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YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN

ALL–IN FOR ANIME NYC Costumed Fans of Japanese Comics and Cartoons Convene at the Javits Center see page 6

Photos by Christian Miles

© CHELSEA NOW 2017 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 09, ISSUE 39 | NOVEMBER 23 - 29, 2017


Movin’ Out: UCB Heads to Hell’s Kitchen, Kennel Club Shutters After Scandal BY WINNIE McCROY After nearly 15 years at its 152-seat Chelsea location (307 W. 26th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre is moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The iconic comedy training and performance mecca will take over the 160-seat theater at 555 W. 42nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves), previous home to the Pearl Theatre Company, which closed earlier this year after filing for bankruptcy. Sketch and improv artists who called the W. 26th St. facility home are currently celebrating the move with a special series of shows “saying farewell to Chelsea and hello to Hell’s Kitchen,” according to a press statement. The Hell’s Kitchen location will open in December. “The big amenity change is an ADAcompliant venue that will better serve the diverse group of performers, students, and patrons that make up the UCB community,” said Chelsea’s UCB Theatre director Shannon O’Neill, referencing the new venue’s accessibility according to the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The move to Hell’s Kitchen will have no impact on the East Village outpost of UCB (aka UCB East; 153 E. Third St., btw. Aves. A & B). Srinivasan was not sure what would happen to their old Chelsea location, situated next to a Gristedes supermarket across the street from Penn South. “While leaving 26th Street will be emotional with 14 and a half years of memories, our writers and performers are excited about pushing their work in new directions with the new space,” O’Neill said. Access the schedule of classes and performances at ucbtheatre.com. The Chelsea Kennel Club, the highend pet boutique that was the subject of an undercover animal abuse investigation by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), closed its doors two months ago. And at this point, it doesn’t appear that it will reopen. Former owner Dana Derragh told Patch.com in late September that the investigation “helped close it earlier, but it was something I was planning to do anyway.” Workers were seen packing up merchandise at 213 Seventh Ave. (btw. W. 22nd & 23rd Sts.), after Derragh shuttered operations.

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File photo by Andrew Bisdale via facebook.com/ucbtny

Long lines for shows at the UCB Theatre on W. 26th St. were commonplace, and sightings of cofounder Amy Poehler in the nearby Gristedes were not unheard of.

Photo by Scott Stiffler

In an Aug. 3 Chelsea Now article (“Exposé Puts Chelsea Kennel Club in the Doghouse; Owner Calls Investigation a ‘Hatchet Job’ ”), Derragh denied the allegations, saying she was a longtime vegetarian and animal lover. But the undercover HSUS video (youtu. be/7ip0zK27wSU) told another story entirely. It showed workers smacking crying pups and banging on cages, as well as images of sick animals limping and shaking — animals that were later sold for thousands of dollars. After multiple protests outside her pet stores, Derragh told the New York Daily News that she “decided to retire,” saying that she “didn’t want to stick around for the political witch hunt.” John Goodwin, Senior Director of the Stop Puppy Mills Campaign at HSUS found this ironic, saying, “When I hear her referring to people exercising their First Amendment rights as ‘harassment’ after all she did to those animals, I can’t help but think she’s throwing stones in a glass house.” Goodwin said that HSUS has no evidence that Derragh is back in business, but admits that the owner has functioned under an alias in the past. “When we were researching her, we

Chelsea Kennel Club has closed, a move seemingly hastened by the release of graphic video from an undercover investigation.

MOVIN’ continued on p. 3

Photo by Francine Daveta

UCB performers will fondly remember their days in Chelsea, but few will miss the pillars that impeded sight lines.

NYC Community Media


Photo by Scott Stiffler

File photo via cheftoddenglish.com

With Todd English no longer planning a food hall for the old Il Bastardo space, Southern Hospitality restaurant has designs on 191 Seventh Ave.

Todd English likes Chelsea, but nixed plans to set up shop on Seventh Ave., wary of the shuttered Il Bastardo space’s lingering association with its “previous operators.”

Celeb Chef Abandons Plans, but Former Il Bastardo Space Might Host ‘Southern Hospitality’ owner Robert Malta, would continue to be involved with the project. “We were going to take over the lease from her, but Todd and I decided we had gone through a lot of media attention, so we respectfully called our attorney and told him to walk away,” said Arbelaez. “It was an integrity move. We did not want any association with these same owners. The worse thing we could do is put our investor’s money into play and

BY WINNIE McCROY Just months after Chelsea Now reported on celebrity Chef Todd English’s intent to open up one of his famed food hall market concepts at 191 Seventh Ave. (near the corner of W. 21st St.), the bon vivant has quietly backed out of negotiations. But a new business has already submitted an application to operate in the location. The huge spot was the former site of Il Bastardo restaurant, a hotbed of police and State Liquor Authority citations for a history of drunk and disor-

derly conduct violations that stemmed from their raucous weekend brunches. Chef English’s Director of Restaurant Development, Flip Arbelaez, confided to Chelsea Now that they had planned to create their version of a neighborhood food hall with six food stalls and a florist, and felt the layout of the old Il Bastardo space was perfect. English and his team were initially very excited to find the space, which Arbelaez said was perfectly situated between Chelsea Market and the Penn Station corridor, so as not

to compete with existing markets. “But when we started going through the process and doing more research, we came to fi nd out that some of the former people were involved, and we were discouraged by it,” said Arbelaez. “Todd and I got together about this immediately and decided that to go forward would only end up disappointing folks.” Apparently, Chef English and his team were not initially aware that Kristin Sollenne, a Food Network personality and wife of former Il Bastardo

MOVIN’ continued from p. 2

they wanted to learn if their future pet was bred at a puppy mill. Now, that list has been restored — but with all names, addresses and license numbers redacted. “So you can see all the horrible things that went on, but you can’t see who did it,” Goodwin said. “That way they can say they took a step, but still protect people who abused animals.” Goodwin said he felt the USDA would not make any significant changes without pressure from constituents to their Congress member, asking them to reverse this data purge and put these animal inspection reports back online. He said that this kind of grassroots advocacy has worked in the past, noting that the undercover video footage they published got more than five million views on Facebook, and “New Yorkers took it upon themselves to make sure the video spread and that neighbors knew what was happening at that pet store.”

At a July 27 rally organized by NY Animal Defenders in protest of conditions at Chelsea Kennel Club, Brianna Bryan (right) marched while holding a sign referring to the undercover video in which her bulldog was featured.

believe she had gone under the name Yardena Rich to open a pet shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, called Le Petit Puppy,” Goodwin noted. “But I have no reason to believe she’s back in business now. She has had other businesses in the past, but she’s older now, and hopefully she’ll choose to find income through more humane means than selling sick puppies to unsuspecting customers.” Goodwin said the HSUS continues to fight the Trump Administration’s move to shield puppy mill owners from penalties. A 2015 New York City ordinance prevents pet stores from purchasing animals from puppy mills with severe animal welfare violations — the so-called “Horrible Hundred” list. Earlier this year, the USDA removed this list from the Internet, suggesting individuals submit a FOIA request if NYC Community Media

191 SEVENTH AVE. continued on p. 23

File photo by Scott Stiffler

November 23, 2017

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The ‘Trader Joe’s’ of Optic Wear, with Broadway Flair BY ELANA DURE Greg Freidus went to optician school with the hopes of one day owning an eyewear shop. The native New Yorker graduated and subsequently sought different experiences that allowed him to learn the trade and gain relevant skills. Greg said he worked in “all genres of the field,� including stints with a big-box store, private practice and independent shop. All the while, he never lost sight of his end goal, he said. The hard work and years of practice ultimately paid off. In May, Greg’s dream of owning an eyewear store became a reality. After six years of learning experiences, Greg and his wife, Karen, opened Center Stage Optique in the West Village. The couple celebrated the store’s ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 4. Center Stage offers customers a different eyewear shopping experience. The business meshes Karen’s Broadway passion with Greg’s opticianry background, creating a unique ambiance that provides shoppers with an enjoyable visit. “We wanted to offer a fun, unique shopping experience that is whimsical

Photo by Elana Dure

Greg and Karen Freidus have mixed opticianry and touches of Broadway in their new eyewear shop.

and reflects our personalities, which is not old or stodgy or boring, at all,� said Karen, who worked on Broadway for 13 years running the group sales department at Jujamcyn Theaters. She explained that optometry shops often look like old medical offices, meaning uninviting, and the couple wanted to break away from that mold. The store features a reception desk

with theater tickets incorporated into the design, a collage of the Freiduses’ favorite Playbills on the dispensing tables, and a stage curtain that serves as an exam-room wall. Customers can also strut down the red carpet and model their glasses in the store’s Broadway mirror. Non-Broadwaygoers need not shy away from Center Stage; the store

offers fashionable eyewear for people of all interests. As Karen explained, the Broadway theme is only a detail; eyeglasses are the main idea. Center Stage offers high-quality frames for a fair price, Karen said, joking that the couple likes to call themselves “the Trader Joe’s of eyewear.� The store offers a package-pricing deal, bundling the frame, basic lens and basic anti-glare treatment for a cheaper price than the frame would cost elsewhere, Karen said. Center Stage also accepts out-of-network insurance benefits, allowing eligible customers to receive a partial reimbursement from their insurance companies after purchasing glasses. “We decided when we opened the store that we didn’t want to be in bed with insurance companies,� Karen said. “They can control your pricing to some degree.� The couple also decided that they wanted the shop to serve as a community center. As such, Center Stage plans to host Broadway trivia nights, actor meetand-greets and a grand opening party. Customers can also enjoy a refreshing OPTIC continued on p. 23

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November 23, 2017

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At Chelsea Market, Pearl River Mart Redefines the Mom-And-Pop Paradigm BY REBECCA FIORE In the center of Pearl River Mart’s newly opened Chelsea Market location is a large bright red round table. It has three tiers, which can be moved about for displaying clothing and other assorted goods. The center can be removed, which transforms the table into a stand and the displays into benches. At Nov. 15’s opening night reception, a DJ stood in the middle spinning songs to friends and longtime customers, said Joanne Kwong, president of Pearl River Mart. “The two things that distinguish this place from [the other location] are the focus on merchant designers and this,” Kwong said as she pointed to the red table, “which is a flexible event space. You could have a brush painting class, or calligraphy, or dumpling-making. So when it’s not in use it’s a display area, but we can turn things around and have a talk, a book signing, a performance.” Kwong has been thinking a lot of about transformation. Just a year ago, she took on her in-law’s business when, after nearly 50 years, they decided to retire due to outrageous rent price hikes at their 30,000-square-foot Soho location. Pearl River Mart has had five locations in the past, moving around lower Manhattan. Currently, the momand-pop shop has two locations — its flagship in Tribeca and its considerably smaller 3,500-square-foot Chelsea Market store. “About two years ago we knew that our lease [in Soho] was ending and our rent was going to quintuple. We were already paying over a million dollars a year and it was going to go to six million dollars a year, which is a really incredible amount for any business really, but for a small mom-and-pop business it’s unsustainable,” she said. Kwong knew the Chelsea Market location had to be more than just a store, because the mart itself started off as more than just Chinese trinkets and tchotchkes. To do so, Kwong decided to bring her in-law’s vision into a new era full of social media, community outreach, and local Asian American artists. Ming Yi and Ching Yeh Chen were never originally storeowners, but rather academics and activists. They emigrated from Taiwan, and in 1971 the couple opened Pearl River Mart in Chinatown as their way of introducing New Yorkers NYC Community Media

Photo by Asiya Khaki

Inspired by Hong Kong parades, the Pearl River team was determined to find a LED-powered lion costume. With none available in NYC, they made their own. A dancer from the Wan Chi Ming Institute performed a dance in costume on opening night to bless the new space.

Photo by Rebecca Fiore Photo by Rebecca Fiore

On the ground floor of Chelsea Market, the brightly lit, L-shaped store has an open layout to allow shoppers to roam around freely.

to Chinese traditions. During that Vietnam War era, Kwong noted, Chinese people and culture were subject to suspicion. The mission-driven store was created to combat negative myths and stereotypes. “Even Chinatown at the time was

an enclave,” Kwong recalled. “It wasn’t what it is now. It was a place you really probably wouldn’t go to as an ordinary New Yorker, unless you were Chinese. Mr. Chen felt that if people just get to know each other, sit down have actual conversations, day-to-day contact, and

The two-ton granite Buddha statue was brought in from Pearl River Mart’s former Soho location.

start seeing each other as members of families and communities, then people will understand we have more in common than differences — and these barriers will fall down.” PEARL RIVER MART continued on p. 15 November 23, 2017

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Once Again, Finally, Anime Fans Have Their Own NYC Con BY CHARLES BATTERSBY New York has a major Comic Con but, in years past, there was a con just for Japanese comics and cartoons. The old New York Anime Festival was absorbed into the New York Comic Con (NYCC) five years ago, leaving the city’s nerdy Japanophiles without a major con they could claim as their own. This year saw the arrival of the first Anime NYC — a three-day event (Nov. 17-19) held at the Javits Center, where fans could indulge their love of “Sailor Moon,” “Fullmetal Alchemist” and more, in the company of fellow Otakus (a Japanese term for obsessives, most commonly of the anime and manga stripes). Although a sizable experience, Anime NYC was smaller than the juggernaut that is NYCC. Its show floor took up only a fraction of the convention center’s space — and had about 20,000 attendees as opposed to the 180,000 at NYCC. The smaller crowd was still extremely enthusiastic as they eagerly lined up to meet voice actors from games and cartoons, catch exclusive movie screenings, and participate in the Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE costume contest. It has been over 25 years since “Sailor Moon” premiered, influencing an entire generation, as such, the con declared Sat., Nov. 18 to be “Sailor Moon Day,” and had panels that allowed fans to meet the voice cast of the English language version of “Sailor Moon Crystal,” the most recent anime adaptation. Unofficial meet ups were held around the convention center too, and over 50 costumed “Sailor Moon” fans attended one such gathering. The organizer of this event, who goes by the name Rizuki, told us, “I expected maybe 10 to 20... It was quite more than I expected.” After spending an hour organizing the swarm of sailor scouts for photo shoots, Rizuki said that she and many of the attendees discovered “Sailor Moon” in the early ’90s, when the English dub first aired on American TV. She explained that the franchise has such a wide appeal because “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you label yourself as, ‘Sailor Moon’ is for everyone. The fans today proved it, so much... We have a common love and a common ground, and we can all come together with that common link and do something beautiful like we did today.” Cosplayers from all fandoms later participated in the con’s official Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE. Just about any pop culture convention will have a costume contest, but anime cons draw a distinct

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Photos by Christian Miles

Anime NYC had more people in costume than the typical con.

“Sailor Moon” fans showed off their costumes (this article’s author is in the center).

Gamers lined up to try rare Japanese arcade cabinets.

crowd, according to judges YuffieBunny and Uncanny Megan. “The cosplay is totally different,” said YuffieBunny. “It’s usually a much younger crowd at Anime Cons.” Uncanny Megan added, “There’s more focus on the cosplay because, typically, Anime conventions do contests based on craftsmanship, while at a lot of comic cons it’s just walk onstage and present yourself.” Indeed, some of the winners wore outfits that could only be fully appreciated when seen up close, like a ‘Sailor Moon’ dress that was hand-knitted from yarn. Instead of merely parading their contestants across the stage, the Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE also got the audience into the act. While the judges were debating who had the best costumes, audience members were invited onstage by host Uncle Yo to participate in party games and compete for prizes. Uncle Yo explained that this degree of interaction with the audience during a costume contest was rare at cons. “The Masquerade has always been for the contestants and the con-goers themselves,” he said, and described Anime NYC’s version as a “multi-level, Price is Right-style game show.” Random audience members were selected to compete ANIME NYC continued on p. 20 NYC Community Media


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November 23, 2017

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Our Perspective Holidays More Stressful Than Ever for Retail Workers By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW ig crowds, irritable customers, busy days, and the need for workers themselves to take care of their own holiday obligations can all weigh heavily on workers’ shoulders during the stressful holiday season. Too many shoppers don’t appreciate the pressure that retail workers are under this time of year. And, especially for retail workers in non-union stores, the stress of the holidays is stacked on top of the obstacles they face every day of the year: insufficient hours, poverty wages that don’t support families, and unpredictable scheduling that makes it difficult to work another job, plan childcare, or attend school. Non-union retail workers may be forced to work when they don’t want to, regardless of their own holiday plans, and they likely won’t be compensated fairly for working during the holidays. For these workers, it can be a struggle just to survive – to say nothing of providing their families with a joyous season. Due to the changing face of retail and an uncertain future for many retail workers, this holiday season will be more stressful than ever. The American economy is shedding thousands of non-union brick and mortar retail jobs a month as more shoppers turn to e-commerce giants like Amazon, causing many retail workers to worry about if their job will be next. Expanding e-commerce has also led to lost commissions for retail sales workers who spend time assisting customers, only to lose the sale when customers order the item online, often with the encouragement of the store itself. Every year more retail workers find themselves being tasked with helping to fulfill online orders, which creates even more work, more stress, and can also hurt sales associates who earn commissions by keeping them off the sales floor. As difficult as the holiday season can be for workers, there are ways we can help make the holidays better for everyone involved in the shopping rush. Consumers can shop at places where they know workers are treated well, compensated fairly, and have the ability to communicate productively with management. The only way to ensure that is by shopping at unionized retailers where workers have the kinds of protections and benefits provided only by a union contract. For instance, a historic contract negotiated by RWDSU members at Bloomingdale’s flagship NYC store this year became the first in which an employer recognized the toll e-commerce is taking on workers, and mandated that employees cannot be asked to do online order fulfillment work when a commission sales opportunity is present. This holiday season, if you are working in retail, call on your fellow workers and your union for support and assistance. And for everyone else, when you are doing your holiday shopping, take some time to consider the stress the workers who are helping create holiday memories are under. Lend a smile, and some patience to workers and your fellow shoppers. It’s the time of year we can all give a little back and do our best to spread good will.

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www.rwdsu.org 8

November 23, 2017

POLICE BLOTTER LOST PROPERTY: Parted with her purse Sometimes we have too much fun and end up leaving our belongings behind. This old story with a less-thanfairytale-ending happened to a 25-yearold woman on Sun., Nov. 19 just after 4 a.m. The woman was in an Uber and was dropped off on the 300 block of W. 16th St. She says she left her Yves Saint Laurent purse in the car. When she called Uber to recover her bag, they said they would contact her in 24 hours. The bag is worth $1,500 and she had $200 in cash in the bag.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Window into trouble At around midnight on Fri., Nov. 17, a traffic enforcement agent was leaving work when she noticed one of the traffic cars had a shattered rear window. The car was in front of 437 W. 36th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). A supervisor was notified and there are cameras available on the scene. The car, a white Toyota Prius, received damage (but not in excess of $250).

PETIT LARCENY: Mourning my jacket Walking around a restaurant and being social is great, but not if someone is going to take your jacket. This happened to a 31-year-old man on Fri., Nov. 17 at around 6 p.m. The man was enjoying a great time at Mexicue (160 Eighth Ave., at W. 18th St.) and he walked away, leaving his jacket unattended.

When he returned to his seat, his jacket was gone. The jacket, a spiffy L.L. Bean down number, is valued at $300.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: I’m bat man A man was involved in a road rage incident on the North East corner of 10th Ave. & W. 29th St. The 40-yearold man said he was driving on Thurs., Nov. 16 at around 10:25 p.m. when the driver of a green Toyota Camry became irate. The driver took a bat to the front hood of the man’s car, got back in his own car, and left the scene. There is no word on how much the damage costs.

HARASSMENT: Just tell it, don’t yell it A man and a woman both filed complaints again each other for harassment. The incident occurred on Fri., Nov. 17 at 8 a.m. at the northeast corner of Eighth Ave. & W. 23rd St. A 44-yearold woman asked her 48-year-old driver if the seatbelt was working, and he became irate and abrasive and started to close the door on her hand. To protect her hand, she used a bottle to stop the door from slamming on her fingers. She also stated that the driver cursed at her several times. The 48-year-old driver told police that the woman threw the water bottle at him and punched him in the face. There were no reported injuries to his face and, while police were questioning him about what happened, he was very abrasive and yelling. —Tabia C. Robinson

THE 10th PRECINCT: Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council 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: 212-239-9846. Crime Prevention: 212-239-9846. Domestic Violence: 212-239-9863. Youth Officer: 212-239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council 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: 212477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct. NYC Community Media


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

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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.

November 23, 2017

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Long Before Cabaret Law Repeal, ‘Dance Commandos’ Boogied for Justice BY REV. JEN It’s time for a victory dance! After 91 years, New York’s archaic Cabaret Law has been repealed in a 41-to-1 vote. So put on your dancin’ shoes, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, head to your favorite watering hole, and shake your booty clean off. (We have to wait until 30 days until after de Blasio signs off on the legislation, but it’s never too early to practice your moves at home.) This victory holds a special space in my heart, as I have been working on the law’s repeal since 1998 when I formed the Dance Liberation Front (DLF), along with fellow Art Stars Robert Prichard and Faceboy. It all started one morning when I bumped into Robert Prichard, the proprietor of the now-defunct Surf Reality (172 Allen St., btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). He told me that the previous evening, Baby Jupiter, a nearby club where I performed every Monday, was busted because their customers had been dancing. I wasn’t sure I’d heard him correctly. “Dancing?” I asked. Rob explained that in order to crack down on nightlife, Giuliani had dusted off a regulation from the 1920s called the “Cabaret Law,” which states that more than four people dancing in an unlicensed venue serving alcohol is illegal. Out of the thousands of bars in New York City, only a handful of the most wellfinanced clubs were able to obtain the dancing license. It took a minute to process the Kafkaesque concept: Dancing was illegal in “Fun City.” Rob suggested we create a group — the DLF — to bring to light the heinous crime Guiliani’s nightlife task force was perpetrating on the public. I sprang into action and wrote a manifesto. It began with the line, “You thought the illegality of dancing was the stuff of science fiction, of Kevin Bacon movies, of small Midwestern Towns… YOU THOUGHT WRONG.” My declaration brought up the many reasons why dancing is good for the human body, mind and spirit and why it was simply un-American to prevent free people from moving their bodies however they saw fit. “What’s next?” I asked. “No fidgeting, no holding hands, no laughing, no kissing and no smiling… Pretty soon everyone in Giuliani’s New York will have to sit perfectly still.” I was curious how the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs defined “dance.” Was it doing “the robot” or shaking your hips? How can you regulate something you can’t define? After writing the manifesto, I went to the ArmyNavy store, where I bought four black ski masks. Next stop was Surf Reality, where we donned our masks and filmed a communiqué for MNN (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) and various media outlets. Baby Jupiter had been padlocked all weekend and was set to reopen the following Monday night, when a private party for a slew of journalists was scheduled. It was an opportunity we pounced on. Clad in our ski

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November 23, 2017

Courtesy Rev. Jen

At the “Robot Dance Protest” at Federal Hall back in the early days of the Dance Liberation Front, from left, patriots John Foster, Rev. Jen, and Faceboy.

masks and happy disco outfits, Face and Rob handed out manifestos, while I made my way to the sound booth. I took the microphone and read the manifesto, but was quickly chased away by the DJ. We ran back to Surf Reality, where we brainstormed two dance actions to take place the following weekend. One would occur up in Midtown, where we would get a groove on in front of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where “Footloose, the Musical” was being performed. The other would take place Downtown on a street corner. When the following weekend rolled around, we headed Uptown with a large group of Art Stars and disco in my boom box. Arriving at the theater, we “cut a rug” in front of “Footloose.” A few of our “Dance Commandos” who attempted to dance inside the theater were ushered out as the police came. But the cops found us entertaining and let us stay for a few more minutes before insisting we be on our way. When we got back Downtown, word was already out and huge crowds of dancers had already assembled in the street to create a liberated dance zone. Our mission was to make a mockery of the Cabaret Law, thereby garnering media attention and eventually public support for its eradication. We knew that to get attention, we would have to organize a spectacle bigger than our trip to “Footloose.” The answer was obvious: The DLF would organize New York’s longest conga line from Houston St. to Tompkins Square. Faceboy and I went out, hung posters and left fliers in every bar, shop and cafe in the East Village, trying to recruit dancers willing to conga outdoors in the middle

of winter. Our posters caught the eye of journalists, who called us and wanted to write articles on the Cabaret Law. At the time, no one was writing about the law. Hence the authorities were doing what they always do when they think no one is looking: They behaved badly. So we made people look, which is what protests are designed to do. About two hours before the conga line was set to begin, I walked by the corner of Houston and Essex Sts., where to my horror, at least 100 cops, paddy wagons and NYPD motorcycles were stationed awaiting the dance action. I ran to Robert’s and told him and Face. Faceboy said, “If they tell us we can’t do it, we’ll tell them it’s O.K. We’ll leave slowly, in a line, with a beat playing.” With trepidation, we walked over to Houston and Essex, where Faceboy spoke to the cops, some of whom remembered us from the “Footloose” action. To our relief, we discovered they weren’t there to stop us; they were there to escort us and ensure our safety. Our conga line now had police escorts. Hundreds of Dance Commandos showed up, clad in ridiculous costumes and evening wear. There was even a group of people dressed as giant insects. I wore a Teletubby costume and carried an American flag, since I felt what we were doing was both silly and patriotic. Finally, we were off, beginning to conga while singing to a conga beat: “Giu-li-an-i-is-a-jerk-HEY!” There were maybe 400 marchers, altogether, but as we marched, people flooded the sidewalk and joined us. The New York Post estimated 700 dancers. When we got to Tompkins Square, Robert and I made short speeches, in which we encouraged revelers to “fight for their right to party!” We also sang our battle cry, “Mr. Mayor, we have not yet begun to wiggle!” As the party got crazier, the cops made it clear that we’d overstayed our welcome, and we dispersed. The next day, The New York Times and Post both ran stories on the event. Robert thought the New York Civil Liberties Union might be interested in what we were up to, so he called the then-head of the NYCLU, Norman Siegel, the First Amendment-rights advocate and lawyer. Siegel offered to help if we ran into any trouble with “The Man,” going so far as to give us his home phone number. He encouraged us to keep doing our dance actions while he worked on a more logical means of eradicating the law. We followed the conga line with a hokey-pokey circle around City Hall, a Times Square Twist-A-Thon, and A Million-Mambo March. With each dance action, more dancers appeared who wanted to help fight tyranny on the dance floor. Publications began to write extensively about the DLF and Paper magazine asked Rob, Face and me to pose for their “Beautiful People Issue.” We each got to be one-third of a beautiful person. DANCE continued on p. 16 NYC Community Media


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Photo by Rebecca Fiore Photo by Rebecca Fiore

Pam Friedman always makes sure to stop at Pearl River Mart for their shrimp chips and wontons, snacks she can’t find back home in Columbus, OH.

Pan-Asian snacks and beverages were the most popular items sold during the first 24 hours of operation at Chelsea Market. Japanese Kit Kats come in classic flavors such as green tea and raspberry.

PEARL RIVER MART continued from p. 5

Kwong, who grew up in New York City in the 1980s, said there wasn’t a lot of Asian representation around her in the media or in retail. She remembered Pearl River Mart “as one of the only cross-over businesses that appealed to Chinese people and the greater New York.” Kwong also said she realizes that in 2017, New Yorkers don’t need to be introduced to Chinese culture anymore, but believes there’s more of a need to celebrate all that’s emerged since. “Before it was culture in Asia, and then American culture. But there was nothing in the middle. In the 50 years since, now there’s an Asian American culture which has developed,” Kwong said. Many of the current designs seen on a white rotating display case in the Chelsea Market store’s front section are Asian Americans, some born and raised in Chinatown. The mart features artists such as Wonton In A Million, who used her father’s restaurant as inspiration behind her cartoon dim sum and bao buns; Patricia Chang, an Instagram influencer whose streetwear incorporates whimsical food and animal designs; and CYNONYC, a fourthgeneration Chinese American whose metalworks and silk-screening combine Chinatown and classic Americana styles. “We still have fun wacky stuff that has nothing to do with Asian culture, which is a product of the Chens and their sense of humor. You might have beautiful brocade purses right next to a little coin purse that says ‘weed’ on it. It’s kind of always been that place, a little quirky, colorful, and loud — kind of like New York itself.” NYC Community Media

Photo by Asiya Khaki

Back row, L to R: Gene Hu (son of owners), Joanne Kwong (president of Pearl River; owners’ daughter-in-law and Gene’s wife), Ching Yeh Chen (former president; Joanne’s mother-in-law), Ming Yi Chen (founder; Joanne’s father-in-law). Front row, L to R: Milo Hu, Griffin Hu (Gene and Joanne’s sons).

While the store has a mostly Pan-Asian appeal, including Japanese ceramics, Korean facemasks and Indian incense, other goods come from Nicaragua. Kwong said she considers the mart a place of discovery. Beyond a new look, open floor plan, snack wall and fashion rack, Kwong also changed the company’s online presence. She created a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook account to both brand the mart and find potential merchants to feature. “We became much more active on our social media channels and we built much more content for those channels,” Kwong said. “So that even if somebody is in the middle of the country and can’t get to a bigger city where they can get goods from Asia, at least you can get the info you might need and order online. If you need information on how to celebrate Chinese New Year or Mid-Autumn Festival, or what the significance of lucky cats are, you can still come to our website and enjoy that content. And if you would like something, we can ship it to you. We are building those tools for the store, which three years ago we didn’t really have.” Pam Friedman was ecstatic that Pearl River Mart had a Chelsea location, since it’s closer to her daughter’s place in Manhattan. Friedman was purchasing bags of shrimp chips she grabbed from the rainbow-colored wall of snacks. “We’d always go to the Soho shop before. I can’t get these [chips] anywhere by me,” the Columbus, Ohio resident said. “So I’m always sure to come here when I need to stock up on snacks.” For more information, visit PearlRiver. com. Follow Pearl River Mart on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. November 23, 2017

15


DANCE continued from p. 10

A Canadian television show called “Ooh-la-la” contacted the DLF, wanting to do a story on us. When the TV crew arrived in town a week later, we took them to a bar called The Cock, where Faceboy stripped down to his underwear and danced to “Hot Stuff” on top of the bar. The following day, we took them to the Cuban Consulate, where we attempted to defect to Cuba, so that we could legally dance. Several intimidating men in suits came outside to speak with us. I showed them our list of nonnegotiable demands, which were as follows: 1.) We demand the repeal of all New York City cabaret laws regulating DANCE. 2.) New York City will recognize “DANCE” as expression and will afford DANCE all First Amendment protections. 3.) Henceforth, all New York City public transportation will feature DANCE music, preferably live. 4.) Every Saturday night is an official New York City DANCE holiday. 5.) Henceforth, our National Anthem will feature a beat. 6.) From now on, all New York City judges must wear “John Travolta” masks while court is in session.

Courtesy Rev. Jen

Rev. Jen, dressed in a monkey suit, fights for the right to party — and dance — at the “Hokey-Pokey Circle Protest,” another early action by DLF.

7.) Henceforth, on every Tuesday and Thursday, pedestrians must conga across New York City intersections and crosswalks. Every Wednesday and Friday will feature alternate-side-of-the-street DANCING. 8.) From now on, all New York City employees will take a mandatory 10-minute DANCE break at 4 p.m. during the workweek. 9.) Mayor Rudolph Giuliani will be

obligated to perform Demand No. 8 clad solely in a pair of Reverend Jen “Manties” and his DANCE must be silly. (“Manties” were men’s underwear I sold that had my picture on the crotch along with the phrase, “Rev. Jen Loves Me.”) 10.) New York City will undertake the formation of a “Department of Silly DANCES” to study and evaluate the Mayor’s compliance with Demand No. 9.

The consulate wasn’t swayed by our list and, eventually, we were told to go home. Organizing the dance actions was exhausting, especially since we were often faced with apathy. I tried to hand out fliers on the street, but this was before Dubya, before backpack searches, and before the Patriot Act. So, disinterested hipsters looked at me like I was an alien for giving a crap about civil liberties. Eventually, enough people did care. After a couple of years of DLF actions, other “legalize dancing” groups formed and Rob, Face and I were able to take a break. The Department of Consumer Affairs even made a public statement admitting that the laws were “outdated.” They called a public hearing on the Cabaret Law, where I was given a chance to speak before them. I wore a tutu and elf ears. Gretchen Dykstra, the commissioner of Consumer Affairs, was quoted as saying she’d never seen elf ears at a public hearing before. When I got up to speak, I was nervous, but managed to get through a oneminute speech that ended with something I’d heard Rob say at several of our meetings: “We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And what is happiness if not dancing?”

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Photo by Tequila Minsky

Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, center, joined Northwell senior leadership and, to the right of him, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, for a ribbon-cutting atop Lenox Health Greenwich Village, during the celebration of the local healthcare giant’s ongoing expansion of medical care in Lower Manhattan.

Northwell Opens Village Surgery Center, Med Pavilion BY LINCOLN ANDERSON As part of its ongoing expansion in Manhattan, Northwell Health recently announced the opening of the third phase of Lenox Health Greenwich Village (LHGV), located across Seventh Ave. from the former St. Vincent’s Hospital, plus the addition of five new physician practices in Chelsea, Union Square, Chinatown and Gramercy. LHGV, between W. 12th and 13th Sts., has been home to Manhattan’s first and only freestanding, 24-hour emergency center since 2014, as well as an imaging center since last year. At a ceremony at LHGV on Oct. 26, hospital officials announced the opening of a new $25 million, 30,000-squarefoot ambulatory surgery center, containing six operating rooms, two procedure rooms, eight prep areas and 23 recovery beds, spanning the entire fourth floor of the 160,000-square-foot building. Procedures offered include arthroscopic surgery (knee, shoulder, elbow, ankle and wrist); sports medicine; minimally invasive foot and ankle surgery; hand and wrist surgery; and minimally invasive cervical and spine procedures. In addition, the building now contains a new $8 million 14,750-square-foot medical pavilion and conference center on the sixth floor that can accommodate up to 74 people and host community events, such as workshops and support groups. The medical pavilion includes 13 exam spaces that house the Northwell Health Physician Partners NYC Community Media

Orthopaedic Institute, a spine-care program, and physical medicine and rehabilitation, pain-management and urology practices. Northwell also has opened three other locations in the area. Its Chelsea North facility, at 121A W. 20th St., features cardiology, primary care, neurology, occupational medicine and weight-management practices. Chelsea South, at 22 W. 15th St., focuses on internal medicine, family medicine, endocrinology, neurology and dermatology. And Northwell also now operates a Vein Surgery Center at 95 University Place, near Union Square. “When St. Vincent’s Hospital closed in 2010, we promised to restore healthcare services for residents of the West Village and other neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan,” said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health at the ceremony. “Our ongoing expansion of medical care in Greenwich Village and other neighboring communities reaffirms our commitment to filling the healthcare void in Lower Manhattan and providing easy access to a range of different services.” Dowling also said Northwell plans to have a “cath lab” at the LHGV location, which will be able to treat heart-attack patients. A spokesperson confirmed that Northwell has filed a certificate of need with the state Department of Health, so that it can offer those services. Among the local politicians attending the dedication were state Assemblymember Deborah Glick and

state Senator Brad Hoylman. Northwell Health has 20 hospitals across the metropolitan area, including Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, as well as more than 50 physician practices and outpatient facilities throughout Manhattan. Northwell Health Physician Partners also will be opening a new multispecialty practice in the Greenwich Lane — at 7 Seventh Ave. and 155 W. 11th St. — the residential building that, in fact, replaced St. Vincent’s Hospital; this practice will house gastroenterology, rheumatology, otolaryngology, audiology, cardiology, thoracic, pediatric cardiology, pediatric pulmonology and surgical services. Dr. Thomas McGinn, deputy physician in chief and senior vice president of physician network operations for Northwell Health, said, “With the addition of these new physician practices, Northwell now has more than 50 outpatient locations throughout Manhattan, including Northwell Health GoHealth urgent-care locations in Chelsea and Greenwich Village.” LHGV has been Northwell Health’s anchor facility in Downtown Manhattan, serving as a new model of communitybased care that integrates health and wellness services with seamless access to 24-hour emergency care and a full range of medical specialists. The 28,000square-foot emergency center, located on the first floor of the six-story building, treated more than 36,000 patients in 2016, with a staff of more than 150

medical professionals. “Our goal at Lenox Health Greenwich Village has always been to fill the gap of healthcare services needed in our community and ease the hardships our neighbors have had to endure in accessing care,” said Alex Hellinger, executive director of LHGV. “We are part of the fabric of this community, which will benefit from a new 5,000-square-foot conference center that we will make available to our neighbors to host events, workshops and support groups.” The ship-like 53-year-old Seventh Ave. building — originally built as the headquarters of the National Maritime Union — was designated a landmark by New York City for its architectural significance. The 5,500-square-foot orthopaedic institute offers comprehensive care in joint replacement and sports medicine, plus a full range of surgical and rehabilitation services for illnesses and injuries affecting the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, foot and ankle. “As part of our emphasis on convenience and patient-centered care, we will offer weekday appointments before and after traditional work hours, as well as same-day appointments for urgent conditions,” said Dr. Peter McCann, director of orthopaedic surgery at LHGV. Northwell Health is New York State’s largest healthcare provider and private employer, with 22 hospitals, more than 550 outpatient facilities and nearly 15,000 affiliated physicians. November 23, 2017

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Photo by Mati Gelman

The cast of Nathaniel Sam Shapiro’s “Diaspora.”

Still Taking a Stand at Masada ‘Diaspora’ gathers the complexities of a scattered people BY TRAV S.D. How soon is “too soon” — are 2,000 years enough? Probably not when you’re talking about the mass suicide at Masada (73 CE) or the Jewish Holocaust during the Third Reich. Yet in “Diaspora” (playing at The Gym at Judson through Dec. 23), playwright Nathaniel Sam Shapiro tackles both of these subjects, filtered through the eyes and experiences of callow American Jewish youth on a Birthright-type cultural legacy tour of Israel. “Diaspora” pendulates between hilarious and heartbreaking, often within a single scene. The show juxtaposes scenes of college kids hooking up, getting high, and generally complaining about their lives as they ride on a tour bus, with exchanges between characters in the last days of the historical Masada, where, according to the traditional telling, nearly 1,000 Jews burned themselves alive rather than allow themselves to be captured by their Roman persecutors. “My first encounter with the Masada story was as a kid,” said Shapiro. “It bothered me. I found it off-putting. Subject matter like that engenders a strong response and gives the metaphor

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November 23, 2017

a relevance. Masada was the last bastion of the Jewish Revolt and, in a way, precipitated the diaspora into Europe. I feel like a metaphor was already there for me, easy to relate to the contemporary politics of Israel. The Likud and Netanyahu are all about walling themselves up, a feeling that the world is out to get you, that you can only rely on yourself.” The ignorance of the young people in the play about their own history, and their emotional distance from it, is frequently shocking. Shapiro says his character research included interviewing people who have visited Israel and Palestine, and observations of youngsters on actual Birthright trips around the country. As for the Masada research, there were the works of Josephus (ca. 37-100), the only contemporary account, and Nachman Ben-Yehuda’s “The Masada Myth.” “Josephus was kind of the Benedict Arnold of the Jewish Revolt,” explained Shapiro. “He was writing for a GrecoRoman audience, the prevailing worldview at the time. So there are doubts as to its accuracy. But for understanding how people saw themselves at the time, it’s invaluable.”

Added perspective on the subject matter is provided by the play’s director, Nairobi-born Saheem Ali. “Nathaniel and I met as graduate students at NYU,” recalled Ali. “Nathaniel had written a piece called ‘The Erlkings,’ about the Columbine shooting, and needed a director for it. I was impressed by how he fashioned existing documents, FBI reports, and so forth into a work of theatre. So we formed a working relationship.” “The Erlkings” was produced on Theatre Row in 2014. “Diaspora” is their second collaboration — and according to Ali, it’s been as much a learning experience as an act of expression. “Nathaniel gave me my introduction to this culture,” said Ali. “I grew up in Kenya. I didn’t meet any Jews until 1998. I experienced a good deal of enlightenment, working on this play. I really relied on him for cultural perspective, and the fact that he’s so researchoriented. Nathaniel’s writing about these human experiences provides the entry point. I provide the theatrical interpretation.” “Saheem helps provide an outside perspective that is a key in communicating with a broader audience,” added Shapiro.

“You could get lost in insider knowledge and references. It’s helpful having someone who can question things.” As for approaching the topic with satirical humor, Shapiro said, “I hope to be in the tradition of many of my Jewish heroes who use humor to communicate stories of oppression and pain. More generally, humor is an amazing tool. There is something about laughter that involves you. There is something to be gained from exploring uncomfortable moments. When some of these characters take some of these awful events lightly, for us to find it funny, you have to acknowledge how horrible it is. Someone who didn’t find it horrible wouldn’t find it funny.” “Diaspora” is the inaugural production of Shapiro’s new producing organization, Red Moon Theater Company. Through Dec. 23. At 2pm, 3pm, 7pm or 8pm depending on the specific Tues.-Sun. performance. At The Gym at Judson (243 Thompson St., btw. W. Third St. & Washington Sq. South). For tickets ($55.50-$79.50), call 866-811-4111 or visit diasporatheplay.com. Follow “Diaspora” on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @diasporatheplay. NYC Community Media


Shamir Settles Happily Into a New Genre Genderqueer artist moves beyond dance music BY STEVE ERICKSON Genderqueer artist Shamir has made one of the more radical transformations in recent music. He followed up his 2015 debut album, “Ratchet,” which was steeped in ’80s house music and dance club-oriented beats, with “Hope,” a collection of rock songs self-released as a free download to the website SoundCloud that seemingly consisted of him singing and playing guitar into a cheap tape recorder. Instead of singing sexually explicit lyrics about “ratchet guys,” Shamir was now covering the obscure ’90s Boston indie rock band the Blake Babies. He is now defi nitively a rock artist, and while his new album “Revelations” is far more polished than “Hope,” it continues down the same path in a more thoughtful manner. Shamir suffers from bipolar disorder, and “Hope” was the result of a particularly difficult weekend, during which he contemplated leaving the music industry. At the age of 23, he has already recorded one EP and three albums. XL, the large indie label that released “Ratchet,” is the current home of Radiohead and the xx, the former home of Vampire Weekend (who have had several #1 albums and sold hundreds of thousands of albums), and puts out Adele’s music in the UK, although it licenses it to Sony here. The label could have made Shamir into a star, but he chafed at its expectations. When he became more interested in rock music than dance music, he upset the label’s marketing plans and, implicitly, stereotypes about race and sexuality. Queer African Americans who sing about sex with men, in our culture, are not supposed to pick up guitars, despite the fact that rock ‘n’ roll was invented by African Americans. This struggle with XL over his musical direction, as well as the fact that “Ratchet” got major promotion from the label but didn’t sell according to its expectations, led to Shamir being dropped. He has re-emerged on a quite small indie label. I have the impression that Shamir now feels ambivalent at best about “Ratchet,” but I think it still stands up as a pretty good album, particularly in its integration of ’80s acid house influences into a sound that is modern. It NYC Community Media

Photo by Jason MacDonald

Shamir charts a new career course with “Revelations.”

was very well-received by critics two years ago, and in fact I put the opening song “Vegas” on my list of 2015’s best singles. Apart from his falsetto vocals, “Ratchet” and “Revelations” don’t sound like the work of the same artist at all. But when Shamir ended “Ratchet” with “KC” — a ballad played on acoustic guitar — that might have been an early indication he didn’t just want to sing over dance beats. In retrospect, the rawness of “Hope” sounds like a cry for help. Shamir seems to be in a healthier place now, but he has settled into a new genre with his new album, especially the album closer and centerpiece, “Straight Boy.” And he has also taken complete control over his music. With the exception of “ ’90s Kids,” on which he worked with a co-writer, Shamir wrote all the songs, produced, played all the instruments, and mixed the entirety of “Revelations.” On “Straight Boy,” Shamir sings, “The trust I give isn’t given to me, and the hate inside is all I see… All straight boys care about is how they’re viewed from the outside.” The song may have been inspired by unrequited

affection toward straight men, but it expands from there into a much larger and extremely biting critique of heterosexual masculinity. The original music video for it expanded this critique even further into an attack on racism and the erasure of queer people of color. Alas, it was pulled when its director and actor Ryan Carpenter was accused of sexual assault, replaced by a simple clip of Shamir saying, “Fuck sexual abuse. Fuck rapists.” — and then singing and playing the song on acoustic guitar. Fittingly for an artist who identifies as non-binary, Shamir’s voice on “Games,” the keyboard-driven opening track of “Revelations,” sounds like it could be either male or female. His production and arrangements are a lot less slick and detailed than the sound on “Ratchet”; many songs consist of relatively simple, loud guitar riffs over a drum machine. But across genres, his songwriting skill and personality remain. The fi rst full rock song on “Revelations,” “You Have a Song,” is a deeply cynical dig at a fellow musician. “ ’90s Kids” insists on respect for Millennials, whom older people have a tendency to gratuitously

slam the way Baby Boomers used to do to Generation X, but I think Shamir is largely speaking about himself when he describes “paralyzing anxiety” and being “out here struggling.” The album’s most accessible song, its combination of rhythm guitar, piano, and drum machine evokes ’70s glam-rock. The sense of despair that was apparent everywhere on “Hope” is kept at bay on “Revelations,” but just barely. Throughout, Shamir’s lyrics strain to stay positive and his vocals often adopt a bitter and sarcastic edge. Is the world ready for a queer African American rocker who is willing to share his issues with the world and, implicitly most of the time and explicitly in the “Straight Boy” video, spell out what degree of responsibility racism and homophobia bear for them? One senses that he may have deliberately backed away from the shot at stardom “Ratchet” at least theoretically offered in favor of a quieter life far from the spotlight. In any case, he’s now obviously making music on his own terms. Shamir’s “Revelations” is available via Father/Daughter Records (fatherdaughterecords.com; $9-$12). November 23, 2017

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ANIME NYC continued from p. 6

Photos by Christian Miles

A cosplayer amazed the host of the Masquerade ULTRA DELUXE dance-off.

L to R: At the Ramen Summit, foodies learned about noodles from chefs Kenshiro Uki, Shigetoshi Nakamura, and Ivan Orkin.

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November 23, 2017

in anime-themed Pictionary, charades, and a dance-off (to anime themes songs, naturally). The audience was dazzled when one cosplayer, Aaron Libato, was brought onstage for the final round of the dance off. Libato was dressed as Star Lord, Chris Pratt’s character from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” He told us that he was fortunate enough to have memorized all of Pratt’s dance moves from the films, and that he knew the theme song of the anime he had to dance to. He won the dance contest, and joyfully told us afterwards, “Never doubt yourself when going to a convention or cosplaying. Even if you bought the costume or it’s made of cardboard or duct tape. Do it!” Fans who weren’t daring enough to dance onstage could also try out a selection of rare Japanese arcade games on the show floor, including dance games. Japanese arcade machine provider Tokyo Attack offered an assortment of oddball game cabinets that could be played for free. Alongside favorites like “Dance Dance Revolution” and Taiko drum simulators were several unusual games that can’t be found on this side of the Pacific. Anthony Capobianco of Tokyo Attack said, “In your traditional American arcade, you have a joystick and you have buttons... We’ve got some unique games like Super Table Flip. The idea is, you hit a table, and when you build up your anger meter, you flip over the table. Something you’re never going to see in America.” True to his description, the game has a controller shaped like a dinner table and forces players endure a meal with infuriating virtual people, before inevitably knocking over the table to the astonishment of their fellow diners. The con ended with an exclusive screening of the live-action film adaptation of “Fullmetal Alchemist.” This was

L to R: Costume contest judges Uncanny Megan and YuffieBunny presented a panel on cosplay modeling. NYC Community Media


These cosplayers brought their own Japari Bus.

an opportunity for Americans to catch a highly anticipated Japanese movie even before its Japanese premiere in December. The sold-out screening also let fans meet the film’s director, Fumihiko Sori. Although this particular audience was composed of hardcore fans, the movie was accessible to people who are just discovering the franchise. It condensed about one third of the manga’s storyline down to a self-contained feature, but left room for possible sequels. In addition to cartoons and comics, Anime NYC allowed attendees to show their obsession with other elements of Japanese culture, like pop music with a “Diva Night� concert, and Japanese food with a panel on ramen noodles which featured a discussion between globally-recognized ramen chefs. As Uncle Yo reminded the audience at the Masquerade, “This is New York City. We’re the home of the Avengers, the Ghostbusters, Spider-Man, and now we are the home of the nerds.� This was the first Anime NYC, and it only took until the day after for word to arrive that it will become an annual affair (as of Nov. 16-18, 2018). Visit animenyc.com for updates. Facebook: facebook.com/AnimeNYC. Twitter: @ AnimeNYC. Instagram: @AnimeNYC.

Cons offer a chance to play tabletop games with new friends.

Photos by Christian Miles

Manga creators were on hand to meet their fans.

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Last week, the shuttered Il Bastardo space on Seventh Ave. had signs in the windows announcing SH 7th Ave. Restaurant LLC’s appearance before CB4’s BLP Committee.

edly delivered a list of stipulations for the applicant, including curtailing the late closing time, amplified music and the sidewalk café. The BLP voted 6 to 6 on this matter, with two abstentions. Groncki noted that the community had been very vocal in insisting that “no one affi liated with Il Bastardo have any role in the next enterprise. If Il Bastardo continues to hold the lease, then we must insist that the landlord vacate that lease in its entirety.” Sollenne and her attorney had attempted to apply for a liquor license at the location, but her application was met with significant opposition from local block associations, community residents, and members of CB4. There is no indication as yet whether she will attempt to remain involved with the location. Sugarman said he would go back to the landlord and attempt to work out a lease for half the space, to operate a smaller restaurant. Holozubiec thus advised Southern Hospitality to withdraw their application for the time being, and return to the Dec. BLP meeting with an updated application before bringing their proposal to the full board. That meeting will take place Tues., Dec. 12, 6:30 p.m. at YOTEL New York (4th floor Green Room; 570 10th Ave., at W. 42nd St.). For more info, visit nyc.gov/html/ mancb4/html/calendar/calendarnew. shtml. NOTE: This article is an expanded version of a web-only report posted Thurs., Nov. 16 on chelseanow. com (“Todd English ‘Integrity Move’ Abandons Plans for Il Bastardo Space”).

excited for the experience to own a business and look forward to serving the West Village and Chelsea communities. They said they hope locals will continue to support area small businesses and recognize the importance of having a local eyewear shop. “Glasses are important,” Karen said. “They are part of your health, part of your vision, but they are also a fashion

item and they really define your face.” Center Stage Optique is located at 45 Seventh Ave. (btw. W. 13th & 14th Sts.). Any customer who comes to the store and mentions Chelsea Now will receive a 10 percent discount off all frames. Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. / Sat., 10 a.m.-5p.m. / Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 212-933-1895 or visit centerstageoptique.com.

191 SEVENTH AVE .continued from p. 3

lose it.” “We’re looking for a different location and have investigated a few options Downtown, but it’s unfortunate we have to walk away because of the relationship with the previous operators,” he added. “Chelsea is one of those neighborhoods that you fall in love with, and it’s been hard fi nding another spot like that.” Arbelaez said they have brokers out searching for new locations, but admitted that they would still be interested in 191 Seventh Ave. — if only the circumstances were different. “If the lease were terminated and we had a second chance to go in front of the board without Kristin Sollenne involved, we would,” said Arbelaez. In the meantime, another business has submitted an application to the Community Board 4 (CB4) Business Licenses & Permits (BLP) Committee. On Tues., Nov. 14, SH 7th Ave. Restaurant LLC went before the BLP to operate a restaurant establishment with a liquor, wine, beer and cider license, as well as recorded music. According to Save Chelsea’s Paul Groncki (who is also serving as interim president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations), the proposal is for a Memphis-style Southern Hospitality restaurant that opened their fi rst location on the Upper East Side, and another in Hell’s Kitchen. The restaurant (see southernhospitalitybbq.com) is the brainchild of co-owners Eytan Sugarman, Trace Ayala, and Justin Timberlake. At the hearing, CB4’s BLP Committee Co-Chair Frank Holozubiec report-

OPTIC continued from p. 4

cup of fruit water and a tasty cookie snack while shopping at the store. “We know that this is a great tourist destination,” Karen said. “But the people that live and work here are really going to be our bread and butter, and we want to make this a destination for them.”

Photo by Scott Stiffler

Myriam Simone, a local shopper, came across Center Stage when she was walking her dog Bernie. She knew she needed new glasses, but instead of leaving with just one pair, she bought four. “This is ideal. I love it because I did theater in my past,” she said. “I will definitely come here for years to come. As long as this is here, I’m here.” Greg and Karen both said they are

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