but “Take Me” is still a fun ride, watching the earnest efforts of a lovable loser who tries to do good in the world,
one kidnapping at a time. Visit tribecafilm.com/festival to purchase tickets and get info on the RUSH standby seating policy. To order by phone, call 646-502-5296 ($21, evening/weekend; $12, matinee; $3.50 service fee, per ticket, applies for web and phone orders). If you’re reading this after a film’s last festival screening, take heart — many are picked up for theatrical distribution later in the year, become available On Demand via your local cable provider, or appear on various streaming services. .com
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April 27-May 3, 2017
April 27â€“May 3, 2017
PENN SOUTH continued from p. 2
tion was leaving office, and the incoming administration was getting ready to take over — and we were very, very scared, frankly, because we hadn’t yet received a commitment.” Thankfully, local electeds helped expedite the process, including when, in early January, US Senator Chuck Schumer penned a letter openly supporting the deal, pressing the relevant agencies (including the presidential Office of Management and Budget, which also needed to sign off) to approve the deal posthaste. In that letter, Schumer wrote, “The opportunity to guarantee another two decades of affordable housing in this neighborhood is one that we cannot let pass without serious and diligent consideration. We simply cannot run the risk of failing to guarantee that the 2,820 units of affordable housing in this development will continue into the future.” “Chuck Schumer and Congressman [Jerrold] Nadler, the combination of both, worked miracles and got this commitment done before the new HUD secretary took over, and we were very thankful for that,” Keany noted. “Now that HUD has signed, sealed and delivered the HUD loan we pushed for — and needed to keep Penn South affordable for thousands of New Yorkers for years to come — we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Penn South is one of the last remaining middle-class havens in New York City and, with this news, we know this oasis of affordability will remain the wonderful place to live as it has been for decades,” wrote Sen. Schumer
in a statement following the April 26 signing. “Places like Penn South — that provide a safe and affordable place to live for middle-class New Yorkers are increasingly rare and precious.” “Affordable housing like Penn South is what makes New York’s neighborhoods the vibrant, inclusive, and dynamic places they are,” concurred Mirza Orriols, HUD Deputy Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey, in the same press release. “Preserving this kind of housing and the opportunity it creates is at the core of HUD’s mission, and today we celebrate a victory that will keep Penn South affordable for decades to come.” In all, because of these efforts and foresight, Keany and the residents of Penn South can look forward to years of reaping the benefits of this new deal. “All around it’s what I call winwin-win. It allows us to continue the mission, and this is a mission that John F. Kennedy spoke brilliantly on back in 1962 at the opening of the housing development, and he talked about providing middle income housing to New Yorkers for generations to come. And many housing developments have not been able to do that; they’ve gone private, they’ve reconstituted, and they’ve done other things,” commented Keany. “Penn South has stayed true to its original mission, and this financial win-win continues that, and it allows us to continue that goal. And it’s a laudable goal in a time when, unfortunately, most of the middle-income housing is lost. So we’re very proud of the accomplishment, and we’re very happy that we can provide this kind of housing for the next several generations.”
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