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Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 30, NUMBER 15

AUG. 10 – AUG. 24, 2017

Downtown’s state senator renounces seat in shock move

Squadron Out! Page 3

Associated Press / Mike Groll

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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 bucolic idyll were glad to see the memorial 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

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Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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

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.

acres of sprawling urban landfi ll. “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.”

DowntownExpress.com


FLIGHT SQUADRON Downtown’s state senator renounces seat in surprise move BY COLIN MIXSON Veteran Manhattan legislator Daniel Squadron announced his resignation from the state Senate Wednesday morning, claiming that rampant corruption in Albany drove him to leave his post after nearly a decade in office and pursue change on a national level. “Whether you talk about the huge influence of heavily invested special interests, or ‘three-men-in-a-room’ negotiating, there are a lot of limits to what an individual member can do,” Squadron said. “It’s very frustrating when you can’t even get a vote on bills that would have an enormous impact, when you have to comprise local bills just to get a vote on it.” Squadron, who was elected in 2008 to represent Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, will end his nine-year tenure with Albany’s upper house on Friday, although his office will remain open to serve constituents until his replacement takes the reigns. Squadron is confident that a democrat will reclaim his seat in a special election in November, but due to the timing of the his resignation, voters will be unable to elect candidates in September’s primary, according to Manhattan election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder.

Instead, Democratic and Republican party bosses will choose candidates for the November ballot, and because the district straddles the East River, county committees in Manhattan and Brooklyn will both have a say in who get a shot at the seat — though not an equal voice. Due to arcane state Democratic Party rules, the vote is weighted heavily in favor of the Manhattan committee members — meaning a Big Apple Democrat is likely to replace the current Brooklyn resident, according to Goldfeder. “They’ll never pick a Brooklyn person,” Goldfeder said. “They’ll pick a Manhattan person.” Squadron called the practice of choosing candidates via county committee “a lousy process,” and said he’d be working with committee chairs to ensure that “activists from both sides of the harbor get counted.” Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D–Lower East Side) announced his candidacy for the 26th Senate District just hours after Squadron declared his intention to resign. Squadron called Kavanagh a friend, saying, “he’s great,” but didn’t go so far as to endorse his colleague in the lower house.

Photo by Milo Hess

During his nine years in the state Senate, Squadron served his Downtown constituents in many ways, including at this 2016 cook-off with Councilwoman Margaret Chin at a Chinatown senior center.

DowntownExpress.com

State Sen. Daniel Squadron announced on Wednesday that he’s leaving the GOP-dominated Senate to launch a nationwide activist organization aimed at confronting corruption and the influence of right-wing money in state governments across the country.

Brooklyn Heights attorney Martin Connor, who served in the state Senate for 30-years before Squadron ousted him, said he has no plans to reclaim his old seat. “Somebody would have to give me a lot of good reason to run,” Connor said. “I can’t think of any.” In announcing his resignation, the soon-to-be former lawmaker complained of the de facto control Republicans enjoy in the senate, despite Democrats owning a slim electoral majority, due to a cabal of eight aisle-hoppers calling themselves the Independent Democratic Conference. That complaint was familiar to acquaintances of the senator, according to Community Board 1 Chairman Anthony Notaro, who said that Squadron’s efforts were often frustrated by Republicans. “He’s worked hard for us and fought

for our issues, but in many cases the Republican majority just had their way, and I know he’s had mounting frustration for that,” Notaro said Squadron also pointed to the political influence wielded by billionaire donors such as the right-wing Koch brothers, and his fear of how their financial power could affect the national political landscape when allied with the Trump Administration. To combat that threat, the senator said he plans to launch a nationwide advocacy organization focused on political and policy work at the state level, where he hopes he’ll have a greater opportunity to effect change than in his current role as senator. “I think having the opportunity to impact multiple states, even if I’m not part of the legislative body, is a real opportunity to make a difference,” Squadron said. Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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IT’S THE TOPS High-tech, high-concept canopy unveiled for Pier 17 at Seaport

BY JACKSON CHEN The stage is set at South Street Seaport. The redevelopers of the Seaport district recently unveiled the marquee architectural flourish planned for the Pier 17 project, a vast rooftop stage topped with an undulating, translucent canopy. The awesome awning was designed by German architect Achim Menges, who specializes in light, ethereal structures crafted with 3-D printers or woven from carbon fibers. “It’s actually a piece of art,” said Saul Scherl, executive vice president of the site’s developer, the Howard Hughes Corporation, which is plowing nearly $2 billion in to the Seaport area. “We looked at many designs, what we loved about this was its unique nature and creativity as well as the fact that it’s translucent to maintain the view cor-

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Photo by Jackson Chen

This high-tech, translucent canopy is set to go atop Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport, over a vast rooftop stage.

The new Seaport District has attracted culinary giants like Momofuku’s David Chang and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, but also more experimental offerings like the vegan take on fast food, by CHLOE. The restaurants will be joined by carefully selected retail shops, such as McNally Jackson Books and the Dutch fashion store, Scotch and Soda. In June, the company announced Big Gay Ice

Cream, DITA eyewear, and Fellow Barber — a contemporary take on classic barbershops — as the newest retail tenants. The aim is to avoid the cookie-cutter feel of other, chain-heavy retail developments and keep a distinctive character for the area, according to Scherl, mirroring how the architectural charm CANOPY Continued on page 21

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ridors of the Brooklyn Bridge.” The rooftop stage will be able to accommodate up to 4,000 people and will be next to a restaurant and two outdoors bars on the 60,000-squarefoot rooftop space. Scherl added that the rooftop was substantially complete and would be finished in the fall and set to open next summer. The see-through canopy is intended to maintain sightlines of Lower Manhattan, according to Scherl, as well as views of the Brooklyn Bridge to the north and the Wavertree ship to the south. The entire, four-story, glass-clad Pier 17 project, he said, is designed to make the most of the panoramic vistas available from its East River perch. As much as Howard Hughes Corp’s seven-building restaurant-retail development is meant to look outwards, it’s what’s planned for inside that will be the real draw.

Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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ADVERTORIAL

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

DowntownExpress.com

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.

Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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BY JANEL BL ADOW We’re zipping through summer faster than the A train can get us to 14th Street. A bummer on both counts. TELL ’EM JOE SENT YA… Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but our little nabe has its own unique speakeasy. Mr. Cannon opened three weeks ago. To get to this wonderful, dark throwback cocktail bar, you have to mosey into Cannon Walk off Front Street and make a left into the bricked back-alley. Find the black door and ring the blue-lit doorbell to gain entry.

Photo by Janel Bladow

Behind this door resides Mr. Cannon, a new speakeasy at the Seaport.

On a recent night I met a couple who have lived in the Seaport eight years and love the whole vibe. “Definitely a lot of locals come here late at night,” said bartender Tara Wright. “We want to be a neighborhood place.” The lounge is going for a late-night, sophisticate scene. Retro vibe and drinks with a modern twist make the place feel really cool. Black leather and velvet couches line two exposed-brick walls. Each has a coffee table and mid-century style comfy chairs, giving the seating areas a cool, romantic, living-room look. Signature cocktails include “The Longshoreman” (Belvedere Vodka with infused rose, green chili vodka and a touch of cinnamon) and “Cannon Smoke” (mezcal mix with black lava salt). “We don’t want to be a stuffy place,” said bar director Christopher Kearns. “We’re all about having a really good time. We want to be everyone’s home away from home.” Mr. Cannon (open 5 pm to 2 am daily) is the bar servicing the Seaport Food Lab series. Right now the speakeasy is set to be around through December, but they hope it catches on

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and becomes a neighborhood hangout. PS... the address is 206 Front St. But I didn’t tell ya! A TUG WITH HEART… South Street Seaport Museum recently announced it received a $200,000 Maritime Heritage Grant from the National Park Service and a matching grant from a private donor to restore the only NYC-born-and-bred ship in its fleet — the 87-year-old tugboat W.O. Decker. “W.O. Decker is the last surviving New York-built wooden tugboat, and a key part of our fleet of ships that tell the story of where New York begins,” said Capt. Jonathan Boulware, executive director of the museum. Paired with a $200,000 challenge grant from George A. Matteson, author “Tugboats of New York,” the two grants get the 1930 wooden tug to the shipyard for much needed repairs. While the actual project budget will eventually exceed that $400,000, “these two funds will get the project started and take care of the bulk of the work,” said Boulware. On a recent sunny morning, I went to visit the Decker. Showing me around the humble little tug was Jesse Lebovics, Director of Historic Ships at the museum. Lebovics was with SSSM in the 1990s, went off to another adventure, and returned to the museum last year. He has a great appreciation for historic ships, as his knowledge of the little tug showed. “The tug was first known as Russell 1 and you can see that name still stamped on her bow. But the ship was renamed in honor of William Oscar of the Decker Towing Company. It’s the last existing wooden NY tug in operating order, the end of boats built in Newtown Creek as late as the 1930s. And it’s still being used to tow Seaport assets, including the Pioneer.” Lebovics said the grant money will be used to reinforce the mooring bits that pier lines are tied to and redecking. “The pilothouse will be removed and repaired. We have here a real boat and want to keep as much as possible,” he said. Working with a photo of “her in her day,” Lebovics said shipbuilders will attempt get the right shades of mustard yellow, burgundy red, green for the rails and black for the hull. She has no horn but signals with whistles from a series of ropes and wooden levers. And while a modern tug would have bow thrusters, she runs on a 285 horsepower engine. “She’s a diminutive tug,”

Photo by Janel Bladow

Clinton Hall has brought the convenience of self-serve “beer ATMs” to the Seaport.

he added. “I hear ‘cute’ a lot. But she’s an unsung workhorse of New York harbor.” Yes, the little tug that could. ON SELF-TAP… At the Seaport, you no longer have to belly up the bar for a beer, score the attention of an overworked bartender, or push through a throng of happy hour revelers only to learn that the tap to your favorite brew ran dry five minutes earlier. Now you cam saunter over to Front and Fulton Sts. and pull your own draft. Clinton Hall (19 Fulton St., clintonhallny.com) installed self-service beer taps recently, and on a warm summer night last week, the 10 taps were flowing. How it works: you go to the cashier buy a beer card with your credit card or ApplePay (they don’t take cash and there’s a $10 minimum). You get the pre-paid card and an empty plastic pint cup. Then head over to the taps, insert the card in the slot

Photo by Janel Bladow

Jesse Lebovics, Director of Historic Ships at the South Street Seaport Museum, will direct a major rehab of the 87-year-old tugboat W.O. Decker.

above the spout and viola! A pour-yourown brewski. Craft beer choices include ciders, lagers, IPAs, pale ales, wheats and more, on a rotation of 20 types by Schoffhofer. I had “the world’s first Hefeweizen Grapefruit” beer. Light, refreshing, with a zing. Beer vending machines are here for the summer season. Like other self-pour breweries sprouting up around the city, Clinton Hall’s “beer ATMs” are a trend worth cheering at about $8 a pop. Tap in seven days a week, noon to 10 pm. REBRANDED… Howard Hughes Corporation has joined the throngs of real estate agents looking for hip, cool, new names for long-time NYC neighborhoods. South Street Seaport is no longer, according to the developer. HHC has made it known it would prefer that you now refer to the area as “Seaport District.” Guess to link us up with the Financial District? Does this mean the acronym becomes “SeDi”? Or “SeaDi?” ...maybe “CDi?” Some of these fancy new names are just silly. Look at the brouhaha after the area south of Harlem was rebranded “SoHa.” I’m sure tourists and newcomers will buy into it, but for a lot of us who have been around the hood for decades, it’s still same South Street Seaport to us. What do you think, dear readers? COOL SOUNDS… The free summer concert series continues. Look for live music near the Garden Bar, Fulton at Front Street. Coming up Thursday is Breanna Barbara followed by Gedeon Luke and the People on Saturday, and Southern Avenue the following Thursday (8/17). Those show begin at 6 pm. Concerts are scheduled through mid-September. Look for more artists to be added. Check out listings at: https://www.southstreetseaport.com/ EVENTS/summermusic.html. DowntownExpress.com


DowntownExpress.com

Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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Community policing Locals, officers gather for National Night Out Against Crime BY JANEL BL ADOW The cops and the community came together on the night of Aug. 1 for a free evening of fun, games, safety tips, and even dancing in the street as part of the National Night Out Against Crime. The annual family-friendly event drew around 200 people to the Fulton Street festivities, sponsored by the Howard Hughes Corporation. Residents got to chat with their local law enforcement officers from Downtown’s First Precinct while everyone relaxed and had fun. “This is a great chance to meet our police and transit officers,” said neighbor Christina McLeod, who was on hand for the second year in a row with her husband Dan and children Hudson, 5, and Aria, 3. “The kids loved meeting the police doggie and got to become junior officers.” Officer Darwin, a 3-year old Dutch Shepherd with Transit Department 2 posed for photos and pets with his partner, Officer Frank Verrico. They were a big hit with the kids. Joining the police and neighbors were several local politicians, including state Sen. Daniel Squadon, Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilmember Margaret Chin. Each presented out-

standing service citations to Downtown’s police commanders — First Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Mark Iocco, and Capt. Rhonda O’Reilly of Transit Police District 2 “Getting these awards feels great,” said Capt. O’Reilly. “This is a great experience, coming together to keep our city safe.” Also on hand were dozens of members of District 2’s auxiliary police, who volunteer their personal time to patrol subways Downtown. This year marked the 34th year of the National Night Out Against Crime. Thousands of communities across all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide took part by hosting block parties, festivals, parades, and cookouts, all in an effort to build ties between police and the residents they protect, and to reclaim the twilight hours for family-friendly fun. But this was only the second year the event was celebrated Downtown. Some kids sat for face-painting or caricatures, others danced to music from classic rock station Q1043. The free hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and snowcones were a hit with everyone. But it was the coming together of the

Photos by Janel Bladow

(Above) Offi cer Frank Verrico brought out his partner, Offi cer Darwin, a 3-year-old Dutch Shepherd, to meet the kids. (Right) The McLeod family — Dan, Christina, Aria, and Hudson — have attended Downtown’s National Night Out two years in a row.

Photo by Janel Bladow

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, center, presents Council proclamations to, left to right, Commanding Offi cer of the First Precinct, Deputy Inspector Mark Iocco; Capt. Rhonda O’Reilly of Transit Police District 2; First Precinct Community Council President and Community Board 1 Chairman Anthony Notaro; and two members of the Transit Police District 2 Auxiliary.

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Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

community and its police that made the party a success according to one of the sponsors. “It is important to us that we support the NYPD for the tremendous work they do for our community,” said HHC executive vice president Saul Scherl. “Our goal is to extend a special ‘Thank you’ to the NYPD and all who help make our community here in Lower Manhattan such an amazing and safe place to live, work and play.” DowntownExpress.com


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sonal residences with other amenities, such as the housekeeping, medication reminders, or meal services. Assisted living can be a viable option when a person can no longer live alone, but such facilities come with a price. According to a Market Survey of LongTerm Care Costs conducted by MetLife, the national average for assisted living base rates was $3,550 per month in 2012. In the 2015 Cost of Care Survey conducted by Genworth Financial, the assisted living, national-median monthly rate was now $3,600 — and it’s only expected to grow. Affording these

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Consider the different options available to help pay for assisted-living services. homes and apartments can be challenging for those with fixed incomes, but there are some strategies that can help. The payment method that serves you best will depend on your unique circumstances, but there are options available: Long-term care insurance: Longterm care insurance is specialized insurance that is paid into and may cover the cost of assisted living facilities and other medical care, depending on the policy. Personal savings: Some people have the means to pay for assisted living with their own savings and retirement nest eggs. However, it’s easy for savings to become depleted when facing a $40,000+ bill per year. Life insurance: A financial advisor may advocate to pay for assisted

living with a life insurance policy. Some companies enable you to cash out for “accelerated” or “living” benefits, which usually is a buy-back of the policy for 50 to 75 percent of the face value. Other third parties may purchase the policy for a settlement of a lump sum, again roughly 50 to 75 percent of the policy’s face value, according to Caring.com, an online source for support and information about the needs of aging people. Location: Costs of assisted living facilities vary depending on location. It’s possible to get a lower monthly rate simply by choosing a facility in a different state. Assisted living is a necessity for thousands of people. Explore the ways to finance this purchase. DowntownExpress.com


Ticketable offenses Rogue vendors still plague Downtown despite crackdown BY COLIN MIXSON Legislators, police, and the de Blasio Administration have all taken steps to crack down on the rash of unauthorized ticket sellers plaguing Lower Manhattan, but the seedy business continues to thrive on the ignorance of Downtown tourists, and lawmakers must resort to harsh legal measures to drive off the unwanted vendors, according to the president of the Downtown Alliance. “The problem has gotten worse,” said Jessica Lappin. “We’re at a point where we need a limit on the number of ticket sellers, or an outright ban.” Ticket sellers proliferate in the heavily trafficked tourist areas around Downtown’s waterfront, having expanded from their original base near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal to areas including Bowling Green, the World Trade Center, the 9/11 memorial, and most recently, Battery Park City’s Pier A Plaza. Aside from illegally hawking tickets at outrageous prices — one ticket seller claiming to work for the legitimate Statue Cruises, which sells ferry rides to Ellis and Liberty islands for $18.50, offered this reporter a ride out to Lady Liberty marked up to $35 — the vendors have earned a reputation for aggressive tactics and violence. Last year, a ticket vendor suckerpunched a 33-year-old tourist for refusing to purchase a ticket to the Statue of Liberty offered by the assailant’s wife, leaving him with a fractured skull. And in April, a quarrel between competing ticket sellers left two people wounded after one of the vendors drew a pistol and started shooting. Even when violence isn’t a factor, sellers are often so pugnacious that tourists will dig into their wallets rather than seek a better deal elsewhere, according to Lappin. “They ambush people, engage them in conversation, and they’re aggressive enough that half the time they don’t even know what they’re buying,” she said. To curb the nuisance industry, the City Council passed a law requiring individual ticket sellers to register with the Department of Consumer Affairs DowntownExpress.com

Photo by Colin Mixson

Locals complain that aggressive ticket vendors remain a nuisance Downtown, even after the crackdown that followed a shooting in April.

and display licenses while on the job — a measure that was intended to aid law enforcement and help the city identify bad actors. But the new regulation’s effects are mild at best, with many vendors choosing to forego registration despite penalties that include stiff fines, and the forfeiture of their tickets to law enforcement, according to the head of security at Battery Park City. “There’s guys who wear the ID cards, and guys who don’t,” said Patrick Murphy, who manages Allied Universal security guards in the neighborhood, and has been battling ticket sellers operating around Pier A.

And as legislation and enforcement adapts to oppose the industry, vendors are likewise developing new tricks to throw off suspicion from both police and tourists, with unregistered sellers wearing lanyards that would appear to hold the DCA-issued identification, but often contain some other card, according to Lappin. “They’re using imitation licenses,” she said. “If they put the lanyard on they think it makes them look more official.” Ticket sellers have also begun disguising themselves by wearing red shirts similar to Downtown Alliance employees, and loitering around information

kiosks operated by the BID, Lappin recounted. “Some of them are purposefully wearing outfits that look a lot like Downtown Alliance uniforms in an effort to be more tricky than they already were,” the Alliance president explained. Murphy has noticed a similar trend around Pier A, but with former workers of the legitimate Statue Cruises wearing their old uniforms while hawking overpriced fares. “There are people who have been cut loose from a company but they’re still wearing the uniform,” Murphy said. At Pier A Plaza, Murphy instructs his security officers to shoo off vendors when they encroach onto Battery Park City property, where the Battery Park City Authority has forbidden them to operate. But jurisdictional challenges make the effort a near constant battle, and for vendors to evade guards is a simple matter of stepping into Battery Park, the surrounding streets, or the Greenway bike path, all of which are on city property and beyond the purview of Allied Universal’s security contract. Murphy doesn’t have the manpower to maintain a constant presence at the pier, and whenever the guards turn their back or continue with their patrol, the vendors quickly return. “It’s a constant sweeping motion back and forth to keep them off that area,” said Murphy. “It’s a waste of manpower.” Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who co-sponsored the legislation requiring vendors register with the city, denied that the problem has gotten worse since the law took effect, and said the efforts of legislators like her and increased enforcement by the First Precinct following April’s shooting have made headway in the effort to curb the rogue ticket industry. “I think we’re making some dents,” Chin said. “I think the fact that the First Precinct has been very vigilant in terms of sending officers down for patrol, and DCA is following through and staying on top of people applying for licenses, that things have calmed down a little bit.” VENDORS Continued on page 21

Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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Union of unions opens new office Downtown BY DANIELLE KOGAN The Public Employee Federation showcased their newest combined regional office in the Financial District, on July 14, where leaders, members, and local dignitaries attended the open house at 100 William St. The walls of the new office feature photo murals and timelines detailing the 39-year history of the labor federation, from its creation in 1979 by founding president John Kraemer, all the way to the tenure of current president Wayne Spence, who led a tour of the new facility. Spence told guests that the inspiration for the murals came after a visit to the offices of the Transportation Workers Union, where large photos of transit workers covered the walls. “It never ceases to amaze me that I see something new when I look at their [TWU’s] mural. I wanted to replicate that for PEF,” said Spence. Many of the federation’s office walls are done in a collage style, combining pictures of its members, old newsletter covers, and photos of significant events such as contract talks. There are also tributes to members who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The combined regional office serves all five boroughs, combining Region 10, which includes Manhattan and the Bronx, and Region 11, which covers Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. The move was a cost-saving measure, according to Spence. “We took a chance consolidating our Region 10 and Region 11 offices. The economy has changed and PEF needed to save money,” he said. “Now we will be saving more than $1 million in the course of a ten year lease.” The Public Employee Federation is affiliated with powerhouse labor organizations such as American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union, and represents 54,000 professional, scientific and technical state employees across New York State. At the July opening, many labor leaders and supporters showed up to wish the federation well, including Mario Cilento, president of the AFLCIO. Other guests included assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Felix Ortiz, state senators Roxanne Persaud, and James Sanders Jr., and councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Alan Maisel.

Photo by Milo Hess

Left to right, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, PEF President Wayne Spence, AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, PEF Vice President Adreina Adams, PEF Region 10 Coordinator Sheik Nabijohn celebrated the opening of the Public Employee Federation’s newest combined regional offi ce in the Financial District.

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ORDERING OUT A thief beat and robbed a delivery guy on Grand Street on July 30, taking his electric bike. The victim told police he was between Thompson Street and West Broadway on his way back to the restaurant at 9:30 pm, when the suspect grabbed him by the neck and hurled him from the bike. The crook continued beating the man while he lay on the ground and warned him not to move, then hopped on the $1,100 bike and fled, cops said.

BIKE BANDIT Some crook rode off with a man’s $2,000 bicycle he had locked up on West Street on July 16. The victim told police he chained his ride to a bike rack at Pier 26 at 6 pm, and returned later to find both his bicycle and lock stolen.

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Cops busted a 25-year-old man for allegedly stealing more than $1,400 worth of over the counter pain relievers from a Broadway drug store on Aug. 2. An employee told police the suspect waltzed into the pharmacy between Murray Street and Park Place at 6:10 pm, and then proceeded to stuff his backpack with a small fortune worth of Tylenol, Advil, and numerous other pain relievers before fleeing out the front door. Not satisfied with his haul, the suspect reentered the store about six minutes later, when he was identified by employees and arrested, cops said.

Thieves stole the laptop a man was delivering via bicycle on Barclay Street on Aug. 4. The delivery guy told police he had stopped near Broadway around noon to check his GPS, when two crooks ran up and grabbed the $2,200 laptop from a basket on his bike and fled. The worker gave chase to the thieves, but they managed to give him the slip, according to police.

CHARGED A woman was arrested for allegedly using a stolen credit card to fuel an illicit $7,320 spending spree at a Liberty Street fashion outlet on July 30. An employee told police he was

working at the retailer near West Street at 5:23 pm, when the suspect came to purchase a small fortune in clothes, including a $2,550 Saint-Laurent jacket, with the stolen card.

GETAWAY CAB A thief robbed a Broadway bank on July 21 — and hopped in a cab to make his escape. A teller told police she was working at the financial institution between Ann and Fulton streets at 9:50 am, when the robber passed her a note threatening to shoot the place up unless she handed him the cash. After the teller forked over the dough, the crook jumped into a taxi that was last seen traveling over the Verrazano Bridge into Staten Island, cops said.

RETURN TO SENDER A would-be bank robber attempted to threaten a teller at a Church Street vault on July 22, but came up short thanks to a bold bank worker. The teller told police he was working at the bank between Murray Street and Park Place at 12:30 pm, when the suspect passed him his demand letter. “This is a robbery, give me all your money,” the note read. But the teller simply passed the note back to the thief, and the man fled none the richer, cops said.

THREE ON 1 Cops are hunting three teenage girls wanted for beating and robbing a woman aboard a Downtown 1 train on July 21. The victim, 28, told police she was riding the rails near Chambers Street and Broadway at 9:42 pm, when one of the teen terrors slugged her in the face, while another grabbed her purse, which contained $20 and a Metrocard juiced up with $100. “No, don’t follow,” one of the girls sneered, before the teens fled with the victim’s stuff, according to police.

ITHIEF A thief snatched the phone from a woman’s hands on Broadway on July 28. The victim told police she was chatting with a friend near Walker Street at 3 pm, when the suspect nabbed the pricey, $1,000 iPhone and fled. — Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com


IDLE HANDS-ON Air-quality crusader collects bounties on idling trucks, buses BY JACKSON CHEN A vigilante air quality activist has been awarded over $3,000 by taking bus companies and their idling drivers to court. George Pakenham, director of the film “Idle Threat: Man on Emission,” began his journey of environmental advocacy in 2006. Worried about his neighborhood’s air quality, he began approaching strangers who left their cars idling for more than three minutes. In his film, the brave Upper West Sider interacts with many city dwellers, often concluding their conversation by asking them to turn off their engine and leaving them with a business card that states the law and the accompanying penalties. According to the city’s administrative code, drivers aren’t allowed to let their vehicles idle for longer than three minutes while parking, standing, or stopping. The laws are stricter around schools and limit idling vehicles to one minute. There are exceptions, as legally authorized emergency vehicles and those whose engines are being used for loading, unloading, or processing devices, are exempt, according to city code. Drivers are fined $300 for the first offense, $460 for the second, and $620 for the third and any subsequent offens-

Thurs., Aug. 10–Wed., Aug. 16

ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES SUSPENDED TUESDAY FOR FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION Special alert! President Trump will make his second visit as POTUS to New York City, but unlike his May visit, he plans to stay for more than just a half-day jaunt. Brace yourselves for widespread gridlock from Sunday evening through Wednesday. Though the specifics of his itinerary are still being developed as I write this, my DowntownExpress.com

es, according to the city penalties. But residents aren’t left to suffer in a smog-filled environment. Proactive people can utilize a mechanism through the city’s Department of Environmental Protection called the Citizen’s Air Complaint Form. Residents can fill out the form, sign and notarize an affidavit, and provide photographic and video evidence of an idling truck or bus (access the form via tinyurl.com/ybny356e). Once the form is received by the DEP, the agency will investigate the matter and either issue a summons on the violator or decline to pursue the issue, according to the form. The complaint form adds that if the submission doesn’t result in a DEP summons, the resident who filed the complaint is free to pursue the idling vehicle and their company at their own expense. For Pakenham, the DEP has refused to pursue several of his submissions, yielding him multiple appearances and judgments in his favor. So far, he’s netted $3,000 from bus companies whose drivers frequently idle, Pakenham said at a May 31 meeting of the Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition held at Metro Baptist Church (410 W. 40th St., btw. Ninth & Dyer Aves.). But outside of his bus-idling bounty hunting, the clean air advocate has been

best intelligence says he will arrive sometime early Sunday evening. Here’s the likely drill. The president’s helicopter will land at the Wall St. Helipad Sunday. His motorcade will travel up the FDR Drive. South St. will be closed. The FDR will shut down from the Battery to 63rd St. On Wednesday (assuming the just-released schedule is kept), there will be similar closures. The shutdown of South St. and the FDR (and Battery Underpass) will impact West St. at its southern terminus. Approaches to the Brooklyn Bridge

Photo by Jackson Chen

Due to lax enforcement, buses and trucks often idle for more than the legal limit of three minutes, but ordinary citizens can turn them in — and collect a bounty.

working alongside the City Council and the DEP to better codify the process. “This is another great example of civic engagement because he brought this idea to our attention and we ran with it,” said Upper West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal of meeting Pakenham. In turn, Rosenthal introduced a bill, Intro 717, that proposes creating a page on the DEP website where individuals could submit complaints supplemented with evidence. The bill, which looks to offer residents of successful cases 50 percent of the civil penalty amount, most recently had a hearing in Sept. 2016. However, as the issue developed and Pakenham discovered the Citizen’s Air Complaint Form, Rosenthal said she’d

instead focus on crafting her legislation to lay out training for those interested. “What I would hope is that everyone who was going to do this were trained to do it the way that George [Pakenham] does it,” Rosenthal said. Rosenthal noted her office often fields calls from residents who are concerned about improving air quality, but just don’t know how to get involved. As for Pakenham, he’s remaining vigilant in his crusade against idling vehicles and is hoping to further the process eventually. “In the end, I’m fighting the good fight and in this country, if you fight the good fight, you usually win,” Pakenham said. Learn more about Pakenham’s film and activism at verdantvigilante.com.

from lower Manhattan streets will also be affected. For up-to-date information follow me on Twitter @GridlockSam and subscribe to my weekly eNewsletter on my website, www.gridlocksam.com. We’ve already been having a pretty rough summer at the Holland Tunnel with Penn Station work, especially on getaway afternoon peak hours on Thursdays and Fridays. This Friday will be the toughest yet with the GiantsSteelers pre-season showdown on Friday at 7 p.m. at MetLife Stadium. More than 75,000 fans are expected and most of them in cars. While the Lincoln Tunnel and GW Bridge will pick up the bulk the Holland will see a jump in traffic starting around 4 p.m. meaning even worse congestion on Varick, Canal, Broome and Hudson streets.

Summer Streets, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, will once again make streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Upper East Side a car-free, pedestrian paradise. Just like last week, the event will start on Centre Street from the Brooklyn Bridge to Foley Square, up Lafayette Street, onto Fourth Avenue, Union Square East, and Park Avenue. The Brooklyn Bridge exit to Centre Street will be closed so there will be some diversion to Park Row and to the Manhattan Bridge. The Greenwich Village Broadway Festival, on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will close Broadway between 14th Street and Waverly Place. The World Trade Center Block Party, on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., will close Liberty Street between Broadway and Trinity Place. Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

19


E D ITO R IAL

‘Kidnapped’ by over-protective parents PUBLISHER

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BY LENORE SKENAZY “Marco!” Halle Berry calls to her insanely adorable son in the new movie, “Kidnap.” “Polo!” the 6-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 chases 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 reinforces the idea that this particular crime is, if not common, at least something that normal parents have to 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 file 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 would you 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 millennia 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 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 find a booth at street fairs where parents are encouraged to fingerprint their kids, save a bit of their hair, and sometimes even have the kids take a dental impression, all in the event of “the unthinkable” (which we can’t stop thinking about). 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 founder of FreeRange Kids, a contributor to Reason. com, and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?”

Posted To THE UGLY TRUTH: ONE MOTHER’S FIGHT TO EXPOSE THE HAZARDS AT GROUND ZERO (AUG. 3) Excellent article. Thank you for bringing attention to the environmental impact of 9/11, and to Jenna Orkin, who has been relentless in this fight. People should have been held accountable. With all of their illnesses, the “walking dead,” the LEAST they could see happen is some people being sent to jail for the lies told about

the environmental impact of 9/11. Jon Gold Its the ugly truth that keeps on given. Ms Whitman, the EPA head, said all is well. No problem? Nine years later, I got bladder cancer. Edward Westwood As a fellow 9/11 parent — I live on Duane Street and my kids were then 3 and almost-7 — I admire Jenna Orkin’s concern for her son’s and other

schoolkids’ health. However, I don’t see the purpose of conflating deadly exposures suffered by Ground Zero pit workers with exposures to students and others whose schools (e.g., Stuyvesant HS) were half-a-dozen or more blocks away. The differences in exposures were almost certainly several orders of magnitude (i.e., at least 100-fold). The article cites three Stuyvesant classrooms with elevated lead levels — a POSTED Continued on page 21

DowntownExpress.com


Letters To the Editor, The headline “UnCommon Concert” (July 27) is appropriate. It was a “concert” for Brookfield Center and eighteen-to-twenty-somethings (give or take a few years). They and their drug culture have become the “common” in American life. For the rest of us, it was 48 hours of window-penetrating noise. During one of those post-noise periods, I had to be up at 4:45 a.m. for my work commute. But residents have no voice. Battery Park City is owned by the 1% and Albany political interests. They alone have political muscle and manipulate us accordingly. To live here is to have no voice. The small neighborhood that was intended to be an experiment in the co-existence of Big Business (Goldman Sachs and Brookfield), Real Estate Developers, Government and, oh yes, residents, is a jungle. Battery Park

POSTED Continued from page 20

problem, to be sure, but seemingly not a catastrophe. If I recall correctly, the most tangible symptom presented by returning students when the school reopened on Oct. 9, 2001 was headaches induced by elevated carbon dioxide levels due to deliberately lowering ventilation air intake. Of course, carcinogens and other toxins do their deadly work under the radar, but at least some area schools (including my son’s PS 150) were scrubbed thoroughly before they were re-opened.

VENDRS Continued from page 11

The councilwoman said that she’s open to suggestions regarding legislative solutions to the issue, but suggested that the key to ensuring compliance is enforcement, and that she’s met with officers of the First Precinct,

CANOPY Continued from page 4

of the South Street Seaport Historic District contrasts with the glassy skyscrapers of Downtown. “We’re trying to stay away from

City has become a slick, high-priced, over-crowded version of Coney Island. Self-interest rules the neighborhood. And the common good has no voice. When the local media, subject to their own advertising demands, popularize the most superficial “news” on the front page, the closed circle is complete. The media agenda is also to make noise (whatever). It matters not that residents in our so-called democratic system have no voice. Slick and expensive, Battery Park City with the cover lifted is just a microcosm of standard capitalist values — namely, narcissism and greed covered as showy materialism for the dormant masses. Those who wring their hands over the Trump presidency just have to look around BPC. And The Downtown Express needs to slow down, take a deep breath, and look around to see what is common. Dolores D’Agostino

To the Editor, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nomination of Port Authority executive director Pat Foye to be the new Metropolitan Transportation Authority president may not be the best choice. Consider Foye’s track record at the Port Authority from 2011 to today. The World Trade Center PATH station’s costs doubled from $2 billion to $4 billion. It took 15 years after 9/11 to complete this project, many years behind schedule. Sixteen years after 9/11, the Cortland Street WTC 1-train subway station is still two years away from returning to service. The Port Authority and MTA fought for years over budget, funding sources, scope and schedule. If there are no new delays, perhaps the station will reopen by December 2018. The approved Port Authority’s 10-year, $32-billion 2017–2026 Capital Plan provides only $3.5 billion toward construction of the new $10-bil-

lion 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal. Initiation of yet another planning study for $70 million is just the first down payment. After decades of discussions, the project has yet to complete the environmental review process, preliminary along with final design and engineering — let alone begin construction. Customers may have to wait until the next Port Authority 2027–2036 Capital Plan before a complete $10 billion funding package is in place. It may be another twenty years from today before completion. After 30 years, the $10-billion Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel has yet to complete a federal environmental review process. Is this what transit customers have to look forward to in management of the MTA’s $32-billion, 5-year 2015–2019 Capital Program under Foye’s watch? Taxpayers and riders deserve better. Larry Penner

There were also other concerns, including the educational and emotional needs of the students whose schools were shuttered, the same for the students at the schools that took them in (e.g., Brooklyn Tech for Stuy, PS 3 for PS 150), and the mental health of residents who had to cope with post-traumatic stress, the desolate quiet of our streets, and in the worst cases, the loss of loved ones. In that light, re-opening the schools may not have been as arbitrary and unwise as this article (and Ms. Orkin) assume. Charles Komanoff

Thank you for your measured response. The book was written in part to address these issues. There were indeed other symptoms such as new onset asthma, rashes and various forms of bronchitis. One Stuyvesant student had to be taken to the emergency room — for asthma which had lain dormant since she was seven — after swimming in the Stuyvesant pool which had not been cleaned. In addition, the million-dollar abatement of the Stuyvesant building had excluded the ventilation system. These are some of the reasons we lob-

bied Congress (successfully) to re-clean the schools of Ground Zero in the summer of ’02. Of course you’re correct about the exposure of students relative to that of Ground Zero workers. However, as you may learn from the Downtown Express op-ed “9/11 Victim Compensation Fund isn’t just for First Responders” there are twelve cancer cases in the Fund thus far among GZ-area students. One needs also to bear in mind the quiescent period for cancer which can be calculated in decades. Jenna Orkin

who have stationed plain clothes officers around known hot spots following April’s shooting. “I think we’re always open to suggestions in terms of how we can make things better legislatively... But the main thing is enforcement,” said Chin. “How do we make sure they are fol-

lowing the rules, and how do we make sure the police department and DCA are making sure they’re following the rules?” If there’s any silver lining to April’s shooting, it’s that police are now viewing the ticket industry Downtown as a priority, according to Murphy.

“Law enforcement is down there, and they know that we’re active down there, and they support us,” he said. “After the shooting, it’s heightened the awareness that something has to be done.” The First Precinct did not respond to repeated calls for comment.

traditional retail and look to creating a unique environment, something that’s thoughtfully curated,” Scherl said. “It’s really important to us that this maintain its culture and history and that we don’t move away from that and become a site

for tourists alone.” The new buildings also incorporate corrugated metal and wood accents to reflect the Seaport’s historical elements, Scherl explained, so that — despite the high-tech canopy atop Pier 17 — the

development will still feel down to earth, and in context with the 400-yearold seaport. “The new has to reflect the old,” Scherl said. “You can’t leave the old out, you got to embrace it.”

www.downtownexpress.com DowntownExpress.com

Aug. 10 – Aug. 24, 2017

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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

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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! DowntownExpress.com


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 DowntownExpress.com

©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. 26 Aug. 11 – Aug. 24, 2017

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‘UNTAMED!’ Sings the Praises of Opera’s Wild Side Ensemble’s annual fest pairs emerging artists with timeless classics BY TRAV S.D. No matter what you do in life, you’ve got to start somewhere. If you’re an opera singer, that may not be so easy. The dell’Arte Opera Ensemble hopes to address that. From Aug. 12-27, the company will bring its 15th Annual Summer Festival (this year titled “UNTAMED!”) to downtown performance behemoth La MaMa. This is the festival’s fi rst year at the historic Off-Off Broadway theater. “We had been looking at their rehearsal spaces but then learned that there was an opening in the Ellen Stewart [i.e., La MaMa’s largest theater space] in August,” said Christopher Fecteau, dell’Arte Opera’s executive director. “We couldn’t turn that space down. It’s so big but it also has this raw, rustic feel that works really well for what we do.” As for what they do, dell’Arte’s mission provides “emerging opera artists with training and performance opportunities necessary to bridge the gap between the conservatory and a flourishing career.” Since its inception in 2000, nearly 500 singers have taken part in dell’Arte’s programs. “When I fi rst arrived in New York in 2000,” Fecteau recalled, “I quickly realized that there were few small companies that help young singers get debut role opportunities. That’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 refl ect we’re an ensemble that’s concerned with the craft of the work. We’re trying to create a sense of ongoing continuity over several seasons. We start singers out

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Photo by Nina Bova

A scene featuring the Innkeeper, from dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s 2016 production of Jules Massenet’s “Manon.”

in smaller roles then they eventually come up to principal parts.” “ U N TA M ED ! ” w ill open with two full productions: Francesco Cavalli’s 1651 “La Calisto” and Leoš Janáek’s 1924 “Píhody lišky Bystroušky” (“The Cunning Little Vixen”). The productions refl ect the festival’s theme of wild nature, but are also strong showcase vehicles for the dell’Arte company. “The Cunning Little Vixen,” Fecteau said, “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 “ ‘La Calisto’ is a 17th century work which sets the conventions of opera for the next 300 years, the touchstone of everything they’ll sing later in their careers, Mozart, Puccini, on and on.” Fecteau explained that dell’ Arte chooses a different theme for its festival every year and this theme, “UNTAMED!,” is meant to spotlight the unpredictable, wild characters of opera, and explore parallels

between human, animal, and supernatural realms. In addition to the two fulllength, fully-staged operas, “UNTAMED!” will also present recitals that allow ensemble members to sing lead parts. “UNTAMED! Opera Scenes” (Aug. 18 & 22) will feature excerpted scenes from “Carmen,” “Idomeneo,” “La clemenza di Tito,” “Rusalka,” “Die Entführung aus dem Serail,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and more. The festival will be capped off on Aug. 26 with “Wild Things,” a recital featuring songs about the animal kingdom and other

wild creatures, performed by members of dell’Arte ensemble and cover artists, accompanied by dell’Arte musical staff. The dell’Arte Opera Ensemble’s “UNTAMED!” Opera Festival runs Aug. 12–27, 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 $26–46, with festival discounts available. For the full performance schedule and reservations, visit dellarteopera.org or call 646-632-2340. DowntownExpress.com


This Little Light of Mine ‘Unpacking’ illuminates the ghosts of relationships past BY SCOTT STIFFLER From the overbearing parent to the ex who keeps popping up uninvited to that pillow hog in bed next to you, everyone, it seems, wants to direct. Even you, dear audience member, can’t sit in a theater for more than a few minutes without giving the show a mental rewrite. Don’t feel bad about it. Shifting the focus to your liking is a perfectly natural response to an imperfect world. How lucky for us, then, that the latest sharply crafted piece of comedic, supernatural, existential puzzle work from the writing team of Marina & Nicco includes a nifty (but by no means gimmicky) little device that gives spectators real control over the unfolding drama, while trusting them to exercise that power responsibly. “Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark” finds us eavesdropping on Melissa and Anthony’s first night of cohabitation in a newly purchased home. Actually, it’s just a two-bedroom, and not the whole building — but it’s all theirs. Or so it seems. Shortly after a bit of lovey-dovey cooing and some small talk about what color to paint the walls, there’s a block-wide power failure. Things get weird fast, when the seemingly happy couple is momentarily separated during their desperate attempt to figure out what went wrong (lack of electricity isn’t the only thing keeping these two in the dark). Back in the same room, if not entirely on the same page, Anthony compares Melissa’s hastily designed candlelight decor to that of a séance. The strange mojo that clouds the rest of the night, however, is never fully explained. Dead parents (Anthony’s formidable mother and the father who abandoned him) might be real or imagined; and Melissa’s interaction with a fun-loving former roommate and an appealing ex-lover, both of whom are very much alive, might be their astral projections or her wishful thinking. To the writing duo’s credit, this lack of clarity only serves to deepen the mystery by encouraging us to fill in the blanks with issues and agendas and rationalizations of our own. Whatever the cause, how deeply in love can these increasingly tense homeowners be? After all, this isn’t the first time they’ve confided in a specter instead of each other. As their house becomes crowded with spooky guests dispensing largely unsolicited advice, the ghostly visitations shine a light on what went wrong — metaphorically. The literal task of light direction is up to the audience, who’ve been given flashlights and told to point that unflinching beam at their character of choice, the clock on the wall, or the packing boxes in the corner — or leave the entire cast in relative darkness for the rest of the show. Those of us viewing intimate exchanges between lovers, children, and estranged friends from the sidelines will decide what to shine a light on, and when. That’s a clever way to play tag with the fleeting nature of illumination, and it’s worth noting this novel production value never approaches, or even flirts with, cheesy contrivance DowntownExpress.com

Photo by Giancarlo Osaben

Did you hear something? Cohabitating couple Melissa (SJ Son) and Anthony (Temesgen Tocruray) have ghostly encounters on their first night in the new house.

Image by Chris Kalb

(another appealing strength of the playwrights also seen in 2016’s time loop audition fantasia, “Room 4”). Effectively staged by Niccolo Aeed, whose direction is especially crisp in moments of tense confrontation, the uniformly strong cast doesn’t seem phased by shifts in status bestowed upon them by the random attention of a flashlight. The lead performers (SJ Son’s Melissa and Temesgen Tocruray’s Anthony) arrive at establishing house rules in a believable and skilled manner best understood, and appreciated, in hindsight. As Anthony’s estranged father, Odera Adimorah’s Lou has a long, particularly compelling, deep-marrow monologue and the most emotionally complex backstory. Written with plenty of flaws and played with even more charisma, he’s the play’s best argument for dealing with your restless nature until the power comes back on. Written by Marina Tempelsman and Niccolo Aeed. Directed by Niccolo Aeed. Produced by Michelle Francesca Thomas. Set design by Ally Spier; Lighting design by Katy Cecchetti. Through Aug. 13; Wed.– Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 2pm. At HERE (145 Sixth Ave.; enter on Dominick St., 1 block south of Spring St.). Tickets ($25) at here.org. Also visit marinaandnicco. com. Aug. 11 – Aug. 24, 2017

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Harbor View Powers Battery Dance Annual fest features free al fresco performances 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

Photo by Darial Sneed

The Battery Dance Festival beckons.

Photo by Darial Sneed

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

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 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.

INDIA continued from p. 23

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

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©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. DowntownExpress.com


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