YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
File photo by Yannic Rack
Proper Pup Adoption Proves Elusive BY LEVAR ALONZO There will never be another Bettie — but her doting caretakers, still mourning the dog’s recent death, are finding the process of adopting a new puppy every bit as difficult as living without the beloved Boston terrier whose love of carrying Chelsea Now made her a neighborhood icon. Bettie’s family said they have gone PUP ADOPTION continued on p. 3
Photo by Rowa Lee, courtesy Friends of the High Line
Members of the Teen Arts & Culture Council, seen here, at their Aug. 3 event on the High Line.
Architect Floats Pier55 Alternative BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Like so many Downtowners, a Tribeca-based architect is tired of the endless schemes for renovating and redeveloping Pier 40 that never seem to pan out. But now, with media titan Barry Diller poised to spend around one-quarter billion dollars to create a totally new pier at W. 13th PIER 40 continued on p. 4
TEEN SUMMIT SETS ITS SIGHTS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE BY REBECCA FIORE With sweeping views of their neighborhood below and the open horizon before them, Chelsea’s elevated park proved a fitting venue for a Teen Summit dedicated to sharpening leadership skills, fostering social justice, and having fun. Hosted by the Teen Arts & Culture Council (TACC; part of Friends of the High Line’s teen program), the theme of the Aug. 3 event was “A Different World” — as in trying to “envision the world you want,” said Naomi Estevez, a 17-yearold from Chelsea who attends high school on the Upper East
© CHELSEA NOW 2017 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Side. “We tried to come up with certain ideals that we really wanted to broadcast,” she said of the event, which welcomed “anybody; it doesn’t matter their race or their gender or how they express themselves. We just wanted to create a safe space where they can learn and also have a great time.” There was one caveat: no adults allowed. The summit, which took place on Aug. 3 from 5 to 9 p.m. near the W. 14th St. entrance on the High Line, attracted about 500 teens between SUMMIT continued on p. 5 VOLUME 09, ISSUE 27 | AUGUST 31 - SEPTEMBER 6, 2017
Convincing Hell’s Kitchen Artists to Stay Put
Photo by Nathan DiCamillo
Jill Slaymaker works on a piece for her solo exhibition at 660 10th Ave. (btw. W. 46th & 47th Sts.).
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August 31, 2017
BY NATHAN DICAMILLO Janet Restino’s advice to young artists is that they live outside of Manhattan, yet she herself has been making art here since 1992. And she’s among the recent beneficiaries of an effort encouraging like-minded souls to maintain their base in Hell’s Kitchen. “A lot of the creative force in Manhattan has been forced out due to real estate costs rising,” Alan Boss, owner of Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, said. “It’s sad to see them abandon their studios on the West Side so we could have another bank or pharmacy.” On Aug. 1, the Hell’s Kitchen Foundation, the flea market’s community sponsor, announced that Restino and nine other artists living in Hell’s Kitchen have won grants of between $500 and $5,000 to support their work. The grants, in their second year, are based on the quality of the artists’ work as well as their financial need. The foundation, funded by the flea market, plans to approach businesses about hanging art for a fee, “having local businesses support local artists,” its chair, Inge Ivchenko, explained. The foundation and the artists it sup-
ports are alarmed about gentrification displacing artists and their studios in Hell’s Kitchen. “Just to get into a gallery they need a connection or have to pay the gallery,” Ivchenko said. “The stereotype of the starving artist who’s struggling is very true.” Many artists arrived in Hell’s Kitchen already displaced from other parts of Manhattan, like SoHo and Chelsea. In SoHo, from the 1950s through the ‘70s, loft buildings with plentiful lighting attracted artists, who were later priced out of a neighborhood they popularized. Art, like other creative professions, requires space, and many artists can’t live and work in the same building. The distance between home and studio can be great. “If you have an idea and its 11 o’clock at night, you can’t just work on it then,” Ivchenko said. “When you live like that, you have to be more structured with your time.” She added, “If you’re fortunate enough, you can work in your own apartment. But if you’re a sculptor, you have a much bigger project.” Some of Restino’s art remains in ARTISTS continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media
Boston Terrier’s Legacy Looms Large Over Family’s Small Breed Adoption Search PUP ADOPTION continued from p. 1
to or called nearly 20 shelters, rescues, or adoption agencies in the tri-state area looking for a small breed, but only found large breeds. Out-of-state agencies, they’ve found, include a transport fee, which makes the total ($600 to $800) prohibitively expensive. “It’s hard dealing with the passing of Bettie, really difficult,” Tracy Colon, coowner of Bettie, said. “Now it’s just frustrating trying to find a new puppy and that is proving to be a hard process.” Nine-year-old Bettie took her last walk on July 4 and passed away shortly thereafter. Heartbroken by the loss of his beloved dog, Chris Dietz, Bettie’s coowner and Tracy’s uncle, would walk their usual route to take his mind off missing their lovable pooch. “She meant a lot to a lot of people around here, a lot of people in the neighborhood started crying,” Dietz said in a July 13, 2017 Chelsea Now article, when he informed them of the tragic news. “They all knew her from carrying the paper.” The family first adopted Bettie several years ago when one of Tracy’s friends was having a baby and found it necessary to find the pooch a new home. Dietz and Bettie usually walked to the grocery store at W. 28th St. and Ninth Ave., where they would stop by the corner news boxes. Dietz would grab several copies of Chelsea Now and, like always, Bettie would yank the paper out of his hands and carry it all the way home. The lovable nine-year-old became a community icon as many in the neighborhood remember her for her newshungry ways. As Dietz explained in a previous article, the newspaper became a part of Bettie. “It’s funny ’cause if she got the paper, she walks like she has a job to do,” Dietz previously said. “If she doesn’t have the paper, she would just mope.” The neighborhood adored Bettie. As she walked down the street, neighbors would greet her. Once, a bus filled with tourist stopped to take pictures of Bettie calmly going about her daily routine. The lovely dog would, in turn, trade those photo-ops into belly rubs. Although grief-stricken, the family wants to find a new puppy to join the household. Colon’s first choice was to get a French bulldog, but found that the majority of this breed have breathing issues. “We are looking for a small breed something almost the size of Bettie, something six months or younger,” Colon NYC Community Media
File photo by Yannic Rack
Bettie and Chris Dietz, seen here in 2015 on a typical stroll around the neighborhood.
said. “Preferably I would go with a pug or a shih tzu, they are the perfect size.” The family went to Aug. 19’s Clear the Shelters event — an annual nationwide pet adoption drive where hundreds of shelters across the country team up with NBC-owned television stations and Telemundo to provide pets with homes. The event boasts that 900 shelters nationwide have found homes for 75,000 pets. Hoping to find a suitable puppy, the family attended — but found only large breeds. They also contacted the New York ASPCA adoption center, but found more disappointment — the center had only cats up for adoption. “Most of these places [agencies] don’t have small breed puppies. When their websites say they do, they are sold out or already adopted,” Colon said. The family is asking for help from a community that still remembers Bettie. Some neighbors, Colon noted, have already been putting the word out about their search. “If anyone can help us or point us in the right direction where we can find a new puppy, it will be greatly appreciated,” Colon said. Readers who would like to assist the family can contact editor Scott Stiffler at Scott@ChelseaNow.com and the information will be passed along.
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Put Pier55 on Pier 40, Tribeca Architect Says PIER 40 continued from p. 1
St., Michael Sorkin has an alternative idea: Put Diller’s “entertainment fantasy island” on the existing Pier 40, at W. Houston St., and use Diller’s cash to fix it up. Sorkin’s recently unveiled plan — by his Terreform firm — basically preserves Pier 40’s existing “doughnut”-shaped three-story pier shed and massive artificial-turf courtyard playing field, while adding in elements of Diller’s Pier55 plan, such as a huge 4,700-seat outdoor amphitheater and a “lushly landscaped roof” and possible rooftop sculpture garden, plus other features not in Diller’s scheme, such as a large outdoor public swimming pool. There would also be another, smaller, outdoor amphitheater of 500 seats. As if that isn’t enough, there would be five more indoor theaters on the pier’s mezzanine and ground levels, ranging in size from 160 to 250 seats. “The premise is that not just some of things but all of the things from the Pier55 plan could migrate to Pier 40,” Sorkin said.
A rendering of the Terreform plan for Pier 40 that would blend in elements of Barry Diller’s and the Hudson River Park Trust’s Pier55 proposal would include a massive Jones Beach-like 4,700-seat outdoor amphitheater on the existing W. Houston St. pier’s southern side. Architect Michael Sorkin said this stage could actually be movable and could be floated around for events in other locations around the city.
The Hudson River Park Trust — the park’s governing state-city authority — is already getting $100 million from the St. John’s Partners developers for their purchase of 200,000 square feet of the pier’s development rights. Sorkin said the $250 million in funding that Diller has committed, if shifted to Pier 40, would ensure that not only the sprawling pier’s corroded support piles are all repaired, but also that the pier won’t need additional new commercial activity to help fund the rest of the five-milelong park — and could probably even shed its long-standing parking operation. “The predicate here is that parking on the water is a completely inappropriate use for a site as valuable and charismatic at Pier 40,” the architect declared. Even without a massive commercial redevelopment plan, the pier could still have some revenue potential, Sorkin assured. “There could be some revenue from the shows,” he said. “We proPIER 40 continued on p. 15
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SUMMIT continued from p. 1
the ages 14 to 19. The only adults permitted were the ones who worked for TACC or volunteers from organizations in coordination with the night. Estevez, who helped organize the event, said she became involved with TACC in part because her teachers skip talking about some of the things that weigh on the minds of teenagers, such as, racial and gender inequality. “At school the teachers in subjects like social studies and history, they don’t take enough time to really focus on those issues because they are so focused on the curriculum that they are assigned to do,” she said. Estevez took matters into her own hands and joined an all-teenage space in her community where she could discuss social justice issues and what it means to “stay woke” with her peers. Three years ago she applied to the council. “It’s a really friendly environment where I feel really accepted,” she said of TACC. “I’m not afraid to fail.” Teenagers between the ages of 14-19 living or attending school in Chelsea are eligible to apply for this paid position. The Green Council is the other group of teenagers focusing on issues pertaining to the environment, horticulture, and food justice. This is Estevez’s first year as a leader. “The leaders, who are in the second and third years of the programs, they are the ones who conduct the interviews,” Becky Alemán, the adult leader of the council, said. “We usually get a few hundred applications.” The Aug. 3 Teen Summit was Estevez’s sixth time organizing a teen event. This year, she was on the food committee. Every year since 2013, TACC has organized two summer gatherings — Teen Night, in July, and a Teen Summit, in August. From February to the end of August, the council meets a few times a week. Leaders, however, meet throughout the fall too, according to Alemán. “The teens who coordinate this event, we had a lot of adults come in the last event, and they are really passionate. They want to keep it a teen event,” Myrna Cabán Lezcano, the associate director of education and cultural organizing, said. “This is an opportunity to deepen awareness and message. We want to celebrate artists as activists. We are really interested in honing in on equitable space,” she said gesturing to the High Line, “as it’s not just for tourists.” Between the pizza, ice cream sundae bar, screen-printing table, candlemaking, and a photo booth, the council planned every detail of their endof-summer event. The deck was even NYC Community Media
Photos by Rebecca Fiore
The Door - A Center of Alternatives led a dance workshop.
Teen practice screen-printing a T-shirt. “Stay Woke” is its message.
Teens illustrate and answer the question, “What does your perfect utopia look like?” at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol table.
lined with well-known quotes from civil rights activists Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The council booked the talent for the night as well, which included local DJ Mursi Layne; The Door - A Center of Alternatives, who led a dance workshop; producer/musician B Breezy; and poets Gabriel Ramirez and Aaya Perez. “We wanted to showcase up-andcoming performers and friends of friends,” Estevez said. Booking the talent was Imani Hinnant’s favorite part of planning the evening. Hinnant, 16, is a first-year member of TACC who lives in the nearby Fulton Houses. “We started thinking about what we wanted as a theme,” she said. “We see all this injustice all over the world. … I wanted to see teens in the area, around New York City, dancing, being happy, and enjoying each other’s company so we can build a better community together.” Various organizations, with a focus on youth culture, held tables with social justice themed projects. The Brotherhood/ Sister Sol (brotherhood-sistersol.org) a nonprofit focusing on developing youths into critical thinkers and community leaders, had a “Design Your Own Planet” activity, where “What does your perfect utopia look like?” was the quesSUMMIT continued on p. 23 August 31, 2017
Changing Times, But the Pier Remains BY REBECCA WHITE Discussions swirled earlier this year about whether the Church of St. Luke in the Fields should build a new “mission center” for an LGBT drop-in center at Hudson and Christopher Sts. At the time, one prominent critic — David Poster, head of the Christopher St. Patrol volunteer anticrime group — said the facility really wasn’t even needed anymore because gay youth are no longer coming to the area in the kind of numbers seen as recently as just eight years ago. Back then, police used cops on horseback and set up light towers at key intersections to try to keep the crowds of youths under control. Since then, however, great strides were made for LGBT equality under President Obama and there has been increasing acceptance, in general, of LGBT people in wider society. One person who the reporter for this Q&A spoke with said the new LGBT youth scene is in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Even so, for some at least, the Christopher St. Pier remains a place to come, to meet and mingle, to “chill,” to find romance or just make some new friends. AARON WIGGINS, 24, works at Jivamukti yoga school, at 841 Broadway, and is an aerial circusarts dancer. Originally from Texas, he moved to New York City in 2011 for college, studying ballet at Marymount Manhattan College. REBECCA WHITE: How long have you been coming to the Christopher St. Pier? AARON WIGGINS: This is actually the first time at this pier. I’ve been to piers nearby, but I’ve never been to this one. R.W.: Do you come to Christopher St. often? A.W.: I come around every now and then. It’s like a lot of gay people. R.W: Do you feel more comfortable here than other places in New York? A.W.: I do feel a little more comfortable in this area. I live in West Harlem where gay people are not as common, but I feel very accepted in that neighborhood, as well. R.W.: What has been your best experience at this pier? Was it maybe today? A.W.: It was! This may not even
August 31, 2017
Photo by Rebecca White
Aaron Wiggins comes to the pier every now and then. He clearly enjoys its real grass lawn, which is a rarity on piers.
make the article, but I got cruised at this pier already. R.W.: What does that mean? A.W.: It’s like a gay term, as in like when someone wants to hook up with you. It’s very common at piers. Back in the ’70s and ’80s it was like way more common, from what I know of history and articles. The best way I could put it is someone lets you know that they want to hook up with you by either giving you a certain definite look or exposing themselves, which is what happened. R.W.: Where did that happen? A.W.: In the bathroom. But still… it’s like, come on. I’m on the phone with my therapist and it’s like happening. I’m just like, Oh my God. R.W.: Wow, you wouldn’t think that would happen during the day and given the crowd here today. There’s a little baby right there. A.W.: But yes. It’s very prevalent still. R.W.: What was your response to that? Did you ignore it? A.W.: I ignored. I was on the phone. It’s not my first time. I used to work in the nightclubs, so, I get it. It’s like, “All right, come on.”
R.W.: When did you come out? A.W.: I was 16. R.W.: Was it hard? A.W.: I think I was lucky because I grew up a ballet dancer, and so it’s like, the odds are… . And my parents never had any qualms about it, even with me being from Texas. There was never any issue, so I was lucky with that. R.W.: Do you think Christopher St. could use an LGBT drop-in center? A.W.: I think it’s a good idea mainly just because of whatever Trump’s doing right now. It’s like, are you kidding me? He’s like moving us backwards. If it was different, I would say maybe it’s not as important, but… who knows where we’re headed? I think we should have something, for sure. Especially for youth. I’m 24, but I feel like I’ve already kind of crossed the point where it’s like really tricky. I’ve already made it this far. With all my friends and family, I’m accepted. AMY IGARASHI, 19, bisexual, sophomore astronomy major at San Diego State University in her home town. She was visiting New York City for the weekend. R.W.: Why did you come to the Christopher St. Pier today?
A.I.: Just chillin’ with my friends. R.W.: Do you feel comfortable here? A.I.: I feel like coming here. I feel more comfortable expressing myself as like more towards…like less as a cishetero person, I guess. And it’s, like, a pretty liberal city. R.W.: So how do you identify? A.I.: I would identify as — like, a lot of people say — bi or I think, kind of like on the bi/pansexual spectrum. More like I don’t really have a preference. It’s a hard question. Most broadly, I would identify as like pan. I feel, for me, that sexuality is kind of fluid. It really depends on the point of my life, but also I feel like I have been attracted to women. But also woman’s a broad term. I’m just open to anything. R.W.: Are you single at the moment? Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend? A.I.: I’m currently single. R.W.: When did you come out? A.I.: I feel like that’s kind of a hard question. A lot of people say, “What is coming out, really?” Is it telling your close friends or just do you really have to tell the whole world that you’re out? For me there hasn’t been like a comingout thing. I’ve just, like, been more like NYC Community Media
Photos by Rebecca White
Amy Igarashi said that, nowadays, “queer culture has become more prominent and people are more accepting.”
open about it with a few people in my life. I have queer friends that I’ve definitely talked to about our own queerness and stuff. And there are people who are bi-curious that I know. And when sometimes people come out to me, and I’m like, okay, like, cool. I fall under that umbrella, too. R.W.: Have you gotten more comfortable with your identity over time? A.I.: I think the older I got the more comfortable I felt. And also I feel like queer culture, in general, has like really become more prominent, I guess. People are more accepting, now. When I was younger, that concept wasn’t even there. I didn’t even know it was possible to be anything more than straight. R.W.: When did you first feel comfortable talking about it your sexual identity? A.I.: Maybe, like, freshman year of college, which would be around 17, 18. R.W.: How would you feel about having an LGBT drop-in center near here at Christopher and Hudson Sts.? A.I.: Part of me says I don’t know enough about it, in terms of is there a need here for that? I don’t know how much it will be used, but I definitely think that it’s important to have those kinds of facilities. And maybe it doesn’t directly appear that there is a need for it. But once you do have that accessibility and stuff, there will be people that seek that out. I’m always in support of things like that for the queer community. CHELSEA ALLISON, 18, bisexual, just finished high school on Long Island, where she lives in a town she NYC Community Media
didn’t want to name. She plans to attend The New School in the Village this fall as a freshman. R.W.: Is this your first time on the pier? C.A.: This is my third time. R.W.: What’s the best experience you’ve had out here? Do you feel more comfortable here than other places? C.A.: Yeah, the pier’s a cool place. I think this would probably be the best time we’ve come. It’s a bunch of us and we just had some girl talk. It’s a pretty open area. It’s nice. Not a lot of congestion of people. For the most part, it’s a really calm atmosphere. R.W.: How old were you when you came out? C.A.: I came out to my mom, the past year and a half. My dad’s pretty recent — about two weeks ago. Yeah. So, that’s an experience. I think the hardest part is understanding where the stigma comes from and understanding that it comes from such a place of fear. That’s what it was. My dad, especially. He’s a retired correction officer, and then just the stigma of homosexuality in the prisons and how that was perpetrated there. And then him coming home and him having his own ideas about what it meant to be a queer body living now in this time and age and my own experience — how those two have collided, almost. It’s been really difficult, but we’re getting there. R.W.: How old were you when you came out to your mom? C.A.: 16. R.W.: Would you support the idea
Chelsea Allison said she’s had some challenges with her family since coming out, “but we’re getting there.”
of a drop-in center nearby here on Christopher St.? C.A.: Yes. That’s defi nitely a necessity that the community needs, just because it’s so common for queer voices to always be stepped on, or for plans to always just fall through. It never works out. So, I think having that and having that place, that stability for people to come and feel welcomed and be able to be themselves is a necessity, and it’s something the community needs. R.W.: Do you feel that, if there was a drop-in center around here, you would ever need to use it? C.A.: Of course… because at the end of the day, while I’m a person, and I’m living life, I’m also a queer person. Because certain times there are certain experiences that you have one day that just kind of mess up your whole day and you just might need a place to go to get stable for a second. And that could be one of those places. And to have that would be fantastic. ROBIN OWENS, 20, sophomore at New York University, works at a Soho pharmacy, models, lives in the East Village. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, she’s been coming to the pier for slightly more than a year —every few weeks with friends. R.W.: Why did you come out here today? Do you come to the Christopher St. Pier a lot? R.O.: Yeah. Especially my freshman year. I lived right on Fifth Ave., and so I’d come here with friends, kind of a place to hang out, I guess, and smoke and get away from the campus and the park. Today was just, we were at Washington Square Park trying to kill some time. So, we
just decided to skate down here. R.W.: When was the first time you came down to Christopher St. and the pier? R.O.: The first time was I think in April 2016. R.W.: Do you feel more comfortable, in general, on Christopher St.? R.O.: I think, in general, New York is a really safe place…Ever since coming to New York, it’s been the biggest relief off my chest and my shoulders because people are way less judgmental and just don’t care. Being up here, it’s more that I have felt relief and comfort in my identity. R.W.: How do you identify and when did you come out? R.O.: I would say I identify as bisexual. I’ve known since I was pretty young… 10 or 11. But, I definitely never felt comfortable being out at home in Virginia. It’s a stifling place to be. So, ever since coming to NYU. I’ve been out here since my first day. It was like always a nonissue. As soon as I came here, I felt very comfortable. I was 18. R.W.: Did you come out earlier to any family or friends? R.O.: Yeah, I had come out to like my close friends and a couple of people in my family. I was 16. But it was kind of something that I really was uncomfortable with just because people, especially being bisexual, it’s like very different. People seem to understand now, like in Virginia, being gay. They can at least wrap their minds around that. But being bisexual is kind of a different story, because you don’t necessarily fit into a mold. Especially being a bisexual PIER REMAINS continued on p. 16 August 31, 2017
POLICE BLOTTER LOST PROPERTY: Belongings bolt from Megabus She left her handbag under the seat, now thereâ€™s no getting over its loss. A 25-year-old woman reported to police that upon preparing to depart a Megabus around 8 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 24, at the northeast corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 23rd St., she could not fi nd the abovementioned handbag (a spiffy little white canvas number). Its contents included several forms of identifi cation, along with several credit and debit cards. The victim quickly cancelled those cards and noted, when reporting the incident, that there had been no unauthorized transactions.
LOST PROPERTY: Private prop. pilfered at public library If he voiced his frustration, we hope it was kept to a whisper. An absentminded reader exited the Muhlenberg branch of the New York Public Library (209 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) at around
3:35 p.m. on Mon., Aug. 21 and returned approximately 20 minutes later â€” only to discover the bag he left behind had been unceremoniously dumped in a trash can, and its contents absconded with to parts unknown. Gone with the wind (a reference to the loss, not a novel available in the fiction section) were personal items totaling $72 in value, including a $50 pair of jeans and a T-shirt that set its owner back $12.
CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Sensor ripped, mirror pilfered While the city sleeps, a certain delivery service (weâ€™ll call them FedEx, because thatâ€™s their name) toils to ensure every package that
YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY newspaper serving CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELLâ€™S KITCHEN
MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE
August 31, 2017
â€œabsolutely, positively has to be there overnightâ€? arrives at its destination â€” but one uninvited guest at the companyâ€™s 560 W. 42nd St. facility nearly threw a wrench into the well-oiled machine in the 4 a.m. hour of Mon., Aug. 21. With no permission or authority to do so, a man came in through the tractor-trailer bay, then damaged a truck alarm sensor by ripping it off its screws. Video of the incident (be it basic defacement or clumsy attempt at theft) is available, the police report noted. In another (unrelated) incident of criminal mischief, a 30-year-old woman reported the loss of her carâ€™s passenger side mirror. The incident occurred at an unknown time between the period of 7 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 19 and 6 a.m. on Sun., Aug. 20, when the vehicle (a 2012 black Audi four-door sedan) was parked on the 200 block of W. 19th St. The victim estimated the financial loss at between $200 and $500. What she lacked in specific knowledge of her mirrorâ€™s value, she more than made up for in investigative moxie, having canvassed local businesses to see if they could provide video footage that would help catch the thief (alas, no such footage was available).
THEFT OF SERVICES: The skinny on Fatbird A hungry hungry hipster whose eyes proved bigger than his wallet went from a â€œfat birdâ€? to a jailbird when he tried to stiff the fi ne folks at Southern-themed Meatpacking District eatery Fatbird (44 Ninth Ave., at W. 14th St.). Having run up a tab and unable to pay for the food and drinks, the 28-year-old male was placed under arrest by uniformed officers just before midnight on Sat., Aug. 19 â€” assuring him a new menu that, although likely better than bread and water, is certain to be a step down from the comfort food jointâ€™s signature fried chicken and biscuits. â€”Scott Stiffler
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-7418226. Crime Prevention: 212-7418226. Domestic Violence: 212741-8216. Youth Officer: 212741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council (on summer hiatus until Sept. 27) meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT Located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Inspector Russel J. Green, Commanding Officer. Call 212-239-9811. Community Affairs: 212-2399846. Crime Prevention: 212-2399846. Domestic Violence: 212239-9863. Youth Officer: 212239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council (on summer hiatus until Sept. 21) meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7 p.m., at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.). Visit midtownsouthcc.org. THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Brendan Timoney. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council (on summer hiatus until Sept. 19) meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct. CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.
NYC Community Media
NYC Community Media
August 31, 2017
OBITUARY Joe Rocha, Comedian, 49, Would Hate This Tribute There’s nothing so sweet as a joke that lands — and whether carefully constructed or off the cuff, Joe Rocha knew how to hit his target. A staple of San Francisco and, later, NYC comedy clubs and improv theaters, Rocha died on Aug. 22, at the age of 49, of a severe lung infection; empyema complicated by diabetes. The eldest of four children, Bayardo Joseph Rocha was born to parents Bayardo and Norma Rocha on March 3, 1968 in San Francisco, California. After high school, he immersed himself in that city’s comedy scene; first as a host and performer, then as a teacher. He moved to NYC in 1999 and was a regular presence at venues including the Comic Strip Live (where he emceed) and the Peoples Improv Theater, and comedy showcases including Ug! Comedy Show!! and No Name Comedy Variety. Rocha is survived by his sister, Veronica Sophia; brothers Isaac Antonio and Cesar Augusto; niece, Milagro Apollonia Rocha; and, noted Veronica, “countless friends that he considered family.” Excerpts from Facebook postings and remembrances solicited by this publication appear below; their full versions as well as additional testimonials can be found on our website. To access a memorial fund, visit youcaring.com/josephrocha-914304. From 5-8pm on Sept. 10, a “Joe Would Hate This” tribute show will be performed at the Comic Strip Live (1568 Second Ave., NYC; #RoastJoeRocha). We were friends in a time before Facebook, when a whole motley crew would sit outside all night, coming and going on MacDougal Street, until dawn or the garbage truck sprayed juice, talking and laughing and debating until we were hoarse. You never let me feel like the musings and concerns of a 19-year-old were anything less than valid and genuine and worth hearing, and you had the biggest heart, and the best laugh, and gave the most wonderful hugs. … We reconnected recently, having not seen each other in years, and I was so looking forward to seeing you, and hearing you’re gone feels insane, like
August 31, 2017
10 JOE ROCHA JOKES THAT KILLED Cigarettes and black coffee are poor people’s Ritalin. The only reason I’ve joined cults, supported political candidates, followed any and all philosophies is… I really like drinking Kool-Aid. There is a definite sexual tension between this woman and myself. I want to have sex with her, and that makes her very tense.
Courtesy the Rocha family via Facebook
Joe Rocha, eldest of four, was a kid at heart.
my grief is in a vacuum, as I know so few people from that time anymore, but seeing all this outpouring of feeling and emotion is a lot of comfort for a broken heart, and I hope you’re out there somewhere and you see this and know how much we LOVE you. Safe travels, dear friend. —Ani Sarkisian I often think about Joe’s material out of nowhere and laugh. He was a rarity in, as Jess Wood pointed out, he did not talk negatively about people. Or if he did, I didn’t hear it and it was part of his loving spirit. Many don’t know he was additionally a talented artist and gave me a beautiful drawing once. … We were very likeminded, which increased our bond. He was horrified by racism and hate, and talk about rare: a real feminist and quite sensitive to continual prejudice toward women in general. … Joe loved animals, and was a frequent caretaker of quite a few dogs. He often babysat my cats and just adored them. The last note I got from him was the sweetest note in the world about my cat passing, which says so much about him: “Hope you’re ok. Such terrible news.
I hope she wasn’t in pain at the end. Please feel loved and supported by myself and the many who know and love you. I’ll miss her.” —Hilary Schwartz For all his many, many flaws, he was a man of deep passion. He was man of beautiful light. He gave his time. He gave his talent. He gave his humor. He gave us his warmth. If he sought you out you probably never fully appreciated how lucky you were to have him around. I know I didn’t. We all loved this big, funny, f**k-up of a man and the world is going so much darker without him. —Joe Dixon Joe was one of my first friends I met at the Peoples Improv Theater back in 2006. … I would meet Joe a lot after open mics/jams and bounce material off of him, and of course he would always embellish each joke and offer me valid suggestions; essentially making it 10 times funnier than what I had originally written. I would also meet Joe (or “Roch” as I got to calling him)
You can blame secularists, atheists and the Constitution for keeping God out of our schools. Truth is, his grades are just not up to snuff. And he refuses to apply himself. I’m sorry, but we have to have standards. God had a massive bestseller with his virgin book, The Bible. Nothing since. Not even a short story or essay. Such promise, yet nothing. He is the J.D. Salinger of deities. My family grew up very poor. We shopped at Incomplete Foods. Another successful white comedian complains on radio show hosted by white host how free speech is now only for minorities. Meanwhile stock in Irony continues to soar. When black people talk during a movie it’s called rude and disrespectful. When white people do it, it’s called “MST3K.” I’m opening a Latino legal consulting firm called Waivers Rancheros. I don’t get the name Bed Bath & Beyond. I mean I see why it’s called bed, and the bath part but beyond? Here’s soap... from the FUTURE!!
ROCHA continued on p. 20 NYC Community Media
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NYC Community Media
A rendering of the western side of Pier 40 — sporting a large outdoor public pool — in the Terreform design. PIER 40 continued from p. 4
posed a small hotel — a 100-room boutique hotel — restaurants and a marina. “I think there has been so much pressure on Pier 40,” he said, “that people have thought about the highest revenue-generating use rather than the highest public use.” Sorkin said his plan includes community-facility spaces that could be programmed for whatever locals want — and he said it’s clear that the neighborhood wants even more youth sports uses on the pier. “Kids’ recreation — slam dunk,” he said. “I would like to see a small school there of some sort,” he added. “Keep
the soccer fields, boating — plus art stuff from Pier55. A fish restaurant over the water — why don’t we have any of those in Manhattan?” It’s not the first time Terreform has taken a crack at a design for the unsolvable “Rubik’s Cube” of a pier. “This is the fourth Pier 40 project we’ve done in the 25 years,” he said. But there’s one big “if” here — would Diller even want to shift his funds from a dazzling “Diller Island” to Pier 40, where he would have to share the pier with tykes playing T-ball and soccer? “I have sufficient faith in Barry Diller’s civic-mindedness that this would appeal to him,” Sorkin assured, adding, “We look forward to
the handshake between Barry Diller, Douglas Durst, Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo that seals this winwin deal!” The Trust and plaintiffs from The City Club of New York are currently in negotiations about Pier55. The plaintiffs — whose lawsuits were funded by Durst — scored a major victory a few months ago when a federal judge threw out the Corps of Engineers’ permit for the project,
ruling it was not “water-dependent” — meaning Pier55 doesn’t need to be sited on a brand-new pier. A spokesperson said the Trust is not commenting on Sorkin’s plan. Tobi Bergman, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Future of Pier 40 Working Group, said, “If the sponsors want to do it at Pier 40 and if the Trust can live with reduced income, then it sounds great. But those are two big ‘ifs.’ ”
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A rendering of an aerial view of the Terreform Pier 40 plan, including a marina on the north side, the existing courtyard playing field, and a landing rooftop, complete with a Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture at the roof’s southwest corner. NYC Community Media
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Our Perspective Taxpayers Shouldn’t Subsidize Amazon’s Growth By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW axpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing the growth of Amazon, the world’s largest internet-based retailer. Our public policy shouldn’t bend towards giving handouts to a company that had a revenue of almost $136 billion last year, and whose CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth hovers around $90 billion, making him one of the richest people on the planet. But outrageously, that’s exactly what’s happening across America. Governments are buying into the fallacy that using corporate welfare to attract Amazon is going to be beneﬁcial to our communities and offset millions of dollars in subsidies. In Baltimore, Maryland, Amazon received $43 million in subsidies. In Jacksonville, Florida, the subsidy windfall for Amazon has topped $26 million. Jolliet, Illinois has handed the company over $30 million in subsidies, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, subsidies have topped $32 million, and in the state of Pennsylvania Amazon has been granted subsidies of over $22 million. All told, since 2015, Amazon has beneﬁted from at least $241 million in tax abatements, infrastructure improvements, and other subsidies in dozens of places, selling the idea that when Amazon comes to town, it will help everybody. But what are taxpayers and communities getting for their money and depleted tax base? These subsidies help Amazon drive retailers and other competition out of the market by selling products even at below its own cost. The company is selling more and more of its own products and promoting them over the third-party goods that helped build their business model. With its own products, distribution network, and ability to drive competitors out of business, we see the dark underpinnings of a vast monopoly that has the power to permanently change our economy and eliminate our choices and the free market as we know it. The company’s taxpayer-aided growth is also bad news for working families. Not only has Amazon helped destroy an estimated 150,000 jobs in retail due to the shuttering of stores that can’t match Amazon’s prices, the Amazon jobs that are created are often lowwage, grueling work in poor conditions. The mind-boggling wealth of Amazon’s executives in comparison to the low pay earned by Amazon workers epitomizes the economic inequality that is hurting America’s families. When Amazon comes to town with hat in hand asking for tax relief, our public ofﬁcials need to demand quality jobs and good working conditions in return. And, our policymakers need to focus on the issues that are highlighted by Amazon’s growth. Consumers need to be protected from potential monopolies such as the one presented by Amazon, and our communities deserve fair economic return for the tax breaks and subsidies used to attract big business. Amazon’s growth seems inevitable, but a future where that growth is paid for by taxpayers is not. Now is the time to ensure that our public policy protects workers, consumers, and our communities.
August 31, 2017
Photo by Rebecca White
“You come out in little ways every single day,” Robin Owens said.
PIER REMAINS continued from p. 7
woman, there’s always this idea that you’re doing it for a man’s attention or that you’re lying about it. R.W.: Or that you just haven’t figured it out yet. R.O.: Yeah, that you just want to, like, make out with girls. That’s always the stigma that I kind of felt in Virginia. I ended up meeting so many people here who identify as LGBT or were in an LGBT community that it made me way more comfortable being open about it, talking about it, not being uncomfortable making comments, sharing with people, making jokes about it. It’s kind of like you come out in little ways every single day. It’s not like you come out once and you have some tattoo on your head that says, like, “bisexual.” You come out every time somebody says, “Oh, you’re into girls.”
R.W.: Would you support the idea of having an LGBT drop-in center on Christopher St.? R.O.: I would be really in support. I’ve had a lot of friends whose families have been very unaccepting of the fact. And I think that when you live in a city like this — especially me coming from a school like NYU, it’s a very expensive school — so, you don’t really see that side. You really only see the LGBT parties and people having fun and the sexual side. I think, a lot of times, it’s easy to forget that it’s not as easy for everybody and there are so many LGBT youth that don’t come from these affluent families and they’re struggling. I think it’s easy to put that out of your mind when it seems like, “Oh, times have changed, yet the area is getting more gentrified.” There is a reason why we don’t see it as much. But just because we don’t see it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not there. NYC Community Media
Cosplay and Drag Blend at Flame Con Queer geeks offer inclusive, warm place to come home to BY CHARLES BATTERSBY The stereotypes of nerds and gays often appear at odds with each other, but, for the third year in a row, geek culture and the LGBTQ community have enthusiastically teamed up at Flame Con (flamecon.org). The weekend convention, held this year Aug. 19-20 at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, gathers the artists and writers who create queer comic books, movies, games, and TV shows to unite them with fans. As with any gathering of geeks or drag queens, many of the attendees wore extravagant costumes based on their favorite characters. Cosplay was once a rare subculture for only the most ardent fans, but it has become a widespread part of any event featuring nerd culture. Flame Con bolstered the ranks of its cosplayers with nerdy drag queens who used their campy style to interpret superheroes, video game heroines, and even Disney princesses. Rachel Greeman moderated panels on cosplay and staffed the Cosplay Corner station at the con. She pointed out a few things that make cosplay at Flame Con feel different than at other cons. “My favorite thing about Flame Con, specifically, is that cosplayers here feel more comfortable in doing what they want for cosplay, and not as much what they think will be popular or what they think will get them a lot of photos taken and stuff like that,” she said, and then, referring to her own Harley Quinn costume, added, “Everybody wants their picture taken but, I think, at Flame Con people are going to take my picture because they like me, and they like what I’m wearing and how I’ve done this. I don’t think people are as nervous about wearing something that might get them called out or ostracized. Because we don’t allow that at Flame Con, and we encourage people to have their own unique sense of style.” Greeman then pointed out a cosplayer wearing a Wolverine dress, with rhinestone trim on the uniform and glittering sparkles on their claws. “I love seeing all the corsetry, the rhinestones, the glamour that goes into NYC Community Media
Photos by Charles Battersby
One of the contest judges, Dax ExclamationPoint, as Catwoman (right) with Geisha VI.
it,” she said. “Because when they come to Flame Con they want to be very glamorous. In their own way. They want to define what cosplay means to them. I feel like you don’t see that anywhere else, because other places don’t welcome that kind of creativity with open arms the same way that Flame Con does, and that’s why I’m so proud to be doing this here.” Flame Con had a costume contest and costume parade on both days of the event. Speaking to our sister publication, Gay City News, one of the contest judges, Dax ExclamationPoint, a drag performer who dressed as Catwoman for the con, illuminated the subtle distinctions between traditional drag and drag as cosplay. “Drag is performance art, so is cosplay, but a different kind of perforBarlyvillainous appears as the sea witch Ursula from “The Little Mermaid.”
FLAME CON continued on p. 18 August 31, 2017
FLAME CON continued from p. 17
mance,” she explained. “In the contest earlier, they did skits and voices. That’s performance.” The contests at Flame Con did have a more theatrical feel to them when compared to mainstream cons. When a “Steven Universe” cosplayer whipped out their ukulele and started singing the show’s theme song during the costume contest, half the audience joined in and knew the entire song by heart. When a cosplayer dressed as the sea witch Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” quoted the famous “Now, sing!” line from the movie, the audience once again burst into song. Cosplayer Jay Justice was a special guest at Flame Con, and spoke on several cosplay panels. She told Gay City News, “Cosplay at Flame Con feels more diverse than at other conventions, possibly because there is an overall sense of acceptance and a shared culture, an increased familiarity with the same concepts and ideals. Flame Con feels like coming home to so many of us.” Justice said she also noticed “a lot of original concept cosplay among the queer community. We like to do our own thing, make up a fantasy elven persona, or a futuristic sci-fi hero, or our own gay superhero.” Media, in general, has increasingly focused attention on LGBTQ characters, and there is no shortage of canonically gay characters in geek media, too. This year’s Flame Con saw many costumes based on recent franchises like the video game “Dream Daddy,” and the anime “Yuri On Ice,” both of which were released within the past year. Flame Con’s ideas of inclusion extend beyond the
Photo by Charles Battersby
Rachel Greeman moderated panels on cosplay and was also on hand at Cosplay Corner.
LGBTQ community. There’s a strong focus on keeping the con accessible to disabled attendees and on ethnic diversity. During one of her panels, Jay Justice recalled a time when she was called out by a child for cosplaying as a character traditionally portrayed as being from another race. “Many of the little black children were extremely excited to see a Batgirl who looked like them and they begged for photos and autographs, holding my hand and giving me hugs,” she said. “The white children were hesitant and one of them, a little boy, gave me a
look and a smirk and asked, ‘Doesn’t Batgirl have red hair?’ I could see the enthusiasm start to wilt out of the black children, and I calmly and brightly replied, ‘The cool thing about Batman is that he believes that it doesn’t matter what you look like, as long as you are a good person. Anyone can be a superhero.’ The child slowly sat back down and said, ‘That’s true.’ And then we all played and talked about video games. It was a great lesson for everyone.” It was one of many truths about cosplay that Flame Con had to teach.
Mystico’s Eerily Accurate Horoscopes Aquarius You will decode winning stock tips from a new track dropped by a diva whose work you’ve long dismissed. Pisces Fabric store felt and flea market glitter provide the backbone for a pride-on-the-line art project challenge. Get crafty! Aries Beware the cheap motel room, for it often opens the door to an expensive mistake. Taurus You will meet a compatible stranger in the third aisle of a supermarket rumored to have lowered their outrageous asking price for avocados. Gemini Uneasy dreams prompt you to rethink a fall fashion splurge inspired by a discount coupon that expires soon. Cancer The sight of students returning to class will fi ll you with an urge to dust off that old thermos. Skip the whisky this time, dear Cancer, and go with soup! Leo A bell, somebody’s clock,
August 31, 2017
and a wedding band finger: These are things you can ring next Tuesday. Virgo You will question the ageappropriateness of a daring recreational activity planned for the long weekend. Do it anyway! Libra A fantastic new soft drink sold at your go-to convenience store promises lasting pleasure but delivers only fi zzy, fleeting jitters. Scorpio Cool your jets, tempestuous Scorpio, when a button-pushing friend presses you on an old debt, long since settled, that they just won’t let you forget. Sagittarius Next Wednesday afternoon is your cosmic prime time to show caution the wind and indulge an urge that killjoy chum keeps warning you about. Capricorn Stop screaming at the clueless people on that TV show where they tell you what old stuff is worth. It’s not nice — plus, they can’t hear you! NYC Community Media
Rhymes with Crazy
Life With a Son on the Spectrum BY LENORE SKENAZY Manhattanite Judith Newman was at the deli counter ordering cold cuts with her sons Gus and Henry, twins in their early teens. One of them was hopping up and down, announcing to anyone and everyone that his father would soon be coming home from a trip and would land at JFK, then take “the A train from Howard Beach to West Fourth and then change to the B or D to BroadwayLafayette. He’ll arrive at 77 Bleecker.” At which point, the boy continued, daddy and mommy “will do sex... .” And then he went back to explaining more about the train transfers. So begins Newman’s book, “To Siri with Love,” an essay collection about raising two boys, one with autism, one without. I think you can guess which one was hopping and announcing the train schedule, and which one whispered into his ear to add that little detail about what happens when daddy gets home. Newman writes that she is so used to her son Gus’ behaviors that she barely noticed. “But in that moment I see our family the way the rest of the world sees us: The obnoxious teenager, pretending he doesn’t know us; the crazy jumping bean, nattering on about the A train; the frazzled, fanny-pack-sporting mother, now part of an unappetizing visual of two ancients on a booty call.”
But you probably won’t see them that way after reading her book. Or, at least not only that way. In fact, you might grow to love them all. That’s because Newman is a hilarious mom and so heartbreakingly honest that one chapter is actually a list of her traits that she worries may have caused her son’s autism — a list she runs through her head “usually at 4 a.m.” These include, “Because I was old... Because I was fat... Because I had twins via in vitro fertilization... .” She looks at these risk factors with a gimlet eye (and the help of some experts). And then, “When I needed still more ways to blame myself, I would read about the genes involved.” But after she has worked herself into a state, “I look at Gus the person, not Gus the mental condition and calm the hell down.” What is Gus the person like? Well, the subtitle of the book is “A
Mother, Her Autistic Son, and The Kindness of Machines.” One machine in particular — Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual assistant — has provided her son with a companion that talks to him without getting bored or testy about the topics Gus can’t get enough of, particularly transit and weather patterns. So Gus is, like many “ASD” kids (that is, kids on the autism spectrum) focused. “Every person with ASD I’ve ever met loves repetition and detail in some form or another,” writes Newman. “If a subject is interesting to him, there is no such thing as ‘getting tired’ of it.” Siri doesn’t get tired either, making her a great companion. But she’s also programmed to interact somewhat like a human. So when Gus asks her, “Will you marry me?” she responds, “My enduser agreement does not include marriage.” And Gus deals. But the fact that he wanted to marry Siri sounds like pure Gus, because he is in love with almost everyone who’s kind to him. He talks to strangers, he takes his mom’s hand when they go for a walk, he helps out the doormen in his building, buzzing people when their food arrives, fetching their packages, saying hello to everyone. A dream job. But then, a few years back, a tenant or tenants got Gus “fired.” “Whatever the reason,” Newman wrote, “Gus’s job was no more.”
Newman had to lie to Gus and tell him it was a union rule. He pouted, but accepted it. Then she locked her bedroom door… and sobbed. ‘‘I was embarrassed,” she writes. “Embarrassed that I had believed my autistic son was actually performing a service, when in fact he’d been merely tolerated, a nuisance. Embarrassed that I had the audacity to convince myself that he was actually in some sort of training, that someday he would have a job like this, that we would be just another dude with a job, a guy who’d get a million hellos.” How could she even look at her neighbors after that? I’m not sure how Newman managed. But then some time passed, Gus started hanging out in the lobby again, and now he’s back to his greeting duties. “He will never pass as a kid who doesn’t have some issues,” Newman told me in a phone interview. But between his devoted parents, his pretend-tough brother (who spent all summer going around the city with him), the neighbors who are happy to have him back in the lobby — and Siri — Gus seems very happy. And hoppy. 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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Courtesy the Rocha family via Facebook
Joe Rocha’s material was solid, but he was also able to improvise at will, and at length. ROCHA continued from p. 10
at random between 2 and 3am on sleepless New York City nights when I was wired from the intense buzz of the city and the stressors of college life. … I will miss the laughter and friendship he brought to me and so many others and all that embodied what Joseph Rocha, the man himself, was; a funny, gentle, kind, selfless human being. —Michaela Quinn He kept me humble on nights I would do well on stage — always pushed me to get better even if I had a great set. I remember some “agent” came up to me after an open mic and gave me his card after a set at a sushi restaurant. I was so full of myself and tore up the card after the guy walked out. He told me to never do that. He said even if the guy was full of shit the fact that he took the time to tell me he liked my set should be worth something. I was so full of myself back then it took a week to really set in after he saw me bomb horribly at Pip’s in Brooklyn. He had the biggest grin on his face as I walked back to the table, he hugged me and said, “Don’t worry. Nobody will give you their card after that one.” I’m glad
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to see so many people sharing their memories. It’s hard to accept he’s gone. He had a lot of friends and he truly deserved them all. Rest in peace, Joseph Rocha. Now please let me sleep. —Charlie Moreno It’s hard to believe I met Joseph Rocha 21 years ago. It’s hard to believe he’s gone now. The reality hasn’t quite sunk in yet. Part of it is the fact that, in comedy you make a lot of friends that drift in and out of your life. Sometimes you see them every night, and then you don’t see them for years. I was always happy when I did see Joe, because he was one of those guys who could get frustrated with the business, but never got bitter. A funny guy, a really strong writer, and a fantastic comedian. I think that’s what he want to be remembered for. Last time I hung out with him was a few years ago, but I would always see him in passing at shows, and I would always be happy to find out he was on the lineup. Facebook memorials are weird, and he would probably be the first one to make fun of me for writing this. That’s okay. Really good dude with his head screwed on to his shoulders.
The world is a little bit poorer for his passing —Liam McEneaney There aren’t a ton of Latin comedians, but Joseph Rocha was always one that I’d see around when I started and he made it a point to introduce you and help you out if you were. Because of him I try to do the same thing. You’ve read how welcoming and nice he was. He was also sharp and just enjoyed doing comedy. He had great energy and I can’t remember him being in a bad mood. I would hope we all treat each other the way he treated all of us. —Alexis Guerreros Joe Rocha was one of the kindest, smartest, flat-out funniest people you could ever hope to meet. He first did “No Name” about 17 years ago, and immediately became one of our most frequent and best-loved guests. He embraced the spirit of playfulness our shows strive to foster, and he remains one of my all-time fave comics to watch work. He was always writing, often even just before going up. And when he got up there, he just ran with his instincts. He might play with the idea that hit him two minutes prior, he might do some wonder-
fully written, skillfully executed routine, or he might ditch all of that just to shoot the shit with the audience. My favorite Rocha performance? We were doing a fundraiser at a Moose Lodge. We got paid nicely, and Joe was the headliner, set to do 20-25 minutes. Just before going onstage, he tells me he has to run to do a late spot at the Strip and can only do maybe 10 minutes. I looked at him, horrified; he was already paid, and we had to deliver what we promised. He said he’d try to do close to 15, but he hadda go, he was late. He hits the stage, and the crowd is well-lubricated and, uh, chatty… somebody yells out something, and Joe replied, turning it into a laugh. Somebody else yelled out something, and the same result. Joe then took the bull by the horns, and began talking to the audience, doing crow work. In under two minutes, he had them eating out of his hands, fully in control, and getting some of the biggest laughs I’ve ever heard. He did close to 40 minutes, and not one scrap of material. After the show, I said, ”I thought you had to run to a spot at the Strip?” He says, “Yeah, but I was having fun.” We hung out for a bit, and he went home. —Eric Vetter NYC Community Media
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ARTISTS continued from p. 2
a storage unit in Philadelphia, where she went to art school. She’s “worn many hats” while living in Manhattan, creating greeting cards, T-shirts, and political buttons to get by. Both Restino and another winning grantee, Nick Stavrides, said they have rent-stabilized apartments, but artists now arriving in Hell’s Kitchen must often contend with paying market rate rents. Stavrides moved into Hell’s Kitchen in 1993 — when broken glass covered the streets because of kids breaking into cars to steal stereos. “There were still places to live because it was underdeveloped,” Stavrides said. Starting out, he kept his art in a speakeasy in his building’s basement, and he bartended to make ends meet. Now, he borrows a friend’s studio. Jill Slaymaker came to the city in 1992 with no apartment and no job, surviving on tips from cocktail waitressing. She paid $275 a month for the first 18 years she lived here, subletting a Chelsea apartment from a photographer who wanted to live elsewhere but also use the apartment as a workspace. When Slaymaker met her husband, a
Photo by Nathan DiCamillo
Janet Restino displays her work, hand painted as well as digital created, in her Hell’s Kitchen apartment.
musician, she moved into Manhattan Plaza, which provides subsidized housing for performing artists. “We’re both part-time teachers,” she said. “We’re making it because of that housing.” Shawn Wickens works in the kitchen of the apartment he shares with his girlfriend, who “puts up with a lot,” he said. Wickens moved to the city in 2004, and said he only took note of the flight of
artists from Manhattan the past five or six years. But he’s also seen the number of grants increase. “Once I noticed people leaving, I also noticed a more vocal push to put money in the hands of artists, but the competition is fierce for it,” he said. Wickens attributes his success as an artist to finding a community of positive people. “Surround yourself with good
SUMMIT continued from p. 5
tion posed to teens. The Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org) had a table where teens had a chance to learn about the museum’s “An Incomplete History of Protest” exhibition while making their own protest banners. At a bracelet-making table, teens were encouraged to “use colors to symbolize multiple parts of your identity.” A dance workshop held by youth development services organization The Door - A Center of Alternatives (thedoor.org) gathered a large crowd to the stage. Teenagers volunteered to lead the workshop, kicking and jumping on the stage before their applauding and encouraging peers. Lezcano said in the past, each event has brought in anywhere between 600
Photo by Rebecca Fiore
Naomi Estevez, 17, was on the food committee for the event, handing out pizza.
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people who will lift you up when your spirits are down and do the same for others,” he advised young artists arriving in New York. Mahmoud Hamadani moved here in 1996, when he “didn’t know what to do next.” After working as a diplomat and an actuary, he decided he would try his hand at writing. But to relax, he began to draw. “It was a curiosity that became an interest, an interest that became an obsession, and an obsession that turned into a career,” Hamadani said. He signed his first lease in Hell’s Kitchen seven years ago, after moving from sublet to sublet. For artists new to the city, Hamadani believes selfconfidence is the most important part of making it. On top of trying to work part-time jobs to stay afloat, artists have to be aware of how much exposure their work is getting, Ivchenko said. Getting art into a gallery, creating an online presence, and finding ways to do self-promotion for grants and awards are difficult and time-consuming challenges for artists. “You don’t just need talent to do art,” Hamadani said. “It takes courage. You’re putting some of yourself into it, and that’s what makes it hard.”
to 800 teenagers citywide. Tiara Williams, 15, has been on the council for five months. While Estevez said her team focuses on putting flyers up at the Fulton and Elliott-Chelsea Houses, some teens discover them through social media. Williams found out through Facebook, and said that TACC has given her many opportunities so far. “I’m learning more about our community,” she said, “and what are good ways to connect with the community. We also learn about [preparing for] colleges, resume building, and writing a cover letter.” As for Estevez, she isn’t sure what she wants to be when she gets older, she said she plans “on majoring in psychology or sociology. I definitely want to continue bringing people together.” For more info on TACC, visit thehighline.org/blog/tagged/teen-arts-council.
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August 31, 2017
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
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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.
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August 31, 2017