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Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 30, NUMBER 22

NOV. 30 – DEC. 13, 2017

The British are going! The British are going! Downtown celebrates Evacuation Day Page 13

Photo by Milo Hess

Redcoat reenactors lined up last Friday at Downtown’s Federal Hall in front of the guy who ran them out of Lower Manhattan once and for all on the first Evacuation Day in 1783. For more on the celebration of the true end of the Revolutionary War, see page 9.



Enter the Oculus at the Corner of Church St. and Dey St.

1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 17 N YC C O M M U N I T Y M E D I A , L L C

THE FIX IS IN Locals say city agency gave commission slanted take on Water Street arcade plan BY COLIN MIXSON A city agency is shamelessly promoting a Downtown landlord’s scheme to redevelop public land for private profit, locals claim. The Department of City Planning, which was tasked with providing an impartial review of Rockrose Development’s application to convert arcade space at 200 Water St. into ground-floor retail and luxury apartments at an important hearing on Nov. 13, spoke of the plan in glowing terms while failing to mention any drawbacks to the hugely controversial proposal or the widespread public opposition, according to a member of Community Board 1. “There was no mention of the extraordinary amount of opposition,� said Alice Blank, a Downtown resident and architect. “The Department of City Planning is working in lockstep with the

applicant to push forward this application.� Rockrose has applied for city permission to enclose more than 4,700 square feet of public space at the building between Fulton and John streets — which a previous landlord created in the 1970s in exchange for permission from the city to build higher — in a deal that a CB1 resolution described as providing “no adequate compensating amenity.� The City Planning Commission, a 13-member panel of mayoral and borough president appointees, will be asked to vote on the proposal sometime in the coming weeks, but the group will rely largely on a presentation provided by Department of City Planning rep Richard Suarez last month, which opponents argue was slanted in favor of the developer. Suarez spoke for about five minutes

via Google Streetview

Locals say the Department of City Planning is improperly promoting a controversial arcade infill plan on behalf of the owners of 200 Water St.

at the Nov. 13 hearing on the general parameters of Rockrose’s application, and mentioned that the community board and Borough President Gale Brewer both opposed the plan, albeit without explaining why. Following his introduction, Suarez admitted that most presentations would have ended there, before continuing for more than twice that time dis-

cussing the text amendment the agency authored last year to allow landlords along Water Street to redevelop such privately owned public spaces, or “POPS,� without public review — and how Rockrose’s plan would supposedly benefit the community. “Normally we would stop here,� ARCADES Continued on page 19



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EATALY | JOHN VARVATOS | KATE SPADE NEW YORK | LONDON JEWELERS | SEPHORA Enter the Oculus at the Corner of Church St. and Dey St. @westfieldworldtradecenter #HowDoYouHoliday westfield.com/wtc


Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


BALLED OUT Seaport Christmas tree moving to Pier 17 to make room for orbs of colored lights

BY JANEL BL ADOW The Seaport Christmas tree is moving from Fulton Street this year, ending an annual tradition that has lasted more than three decades. A Christmas tree will continue to be part of the holiday tradition at the Seaport, but this year the Howard Hughes Corporation will relocate the lavishly decorated tree to the recently opened Seaport Square adjacent to the new Pier 17 building. The move is in collaboration with the South Street Seaport Museum which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, according to a HHC spokesperson. The idea is to draw attention to the Museum’s historic ships, Ambrose and Wavertree — both vessels, in an age-old maritime tradition, will also be decorated with Christmas trees. The move also makes way for a new activities on Fulton Street.

“The Howard Hughes Corporation is excited to be expanding this year’s holiday experience at the Seaport District with a new winter light installation,” the company’s spokesperson told Downtown Express. “Sea of Light,” a one-of-a-kind interactive public art installation, will jazz up the street’s cobblestones with massive balls of light and colors. These enormous pods of colored lights appear to be flashing, vibrating, and pulsating on the street. Lights and sound are activated by touch, so that folks are not only viewers but also participants in the experience. “Sea of Light” is created by Alexander Green and Symmetry Labs, a San Francisco-based interactive light-art collective known for works at Burning Man, Superbowl Village and other events. A free party with live bands, DJ music, and more, will kick off the three-

Symmetry Labs / Jane Kratochvil

“Sea of Light” is a one-of-a-kind interactive art installation coming to Fulton Street this holiday season. Colorful lights and sound will be activated by touching the glowing orbs.

month installation on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 pm. To reserve tickets, go to southstreetseaport.com. But “Sea of Light” will have competition on Fulton Street — from new holiday shops. A seasonal marketplace also opens at 6 Fulton St., hosted by WantedDesign

Store. The holiday market features more than 20 designers and brands. Shoppers can pick up Christmas tree candles scented with pine, cypress, and balsam by Brooklyn Candle. Other sellers include designs such as Elodie SEAPORT TREE Continued on page 19


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Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017



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Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


En garde! Locals demand city take action to fix chronic lack of school crossing guards BY COLIN MIXSON The Halloween terror attack that stole eight lives in Lower Manhattan has renewed calls to provide schools near the West Side Highway with much needed crossing guards, and local civic honchos are demanding the Mayor’s Office sit down with community members to hash out a solution before it’s too late, according to the chairwoman of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee. “We haven’t heard back from the Mayor’s Office and to say its frustrating undermines the seriousness of the issue,� said Tricia Joyce. “We need to hear back immediately before any more lives are lost.� As it is, a single crossing guard stationed at Warren Street and the West Side Highway has been saddled with the herculean task of protecting more than 4,000 kids attending PS 89, IS

289, and Stuyvesant High School — all located within a block of the heinous terror attack — and that math doesn’t add up to a safe commute for the kids, according to Community Board 1’s second in command. “Even if that one crossing guard was Wonder Woman, or Wonder Man, they couldn’t possibly provide the kind of coverage that’s needed,� said CB1 vice chairman Paul Hovitz. At least three crossing guards are needed to cover the schools, including a guard at Chambers Street and the West Side Highway, and at Chambers Street and North End Avenue, where motorists have a habit of running the stop sign there, according to Joyce. And while City Council and de Blasio have proven willing to provide the funding needed to staff the vacant intersections, the challenge of finding people willing to work the meager 20


Photo by Yannic Rack

Crossing guards can be hard to spot in Lower Manhattan, which has long suffered from a chronic shortage, but locals are demanding the city correct the problem after last month’s truck-borne terror attack near several Downtown schools.

hours per week and widely split morning-evening hours demanded by the job has left Downtown schools perennially strapped for crossing guards, according to Councilwoman Margaret Chin’s chief of staff. “We’ve joined with other people in the Council to address the funding issue, but really what we have is a recruiting and retention problem,� said Paul Leonard. To make the job more attractive, Chin and community members are proposing rolling crossing guard duties in with school safety officers, meaning the police who guard the schools would head outside to protect kids on the street in the mornings and afternoon, and head inside during school hours to keep kids safe throughout the day, according to Leonard. “One of the ideas we have to take a look at, especially in light of what happened on Halloween, is bringing crossing guards under school safety and making it

a full time position,� Leonard said. As CB1 waits to hear back from the Mayor’s Office about the sit down, the chairwoman of board’s Battery Park City Committee, Tammy Meltzer, is asking for the Battery Park City Authority to lend area schools a hand by assigning its contract security guards to crossing guard duties, as a stop gap until the city finds a more permanent position. Some of the AlliedBarton personnel the authority posts near the schools have offered such help on an informal basis, but Meltzer would like to make it official policy. “Everybody needs to put pressure on the city to fix the crossing guards, but BPCA has a special opportunity to facilitate an additional solution, and the question is, will they?� said Meltzer. At a public meeting hosted by the authority on Nov. 14, Benjamin Jones, acting president at the BPCA, agreed to further discuss allocating additional guards to the schools.


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Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017

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Winter Garden wonderland BY REBECCA FIORE It’s that time of year again, the most wonderful time of the year again, so gather your kiddies and bring them in tow to the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place for the high-end shopping center’s Christmastime attractions. This year, they include performances of “The Nutcracker,” the return of the Luminaries, and of course the jolly ol’ elf himself, Santa Claus. Santa’s lap is open seven days a week through Christmas Eve at Brookfield Place so your little one can ask for that long overdue Red Ryder BB gun. Santa will even have special hours on two Sundays for your four-legged friends to beg for treats — as long as they’re less than 25 lbs. If that isn’t enough to entertain kids both naughty and nice, bring them to see Keith Michael’s rendition of the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” this weekend. This free, one-hour version of the classic Christmas ballet features Tchaikovsky’s signature score, but is set in an Art Nouveau style circa 1907. The New York Theatre Ballet will hold three performances in the Winter Garden, with one on Friday and two on Saturday. Audience seating will be on a firstcome-first-served basis, so early arrival is encouraged — not least because kids can take pictures with the magical dancing toys two hours before each performance. In addition to Santa and “The Nutcracker” ballet, the Luminaries, an interactive art installation, is back in the Winter Garden again this year. This annual holiday installation is a collaboration with design firm LAB at Rockwell Group. Hundreds of colorchanging, suspended lanterns immerse visitors in a warm, glowing feeling. You can “send a wish” to the luminaries at any of the three Wishing Stations and watch the lights and colors dance above like sugarplums. For every wish sent, Brookfield Place will donate $1 to the GRAMMY Museum’s music education programs, up to $25,000. “The Nutcracker” will show Dec. 1 at 7pm, and Dec. 2 at 1 pm and at 7 pm. Take a picture with the characters before each performance on the second level of the Winter Garden, Dec. 1 at 5 pm and Dec. 2 at 11 am and 5 pm. Santa is available Monday through DowntownExpress.com

Photos by Darial R Sneed

(Above) Santa will be at Brookfield Place seven days a week through Christmas Eve, and will even have special hours when your four-legged friends can beg for treats. (Below left and right) The New York Theatre Ballet will perform Keith Michael’s one-hour “The Nutcracker” in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place three times this weekend.

Friday 12 pm to 8 pm, Saturdays from 10 am to 8 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm. But he has to leave early on Christmas Eve — for obvious reasons — so he’ll clock out at 4pm. Special doggie-friendly hours are on Dec. 3 and Dec. 10 from 6:30–7:30 pm. To book your lap time in advance online, visit: order.ritual.co/menu/santa-brookfield-place-new-york/6ebf. The Luminaries are hanging around until Jan. 5, with the light shows going from 8 am to 10 pm daily, with the exception of Dec. 1, which is 8 am to 3 pm, and Dec. 2 when there will be no light show.

Photo by Milo Hess

The Luminaries, an interactive light-art installation, is back for a second year.

Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


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Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


Downtown celebrates Evacuation Day BY COLIN MIXSON There’s nothing new about this Revolutionary holiday. Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered at Bowling Green to celebrate Evacuation Day on Friday, marking the historic occasion in 1783 when the city — and our new nation — finally rid itself of British occupation. The little-known colonial-era holiday doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as it did back in the 18th and 19th centuries, but this year’s event proved locals are slowly learning to embrace the once lively anti-British festival as a distinctly Downtown tradition, according to a local historian. “This was the biggest Evacuation Day celebration in 100 years!” proclaimed James Kaplan, president of the Lower Manhattan Historic Association. “It was great!” The holiday traces its beginnings back to Bowling Green three years after the end of the Revolutionary War. The British, which had made Lower Manhattan their headquarters during the hostilities, had lingered on there to manage the repatriation of loyalists and other logistics of ending royal rule. When the day finally came for the British army to bug out for good, on Nov. 25, 1783, those rascally redcoats nailed the Union Jack to the top of a greased flagpole at Bowling Green in a final act of spite. With Gen. George Washington on his way to Lower Manhattan for the first time since the opening battles of the war, locals scrambled to get the offending banner down and raise the flag of the new nation, but all attempts to scale the

Photo by Milo Hess

The Veterans Corps of Artillery led a march from Fedearl Hall down to Bowling Green — which last year was co-named Evacuation Day Plaza. DowntownExpress.com

slick flagpole failed. Then an army veteran named John Van Arsdale, refusing to allow the drama of Washington’s longawaited return to be spoiled, marched over to a nearby hardware store and purchased some wooden cleats that enabled him to ascend the slippery pole, and replaced the British flag with the new country’s 13-starred banner. Van Arsdale’s ascent birthed a Downtown tradition that would be celebrated annually with a ceremonial flag raising until 1916, when it was decided amidst World War I that the observance of a distinctly anti-British holiday was inappropriate given the country’s newfound alliance with its former overlords across the Pond. But Evacuation Day was for many years a hugely popular event, at first celebrated by Revolutionary veterans, then their descendants, and later by Irish immigrants — who had their own bone to pick with the English. Accounts of the holiday’s centennial observance in 1883 put attendance at anywhere between 200,000 and a million spectators, according to Kaplan. After the Great War, the tradition was only observed in sporadic fits of Revolutionary sentiment, including a 2008 celebration of the holiday’s 225th Anniversary produced by the Sons of the Revolution, who staged a parade at Bowling Green and hosted a commemorative feast at the group’s Downtown headquarters, Fraunces Tavern. But it wasn’t until 2014, when Kaplan conspired with Bowling Green Association head Arthur Picollo to revive the holiday in a more traditional sense, that locals gathered for a flag raising ceremony at America’s first public park where Van Arsdale stuck it the British more than two centuries earlier. That event only attracted a modest crowd of about two-dozen spectators and enthusiasts that year, but subsequent events fared better, and Kaplan claims some 400 Revolutionary revelers turned out to witness this year’s celebration. The celebration began at Federal Hall on Wall Street with a salute from New York’s oldest serving military organization, the Veteran Corps of Artillery — founded in 1790 by none other than Van Arsdale himself — before the soldiers led the crowd on a march down Broad Street to Bowling Green, which last year was co-named Evacuation Day Plaza. There they raised the 13-starred flag of the young United States. The holiday is now 234-years

Photo by Milo Hess

Historical reenactors came to Federal Hall decked out in their finest colonialera duds.

removed from its colonial origins, but the same joyous spirit of liberty pervaded the event, according to the president of the New York chapter of the Sons of the Revolution. “It was very festive,” said Ambrose Richardson. “We’re celebrating the realization of independence.”

And while the celebration more or less observed the traditional forms of the age-old holiday, there was one major difference — no one was calling for the Queen’s head. “That was then and this is now,” said Richardson. “It’s not anti-British at all.”

Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017



Making sense of the senses PUBLISHER

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Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017

BY LENORE SKENAZY Birds do it, bees do it — but we don’t. See exceptionally well, that is. When bees look at a flower, they see it almost as a neon sign pointing “This way to the nectar!” The petals that look so pretty to us are dark to a bee, while the nectarand-pollen gathering spot at the center is blazingly bright, like a target. Finding food becomes easy. Meantime, birds — well, eagles, anyway — can see mice and other prey from so far away, they can swoop in for the kill before their dinner knows what hit them. Or bit them. Whatever. We are surrounded by animals with far better developed senses of all sorts, from smell to taste to touch. Some can even see things invisible to humans. Snakes, for instance, see infrared heat waves radiating from animals, then slither over to swallow them, waves and all. And yet, we humans are no slouches ourselves when it comes to sensing the world, as I learned at the wondrous new American Museum of Natural History exhibit: “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience.” Even single cell organisms — the kind that first existed three-and-a-half billion years ago — have a basic sense of touch, says Rob Desalle, the exhibit’s curator. Weirder still, they seemed prewired for the senses that would come along later, like sight. Walk around the exhibit and you get to experience the way different animals sense (and fool) the world. For instance, three butterflies appear identical. Beautiful! But when you see them under ultraviolet light, two of them have shiny stripes that make them look completely different from the other one. In normal light, our eyes can’t tell the difference, but that’s the point: They all look alike — and disgustingly unpalatable — to the animals that would otherwise eat them. But the butterflies themselves need to know who to breed with. And to them, finding one of “their own kind” is obvious, thanks to their unique sense of sight. In another room, the nose is front and center. Well, the nose is always front and center, but you get what I mean. For your sniffing pleasure, you are encouraged to smell scent after weird scent and determine whether you think it is one of the 600 chemicals that make up the smell of chocolate. Warning: One of them smells like a

skunk. Could that stench be part of the “Chocolate 600?” It is. In another room, you can listen to the sounds animals hear that we can’t, including the calls of a fin whale and house mouse. You can also grow jealous of the birds and reptiles whose hearing does not decline with age, because, unlike humans, the little hairs in their ears regenerate, while ours die off, making it harder for some old people to hear

microscopes let us see even the details of a mosquito’s foot. Satellites let us see the entire earth. Slo-mo photography lets us watch what is too fast in real life to see, like what happens when a drop of water hits a puddle, or the instant a water balloon bursts. Meantime, time-lapse photography shows us what’s too slow for anyone to watch unfold: The metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. The video of this is amazing. And don’t forget, we are the only species to create things just to delight our senses. Symphonies. Art. Birthday cake. But perhaps most amazing of all is

American Museum of Natural History

In one gallery of “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience,” the eyes see a fl oor and walls that appear to curve and ripple, but the feet feel a flat surface.

high pitched sounds. To understand why different animals developed their senses differently, you have to think about evolution -- species adapting to their environments. So bats have extraordinary hearing (and big ears) because they fly around in the dark. But seals and whales have a terrible sense of taste. All that they can sense is salt. (I sometimes feel the same.) Why can’t seals or whales taste sweet or bitter? “Because they gulp their food,” explains Desalle. With so little to do, their taste buds actually devolved. While most of the exhibit is a yinyang of animals versus humans, at the end, we people pull way out in front. That’s because however well a snake sees, or bat hears, they don’t have technology on their side — and we do. So even though it is impossible to be as eagle-eyed as an actual eagle,

the fact that this exhibit is in a modernday science museum, and it actually ends on a high note, celebrating mankind’s inventions. So many exhibits (and documentaries, and magazine articles) end with the exact opposite message: “Nature is great but man has screwed it up forever. Thanks a lot, manglers.” The Senses exhibit ends with a cheer for humanity, learning from nature and sometimes surpassing it. Take that, snakes. Our Senses: An Immersive Experience through Jan. 6, 2018 at the American Museum of Natural History [Central Park West at 79th Street in Manhattan, (212) 769–5100, www. amnh.org] adults, $28; children 2–12, $16.50; seniors and students $22.50. Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?” DowntownExpress.com

Angry Smokin’ Christmas Icons A one-act drama for this festive time of year BY MAX BURBANK (Lights up on SANTA and JESUS seated at dilapidated bar that last saw renovations in 1978. They are both smoking like chimneys. Several empty glasses and bottles indicate they have been there awhile. An elderly bartender gives them the fish-eye while towel-drying a single tumbler far longer than any tumbler needs to be dried.) SANTA: It’s just… I don’t know, Jesus. Every year. Every damn year it gets a little more… what? Pointless? Futile? Like… some kind of weird-ass, repetitive muscular tic I can’t stop doing because I’ve done it for so long? I think I’m gonna cancel. JESUS: You say that every— SANTA: No, no, no, no, it’s canceled. What’s the point? The elves aren’t into it anymore, there’s no damn joy in handcrafting a frikkin’ Amazon gift card. The reindeer, Jesus, ever since Rudy died, they’re all, like, “You exploited his nose, you knew he was depressed, you worked him to death,” and I’m, like, “Who was it wouldn’t let him play in any reindeer games? ME? Take a long look. I’m a fat, old, HUMAN on his fifth triple bypass. I don’t play REINDEER GAMES!” Judgmental bastards. I tried to INCLUDE RUDY! Buncha flying middle school mean girls in bad fur coats and jingle bells, that’s what they are. JESUS: Santa— SANTA: Mrs. Claus HATES me, she can’t stand the SIGHT of me, she’s all like, “Go, just GO, it’s the one night of the year I get some damn peace, you’ll DIE in that sleigh— JESUS: Come on, Santa— SANTA: “IN-THAT-SLEIGH, because you’ll never retire, you’re too CODEPENDENT!” That’s just ignorant. People can’t be codependent by themselves. She’s all in on this. That woman enables the crap out of me. Screw it. I’m canceling Christmas. (Long pause. They drink.) JESUS: Okay, newsflash, St. Nick. You can’t cancel Christmas. SANTA: Hell I can’t. JESUS: “Oh, I got a cold! Oh, I’m depressed! I’m canceling Christmas!” Well, you CAN’T. As in, you do not have that ability, it’s not your call, it’s not UP to YOU! You wanna scrap your little breaking-and-entering, cookiebingeing, stocking fetish part of it, you go right ahead, but THAT, my morbidly DowntownExpress.com

obese friend, is not Christmas. You never seen the damn Grinch? Grinch comes down from Grinch Mountain, right? Takes EVERYTHING. Sure. The toys, the trees, the FOOD! The Whos got nothing to frikkin’ EAT! And what do they do? They come out, and they stand in a DAMN CIRCLE and they sing. “Baboo Bores”… “Fahoo fores?” Whatever, they sing Who nonsense words that are Who for, “You can’t CANCEL CHRISTMAS, SANTA!”… I don’t know who told you it’s about you… but it’s not. (Long pause. Santa lights another cigarette, takes a deep drag.) SANTA: I call bullshit. JESUS: What? SANTA: If all the Whos down in Whoville woke up Christmas morning to find the town ransacked, they wouldn’t sing. They’d scream. They’d call the Who cops and then they’d spend the whole damn day bitching on the Who Internet. Probably organize a Who witch-hunt. Round up all the Jew Whos. (Long, dispirited pause. Jesus finishes his drink.) JESUS: I hate you. SANTA: No you don’t. You don’t hate anybody. You’re not human enough. JESUS: I hate you. Damn… fat bastard. I mean, whose birthday is it, right?

What do I get under the tree? I get to listen to every damn prayer, get to hear people thank me for a Golden Globe, survivors of horrendous tragedies saying I must have a purpose for them, like I didn’t have any use for all the other people who DIED, like everyone else in a car crash or a house fire or a WAR, I just let them die? SANTA: Okay, hey, Jesus— JESUS: I blame you. You! Your red suit, all that phony “HO-HO-HO” crap— SANTA: Jesus— JESUS: Because morons focusing what little faith they have on some damn fat-ass, magic elf in a flying sleigh is NICE, right? It SELLS stuff better than a baby being born Prince of Peace all so he can grow up and… and get… SANTA: Okay, now, Jesus, let it… just— JESUS: Think this is what I had in mind? Think I like this? Take a man’s birthday away, turn it into all this… lights… and, and Rudolph and shit? SANTA: Come on, man. Settle down. Turn the other cheek, right? JESUS: Yeah… I know… SANTA: Sure you do. Who better, right? Holidays are tough sometimes, is all. Let me getcha another boilermaker. (They sit together, just drinking. After a long time, Jesus laughs.)

Illustration by Max Burbank

SANTA: What? JESUS: It’s nothing… I was just thinking about… this one word. People say it a lot this time of year… It’s stupid. It just makes me laugh. SANTA: What word? (Jesus looks at Santa. Looks down at his drink. Smiles a little.) JESUS: “Nutcracker.” (Long pause. Jesus starts to giggle. Then Santa giggles.) SANTA: “Nutcracker.” (Santa starts to laugh. Now both men are laughing loudly.) SANTA: NUTCRACKER! JESUS! JESUS: NUT… CRACKER!! (They laugh and laugh. Santa pounds his huge fists on the bar. The bartender starts laughing. Jesus isn’t even making sounds anymore. His mouth is just wide open. It’s a silent laugh and tears are streaming down his face. Jesus, Santa, and the bartender laugh and laugh and every time it starts to die down, someone starts to say “Nutcracker” again and they can’t even get the word out before they’re all howling again. Let’s back away and leave them like that. Back away slowly as the lights start to fade, letting their laughter get quieter and more distant until it’s just a whisper and we can turn and walk away into the dark with the sunrise coming soon, but not quite yet.) Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


PRICE SWAP Police busted a man for allegedly switching price tags on clothes inside a Cortlandt Street retailer and attempting to purchase items at illicitly low prices on Nov. 25. An employee told police he was working at the store between Broadway and Trinity Place at 2 pm, when he spotted the suspect switching tags on clothes in order to save himself about $1,265. Shop security swooped in to detain the man after he went to make his purchase, according to police, who arrested the man later that day.

SUBWAY SLEAZE Police are searching for the creep who flashed a woman on the subway, then followed her off the train and groped her on Nov. 20. A 20-year-old woman was on a southbound E train at 8 pm when the sleazeball exposed himself to her. When the train reached the Chambers Street Station, the victim exited the train and headed up the stairs, but the creep followed behind her, reached under her skirt, and touched her inner thigh before fleeing. The groper is described as 34–35 years of age, black hair, brown eyes, and last seen wearing a black baseball cap, black jacket, grey hooded sweat shirt and tan pants. Police released a surveillance photo of him fleeing the scene. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577–8477. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www. nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.


Police say this man flashed a woman on an E train on Nov. 20 before following her off the train at the Chambers Street Station, where he groped her before fl eeing.

BOTTLE OPENER Some goon broke a glass bottle over a man’s face on Fulton Street on Nov. 21. The victim told police he was between Dutch and Nassau streets at 11 pm, when the crook stopped him to ask for a cigarette, but when the victim asked where he lived, the guy went wacko and opened the bottle on his kisser.


Three punks robbed a Broadway cellphone store on Nov. 25, stealing two ritzy smart phones. An employee told police that she was working inside the store between Beaver and Stone streets at 6:15 pm, when the three crooks waltzed in, and one of them began chattering her up as a distraction, while the others nabbed two phones worth more than $1,800. The decoy shoved the cell store worker as the thieves made their escape, earning the trio a robbery charge if cops ever catch up with them, according to police.

GYM RAT A thief ransacked a man’s locker inside a Broadway fitness center on Nov. 25. The victim told police he left $200 inside a locker and went to pump iron inside the gym between Morris Street and Battery Place at 10:10 am, and returned just shy of an hour later to find his cash stolen. After reviewing surveillance footage, gym security discovered a man break into the victim’s locker and steal his valuables, cops said.



CASH GRAB A thief nabbed $4,300 from a man’s bag inside a Water Street coffee shop on Nov. 16. The victim told police he was just leaving the coffee house between Whitehall and Moore streets at 1 pm, when he noticed someone had opened his bag without his realizing it and stolen the small fortune in cash he had on him.




the head and neck, cops said. But police caught up with the suspect not long after, and charged him with assault, cops said.

Cops arrested a ticket seller operating around Bowling Green after he allegedly attacked a man with a clipboard on Nov. 12. The victim told police he was strolling with his wife past the park near Broadway at 3:45 pm, when the suspect offered to sell him some tickets and the man refused. As he walked away, the vendor shouted to the man’s wife, “you need a new husband,” and the victim responded with a curt, “fuck you,” according to police. The suspect began following the victim, and the pair continued their dispute, which climaxed when the ticket seller began pummeling his would-be client with a clipboard, catching him in

Five punks stole two phones from a Broadway cellphone shop on Nov. 16. An employee told police he was working inside the store between Duane and Reade streets at 1 pm, when the small gang nabbed an iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 6 S, together worth more than $1,300, and fled.

CLUB CRIME A pickpocket lifted a man’s wallet off him from inside a Varick Street nightclub on Nov. 16. The victim told police he joined the party at the watering hole between W. Houston and King streets at 10 pm, and was enjoying himself until around midnight, when he realized his wallet had been snatched. Because of the club setting, the victim was bumping into all sorts of people, any one of whom could have been the sticky-fingered thief, cops said.

E-THIEF A thief rode off with a delivery guy’s $1,450 electronic bike that he left on North Moore Street on Nov. 19. The victim told police he chained his e-bike to a pole between Greenwich and West streets to drop off a delivery at 9:50 pm, but then he returned about 10 minutes later to find his ride was stolen.

PANTS PERP A 61-year-old man was arrested for allegedly stealing nine pairs of jeans worth more than $1,100 from a Vesey Street department store on Nov. 18. The alleged theft was witnessed by two employees, who said they were inside the big-box retailer between North End Avenue and West Street at 5:40 pm when they spotted the suspect try to flee with a small fortune worth of Lookout High-Rise Kaihara jeans, cops said. Police slapped cuffs on the suspect later that day, and charged him with grand larceny, cops said. — Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com

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Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


‘Beanstalk’ Meets Burlesque Beloved English holiday show comes to America BY TRAV S.D. In a time when the US and the UK seem to share all manner of pop stars, hit musicals, movies, TV shows, comedians and best-selling authors, it may be a surprise to learn that there has been at least one uncrackable nut when it comes to the transatlantic cross-fertilization of cultural product — the Christmas Pantomime, or Panto. This centuries-old English theatrical form is a much-beloved annual holiday tradition in the Mother Country and many of her former colonies (and quite different, it must quickly be pointed out, from the much-reviled silent clowning we know in the States as “mime”). For a brief time in the mid-19th century, Panto was popular in New York City, thanks to a beloved comedian named George L. Fox. After Fox passed from the scene, though, so did the Panto as a popular pastime in America. Until 2017. Starting December 6, audiences will have a rare chance to be entertained by this enchanting import when “Jack and the Beanstalk” opens at Abrons Arts Center. And if the rarity of the occasion weren’t enough of an attraction, the show is adapted, produced, and directed by local showbiz royalty, the Beauty and the Beast themselves, husband and wife team Mat Fraser (“American Horror Story: Freak Show”) and international burlesque star and choreographer Julie Atlas Muz, with a cast that includes Downtown performance legends Dirty Martini, drag star Michael Lynch (here billed as Michael Johnnie Lynch), and comedian Matt Roper (best-known for his character Wilfredo). A major key to the appeal of Panto is that it speaks to both old and young. The shows are ostensibly for children (even very young ones), but with an added, coded layer only adults will appreciate. The stories are normally well-known fairy tales, with villains the audience is encouraged to boo and hiss at, heroes to cheer for, and lots of musical numbers, puppets, and animal costumes. At the same time, there are subtly transgressive elements, such as double entendres for the grown-ups to laugh at (but delivered so as to go over the children’s heads), and the gender-bending characters of the Pantomime Dame (a male in female drag, usually a well-known celebrity) and the Principal Boy (a female playing a young male). Some manifestations of these characters have made it to American shores. Australian drag comedian Dame Edna (Barry Humphries) is an outgrowth of the tradition and often stars in Pantos; and the stage and screen character Peter Pan is normally cast Photo by Don Spiro

BEANSTALK continued on p. 16


Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017

L to R: Jenni Gil as Jack, Michael Johnnie Lynch as Dame Delancey, and Matt Roper as Silly Simon. DowntownExpress.com

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

Photo by Mati Gelman

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 DowntownExpress.com

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. Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


BEANSTALK continued from p. 14

in the Principal Boy tradition (almost always played by a woman). “I grew up watching Panto,” said the English-born Fraser, who adapted the script from traditional sources. “Both of my parents are actors. I grew up seeing them perform in Pantos, and my stepmother is an expert on it. She’s quoted in several books. Doing a Panto has always been on my bucket list.” While Panto is thought of as a quintessentially British form of entertainment, Fraser and Muz quickly realized that a workable transplantation would require some adjustments. “Panto is primarily a celebration of your community,” explained Fraser. “In this production, our job has been to Americanize it.” “And to New Yorkify it,” added director Muz. “For the form to be as successful as it is in the UK you have to create the romantic feeling in the audience that this is their home.” Onstage jump ropes, basketballs, and fire hydrants help generate a native Lower East Side atmosphere. Many in the cast, including the producers and Jenni Gil (who plays the lead character Jack), live near Abrons Arts Center, or are the product of its arts programs, or both. “Jenni is the voice of the neighborhood,” said Muz. “The journey belongs to Jack.” In addition, an outsider perspective definitely forms a key element in how the show was conceived and cast. The name of the Fraser/Muz production company “ONEOFUS” references the 1932 horror movie “Freaks” (“We accept her! One of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”). Fraser may be the best-known disabled (his preferred term) performer in the world. Born with Thalidomide-induced phocomelia (manifested in his case in underdeveloped arms), he first made his name as a drummer in a number of rock bands, which naturally migrated into acting and variety entertainment. Fraser plays drums in the show (what would music hall gags be without rim shots?), and the cast also features short-statured actress Sarah Folkins. Dirty Martini, who plays the Good Fairy, is widely revered for being a pioneer in redefining popular conceptions of female beauty. People of color and LGBTQ performers are well-represented. And in Panto, there is the traditional element of cross-dressing, with Gill as Principal Boy in the role of Jack, and Michael Lynch as a hilarious Dame Delancey. “While we honor tradition, the form itself is kind of in the Dark Ages about


Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017

Photo by Laura Vogel

Julie Atlas Muz directs “Jack and the Beanstalk” and writer Mat Fraser’s adaptation shows much affection for its Lower East Side setting.

Photo by Don Spiro

Dirty Martini as the Good Fairy and Hawthorn Albatross III as Dastardly Dick.

what men and women do in the story,” Fraser elaborated. “But we didn’t want a world where a woman just gets rescued. This is the post-“Frozen” era. So Jack and his love interest Rosie (Christina Duryea) are equal warriors in our version. And it’s all about collective action. The whole community chops down the beanstalk.” If the words burlesque, drag, and sideshow give you pause in this context, the producers are quick to point out that they’re all branches of the same theatrical family — ones with more similarities than differences. Matt Roper, who plays Silly Simon, is like Fraser, now a second-generation Panto performer (his father was British comedian George Roper). He brings a tone of sweetness and innocence to his performance, which is, as Fraser points out, the key to successful Panto. And a chorus of talented local kids are part of the 22-person cast. “What shines most brightly is the joy of childhood,” said Muz. “That’s the most important element in this.” Previews: Wed.–Fri., Dec. 6–8 at 7:30pm and Sat., Dec. 9 at 2pm & 7:30pm. Opening Sun. Dec. 10 at 2pm. Regular performances Dec. 14–16 & 20–23 at 7:30pm; Dec. 16, 17, 23 at 2pm. At Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St., btw. Pitt & Willett Sts.). For tickets ($25–$45), call 212-352-3101 or visit abronsartscenter.org. DowntownExpress.com

Present Tense? These gifts will put that in the past BY SCOTT STIFFLER

THE PENN SOUTH CERAMICS STUIDO HOLIDAY SALE In our modern if somewhat impersonal world of prepaid gift cards, nothing says you truly care quite like a present that’s been made by hand. But what if your clumsy lobster claws aren’t even remotely capable of creating something that special person on your “Nice” list will actually want to look at before they’ve had their morning coffee? To the rescue comes this annual event, featuring rows and shelves stocked with bowls, plates, vases, mugs, votives, platters, and jewelry — all one-of-a-kind items made by the students and instructors of Penn South Ceramics Studio. Bonus gift: Pick up a brochure while browsing on behalf of others, and return to the studio in 2018 to take a class. By this time next year, your work could be the one with a price tag on it. All thumbs and not interested? No pressure. Those classes also make great gifts. Sat., Dec. 9 & Sun., Dec. 10, 11am– 6pm in the Penn South Ceramics Studio(in Building 6B, 276 Ninth Ave., at the northeast corner of W. 26th St.). For more info, email them at pennsouthceramics@gmail.com.

THE ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC’S HOLIDAY RECORD & CD SALE The praises we sing about the ARChive of Contemporary Music might sound like a broken record — but you’ll find no nicks, scratches, or skips on the vinyl for sale at this fundraiser for the renowned Downtown not-for-profit, whose collection of popular music sound recordings currently numbers in the three-milliongive-or-take range. This library and research center collects, preserves, and provides information on popular music all the way from 1950 to the very day you’re reading this (and, yes, beyond). With the inevitable duplicate recordings taking up valuable space, the ARChive is opening its doors (normally accessible only to scholars and industry) for two weeks. From Dec. 2 through 17, don’t miss your chance to score deals (steals, really) DowntownExpress.com

Photo by Kristen Felicetti

The West Village Chorale’s Dec. 10 concert makes a great early gift.

Courtesy Penn South Ceramics

The Handmade’s Tale: Stock up on oneof-a-kind gifts at Dec. 9 and 10’s Penn South Ceramics Studio Holiday Sale.

on over 30,000 items. Many of the CDs are new donations from record companies and collectors, so no worries about returning them due to defects. Prices start at $3 for the new stuff, and many of the CDs will come home with you for just a buck (“cheaper than downloading,” the ARChive staff notes). Also on tap are 78s, jazz music in all format, Blues and Latin LPs, picture discs, music books and magazines, DVDs, and kid-friendly LPs — because you’re never too early to become an obsessed collector! Dec. 2–17, daily, 11am–6pm. At the ARChive of Contemporary Music ground floor office at 54 White St. (3 blocks south of Canal St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Call 212-226-6967 or visit arcmusic.org.

THE WEST VILLAGE CHORALE’S HOLIDAY CONCERT For that friend of yours — and you know who they are — who will only end up opening their gift early if it just sits there under the tree day after day, surprise them with a ticket to the West Village Chorale’s seasonal concert. This year’s theme is “Christmas Carols Old and New.” Musical Director Dr. Colin Britt is at the podium to conduct (baton in hand, we hope, because we like

Courtesy ARChive of Contemporary Music

From Disney to Marley, there’s something for everyone (or just one eclectic individual) at the ARChive of Contemporary Music’s sale, happening Dec. 2–17.

to get our money’s worth). Longtime Chorale pianist Elena Belli is joined by the Calliope Brass quintet, harpist Adan Vasquez, and cellist David Lasher. Selections include Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” and a musical version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Plenty of sing-along carols are also part of this program — and the nonsectarian, independent chorus has another great event in store, as if Dec. 10’s annual concert weren’t reason enough to sing its praises. On Dec. 17, the Greenwich Village Caroling Walk continues a tradition started in

1974. Fanning out in groups from the Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church, you’ll stroll through the most charming parts of the Village while singing seasonal carols and songs. It’s a free event, but donations are gladly accepted. The Holiday Concert happens Sun., Dec. 10, 5pm at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, at Thompson St.). Tickets are $25 in advance, $10 for students with ID. At the door, $30, $15 for students with ID. Order at brownpapertickets.com/ event/3150109. Visit westvillagechorale. org. Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017



Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017


ARCADES Continued from page 2

Suarez said, “but we thought it would be good to give the commission a refresher on the 2016 text amendment, what the goals were and what it was intended to do, and then a review of the 200 Water Street project … how the proposal fits into the goals of that text.” Suarez also briefly mentioned other written testimony sent from various community groups and non-profit advocates for the commission to review, which the agency forwarded to members on the weekend before the Monday hearing. Those letters, which represented numerous organizations opposed to the plan — including The Municipal Art Society, Friends of the Upper East Side, Landmarks West, Tribeca Trust, Upper East Side Historic Districts, Friends of POPS, Civitas, and City Club — were actually forwarded to the Department of City Planning about a month before the review session, and the groups are furious that the agency waited so long to pass them off to the commission. “We sent it a month or so ahead of time, and then they held that stuff until just before the review session,” said John West, an urban planning consultant and member of City Club. The apparent withholding of information was reflected by the’ responses following Suarez’s presentation, according to West, with

only one of the 13 commissioners noting the community’s overwhelming opposition to Rockrose’s application. “My observation is that this has run into a fairly extraordinary amount of opposition from various folks out in the community, both immediately local and further afield, — and, for me, at least, the cumulative impact of their arguments has made an impact,” said Commissioner Anna Levin at the hearing. A spokesman for the Department of City Planning claimed the agency had done its due diligence insuring commission members were briefed, and noted the panel still has time to review the testimony before it votes on the proposal. “The CPC is aware of the many points of view on the 200 Water Street proposal, which has received the same thorough and thoughtful review and has been subject to the same protocols as other similar applications,” said Joe Marvilli. “Furthermore, the commission has not yet taken action on this item.” Now, advocates aren’t only concerned about the future of Water Street, but how the Department of City Planning could be putting its thumb on the scales to influence the commission on other controversial projects throughout the city. “If it happens here, is it happening elsewhere?” said Alexander Adams, executive director of Civitas.

SEAPORT TREE Continued from page 4

Blanchard, Skagen, Malle London. The holiday market will be open every day, 11 am to 7 pm, beginning Dec. 1. It will close on both Christmas and New Year’s eves at 4 pm and will be closed Christmas Day. All these new activities are nice, according to locals, but they say they’ll miss the magical view of the Christmas tree standing majestically at the Seaport’s entrance at Fulton and Water streets. Photographer Debra Florez, who has lived in the Seaport for four years and is an active member of the Old Seaport Alliance steering committee, isn’t happy with the move. “The tree was a long-standing tradition — 30-some years,” she said. “Saying that the tree is on the pier won’t salvage that. The tree was a symbol. With it gone, that will affect our already existing small businesses. There is nothing now drawing shoppers to them. The tree was a lure, a beacon by the lighthouse.” DowntownExpress.com

Dates: Thurs., Nov. 30–Wed., Dec. 6

ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES ARE IN EFFECT ALL WEEK Trumplock hits Saturday. POTUS will be arriving in the morning and leaving sometime in the afternoon. While his stops are all in Midtown or the Upper East Side, Downtown gets impacted as he arrives and leaves via the Wall Street Heliport. So, expect early morning (say between 8:30 am and 10 am), and mid-afternoon closures of the FDR and South Street. If you’re planning to cab or drive on Saturday here are a few tips: Stick with the West Side Highway but if you’re heading to Brooklyn be aware the Battery Tunnel will have one tube closed from 9:30 pm Friday to 5:30 am Monday. Avoid East Midtown all morning and then the Upper East Side until mid-afternoon. Also, expect a welcoming contingent (aka demonstrators) in the vicinity of Trump Tower at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street. For up-to-date traffic forecasts follow me on Twitter @GridlockSam. Also, this weekend, the Jets play the Chiefs Sunday at MetLife at 1 p.m. so the Holland Tunnel area will be busier before and after the game. From the mailbag: Dear Transit Sam, There used to be money to fix the Belt to help take trucks away from the BQE. Now Gov. Cuomo has withdrawn

Florez admits that the collaboration with the museum is a great idea. “The museum is in survival mode,” she said. “Howard Hughes moved the tree to pier to promote ships, which is nice. They need to salvage this little jewel.” But she’s skeptical that the tree will be enough to attract visitors to the museum’s Street of Ships, since Pier 17 itself isn’t finished and there are no shops open for business. “In winter, at night, it’s cold and windy out there by the water,” said Florez. “And the view of the tree from the Seaport will be obstructed by the overhead ramp of the FDR.” Other neighbors worry that moving the tree will take away a bit of the local Christmas spirit. “The greatest joy in being a resident of the Seaport is that we are a community, a borrow-a-cup-of-sugartype of community,” said Allison Galanowsky, who also lives in the area. “The Seaport embodies neighbors that become friends. Not having a tree this year on Fulton Street takes away from that feeling.”

funding on the BQE from Sands St to Atlantic Ave. The state won’t even finish the Gowanus upgrade. Why do you want to direct more funds away from roads? There are plenty of poor drivers, and you can only pick their pockets so much. Subway ridership is dropping. Tom Dear Tom, Who said I want to direct funds away from roads and bridges? Just the opposite. Under the MOVE NY plan I helped develop, we provide $375 million a year for roads and bridges and $1.125B for transit. With the extra dough, maybe the state could finally complete repairs on the Gowanus. By the way, retrofitting the Belt for trucks is one of the best plans for reducing congestion in Brooklyn. I’m all for it. Another feature of the plan is that every currently tolled bridge wholly within the 5 boroughs would have tolls slashed by 38-46%. Only people driving to Manhattan south of 60th St. would be charged. Regarding the working poor, the Community Services Society, a longtime advocate for low income people, analyzed congestion pricing and found that for every working poor driver who might pay higher tolls, 38 low income commuters would benefit with better subway service. Tom, there is no plan to improve transportation significantly in which someone doesn’t get impacted. This plan, in my estimation, achieves the greatest good for the greatest number. Transit Sam

File photo by Milo Hess

Some Seaport residents worry that moving the Christmas tree from Fulton Street out to Pier 17 will sap some of the neighborhood’s holiday spirit.

Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 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


Nov. 30 – Dec. 13, 2017

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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Downtown Express  

November 30, 2017

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November 30, 2017