Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 30,, NUMBER 09
Holi of Holies
MAY 18 – MAY 31, 2017
Celebrating India’s “Festival of Colors” on Governors Island Page 12
Photo by Milo Hess
Hundreds of fans of Indian music, dance, and culture — not to mention tossing balls of brightly colored power at each other — turned out for the Holi Hai festival on Governors Island on May 6. For more pictures of all the fun, see page 12.
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1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 17 N YC C O M M U N I T Y M E D I A , L L C
Mayor signs first crane-safety bill First of two bills from Chin now law, requires GPS on all mobile cranes BY COLIN MIXSON Mayor de Blasio signed a bill into law on May 10 sponsored by Councilwoman Margaret Chin requiring city cranes to be outfitted with tracking devices, the first legislative step in the cityâ€™s continuing crackdown on the towering construction devices and their crews following the tragic collapse in Tribeca that claimed a manâ€™s life last year. â€œBy signing this bill into law today, we are increasing safety to a standard that residents, workers and visitors have a right to expect,â€? said Chin. The new law specifically requires GPS devices to be installed on mobile cranes â€” one of the 23 recommendations made by a task force convened by de Blasio following the harrowing collapse in Tribeca in February 2016. The sheer number of mobile cranes licensed to operate in New York City â€” combined with their ability to quickly relocate â€” can make tracking them difficult despite their towering stature, according to the task forceâ€™s report.
By equipping the cranes with GPS technology, the Department of Buildings can better dispatch inspectors to construction sites and ensure city ordinances are followed to the letter, the task force reported. Chin has also introduced another, more technical bill requiring certain measures to be taken by crane crews â€” including erecting safety zones and formulating safety plans based on wind speeds â€” which has yet to clear committee. Chin has taken the lead on implementing task force recommendations that required legislative action, while Buildingâ€™s Commissioner Rick Chandler has implemented a number of other regulations advocated by the task force, including forbidding certain crane configurations from operating in winds of above 20-mph, requiring the installation of wind-monitoring devices, and mandating contractors hire on-site lift coordinators. While the city seeks to tighten regu-
Office of Councilwoman Margaret Chin
Mayor de Blasio signed Councilwoman Margaret Chinâ€™s crane-safety law on May 10, marking the first legislation implementing the recommendations of the task force on crane safety created after a crane collapsed in Tribeca early last year killing one person and injuring three others.
lations governing construction cranes, federal investigators from the US Department of Labor placed the blame for the Tribeca collapse on contractor Galasso Trucking and Rigging, to
which it issued two violations related to the deadly crash, carrying fines totaling $22,448. CRANES Continued on page 19
Protect, Connect, and Strengthen Your Neighborhood! The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project is back! Join us to give feedback on waterfront improvements that will provide for your neighborhood! To learn more about the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project:
Thursday, May 18, 2017 6 - 8 PM St. Paulâ€™s Chapel of Trinity Church
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 6:30 - 8:30 PM Rutgers Community Center
200 Madison Street
This meeting will focus on the waterfront from Montgomery Street to the Brooklyn Bridge
This meeting will focus on the waterfront from Montgomery Street to the Brooklyn Bridge
Childcare, translation (Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish), and refreshments will be provided. Cuidado de niĂąos y traducciĂłn al EspaĂąol disponible.
ŕťŠáƒ“ËŤŕ˛ŁŕŻŁŕź˝á•€á™ł OfďŹ ce of the Mayor
May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
Workshop locations are wheelchair accessible. Please call 212-676-3150 for other accommodations.
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May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
Destabilized! Landlord beats lawsuit from tenants seeking rent-stabilization protections under 421-g BY COLIN MIXSON A Supreme Court judge has granted a Downtown landlord cart blanche to charge tenants market rates, despite receiving generous tax abatements through a program mandating residents receive rent stabilization. In his May 2 decision, Justice Hagler cited a letter that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani wrote in 1995, which has managed to override state legislation for decades to benefit landlords over tenants, according to a lawyer for tenants at the building in question, 85 John St. “We believe that Justice Hagler erred in relying on the Giuliani letter and finding that the State Legislature intended to permit landlords to enjoy generous tax benefits without anything in return,” said attorney Serge Joseph. Seeking to spur development in the blighted Lower Manhattan of the mid ’90s, state senators voted 53-1 to award a generous tax break — called 421-g — to developers willing to convert aging office buildings to residential use — but requiring in return that rent increases be capped through rent-stabilization laws. But just before the ballots were cast, then Senate Republican Leader Joseph Bruno read the so-called “Giuliani Letter” into the record, in which the former mayor declared that the city intended to interpret the law’s rent regulations to be subject to luxury-deregulation
laws — which remove units with rents higher than (then) $2,000 per month (currently $2,700-per month) from rent stabilization. Members of the state Assembly, which had already passed the bill before the Senate sat down to deliberate, did not see the letter in time to respond before the bill passed. And while language within the bill never mentioned any exclusions based on rent, landlords have pointed to the nowinfamous Giuliani Letter ever since as justification for charging market rates for a huge majority of all rental units built under 421-g — while still receiving massive tax breaks through the program. In his decision, Hagler made frequent reference to the bill’s ambiguity regarding rent stabilization, calling it a “knotty issue” and citing statements from other Chief Judges who described rent control laws as an “impenetrable thicket.” But the language governing 421-g is neither knotty nor impenetrable, according to Joseph, who claims legislators were very clear in their intent that all apartments created through the 421-g program be subject to rent stabilization. “It’s absolutely clear and unequivocal,” said Joseph. “It said what it says.” The landlord at 85 John St., on the other hand, argued that the tax break’s intent was always to promote the revitalization of a recession-era Lower Manhattan, and that slapping a permanent cap on rent increases for
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The landlord of 85 John St. has successfully fended off a tenant lawsuit seeking rent-stabilization protection under the 421-g program that gives the owner tax breaks.
all converted residential units would have only put building owners off the idea of investing millions to retrofit their dilapidated office towers, according to the landlord’s attorney, Joe Burden. “The intent of the statute was to incentivize commercial property owners to convert their properties to residential use,” Burden said. “Freezing the rents at rent-stabilized levels ... would
de-incentivize the owner.” Joseph has represented tenants in numerous similar cases, and claims landlords are typically eager to settle out of court, lest an unfavorable decision force them to provide all their residents with rent-stabilization protections. “Landlords tend not to want to risk a finding that all the apartments in their DESTABILIZED Continued on page 7
Seaport supertall project moves forward
Image by China Oceanwide Holdings
This diagram shows how tall the owners of the 80 South St. site could legally build after the city approved a massive sale of air rights from Howard Hughes Corp. to China Oceanwide Holdings.
May 18 – May 31, 2017
BY JACKSON CHEN A developer is set to clear the way for what will be the city’s second-tallest skyscraper, filing two demolition permits for Front and South Streets on May 8. The supertall tower in the Seaport area, being developed by China Oceanwide Holdings, is expected to reach 1,436 feet tall. Its massive height would make it the runner-up to the 1,792-foot One World Trade Center for the city’s tallest building. While construction permits have not yet been filed, the developer submitted two demolition permits for a six-story building at 80 South Street and a 10-story building at 163 Front Street earlier this month, according to Department of
Buildings records. The project attracted the ire of locals, who continue their criticism of the tower, despite its as-of-right nature. Michael Kramer, a member of the neighborhood organization Save Our Seaport, said the group has kept its eye on the project for more than a decade. The site went through several failed designs before being sold off to Howard Hughes Corp. in 2014. After HHC’s own plans for a residential tower ran into fierce local resistance, the Seaport developer then flipped the property to China Oceanwide Holdings for $390 million in March 2016, along with more than 400,000 square feet of air rights. According to documents filed with the
City Planning Commission, the proposed 113-story mixed-use building would total 1,067,350 square feet. But for Kramer and the opposition, the towering project would create a serious detriment to the neighborhood’s quality of life. “Nobody is studying the impact on the neighborhood’s air and light. There’s going to be shadows over the Imagination Playground on Berlin Slip,” Kramer said. “Forget about the sunlight for the parents and children who use that playground.” Kramer suggested that the developers soften the blow by giving something back SUPERTALL Continued on page 7
May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
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A thief rode off with a man’s pricey Blanchi bicycle he’d left locked on Varick Street at May 8. The victim told police that he chained his bike to scaffolding between Canal and Watts streets at 1 am, and returned a few hours later to find his $1,299 bike was stolen.
Thieves made off with a $14,000 lighter from a luxury smokes shop inside Brookfield Place on April 23. Surveillance footage from Davidoff of Geneva near West Street shows three men inside the store at around 3 pm, including one man with a sixyear-old boy, according to manager Rudy Perez. As two of the men distracted a sales employee, the third man instructed his young boy to run for the exit, giving him an excuse to give chase — with the expensive Haute Couture lighter in hand. The hand-made lighter, which is gold plated and encrusted with gem stones, isn’t the store’s most expensive fire starter — that honor falls to a Dupont lighter the store sells for a whopping $25,000, according to Perez.
WATCH OUT A thief stole $4,000 watch from a man’s locker inside a Nassau Street gym on May 12. The victim told police he left his Tag Hauer Carrera timepiece in a locker at the fitness center between Ann and Beekman streets at 2 pm, and returned 45 minutes later to find he was short one ritzy wrist clock.
SK-HATER Cops are hunting the skateboardwielding brute who beat a man on Mercer Street on May 9. The victim told police he was arguing with the skater near Prince Street at 6:40 pm, when the goon hefted the deck and cracked it over his head.
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SOUND OF CRIME
THE NEW SOUND OF
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May 18 – May 31, 2017
Three bandits stole a man’s headphones on Wall Street on May 9. The victim told police he was near Broad Street at 10 pm, when the terrible trio ran up and snatched his headphones before fleeing as a pack towards Broadway.
ROUGH NIGHT A real party pooper nabbed a purse off a passed-out straphanger waiting for an E train on Sixth Avenue on May 12. The victim told police she’d had more than a few drinks before heading down to the station near West Broadway at 2:30 pm, where she promptly dozed off, only to awake about an hour and a half later to find her hand bag, along with her credit cards and passport, were missing.
APPLE PICKING Two brazen shoplifters nabbed a pair of iPhone 7s from a display at a Greenwich Street electronics vendor on May 3. An employee told police the suspects were spotted inside the retailer between Fulton and Dey streets at 5:45 pm, when they grabbed the top-of-the-line smart phones, together worth $1,498.
FAST REACTION A thief nabbed a woman’s wallet from her purse inside a West Broadway diner on May 1. The victim told police she was inside the eatery between W. Houston and Prince streets at 7 pm, when she left her purse underneath a table as she went to pay for her supper. When she returned, the woman discovered her pocketbook knocked over and her wallet stolen, cops said. The woman wisely canceled her credit cards with her bank immediately following the theft, and was later informed the thief had attempted one unsuccessful transaction with her cards, according to police.
CASH AND GRAB
Cops arrested two alleged thieves suspected of ripping cash from a 40-year-old man’s hands on South Street on May 7. The victim told police he was near Whitehall Street at 6:35 pm, when the suspects, a 19-year-old man and 20-year-old woman, came up and between them yanked $80 straight from his hands.
Two sly thieves nabbed a man’s wallet from his pocket on South Street on May 2. The victim told police that he was near Whitehall Street at 2 pm, when one of the crooks gave him a tender hug, while the other took the opportunity to reach into his pocket and grab his valuables. — Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com
DESTABILIZED Continued from page 4
building are subject to rent stabilization, so they settle,” he said. Prior to this most recent case, judges with the city’s Housing Court have made two decisions regarding the law, one in favor of tenants, and another in favor of landlords. Justice Hagler’s is the highest-level decision regarding the law so far, but the rent-stabilization questions around 421-g has yet to reach the appellate division of New York’s highest court and, until that happens, it will be up to tenants to shoulder the costs of litigation to push the court to bring decisive clarity to the decades-
SUPERTALL Continued from page 4
to the neighborhood — such as a donation to the South Street Seaport Museum just a block away from the project. “This is all going to happen as of right, so there’s nothing that can be done from the perspective of negotiating with the developer,” Kramer said. “But there is a moral and financial commitment incumbent on all developers who are moving people into the neighborhood.” Community Board 1 is also warily watching the project, but hasn’t
old legislation, Joseph said. “That would settle the issue once and for all, so that individual private parties won’t be incurring legal fees at the risk of eviction and all these other things,” the legal eagle remarked. Joseph’s clients haven’t decided whether they will appeal — which is an expensive and time-consuming process — but if they did, the case would go to the Appellate Division. A win there would potentially bestow rent-stabilization protections to tenants in thousands of units built under the 421-g. But in that case, Joseph said, the landlord could appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals — the highest court in the state — where the result would be final and binding.
been able to weigh in officially yet. According to Marco Pasanella, CB1’s Waterfront, Parks, and Resiliency Committee chairman, no presentations or applications have come in front of them regarding 80 South Street. But Pasanella added that CB1 would welcome any meeting or presentation, and is looking to invite the developer for informational purposes. Representatives of China Oceanwide Holdings could not be reached for comment.
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May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
Tasty Tribeca Food fest fundraiser returns for 23rd year on May 20 to boost arts in local schools BY JACKSON CHEN Foodies and fundraisers will flood Duane Street on May 20 for the 23rdannual Taste of Tribeca event. The Saturday event kicks off at 11:30 am with more than 60 neighborhood restaurants lining Duane Street between Greenwich and Hudson streets. Patrons will get a tasting card â€” $45 if you preorder, $55 if you buy it the day of â€” that redeems for six dishes and three drinks. The proceeds will go towards arts and enrichment programs for the nearby schools, PS 150 and PS 234. Several restaurants are returning for their 23rd appearance to offer signature dishes, some of which are exclusive to the event. Madeline Lanciani, the owner of Duane Park Patisserie, said sheâ€™s whipping up molten chocolate cakes topped off with bittersweet chocolate sauce that she only makes for the Taste of Tribeca, explaining that her children attended both the public schools the event benefits.
Photo by Shintaro Ueyama
The popular Taste of Tribeca school fund-raiser returns to Duane St. between Greenwich and Hudson Streets on Saturday May 20.
Madeline Lanciani, owner of Duane Park Patisserie, will be serving up a special chocolate cake that she only makes for the Taste of Tribeca.
â€œI was closely associated with the schools, and I still am even though my kids are adults now,â€? Lanciani said. â€œI still contribute to the school because itâ€™s part of the fabric of our neighborhood and part of what makes Tribeca such a cool little town.â€?
Those seeking bittersweet decadence should stop by Lancianiâ€™s booth early, since her molten cakes seem to a crowd favorite. The pastry chef said sheâ€™s expected to provide up to 800 of the cakes, but over the years, sheâ€™s learned to pack a few more. â€œI always make at least 100 extra and even when those are gone, people are still waiting in line for more,â€? Lanciani said. If your sweet tooth is still craving for more, another longtime festival restaurant is offering its take on a simple pastry. Tribeca Grillâ€™s executive chef Scott Burnett said heâ€™d be carrying on
the tradition, offering a honey-glazed French cruller. The festival will also be offering aperitifs and digestifs through the thirdannual Beer and Cider Tour of Tribeca. Visitors can apply two of their tasting cardsâ€™ three drinks to pours of beer or cider from the participating breweries, and use the remaining slot to enjoy one of several non-alcoholic drinks on offer, such as cold-brew coffee or artisanal sodas. And the organizers havenâ€™t forgotten about the tots â€” kids can attend the TASTY TRIBECA Continued on page 12
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May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
Holi moley! Celebrating Indiaâ€™s â€˜Festival of Colorsâ€™ BY COLIN MIXSON Governors Island celebrated the coming of spring with the Hindu festival of Holi this month, where visitors to the island park became walking works of art as they doused each other in brightly colored powders. The event featured musical and dance performances from traditional Indian ensembles, in addition to salsa and jazz bands, while food vendors hawked an international menu of fine cuisine, including crepes, kebabs, and quesadillas. Local ankle biters, meanwhile, were kept occupied with a variety of amusements that included obstacle courses, virtual realty games, and the
obligatory bouncy castle in honor of the holy day. But the main attraction was, of course, the opportunity to hurl balls of colored powder at fellow festivalgoers, in a novel frenzy of tint and dye that turned the islandâ€™s typically green Play Lawn into a kaleidoscope of neon colors. This was the eighth year that organizer NYC Bhangra Dance has brought the free festival to Governors Island. In India, Holi is broadly celebrated by Hindus and non-Hindus alike â€” and while the festival has a range of religious and symbolic meanings, it is always, as on Governors Island, a joyous occasion of merrymaking and dye hurling.
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May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
Photos by Milo Hess
Participants danced, cheered, tossed balls of brightly colored paint powder at each other, and generally welcomed spring at the Holi Hai celebration on Governors Island on May 6. This is the eighth year that NYC Bhangra Dance has organized the free festival.
TASTY TRIBECA Continued from page 10
interactive pasta-making station hosted by Eataly NYC Downtown where theyâ€™ll learn to make pasta from scratch, and get to taste their creation afterwards. Tribeca Grillâ€™s sister restaurant, BĂ˘tard will be making its Taste of Tribeca debut this year. â€œWe knew about the event for quite a while and always wanted to be part of the neighborhood,â€? said BĂ˘tardâ€™s executive chef and co-owner Markus Glocker. â€œItâ€™s nice to have a community around your restaurant and I think itâ€™s a great
event to showcase your restaurant.â€? Combining his Austrian background, affinity for schnitzel, and his co-ownerâ€™s Indiana roots, Glocker will be offering a fried pork tenderloin sandwich with slaw, lettuce, and tomatoes on brioche buns. Just recently coming onto the Tribeca culinary map, Glocker said heâ€™s hoping to get the BĂ˘tard name out into the local scene. â€œTribeca is a fantastic restaurant neighborhood,â€? Glocker said. â€œItâ€™s family driven, people dine out, and people travel down here for the experience. Itâ€™s what we love about it.â€? DowntownExpress.com
Activities LONG-RUNNING DRONES: IS THE SKY THE LIMIT?: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86 (46h St. and 12th Avenue); www.intrepidmuseum.org; Weekdays, 10 am to 5 pm, Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am to 6 pm, until Aug. 31; $33 ($31 seniors; $24, children 5-12; Free children under 5; Ret. & Active Duty Military, Free). The exhibit explores pilotless aircraft and the history of the technology, from its origins in World War I and its military development to its current applications in solving complex humanitarian and commercial challenges. Visitors will be able to fly actual drones and watch the first-person viewpoint of a drone race.
THURS, MAY 18 CINDERELLA SAMBA: Asser Levy Recreation Center, 392 E. 23rd St. www.cityparksfoundation.org/event/
cityparks-puppetmobile-presents-cinderella-samba-2; 10 am to 11 am; Free. This contemporary twist on the classic “Cinderella” fairy tale is presented by The CityParks PuppetMobile and sets the timeless tale in the lush landscape of Brazil, where Cinderella attends Rio de Janeiro’s biggest Carnaval gala to dance the samba with Prince Paulo himself.
FRI, MAY 19 LITTLE NEW-YORKERS: NewYork Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at 77th Street; (212) 873– 3400; nyhistory.org; 3:30 pm; Free with museum admission. Held in the cozy Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library, this program introduces New York and American history to the littlest New Yorkers with age-appropriate readings and engaging hands-on activities. Ages 3–5.
NEW YORK, NEW YEAR: TADA! Youth Theater, 15 West 28th St. between Broadway and Fifth Avenue; (212) 252–1619 X4; www.tadatheater. com; 7 pm; $15 ($25 adults). Tess isn’t in Missouri anymore, will she find her place in the city? Suggested for children ages 3 years and older. The May 7 and May 20 performances are audience interactive and offer a song and dance lesson with members of the castfor children 5 and older and requiring extra admission of $5 per participant.
SAT, MAY 20 BEGINNING BIRDERS: Belvedere Castle Central Park, Mid park about 79th St. (212) 310–6600; www.nycgovparksorg; 10 am to 11:30 am; Free. Bring your family for a guided walk and discover why Central Park is a sanctuary for plants, animals, and humans alike. Learn about the architecture, landscapes, and ecosystems of the park through hands-on exploration using discovery kits — rugged backpacks filled with kid-friendly binoculars, field guides, and hand lenses.
SUN, MAY 21 NEW FAMILIES NEW TRADITIONS: Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place at First Place;
(646) 437–4202; www.mjhnyc.org; 10:30 am to 11:30 am; $10 (free for children and grandchildren of members). Join the musical group Yellow Sneaker and their puppet pals for programs that nurture family bonds and bridge connections to Jewish life and traditions. KIDS ‘N’ COMEDY: Gotham Comedy Club, 208 West 23rd Street; (212) 877–6115; www.kidsncomedy. com; 1 pm; $18 plus one item minimum (food or drink). Moms and dads don’t always understand, but these teen comics help you over the humps and hard stuff. For ages 9–18. JAZZ FOR KIDS: Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th St. between Park and Lexington avenues; (212) 576- 2232; www.jazzstandard.com; 1 to 3 pm; Free ($5 donation requested). For the 15th season, Jazz Standard hosts its popular brunch to benefit the Jazz Standard Discovery Program. Groove to music by the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra and eat finger-licking good ribs from Blue Smoke. Table reservations requested. $1 from each kid’s menu sold goes to Spoons Across America, which educates children, teachers, and families about healthy eating habits.
COMING IN SEPTEMBER OF 2017
Manhattan. 2 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10011 A new day care center for children ages two to ﬁve will open its door for 2017/2018 school year. The DowntownExpress.com
center will be offering enhanced academic programs, dance/ movement, languages, sports, and art classes. The speciﬁc disciplines will be ﬁnalized based on the enrollment and the selection made
by the parents. For information and application please contact our Main office at 212-938-1223 ext. 112 firstname.lastname@example.org
May 18 – May 31, 2017
Grandeur restored Beekman Street landmark wins award for creating ‘gift to the city’
BY COLIN MIXSON The New York City Landmarks Conservancy awarded the owners of 5 Beekman Hotel and Residences its prestigious Lucy Moses Preservation Award this week for its exquisite work in restoring the 19th-century building’s beloved atrium and grand staircase, which had been closed off for decades and fell in to utter disrepair. The local landmark gurus consider the restored atrium a gift not only to hotel patrons and condo residents, but to all New Yorkers with a passion for architectural beauty, according to the president of the Landmarks Conservancy. “They reclaimed one of the most beautiful buildings in Lower Manhattan for the public to see again,” said Peg Breen. “The atrium is alive and exciting, and when you go in you say, ‘Boy, is this a gorgeous place!’ ” The 134-year-old, eclectic-style, brick and terracotta building at 5 Beekman St. may appear diminutive compared to more modern construction — such as the soaring condo tower the new owner added at the rear — but at its debut in 1883, the nine-story structure towered over its contemporaries. But it was a rooftop skylight that flooded the building with natural light that was considered the Beekman Street structure’s crowning architectural achievement, according to Breen. “The atrium was pretty innovative because it let natural light into interior offices, and it was considered at the time a grand architectural showpiece,” she said.
Over the years, however, new owners with evolving tastes took possession of the Beekman Street office building, and conforming with the styles of their age, they the tore down the historic wallpapers, eviscerated former storefronts and — perversely — sealed off the glorious, light-filled central shaft of the grand staircase with a layer of plaster. “There are times when tastes change, and they think they’re being modern and wonderful by wrecking the original design,” said Breen. “Then, in later years, you realize going back to the original design is best.” The hidden atrium was only known by and accessible to a select few daring architecture, according to Breen, but that all changed when Allan Gross purchased the property in 2011 and took advantage of state and federal preservation tax credits to hire architects Gerner Kornick and Valcarcel to perform extensive renovations on the building that had stood unoccupied for the better part of two decades. In addition to the atrium, Gross and his partners installed new windows, and recreated storefronts, along with restoring the building’s granite entrance. The building at 5 Beekman Street was among 12 projects throughout the city that were awarded the prestigious preservation award in a ceremony at the New York Public Library on May 11. The award recognizes not only achievements in landmark restoration, but also focuses on projects that provide some value to the city at large, according to Breen. “It’s a gift to the city,” she said.
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
(Above) By the early 2000s, the once-grand staircase was so dilapidated that it looked like a dystopian set from the movie “Blade Runner.” (Below) Massive investment and preservation efforts have restored the grand stairway to its former glory.
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
(Above) The once-grand lobby was stripped of its fi xtures and left to decay as the building languished for decades awaiting redevelopment. (Right) Now the lobby of 5 Beekman St. gives visitors a taste of the grandeur of its 1883 debut.
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CRANES Continued from page 2
An investigation by the Department of Buildings, on the other hand, held crane operator Kevin Reilly responsible for the crash, and moved to suspend the crane manâ€™s license, while advocating the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing revoke his license permanently.
File photo by Milo Hess
A 565-foot crane collapsed along two blocks of Worth Street on Feb. 5, 2016
Thurs., May 18â€“Wed., May 24
ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES IN EFFECT ALL WEEK Special Alert: Financial District streets shut down during Thursdayâ€™s afternoon rush hour! The American Heart Association Wall Street Run, will kick off a busy week for streets in Downtown Manhattan. Streets will start closing around 5 pm as runners mass on Greenwich and Warren streets. At round 6 pm, runners will begin a zig-zag route, turning onto Church Street then heading down to Liberty Street. From there, theyâ€™ll turn onto William Street heading south, and via Broad Street, theyâ€™ll continue to Pearl Street. Taking Pearl Street north, runners cut across John Street to Water Street, following it all the way to the Battery, along State Street, and end at Brookfield Place. Church, Broadway, West and other north-south streets will be affected. On weekdays from 8 pm to 5 am, expect jams along Canal Street
between Varick and Allen streets due to construction work in the area â€” this will cause turbulence at the Holland Tunnel and the Manhattan Bridge. At the Manhattan Bridge, one lane will be closed on the Lower Roadway from 10 am to 3 pm on Friday and one lane in both directions on the Upper Roadway from 10 pm Friday to 5 am Saturday. From 10 pm Wednesday to 5 am on Thursday, FDR Drive closures at the Houston Street Overpass will cause the following diversions in both directions: northbound cars, take Avenue C to the FDRâ€™s 23rd Street entrance, southbound cars will take FDR exit 5 and reenter via a service road. From 11 am to 3 pm on Saturday, Taste of Tribeca will close Greenwich Street between Jay and Reade streets, and Duane Street between Greenwich and Hudson streets, diverting uptown and downtown traffic to West Street via Chambers Street. The Dance Parade, on Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm, will head down Broadway beginning at 21st Street,
proceeding onto Union Square West, then University Place, all the way to 8th Street. From there, participants will make their way along 8th Street to Avenue A, dispersing along Avenue A between 7th and 12th streets, and along Tompkins Square Park on 7th and 10th streets. This will cause slowdowns along Fifth and Park Avenues, 14th and 17th streets, and other cross streets along the route. Sundayâ€™s NYPD Memorial 5K Run, from 10 am to 1 pm, will close southbound West Street between Albany and W. 12th streets, as well as Liberty Street between South End Avenue and West Street, and southbound West Street between Chambers and North Moore streets. On Monday at 6:30 pm, the Parsons Spring Benefit will honor Rihanna, among others, at Chelsea Piers, off the West Side Highway between 21st and 22nd Streets. The VIP and media presence will cause southbound delays on the West Side Highway. As we approach Memorial Day, on Monday, May 29, expect traffic to freeze in Lower Manhattan throughout the week. Stay tuned for details in next Thursdayâ€™s column and follow me on Twitter @Gridlock Sam for the rundown.
â€œA strikingly intimate portrait of a man who has often seemed as private and remote as he is heroic.â€? 2 E &%*( +* % *&(Rolling Stone **(# & &*(&+% %# **#"%&-%)*&( ) &+* &%)(&$ ## $)&+ ( % )%")*$$*) &%* #*&( #.%&%(&% (%" %*( 0%((* ,'(&, )-&%(+## $'))& &/) %*( *. " %%))%)%) * , *.'&(*(. % $)&$'# *$%-& !#&+)#.+( ) $1 2Publishers Weekly , ##-(,(&&")&&")%+ &&&")()&# $&%%+)*(&$
May 18 â€“ May 31, 2017
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May 18 – May 31, 2017
BY LENORE SKENAZY Do you know what a Finsta is? Neither did I, because I am not between the ages of 13 and 34. Anyone 13 to 18 is “Gen Z,” and those aged 18 to 34 are the much-discussed Millennials. Dan Coates studies them both. His company yPulse is a marketing research firm based in Manhattan, and lately some of its research has been on Finstas. Finstas are fake Instagram accounts that are actually more real than a person’s so-called “real” Instagram account. On a Finsta account, he explains, “Teens only accept their closest friends and post funny or embarrassing photos for the enjoyment of their few followers.” In other words, it is a window into their imperfect life. But on their “real” Instagram account — that is, a social media account where people can share pictures and captions — they post perfection. In fact, Coates said, Instagram users take an average of eight photos for every one that they post, which means that their friends or followers are seeing a highly selective, cropped, and filtered version of their lives. Instagram pictures are to real life what Vogue’s fall fashion spread is to the average person wearing, well, clothes. Naturally, if you are taking eight pictures for every one you post, that’s a lot of snapping. Young folks “feel like there’s always some sort of camera on,” says Coates. “So they’re always ‘on.’ ” They are also worried about which moments should and should not be recorded. It is like sitting at the control panel and editing a movie of your life. Constantly. This new pressure — and the pressure of seeing all your other friends looking their best, happiest, and skinniest all the time — may explain why this generation of young people is so anxious.
“More than half say, ‘I often feel overwhelmed.’ Sixty percent say, ‘Social situations make me feel anxious.’ More than 50 percent say, ‘I constantly feel stressed,’ ” said Coates. That is an unprecedented level of worry. The worry manifests itself in a couple ways. On campus there’s been a “huge increase” in students seeking personal counseling. But another trend Coates has noted is the “Fear of Burning Out,” in which young people recognize that this media obsession as too consuming, and deliberately take a break. As a gal who has tried her own digital detox and generally failed within several long minutes of not checking my e-mail, all I can do is wish them luck. When not worrying about how their life looks to the world — or whether they’re having some kind of breakdown — Millennials are completely obsessed with food and drink. Even though I was the last to hear about the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino (currently being sued by Brooklyn’s End Cafe for being a ripoff of its Unicorn Latte), the drink is still being shared on social media, in part because it is a gorgeous swirl of colors and sprinkles. But also, like the Cronut before it, this is a novelty food that confers status on whoever gets one. Snap! A much lovelier trait the Millennials seem to share is their inclusivity. The generations before them, says Coates, were far more cruel. “One false move and you were exiled. You got a nickname and everything went downhill from there.” But today’s young people have
lots of friends, including some who’d have been outcasts in an earlier era. When Coates and his team interview Millennials, “We’ll say, ‘We totally get all your friends — except Phil.’ They say, ‘Yeah, we get it, there’s a lot going on with Phil. But if you ever need advice on the Android operating system…’ It’s like they’re stockpiling tools and resources.” It’s also like they’re just not into excluding people, perhaps because they were raised by the generation that brought us flower children and the peace movement. Coates theorizes that “after going through the ’60s and trying to change the system, I think an entire generation of Boomer moms decided, ‘Okay. Mixed results. We haven’t changed society, but I’m going to start with my own family.’ ” It may be no coincidence that the Millennials’ concerns are the same as their parents’ — race relations, gender equality, tolerance — just taken a step further. Says Coates, “My kids were proud to be part of the gay-straight alliance the whole time they were in high school.” Like their parents, young people also expect to save the world, although sometimes they do this with a credit card. “I used to just buy shoes. But now when you buy shoes you somehow must be shoeing people on the other side of the planet,” says Coates. “Your every act as a consumer somehow has to create a positive net effect.” That’s a worthy goal, even if a multicolored frappuccino may be a particularly sweat-free, status-boosting, camera-ready way to achieve it. Snap! Lenore Skenazy is founder of FreeRange Kids, a contributor to Reason. com, and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?”
museum’s early 19-century buildings. The city is now determining how to spend its cultural development budget for 2017 which should include the museum to help with critical restoration of the disabling damage that hurricane Sandy did to restore it to its
rightful, full operating condition. Now is the time for the city planners and leaders to embrace and support our last visible historical seaport symbolic site of the seafaring activities that originally made our city great. Sy Schleimer
Letters To the Editor: South Street Seaport Museum is a historical treasure. It offers a real, physical presence of old moored ships, period shops, and a large museum filled with relics of ancient seaport activities and history located whose housing is the
SOU N D O F F! W R ITE A LETTE R TO TH E E D ITO R! E D ITO R@ D O W NTO W N EX P R ES S . C O M DowntownExpress.com
Indisputable Avalanche as Tip of Iceberg Trying times for Trump’s tired alpha act BY MAX BURBANK Hey, gang, here’s a quick, fun question: Is the United States in the midst of a constitutional crisis? That’s a difficult legal question, sadly, complicated by the fact there is no single agreed upondefinition of the phrase. Facts absolutely no one disputes are hard to come by right now, but here’s one, and it’s a good enough starting place: May 9, President Donald Trump fires FBI Director James Comey — something he, as president, indisputably has the authority to do. That’s the last clear thing we can say about anything that’s happened since before that tiny fact nugget began to roll down a massive mountain, gathering snow and ice as it tumbled, dislodging millions of other bits of frozen debris, and becoming a single, thunderous, wave of destruction! Except that first fact wasn’t metaphorical snow. It was a dung ball careening down a mountain of crap. In the absence of an official definition of a constitutional crisis, I’ll offer mine: A turd avalanche. A turdvalanche? Is there anyone willing to argue that the United States is not currently experiencing a vast, catastrophic, turdvalanche? An avalanche is a wave phenomenon that can’t be analyzed in terms of its individual parts. Past the instant of Comey’s firing, is any specific event pivotal? Does the ludicrous initial explanation that Trump was yielding to the Justice Department’s desire to dismiss Comey on account of how gosh darn mean he was to Hillary Clinton matter? Wasn’t that made irrelevant by Trump’s letter of termination, where he thanked Comey for informing him that he was not under investigation for that whole silly old Russia business? And wasn’t that eclipsed when Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt he was going to fire Comey anyway because he was a “showboat” and a “grandstander,” and a general pain in the ass over that whole fake Russia deal? Didn’t that make Jefferson Beauregard “World’s Most Adorable Li’l Racist Garden Gnome” Sessions violation of his recusal a pointless nonfactor? Once an avalanche gets rolling, does cause and effect apply, or is everything contributing all at once? Is Sean Spicer’s hiding in the bushes an important contributing factor, or just hilarious? Did he refuse to speak to reporters until they turned off their lights because of his crushing shame and embarrassment, or is he a vampire? DowntownExpress.com
Russian Foreign Ministry photo via AP
L to R: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US President Donald “good intel” Trump, and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak meet at the White House on May 10 for a TASS-only photo shoot.
Trump somehow didn’t seem to understand that firing the man investigating you for colluding with Russia makes it look just a tiny bit like maybe you are actually guilty of colluding with Russia. So it should come as no surprise that the only thing on Trump’s schedule the next day was… meeting with the Russians! That pairs nicely with following up a full day of being called “Nixonian” by meeting with Nixon’s old partner in war crimes, former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. Lacking the gene for experiencing irony may not be the root cause of metaphorical avalanches, but it certainly helps them gain deadly speed and force. Wait, though, we’re really only halfway down the hill. Trump met totally unsuspiciously with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov because Putin asked him to. Also in attendance was Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak — who you might remember as the guy Michael “Former National Security Adviser” Flynn got fired for lying about talking to, and the guy who Sessions had to recuse himself from all things
Russian for lying about talking to. It’s funny, because Kislyak’s name isn’t on the president’s schedule for the day. We only know he was there because of photos published by TASS, Russia’s official state news agency. With true middle school panache, they were invited and the American press was barred. And here comes the bottom of the hill. During the meeting Trump revealed highly classified information, in the process jeopardizing a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State. Information provided by a US partner that we withheld from allies because of its sensitivity, a partner who I would guess would be far less likely to share intelligence with us again. Why? Could be Trump is truly in the Kremlin’s pocket. He’s paying them off for electing him president; he owes them buckets of money; they really have the pee tape; who knows? Here’s a sadder possibility: He did it for the same reason he told Billy Bush he could grab women by the pussy. He wanted to impress them. They’re Putin’s inside henchmen, the people closest to a dic-
tator with an iron first — everything Donald Trump dreams of being. Trump was showboating, grandstanding. He’d had a really bad night and he needed to look big and tough and alpha, so he bragged about the “great intel” he gets briefed on every day. Could be both, I guess. Either way, given that — plus the Comey memo shocker that came to light on May 16 — shouldn’t we be warming up impeachment hearings or priming the pump on the 25th Amendment? As of press time, this is where we were. Anything could have happened by the time you read this. Maybe right now you’re thinking, “Why is he writing about all this when since then, Trump stopped wearing pants, slapped a fake nose and eyeglasses on his wiener, and started walking on his hands insisting everyone talk to his junk?” See, when I said this was the bottom of the hill? I may have lied a little bit, on account of how scary this all is. More likely we hit a plateau, and just a little further on is another precipitous drop, and then another, and another. Most folks caught in an avalanche never live to see the actual end of it. May 18 – May 31, 2017
Mother, Manilow, Mania, Murder Bonus content abounds on Blu-ray of John Waters’ ‘Serial Mom’ BY SCOTT STIFFLER You’re in candid and charming and proudly perverse company when watching a John Waters film with John Waters. “Now this of course is one of my favorite scenes,” the writer-director notes on his audio commentary, just moments before Baltimore housewife Beverly Sutphin beats an annoying neighbor to death with a leg of lamb. “It has everything; murder, shrimping, dog abuse.” Actually, the dog thing is up for interpretation. “No,” he quickly course corrects, “it wasn’t dog abuse, basically, because you just put butter on your toes and a dog will lick your toes all night — one thing we discovered.” That odd little tip is among the many amazing facts and enlightening anecdotes awaiting the discovery of fetish neophytes and Waters completists alike, when they spend a few hours soaking in the bonus content on the Blu-ray collector’s edition of “Serial Mom” — released from the Scream Factory imprint in time for, depending on her sense of humor, a belated Mother’s Day gift. Before exploring other revelations peppered throughout the extras on that well-appointed release, this publication had to ask a tough, nagging question at the onset of our recent phone interview with the director who filmed such startling acts as anal stimulation via rosary beads (1970’s “Multiple Maniacs”), feces ingestion (1972’s “Pink Flamingos”), and puke (see most of his oeuvre). Are there, we asked of the “Serial Mom” scene with those buttered-up toes, other cinematic instances of canine-on-human-shrimping? “There are a lot of shots where dogs shove their nose in someone’s crotch,” Waters deadpanned, “but I don’t know. There could be. But off the top of my head? My dog-shrimping history? I don’t know that there’s another one; but I could be proven wrong.” No matter. “Serial Mom” can certainly claim its share of unique moments, as well as unprecedented elements for a John Waters film: first sets to be built from scratch (interiors for the Sutphin home), first use of a stuntman (the con-
May 18 – May 31, 2017
cert immolation scene), highest budget ($13 million), and first casting of a mainstream Hollywood star in the lead female role. It’s also the most amount of money the director ever laid out for music rights (more on that later). Released in 1994, “Serial Mom” is Waters’ sendup of suburban banality and true crime dramatizations. Turner, as the well-composed titular menace, bristles at the slightest indignity visited upon son Chip (Matthew Lillard as a blood and gore film fan), blossoming daughter Misty (Ricki Lake, who launched a successful talk show in Sept. 1993), and husband Eugene (Sam Waterson, giving a richly flummoxed performance familiar to fans of his work on the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”).
SERIAL MOM’S STANDARDS SHARED BY HER CREATOR
Photo by Greg Gorman
John Waters’ only regret in life is not accepting that offer for a Barry Manilow MasterCard.
Courtesy Shout! Factory
L to R: Mink Stole and Kathleen Turner as, respectively, the victim and perpetrator of a cruel prank. John Waters credits 1959’s “Pillow Talk” as the source of his affinity for the split screen technique.
“She’s the Breck Girl gone crazy,” says Waters in the making-of featurette, when commenting on Turner’s cheerful but easily crossed mother — who secretly purchases books with titles like “Helter Skelter” and “Hunting Humans,” corresponds by cassette tape with Ted Bundy (Waters, in an uncredited voice-over), and phone pranks her divorced neighbor Dottie Hinkle (Mink Stole) into uttering obscenities. “She thought she was doing the right thing,” Waters told us. “Serial Mom had the right morals, she was just... well, talk about a reactionary.” Stopping short of condoning the ultimate punishment Sutphin doles out more times than you can count on one hand, the character’s creator readily admitted, “I agree with some of the stuff Serial Mom does, like no white after Labor Day.” Waters noted he’s also in the “no velvet before Thanksgiving” camp, adding, “I’m right wing on fashion rules.” Like wife-ofa-dentist Beverly, who makes a visiting detective spit out his gum, Waters told us, “I hate it. It makes me crazy if somebody’s sitting next to me on a plane chewing gum. I feel like I could drag them off, like United Airlines. That’s SERIAL MOM continued on p. 24 DowntownExpress.com
Buhmann on Art Shirin Neshat: ‘Dreamers’ at Gladstone Gallery
Copyright Shirin Neshat; courtesy the artist & Gladstone Gallery, NY & Brussels
Shirin Neshat: Untitled, from “Roja” series (2016).
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN While the Iranian-born and New York-based Shirin Neshat has focused on issues of gender, identity, and politics in Muslim countries for years, she now turns her attention to an investigation of American culture. In this exhibition, she explores the burdened and complex life of an Iranian living in the United States dur-
ing today’s tumultuous climate. By presenting both a new film entitled “Roja” as well as a new series of photographs, Neshat invites her audience to confront the ambivalence of living across two cultures, which between them are rife with friction. Over time, Neshat has developed a unique visual language that manifests as a poetically
abstracted epic, often utilizing recurring dreams, memories, and desires. In “Roja,” we find her inspired by the surrealist films of Man Ray and Maya Deren, among others, as she embarks on a subject with obvious personal overtones. The film traces an Iranian woman’s disquieting attempts to connect with American culture while reconciling her identification
Copyright Shirin Neshat; courtesy the artist & Gladstone Gallery, NY & Brussels
Shirin Neshat: “Roja” (2016, video still). DowntownExpress.com
with her home country. The film is further accompanied by photographs that give Neshat’s well-known series of portraits, covered with calligraphy derived from religious texts and poetry, a new twist. In these works, Neshat focuses on white men and women from the United States. By obscuring and blurring their features, she transforms these portraits
into a metaphor for the mystification that enforces cultural boundaries and prohibits sympathetic attachments across race, class, and nationality. May 19–June 17 at Gladstone Gallery (515 W. 24th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Gallery hours: Tues.–Sat., 10am–6pm. Call 212-2069300 or visit gladstonegallery. com.
Copyright Shirin Neshat; courtesy the artist & Gladstone Gallery, NY & Brussels
Shirin Neshat: “Roja” (2016, video still). May 18 – May 31, 2017
SERIAL MOM continued from p. 22
what I want to do when I see them, without asking them; just grab them by the feet, pull them right out of the chair and up the aisle, right to the jetway. Chew your gum there.” Vivid daydreams of assault, righteous though they may be, seem to come easy to Waters, whose director’s commentary to the film notes, “I have a huge true crime library, probably one of the better ones in America; and I thought, God knows I know about this stuff. But nobody had ever made a movie that I could think of where you rooted for the serial killer to kill more.” Waters goes on to recall the casting of Patricia Hearst, as a juror who runs afoul of the aforementioned fashion stance regarding the seasonal shelf life of white. It’s Hearst’s second appearance in a Waters film (following 1990’s “Cry-Baby”), and the bonus content includes the backstory of how they met. Waters, who attended her 1976 trial, opines on the etiquette of courtroom hag subculture, and Hearst recalls the phone conversation they had during the June 17, 1994 O.J. Simpson white Bronco chase.
MINK STOLE TALKS TECHNIQUE AND TONE What remains the most famous slow police pursuit in history happened just two months after the release of “Serial Mom” — which, longtime Waters ensemble member Mink Stole noted when we spoke with her by phone, contains an eerily predictive scene (the Sutphin family is followed by a phalanx of police cars as they slowly drive to from home to church). “There’s a shine on it,” Stole said of “Serial Mom,” which she called “polished in a way that none of his other films are. I watched it a couple of days ago for the first time in years and it holds up. There’s not a wrong note or an extra beat; it just works. I think you can credit Kathleen for a lot of that,” Stole noted, “but you can also credit John” for “a gradual progression over the course of the years. I mean, we started out in eight millimeter [film stock], and now, here we were in 35 millimeter; and we had money! When we were making ‘Multiple Maniacs,’ there was no money for reshooting. You had to remember your dialogue from beginning to end. With ‘Serial Mom,’ we had the luxury of being able to afford retakes.” Stole said her performance was also a dip into uncharted waters, so to speak. “This was the first movie where John would tell me to take it down,” she recalled, “which was interesting, and
May 18 – May 31, 2017
Courtesy Shout! Factory
A whiz in the kitchen and a killer on the loose: Kathleen Turner as Beverly Sutphin.
an unexpected challenge. What was wonderful about this movie was, there’s an element of restraint to it. Even the scene in the courtroom where I scream and lose control is not the same kind of lunacy as, say, ‘Desperate Living.’ I was aware that the whole film was understated, which is a total departure for John.” Stole’s was especially aware of abiding by that tone in the early phone prank scene, which sets up Stole’s Dottie Hinkle as innocent but easily goaded, while firmly establishing the cat and mouse sadism of its lead character (also notable in the commentary version of this scene is Waters’ nod to 1959’s “Pillow Talk” as the source of his affinity for the split screen technique). “People do like it,” Stole said of the foul-mouthed exchange, in which Sutphin masquerades as a phone company rep who requires Hinkle to use the obscene language she’s been subjected to by her mysterious caller (Serial Mom, of course). “I had to allow myself to be pulled into her sphere,” Stole recalled of working with Turner, “rather than her into mine, and that was great for me.” A later scene, again with Turner as well as Mary Jo Catlett as nosy neighbor and fussy Franklin Mint Faberge Egg collector Rosemary Ackerman, was “like being shot out of a cannon,” Stole said. “I was working with two women I consider consummate professionals. I didn’t want to be bad, and that made me nervous. But Dottie was a little stiff
anyway. She had a personal rigidity, so I was able to incorporate that.” Taking it down more than a few notches paid off. Waters, during the feature commentary version in which both he and Turner watch the film, said of Stole, “I think this is my favorite role she ever did, actually. … The very first day in rehearsal, when I heard Mink calling Kathleen a cocksucker in my living room, I knew my worlds had come together.”
THE HIGH COST OF HIT MUSIC Now back to the matter of what a $13 million budget can buy. That scene with Turner wailing on her neighbor with a leg of lamb (a favorite dish of Waters’ mother) happens as the victim settles in to watch a VHS copy of “Annie,” which she’s told video store clerk Chip Sutphin she won’t be rewinding. The murderous deed happens to the tune of “Tomorrow,” which, on the director’s solo commentary track, Waters pegged as costing $60,000-$70,000. “I don’t know why they just didn’t’ say no,” he told us, about the process of acquiring music rights. “I’ve had many people say no before. They ask for content and I think, oh Christ, there it goes, they’re going to say no. But I think they gave us a really high price, thinking we would say no, because not only do we murder the song, but Kathleen even kills a woman with a leg of lamb in beat with the music, in time. So I think it was
worth the money.” Also of note is the 1976 pop tune “Daybreak,” which Serial Mom sings along with during a high-stress driving situation. “I just thought that Serial Mom would like Barry Manilow’s music,” Waters told us. “I mean, I like it. But ‘Daybreak’ was a mainstream, Middle America hit; and good for him! Barry thought it was funny. He was totally for it.” On the commentary with Turner, Waters recalled, “Later, I got, from Barry, an application to get a Barry Manilow MasterCard.” Pressed for details during our interview, Waters confirmed it wasn’t mere junk mail, but a personal invite from Manilow himself. “I don’t know if it was a joke or not,” Waters said. “I didn’t get one because I already had a MasterCard, but I should have. If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t get a Barry Manilow MasterCard.” The “Serial Mom Collector’s Edition Blu-ray” ($34.93) is available now on retail shelves and via Shout! Factory’s genre entertainment imprint, Scream Factory (shoutfactory.com). Bonus material includes two feature commentary tracks (one from Waters, one with Turner and Waters); a “making-of” featurette; a conversation with Waters, Stole and Turner; a “Serial Mom: Surreal Moments” compilation of interviews with cast and crew; the original theatrical trailer; and the featurette “The Kings of Gore: Herschell Gordon Lewis and David Friedman.” DowntownExpress.com
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
IRISH REP GALA BENEFIT: “SONDHEIM AT 7” Unpredictable but always dependable, Chelsea’s passionately prolific Irish Repertory Theatre is poised to pull up stakes from their West 22nd Street home — but only for one night. Wonderfully welcoming though its recently restored facility may be, there just aren’t enough seats in the house for the crowd expected at this annual gala benefit performance. No less than the legendary Angela Lansbury is set to introduce “Sondheim at 7: Celebrating the Songs of Stephen Sondheim.” Directed and arranged by the Irish Rep’s artistic director Charlotte Moore, with a full orchestra and chorus under the direction of John Bell, the titular 7pm start time lets loose “as many hit songs as we can fit into 90 minutes,” as performed by Broadway stars Nancy Anderson, Melissa Errico, Mark Evans, Danielle Ferland, Malcolm Gets, Jeremy Jordan, Rebecca Luker, Howard McGillin, Ryan Silverman, and
Photo by James Higgins
A star-studded salute to Sondheim is served up at June 13’s gala benefit for the Irish Repertory Theatre (seen here, 2016’s “Finian’s Rainbow”-themed gala).
festival running (and leaping and twisting) its way across all three of the theater’s venues through June 4. May 20’s block party has all the essential elements: food, crafts, and children’s activities — plus the official announcement of a top-secret new undertaking (“the largest capital project in the company’s history”) and, of course, performances and workshops from in-house talent as well as troupes from the surrounding community. So far, the roster includes Al Son Son Tablao Flamenco, DJ Todd Jones, East Village Dance Project, Kinetic Architecture Dance Theater, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Step Team, White Wave Young Soon Kim Dance Co., and indigenous song and dance troupe Silver Cloud Singers. The block party is free. Sat., May 20, 11am–4pm in front of La MaMa’s theaters on E. Fourth St. (btw. Second Ave. & Bowery). For info, visit lamama.org.
WEST VILLAGE CHORALE SPRING CONCERT: “AMERICAN VOICES” Photo by Whitney Browne
La MaMa showcases in-house and community talent, at their May 20 “Dancing in the Street Block Party” (Pua Ali’i Ilima O Nuioka, seen here from 2011, returns this year).
Max Von Essen (and that’s just the lineup they had as we went to press). The selections are equally impressive displays of high quality and name recognition, from the likes of “Sweeney Todd,” “Into the Woods,” “Gypsy,” “Company,” “West Side Story” and more. Tues., June 13, 7pm at Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St., btw. Broadway & Sixth Ave.). Single ticket packages start at $100. Cocktail and dinner packages at Bryant Park Grill start at $500. To purchase, visit irishrep.org or call 212-727-2737.
LA MAMA: “DANCING IN THE STREET BLOCK PARTY” Fifty-five daring, daffy, enigmatic, and engaging seasons after Ellen Stewart started it all by giving voice to DowntownExpress.com
Photo by Phil Armstrong
Songs of spiritual awakening fill the Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church at May 21’s spring concert from the West Village Chorale.
Off-Off Broadway’s emerging vocabulary, La MaMa remains a dependable destination for ambitious, innovative art of all stripes — but it’s the medium of movement that’s front and center at this epic block party, which coincides with the start of “La MaMa Moves,” a dance
The nonsectarian, independent chorus that adds your voice to theirs every December at a “Messiah Sing” concert and a Caroling Walk through their beloved namesake neighborhood has chosen, for their 2017 Spring Concert, a program whose selections will fill the towering Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church with testimonies of spiritual awakening and hope. Drawing on the work of American composers, the selections range from traditional spirituals by Alice Parker and Moses Hogan to 20th century classics by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. A Chorale commission will premiere Thomas Jefferson Peters’ “Good-Night” (a setting of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley), and former Chorale leader Michael Conley is represented by an excerpt from his “Appalachian Requiem.” Colin Britt, the Chorale’s current artistic director, conducts, with Elena Belli on piano. Sun., May 21, 6pm at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, at Thompson St.). Advance tickets are $25 general admission, $10 for students. At the door, $30 general, $15 students. To order, and for more info, visit westvillagechorale.org. May 18 – May 31, 2017
Bill Hoffman’s Mark on Artistic, Gay, and Jewish Life Caffe Cino pioneer, playwright of Broadway’s ﬁrst AIDS story, librettist was 78 ator, Beaumarchais, and the fabled Marie Antoinette, the ghost of whom Beaumarchais’ ghost is in love with. The at-once historical and magical tale is deftly constructed around Beaumarchais’ lesser-known sequel to these plays, “La Mere Coupable,” which takes place in the throes of the French Revolution that the earlier plays take place Courtesy Gay City News on the cusp of. William M. Hoffman, 1939-2017. So long as there will be opera, it’s a Versailles,” the opera he co-created certainty that “Ghosts of Versailles” with his lifelong friend and collaborator will find an enduring place for itself composer John Corigliano. One of the alongside “The Barber of Seville” and most prestigious events in American “The Marriage of Figaro.” Though it operatic history, this very grand opera hasn’t happened as such yet, it’s an was a world premiere commission by ideal triology project for future directhe Metropolitan Opera to mark the tors and opera companies. A “Figaro” cycle, like the “Ring” cycle. 100th anniversary of the company. In a life of contributions as rich Still early in her career, Renée Fleming, now retiring from the opera and varied as Bill’s, this remembrance stage, played the co-starring role of will perforce omit much. But mention Countess Almaviva. The opera recaps, should also be made here of the work comments on, and develops the stories he did on restoring the reputation and of some of opera’s most famous and place of the librettist as co-creator. beloved characters — that jack of all Hoffman felt that just as Da Ponte is arts and trades (and hearts) Figaro recognized and celebrated as the coand those paragons (and parodies) creator of Mozart’s operas, so should of nobility, the Almavivas. They are his own contribution be fully recogthe protagonists of two of opera his- nized, a co-equality likewise champitory’s most famous and beloved works, oned by composer Corigliano. It was Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” an uphill battle he was never to win, at and Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.” least not in our own times and in more “Ghosts” is also the story of their cre- traditional operatic venues. Bill went on to write and revise other plays, many of them with gay themes, one of which, “Cornbury,” was an adaptation of an earlier play about the mythic first governor of New York who was known to have cross-dressed. Panoramically, Bill recreated the early New York of the Dutch, Queen Anne, and the Indian wars. The political insights are as endless as the humor. At various points, he hoped to make the play into a musical, which tweaked the interest of Hal Prince. It’s hard to imagine another story that could so sweepingly recreate the early history of TV’S LONGEST RUNNING LGBT NEWS PROGRAM New York. Thursdays at 11 PM on Spectrum 34 &1995 HD, RCN 82, FiOS 33 There were many other projects, Video & Podcast online at www.gayusatv.org
BY LAWRENCE D. MASS William M. Hoffman, who died at age 78 on April 29, was an important and beloved figure in at least three communities: artistic, gay, and Jewish. In each, he left an indelible mark. A pioneer of the precious gems of gay street theater that came together in an anthology he edited, “Gay Plays,” Hoffman, a native New Yorker, was a leading light of Greenwich Village’s legendary Caffe Cino. As a playwright, he is best known as the author of “As Is.” In 1985, it became the first Broadway play about AIDS, following Robert Chesley’s Off-Off Broadway “Stray Dog Story” and preceding the premiere of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart.” “As Is” was a hit and is widely credited, together with “The Normal Heart,” for creating greater public awareness of AIDS and its impact on our lives and times. Following its run on Broadway, “As Is” became a film starring Colleen Dewhurst as the AIDS hospice worker. My eyes still swell with tears when I recall the coup de théâtre that concludes the play. Despite harsh condemnation of homosexuality by the Catholic Church, here was a nun whose compassion for humanity leads her to share the most deeply personal ritual of her charge, a gay man dying of AIDS. Reflecting on their last exchange, she lifts up her hands to reveal her nails, painted red. It was one of those moments that would mark William M. Hoffman as a master of theater, art, and the human heart. Perhaps the pinnacle of Hoffman’s achievement was “The Ghosts of
WE WON’T GIVE IT TO YOU STRAIGHT
May 18 – May 31, 2017
greater and lesser, that Bill worked on, most recently, “Morning Star,” a musical-dramatic co-creation with Ricky Ian Gordon of the infamous 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, in which so many garment workers, most of them young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, perished. The story revolves around a Latvian Jewish family. “Morning Star” was a co-production of the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Goodman Theatre and had its world premiere in Cincinnati in 2015. In the interstices of this work is another issue that hugely preoccupied Bill and which colors everything he ever wrote: his Jewishness. In the many revisions and stagings of his play “Riga” (his parents were Latvian Jews who escaped the Holocaust, in which most of their relatives were murdered), he was deeply concerned about antiSemitism, past, present, and future. In the midst of his work on these plays, he established an informal network of artists and writers concerned about anti-Semitism, among whose regulars were soprano Regina Resnick, writer and feminist Phyllis Chesler, my partner Arnie Kantrowitz, and me. Like many artists, Bill left much undone. But just as there aren’t yet words to say how much he touched our lives, there aren’t yet measures to assess his impact. Because so much of what he had to show and tell us foretold of the future as it recreated the past, it’s certain that the story of William M. Hoffman, like few other artists of our communities and times, awaits a sequel, a “Ghosts” of his life and times. In his later years, he relocated from Soho to Beacon, New York, an hour or so up the Hudson River from Lehman College, where he headed the theater department and directed many original plays and productions for his students who loved him. There, he lived and worked with his husband, Russ Taylor. My last visit with them was in January. Bill had been suffering from increasingly serious and frequent illnesses, many of them stemming from severe arthritis. His role as perhaps my closest friend for more than a quarter century is inestimable. May he rest in peace. But may his ghost haunt us forever. DowntownExpress.com
May 18 â€“ May 31, 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
May 18 – May 31, 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.
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.
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.
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.
May 18, 2017