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OFFICE OF CITY COUNCILMEMBER BEN KALLOS

Parents Demand Seats in Upper East Side Pre-K “Desert”

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Amid Proliferation Fears,

UWS Skyscraper Challenged BY JACKSON CHEN

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ven as skyscraper construction creeps further north in Midtown, neighborhood organizations are taking a stand against what could be the tallest building on the Upper West Side by filing a formal zoning challenge. At 668 feet tall and rising more t ha n 50 stor ies, t he proposed building at 200 Amsterdam Avenue would be the record-holder for height north of 60th Street, according to Landmark West! ’s president Kate Wood. The project, with Department of Buildings filings dating back to last September, is being undertaken by Mitsui Fudosan America and SJP Properties, whose website states there will be 112 “luxury residence units” with access to “state-of-theart club-style interiors.” The towering building is slated for the former site of the Lincoln Square Synagogue, which has moved down the street to 180 Amsterdam Avenue. At a May 3 town hall meeting, hundreds of residents came out to hear a critique of the project by George Janes, a zoning and land use consultant recently retained by the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, a West Side neighborhood group. According to Janes, the developer’s claim to as-of-right authority to move ahead is enabled by the fact that it sits on a zoning lot that totals more than 110,000 square feet, allowing its staggering height. That zoning lot’s boundaries zigzag from Amsterdam to West End Avenues and from West 67th to 70th Streets in a configuration that Janes said he has never seen before. Wood asserted that the unusual zoning lot shape has elicited strong reactions from other real estate industry professionals. “Ever yone who sees that who has been involved in land use, zoning, or real estate just gasped because it’s so outrageous,” she

2

GEORGE JANES

The red-outlined zoning lot for the proposed development at 200 Amsterdam Avenue (in yellow) includes the building at 200 West End Avenue, at the corner of West 70th Street.

said. “It really does raise a question: If they’re going to allow that here, what other sort of aggressive interpretations are they going to allow on other sites?” With work on the building foundation already underway, Janes and the Committee for Environmentally Sound Development prepared a zoning challenge filed by the May 15 deadline to dispute the project’s legality. As he worked to finalize the papers, Janes said he was focused on two grounds for the challenge — the requirement that all properties within a zoning lot have accessibility to the open space created as part of the development and the legality of previous changes to the zoning lot’s boundaries. Digging through old documents, Janes discovered that the existing zoning lot for 200 Amsterdam Avenue was created through two subdivisions, one around 2007 and more recently in 2016. Janes explained that the group he represents would challenge how each of those subdivisions was carried out. On the question of open space ac c e s sibi l it y, he p oi nte d out

that the project’s zoning lot also includes 200 West End Avenue, but its residents have said they do not have access to the 200 Amsterdam development project’s open space. If both of those challenges prove unsuccessful, Janes said, there could be other legal avenues to pursue in blocking the project or requiring its modification. The Committee for Environmentally Sound Development’s president, Olive Freud, said she hopes the group’s challenge will convince the developers to seek a more modest alternative to their current plans. “We can’t stop it, they have a right to build in the area,” Freud said, explaining that the goal is to inf luence its final scope. The critical issue, she said, is preventing the project from setting a precedent that could be replicated throughout the neighborhood. “ This is just the beginning,” Freud said of the emergence of skyscraper development in the neighborhood. “If we ever let this building go up, it’s going to be all over the West Side.” Representatives for SJP Properties could not be reached for comment.

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A rendering of a new luxury residential tower planned for the Upper West Side.

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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Garodnick’s Would-Be Successors

Courting the Political Clubs BY JACKSON CHEN

C

ompetition for the City Council District 4 seat that is being vacated after this fall’s election has attracted more than half a million dollars in fundraising spread across a dozen eager candidates. With the district represented since 2006 by Dan Garodnick, who now faces term limits, those vying to succeed him are all competing to garner name recognition — at this stage through political club appearances and endorsements. T he dist r ict r uns dow ntow n from East 98th Street, between Fifth and Park Avenues, widening as it goes south and including all of Midtown East before ending at Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. The city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) records, as of May 15, indicate that 12 candidates, 10 of them planning to run in the September 12 Democratic primary, have formed official committees and raised a collective total of $505,781. Handicapping the contest at this date, the race has a clear fundraising leader, a candidate with the highest number of endorsements from elected officials, but also a contender who appears to be an early favorite among local Democratic activists. Far a head of her opponents, Marti Speranza leads the fundraising scramble, with $176,409 collected so far, according to the CFB. Speranza currently serves on Community Board 5, the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, and as the director for Women Entrepreneurs NYC, a city initiative to empower female business owners. A s w it h her r iva ls, t he CB5 member talked about her readiness to speak up for the community through a local government elective post in order to tackle the district’s most pressing issues. “Obv iously we have a major affordability crisis in terms of

4

JACKSON CHEN

Council District 4 contenders Marti Speranza, Keith Powers, and Bessie Schachter address the Four Freedoms Democratic Club on May 15.

housing, and our small businesses are being pushed out of our neighborhoods,” Speranza told a meeting of the Four Freedoms Democratic Club on May 15. “Although I’m concerned, I’m really optimistic, I believe in the power of the local government and the impact it can have on our communities.” With $98,080 in his political war chest, Keith Powers has raised just over half of what Speranza has, but he dominated the vote by Four Freedoms, winning 27 votes to four for his next nearest rival. A thirdgeneration resident of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, he is a Democratic district leader and chairs Community Board 6’s Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee. The district’s other two major Democratic clubs have not yet weighed in on the race, with the Lexington Democratic Club taking it up on May 25 and the Lenox Hill Democratic Club on May 31. Powers told the Four Freedoms club that his lifelong experience in the neighborhood in addition to his work as former Assemblymember Jonathan Bing’s chief of staff would make him an effective councilmember. Ben Kallos, the incumbent councilmember for neighboring District 5, previously worked with Powers under Bing and, explaining that

he needs more progressive allies on the Council, offered him a pat on the back. “I know [Powers] actually wants to do the constituent services and do the parts of the job that those people don’t want to do,” Kallos said in an apparent allusion to the other candidates. Following the top two fundraisers, Bessie Schachter has reported $61,011 to the CFB. Schachter recently resigned from her post as director of community outreach and scheduling for State Senator Liz Krueger so she could pursue her campaign. She is emphasizing the district’s housing affordability and livability as issues she plans to zero in on. “I’ve never been in a situation where I had to talk to so many people every day who are just struggling to make ends meet,” Schachter said of what she’s heard during her campaigning. “I’m literally talking to people two or three times a week who didn’t know if they could pay rent for the next month.” The candidate said she would address the housing situation in a three-fold manner — through auditing the programs that allow developers tax breaks for including affordable housing, by providing legal services for those facing Housing Court actions, and by securing additional funding to

address the homelessness crisis. Schachter boasts several early endorsements from elected officials, including Upper West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal and East Side Assemblymember Dan Quart, as well as Ron Kim, a Queens assemblymember, and George Latimer, a Westchester County state senator. Trailing behind the campaign coffers’ top three, Jeffrey Mailman, who has served as legislative director for Queens Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and is a former member of Community Board 6, has raised $45,012. The other Democratic contenders in the race include public relations executive Rachel Honig, who has raised $24,347; former diplomat-turned-schoolteacher Vanessa Aronson, whose filings show $19,612 in funds; technology entrepreneur Alec Hartman, who has $8,250 on file; and Maria Castro, who was a delegate to this year’s Democratic National Convention, with $7,445 in her campaign. Neither Diane Grayson nor Barr y Shapiro has reported any funds raised, to date. On the Republican side, Rebecca Harary has raised $27,611 and Melissa Jane Kronfeld has garnered $38,005. Incumbent Garodnick could not be reached for comment about the field of would-be successors.

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Parents Demand Seats in Upper East Side Pre-K “Desert” BY JACKSON CHEN

E

ach day, Irina Goldman consults a printout of local schools and their contact information. Going down the list, she calls or emails them to find out if there’s a ny movement on t he severa l Upper East Side pre-kindergarten programs that her four-year-old daughter has been waitlisted for. And the schools’ responses are the same. “ You’re st i l l 252,” G old ma n recalled of one school’s reminder of her daughter’s spot in the waitlist. “Every day I’m calling the eight schools. I’m getting sick over it.” Goldman is a mother to just one of the hundreds of four-year-olds seeking a pre-K seat on the Upper East Side but waitlisted due to a scarcity of available spots. According to the Department of Education (DOE), there were 461 available seats in the area from East 59th to 96th Streets, between Central Park and the FDR, for the 698 applications it received. The agency added that not every application was for an UES seat, and applications don’t equate to families committing to a school. For Goldman and other parents who have not secured a seat, it’s a daily struggle trying to figure out their children’s educational fortunes for the next school year. “It sounds dramatic,” Goldman said. “But when you’re the one going through it and you don’t know where to put your four-yearold, it feels important.” Every school has an individual waitlist, the UES mother said, adding that her daughter, Sophia, was number 45 in their zoned school at P.S. 290 on East 82nd Street. But after speaking with the school reps, she said even 45 seemed like an unreachable number. A lternatively, Goldman, who lives on East 83rd Street, said she was offered a pre-K seat in the Financial District. However, the 45-minute commute from the UES

OFFICE OF CITY COUNCILMEMBER BEN KALLOS

On the cover is Irina Goldman, a frustrated parent of a four-year-old with no neighborhood pre-K option yet available for next fall who spoke out an April 30 event attended as well by State Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, and State Assemblymembers Dan Quart and (obscured by James in this picture) Rebecca Seawright.

seemed to pose a safety issue on top of being a logistical nightmare. “ We d id n’t accept t hat seat because it’s physically impossible,” Goldman said. “I also don’t feel comfortable being that far away from my four-year-old. W hat if there’s an emergency?” Goldman’s account rings true with many other parents dealing with waitlists. According to Maria Mulic, an East 80th Street resident, her son, who is also zoned for P.S. 290, was offered a spot in the Financial District. “We’re obv iously ver y disappointed not to get a spot in the zoned school,” Mulic said. “What I was outraged about was that the administration feels that it’s acceptable for a child to go 45 minutes each way, that they consider this a viable option.” Mulic has given up on the applications process after the Round 2 deadline that just passed on May 9. Instead of dealing with the UES’ pre-K desert, she said, she’s likely to enroll her son into a parochial school that comes at a steep cost to her family. But for others, like Goldman, paying for private school was outside of t heir fina ncia l mea ns. Stuck with no real solutions, Goldman and other UES parents are left appealing to the city for more seats.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

“It’s a very stressful process, and I feel helpless,” Goldman said. “It’s not just me, there are a lot of people on the Upper East Side in the same position as me, and no one knows what to do.” The parents do have allies in government, including UES City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who is pressuring the city to address the situation. Following an April 30 rally with city and state elected officials, Kallos recommended that parents keep pushing by writing to the DOE and the mayor, while including his office in the loop. Accord i ng to K a l los’ cou nt, there are more than 900 kids trying to squeeze into 596 seats in his district, a count that differs from the DOE’s due to his including Roosevelt Island and Midtown East. The councilmember noted that the city has had overall success in increasing the number of pre-K seats and has recently bolstered the area’s seating capacity to 618 through increasing class size to 20 from 18 in addition to introducing 180 new seats. But for the 2017-18 school year, the councilmember noted, the DOE’s seat count for the area shows a net loss of 22. “The problem is that the DOE has started taking seats away this year,” Kallos said. “That was the last straw because as long as

they were increasing seats 200 at a time, I felt like they were doing good work. But as soon as it got to a point where we were losing seats, I felt they were no longer acting in good faith.” K a l los sa id t he cit y shou ld return the seats recently taken away while also approaching private pre-K providers for partnerships. “If it was my word at stake, I would pay whatever it was worth to make sure every kid had a seat in their neighborhood,” Kallos said. Goldman suggested raising the class size limit even further to 22 to accommodate those left without schools. While not ideal, leaving 300 children without pre-K education seemed like a worse option to her. The DOE is aware of the ongoing problem and said it is working on several options to address seat scarcity. According to the department, the School Construction Authority is also in “active negotiations to secure additional pre-K sites on the Upper East Side for coming school years.” “We continue to take steps to add more seats and meet local dema nd,” Will Ma ntell, a DOE spokesperson, said in a written statement. “There is a free, full-

 UES PRE-K, continued on p.12 5


UES Seawall Collapse Spotlights Esplanade Decay For residents who frequent the esplanade, the collapse was a telling sign of its condition. The incident forced the Friends of the East R iver Esplanade to reschedule their May 6 event at the nearby 90th Street Pier park until May 14. According to Jennifer Ratner, the founder and board chair of the Friends group, the parks department has been aware for some time that the stretch of esplanade from East 88th to 90th Streets was in poor condition. She said the Upper East Side portion of the esplanade overall is plagued with rusty railings and crumbling concrete edges. The Friends group has put a particular spotlight on the pier at East 107th Street that has already seen sections collapse into the river. The parks department is planning to remove half of the pier and repair the remainder, but Ratner is advocating for its complete overhaul. “Our group advocated that [the

BY JACKSON CHEN

A

fter a recent heav y rainfall caused a seawall collapse on the East River Esplanade inside Ca rl Schurz Pa rk, Upper East Siders are saying the mishap is a glaring example of the waterfront promenade’s overall deterioration. According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, the downpour on May 5 worsened the compromised state of the esplanade at East 89th Street. The collapse demolished a section of the seawall and its safety railing, and the agency has since set up an eightfoot chain link fence around the site. “The first phase of the East River Esplanade project is designed, and prior to Friday was scheduled to begin reconstruction this summer,” Cr ystal Howard, a parks department spokesperson, said in a written statement. “We are working to expedite reconstruction to address this condition; a timeline is being determined.”

PEGGY PRICE

The site of the East River Esplanade seawall collapse as it looked on May 6.

 ESPLANADE, continued on p.7

New CB8 Push to Name John Jay Pool for Henry Stern D u r i n g t h i s mont h’s P a rk s Committee meet ing, members f i rst lea r ned t hat t he depa r tment had rejected their renami n g resolut ion f rom la st S ep t e m b e r. T h e p a r k s d e p a r tm e nt d e c i s i o n , b a s e d o n i t s policy that parks be dedicated i n s om e b o d y ’s n a m e no e a rlier than three years follow ing their death, was made in Januar y, but CB8 chair Jim Clynes ex pla i ned t hat t he letter was received and filed in the district office but had not been handed off to him or the Parks Committee co-chairs until recently. A January 26 letter from parks department Manhattan borough commissioner William Castro, responding to CB8’s September request, stated, “Your resolution is somewhat premature.” He also wrote, “Many of us at Parks, myself included, benefitted from the many contributions

BY JACKSON CHEN

C

ommunity Boa rd 8 is doubling down on its request to rename the pool in John Jay Park after Henr y Stern, the secondlongest-ser v ing commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreat ion, despite t he cit y’s rejection of the idea earlier this year. D u r i n g a M ay 4 CB 8 Pa rk s Committee meet ing, members unanimously passed a second resolut ion ca lling for a Henr y Stern Pool in the park on York Avenue between East 76th and 78th Streets. CB8 members want to honor Stern, who ser ved 15 yea rs as commissioner in t wo stints — under Mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani — and his lifelong dedication to improving city parks. Stern was a regular at the pool in John Jay Park, even hosting an annual event there to celebrate the city’s public pool system.

6

THOMAS GOOD / NLN

Henry Stern, the former longtime parks commissioner.

 HENRY STERN, continued on p.7 May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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The seawall collapse site was later blocked off by an eight-foot chain link fence.

 ESPLANADE, from p.6 pier] needs repair, but at a certain point we realized it needs a full redo,” Ratner said. “It’s been too many years, and East Harlem should get the kind of pier that other waterfronts have.” Another waterfront advocate, Upper East Side Councilmember Ben Kallos — who co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force — said he was chagrined to learn

of the collapse given that funding was already in place for repairing that section of the promenade. Over the years, the councilmember has identified $49 million in private and public dollars for piecemeal renovations along the waterfront. “I am disappointed that despite having the funding and identifying this portion of the Esplanade that

 ESPLANDADE, continued on p.27

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NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION

The pool at John Jay Park that admirers of Henry Stern hope to have named for him.

 HENRY STERN, from p.6 [ Ster n] made to the agency as commissioner and have a great deal of respect and fondness for him. We will not be able to fulfill the board’s request, but I would like you to tell your members how much we t r uly appreciate t he kind gesture they made by passing this resolution.”

Learning of the rejection just a few days after Stern’s 82nd birthday on May 1, committee members decided to push for more than simply making a gesture. Their second resolution on the issue passed unanimously and is expected to go before the full board on May 17.

 HENRY STERN, continued on p.27

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9


Trump Homecoming Yields

Big Thumbs Down BY JACKSON CHEN

F

or President Donald Trump’s first homecoming visit to New York City, protestors welcomed him with vocal resistance that flanked him every which way. During his brief May 4 stop in the city, Trump met with Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid to honor the 75th anniversary of a joint US-Australian victory over Japan in a battle during World War II. With Trump’s trip announced well in advance, protesters were prepared, launching vocal confrontations at strategic points throughout Manhattan. By 2:30 p.m. the day of his visit, protestors organized by the Working Families Party were gathered at DeWitt Clinton Park at the corner of West 52nd Street a nd 12th Avenue, ready to march south toward the Intrepid at 46th Street. “We have a duty, an obligation to fight back and transform this energy across this country into a powerful and enlightened and informed electoral base,” said Public Advocate Letitia James to the crowd of several thousand that stretched down the avenue. Ba nging pots a nd pa ns, t he protestors chanted, “Not My President! ” a nd bega n t heir ma rch toward the Intrepid. “I have been totally consumed with anxiety listening to all the deregulation and all of the things he’s doing,” Maxine Lubow said of Trump. “So I’m lending my support and my voice to the resistance of our president.” W hen asked to na me specific things she opposed during Trump’s first 100 days in office, Lubow, an Orange County resident, countered, “You’d have to ask the reverse question, is there anything that I’m in support of?” The Working Families protestors were able to march as far as West 47th Street, where block-

10

DONNA ACETO

Rise and Resist and Gays Against Guns activists hoist a rainbow resistance banner created by the late Gilbert Baker, who died on March 31 at his Manhattan home.

DONNA ACETO

JACKSON CHEN

A demonstrator from Housing Works protesting Trump’s anti-immigrant policies near the Intrepid.

Public Advocate Letitia James speaking at DeWitt Clinton Park.

ades were set up to prevent them from getting close to the Intrepid. A second group of several hundred protestors, orga n i zed by Rise and Resist and Gays Against Gu n s, converge d ne a r ba r r icades at West 44th Street and 12t h Avenue, creat ing protest visuals from both the north and the south marring the hoped-for White House tableau of high level diplomacy on parade. Coming from Greenwich Village, Melvyn Stevens was decked out in

a towering costume of Steve Bannon, the White House senior advisor, in a judge’s robe and pulling the puppet strings of marionette Trump. “The man is just blatantly and sickeningly evil,” Stevens said. Asked how the city should welcome a hometown president up from Washington, he said, “I just hope [Trump] stays down there and doesn’t ever come back.” Joining the symphony of resistance, Bronx resident Brian Yank-

DONNA ACETO

Melvyn Stevens as a Steve Bannon puppetmaster.

ou banged on a homemade drum kit of coffee cans and tomato tins to rally the troops. “Everything that he’s done so far has been based in hatred and fear, favoring the rich over the powerless, and we reject all of that,” Yankou said. “I can’t think of a single thing that he’s even accidentally done right.” Yankou said Trump’s actions ranging from pushing to repeal

 HOMECOMING, continued on p.11

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


JACKSON CHEN

City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn speaks to immigration rights advocates assembled several blocks below Trump Tower.

 HOMECOMING, from p.10 Obamacare to cracking down on immigrants and trying to block the entry of refugees, “has been the opposite of what I think American values would stand for.” A third unit of several hundred protesters, organized by the New York Immigration Coalition and the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, mobilized at around 6 p.m. at the corner of East 54th and Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. “This is our New York and you are not welcome here,” Anu Joshi, the deputy director at the Immigrant Action Fund, said. “You cannot marginalize us, you cannot intimidate us, and you cannot divide us, Mr. Trump.” “Up to and including today, Trump has demonstrated again and again that he doesn’t care about the Constitution,” Joshi said. “Well, we’re here to say that doesn’t f ly in this city, that doesn’t fly in our streets. Those aren’t New York values, this is our New York, and we’re here to stay.” Trump — who delayed his arrival in New York to host a Rose Garden celebration of that day’s House vote to repeal Obamacare — never made it to a meeting with Turnbull originally planned for Midtown ahead of the Intrepid event, and he opted not to sleep at his Fifth Avenue penthouse, instead heading for his New Jersey golf club after meeting with the Australian prime minister. “R at her t ha n causing a big disr upt ion in N.Y.C.,” Trump tweeted the day after his appearance on the Hudson River, “I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!” The field on May 4 wasn’t absent of Trump allies, though, as a couple of his supporters wandered around the Intrepid area among a sea of protestors. Ron H., a Staten Island Trump supporter, said he showed up at the Intrepid to support his president, who was “trying to do good.” Surrounded by anti-Trump protestors on all sides, Ron sought to find a pro-Trump refuge somewhere, repeatedly asking police officers, “Is there any nice people over there?” to which an officer quipped, “There’s nice people everywhere.” ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

MAX

11


City Embraces Public Say on

Garment District Future

try in other parts of the city,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said in a written statement. “There is more and more consensus that the outdated preservation requirement has not proven effective at securing this industry the affordable, quality manufacturing space it needs. Thirty years of continuous job losses prove it. It’s time for a new approach to get this industry thriving again.” According to t he a nnouncement, the steering committee would meet for three months before issuing recommendations in advance of the Department of City Planning’s expected start of the public review process on August 21. CB5 was recently involved with the Midtown East rezoning plan — jump-started early in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure, after the collapse of efforts late in Michael Bloomberg’s final term. CB5 was part of the steering committee formed to shepherd that effort through, and the community board is expected to have a seat at the table on the garment industry planning, as well. “We believe that a solution that will

allow the garment industry ecosystem to remain alive and healthy in our district is within our grasp,” CB 5 chair Vikki Barbero said in a statement that thanked the city, Brewer, and City Councilmember Corey Johnson. “We look forward to working with all the stakeholders in the next three months and reaching an agreement about which we can all be proud.” In the announcement of the steering committee, Johnson, whose district includes the Garment District, said, “Community involvement is an indispensible part of creating good public policy. With this steering committee, the city is committing to engage with those most affected by the changes that the Garment District has undergone so far and the challenges it will face in the future.” Given that the rezoning effort for the Garment District involves a considerably smaller area than that affected by the Midtown East rezoning, Brewer — who will chair the steering committee — said three months should be sufficient time provided members begin soon and meet regularly. The borough presi-

dent acknowledged she would have preferred more time, but said the deadline is a reasonable compromise among everybody involved. The city’s willingness to open the process up signals a shift in tone from recent statements from the EDC. The Garment Center Supplier Association submitted its proposal for a rezoning to the EDC, under which 500,000 square feet of space in the district would be set aside for manufacturing use under a scheme managed by the city or a non-profit. The association’s plan was discussed as part of an April 24 public forum convened by Brewer. In reaction to the forum, the EDC, even while agreeing to review the association’s proposal, stated, “The sponsors of the forum offer no realistic path to preserving and strengthening one of New York City’s iconic industries. This is about safeguarding a job-intensive sector for future generations by taking action today.” The new steering committee is still working to confirm its membership, but Brewer said she expects the city agencies, Community Boards 4 and 5, local businesses, unions, manufacturers, and other industry experts to be represented. When asked about the newly formed steering committee, EDC confirmed that it would have a seat at the table. A first meeting date has yet to be determined, but Brewer predicts it will be soon. “I really appreciate the fact that we can have this steering committee,” Brewer told Manhattan Express. “We’ll find a way to make it flexible and make Brooklyn work for some while making sure that manufacturers are able to stay in Manhattan. That ecosystem is incredibly important in Manhattan.”

— across the Upper East Side and all five boroughs — to find the best pre-K seat for their child.” DOE will also be putting out a request-for-proposals this summer for fall semester seats and is plan-

ning to engage the UES community as a part of that. As for immediate answers, parents are left to their own devices, constantly phoning the schools their children are 10th or 100th in line for.

“I don’t know what the next steps are, you hear that things will open up, but as of now nothing’s happened,” Goldman said. “I’m really calling constantly, but like I said, there’s nothing they can do.”

BY JACKSON CHEN

T

o weave more public input into the proposed Garment District zoning change, the city on May 10 announced the creation of a steering committee that would review the controversial proposal and offer its recommendations. The Garment District rezoning plan was first presented during a Community Board 5 meeting in March. Initiated by the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the proposal would remove a zoning mechanism that for decades sought to preserve manufacturing space and instead take steps to stem the encroachment of hotels and to foster the incoming wave of smaller technology, media, advertising, and non-profit enterprises. But these proposals — affecting the area from West 35th to 40th Streets, between Broadway and Ninth Avenue — drew immediate criticism from many garmentos who made clear the city was moving too fast and with little consideration for their business needs. The raucous opposition attracted the attention of elected officials and others, and on April 12, CB5 penned a letter asking for the creation of a steering committee before the city proceeded any further. Backed by both Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — whose borough stands to gain from further migration of the industry out of its traditional base in Midtown — as well as affected community boards, the city recently agreed to create the Garment Industry Steering Committee. “I want to see the Garment Center not just survive, but thrive as a critical hub, even as we grow the indus-

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JACKSON CHEN

Garment industry representatives talk with members of Borough President Gale Brewer’s office during a breakout session after an April 24 forum on the future of Midtown’s traditional Garment District.

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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The crane collapse aftermath in Tribeca in February of 2016.

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ayor Bill de Blasio on May 10 signed into law a bill sponsored by Manhattan City Councilmember Margaret Chin requiring city cranes to be outfitted with tracking devices, the first legislative step in the city’s continuing crackdown on the towering construction devices and their crews following the tragic crane collapse in Tribeca that claimed a man’s life last year. “By signing this bill into law today, we are increasing safety to a standard that residents, workers, and visitors have a right to expect,” said Chin. The new law specifically requires GPS devices to be installed on mobile cranes — one of the 23 recommendations made by a task force convened by de Blasio following the harrowing February 2016 Tribeca collapse. T he sheer number of mobile cra nes l icensed to operate i n New York City — combined with their ability to quickly relocate — can make tracking them difficult despite their towering stature, according to the task force’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, according to the task force.

Ch i n ha s a lso i nt roduced a not he r, mor e t e c h n ic a l bi l l requiring certain measures to be taken by crane crews — including erecting safety zones and formulating safety plans based on wind speeds — which has yet to clear committee. Ch i n has t a ken t he lead on implementing task force recommendations that require legislative action, while Building’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 miles per hour, requiring the installation of windmonitoring devices, and mandating that contractors hire on-site lift coordinators. While the city seeks to tighten regulations 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. 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 ma n’s l icense, wh i le advocating that the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearing revoke his license permanently.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

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EXPRESS YOURSELVES

A Global Community Befitting a Global City PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS JACKSON CHEN LINCOLN ANDERSON BILL EGBERT COLIN MIXSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL LENORE SKENAZY

ART DIRECTOR MARCOS RAMOS

ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY ads@manhattanexpressnews.nyc 718-260-8340

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES GAYLE GREENBERG ANDREW MARK JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO

BY PENNY ABEYWARDENA & GALE BREWER

W

e’re uniquely blessed as New Yorkers. With more than 8.5 million residents and more than half a million commuters a week, New York City is a gathering place for talent in ever y sector and industry from every corner of our country and around the globe. This city is the product of waves of immigration spanning centuries, and more than 200 languages are spoken on our city’s streets. A wealth of different cultures are woven together in our neighborhoods, and that’s borne out in the unique cross-cultural experiences you can only find here, like the Lower East Side’s Egg Rolls, Egg Creams, and Empanadas Festival celebrating the neighborhood’s Chinese, Jew ish, a nd P uer to Rican heritage. But we have another unique asset, adding yet more to our cultural and economic strengths,

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 GLOBAL CITY, continued on p.19

Snowflakes and Unicorns BY LENORE SKENAZY

Manhattan Express is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC.

all New Yorkers, including our vibrant immigrant and diaspora communities, include easier access to passports, visas, and birth certificates. This is no small thing in a city where immigrants comprise more than 40 percent of our workforce and own more than 80,000 businesses, and where more than one in three residents are foreign-born. Our offices work in partnership with consulates general to share information about the government programs, services, and initiatives available to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. Many consuls general have applied for and have received their own IDNYC cards, reflecting their pride in being welcomed to the city as New Yorkers and encouraging others to do the same. The consular community in

EXPRESS YOURSELVES

Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Manhattan Express, One Metrotech Center North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn 11201 or call 718-260-4586. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Manhattan Express.

that we may not think about as much: the 114 consulates general that help make New York’s the largest diplomatic community in the world. That’s why earlier this spring, we gathered at the iconic New York Public Library with representatives from many of these consulates to thank them for contributing to our city’s success. As the commissioner for International Affairs for the City of New York and the borough president of Manhattan, we could not be prouder that our city boasts such a large consular corps, and we believe it plays an important role in making New York City a global, political, social, and economic hub. New York’s consulates provide a direct economic, cultural, and civic connection to more than half the world’s nations. Their staffs add to the diversity of our city, and the diplomatic and governmental services they provide

D

o you know what a Finsta is? Neit her did I, because I a m 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 Millennia ls. Dan Coates studies both groups. His company, yPulse, is a Manhattan marketing research firm, and lately some of its research has been on Finstas. Finstas a re fa ke Instagram accounts that are actually more real than a person’s so-called “real” Instagram account. On a Finsta account, he explained, “ Teens only accept their closest friends and post funny or emba r rassi ng photos for t he 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 per-

fection. In fact, Coates said, Instagram users take an average of eight photos for every one that t hey post, which mea ns t hat 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 fa ll 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. You ng fol ks “feel l i ke t here’s always some sort of camera on,” said Coates. “So they’re always on.” They are also worried about w h ic h moment s shou ld a nd 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 over whelmed.’ Si x t y 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 of 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 a s to o con su m i n g, a nd 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 email, 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

 UNICORN, continued on p.19

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 GLOBAL CITY, from p.18 New York also makes important contributions to our economy. Consulates are often a first point of contact for foreign businesses considering expansion in the United States, and the consulates can help bring those businesses (and associated job creation) to New York City. The reverse is also true: the Office for International Affairs con nects N YC-headqua r tered companies to consulates when businesses are looking to expand internationally, helping New Yorkbased businesses thrive and grow abroad. The consular corps also promotes intercultural exchange, from celebrating national independence days to festivals exposing New Yorkers to native cuisines, art, and culture. They also work with city representatives to celebrate our immigrant communities’ ancestral heritage. City government and consulates work hand-in-hand to share best practices and innovative new policy ideas. One program run by the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, “Connecting Local

 UNICORN, from p.18 kind of breakdown — Millennials are completely obsessed with food a nd dr ink. 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 inclusiv it y. T he generat ions before them, said Coates, were far more cruel. “One false move and you were exiled. You got a nickname and ever ything went downhill from there.� But today’s young people have lots of friends, including some who’d have been outcasts in an ea rl ier era. W hen Coates a nd his team interview Millennials, “We’ll say, ‘We totally get all your friends — except Phil.’ They say,

to Global,� convenes experts from city agencies and the consular community to exchange solutions to urban challenges, from climate change and disability rights to immigration and food insecurity. That office hosts briefings and trainings, as well as site visits to neighborhoods across the city, to better connect the diplomatic and consular community to the city in which they live and serve. The consulates also give back to New York City in a variety of ways, including participating in back-to-school and holiday gift drives facilitated by the Office for International Affairs. Reaching out and embracing our ties to the world is more important now than ever before. We’re a global city, and our diversity is our strength. The consular corps plays a critical part in serving a city this diverse, and that’s worth taking a moment to recognize and celebrate. Penny Abeywardena is the commissioner for International Affairs for the City of New York and Gale Brewer is the Manhattan borough president.

‘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.â€? It’s a lso 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 mom s de c ide d, ‘Ok ay. M i xe d results. We haven’t changed society, but I’m going to start with my own family.’â€? It may be no coincidence that the Millennials’ concerns are the same as their pa rents’ — race relations, gender equality, tolerance — just taken a step further. “My kids were proud to be part of the gay-straight alliance the whole t i me t hey were i n h ig h school,â€? said Coates. Like their parents, young people also expect to save the world, although sometimes they do this

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

 UNICORN, continued on p.21

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Police Blotter ASSAULT: SUBWAY SUCKER PUNCH (Midtown South Precinct) Police, on May 6, arrested and charged Daniel Evans with two counts of assault and criminal trespass. Evans, 45, was arrested for punching a 30-year-old woman in the face on the southbound platform of the 34th Street-Herald Square station on May 4 at around 7:30 a.m. The woman had bruises and swelling on her face, but refused medical attention. Police have also connected an April 22 incident at around 10:45 a.m. to Evans, where he is suspected of approaching a 23-year-old man in a restricted area of the subway system near the same 34th-Street Herald Square station before striking him with a pipe. Police said the attack was prefaced with an exchange of words and the man was hit on his left forearm and suffered swelling.

GRAND LARCENY: LARCENY IN THE LORD’S HOUSE (Midtown North Precinct) A woman lifted a 66-year-old churchgoer’s wallet on May 4 at around 4 p.m., police said. The victim reported her wallet missing when she was inside Fifth Av-

enue Presbyterian Church at 7 West 55th Street, and later saw $900 worth of Lord & Taylor’s purchases from the store’s 424 Fifth Avenue location on her card. Police released a photo of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black female, approximately 30 to 40 years old, with a dark complexion, black hair, eyeglasses, and a heavyset build. She was last seen wearing an olive green jacket.

FORCIBLE TOUCHING: PERSISTENT PERV (28th Precinct) On May 1 at around 4:40 p.m., police said, a man exposed himself to a 44-year-old woman on West 116th Street. According to police, the suspect then grabbed the woman’s shoulder and tried to pull her closer to him. Police said the suspect eventually fled east on West 116th Street. Police released photos and a video of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male, approximately 5’8�, 150 pounds, with light, blotchy skin, blue eyes, and wavy brown hair, and last seen wearing dark pants, sneakers, and a white T-shirt.

HOMICIDE: BURNED BODY (23rd Precinct) Police found the burning body of Shantee Nakhid, a 23-year-old woman, inside a stairwell at the Clinton Houses at 107 East 105th Street on April 9 at around 6:30 a.m. Police said the FDNY was able to extinguish the fire, but EMS pronounced Nakhid dead on the scene. Media reports said the police investigation found a blood trail that led to the 12th floor apartment of a building across the street, where they found a man who had slashed his wrists and neck. The man, whose connection to the burned body is still being investigated, was transported to Harlem Hospital in critical condition, police said.

ROBBERY: iPHONE, myPHONE (Central Park Precinct) A man snatched a 15-year-old girl’s cellphone before shoving her to the ground on May 2 at around 6 p.m., police said. The man approached the victim in Central Park near 106th Street and West Drive asking for a dollar, according to police. It was after the girl said she didn’t have any money that the suspect

snatched the cellphone from the victim’s hand, pushed her to the ground, and fled northeast inside the park. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as an Hispanic male in his 30s, 5’8� to 5’9�, 140 pounds, and last seen wearing a white shirt with a gray print pattern, white jeans, and red sneakers.

GRAND LARCENY: SWIPING CARDS (24th Precinct) Police said a man lifted the wallet of a 23-year-old woman waiting on the 96th Street Station for the uptown 1 train. Police said that the suspect charged $121, the price of an unlimited 30-day MetroCard, on the victim’s Discover credit card at the Bowling Green station. Police released a photo and video of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews. nyc), whom they describe as a black male, approximately 16 to 25 years old, between 5’10� and 5’11�, and last seen wearing a black baseball hat, black book bag, red sweatshirt, black jeans, and black-and-white Jordan sneakers.

 POLICE BLOTTER, continued on p.21

“A 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 , ##-(,(&&")&&")%+ &&&")()&#  $&%%+)*(&$

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May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 POLICE BLOTTER, from p.20 HOMICIDE: FATAL STABBING (28th Precinct) Police, on May 16, arrested Tania Rodas, a 37-year-old Upper West Sider, and charged her with murder, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon. The day before, police said, they found a 38-year-old man with a stab wound in his chest and EMS transported him to St. Luke’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Police have not released the identity of the deceased, pending family notification.

BANK ROBBERY: MAKING OFF WITH FIVE GRAND (24th Precinct)

and black hair, and wearing blue jeans, a white T-shirt, and blue Nike sneakers.

BANK ROBBERY: EMPTY-HANDED ESCAPE (19th Precinct) Police are looking for a man who attempted to rob the Chase Bank at 510 Park Avenue, between East 59th and 60th Streets, on May 16 at around 1:10 p.m. Police said the suspect entered the bank and demanded money from the teller, who refused and walked away from the window. The suspect fled empty-handed, heading south on Park Avenue. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a bald black male in his 40s, 6’, and last seen wearing a white T-shirt, brown button-down

shirt, and brown pants.

BURGLARY: PACKAGE PILFERER (24th Precinct) A man is wanted for three incidents of burglarizing a building’s mailroom throughout April, police said. According to police, the suspect entered a residential building near Central Park West and Manhattan Avenue on April 15, 18, and 21, each time using a card to open the mailroom door and then forcing it open with his shoulder. Police said that the suspect opened mail packages and stole varying amounts of merchandise before fleeing the building. Police released a photo and video of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.

nyc), whom they describe as a black male, between 40 and 50 years old.

DOA: CENTRAL PARK MYSTERY (Central Park Precinct) A man was found floating in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir by East 87th Street and the East Drive in Central Park on May 9 at around 12:40 p.m., police said. According to media reports, police said the man was naked and badly decomposed. There have been no arrests, and the investigation is ongoing. The medical examiner’s office has not yet determined the cause of death. Local police contact information at manhattanexpressnews.nyc.

A man is wanted for robbing $4,910 in cash from the Capital One Bank at 2379 Broadway, between West 86th and 87th Streets, police said. According to police, the suspect entered the bank on May 11 at around 2:30 p.m. and demanded cash from the teller, who complied. Police released a photo and video of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews. nyc), whom they describe as black male in his 30s, between 5’4” and 5’6”, wearing a baseball cap and dark sunglasses.

MISSING PERSON: NATHAEL ASANTEWA (25th Precinct) Nathael Asantewa, a 12-year-old boy from East Harlem, was reported missing on May 16. Police said he was last seen outside his home at 1990 Lexington Avenue, between East 121st and 122nd Streets, on May 16 at 7:30 a.m. Police released photos of Asantewa (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as 4’10”, 70 pounds, with a thin build, dark complexion, brown eyes,

 UNICORN, from p.19 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,” said Coates. “Your every act as a consumer somehow has to create a positive net effect.” That’s a worthy goal, even if a multi-colored Frappuccino may be a particularly sweat-free, status-boosting, camera-ready way to achieve it. Snap! Lenore Skenazy is founder of Free-Range Kids, a contributor to Reason.com, and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?” ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

21


Dubious Recipe for Love BY DAVID KENNERLEY

A

lt houg h t he York T heat re Company is famous for carefully nurturing brand new musicals (its boffo hit “Cagney” has been running Off-Broadway for over a year), its latest effort, “Marry Harry,” feels decades old. In this case, that’s not such a bad t hing. For t he w insome romantic comedy, despite being set in present-day New York, is a throwback to beloved classics like “She Loves Me” and “The Music Man” in all their unpretentious, starry-eyed glory. T he book, by Jen n i fer Robbins, is a variation on boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy (possibly) reunites with girl. Harry Cudicini is pushing 30 and is stuck slinging red sauce at his pop’s East Village Italian eatery (called Cudicini’s, of course). Sherri, almost 30 herself, still lives with her rich, controlling mother on the Upper East Side and decides to dump her cheating fiancé. When Harry and Sherri meet by chance in the alley behind the restaurant, sparks f ly and wedding plans are hastily made. Just as quickly, their dream falls apart. To be sure, much of the creaky, improbable plot is exceedingly silly, and the dialogue is infused with clichés. Yet what this endeavor lacks in logic it makes up for in boundless charm. Under the guidance of Bill Castellino (who also choreographed), the show musters moments that are genuinely moving. Not that there aren’t a few fresh touches. Throughout the show a sort of gender-bending Greek chorus (a spirited Ben Chavez, Jesse Manocherian, and Claire Saunders ) comments on t he act ion through zippy vaudeville-style routines. They cycle through an eye-popping array of inventive

22

CAROL ROSEGG

Lenny Wolpe, Morgan Cowling, and David Spadora in Jennifer Robbins, Dan Martin, and Michael Biello’s “Marry Harry,” directed by Bill Castellino, at York Theatre Company at St. Peter’s through May 21.

costumes, featuring bridal gowns, bowler hats, fishnets, and garters, designed by Tyler M. Holland. What really keeps this enterprise afloat are the sweetly affecting performances by the leads, David Spadora and Morgan Cowling. Dreamboat Spadora is expertly attuned to the plight of Harry, torn between carrying on the family tradition downtown and becoming a sous chef at Felidia, the tony uptown restaurant owned by celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich. His demeanor is so adorably unassuming and his vocals so clean and pure, it almost makes sense that Sherri would propose marriage after just one hot, gluttonous date. The supporting cast of Lenny Wolpe, as Harry’s crusty dad, and Robin Skye, as Sherri’s domineering mom, make the most of stock roles. The catchy score, by Dan Mar-

tin (music) and Michael Biello (lyrics), is a pleasant mix of comedic ditties and soulful ballads. James Morgan’s beautiful illustrated set of an East Village neighborhood, painted in watercolor hues, looks like something out of a children’s storybook. The intermittently enchanting “Marr y Harr y” is a reminder of the down-to-earth pleasures of vanilla pursuits. This is unpolished, escapist theatrical entertainment, where the main message is “love will find a way.” If you’re look ing for deeper topical themes, you won’t find them here. For instance, Cudicini’s is on shaky financial ground and t hreatens to close, yet t here’s no mention of the insanely high rents driving out mom-and-pop shops throughout the city. New musicals can take many

MARRY HARRY York Theatre Company Theatre at St. Peter’s 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th St. Citicorp Center Through May 21 Tue.-Wed. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Thu., Sat.-Sun. at 2:30 p.m. $67 at YorkTheatre.org 80 mins., with no intermission

years to gestate, even ones based on old traditions (“Marry Harry” began as a reading at the Vassar Powerhouse Theater back in 2011). The York should be applauded for its efforts to champion this piece, which deserves a chance to evolve and improve.

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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23


Theater for Grownups BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION

S

atire typically does not age well. Particularly in the theater, as times, society, and fashions change, new targets emerge and once-pointed plays become arcane curiosities. Happily, that is not the case with the still-trenchant and thoroughly engaging revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” Twenty-seven years ago, Joh n Gua re’s play wa s a w r y commentar y on New York society and the glamorous, brightly lit world people yearned to break into. The play, however, takes on a particular edge in the current political climate, given that the plot is about a con man who, for a time, successfully dupes wealthy people into believing he’s the real deal. Flan Kittredge is a private art dealer, and his wife, Ouisa, is quite accustomed to their lux life on Fifth Avenue. Young Paul, claiming to having been mugged in Central Park, insinuates himself into their home, saying he is the son of Sidney Poitier, and e ven su g ge st s t h at F l a n a nd Ouisa might get cast as extras in his father’s upcoming movie of “Cats.” (Remember, it’s 1990 and “Cats” was in its eighth year on Broadway and a punch line for the cognoscenti.) As it turns out, the Kittredges are not the only dupes Paul has taken in, and soon Poitier’s putative son is revealed as a liar who has gleaned bits of information he can use to make the adults think he really is a friend of their kids in order to gain entrée into their homes. When confronted, the kids will have none of it and, in several humorous scenes, let their parents know exactly how lame they are for being duped. Yet here we sit in 2017, a nation that has been taken in by a con man who repeatedly shows himself to be ignorant and blustering. The truth is that cons often work; as Mary Sunshine says in “Chicago,” “they’ll fall for it hook, line, and sinker because it’s what they want.” Indeed, one of the questions the play raises is whose con is better? Is Flan any different in

24

Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 253 W. 47th St. Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m.; Wed. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $49-$149; telecharge.com Or 212 -239-6200 Ninety mins., no intermission

JOAN MARCUS

Allison Janney and Corey Hawkins in John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” directed by Trip Cullman.

WAR PAINT Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St. Tue. at 7 p.m.; Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $75-$250; ticketmaster.com Or 877-250-2929 Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission

PRESENT LAUGHTER JOAN MARCUS

Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, and the company of Doug Wright, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie’s “War Paint,” directed by Michael Greif.

St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St. Through Jul. 2: Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $59-$155; ticketmaster.com Or 877-250-2929 Two hrs., 20 mins., with intermission

JOAN MARCUS

Kevin Kline in Noel Coward’s “Present Laughter,” directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel at the St. James Theatre through July 2.

his profession when he convinces people to spend millions of dollars for artwork than Paul is in trying to hustle a meal, a room for the night, and some kind of human connection? None of the characters in this play can really claim the moral high ground, despite their attempts. It fa lls to Ouisa to ra ise t he element a l huma n quest ion of how we are all connected to each other — as she says — by a chain of no more than six other people. One of the reasons this play is so unsettling is that it raises questions about our relationships to one a not her t hat most people ignore, and are invested in ignoring, in their quotidian existence. The engaging revival now at the

 SIX DEGREES, continued on p.27

May 18–May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

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May 18â&#x20AC;&#x201C;May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


 ESPLANADE, from p.7 work did not begin in time to prevent the collapse,” Kallos said in a written statement. While Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced $100 million for closing the gap of waterfront pedestrian and cyclist access that currently exists between East 53rd and 61st Streets, Kallos stressed the vital importance of shoring up the existing infra-

 HENRY STERN, from p.7 “ We d id decide t hat we’d go ahead and pass a second request anyway, acknowledging this isn’t the normal policy of the parks department but nonetheless it was deserved,” Peggy Price, committee co-chair, said. Mor ga n Peh me, t he for mer executive director of New York Civ ic, a gover nment watchdog group formed by Stern after he left his parks department post, said supporters of honoring Stern

 SIX DEGREES, from p.24 Barrymore has been directed by Trip Cullman with crispness and a clea r-eyed percept ion of t he characters — in all their failures and foibles. It manages to be both sha r p a nd wa r m, br inging us into the world and the characters, pricking at their pretensions and yet rendering them sympathetic. John Benjamin Hickey plays Flan as a tightly strung gamesman, his surface ebullience hiding more craven manipulations of people and situations. Corey Hawkins is outstanding as Paul, who is lost and grasping at an identity and a place in the world. The sensitivity and depth of his performance makes him almost tragic. Allison Janney as Ouisa is the conflicted heart of the play. She is the soigné New York wife look i ng a ma z i ng ly elega nt i n Clint Ramos’ costumes, but she reveals her ultimate and utter confusion about the deep separation between us given how very close we are to each other. How lovely to see a comedy made for adults, where sophisticated absurdity and rapid-fire repartee create a diverting and delightful evening. Noel Coward’s

structure so that collapses, like this most recent one so close to Gracie Mansion, don’t happen again. Reaction from Community Board 8, which has long pushed the parks department to expedite the repair process, mirrored that from the Friends of the East River Esplanade. Peggy Price, CB8’s Parks Committee co-chair, said they were informed that the lengthy approv-

als process would hold up parks department action on preventive upgrades. The recent collapse, however, heightens the need for an aggressive timetable, Price said. “I feel this latest collapse is a call to action,” she said. “I really believe that regardless of whatever red tape is believed to be a problem, it ought to be cut through because it’s a dangerous situation and it

shouldn’t be allowed to continue.” The collapse on May 5 saw no injuries, but Price felt the incident would create a lingering worr y about public safety among waterfront users in any event. “Just putting Band-Aids over the specific problem areas is not doing the trick,” Price said. “Because who can guess where it’s going to happen next?”

had already been aware of the agency naming policy, but noted that the Manhattan Municipal Bu i ld i ng is na med for for mer Mayor David Dinkins, the New York Public Librar y branch on West 115th Street is named for singer and political activist Harry Belafonte, and the Queensboro Br idge was na med for for mer Mayor Ed Koch three years before his death. None of that, however, has to date swayed the parks department from hewing to its policy,

even with support for the idea on the community board and among elected officials. “I think it’s a great way to honor one of the most important people in the histor y of New York City parks,” Pehme said. “And I hope that the city can find a way to expedite the process and honor t he c om m i s sioner w h i le he’s alive.” When contacted about the May 4 resolution, the department reiterated that its policy prohibits naming parks after any liv ing

person. “From significa ntly expa nding park acreage to launching the Tree Census to establishing Partnerships for Parks, Commissioner Stern’s contributions to N YC Parks helped to make our parks system a model for public spaces in major cities, a nd the envy of the world,” Sam Bieder ma n, a Pa rks Depa r t ment spokesperson, said in a statement that nonetheless pointed to its practice barring it from honoring Stern at this time.

1942 play “P resent L aug hter” is getting a smashing revival on Broadway, starring Kevin Kline and featuring a cast of Broadway veterans wonderfully directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel. T he play concer ns a n ag i ng actor, Garr y Essendine, whose chaotic and narcissistic life is full of satellite acquaintances, who are both frustrated with and reliant upon him, and dalliances with women who, literally in some cases, throw themselves at him. The flimsy plotting ties together a series of set pieces and characters, including Garry’s ex-wife, his hard-bitten secretary, a smitten, doe-like ingénue, his managers, and more. Each scene is wonderfully crafted in true Coward style, w ith the cumulative effect being hilarity and delight as physical comedy and verbal bantering are seamlessly integrated. Kline is at the top of his game as Ga r r y. A lways a wonder ful comedia n, his per for ma nce is expansive and larger-than-life, embellished with unforgettable grace notes of wit. Kate Burton, as Garry’s ex-wife, is a mixture of steel and style, and K ristine Nielsen as his seen-it-all secretary still manages to have a heart

under her hard edge. As Garry’s life spins out of control on the eve of his leaving on a tour, the rest of the characters, including an earnest playwright, his conniving manager’s wife who wants to seduce Garry, all add to the escalating chaos until, like Charles Condomine in Coward’s “Blithe Spirit,” Garry’s only option is to cut and run. This splendid revival runs only until the beginning of July. Run out and see it.

it at a time when women in businesses weren’t respected. Despite their success, they were still outsiders looking in when it came to New York society and, at the end of their careers, were both conscious of what their successes had cost them. Ebersole and LuPone look and sound fantastic. Reveling in their talent is reason enough to see this show. If the score is at times uneven, it doesn’t stop either of them. These are actresses who know how to inhabit a song and a lyric with power and commitment. They each get an 11 o’clock number — a celebration of her sta rdom from Rubinstein a nd a meditation on being trapped w it h i n one’s bra nd, t he color pink, for Arden. Cat her ine Zuber’s costumes and David Korins’ sets are nothing short of spectacular, the perfect wrapping for this tale of guts and glamor. If the stars might sometimes be hampered by the book and score (which are not up to the same team’s brilliant work in “Grey Gardens”), Ebersole and LuPone’s talent, drive, and determination are more than enough to ca r r y t he day. Once aga i n, what was true in life is certainly true in art.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | May 18–May 31, 2017

T he ne w mu s ic a l “ Wa r Paint” may be self-consciously structured to give equal time to its subjects — Elizabeth A rden and Helena Rubinstein — what w it h Ch r i st i ne E b er s ole a nd Patti LuPone, respectively, portray ing them. But if the show, w it h a book by Doug Wr i g ht, music by Scott Frankel, and lyrics by Michael Korie, is often a labored, dual biography about the rise of two titans of the cosmetics world, it is gorgeous to look at, and the show is tailormade for the talents of the two leading ladies. Arden and Rubinstein fought for their places in their business, competed fiercely against each other, enjoyed victories but also suffered setbacks, and had to do

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May 18â&#x20AC;&#x201C;May 31, 2017 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc

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