Page 1

Big Apple Circus Resurrected 11

Soulpepper Theatre on 42nd 14

Fighting Trans Seniors’ Erasure 21

Photo by Jackson Chen

Hollow Core: Can Secondary Housing Market Save Midtown? P. 6

Photo by Jackson Chen

Michael Hiller testifying at the June 15 hearing on the DEIS at the American Museum of Natural History.

AMNH Expansion Foes Blast Environmental Impact Study BY JACKSON CHEN The main opposition group to the American Museum of Natural History’s expansion released a barbed review of the project’s recently released draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). The museum’s $340 million Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation project would revamp the entrance on Columbus Avenue at West 79th Street. The toughest opposition has come from the Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park, which alongside other groups, is against the expansion because it would seize surrounding land currently part of the Theodore Roosevelt Park. For the museum, the Gilder Center would provide significant extra exhibition space as well as a design for improving visitor traffic flow. Following a public hearing on June 15, Community United and its attorney, Michael Hiller, released a critical review of the DEIS that the group provided to Manhattan Express. The group retained GHD Services, an engineering and environmental consulting firm, which completed its “expert review” on May 18. The review stated that the DEIS should have included “socioeconomic condiGILDER CENTER continued on p. 4

July 13-July 27, 2017 | Vol. 03 No. 14

UWS Criminal Justice Reformer Takes on Mayor from the Left BY NATHAN RILEY Despite continued criticism of Bill de Blasio from police unions and other law and order advocates — his skipping the July 8 South Bronx vigil for slain Police Officer Miosotis Familia because of his presence at G20 Summit protests in Hamburg being only the most recent occasion — disappointment on the left over the mayor not moving more aggressively on criminal justice reform is animating one candidate who hopes to challenge him in the September 12 Democratic primary. Upper West Side reformer Bob Gangi is mounting a deeply personal — though likely quixotic — campaign against the incumbent over policing issues. Having spent a lifetime in criminal justice reform, Gangi said his doubts about the mayor began when he appointed Bill Bratton as his police commissioner shortly after his 2013 election. It was Bratton’s second time at the helm of the NYPD; his first was with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and marked the beginning of the “stop and frisk” era in New York policing. Gangi, 73, is not shy about offering his opinions, and central to his outlook is the view that the constant questioning of youth of color amounts to aggression against the community. He pledges an administration that would redress the past wrongs

of such heavy-handed law enforcement. In a typical fiery outburst recently emailed to his supporters, Gangi wrote, “END ABUSIVE & DISCRIMINATORY POLICING — ** On DAY 1, I will send a directive to the city’s police chief to immediately dismiss all the officers whose reckless & irresponsible actions led directly to Eric Garner’s death.” He also promised to immediately order the NYPD to end the “quota system” that drives many officers to cite people for minor offenses. Acknowledging the likelihood of police resistance to his reform efforts, Gangi said he would enforce his directive by monitoring the arraignments in city courts to determine who is being arrested and for what offenses. He has called for “summarily dismissing” any officers who makes arrests for offenses like marijuana possession, open containers, and loitering for the purposes of prostitution. Summarizing what his election would mean, Gangi said it would reflect nothing less than that “the days when the NYPD inflicted harm & hardship on vulnerable New Yorkers are over.” Gangi is, to be sure, no novice when it comes to law enforcement issues. For 29 years, he ran the BOB GANGI continued on p. 4

MANHATTANEXPRESSNEWS.NYC


OBITUARY

Photo by Jackson Chen

Chelsea Now file photo by Yannic Rack

Left: Chris Dietz, outside his apartment complex, rereading a Chelsea Now article that featured Bettie. At right, the photo that graced the front page of that Dec. 2015 issue shows Bettie in her iconic stance.

Bettie the Boston Terrier, 9, Was a Neighborhood Paper’s Best Friend BY JACKSON CHEN From the corner of the bed, Bettie the Boston Terrier would perk up, letting her owner know that she was ready for a walk around the neighborhood. Chris Dietz, 53, would then wrangle Bettie into her leash before heading down

their sixth floor apartment at NYCHA’s Elliott-Chelsea Houses at W. 27th St. But Bettie, 9, took her last walk on July 4 as she passed away shortly after at around 3 a.m., according to Dietz. Heartbroken by the loss, Dietz said he couldn’t stay in the apartment for

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July 13, 2017

long periods, so he walked their route instead. “She meant a lot to a lot of people around here, a lot of people in the neighborhood started crying,� Dietz said, when he informed them of the tragic news. “They all know her from carrying the paper.� Dietz and his family first adopted Bettie several years ago when his niece’s friend was having a baby and felt it necessary to find the terrier a new home. “Ever since that, she’s been with me all the time,� Dietz said. “We spend all of our time together, I’m the one who fed her, took her for walks, gave her baths, took her to the park.� Dietz usually started the walk with a quick grocery store run at W. 28th St. and Ninth Ave. before stopping by the corner news boxes where he grabbed several copies of Chelsea Now. Like clockwork, he sleeved it up in a transparent plastic wrap before Bettie would yank it out of his grip with her mouth. Bettie’s love of Chelsea Now dates back several years after she grabbed the first edition of the newspaper. “I’m walking like this and she just grabs it out of my hand,� Dietz recalled, illustrating the swaying motion of his arm with a newspaper in hand. “I guess she saw it moving, she just grabbed it and she held it until we got home.� Ever since that, the news-hungry hound has become a neighborhood icon. Dietz explained that the newspaper has even become part of Bettie. “It’s funny ‘cause if she got the paper, she walks like she has a job to do,� Dietz said. “If she doesn’t have the paper, she

would just mope.� With her favorite newspaper stuffed in her mouth, Bettie was ready for the catwalk down 10th Ave. As they walked, tourists and locals alike greeted Bettie and snapped pics of the photogenic pup. But it’s not always a free pass, Dietz said, as Bettie would sometimes trade a photo op for a tummy rub (she rolled over once the photos were done). The midway point of their walk, the Kiehl’s at 400 W. 14th St., Bettie would immediately peer into the glass door, waiting for an opportunity to dash inside. Dietz used to chat with some of the street vendors on the corner while Bettie was already eager to dive into the cosmetics store. “As soon as the door was open, she just flew in with all her love,� Devena Santori, one of the managers at Kiehl’s, said. “We have our treats behind our register so she knew exactly where to get them.� Santori knew Bettie for more than a year but her staff and customers had long been accustomed to the lively dog hanging out in the store. Whether she made a beeline for the treats, rehydrated with the dog bowl, or sprawled out in the shade of the store, Bettie was always a welcome addition to the Kiehl’s. “She always ran in here really excited and happy,� Santori said, tearing up. “She’s going to be super missed. I don’t think we’ll ever have another mascot like that again.� After Kiehl’s, Dietz and Bettie would BETTIE continued on p. 10 NYC Community Media


Photos by Rebecca Fiore

Michelle Diaz, center, a fifth generation Hell’s Kitchen resident, brought pictures of basketball players in 1960s Hell’s Kitchen.

Hell’s Kitchen Commons is raising money to restore the 1972 Arnold Belkin mural outside of Mathews-Palmer Playground called “Against Domestic Colonialism.”

Up on the Roof, Hell’s Kitchen Stories and Much, Much S’more BY REBECCA FIORE In the summer of 1977, lightning struck an electrical substation on the Hudson River, which tripped two circuit breakers. Then a second bolt of lightning struck and cut two transmission lines. Con Edison tried to fast-start remotely, but it failed since no one was manning the station. A third bolt of lightning later

cut two critical transmission lines and what proceeded was a 25-hour blackout spread across New York City. One Hell’s Kitchen resident remembered the July 13-14 blackout as something other than a time of widespread looting and arson. “Hell’s Kitchen was a bit gritty back then, but 44th Street was kind of an

anomaly,” Linda Ashley told a group of approximately 50 people, young and old. “While people were looting and raiding grocery stores and delis, on 44th Street we were having ice cream socials on the steps since we knew that the ice cream was going to melt.” The infamous blackout triggered violence throughout the city, with

tensions high from a severe fi nancial crisis to the Son of Sam murders to a brutal heat wave. “But while there was craziness going over on Ninth and 10th Avenue and we were just, ‘Oh you want some strawberry? ’ It’s going STORIES continued on p. 18

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3


tions” as part of the environmental impact assessment since the Gilder Center would bring a decrease in park usage and reduced traffic to businesses due to a three-year construction period. In three major impact areas — hazardous materials, transportation, and construction — GHD’s report concluded that the DEIS doesn’t include “sufficient information.” The report added that construction would likely trigger asbestos and lead exposure, but the DEIS doesn’t consider containment for these materials. “The lack of such details is startling and should be immediately rectified,” the report said. “The work plans should be provided for review prior to the Final EIS.” As for potential alternatives to the expansion’s current design, GHD said that an option re-purposing or relocating existing administrative spaces to make room for the Gilder Center was viable. Museum officials have in the past argued that the alternatives mentioned in the DEIS are either infeasible or don’t accomplish the goals of the project’s current design. The museum did not respond to Manhattan Express’ request for comment on the GHD report. During the June 15 public hearing, neighbors of the museum lined up to express continuing criticisms of the Gilder Center plan. No elected officials were present, but many other community leaders offered their thoughts on the expansion plans. Community Board 7 members noted that the transportation study should expand its scope to consider impacts further north than currently contemplated, recommended that the museum request NYPD traffic enforcement officers for the first month or so after opening, and asked for further clarification of the Construction Working Group that is expected to include the construction contractor, museum officials, and community members. The original group opposing the Gilder Center Project, the Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park, criticized the compliance procedures spelled out in the DEIS. Over the past year, the Defenders group has worked with the museum through its Park Working Group, which sought community feedback regarding impacts on the Theodore Roosevelt Park, but it has also continued to offer its concerns at public forums. “The draft of the environmental impact statement is wideranging but seems to resolve every issue in the museum’s favor,” Lydia Thomas, the Defenders’ president, said at the hearing. “From loss of parkland to increased congestion, it concludes there is ‘no significant adverse impact.’” Thomas added that the Defenders want to see a less imposing structure and improved parks maintenance when the museum redesigns those portions of the Theodore Roosevelt Park that will be impacted. Community United’s president, Claudia DiSalvo, presented a harsher view of the project. “Green space is rare, green space is precious, and at a premium,” she said. “In today’s world, does the New York City Parks [Department] consider when evaluating a project the ramifications of when city parkland is taken way?”

Photo courtesy of Ram Bhadra

GILDER CENTER continued from p. 1

Bob Gangi, a longtime criminal justice reformer who lives on West 86th Street, is scrambling to collect the signatures to allow him to run against Mayor Bill de Blasio in the September 12 mayoral primary. BOB GANGI continued from p. 1

Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit empowered by the Legislature 173 years ago to inspect prisons. It is the only non-governmental group in the state that enjoys unrestricted access to correctional facilities. After leaving the Correctional Association, Gangi joined the Police Reform Organizing Project, a group that advocates for thoroughgoing changes in NYPD practices on behalf of communities of color and low-income and LGBTQ New Yorkers. He is on leave from PROP while he he campaigns for mayor. Gangi’s candidacy is born of his belief that even with stop and frisk incidents down dramatically from their heights in the Bloomberg years, de Blasio has maintained other key components of “broken windows” policing, leaving poor people with criminal records and immigrants vulnerable to deportation under the Trump administration’s aggressive efforts. Citing a new report from the Drug Policy Alliance that New York City made 18,136 marijuana arrests in 2016, a nearly 10 percent increase over the prior year, Gangi, in a recent statement, wrote that trend “puts the lie to the mayor’s repeated & baffling claims that the NYPD has ended marijuana possession arrests, when in reality such arrests are the Department’s 4th most common arrest.” Gangi’s campaign is not focused exclusively on policing questions. Among other radical ideas he is pushing are free subway and bus rides for lowincome New Yorkers and a significant change in how affordable housing is defined. Under the current administration, affordability is measured according to the citywide

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein jgoodstein@cnglocal.com Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides PUBLISHED BY

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July 13, 2017

EDITOR IN-CHIEF Paul Schindler editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

CONTRIBUTORS Jackson Chen Donna Aceto Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Bill Egbert Dusica Sue Malesevic Colin Mixson Lenore Skenazy Scott Stiffler Eileen Stukane

median income of just over $50,000. In a recent interview in a Bushwick bar where Gangi was meeting with a largely youthful crowd of supporters helping his signaturegathering push to win a spot on the September 12 primary ballot, he explained that affordability, under his administration, would be indexed to the neighborhood where new housing is being constructed. In many parts of the city, that figure is closer to $24,000 than to $50,000. Affordability geared to those household incomes, he said, would stall gentrification and stabilize neighborhoods. Gangi also talks about ambitious ideas like ending the de Blasio zoning changes that encourage high-rise residential construction. Affordable housing, he said, should be built by local residents, schools should ensure smaller class sizes, and “homes for the homeless” rather than proliferating shelters should be the aim of housing policy. Gangi’s campaign is clearly a labor of love, funded in good measure with the savings he and his wife Barbara, a psychotherapist, have collected over 48 years of marriage. There is no professional campaign manager, and it was only by talking to another Democratic mayoral hopeful, former Brooklyn City Councilmember Sal Albanese, at a candidate’s forum, that he learned that contenders for high city office typically hire people to collect signatures. As the July 13 signature deadline nears, Gangi, backed instead by volunteer enthusiasm, is struggling mightily to collect the 3,750 signatures city law requires for him to get on the ballot. And with no election lawyer on retainer, even should he reach that total, Gangi could run afoul of a contradictory state requirement that he gather twice that number of signatures.

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Il Bastardo’s Past Casts Long Shadow on New Liquor License Applicant BY WINNIE McCROY Still nursing a hangover from years of living alongside a business whose boozy weekend brunches saw drunken revelers pour themselves out of its doors and onto nearby sidewalks (and streets, and curbs), a sizable and sober contingent of local residents gathered for Community Board 4’s Business Licenses & Permits (BLP) Committee meeting. Many of those in attendance were there to urge the BLP not to grant a new on-premise liquor license to an applicant seeking to open up business at 191-195 Seventh Ave. — location of the former Il Bastardo restaurant (near the corner of W. 21st St.). “I don’t want to rehash the history of Il Bastardo, but I was at the last SLA [State Liquor Authority] meeting and they were not happy,” said BLP Co-Chair Frank M. Holozubiec at the Tues., July 11 proceedings. “They let them off with a big fine but were not happy with them. It’s a highly troubled location.” With mounting fines and cases before the SLA — including a revoked liquor license — the establishment recently chose to close up shop. But when concerned community members noted that the incoming operator was chef, nutritionist, author, and Food Network personality Kristin Sollenne (kristinsollenne. com), they quickly connected the dots back to her husband, former Il Bastardo owner Robert Malta, and came out in force to reject her proposals to open two establishments in this space. “I’m just trying to go in and make a nice community restaurant, one that you’d like to come into and have dinner,” said Sollenne, who appeared before the BLP with her attorney, Martin P. Mehler of Mehler & Buscemi. According to her application, Sollenne (or entity to be formed) seeks to split the space and run two operations — a Mexican restaurant and an Italian restaurant — with a capacity of 316 people. She seeks to have 100 tables, 260 seats, and three stand-up bars with 40 seats, as well as a sidewalk cafe with nine tables and 36 seats. The hours of operation Sollenne seeks are 12 p.m.-12 a.m., seven days a week. But Sollenne insisted that her husband “had no involvement” with Il Bastardo, referencing some parting of ways she said severed his relationship with the owners. “I made my mark here for 10 years as a chef and cookbook author, and I’m looking to divide the space into two restaurants: a California coastal cuisine casual eatery on one side and a white tablecloth NYC Community Media

Photo by Winnie McCroy

Attorney Martin P. Mehler with chef/ nutritionist and Food Network personality Kristin Sollenne (holding her infant child).

Italian restaurant on the other. I’m trying to build a family-friendly restaurant where you feel comfortable to sit your stroller on the side of your table,” said Sollenne, who was holding her infant child. “It is really important for me to come here and share my intentions for the space. Whatever happened at Il Bastardo wasn’t pleasant, but I assure you, that’s not happening here.” Board members were quick to point out that Malta’s name was on the Il Bastardo liquor license, and that Sollenne had served as culinary director for three of his New York City Restaurant Group holdings, including Arte Café and Bocca di Bacco. Another noted a Facebook page advertising the restaurant’s back room for one of Sollenne’s events; she contends that she merely rented the space because it was convenient. Others like BLP member Lily Fan stuck to the legal aspects. “The 500-foot rule states that if a new place is not in the best interest of the community, or if there are three or more existing licenses which are there, they have to show how a new liquor license benefits the community,” noted Fan. “I think we should hear from the public, because I don’t think it’s in their best interest.” The public was on hand, as more than 60 people crowded the fourth floor Green Room at Yotel (W. 42nd St. & 10th Ave.) for this pre-emptive strike against what they have deemed a “bad operator.” Over the last three years, Il Bastardo garnered a reputation among residents, the SLA, and the NYPD for a litany of drunk and disorderly conduct violations as well as the occasional assault. Now that residents APPLICANT continued on p. 8

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY of DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR PUBLIC COMMENT and ANNOUNCEMENT of PUBLIC HEARINGS for the Hudson Tunnel Project in Hudson County, New Jersey, and New York County, New York For the Hudson Tunnel Project, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and NJ TRANSIT have prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The Project is intended to preserve the current functionality of the existing passenger rail crossing under the Hudson River, the North River Tunnel, between New Jersey and Penn Station New York (PSNY) and strengthen the resiliency of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC). The North River Tunnel, which is over 100 years old and sustained damage during Superstorm Sandy, is a critical link in the NEC and is used daily by thousands of Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT passengers. The Hudson Tunnel Project DEIS evaluates a Preferred Alternative that consists of construction of a new passenger rail tunnel between Secaucus Junction, New Jersey, and PSNY, along with accompanying infrastructure, to allow for the rehabilitation of the existing North River Tunnel, without major interruption in NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak NEC service. The DEIS also evaluates a No Action Alternative in which no new tunnel is built and the existing North River Tunnel is not rehabilitated. FRA and NJ TRANSIT are now accepting comments on the Preferred Alternative and analyses presented in the Hudson Tunnel Project DEIS. The DEIS also contains a Draft Programmatic Agreement (PA) prepared in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; the Draft PA explains what impacts to historic and archaeological resources are and how they will be avoided, minimized, or mitigated. Comments will

be accepted through August 21, 2017. See below for information on how to submit comments. Note that all information in submitted comments is subject to public release (e.g., names, addresses, email addresses, etc.), unless otherwise stated by commenter. To REVIEW THE DEIS, please visit: www.hudsontunnelproject.com/deis.html or you can view a printed copy of the DEIS at local libraries and government buildings in the project area. A list of these locations is available on the Project website, or by calling the Project team at 973-261-8115. HOW TO COMMENT ON THE DEIS: Comments may be submitted through August 21, 2017 • In person at the public hearings • Via the project website: www.hudsontunnelproject.com/ contact.html • Via email: comment@hudsontunnelproject.com • Project Contacts: » Ms. Amishi Castelli, Ph.D. Environmental Protection Specialist USDOT Federal Railroad Administration One Bowling Green, Suite 429 New York, NY 10004 » Mr. RJ Palladino, AICP, PP Senior Program Manager NJ TRANSIT Capital Planning One Penn Plaza East - 8th Floor Newark, NJ 07105

FRA and NJ TRANSIT will hold three PUBLIC HEARINGS to provide in-person opportunities for the public to comment on the DEIS and Draft PA. The public hearings will take place on the dates and locations listed below: August 1, 2017 Hotel Pennsylvania Skytop Ballroom, 18th floor 401 Seventh Ave at W 33rd St New York, NY 10001

August 3, 2017 Secaucus Junction Rail Station Upper Level Long Hallway County Rd & County Ave Secaucus, NJ 07097

August 10, 2017 Union City High School 2500 Kennedy Blvd Union City, NJ 07087

Each hearing will include an afternoon and evening session, from 3-5 PM and from 6-8 PM, with a brief presentation about the Project at 3:15 PM and again at 6:15 PM. At the hearings, members of the public are invited to provide an oral statement or to submit comments in writing. The hearing facilities will be accessible to persons with disabilities. Spanish and American Sign Language translators will be present. If other special accommodations are needed, please contact the Project team at least five days prior to the hearings at 973-261-8115, or email team@hudsontunnelproject.com. July 13, 2017

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Hollow Core: Can Secondary Housing Market Save Midtown? TALKING POINT BY ANDREW WARBURTON It’s no secret that Midtown Manhattan, despite being one of the most sought-after places to live in the United States, if not the world, is home to an abundance of vacant apartments. Last year, Patrick Radden Keefe, staff writer for the New Yorker, cited US Census Bureau statistics showing that one third of the apartments in the corridor bounded by Fifth Ave., Park Ave., 49th St., and 70th St. stand empty for at least 10 months of the year. The proliferation of luxurious but empty New York City apartments is a symptom of the internationalization of capital and the growth of a super-rich global elite, which the New York Times helped identify in a 2015 investigation into the owners of luxury condominiums at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The Times discovered that many of the condominiums’ owners were former or current officials of foreign governments and had been implicated in US investigations into fraud, environmental violations, and other illegal activities. The newspaper concluded that “vast sums [of capital] are flowing unchecked around the world… enabled by an ever-more-borderless economy and a proliferation of ways to move and hide assets… [creating] colonies of the foreign super-rich.” The existence of thousands of empty apartments — 318,831 in New York City in 2015, more than Paris and London combined — is a testament to the abundant prosperity the global economic system has unleashed, and while the long-term benefits of this system for real-estate investors hardly need to be stated, ordinary Manhattanites have also benefited from the flows of capital behind Midtown’s multiplying towers. The increase in jobs for workers and in tax revenues for government has encouraged city officials to adopt an “attract the rich” approach to the economy, allowing the situation to go unchecked. As Peter Moskowitz, author of “How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality and the Fight for the Neighborhood,” stated recently in an interview with Street Roots (a street newspaper based in Portland, Oregon), “Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said on the radio one day, ‘If we could just get a few more billionaires to live in New York City, many of our problems would be solved.’ That’s really the modus operandi of cities today: How do you get as many rich people living there as possible?” And yet, despite the undoubted capa-

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July 13, 2017

Photo by Jackson Chen

A view along 57th Street looking east from Broadway and capturing some of what’s been termed Billionaires’ Row.

bility of international capital to facilitate job creation and the building of countless properties, the fact is that most of these “homes” lie outside the price range of 95 percent of the population. The abundant property construction we’re seeing not only fails to serve the needs of the majority of the population but, in fact, serves the interests of a minority of investors who aren’t even looking for homes. Walking southwest of Midtown’s empty-apartment corridor, you reach the other extreme of the US housing “market” — people sleeping on cardboard boxes outside Port Authority; and even further afield, those whom the housing market has excluded less severely — the potential or former Manhattanites whom rising coop and condo prices and the carryover effect on the rental market have pushed out of the borough altogether. At its most grotesque, the discrepancy between the availability of luxury apartments and the needs of ordinary people can be seen in the tragic case of London’s Grenfell Tower fire, in which 80 people are presumed to have died. When the

survivors of that fire needed new homes, the British government at first hesitated to rehouse them in the wealthy local borough, raising the possibility that they’d not only lose their homes but their cherished neighborhood too. Kensington, where the tower’s blackened ruin stands, is one of the wealthiest regions in the country, home to hundreds of empty high-end apartments. As Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, pointed out, “It can’t be acceptable that in London we have luxury buildings and luxury flats left empty as land banking for the future while the homeless and the poor look for somewhere to live.” The undeniable conclusion one draws from all this is that a global real estate market has emerged in which two different types of buyers coexist whose end goals are incompatible: those with ready access to capital who are looking to make a return on an investment, and those who lack access to vast stores of capital, want to buy a home, but end up giving their money in rent to private landlords. The UK pressure group Generation

Rent, which represents the interests of private renters, has argued that the situation requires a decoupling of the principle of investment from the practice of buying a home. One way to do this, the group suggests, is to create a “secondary housing market.” This would involve the government investing, say, $2 billion in real estate and reselling the properties at cost price rather than market price; that is, it wouldn’t make a profit on the sale. This deal would be subject to one condition: as soon as the homes are bought, they would enter into a housing market in which prices would be controlled. As buyers wouldn’t have paid a market value for the property, the property’s value wouldn’t be allowed to increase in line with the private market. Instead, they would buy the property for something like cost plus 10 percent, and the property’s value would be fixed to appreciate at a rate similar to that of a regular bank account. The government, meanwhile, would receive back the value it had spent on the properties’ construction, and it would use this value to build more homes — a process that could be repeated as many times as necessary. The purpose of this would be the creation of a secondary housing market for people who want a home, and this market would exist alongside but removed from the private market, which would be left to the whims of investors. Of course, this policy idea is radical and would face opposition from both conservatives dismayed by the idea of government interference in the market and liberals who might prefer government spending to go to affordable rental housing. One thing, however, can be said for Generation Rent’s idea: it identifies a problem — the seeming incompatibility between the interests of real-estate investors and those of homebuyers — and attempts to provide a solution. And it echoes, in some respects, past efforts in New York City, which have had considerable success — such as in the MitchellLama program, the Penn South cooperative, and the Bronx’s Coop City — to create homeownership that maintains its affordability. Figuring out whether this idea is workable for 21st century Manhattan would require more extensive research, but it certainly represents a willingness to explore the bold idea of rescuing the modern city from the power of the super rich. Andrew Warburton, who writes for Boston’s Spare Change News, can be reached at AndrewWarburton@hotmail.com. NYC Community Media


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NYC RESIDENTS! SAVE UP TO 40% ON ADMISSION* July 21, 7:30pm Hear pitches from (fictional) drone startups, and decide whether to invest. See whether your bet makes bank or leaves you broke. For ages 21+. Admission includes one drink ticket. Beer and wine available for purchase. $15 General / $12 Members.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENTS Family Astronomy Night July 14, 7:30pm Learn about the James Webb Space Telescope from NASA astrophysicist Amber Straughn, and then stargaze on the flight deck. Free. Space is limited.

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NYC Community Media

July 13, 2017

7


APPLICANT continued from p. 5

have seen an end to the club’s raucous weekend brunches, they are hardly eager to see a similar pattern erupt in two new locations. “I live across from the restaurant and understand that we don’t want to rehash their history, but it is a 300-seat restaurant that whether it is family or marital, you have ties to,” said Bob Simon. “I wish you all the best, but what happens when you can’t fill those 300 seats four nights out of the week, and start getting suggestions to do something else? It will creep back toward what it was. Plus, you still have some relationship to a full or partial owner of this facility that for the past 18 months we have sent Jesse [Bodine, CB4 District Manager] 11 pages of violations brought up against them.” Both residents and BLP members voiced the sentiment that the location was just too big to feasibly make it as a restaurant — or even two restaurants, as the case may be. “This place has been a major problem, and personally I would not support putting any restaurant there,” said BLP committee member Christine Berthet. “It needs to be broken into multiples, soundproofed, and then we can talk about it. In its present shape, it’s contrary to the interests of our community.”

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CITY July 13, 2017

Longtime resident Diane Nichols came out strongly against the application. “Please be aware that when Il Bastardo opened, it was known as Bocca di Bacco,” she recalled. “Il Bastardo has been a nightmare, with guests parking in front of hydrants, smoking pot, drinking, throwing up, and throwing cigarette butts in the garden [of her disabled neighbor].” Pamela Wolff of the Chelsea West 200 Block Association was sympathetic but firm, noting, “The effect that establishment had on this street was severe for all that time, and it was in the daytime! It all had to do with these brunches and very drunken people. I understand it’s all been hashed out and I’m sorry this charming young woman is being painted with this

brush, but I’m afraid she’s stuck with it.” Numerous other community members and organizations shared similar sentiments, with only Mel Wymore, an openly transgender candidate for City Council, speaking in favor of Sollenne, saying that she was “a cherished community asset.” Wymore also expressed support for “the application for a liquor license to create a comfortable community venue.” Because only six members of the BLP Committee attended the hearing, they did not reach quorum, and were unable to vote. But that did not impact the outcome for Sollenne, whose proposal was quickly rejected out of hand. Sollenne’s attorney suggested his client meet with local community groups on an

AM FASHION

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Photo by Winnie McCroy

CB4’s Business Licenses & Permits Committee, at the July 11 meeting.

individual basis. “We know the name Il Bastardo has to go,” Mehler said, “and we will agree to your conditions and assure you that there will be no repetition of what went on there.” This elicited an outcry from the crowd that they didn’t want another restaurant there, with Wolff saying, “I sense the beginning of a movement to organize into a group and proactively approach the landlord to tell him what we want in this space.” “The landlord is going to have to learn that this is not going to be another big liquor place, and he has to learn the hard way, by being closed for one year, to not rent to the wrong people,” Berthet said. Holozubiec ended the session by saying that the BLP would allow Sollenne to reach out to community groups before attempting to file any applications, adding, “This spot has been a plague on our community for 15 years or more, and I haven’t known of any other location in this district that has been such an unremitting problem that could not be solved, regardless of ownership issues.” The BLP Committee invited all applicants to speak at the next full board meeting of Community Board 4, to be held Wed., July 26, 6:30 p.m. at the Hudson Guild (441 W. 26th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Arrive early to sign up for the public comment section.

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July 13, 2017

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BETTIE continued from p. 2

Photo by Jackson Chen

Dietz stands outside the Kiehl’s that Bettie used to frequently run into on her own for treats and affections from the staff.

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July 13, 2017

hit the road again, this time looping back up on Ninth Ave. But it was no different, as many stopped to greet Bettie. Dietz recalled that a whole tour bus group came out to snap photos of the lovable pooch. And as they approached their home, her celebrity status continued with the neighbors who greeted Bettie, specifically Victoria Mojica, who nicknamed the terrier “Bettie Boop.” “She’s always been such a sweetheart,” Mojica said. “She would always carry her Chelsea newspaper, all the time, no matter where or what.” But today’s walk was much quieter as the smiles were replaced with tears recalling Bettie’s memory. Even for Dietz, it was hard to forget Bettie’s larger than life personality. “Like I said, I can’t stay upstairs, so I walk around,” Dietz said. “I bumped into somebody today, and he goes, ‘You walked past me four times, where’s your dog?’ and I said my dog passed away and he even started crying.”

Chelsea Now file photo by Yannic Rack

Bettie liked to carry each new issue of Chelsea Now, and the protective wrap supplied by Chris Dietz kept it crisp all the way home (file photo from Dec. 2015).

Courtesy Tracy Colon

Bettie at home.

NYC Community Media


Money Woes Behind It, Big Apple Circus Back This Fall BY JACKSON CHEN The Big Apple Circus and its performers will fly high once again, with ticket sales now underway for their 40th anniversary revival show starting on October 27. After tumbling through a short bout of bankruptcy late last year, the circus was bought in February by the private equity firm Compass Partners and will be run by its affiliate Big Top Works. Its $1.3 million investment represents the firm’s first venture into the entertainment world, but Neil Kahanovitz, a Big Top Works partner, emphasized they are not navigating in the dark, with some serious circus savvy among their teams members. Kahanovitz recalled that as a kid, he had the unusual dream of growing up to be both an orthopedic surgeon and a circus performer. Splitting his time between medical school and the circus, the future surgeon earned his stripes on the trampoline and trapeze at the traveling Clyde Beatty Circus. Now, at 68 and perhaps less inclined to hone his aerial skills, Kahanovitz welcomes the chance to revive a treasured local tradition. “It’s more of a bringing back of this iconic New York institution that needs to be restored to its proper place,” he said. “How many generations have walked by Lincoln Center at Christmas time and seen the tent. Last year was the first year in 40 years they hadn’t.” The Big Apple Circus returns with a bang, its debut show featuring back-to-back death-defying stunts. The first act’s grand finale features trapeze artist Ammed Tuniziani, better known as the Flying Tuniziani, showing off his quadruple somersault. Recalling his days on

Photo by Jackson Chen

Neil Kahanovitz has trained and worked as both a surgeon and a trampoline and trapeze artist, and now he’s part of the team reviving the iconic Big Apple Circus.

the trapeze, Kahanovitz said the quadruple was once unheard of. “Triple was like the gold standard of the best trapeze acts in the world, but it’s really amazing to see a quad,” he said, acknowledging that he himself was never close to nailing a triple. The second act features Nik Wallenda, who leads his family troupe, the Flying Wallendas, in a seven-person pyramid high wire act, the same one that, in 1962, left two Wallendas dead and another paralyzed in a tragic mishap at Detroit’s State Fair Coliseum. In true show business fashion, the Wallendas remain in the game, ready to headline the Big Apple Circus return to Lincoln Center. “For me, every step on the wire is a tribute to my great

grandfather, who is the inspiration behind everything that I do,” Wallenda said in a recent written statement. “I’m so excited to return to my true passion, which is performing under the Big Top, where I can connect with the audience in a real way — especially in the intimate atmosphere of Big Apple Circus.” Apart from jaw-dropping acrobatics, Big Apple Circus’ comeback also features fan favorites like Grandma the Clown, who has stepped out of retirement for the revival. She’ll be paired with the new ringmaster, Ty McFarlan, who, Kahanovitz said, “stood above everyone else” in experience as well as in improv tryouts with Grandma. Big Apple Circus, Kahanovitz explained, is distinguished not only by its stellar acts; it also strives to serve the community, with affordable family pricing as well as two shows each for autistic children and for those with hearing and visual impairments, called “Circus of the Senses.” Practice tents go up in New Jersey in mid-August, and rehearsals will begin in early September and run until the big Lincoln Center opening day on October 27. The Manhattan run goes through January 7. “I’m anxious and excited,” Kahanovitz said. “But at the same time, you realize the magnitude of bringing this back to New York. I’ve had instances where grandparents have come to me, and they went as kids and they brought their kids and they’re so happy that now their grandchildren can come.” Tickets are now on sale at bigapplecircus.com.

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July 13, 2017

11


Disability Pride Parade Promotes Awareness, Ability, BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The sun dazzled, the mood was jubilant, and, of course, the speakers blasted Beyoncé for the third annual Disability Pride NYC Parade on Sun., July 9. The festivities began in the morning at Union Square Park where Stephanie Wallace, 48, and her friends had gathered to participate in the parade. Wallace, a longtime Chelsea resident, said she came to show pride in who they are, and “support others like us. It gives us visibility. People don’t acknowledge us sometimes.” Wallace eschewed the label “disabled,” saying it was more important that people don’t discriminate or are prejudice toward those with physical challenges. And, most importantly, don’t patronize. “Get out of our way and let us do what we do,” she said. In April 2015, Wallace started the LAID Network, which focuses on love and intimacy for the disabled (visit loveandintimacyforthedisabled.wordpress. com). It is a “team of individuals with disabilities seeking to inform the public about everyday issues and concerns that affect us,” according to the flyer Wallace and her friend, Vernita Worrell, 57, was passing out. The organization has it’s own podcast, and Wallace recommended checking out YouTube channels, “Chicks in Chairs” and “Men on the Move.” The flyer said their projects are where there are “lively discussions about life, love, sex, and relationships. Sometimes it’s thoughtful. Sometimes it’s funny… but it’s always enjoyable.” It was Worrell’s third time coming to parade and she wanted to “make people aware — that we are here, that we live.” Indeed, awareness was an integral part of the founding of the parade. Jazz pianist Mike LeDonne founded Disability Pride NYC — now a nonprofit — after seeing how his daughter, Mary, was often treated in public, he told The New York Times in a January 2015 article. The inaugural parade was held in July 2015. “Awareness is the key,” Valerie Joseph, 41, told Chelsea Now. “Stop treating us as we are in a wheelchair. Start treating us as people.” Joseph is part of a nonprofit organization called Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled (BCID), which she said advocates for people with disabilities, and provides information about housing and transportation. Gabriela Amari, 56, is also part of BCID (bcid.org), and said this was her third parade, noting that is growing every year. “It is extremely important people see us out and about. We’re no longer

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July 13, 2017

Photos by Christian Miles

Mary LeDonne, center, inspired her father, Mike, to start the Disability Pride NYC Parade. On the right is Micah Fowler, an actor on the show “Speechless,” who was the grand marshal.

The festivities started at Union Square Park where groups gathered before the parade began.

shut-ins. And we dance,” she said, and did so when a Michael Jackson song started playing. Finding employment is an issue for those who have disabilities. “There are very few people with disabilities who can’t do some form of work so please hire us,” she said. “People aren’t willing to give us a chance.” Amari said that with a few reasonable modifications, many with physical challenges could work — and that they’re well worth the modifications. Marsha Steinberg is the assistant principal at PS169, a District 75 school on the Upper East Side. District 75 schools have programs focused on those with disabilities and special needs.

“We want them to be productive members of society,” she said, adding students have found employment at Starbucks, CVS, and McDonald’s. Steinberg has been at the school for 22 years, and she has seen how technology, specifically for assisted communication, has changed student’s lives for the better. “It opens up their whole life,” she said. Making the city’s parks, playgrounds, and programs more accessible for children, teens and adults with disabilities is part of Christopher Noel’s mission. Noel, 42, is the accessibility coordinator for the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, working on adding more ramps and playground equipment that is conducive for those with disabilities to play with.

Justin Quirke watched the parade on Sunday with his mom, Alicia Perez-Quirke, and showed support with a sign.

“The key is children with disabilities will not [be] out of the mix,” he said. Noel has participated in the parade since its inception and he comes to show pride for those with disabilities. “The way to make the movement happen to create greater opportunities with persons with disabilities is to be seen,” he said. “Inclusion is the key.” Before the parade headed up Broadway, some speakers warmed up the crowd, including Margaret Patterson-LeDonne and Mary. Patterson-LeDonne said her husband, Mike, was on tour but that he was proud of Disability Pride NYC (disabilitypridenyc.org). The parade’s tag is DISABILITY PRIDE continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media


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July 13, 2017

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Oh, Canada! Soulpepper at the Signature sure to send you swooning

Photos by Cylla von Tiedemann

Named Best Musical by the Dora Awards (Toronto’s “Tony”) and the Toronto Critics Association, “Spoon River” is an immersive musical adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology.”

BY TRAV S. D. “Canada is looking better and better.” If you’re like this correspondent, you’ve been uttering those words daily for months. Now that I’ve been introduced to the work of Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company, I am all the more convinced of the rightness of that sentiment. Founded in 1998, Soulpepper has rapidly grown into something like a national civic theatre for Canada. As this innovative company approaches its 20th season, Canada too celebrates a milestone: the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the moment at which Britain’s remaining North American colonies became Provinces of a single Dominion. In commemoration of both of these historic anniversaries, Soulpepper has taken the unprecedented step of bringing the core of their company — 65 artists — to New York City, where they are presenting a repertory season at The Pershing Square Signature Center through July 29. The company will be presenting 11 separate productions, including theatrical adaptions of W. Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” and Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology,” an

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July 13, 2017

Soulpepper’s “Of Human Bondage” stage adaptation plays through July 26.

original concert evening called “New York — The Melting Pot,” and a series of nightly cabarets. While it’s common for ballet companies, orchestras, and circuses to bring their entire operation to faraway towns, not since the early 20th century has it been usual for an entire company of actors to visit as a single traveling unit as a showcase of the company per se. Back

in the day, such operations were known as stock companies — an idea quite distinct from the modern notion of touring, in which a single show tours, employing a company specifically hired for that single show. Soulpepper is a repertory company, a group of artists who have been performing together for many years, and who bring with them a menu of several different theatrical productions.

Given the nature of the organization, said Soulpepper Founding Artistic Director Albert Schultz, they have to: “Since we’re a rep company that operates year-round, all of our work is interwoven like a fabric. So the notion of bringing a single show to New York is out of the question. The fabric would just fall apart. Our primary resource is human beings. Theatre is the glue. A lot of our actors go through our training program, the Soulpepper Academy, and so they become profoundly connected. They develop this complicity. Forgive the pun, but it’s our signature as a company.” I was fortunate to catch “Of Human Bondage” and was struck by this quality: a tightly knit ensemble operating as a single, complex organism, with rich, confident interactions that would only be possible where each member knew every other member, just as a musician knows his instrument. Just as impressively, the actors provide the play’s soundtrack live onstage, meaning that they also literally play musical instruments. Acting and design all function as one interrelated concoction, or, as Schultz described it, SOULPEPPER continued on p. 17 NYC Community Media


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Installation view, “Roni Horn” (at Hauser & Wirth New York through July 28).

© Roni Horn, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth; photo by Ron Amstutz

Buhmann on Art Roni Horn at Hauser & Wirth BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN Having worked in sculpture, drawing, photography, and site-specific installation, Roni Horn’s oeuvre spans more than four decades. Her earliest works entailed wedges of solid-colored glass that were set on shelves, as well as an installation and performance centered on an ant farm. This exhibition will focus on her photographic opus “The Selected Gifts, (1974–

2015)” — a collection of 67 photographs that document various gifts, which the artist received over a period of 41 years. These include some fascinating and rather unusual objects, such as a fossilized dinosaur egg and a handmade olive tree, but also leather gloves and two copies of Djuna Barnes’ “The Book of Repulsive Women.” Each object is depicted against a plain white background, and takes on a

nearly iconic presence; a token of friendship and diverse human interests. To Horn, they also manifest as something more personally revealing in that each object “is a reflection through the warped optic of others that shows a level of accuracy beyond that of any mirror. A portrait I could not have imagined without the unwitting aid of friends, acquaintances, and knowing strangers.”

In addition, two new bodies of works on paper and glass sculptures complement the installation, reflecting Horn’s ongoing interest in questions of identity, meaning, and perception. Through July 28 at Hauser & Wirth New York (548 W. 22nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10am6pm. Call 212-790-3900 or visit hauserwirth.com.

Photo by Ron Amstutz

Photo by Stefan Altenburger Photography Zürich

Roni Horn: “The Dog’s Chorus. Let Slip At the Drop of a Hat” (2016. Watercolour, pen and ink, gum arabic on watercolour paper, tape. Left drawing: 29 1/8 x 22 3/8 x 1 5/8 in. Center: 32 7/8 x 21 5/8 x 1 5/8 in. Right: 31 1/4 x 21 3/4 x 1 5/8 in.).

Roni Horn: “The Selected Gifts, (1974-2015)” (2015-2016. Ink jet prints on Hahnemuehle paper, 67 parts; 13 x 13 in (18 images); 13 x 14 in (3 images); 13 x 16 in (31images); 13 x 18 in (9 images); 13 x 19 in (6 images).

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July 13, 2017

NYC Community Media


Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

Soulpepper’s “New York — The Melting Pot” concert, July 21 and 22, looks at immigrant culture’s connection to the 20th century soundtrack. SOULPEPPER continued from p. 14

a “gumbo.” It all makes for a very impressive evening of theatre. Judging by reviews, Toronto and Canada alike are proud of their homegrown institution. There is a certain logic in Schultz wanting to introduce it to the city he calls “The Center of the Universe.” To realize this ambition, Soulpepper launched a special fundraising campaign that netted $1 million. “People wanted this to happen,” Schultz said. In addition, Soulpepper’s residency at the Signature Theatre is designed not only to showcase the company’s work, but its philosophy. “Everything we’re doing here is a reflection of the values of the company,” Schultz explained. “The space at Signature is very similar to our own, with a central public space, with four or five venues, or portals, radiating off of it. This creates an opportunity for interactions, for conversations with the audience. In addition to our mainstage shows, we have nightly cabarets in the main space, which I’ll be hosting, and company members and guests will be performing. It’s an opportunity to get to know us.” And like any good guest, Schultz and Soulpepper have brought their host a gift. In this case, it’s a musical concert called “New York — The Melting Pot,” to be presented on July 21 and 22. According to its promotional description, the show “traces the contributions of immigrant cultures to the creation of the soundtrack of the 20th century.” “It’s an ode to this city and its best impulses,” Schultz said. “New York invented the 20th century, largely through the contributions of three refugee cultures: Jewish, Irish, and African American. It’s a program we first put together in August of last year. Without changing a word we’re finding it’s gained much more resonance given the current political reality.” It’s nice to know Toronto appreciates what makes New York City great, even if a certain son of New York who now presides in Washington seems a little confused on that score. If the rest of Soulpepper’s season is anywhere near as good as their production of “Of Human Bondage,” none of their “interwoven fabric” is to be missed. Soulpepper is in residence through July 29 at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 W. 42nd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). For tickets ($25-$80), call 888-898-1188 or visit soulpepper.org. NYC Community Media

MAX

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Photos by Rebecca Fiore

Danny DePamphilis, manager of Rudyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bar & Grill (627 Ninth Ave.), told stories of the iconic local dive. STORIES continued from p. 3

to melt anyway!â&#x20AC;? Ashley recalled. John Newsome, whose family has been in Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen since 1880, said he was at summer camp during the blackout. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I got home I was amazed all my friends had brand new mopeds,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was moped shop on 55th and 10th Avenue and when I came home they were all around riding mopeds.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was always wondering whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d done it,â&#x20AC;? an older man interjected.

On the rooftop of 445 W. 45th Streetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Maravel Arts Center, fresh and seasoned residents drank wine and ate sâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;mores on the night of June 26, as they swapped stories of living in Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen. Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Commons, an alliance of the West 45th/46th Street Block Associations and the Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, held the soiree to create an opportunity for storytelling and reminiscing. Thecla Harris, a 22-year Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen resident who serves as artistic

On top of the Maravel Arts Center, overlooking Mathews-Palmer Playground, community members gathered to share stories passed through generations.

director for the Maravel-based arts education nonprofit Rosieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Theater Kids, said the idea for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Storiesâ&#x20AC;? came about after planning for this past May 20/21â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ninth Avenue International Food Festival. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Last event here, we were all talking about Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen and how much it has changed,â&#x20AC;? she recalled. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People say it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel like a neighborhood, but it is.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We really wanted to create a space to get people together,â&#x20AC;? Chana Widawski, Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen resident and member of Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Commons said. Previously, the group held a similar event called â&#x20AC;&#x153;West Side Stories.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The idea is to connect people through the generations,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the characters of Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen that make it. This is what a neighborhood is.â&#x20AC;? Julio Rosario Sanchez, also known as the Professor of Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen, told a story passed down by his parents of the neighborhoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s namesake. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A small area on 41st between Ninth Street and Dyer Ave; there was a tenement there and next to that tenement was a shantytown,â&#x20AC;? Sanchez said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In that shanty town, lived a lot of thugs.

One night a big fight broke out. There was an altercation where somebody got hurt, their jaw was broken, I think I remember reading, and I believe the cops were called and when the police came they did not want to enter into that shantytown. One of them commented to the other police officer that that was where the Devil did his cooking. So hence the name, Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen.â&#x20AC;? The Arts Center, which overlooks the Mathews-Palmer Playground (between 45th & 46th Sts. and Ninth & 10th Aves.), was the place to be for many of the older residents, as it still is to some, young and old, today. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The first time I came to the park was about 1972, because we werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allowed to go further than 43rd Street at that time,â&#x20AC;? Sanchez said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As I got older I got more adventurous and I came to 46th Street Park, where Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d hang most of the time.â&#x20AC;? Michelle Diaz, a fifth generation Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen resident, on her motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s side, the Irish side said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;When you have lived here for generations, all of us West Siders call [parks] by the street that they were on. So we have always called it 46th Street Park. De Witt Clinton is 52nd

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        

             

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Street Park.” Both Diaz and Sanchez remembered their old stomping grounds fondly saying all around you was more than just a community, but a family. “We knew everybody. We knew everybody’s parents. In fact, if you were there after hours you got told on,” Sanchez said. “I remember coming home and my father saying to me, ‘Why were you at the park at 10 o’clock at night?’ or ‘Why were you there during the day when you should be in school?’ ” Diaz said, “We all went to school here. Families knew each other. A lot of us are related actually.” “Probably cousins,” Newsome added with a laugh. Diaz came to the rooftop with her hands full of black and white photos printed out on computer paper. Some were from the library, archives of what the streets used to be, and some were from her personal collection. She had photos of the public baths on W. 51st St. and the Hudson River from 1902, a horse-drawn carriage ambulance from the former Roosevelt Hospital, and of her family with their dog standing outside during a street fair. The audience passed around her photos while she recollected. “You mentioned 44th Street being an anomaly,” Diaz said. “It was an anomaly for us in a certain way as that’s where the rich people lived, on that block. None of us had elevators where we lived. We all lived in tenements, five-story walk-ups, bathtub in the kitchen, toilet in the hallway… built in 1800-whatever. Up on the roof was our ‘tar beach.’ ” “We were like a little bunch of Hell’s Kitchen hoodlums, I guess you could say. That was our life. That’s all we knew. It was the time of our lives, you know, when I think back at it. It’s not like that anymore here, but an abandoned building was a dream to us.” Diaz talked about how an old toy factory on 44th St. and 10th Ave. had burned down, so her friends and her decided to go inside and poke around. “We went in there and we jumped on the boxes, jumped in the holes in the ground, and we left there with bags and bags of novelty toys. This is how we lived. We were not rich people,” she said. She said she loves posting these older pictures to Facebook groups such as Hell’s Kitchen Generations and All the Cool Kids Live in Hell’s Kitchen NYC. “This brings back so much memory for us. Even when it was like that, it was our place. This,” she said with her arms open. “Because it was a community. It was a family.” Widawski said the soiree was crucial NYC Community Media

to the community because “this is a medicine for everybody, to share and to connect… coming together, sharing our personal stories will help heal us in our incredibly toxic world.” The stories went on through the night as the cast of characters recollected their memories of their everchanging neighborhood. On the roof was a donation jar, to help restore the mural at the MathewsPalmer Playground. In the 1973 painting, “Against Domestic Colonialism” by Arnold Belkin, a sign reads, “We the people demand control of our communities.” Years later, generations later, community members are still looking after one another and their beloved landmarks.

Photo by Rebecca Fiore

A Hell’s Kitchen native discussed his ever-changing neighborhood.

July 13, 2017

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Elder Care

With July 22 Deadline, Scramble to Restore Trans Seniors to Key US Government Survey BY PAUL SCHINDLER With just weeks left before the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) closes the window on public comment, advocates for LGBTQ seniors are claiming partial victory against the Trump administration’s original plan to “erase” the community’s elders from an annual government survey of older Americans. According to Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, or SAGE, after a preliminary 60-day public comment period, the federal Administration on Aging, a unit of the Administration for Community Living within DHHS, published a revised survey format that restores a question about sexual orientation it originally proposed jettisoning. However, the agency is continuing with its plan to drop a separate question about gender identity. Under the Obama administration, the survey included questions on both sexual orientation and gender identity in 2014, 2015, and 2016. According to Michael Adams, SAGE’s CEO, the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants is a critical tool for making the needs of older Americans known to legislators and other policymakers. In an interview earlier this year when DHHS first proposed eliminating both sexual orientation and gender identity, he said of the Obama policy of counting LGBTQ seniors, “The most important impact was in sending a message to federallyfunded elder care providers that this was a segment that had to be served. We saw positive results as a consequence.” After learning that the initial comment period resulted in DHHS reversing its intentions on surveying sexual orientation but not gender identity, Adams told Manhattan Express, “We want to recognize that we won a significant victory here but we can’t let up. We don’t know if we can reverse them on transgender seniors but we have to fight like hell.” In April, when SAGE and other senior advocates first learned of DHHS’ intention to modify the survey, the group waged a public campaign with the slogan: “TRUMP TO LGBT ELDERS: DROP DEAD.” The group also emphasized, “We refuse to be invisible.” NYC Community Media

Photo by Donna Aceto

SAGE’s contingent in Manhattan’s June 25 Pride March emphasized the group’s commitment to reverse the Trump’s administration’s plan to eliminate transgender elders from an annual survey of older Americans.

Directing concerned community members to sageusa.org, the group reports that roughly 9,500 people offered comments to the federal government through a link provided there. In total, Adams said, roughly 15,000 people voiced their opposition to eliminating sexual orientation and gender identity categories on the survey. The public now has until July 22 to offer comment on the revised survey format, and SAGE will continue to direct those interested in voicing their views through its website. “What we have seen is that opposition and public comment can have an effect,” Adams said, noting that the opposition included leading expert voices in the aging community. Press scrutiny, he said, forced DHHS to justify its intentions, which Adams said are based on little more than “bigotry.” Administration officials, he said, initially said the use of the sexual orientation and gender identity categories was simply a three-year pilot program due to expire. When former DHHS officials who developed the questions contradicted that assertion, Trump officials responded that including the two categories imposed burdensome costs on state and local officials required to collect the information. That, in turn, Adams said, led such officials to come forward to say they found the information valuable and were not burdened in accumulating it. “Negative media attention forced

them to explain,” Adams said of what DHHS officials faced over the past several months. “And then we could respond. The press smoked them out.”

The controversy also led to bipartisan congressional support for keeping both the sexual orientation and gender identity questions in the survey. Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the Special Committee on Aging, and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, got 17 of their colleagues to sign on to a letter opposing the DHHS plan to forgo questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. In an email circulated to SAGE supporters, Adams has pledged, “Over these 30 days, SAGE intends to fight as aggressively against the erasure of trans elders as we fought against the erasure of LGBT elders. We will not rest until all of our community’s elders are counted, included, and supported. Thousands of voices of opposition forced the Trump Administration to back down on LGB elder erasure; thousands more will be needed to force them to back down on trans erasure.”

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DISABILITY PRIDE continued from p. 12

Everyone was all smiles at the Disability Pride NYC Parade.

Participants made their way up Broadway to Madison Square Park.

NYC Community Media

“inclusion, awareness, visibility,” but it is also “just plain fun. This is a day to celebrate. This is a day of pride and strength,” she said. Micah Fowler, an actor on the show “Speechless” who served as the parade’s grand marshal, spoke beforehand, saying “Let’s roll.” The Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities (nyc.gov/mopd) kicked off the parade, followed by NYPD officers carrying flags and bagpipe players. Balloons of every color of the rainbow could be seen while people chanted, clapped, danced, and shouted “Woo-hoo!” as they made their way to Madison Square Park. All kinds of groups participated — city agencies, corporate sponsors, groups from every borough that focus on those with disabilities, health care providers among others. People sported everything from umbrellas to tiny pink crowns while some handed out flyers, Mardi Gras beads, and bracelets. They carried signs that said “Change comes from you and me;” “Diversity is powerful;” “Do you even roll, bro?” “Medicaid saves lives;” “Inclusion Always;” “Disability rights are human rights;” and “I’m powerful just the way I am.” The enthusiasm lasted until Madison Square Park, where there were several

Photos by Christian Miles

Gabriela Amari said the parade helps raise awareness for those with disabilities.

booths, a few food trucks, and another stage with bands performing. A huge Connect Four, chalk, toys, and games abounded for children to play with. Justin Quirke, who told us he was 10 and a half, was watching the parade with his mom, Alicia Perez-Quirke. He held up a sign that said, “Nevertheless we persist” with the hashtag #walkandroll. When asked about the parade, he replied, “I like it.”

July 13, 2017

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