Page 1


BREAKING DOWN WALLS BY OPENING DOORS Sprawling New Mural Challenges Mental Health Stigma (see page 6)

Courtesy Fountain House Gallery


VOLUME 09, ISSUE 24 | AUGUST 10 - 16, 2017

Cooley to Pull Up Midtown Stakes, Lay Down Law at Hudson Yards

Courtesy Related-Oxford-Mitsui

Cooley LLP will move from their Midtown headquarters to occupy five floors of 55 Hudson Yards.

BY TAYLOR TIAMOYO HARRIS A Silicon Valley-based law firm is the latest tenant to choose Hudson Yards. Cooley LLP announced in a July 31 press release that their new location at 55 Hudson Yards (btw. W. 33rd & 34th Sts.) will take up 130,000 square feet, and will spread across five floors. “We’re excited to serve our clients out of this cutting-edge space,� said Jonathan Bach, partner in charge of the firm’s New York office, in a statement on the law firm’s website. “This move is in line with our commitment to East Coast growth and speaks to the vibrancy of New York across the corporate, finance and tech sectors and more.� The litigation powerhouse employs nearly 2,000 internationally, and has clients that include Twitter, Facebook, and Google. It will move to Hudson Yards from current location, across the street from Bryant Park. The 55 Hudson Yards building is adjacent to the No. 7 subway line, and occupies a total of 1.3 million square feet, hovering 780 feet into the sky.


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A June 2017 view of construction at 55 Hudson Yards. The building is set to open next year.

It is scheduled to open in 2018. The glass-framed building is about a five-minute walk south to the bank of the Hudson River, and less than a 10-minute walk north to Penn Station. “We are thrilled to welcome Cooley to the neighborhood,� said Jay Cross, President of Related Hudson Yards, the company behind the Hudson real estate project, which began construction in 2012. “Both Cooley and its clients are well-regarded as forward-thinking and innovative, and their new park-front New York City headquarters, in this amenity-rich neighborhood, is an ideal fit for their customers and their culture, employees and future talent.� New York Real Estate News reported on talks of the agreement between Cooley and Related in February, and disclosed asking rents for the building ranging from $105 to $140 per square foot. Notably, Cooley was the law firm behind social media giant Snapchat’s initial public offering (IPO) earlier this year. In 2015, the firm also opened their first European location in London. However, it’s their move less than two miles away to the emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood that the company sees playing a major role in their expansion agenda, according to Joe Conroy,

Cooley’s chief executive officer. “Becoming part of this visionary new development further reinforces our commitment to investment and growth in New York,� Conroy said in the press release. “We will be working alongside many of our clients and look forward to joining them in a stunning new environment that will be among the world’s most sophisticated law firm office spaces.� Law firms Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP will also relocate from elsewhere in NYC to occupy the building as tenants. Point72 Asset Management, a family office managing the assets of Steven A. Cohen, and MarketAxess, operator of a leading electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities, are also signed on as tenants. The total space for the $25 billion mixed office and residential neighborhood is 18 million square feet, according to hudsonyardsnewyork.com. It will also feature more than 100 shops and restaurants, a new 750-seat public school, and a 200-room hotel. Once complete, Hudson Yards is projected to contribute 19 billion annually to New York’s GDP, according to a report from Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. NYC Community Media

Chopper Whopper: Heliport Operator to Pay $250K for Illegal Tourist Flights BY LINCOLN ANDERSON The operator of the W. 30th St. heliport has agreed to pay $250,000 to the Hudson River Park Trust after local activists charged that the chopper landing-pad operator had violated a ban on tourist flights. According to a settlement agreement filed in court in June, the money will be paid in $50,000 installments each July over five years and will be used in the Hudson River Park’s Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen sections. The first payment has already been made. The agreement stipulates that the funds be used “for the sole and dedicated purpose of landscape improvements, maintenance and capital improvements to be made to the Hudson River Park‌ in the ‘upland area’ [that is, on the mainland part of the park, not on the piers] north of 26th St.â€? The settlement resulted after the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA) filed an order to show cause, alleging that Air Pegasus, the heliport’s operator, had flouted a 2008 agreement barring “tourism, recreational, sightseeing and other related helicopter operationsâ€? at the heliport, which is located in Hudson River Park, just east of the bikeway. Attorneys Dan Alterman and Arlene Boop represented the plaintiffs in the original settlement nine years ago and filed the recent order to show cause. It was, in fact, developer Douglas Durst, the former chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, who first suspected — after spotting an online ad — that tourist flights were once again operating out of the park. It was under Durst that the Friends had stopped the tourist

Photo by Tony Falcone

The heliport is typically busiest around 10 a.m. on weekdays, according to an Air Pegasus employee.

flights nine years ago. “I had seen an ad for these photography flights and I said, ‘That sounds interesting — it’s something I’d like to do.’ And then I realized I’d be doing it as a tourist, not a photographer, and that it would not be permitted under the settlement that was ordered when I was chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park. “I thought we had spent a lot of time and money to prevent this and that this was a subterfuge,� he said of the scam.

Alterman said that, after Durst told him he thought that tourist flights had started up again, he sent someone over to check it out. The helicopter operator was claiming the flights were solely for professional photographers. “I sent a young guy from my office up,� he said. “There were three or four people from Paris in the helicopter who had nothing to do with taking photography.� HELIPORT continued on p. 12




NYC Community Media

August 10, 2017


Rhymes with Crazy

Berry’s Very Paranoid Flick Kidnaps the Facts BY LENORE SKENAZY “Marco!” Halle Berry calls to her insanely adorable son in the new movie, “Kidnap.” “Polo!” the six-year-old gleefully calls back. “Marco!” Halle calls again as they play in a sun-dappled park. “Polo!” If you’ve seen the poster for this movie — or heck, noticed its name — it will come as no surprise that a few minutes later, when Halle is distracted by a phone call from her lawyer telling her that her ex wants full custody of the kid (hiss!), her child disappears. He has been “Taken.” Oh wait. Sorry. That’s the Liam Neeson franchise. But anyway, yes, her child has disappeared in the blink of an eye — no one saw him snatched, he didn’t protest or scream — and a few frantic scenes later Halle spies him being loaded into a car even older than my own. Incredible. How is it that child-snatching is presented as such a lucrative business (according to the movie, kids go for $100,000 each) and yet the snatchers drive clunkers? It must be because they drive the most amazing clunkers in all creation, capable of careening through 90 minutes of Hollywood car chases. For that is what “Kidnap” quickly becomes:

Halle on the heels of the creeps, gunning down the highway (setting off other car wrecks on the way, all treated as meh, because she is a Mom on a Mission), interspersed with car interior shots of Halle talking to herself — “I’m coming baby!” — and… that’s it. Plus, in one scene, there’s a shovel to someone’s head. Now you don’t have to buy a ticket. But a trite script and only moderately tense car chase are not what’s criminal about this movie. What’s criminal is that it is supposed to be a heroic tale of Halle dealing with every mom’s worst nightmare: A stranger kidnapping her kid. But instead of empowering moms, the plot reinforc-

es the idea that this particular crime is, if not common, at least something that normal parents should consider when taking their kids on an outing. Thinking that way is not only terrifying, it is changing the way we parent, and the way our kids grow up. Strangers kidnapping young children to sell is such a vanishingly rare crime that David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said he’d fi le the “Kidnap” movie under “science fiction.” In fact, if for some reason you wanted your child to be kidnapped by a stranger, do you know how long you would have to leave him or her outside, unattended, for this to be statistically likely to happen? A day? An hour? Two minutes while you talk on the phone to your divorce lawyer? The answer is 750,000 years. It’s like how many lottery tickets would you have to buy to make it statistically likely you’d win. You’d have to leave your kid outside for 750,000 years before you could be pretty sure he’d be kidnapped, according to numbers crunched for me by Warwick Cairns, author of “How to Live Dangerously.” And yet, around the country, parents wait with their kids at the bus

Extra! Extra! Local News Read all about it!

stop every morning now, or drive them door to door. A Mayo Clinic study found that three out of four parents are afraid their children will be abducted. This fear translates into kids being constantly supervised outdoors, or simply stashed indoors, for fear of predators. A single movie doesn’t move the needle, but what we have today is a culture so obsessed by kiddie kidnapping you’ll often fi nd a booth at street fairs where parents are encouraged to fi ngerprint their kids, save a bit of their hair, and sometimes even have the kids take a dental impression, all to be prepared if “the unthinkable” (that we can’t stop thinking about) occurs. An article this past weekend about one such booth quoted a mom saying, “There’s so many children that are taken, and trying to get all these things together in that moment of panic is hard.” She is already rehearsing the “Kidnap” scenario in her head. What is the harm of being prepared? It’s that in our focus on kidnapping, we have changed childhood. Fewer kids run around outside or even know how to organize a game. We think we’re keeping them “safe” but in reality, we are exposing them to far more likely dangers. Obesity and childhood depression are both up. My gosh, “adult onset” diabetes soared 30 percent from 2000 to 2009 — in kids. We are making our kids more emotionally and physically vulnerable by not letting them do things on their own. Until we give them back some unstructured, unsupervised time outside, consider them kidnapped… by us. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker, founder of the blog Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com), and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?”

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Midtown East Rezoning Clears City Council Hurdles BY JACKSON CHEN A City Council subcommittee unanimously approved the Midtown East rezoning plan, offering a few adjustments before the plan was unanimously approved by the full Council on August 9. Meeting on July 27, the Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises reviewed the plan, which aims to revitalize Midtown East — bordered roughly by East 39th and 57th Sts. and Third and Fifth Aves. — into a modern office building environment. To attract developers, the rezoning will offer them incentives to build bigger so long as they buy development rights from the district’s landmarked properties or contribute to a public realm project. The rezoning effort has been in the works for several years and strives to strike a balance among developers seeking bigger buildings, residents and area workers benefiting from quality of life improvements through transit renovations and public space set-asides, and landmarked buildings looking to shoulder their upkeep burden through the

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Dan Garodnick’s Office

REZONING continued on p. 22

East Side Councilmember Dan Garodnick hailed the revised Midtown East rezoning plan approved on July 27 by the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises — and by the full Council on August 9.

Goddard Riverside’s New Chief Leaning into His Mission BY JACKSON CHEN Nearly six months into his leadership, Roderick Jones is undertaking a major operational shift focused on the quality of the agency’s programs. Jones, 47, became Goddard Riverside’s new executive director on February 13, returning to his native New York from a Missouri non-profit he led. He fills the shoes of Stephan Russo, who spent four decades at the agency’s helm. With close to a decade of experience at the Grace Hill Settlement House in St. Louis, Jones’ skills translate well into his new role at the Upper West Side institution located on Columbus Ave. and West 89th St. In many ways, it was the call of the big city that drew him back, Jones explained. “New York is a kind of place where there’s all the opportunity in the world to be as much or as little as you want to be,” he said. “If you’re rich or poor, black or white, or from some other culture, there’s a leveling that creates a comfort in a place that’s for everybody.” Photo by Jackson Chen

Roderick Jones, in his office at the Goddard Riverside Community Center on the Upper West Side. NYC Community Media

RODERICK JONES continued on p. 23 August 10, 2017


Mental Health-Themed Mural Spans

Julienne Schaer for the NYC Mural Arts Project

On the north side of the street, the text reads, “Say hello! / We can embrace ourselves / and open doors / together.”

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC A vibrant and engaging mural designed to take on the stigma surrounding mental illness is spreading its message — 90 feet long and six feet high — along a

once-gloomy pedestrian walkway. Recently installed for permanent view across both sides of the Port Authority bridge on W. 34th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.), the project is a collaborative

effort between working artists, those living with mental health issues, and members of the community. The mural’s debut at a July 24 ribbon-cutting ceremony was the culmination of months of work at Fountain House Gallery, under the guidance of lead muralist Andrew Frank Baer and the auspices of the New York City Mural Arts Project, itself sponsored by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). The Port Authority “had these gray walls that had been there for years. They were thrilled to offer their space for this colorful mural,” Dr. Myla Harrison, DOHMH’s assistant commissioner for mental health, said by phone. Harrison, who oversees the mural arts project, said the mural “looks great” and is “pretty compelling,” and that reactions from the community have been posi-

tive. “We are thrilled about how well it went — from an idea to three completed murals,” said Harrison, referring to two other murals in the Bronx that were also part of the project. When NYC Community Media puplication Chelsea Now reported on the project earlier this year (“At Fountain House Gallery, Art Frames Focus on Mental Health,” April 6, 2017), it was almost at the point of the design review. Ariel Willmott, gallery director for Fountain House Gallery, said that after the design review they moved into what was called the “deploy” phase of the project. “For me, this was the highlight of the project. We transformed Fountain House Gallery into a mural-making factory! The floors were covered with brown paper and from floor to ceiling the walls were transformed with the printed mural

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Bridge to Spread Message of Hope design on sheets of polytab,” she said in an email. She added, “It was mesmerizing to witness the progress each day as color was added to the black and white designs and exciting to have the gallery activated into a participatory painting extravaganza!” The gallery (located at 702 Ninth Ave., btw. W. 48th & 49th Sts.) was open during this period, and many members of nearby Fountain House — an organization that helps those living with mental illness — became regular painters of the mural, working alongside dropins from the neighborhood. This aspect of the project, Willmott noted, “contributed to a spirit of community engagement. I often would take a break from my work and grab a paintbrush and contribute to the painting process.” Among those who attended the July 24 ceremony was Anthony Christopher Newton. Self-described as “a proud


Julienne Schaer for the NYC Mural Arts Project

On the south side of the street, the first part of the mural reads, “Some days I have to push myself / just to go outside / and walk to the park.”

artist living with schizophrenia,” Newton created the main character seen throughout the mural, whose journey from isolation to sharing his art with others is, said Willmott, “very familiar to many of the artists

I touch every soul who walks by this mural and finds hope to persevere in such incredible times. We will never admit defeat, but use our spirituality to endure our most difficult moments and find the love of living.”

For more information, visit the websites of the NYC Mural Arts Project (nycmap. org), Fountain House Gallery (fountainhousegallery.org) and Fountain House (fountainhouse.org).


I CITY NYC Community Media

from Fountain House Gallery.” “The narrative to this central character,” said Newton, “is to show that nothing can stop or hold you down from accomplishing your dreams no matter the circumstance. … I pray that

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The Many Benefits of Dance Honoring Marsha P. Johnson BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Naomi Goldberg Haas, director of Dances for a Variable Population, holds movement classes around town, many of them at local senior centers. This one, right, was held at the Parks Department’s Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, at Clarkson St. and Seventh Ave. South, and funded by Councilmember Corey Johnson. As Hass explains on her website, “DVP’s mission is to inspire older populations to move more and to embrace the study of dance as a viable productive activity that enhances and enriches the quality of their lives. Older adults need accessible programs that use creative movement as a means to improving balance, mobility, flexibility, strength, joyful expression and reduction of isolation in their communities. “Our MOVEMENT SPEAKS® programs are designed for the appreciation and enjoyment of moving, moving with others, and creating heightened self-expression and con-

Photo by Tequila Minsky

A dance instructor listening to seniors at a movement class at the Dapolito Recreation Center on Clarkson St.

fidence,” Hass adds. “They take each person from where they are and move them forward, supporting a more meaningful and fulfi lled sense of self. Program participants reflect a broad range of motor and cognitive skill levels and include both dance enthusiasts and total newcomers. Many dancers in this program are fi nding their physical voices for the fi rst time.”

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BY DONNA ACETO Twenty-five years ago this summer, Marsha P. Johnson, a trans icon whose central role in the Stonewall Rebellion was chronicled in historian David Carter’s definitive 2004 book about the 1969 uprising, was remembered in a July 27 memorial on the Christopher Street Pier. Johnson, who with friend and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera, founded STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, was found dead in the Hudson River on July 6, 1992, six days after last being seen at that year’s Pride festivities. A founding member of the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation Front, Johnson, who was 46, was later a member of ACT UP, and also worked with Andy Warhol and the performance troupe Hot Peaches. The memorial was organized by Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the Translatina Network, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, Make the Road New York, the New York City Anti-Violence

Photo by Donna Aceto

Longtime trans activist Renée Imperato of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders).

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Irish Hunger Memorial Reopens After Leak Fix BY COLIN MIXSON The Battery Park City Authority reopened the Irish Hunger Memorial on July 28 after nearly a year-long closure for a $4.9 million waterproofing project. The monument gets more attention from tourists than residents or area regulars, but locals who appreciate the memorial were glad to see the bucolic idyll reopen, according to one Oculus worker. “Yeah, I did miss it,” said Tanisha Best, who commutes from New Jersey to her job at the Oculus shopping center. “Not a lot of people actually come here. It’s a nice way to have some peace and quiet.” The rustic half-acre memorial to the “Great Hunger” that ravaged Ireland from 1845 to 1852 features a reconstruction of an abandoned farming cottage, symbolizing the mass migration of Irish to America to escape the famine resulting from the potato blight. The structure is an authentic cottage from Carradoogan in County Mayo, but the rolling green monument actually

incorporates stones from each county of the Emerald Isle. The memorial began leaking almost immediately following its 2002 unveiling, and a remediation project that waterproofed a portion of the monument the following year failed to stem the seepage. The recently completed, more comprehensive waterproofing work began in August 2016, and was — inflation notwithstanding — almost as expensive as the monument itself, which cost $5.1 million in 2002. Part of the reason is that the work was so meticulous. As it disassembled the monument’s stone walls and cottage, the authority’s contractor was required to catalogue the position of each of the rocks as they were dislodged, so they could later be reinstalled in the proper order. A British ex-pat visiting from Holland said she appreciated how the memorial — raised slightly above the bustle of Battery Park City — evoked the Irish countryside, and the contrast it created against surrounding acres of sprawling

Photo by Colin Mixson

Tourists in from Spain, Jose Alcaraz, at left, and Amparo Garcia had no idea that the Irish Hunger Memorial had recently reopened following a year-long waterproofing project, but they were sure glad it did.

urban landfill. “I think it’s great,” said Patricia Moltzer. “When you stand up here, and you see the walls, it could be potatoes under the ground, and then you see the skyscrapers.” Many of the visitors to the newly reopened memorial commented on the vista the attraction’s peak offers of Jersey City, but Best said it was the monument’s modesty she liked the most


— there’s no marquee signage advertising the landmark as the “Irish Hunger Memorial,” and visitors are instead left to discover its meaning through quotes about the famine scattered throughout the space. “I appreciate the structure of it,” The Jersey commuter said. “You don’t realize it’s a memorial until you’re inside of it and you see the words on the wall. It’s a story.”

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August 10, 2017


HELIPORT continued from p. 3

Alterman said they were able to document at least 25 illegal tourist flights between October of last year and midJanuary of this year. Under the original settlement, Air Pegasus was to be fined $10,000 for each day it violated the provision against tourist flights. “They were saying if you were Martin Scorsese and for commercial purposes needed photos of the city,” he said of the copter company’s tricky pitch. The rides cost $300 or $400 for 15 minutes, according to Alterman. The plaintiffs in the original ’08 lawsuit included HKNA, plus Friends of Hudson River Park, Chelsea Waterside Park Association, West St. Coalition, Pier 66 Maritime, Inc., John Krevey, Bob Trentlyon, Martin Treat, Andrew Berman and other individuals. According to the recent settlement agreement, Air Pegasus denied any violation of the original agreement and the Trust “has taken no position.” Air Pegasus is a commercial tenant of the Trust, which is the five-mile-long park’s governing state-city authority. Helicopter flights for other uses — such as medical, business, government and travel — are allowed at the heliport. Attorneys Alterman and Boop hailed the new settlement. “We commend Air Pegasus and the Hudson River Park Trust for promptly resolving this matter and look forward to the time when the park is finished,” Alterman said. Added Boop, “The $250,000 to be paid to the Trust over the next five years will help restore parkland in Hell’s Kitchen, which will be a great improvement to residents and visitors alike.” In an interview just before the recent settlement agreement was reached, a spokesperson for the Trust said the authority had moved quickly to end the tourist flights as soon as being notified of them. “The Trust is concerned that the heliport operator comply with all of its legal obligations,” the spokesperson said. “When the Trust learned in January from Community Board 4 (CB4) that certain impermissible flights were being operated from the heliport, the Trust immediately contacted the permittee and demanded that the flights stop, and was in touch with CB4, Friends of Hudson River Park and Mr. Alterman to inform them of our actions. The Trust has been assured that all such flights have stopped as of January of this year and has no reason to believe that will change. It is our eventual intention to move the heliport.” The Trust declined comment this week


August 10, 2017

Courtesy Ray Guenter

Circa 1970, Congressmember Bella Abzug was joined by longtime Village Assemblymember Bill Passannante (to Abzug’s left) and Chelsea District Leader Ray Guenter (to Passannante’s left), at a press conference at the W. 30th St. heliport to protest plans for a city-backed STOLport (short-takeoff-and-landing airport) at Chelsea Piers. An alternative called for a floating STOLport on two aircraft carriers to be anchored on the Chelsea Waterfront — which the feds deemed “feasible.” Due to community opposition, the plans were scrapped. Tourist ’copter flights at W. 30th St. were allowed back then — for just $5! The current operator was caught allegedly charging up to $400 for illegal tourist flights.

Photo by Tony Falcone

A passenger exits a helicopter at the W. 30th St. heliport, where business and commuter flights are still allowed.

on the new settlement, but did confirm that the first payment from Air Pegasus has been received and that the funds will be used for the specified purposes in the park north of W. 26th St. When Air Pegasus was called for comment, an employee there said they just run the landing pad and that a separate company runs the flights. A spokesperson for the flight operator subsequently called the paper and said they didn’t do anything wrong, either. Told of that, Alterman scoffed, “Well, Air Pegasus did agree to pay the $250,000 settlement, so… .” The W. 30th St. heliport operates under a 1996 permit with the New York State Department of Transportation that was transferred to the Trust when the park was established in 1998. The city’s

long-standing position is that a non-tourism heliport on the West Side is needed. A 2013 amendment to the Hudson River Park Act of 1998 allows for the “development, operation and maintenance of a non-tourism/non-recreational heliport” located between W. 29th and W. 32nd Sts., with restrictions on height, parking and requirements about what operations can be over the water versus on the upland area. Over the years — spurred on by waterfront park activists and the surrounding community — the Trust has worked with the city, state, CB4 and local property owners to forge an agreement on the heliport’s eventual new location. Once there is consensus, the Trust would issue a request for proposals, or RFP, for a new operator and plan for the heliport, whose

location would have to comply with the park act. For his part, Alterman said the issue of relocating the heliport has “been lurking in the background.” “There’s no question that a park without a heliport is better than a park with a heliport,” he said. Waterfront activist Tom Fox blasted the Trust for legalizing a heliport in the park through the 2013 amendment. However, the city, it seems, has always viewed the Chelsea waterfront as a prime spot for aviation. In the early 1970’s, the community and local politicians fought off the city’s push for a plan for a STOLport — or short-takeoff-and-landing airport — at the Chelsea Piers. According to Ray Guenter, who was Chelsea’s male Democratic district leader back then, the STOLport would have involved decking over the river between some of the piers to create a north-south landing strip at least 1,000 feet long. In March 1971, Guenter moderated a major hearing on the subject, with a panel with Congressmember Bella Abzug, other local politicians, and environmentalists all opposed to the plan. Told of the recent tourist-flights violation at the W. 30th St. heliport, Guenter, who now lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, reflected, “The STOLport controversy there really mirrors what goes on today — which is putting the interests and safety of that highly populated area above commercial aviation and the profit motive and the issue of convenience for travelers.” NYC Community Media


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Defining Images from Decisive Moments India, as seen by the keen eye of Henri Cartier-Bresson BY NORMAN BORDEN Here is India through the eyes of one of the most — maybe the most — influential and revered photographers of the 20th century: Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004). The artist himself selected 69 of his favorite images for a 2002 show in Oslo, and now that collection is part of the Rubin Museum of Art’s enthralling exhibition, “Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame.” As his personal choices, these pictures offer unusual insight into what the artist considered to be among his best and most significant work during his time in India. They include his first meeting with Mahatma Gandhi as well as superb examples of his “street photography,” a genre he is widely credited with pioneering. Numerous images illustrate what Cartier-Bresson famously termed “The Decisive Moment,” explaining, “Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event, as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” What’s more, his first Leica camera, letters, and examples of his published work in Life and other magazines add another dimension to the show and help deepen the understanding of this iconic artist. His involvement with India began when he co-founded the photo cooperative Magnum Photos in early 1947 with Robert Capa and three other veteran photojournalists. Assigned to cover India and China, he was hesitant about going until Capa enticed him with the promise that his images would appear “fullframe” in magazines — not cropped. He agreed and, as the beginning of a three-year stay in East Asia, went to India in late 1947. Cartier-Bresson arrived in an India untethered from British colonialism and recently partitioned from Pakistan. He began to document the country’s chaos, political figures, people, and the street NYC Community Media

©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

An astrologer’s shop in the mill workers’ quarter of Parel, Bombay, Maharashtra, India, 1947.

life — and would return to India five more times over the next several decades, capturing the soul of India with his portraits of royalty, refugees, shopkeepers, and beggars as well as temples, landscapes, and streetscapes. “India in Full Frame” provides a stunning view of his fascination and appreciation of the country and its people. In January 1948, the artist traveled to Delhi to meet and photograph Mahatma Gandhi, who was now in the midst of a hunger strike as a protest against the Hindu-Muslim violence caused by the partitioning. Cartier-Bresson photographed Gandhi during and after his fast, and, for the last time, on January 30. Only 90 minutes after their last meeting, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist. In the ensuing hours and days, Cartier-Bresson became an eyewitness to history. In a remarkable series of photographs, he documented the funeral, from the

first flame of Gandhi’s cremation to the amphibious “duck” boat that was carrying Gandhi’s ashes. Looking for a different perspective of the huge crowds along the route of the cortege, he pointed his camera up to photograph a group of men perched in a big tree hoping to get a better view. When Life Magazine and others published Cartier-Bresson’s comprehensive and sensitive reporting of Gandhi’s death, he gained international recognition. The rest, as they say, is history. India offered Cartier-Bresson a wealth of photo opportunities over the years and they are in full view here. He had a keen eye for juxtaposition, quickly spotting the relationships and/or the dichotomy in a visual. One thoroughly engaging example is “An Astrologer’s Shop In The Mill Workers’ Quarter of Parel, Bombay, Maharashtra, India.” Here, two men are smoking, gazing intently at the camera, framed by a

sign that promises “GREAT CARE OF ALL SARTS (sic) OF DISEASES WITH OUT (sic) MEDICINE...” (remember, this is an astrologer’s shop). In the background, skulls sit on shelves, perhaps mute testimony to the astrologer’s powers. I wondered if the artist smiled when he took this picture. In July 1948, Cartier-Bresson went to Kashmir to photograph the struggle between India and Pakistan over that disputed region. In his stunning “Muslim Women On The Slopes Of Hari Parbal Hill, Praying Towards The Sun Rising Behind The Himalayas,” (also the cover of his book “In India”), the two women kneeling, two standing, one of them with her hands outstretched in prayer, illustrate the geometric structure that was part of “the decisive moment.” However, the irony here, as Cartier-Bresson noted in INDIA continued on p. 24 August 10, 2017


â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;UNTAMED!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Sings the Praises of Operaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wild Side Ensembleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s annual fest pairs emerging artists with timeless classics BY TRAV S.D. No matter what you do in life, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to start somewhere. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re an opera singer, that may not be so easy. The dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte Opera Ensemble hopes to address that. From Aug. 12-27, the company will bring its 15th Annual Summer Festival (this year titled â&#x20AC;&#x153;UNTAMED!â&#x20AC;?) to downtown performance behemoth La MaMa. This is the festivalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first year at the historic Off-Off Broadway theater. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We had been looking at their rehearsal spaces but then learned that there was an opening in the Ellen Stewart [i.e., La MaMaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest theater space] in August,â&#x20AC;? said Christopher Fecteau, dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte Operaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s executive director. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t turn that space down. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so big but it also has this raw, rustic feel that works really well for what we do.â&#x20AC;? As for what they do, dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mission provides â&#x20AC;&#x153;emerging opera artists with training and performance opportunities necessary to bridge the gap between the conservatory and a flourishing career.â&#x20AC;? Since its inception in 2000, nearly 500 singers have taken part in dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s programs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I first arrived in New York in 2000,â&#x20AC;? Fecteau recalled, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I quickly realized that there were few small companies that help young singers get debut role opportunities. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the hardest thing for opera singers. You have to have done a role before you can get cast in it professionally. So we give singers a chance to do that in a repertory company, where they get to perform in both well-known and lesser-known operas. The name arose to reflect weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re an ensemble thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s concerned with the craft of the work. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re trying to create a sense of ongoing continuity over

Photo by Nina Bova

A scene featuring the Innkeeper, from dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte Opera Ensembleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 2016 production of Jules Massenetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Manon.â&#x20AC;?

several seasons. We start singers out in smaller roles then they eventually come up to principal parts.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;UNTAMED!â&#x20AC;? will open with two full productions: Francesco Cavalliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1651 â&#x20AC;&#x153;La Calistoâ&#x20AC;? and LeoĹĄ JanĂĄekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1924 â&#x20AC;&#x153;PĂ­hody liĹĄky BystrouĹĄkyâ&#x20AC;? (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Cunning Little Vixenâ&#x20AC;?). The produc-

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        


                ! "




August 10, 2017

tions reflect the festivalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s theme of wild nature, but are also strong showcase vehicles for the dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte company. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Cunning Little Vixen,â&#x20AC;? Fecteau said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;is a well-balanced show, with lots of smaller roles. It gives everyone a chance to perform and sing in the Czech language, which is important because Czech operas are increasingly becoming part of the modern repertoire. Whereas â&#x20AC;&#x153; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;La Calistoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is a 17th century work which sets the conventions of opera for the next 300 years, the touchstone of everything theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll sing later in their careers, Mozart, Puccini, on and on.â&#x20AC;? Fecteau explained that dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Arte chooses a different theme for its festival every year and this theme, â&#x20AC;&#x153;UNTAMED!,â&#x20AC;? is meant to spotlight the unpredictable, wild characters of opera, and explore parallels between human, animal, and supernatural realms. In addition to the two full-length, fully-staged operas, â&#x20AC;&#x153;UNTAMED!â&#x20AC;?

will also present recitals that allow ensemble members to sing lead parts. â&#x20AC;&#x153;UNTAMED! Opera Scenesâ&#x20AC;? (Aug. 18 & 22) will feature excerpted scenes from â&#x20AC;&#x153;Carmen,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Idomeneo,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;La clemenza di Tito,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rusalka,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Die EntfĂźhrung aus dem Serail,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;A Midsummer Nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dream,â&#x20AC;? and more. The festival will be capped off on Aug. 26 with â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wild Things,â&#x20AC;? a recital featuring songs about the animal kingdom and other wild creatures, performed by members of dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte ensemble and cover artists, accompanied by dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte musical staff. The dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Arte Opera Ensembleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;UNTAMED!â&#x20AC;? Opera Festival runs Aug. 12â&#x20AC;&#x201C;27, with evening performances at 7:30pm and matinees at 2pm. At the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa (66 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). Tickets are $26â&#x20AC;&#x201C;46, with festival discounts available. For the full performance schedule and reservations, visit dellarteopera.org or call 646-632-2340. NYC Community Media


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How I Spent My Summer Trumpcation Pining for a break from the preening and pouting and whining BY MAX BURBANK By the time you read this, the bitter clementine we call President Donald Trump will be well into a 17-day vacation at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ. A very private resort, according to its website, it boasts “world-class amenities.” So you know it’s not a dump, like the White House. It’s a nice arrangement. His private suite presumably features the kind of gilded bathroom fixtures men of quality literally cannot go without, and a “yuge” amount of money will be transferred from the federal government into the coffers of The Trump Group, a business entity now run by sons Jr. and Eric. It’s not a kleptocracy! It’s a blind trust Trump has no more to do with than the text of Jr.’s latest denials about whatever Russian tomfoolery he’s been caught at since I turned in this column. I don’t begrudge Trump a vacation. What with Trumpcare tanking, “The Mooch” coming and going faster than a feckless prom date, and wee racist Lil’ Jeff Sessions tormenting Trump at every turn by doggedly refusing to resign, biting at his exposed ankles like a venomous, albino chigger, I’m certain our beleaguered Commander in Chief needs a break. Hell, I need a break. From him, not to mention all the shenanigans sucked along in his wake like the plastic flotsam garbage trailing behind a drunken frat boy’s jet ski. I find myself praying that Trump’s vacation is my vacation from Trump. Please Donald, spend your days away from the White House blissfully not hastening Armageddon. Put your phone in the hotel safe and pretend you never got this job you clearly hate so much! Play golf every day, drive your cart on the green, hell, do donuts, it’s your course! Have slice after slice of the world’s most beautiful chocolate cake, have two scoops of ice cream, hell, have three and don’t let your dinner companions have any if that makes your ice cream sweeter! Just go be you and stop… doing things. Stop saying things and signing things and lying about who called you to tell you you’re the very best ever in history at whatever the hell you’re lying about. Stop bragging and preening and pouting and whining and above all, stop tweeting. No, I don’t really mean that, don’t stop tweeting. Twitter is the shovel you’re using to dig your own grave, tweet away, just maybe


August 10, 2017

AP Photo/Laurie Kellman

PODS are loaded from the White House on Fri., Aug. 4. The dumpy old West Wing, seen here, is getting a really classy renovation while President Donald Trump is away on his 17-day (working?) vacation.

take a break from tweeting. So I can get a break from you tweeting. I suppose that’s unlikely, what with Robert Mueller empaneling a grand jury and subpoenas flying out like letters from a Hogwarts where the only available house is Slytherin. I wonder if by the time this column sees print he’ll have fired Mueller, or maybe had some Russian push him out a window? Trump’s rage at this moment must be incalculable, dashing hopes for a 17-day respite from his contagious lunacy. On the other hand, the president who on two separate occasions played in trucks while major health care votes were taking place has a famously goldfish-like attention span. He might be just a threeover-par and a 12-piece extra crispy bucket away from distraction. Trump promised we’d be tired of winning, and he was half-right. I’ve never been this tired. As a nation, the majority of us are exhausted. We’re a country suffering from PTSD, but the “P” doesn’t stand for “Post” — it stands for “Perpetual.” Half of my friends and family have turned away from news altogether and refuse to speak or hear his name, referring to him as “Voldemort” or “Jabba the Hutt,” and only then when

absolutely necessary. The rest of us have become Twitter junkies, jonesing for every fresh doom nugget, as if “staying connected” will somehow maintain our sanity while we wait for things to get inevitably and dramatically worse. It was kind of a dystopian rush for about a week after the initial denial wore off, but now everyone I know has the thousand-mile stare Viggo Mortensen sported in “The Road.” You want to vent all the time, but can you trust the bystanders who might overhear you? What if they’re one of them: The unchangeable? The 36 percent who think Mexico will repay us the money we’re fronting for the big, beautiful, solar power wall with windows in it, so you can watch out for bad hombres and not get hit in the head when they throw 60-pound sacks of drugs over; the ones who still believe maybe a morbidly obese teen sitting on a bed in his mom’s basement hacked our elections, because whatever all our intelligence agencies might say, Trump asked Putin not once, but TWICE, in TWO DIFFERENT WAYS if the Russians were responsible, and he said “Nyet” BOTH TIMES! You get people like that riled up, they might unhinge their jaws and devour you whole on the spot. It’s possible! Don’t

tell me Stephen Miller couldn’t do that. He could, would, and does. Looking for a glimmer of hope in all this, something beyond the dream of a 17-day respite while Trump carts around his golf course like an orange walrus in a wheelbarrow, dismounting occasionally to whack his little dimpled balls with a stick? I find myself thinking a lot about time travel. I imagine this is an alternate timeline created by a time travel accident. Some poor, brave, sci-fi bastard stepped on the wrong butterfly somewhen in time and now we’re all screwed. But even as you read this, intrepid Time Stream Agents are trying over and over again to set things right before it’s too late, and one morning we’ll wake up and Hillary will be president. Or Bernie. Or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Jeb friggin’ Bush, and I’ll complain constantly, never imagining just how damn lucky I am. But deep inside, some small part of me will be happy, and I’ll wonder why I’m only mildly anxious as I work for whatever candidate seems like they might beat him and wonder why I sometimes smile when I think of Jeb. Jeb? Jeb! NYC Community Media


TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

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phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

August 10, 2017


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August 10, 2017


sale of their development air rights. “With this vote, we are breathing new life into New York’s most important business district,” Councilmember Dan Garodnick said in an August 9 press statement. “Not only will we see sensible growth, but the public will benefit from extraordinary new investments in above-ground public spaces and in below-ground subway infrastructure. Better transit, new jobs, topof-the-line office space: East Midtown is back, full of optimism, and open for business.” Borough President Gale Brewer and Garodnick had led the task force that developed the rezoning plan. Landmarked sites, however, resisted a key element in the rezoning plan, opposition on which they gained some ground but not the full outcome they are seeking. As part of every development rights sale, a minimum contribution will be made to a public fund overseen by a governing group responsible for doling out the dollars to transit and public space projects. That contribution had initially been calculated as the greater of 20 percent of the sale value or $78.60 per square foot of development rights, a figure that is one-fifth of the $393 square-foot price set by the city Department of City Planning. An amendment by the Council adjusted that calculation in line with the current market for development rights. The new square-foot price was set at $307.45 per square foot, a fifth of which is $61.49, the new minimum contribution to the public fund. The Archdiocese of New York, which owns St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the

district’s largest landmarked properties, responded to the subcommittee vote with a statement reiterating its hopes for the rezoning’s potential, but also reasserting its position that no floor should be placed on the development rights sale contribution into the public realm fund. “While we appreciate that the City Council is balancing a range of interests, we are disappointed that the requirement for a minimum payment by landmark owners regardless of transaction value has remained in the proposal,” the statement read. “This will negatively impact the city’s ability to raise money for public realm improvements and landmarks’ ability to fund preservation efforts.” Others found more unalloyed reason for satisfaction in the Council subcommittee’s changes. Residents of Turtle Bay notched a victory with the exclusion of Third Ave. from East 46th to 51st Sts. from the district’s boundaries in response to residential concerns. Turtle Bay locals warned that including that strip in the district would threaten its largely residential character. The changes to the rezoning plan that came out of the Council subcommittee also included a reduction in the minimum size of developments that will be required to provide “privately owned public spaces” from 40,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet — a modification expected to generate 16 additional such spaces — stricter light and air regulations during construction, the establishment of the public realm governing group as a “local development corporation,” and a minimum street frontage of 75 feet for buildings created under the new zoning regulations. NYC Community Media

RODERICK JONES continued from p. 5

Growing up in the New York City Housing Authority’s Cypress Hills Houses in Brooklyn, Jones was familiar with the city. But, he said, the city has evolved greatly since his youth, something he especially notes now that he makes the Upper West Side his home. “One of the things that was so classic Brooklyn was that it was the home of the working Joe,” Jones said of Cypress Hills. “If you took the train or bus in Brooklyn, chances are they weren’t reading the Times, they were reading the Post.” In his time back, Jones said, he has noticed the decline in the city’s livability and the effect of that on middle and working class New Yorkers. Earlier waves of homelessness, he said, resulted from the federal and local governments shuttering mental health institutions, but the threat of losing your home has crept into the lives of many families. “Now you’re seeing more and more people that are the servers, who serve you in restaurants, the secretary, the custodian who cleans when you leave work for the night,” Jones said. “Those are the families that are unstable, who are now intermittently fi nding themselves on the streets because the cost of housing has risen greatly.” To better the quality of life of New Yorkers he serves, Jones envisions a model of service delivery more quality-oriented. Instead of offering a glut of programs, the executive director said, he wants to instead examine the impact of the agency’s efforts. “What do we need to do to ensure that we are producing transformational results in the lives of people?,” he explained of the questions he is asking. His initial months, Jones said, have been a combination of selfadjustment and self-reflection. While acknowledging that he is still fi nding his rhythm and cadence as Goddard Riverside’s leader, he is focused on asking which of the agency’s programs have the most profound, lasting impact. Goddard Riverside has even taken a back seat from being the lead agency of the Manhattan Outreach Consortium—a homeless outreach network comprised of itself, Breaking Ground, and the Center for Urban Community Services — to ensure its focus on program quality. “If we’re talking about kids in our afterschool program, are the families NYC Community Media

getting the support they need so that their parents are getting GEDs while their kids are learning in school?,” Jones offered as an example. “That level of integration is really where we’re focused at, and that’s less about adding big programs as much as perfecting the work in the agency.” One major hurdle Jones, like other social service providers, faces is the shaky future of federal funding. He said he confronted similar uncertainty as he took over at Grace Hill in the midst of the 2008 economic crisis. Concerns about money from Washington are compounded, he said, by the way city contracts undervalue the services provided by up to

25 cents on the dollar. The fi nancial squeeze facing service providers like Goddard Riverside, Jones said, makes his examination of the agency’s strengths all the more timely. “There’s a significant amount of uncertainty given the proposed cuts in public service support,” he said. “For us, our thinking about our work comes at a good time because ultimately we and many other not-forprofits will have to make substantial decisions about what we do and what we can commit ourselves to.” As the man in charge, Jones said, he is prepared to steer Goddard Riverside into a brighter future where its programs ensure significant results

for those it serves. “I’ve learned a lot over the years about how to focus on what the ends are supposed to be and to be clear about both the mission and the margin,” he explained. “If you don’t have a margin, you just don’t have a mission, you just can’t do the work.” Jones’ board believes his background is just what Goddard Riverside needs at this moment in its life. “We are very fortunate to have Rod at the helm of the agency,” said Chris Auguste, the board’s chair. “Rod has 12 years of experience running settlement houses and brings with him that experience, the knowledge, and the compassion to successfully lead Goddard for many years.”

August 10, 2017


INDIA continued from p. 17

his caption to Magnum, was that “Their backs are turned away from Mecca… this lack of orthodoxy may be explained by the fact that their ancestors were forcibly converted to Islam from earlier faiths, that they are constantly subject to strong Hindu influences and that they are geographically isolated from their Moslem (sic) neighbors.” Cartier-Bresson was the consummate master of black and white photography. The photo of the Muslim women, with its painterly look and rich tonality, is fine art. And of course, so are many other images. His 1966 landscape, “Untitled” Udaipur, Rajasthan is magnificent, with fog hanging over the forest below and mountains in the distance; a lone figure in the foreground gives it scale. I wondered what it would have looked like in color, but remembered that CartierBresson had a well-known aversion to using color film. Of course, as a Magnum photographer, he did use color when clients like Life Magazine demanded it. Cartier-Bresson once said, “You just have to live and life will give you pictures” — and it did indeed, and

©Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

Birla House, Delhi India, 1948: Just before breaking his fast, Gandhi dictates a message.

they are here at The Rubin. Through Jan. 29, 2018 at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17 St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Curated by Beth Citron. Museum

Hours: Mon. & Thurs., 11 am–5pm; Wed., 11 am–9pm; Fri., 11 am10pm (free admission to galleries after 6pm); Sat. & Sun., 11am–6pm. $15 general admission ($10 for students/

seniors; free admission for seniors on the first Monday of the month; free for ages 12 and younger, and RMA members). Call 212-620-5000 or visit rubinmuseum.org.

Harbor View Powers Battery Dance BY SCOTT STIFFLER Graceful, athletic, precise and disciplined, professional dancers are paragons of peak conditioning — but even the best of them would be hard-pressed to match the endurance record set by the annual Battery Dance Festival (BDF). Year number 36 finds the festival reveling “in the panoply of dance that our city offers, with strong emphasis on the inclusion of diverse dance styles and an international roster of performers.” That “big tent” pledge, mind you, applies only to the talent — not the setting. Much of BDF’s unique identity flows from its outdoor venue: Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City. There, with the backdrop of the New York harbor providing Broadway-meets-Hollywood production values, emerging and established dance companies will perform over the course of six consecutive nights. Among the featured artists, nearly three dozen in total: Danuka Ariyawansa + Behri Drums and Dance Ensemble (Sri Lanka), Ballet Inc., and Peridance Contemporary Dance Company. On Tues., Aug. 15, BDF hosts the Indo-American Arts Council’s “Erasing Borders Festival of Indian Dance,” with


August 10, 2017

Photo by Darial Sneed

Dancers from around the corner and around the world are set to scrape the sky.

performances by Aakansha Maheshwari, Dimple Saikia, Kalamandir Dance, and others. The festival wraps up on Sat., Aug. 19, with an indoor event featuring Battery Dance, Mophato Dance Theatre (Botswana), and Bollylicious (Belgium). Free performances from 7–9pm, Sun., Aug. 13 through Fri., Aug. 18, at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City (20 Battery Place). The closing event and reception (Sat., Aug 19, 6-8pm at The Schimmel Center at Pace University; 3 Spruce St.) requires a reservation via batterydance.org, where you can also access the full schedule of performances. NYC Community Media

NYC Community Media

August 10, 2017



August 10, 2017

NYC Community Media

Long-Gone Director’s Work Timely Still Anthology Film Archives features Alan Clarke retrospective BY STEVE ERICKSON One of the biggest regrets of my life as a cinephile is that I skipped the entirety of MoMA’s 1995 retrospective of British director Alan Clarke, simply because I had no idea who he was or that he was a major filmmaker. But I think I can be forgiven my ignorance. At that point, Clarke had recently died and had only made one film, “Rita, Sue and Bob Too,” that received arthouse and video distribution in the US. (Ironically, it’s actually one of his weaker efforts.) Of the 16 Clarke films included in Anthology Film Archives’ current series of his work, 14 were made for TV and never theatrically distributed at the time. Despite this, he was every bit as talented as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, and Stephen Frears were in the ‘70s and ‘80s. But while Leigh and Frears made the jump from TV to cinema and stayed there, Clarke’s early death cut short his body of work and prevented that possibility. My eventual introduction came from a DVD box set that included his films “Elephant,” “Scum” (made in two versions, one for TV and cinema), “The Firm,” and “Made in Britain.” “Scum,” “The Firm,” and “Made in Britain” are all excellent films, but they’re fairly conventional narratives. Anthology’s retrospective reveals just how broad and radical Clarke’s vision could be. Films like “Elephant,” “Christine,” and “Contact,” all of which play on this series’ opening night, are as formally and politically audacious as the work of JeanLuc Godard, Peter Watkins, Chantal Akerman, or the duo of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet. Indeed, Akerman seems like a clear influence on them, but she did not share Clarke’s interest in machismo and bloodshed. “Elephant” and “Contact” address violence in Northern Ireland, while “Christine” depicts teenage junkies, but Clarke deals with these highly charged subjects in a way that’s deeply serious and makes many points but has no real message, coming from a political perspective that is hard to pin down. Loach, Leigh, and Frears never could’ve made such films. “Elephant,” a plotless exercise in showing violence in Northern Ireland, plays on a double bill with “Christine” (Aug. 15, 9pm), which is only slightly more narrative-oriented. Both films take sensationalistic subjects and strip the glamour away. “Elephant” may be the Clarke film with the single greatest potential to piss people off. A non-stop procession NYC Community Media

Courtesy Anthology Film Archives

In “Elephant,” Alan Clarke explores deadly violence in Northern Ireland, stripped of context or any political excuses.

of shootings told through 18 Steadicam tracking shots, it removes images of violence from any kind of context. The film simply consists of an endless string of men killing each other for no apparent reason. While watching it, the violence seems totally meaningless, and a method of reading it only becomes apparent when the credits begin rolling and “© BBC Northern Ireland” appears. There’s never any genuinely good reason for these murders to occur, but the politics of Northern Ireland at the time offered a limitless number of political excuses for them. “Elephant” suggests this is all crap and insists that it comes down to men blowing each other’s brains out, over and over and over. On a more meta level of cinema, there’s an implied critique of action movies: “Elephant” takes away their pleasures by leaving out charismatic performances, compelling narratives, and similar binding material for images of violence and reducing them to an obvious sheer ugliness, although his tracking shots do have a sensual pleasure that Gus van Sant picked up on when he lifted this film’s title and style for his own “Elephant.” Having seen half the films in Anthology’s series, I think “Christine” is the clear masterpiece among them and one of the greatest films ever made about heroin addiction. It follows Christine, a teenage drug dealer on her rounds around the suburbs — with the same Steadicam tracking shots used in “Elephant” — as she meets other teenagers, sells them

heroin, shoots up with them, moves onto another building, and repeats the process until the film ends. Nothing bad ever happens to the kids, and the only faint hint of a narrative — something about organizing a party for which Christine picks up a few records — is very minimally developed. Drawing heavily on Akerman’s depiction of housework in “Jeanne Dielman,” Clarke returns obsessively to the images of Christine opening a cookie box to get her drugs out, putting together her works, and her customers tying off various parts of their bodies. When this originally aired on British TV, I’d imagine the fact that it’s not an overtly anti-drug movie angered many people, but it suggests that past a certain point, heroin use stops being about pleasure and becomes a rote exercise in compulsion and routine. If the film itself never gets dull, that’s in large part due to the way Clarke’s camera constantly probes and investigates new spaces. It doesn’t make heroin look particularly dangerous, but nor does it make the drug look the slightest bit fun. I suspect that its title is meant as a reference and implicit reproach to the awful German anti-heroin film “Christiane F.,” which deals with the subject in a grossly heavy-handed manner. “Contact” (Aug. 19, 2pm) offered a preview of the violent Northern Irish world of “Elephant,” with more context, but only a slight bit. The freedom that Clarke allowed himself to jettison conventional ideas about character and nar-

rative was remarkable. “Contact” profiles a British platoon on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish State that faces threats from the IRA. But the shootings and explosions are not what are most memorable about this film; the endless amount of downtime, spent among men we never get to know as people, is what one takes away from the film. If “Christine” makes being a junkie look terribly boring, “Contact” does the same for military life. Clarke made all these films in the last five years of his life, and from what I know of his work, there are still gems I haven’t seen, such as the oddball 1974 fantasy film “Penda’s Fen.” Due to legal issues regarding rights with the BBC, admission to all the films except “Rita, Sue and Bob Too” and the made-forcinema version of “Scum” is free. Clarke died without getting recognition for his work, and he still hasn’t really received it. But the heroin-soaked scenario he explored in “Christine” is getting played out in America’s suburbs everywhere right now, “Contact” could be remade among American soldiers in Afghanistan, and every time someone uses the Second Amendment to massacre their schoolmates or co-workers “Elephant” springs back to life. This work was made in the late ‘80s, but it’s still extremely vital. “The Elephant in the Room: The Films of Alan Clarke” screens through Aug. 20 at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Ave. at Second St.). For info, visit anthologyfilmarchives.org. August 10, 2017


% 40 n * E AV io

S s NTS d m i s E ID a


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                     of the 21st century. A variety of drones, historical artifacts, model airplanes and rare videos will be on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Free with Museum admission. For more information and a full listing of upcoming events, demonstrations and tours, visit intrepidmuseum.org/drones. MADE POSSIBLE BY


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August 10, 2017


NYC Community Media

Profile for Schneps Media

Chelsea Now  

August 10, 2017

Chelsea Now  

August 10, 2017