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Facade Demolitions Prompt Calls for Protection

BODIES IN MOTION IN PLACE AT CITY CENTER Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Amazes

BY REBECCA FIORE With its liberty secured, America’s founders turned their attention to the literal task of building a new country. As an ode to the democracies of Greece and Rome, conscious efforts were made to incorporate classic characteristics of ancient architecture into the burgeoning landscape. Thus, the Federal style, which ranged from 1780 to 1830, FEDERAL STYLE continued on p. 2

Report Ponders Pier 40’s Future BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Pier 40 — the Hudson River Park’s largest pier — must be developed with sensitivity to the surrounding community, meaning all of the hulking structure’s available development space should not be utilized, yet more sports fields should be added, according to a new draft report by a Community Board 2 (CB2) working group. PIER 40 continued on p. 6


Chelsea’s Rick Carrier is honored as an indie film pioneer. See page 5.

Photo by Christopher Duggan

Frivolity and fuchsia on display during Billy Wilson’s “The Winter in Lisbon.” The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is at New York City Center through December. See page 15.

At Tenants Conference, Knowledge is Empowerment BY EILEEN STUKANE Holes in apartment walls, rodents, and mold in buildings where tenants are paying rent on time — the sights seen by Public Advocate Letitia James made for a strong, and appropriately graphic, opening to December 2’s West Side o Tenants Conference. James, the proT ducer of New York City’s annual list of d 100 Worst Landlords, spoke about how even though landlords are harassing tene ants in order to empty and gentrify their a buildings, many victims don’t want to complain. “They’re afraid,” she said, and the approximately 170 attendees in the hall nodded and murmured in agreement. “Today is to learn about tools, about how we can reach out and organize tenants to protect these vulnerable populations.


It’s by organizing and educating that we will be able to achieve truly affordable housing.” The all-day event was all about sharing strategies for protecting and preserving affordable housing, and providing tactics to help low-, moderate-, and middle-income families survive in this increasingly expensive city. Organized by Housing Conservation Coordinators (HCC) and the West Side Neighborhood Alliance (WSNA), and supported by various businesses and community activist groups, this 12th Annual West Side Tenants Conference, which took place at Fordham University School of Law on W. 62nd St., offered morning and afternoon workshops on specific topics touching the lives of New Yorkers: zoning, obtaining affordable housing, issues of public housing, ille-

gal hotels, senior housing and benefits, public transportation, the struggles of small businesses, immigration rights, and organizing 101 (which delved into the growing tenant movement). Experts in the field of each topic shared their knowledge and offered insights into improving individual living situations. The tone of the day, one of shared struggle, was set by keynote speaker Afua Atta-Mensah, Executive Director of Community Voices Heard, a leader in a grassroots fight against the rezoning of East Harlem for residential towers and “infill” (the development of public housing property). Addressing the morning gathering, she reminded everyone that a change of attitude is needed among TENANTS continued on p. 3

VOLUME 09, ISSUE 41 | DECEMBER 7 - 13, 2017

Making a ‘Federal’ Case for Expanding the Chelsea Historic District FEDERAL STYLE continued from p. 1

appeared across the United States. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has protected a number of these still-standing homes across the city — but not all of them. On W. 19th St., between Eighth and Ninth Aves., three buildings in a row that once shared Federal style characteristics are unrecognizable as construction continues to demolish the facades of 347 and 349, and the foundation of 347 (the facade of 345 has already been altered). Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation ( and a board member of Save Chelsea (, estimates these buildings were constructed in the early 1830s. “In New York, the oldest [Federal

style buildings] are from 1790,” Berman said. “I can’t see this being later than the mid-1830s, which makes them amongst the oldest structures in Chelsea. There are very, very few Federal style houses in Chelsea.” Most of the older homes in Chelsea are Greek Revival style, which came directly after the Federal period. “They are closing on over 200 years old,” Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council (HDC;, said of Chelsea’s Federal style structures. “They are lovely reminders and survivors of earlier times in New York — places that people happily lived in. Our wallets are as big as our eyes because people are destroying them for swimming pools in the basement and giant kitchens in FEDERAL STYLE continued on p. 23

The facade of 345 W. 19th St. has already been changed from its original Federal style Flemish bond brickwork to a decidedly modern look.


A HOLIDAY TRADITION Joyous Music, Dance, Inspirational Readings

O Wondrous MYSTERY


Photos by Rebecca Fiore

Three W. 19th St. houses (345, 347, and 349) are estimated to be over 200 years old — but from the outside, that history isn’t tangible.

Kenneth Dake, director

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10 AT 2:30PM For ticket information go to

Extra! Extra! Local News Read all about it!

1 West 29th Street / New York, New York 10001 212 686 2770 /


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Neighbors Stand With Neighbors at the 12th Annual West Side Tenants Conference TENANTS continued from p. 1

property owners: “People such as yourselves and your families who made this one of the greatest cities in the world, don’t just have a right to stay in the communities that you made great and hip and popular, that it’s not just something assumed but it’s loved and accepted, and of course I want a 30-year tenant in my building. That should mean something to me as a landlord, that my property is stable and safe.” To bring about this change, she emphasized that tenants must organize across lines: “Are we more concerned about our homes or our differences? I say, my home, and that’s going to move me to go to Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, wherever the hell else I’ve got to go for my apartment and for yours.” Atta-Mensah then asked everyone to stand and “introduce yourself to the person to your left, because the person to your left is the person you are going to be in the struggle with to protect and advance rent stabilized housing, to protect rent regulation laws. Do I have your commitment that you will stand shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you in the fight?” Her answer came in resounding applause. The fight to remain in, or to increase, affordable housing is a battle with many fronts.

OVERHAUL THE SYSTEM OF CREDIT RATING FOR TENANTS New Yorkers who earn $50,000 or less and have poor credit because they are struggling financially come up against barriers to getting affordable housing. “That should not be,” said James. “I should not be defined by one credit score. It’s critically important that we look at other indicators to determine whether or not I can pay my rent on time.” The need to overhaul the way credit is rated was repeated throughout the conference after NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, another morning speaker, gave details to the gathering. Stringer explained that when wealthy people take out mortgages to buy luxury apartments, their credit scores soar as they make their mortgage payments. His NYC Community Media

Photo by Eileen Stukane

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal informed a packed workshop about senior rent freezes under the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program.

office, working with nonprofit and housing organizations, has announced a plan called “Rent In Credit” to have rent payments, like mortgage payments, counted as part of an individual’s credit score. In New York City, according to Stringer, “Fifty-eight percent of residents are renters, and with ‘Rent In Credit,’ 76 percent of those renters would see their credit scores improve.” (The plan is in its infancy. At this early stage, the NYC Housing Authority has a pilot program to allow tenants to report their rent payments.) At the “Finding and Obtaining Affordable Housing Part I” workshop, Larry Wood, Director of Organizing, Goddard Riverside Law Project, suggested that tenants contact the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs-Office of Financial Empowerment to seek help in improving a credit score. The website is shtml. An individual can also call 311 to be connected to the department.

own homework, diligence, and perseverance.” A source sheet of Internet sites and phone numbers for NYC housing

information was distributed by Wood and is available by request via his email address: Daniel Arnow, Director of Affordable Housing Initiatives, The Actors Fund, spoke about NYC Housing Connect, which manages the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and NYC Housing Development Corporation’s affordable housing lotteries. He reported that the city is doing a little better than anticipated in providing very low and extremely low-income housing — but middle-income housing still remains more prevalent than housing on the lower end. In conjunction with Arnow’s talk, how income is determined for eligibility for affordable housing, and how the housing lottery works, can be found on our website,, by searching for the article “Number Crunching at the Core of Affordable Housing Squeeze.” New York State Assemblymember TENANTS continued on p. 21

KNOWLEDGE IS EMPOWERMENT The most well-attended workshops brought in people who wanted to become active in dealing with their destinies. In the Affordable Housing workshop, Wood’s information was geared toward rent-regulated housing. He admitted at the start that “A lot about finding something affordable depends upon your December 7, 2017


Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum Fêted for 25 Years of Leadership PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO In a benefit evening of speeches, musical performances, and a reception, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the city’s LGBTQ synagogue that is also the world’s largest, celebrated 25 years of spiritual leadership under Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. The highlight of the evening, which raised funds to complete the capital cam paign that allowed CBST to move into its new permanent home at 130 West 30th Street last year, were remarks by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Speaking to the crowd gathered at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Clinton praised Kleinbaum for her leadership on social justice issues and in bringing her community along in resistance to the Trump administration, while also remarking on the congregation’s extraordinary growth since the early 1970s when it struggled to reach a minyan, or quorum of 10 Jewish adults required to hold religious worship. Joking, “I’m kvelling… not bad for a Methodist,” the Democrat who won the 2016 popular vote handily only to lose in the Electoral College, also talked about how her faith has sustained her over the past year.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum (right) and author, performance artist, and gender theorist Kate Bornstein.

Rabbi Kleinbaum greets Hillary Clinton.

Introduced by a teenage member of CBST who was Bar Mitzvahed by Kleinbaum and volunteered in her campaign last year, Clinton also spoke of the hope she’s found in letters from young people around the country. About a boy named Felix who dressed as Hillary for Halloween, Clinton said, “He really nailed my hair.” In her own remarks, Kleinbaum recalled many happy moments at CBST

but also talked about the critical social justice challenges faced in today’s political world. She, her children, and her partner, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, read written passages from Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait,” which was performed by the Greenwich Village Orchestra under the direction of Adria Benjamin. The congregation’s music director, Joyce Rozenzweig, led

the CBST Community Chorus in song, and cantor Steve Zeidenberg also sang. Katherine Linton, who long helmed PBS’ “In the Life” LGBTQ public affairs program, produced a video, “Bringing Vision to Life,” the evening’s theme. Cynthia Nixon and Andy Cohen, both CBST members, hosted the evening. —Additional reporting by Paul Schindler





December 7, 2017

NYC Community Media

Indie Film Series Adds Rick Carrier to ‘Lost Legends’ Pantheon BY REBECCA FIORE Rick Carrier received his first 35mm film camera as a result of World War II. To document combat situations, soldiers at the time were issued a Cineflex PH-330 — a direct copy of the German Arriflex 35 II model. Before being shipped out overseas, Carrier shot home movies of his sisters, who he left the camera with in New York City. When he returned home from war, he had to give the camera back to the government — but by that time, it was too late. The restless and perpetually curious Carrier had been bitten by the film bug. He bought his own 16mm film camera and went to the offices of the New York Daily News to look through their files. There, he found inspiration for what would become his first and only movie. Carrier wanted to make something topical. By this time, it was the 1960s: John F. Kennedy was president, Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was still under construction. Carrier noticed a pattern in news stories — Puerto Rican immigrants who settled in East Harlem, or El Barrio, were struggling with racial tensions, poverty, and violence. In 1962, with a $40,000 budget, he wrote, directed, produced, edited, and scored “Strangers in the City.” “It’s a grim and revealing film,” said Michael Bowen, a film historian and curator of “Beyond Cassavetes: Lost Legends of the New York Film World (1945-1970).” The Anthology Film Archive series focuses on low-budget features made in the city that were indies, before the term “indies” ever existed. “It’s a story that the American Dream isn’t as pure and pristine as we think,” said Bowen of Carrier’s work. “This isn’t a movie Hollywood would make. This is a story about the bitter realities, shot on the streets of New York.” In “Strangers in the City,” the Alvarez family, newly relocated to a tenement in El Barrio, are barely making ends meet. The father, José (played by Camilo Delgado), refuses to get a job that could get in the way of his guitar playing — forcing the mother, Antonia (Rosita De Triana), to look for work. Meanwhile, the two teenaged children, Felipe (Robert Gentile) and Elena (Creta Marcos), are tormented by local gangs and sucked into prostitution, respectively. About five years ago, while researching films, Bowen came across “Strangers” and reached out to Carrier, who was living in Chelsea at the time, which led to NYC Community Media

Photos courtesy Anthology Film Archives

A production still from the 1962 Embassy Pictures release of Rick Carrier’s “Strangers in the City.”

Carrier’s film was hailed by Turner Classic Movies as painting “a much grittier, more realistic picture of lives of Puerto Rican immigrants” than the cinematic version of “West Side Story.”

extensive interviews between the two. Carrier didn’t have a copy of his film, though. Bowen said Carrier had made a deal with Embassy Pictures, the movie’s distributor, and the company walked off with the negatives. The movie had

limited release on VHS and was shown twice on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel. While featured on TCM, an introduction by Robert Osborne favorably compared Carrier’s film to “West Side

Story,” the musical romantic drama that came out just a year before. He said Carrier’s film “paints a much grittier, more realistic picture of lives of Puerto Rican immigrants than does that brightly-colored musical about Jets and Sharks and Tony and Maria.” Bowen found a 16mm copy of Carrier’s film for sale on eBay. By the time Bowen had the movie in hand, its creator had passed away at the age of 91. “The screening is happening on the exact one-year anniversary of his death,” said Bowen, who noted that in addition to “Strangers,” Carrier was “deeply involved in filmmaking in many other ways.” Indeed, Carrier (once trained in amphibious warfare by the US Army) can claim another unique place in cinematic history. Employed by film producer Howard Hughes, he invented an underwater rigging system that allowed audiences to enjoy the 1955 Jane Russell vehicle “Underwater!” while fully submerged. “It would have been such a pleasure to me to invite him,” said Bowen of the man he considers to be a true RICK CARRIER continued on p. 23 December 7, 2017


Pier 40 Report: Field of Dreams, Fear of Heights PIER 40 continued from p. 1

The report also notes that, in an effort to maximize the sprawling W. Houston St. pier’s revenue-generating potential, the park’s governing agency is seeking to develop it with a massive $1 billion megaproject. The Future of Pier 40 Working Group released its draft report on Nov. 17. This report received a final review at the Nov. 30 meeting of the working group, which crafted an advisory resolution and vote on it. The full board of CB2, in turn, will vote on the resolution, likely in mid-to-late December. Rather than a traditional resolution, featuring suggested actions, the recently released draft report has 21 “findings.” Tobi Bergman, the working group’s chairperson, described it as “more guidance than prescription.” Specifically, the working group was formed “to help establish parameters for potential redevelopment proposals that provide a stable source of income to support [Hudson River Park] operations while protecting the park from harmful impacts and increasing space for recreation… .”

File photo courtesy The Villager

Current recreational uses at Pier 40 include its huge artificial-turf-covered courtyard playing field and a trapeze school, on the roof’s eastern side.

open space,” the report notes, “including large-footprint ball fields that are difficult to site elsewhere within the narrow park. The ‘courtyard’ field alone is almost 10 times as big as the only other unpaved sports field in Community Board 2, James J. Walker Park.”

E-SURVEY IN THE MIX In addition, over this past summer, the working group sent out an e-mail survey seeking people’s input on the future of Pier 40. A total of 3,140 people responded. All three community boards — Community Boards 1, 2 and 4 — that border the 4.5mile-long park sent the survey to their e-mail lists, as did local politicians whose districts include the park, plus the three local youth-sports leagues — Greenwich Village Little League, Downtown United Soccer Club and Downtown Soccer League — the Manhattan Youth organization and the Village Community Boathouse, among others.


Courtesy The Villager

A rendering of how the Pier 40 facade would have looked under a concept plan presented in 2013 by developer Douglas Durst and Ben Korman. Their proposal was to retrofit the existing W. Houston St. pier shed for office use for tech firms and the like. At the time, the Hudson River Park Trust and local youth sports leagues were favoring a residential plan to help save the pier. Fast-forward to today and the Trust reportedly is now set to lobby the state Legislature to amend the Hudson River Park Act to allow office use, at least at Pier 40.

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The eight-page draft report notes that Pier 40 is almost 15.5 acres big, “or more than one-and-one-half times the size of Washington Square Park.” A two-story concrete pier shed covers the whole site except for a center courtyard of roughly 4.5 acres, currently used as sports fields, and a 20-foot wide perimeter walkway.

‘OPPORTUNITY FOR SPACE’ “The pier, by far the largest in Hudson River Park, offers a unique and irreplaceable opportunity for new public

The Hudson River Park Act of 1998, the park’s founding legislation, states that, “to the extent practicable,” the cost of the park’s maintenance and operation should be funded by limited commercial uses in the park. Regarding Pier 40, the act mandates that the equivalent of at least 50 percent of its footprint must be used for recreational purposes, and that the rest of the pier can be developed commercially, though only with certain types of uses. Throughout the whole park, the act prohibits amusement parks, riverboat gambling, residential housing and commercial offices — and at Pier 40, specifically, the act allows only water-dependent uses, entertainment and commercial recreation. Since the park’s creation nearly 20 years ago, Pier 40 has provided between 25 percent and 40 percent of the whole park’s annual expenses, most of that coming from the W. Houston St. pier’s long-term car parking. The Lower West Side pier’s other current PIER 40 continued on p. 10 NYC Community Media

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POLICE BLOTTER SENIOR SAFETY TIPS — AND SWAG Senior safety and crime prevention were the main topics at Nov. 30’s 10th Precinct Community Council meeting. At the outset, Commanding Officer Capt. Paul Lanot noted that crime in the precinct is up 1 percent for the month due to grand larcenies. The meeting then shifted matters of senior safety. The NYPD recently purchased “Senior Safe NYC� bags whose exterior reflective tape announces its presence to vehicles, pedestrians, and potential thieves. The bags are currently available at select precincts in Manhattan, but they’re slated to be at every precinct at some point next year. Each bag has a senior-focused crime prevention, a special pen that combats check washing, a magnifying glass, and a reflective slap bracelet with an alarm keychain attached to it. A YouTube video was played, explaining check washing and why a uni-ball pen should be used to write checks instead of a regular ink pen. “Mail fishing is

becoming prevalent,� said Officer Jarett Di Lorenzo. “We haven’t had any cases of it in the 10th Precinct, but we still want you all to be safe.�

GRAND LARCENY AUTO: Tanks for nothing, gas station thief Leave your car unlocked at a gas station and walk away, and you’ll end up a Blotter item. That’s what happened on Sun., Dec. 3 at 4:35 a.m., after a 26-yearold man in front of 466 10th Ave. (btw. W. 36th & 37th Sts.) The man says he left his 2010 black Nissan Altima, worth $15,000, at a gas pump off (and unlocked) to get a cup of coffee inside. When he returned, his car was gone. A witness told him that someone entered his car and fled northbound on 10th Ave. The car has a keyless ignition and the victim was in possession of his key fob at the time of the incident. In addition to his car being stolen, his LG Tablet, worth $350, and

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December 7, 2017


Photo by Tabia C. Robinson

Capt. Lanot with residents holding their “Senior Safe NYC� bags, after Nov. 30’s Community Council meeting.

his Nexar iPhone car mount, worth $200, were also in the car.

PETIT LARCENY: Condo no go Don’t wire money to people, no matter the situation. This unfortunate event happened to a 23-year-old woman on Sun., Oct. 15, at 8 a.m. The woman says she wired $600 to a male pretending to be the owner of the condo apartment she was expecting to sublet. When she went to meet him at the location (on the 200 block of W. 25th St.), she found that the apartment was currently occupied — and owned. She has not had further contact with the suspect.

LOST PROPERTY: Something is missing in life A fun night can turn into tragedy the next morning, when you realize that your wallet is missing. A 20-year-old woman remembers having her wallet in a yellow cab on Sat., Dec. 2, but when she woke up in her apartment (on the 200 block of W. 27th St.), she realized that her wallet was missing. She does not think that she is the victim of

a crime, she just feels that she lost her wallet. She had no credit cards in the wallet — just her driver’s license and her Social Security card.

LOST PROPERTY: The only crime was forgetfulness A 23-year-old woman lost her phone on Sat., Dec. 2, at 3:30 a.m. She realized she lost her phone when she arrived at her apartment on the 300 block of W. 19th St. She believes she may have left the phone in an Uber that she took home. She doesn’t think she is the victim of a crime. The 256-gigabyte iPhone X, is valued at $1,300.

LOST PROPERTY: Identity loss, not theft It’s very nerve-wracking to lose your student identification card, especially when you have to ay for it to be replaced. This happened to a 20-year-old student on Wed., Nov. 29, at 1 p.m. She states that she possibly dropped her card in front of the Apple Store at 401 W. 14th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). The ID is valued at $25. —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.

NYC Community Media



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December 7, 2017


PIER 40 continued from p. 6

commercial uses include party boats and a trapeze school.

PAST FAILED EFFORTS “Two efforts to redevelop the pier ended in failure,� the working group’s report notes, “largely because the community objected to the character and intensity of proposed commercial uses, which were primarily big-box retail and a vast entertainment complex. There were also strong objections to [the proposed] relegation of recreational open space to the rooftops of commercial buildings dominating the site. “Among factors driving the size and intensity of proposed development [plans for Pier 40],� the report notes, “has been the high cost of repairing thousands of steel piles that support the structure.�

AIR-RIGHTS DOLLARS However, the draft report states, redevelopment schemes for the pier, theoretically, need not be so ambitious anymore, after the park act was amended in 2013 to allow the Hudson River Park Trust — the park’s statecity governing authority — to sell the park’s unused development rights to construction sites across the highway. “The Hudson River Park Trust now has funds available to repair the piles, mostly obtained from the sale of development rights,� the CB2 group’s report notes. “Support for the use of park air rights in the adjacent area was based on the expectation that these funds would reduce the burden of development at Pier 40.� Indeed, CB2 and Councilmember Corey Johnson, among others, supported the redevelopment of the St. John’s Center site, just east of Pier 40,

Courtesy The Villager

A consultant’s rendering from 2012, showing rudimentary massing studies — a concept, not a plan per se — for how Pier 40 could have been redeveloped with residential housing, a hotel and sports fields. Where the housing, about 15 stories tall (equal in height to nearby Morton Square), would have been is depicted in yellow, the hotel in a darkish pink and the sports fields and open space in green. Spaces that would have been for the Hudson River Park Trust’s operations and offices are shown in dark purple and medium purple, respectively. Where parking would have gone is shown in gray, retail in red and where an indoor field might have gone is shown in blue. The plan never got far.

with a massive project of 1,600 residential units — including the sale of 200,000 square feet of air rights from Pier 40 to that project’s developers for $100 million.

TRUST TARGET: $12.5M The working group’s draft report notes the Trust hopes to continue getting 25 percent of the whole park’s expense budget from revenue from Pier 40, “which would eventually require increasing [annual] net revenue from a Pier 40 development project to $12.5 million.� That’s about double the revenue the pier currently provides for the park. Yet, in the working group’s view, the

MANTA SPA FOCUSING ON MAN TO MAN MASSAGE                                                        


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December 7, 2017

park authority should probably scale back its plans at Pier 40. “[The Trust] anticipates that it may take a $1 billion project to achieve this,� the report notes of the $12.5 million goal, “suggesting a level of commercial use that may not be feasible, given potential community opposition to a project of this scale, especially in the context of serious concerns about the advisability of building grand projects on piers as waters rise.�

IMPACT AND HEIGHTS Previous requests for proposals, or RFPs, for Pier 40 resulted in proposals with allowable uses — such as retail and entertainment — but were opposed by the community for being too “high impactâ€? on the pier and surrounding area. As a result, believing it would be a more low-impact use, the Trust is now pushing to amend the park act to allow commercial offices at Pier 40, the report notes. “But commercial offices were excluded as incompatible in the [original] act because of concern about tall buildings and privatization of use,â€? the report says. “Those concerns remain‌ .â€? Eighty-one percent of respondents to the working group’s e-survey said they were concerned about allowing tall buildings in the park. Forty-two percent said more open space at Pier

40 was essential or very important to them, even if it meant having taller buildings there. But 35 percent said it was essential or very important to them not to increase building heights in the park. Forty-three percent of survey respondents oppose allowing commercial office development at Pier 40 (although, due to another 2013 amendment to the park act, Google will have offices at Pier 57 in Chelsea).

LONGER LEASES According to the working group, the Trust also will be pushing to extend the length of the allowable lease at Pier 40, which would also require an amendment to the park legislation. Currently, leases at the W. Houston St. pier are limited to 30-year terms. The Trust is reportedly arguing that that length is “insufficient to support the required investment for office development,� and so the authority hopes to increase the lease lengths there up to 99 years. However, the working group warned that longer leases would increase the “possessory interest� of a developer over the pier while also possibly encouraging larger projects, since they would “enable higher levels of financing.� In short, according to the draft report, “The [e-mailed] survey showed PIER 40 continued on p. 20 NYC Community Media





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December 7, 2017

NYC Community Media

Dance Church: ‘Revelations’ Resonates Alvin Ailey company dazzles at City Center BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations,” 57 years on, is, well, still a revelation. Performed as part of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2017 season at New York City Center, the piece — created when the choreographer was just 29 — feels as fresh and as relevant as ever, and certainly got those in attendance up and clapping. A dance told in three acts, it begins with a circle of light that bathes the company — dressed in muted tones except for a female dancer in red — as they stretch their arms to the heavens, at times pleading with their hands clasped and thrust up. Other movements evoke birds opening their wings as the dancers bow their heads in what could be supplication. Adding to the sense of a religious revival, the performance this reviewer saw on the afternoon of Sat., Dec. 2, had live music and singing. In the second act, for one scene, dancers are resplendent in white, one carrying an umbrella, others flags, as they cross the river — ribbons of azure and dark blue that stream across the stage — while “Wade in the Water” is sung. Clifton Brown, who has been with the company since 1999, gave an affecting solo — at times, the crisp lines of the Horton technique on display — to the song “I Wanna Be Ready.” For the finale, a single female dancer, complete in yellow from her hat to her dress to her fan, steps on stage with a stool in front of the bright, hot sun against a red background. Soon, other church ladies and then the men, dressed in formal attire, join her as they dance to “Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.” The enthusiasm for the piece could be heard through a smattering of claps that grew louder as people stood for the company’s curtain call. “Revelations,” it is noted on the Ailey website (, “pays homage to and reflects the cultural heritage of the African-American, which Ailey considered one of America’s richest treasures — ‘sometimes sorrowful, sometimes jubilant, but always hopeful.’ ” It is said to stem from the NYC Community Media

Photo by Paul Kolnik

As danced by Akua Noni Parker and Jamar Roberts, Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain Pas de Deux” had quiet, compelling moments and captivating lifts.

choreographer’s church experience in Texas, and the works of James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, according to the website. If “Revelations” has stood the test of time, then the matinee’s first piece, “The Winter in Lisbon,” is like a photograph that is fading at its edges. The piece, from 1992 and choreographed by Billy Wilson, had moments that felt outdated — a male soloist drawing the outline of a woman’s body with his hands, a kiss that is thrown and then caught, and a male dancer burying his head into a female dancer’s chest. Nonetheless, the Ailey dancers excellently executed the moves, and Photo by Nan Melville

Created in 1960, Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” still resonates with audiences.

AILEY continued on p. 18 December 7, 2017


Classic and Contemporary, Repertorio Español Endures Spanish language theater makes the half-century mark

Photo by Michael Palma Mir

L to R: Zulema Clares, Maria Cotto and Soraya Padrao in “Valor, Agravio y Mujer.”

BY TRAV S.D. A half-century ago, New York City was exploding with the formation of dozens of new alternative theatre companies as part of a new movement that was being called “Off-Off Broadway.” Of those, a scant few survive to this day. One of the most robust of them has to be the groundbreaking Repertorio Español. Founded in 1968 by stage director René Buch and producer Gilberto Zaldívar (both Cuban Americans), Repertorio Español presents a rotating repertory of Spanish language theatre year-round — a mix that includes classics as well as contemporary Latin American playwrights and works by emerging Hispanic writers. Since 2005, the company has been run by the late Zaldivar’s partner, Robert Weber Federico. Thus far, the company has over 250 productions to its credit and has garnered a host of accolades including Obie, Drama Desk, ACE, HOLA, and ENCORE awards. Each year, the Repertorio presents a season of 15 productions totaling 300 performances to more than 40,000 patrons and 16,000 students. The company has premiered


December 7, 2017

Repertorio Español’s considers the fact that their E. 27th St. location is not “identified with any specific Latin community” to be a strength, as their programming serves “all of New York’s Spanish-speaking groups.”

several new works by contemporary playwrights, including Caridad Svich. The first staged reading of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” was at the Repertorio. The current season includes the US premiere of a 375-year-old-play by Ana Caro, “Valor, Agravio y Mujer” (“Courage, Betrayal, and a Woman Scorned”). Caro was one of a surprising number of female playwrights during the Spanish Theatre’s Golden Age (roughly 1590-1680). Only two of her works are known today, so this is an extremely rare chance to check out her work, which was very much ahead of its time (a time, after all, when women in Spain weren’t even allowed to be educated). “Valor, Agravio y Mujer” is a sober farce (if such a thing is possible) which turns the Don Juan legend on its head, making it a very timely, if little-known, classic to be producing in this day and age. Truly, it can be said that Repertorio Español has come a long way. Zaldivar’s first theatre company had been the Teatro Arlequin in Havana, but he REPERTORIO continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media


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

NYC Community Media

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.

December 7, 2017


AILEY continued from p. 15

the bright fuchsia, orange, violet and green costumes were a feast for the eyes. Christopher Wheeldon’s startling “After the Rain Pas de Deux,” from 2005, brought on oohs and aahs from the audience, who, like this reviewer, marveled at the duet, performed by Jacqueline Green and Yannick Lebrun. Green, dressed in a coral leotard, and Lebrun, wearing white, flowing pants, began the pas de deux side by side, moves in sync, before turning and engaging with each other in a way that felt authentic and brimming with chemistry, and showcased little moments such as when Green kicked Lebrun’s feet to propel him forward. The lifts wowed: Lebrun raised Green while she formed an “X” with arms and legs flung out and her feet pointed flat, and, in another, Green became like a prow on a boat, one of her legs on Lebrun’s thighs as he

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Robert Battle, the company’s artistic director, said his piece “Mass” was inspired by how choir singers “moved as a unit.”

elevated her in the air steadily. Lighting played an important role throughout each dance, highlighting moves and acting as a character. For

Robert Battle’s “Mass” from 2004, light and smoke poured down from above, reminiscent of a stained glass window and took the audience to church.

REPERTORIO continued from p. 16

fled Cuba for political reasons in 1961 after Fidel Castro came to power. In 1965 he became an associate producer with Stella Holt’s legendary Greenwich Mews Theatre, which was then making an attempt to include more people from minority communities. When Holt died in 1967, Zaldivar struck out on his own to realize his vision of creating a company in New York that spoke to New York’s growing Spanish-speaking audience. Buch, his partner in the enterprise, was a Yale Drama School alum. Federico joined in 1971. “I was designing a dinner theatre show in St. Petersburg, Florida when a mutual friend told me they [Zalvidar and Buch] needed a designer,” recalled Federico. “I started out doing set and costume design for them, then just got drawn in. I sorted mail for bulk mailings. I became an expert on third class postage! Then I got involved in grant writing and now I’m the administrator.” The company originally produced its works in a 13th St. house of worship that was jointly shared by the Village Presbyterian Church and the Brotherhood Synagogue. By 1972, sufficient funds had been raised to move into its present location — the 140seat Gramercy Arts Theatre at 138 E. 27th St. (btw. Lexington & Third Aves.). “The location is perfect for us,” Federico said. “It’s a good area, a safe area, close to transportation, but south


December 7, 2017

Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Robert Weber Federico started out doing set and costume design for Repertorio Español and now runs the company.

of the Midtown traffic. And it’s not identified with any specific Latin community. As we serve all of New York’s Spanish-speaking groups, that’s important for us.” According to Federico, the company’s mission of serving audiences of many nationalities and interests has resulted in its unique repertory method of producing. Once a near-universal practice in American theatre, it has become extremely rare for companies to keep several plays in rotation at the same time: “We used to do it the conventional way, one play for four to six weeks, but we quickly realized we’d lose part of our audience, the part that doesn’t want to see, say, a classical play,

or a play from Puerto Rico. A production needs time for word of mouth to develop. The repertory method keeps people in and you can satisfy more audience, and allows us not to spend a lot on publicity. This way, we can keep a play going for years. [Federico García Lorca’s] ‘La Casa de Barnarda Alba’ has been in rep here for years.” Carmen Rivera’s ‘La Gringa’ has been playing here for 22 years!” The company is also developing a new generation of audiences through its education initiative ¡DIGNIDAD! (dignity and self-esteem), which presents 100 performances each year at over 15 schools, along with in-school residencies, family workshops, and

Battle, who took over as artistic director of the company in July 2011, said in promotional materials the piece was inspired by a choral concert, and, indeed, from the lighting, music and long robes of dark brown, oranges, pinks and red festooned with crosses, it was as if a Caravaggio had been brought to life. Pounding their feet on their tiptoes, the dancers used their hands to form an incomplete circle — a movement repeated throughout the piece that had an arc with slow downs and quicker-paced moments. The piece was compelling — a study of discord and harmony. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be at New York City Center (131 W. 55th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) through Dec 31. Tickets start at $29. Visit for reservations, info on scheduled dance selections, and start times for specific performances (7:30pm or 8pm Tues. through Sun. and 2pm or 3pm matinees on Wed., Sat. & Sun.).

teacher training programs. Federico cited as a highlight of the past half-century, a US governmentsponsored tour of Latin America, which brought the company to 15 countries. “It was the first opportunity we had to be judged by audiences and critics strictly as theatre, and not as an exponent an ethnic subculture. It did a lot for our self-confidence going forward.” As for what’s changed over the decades, Federico mentioned several: “The demographics have changed a great deal. For example, the Dominican community was quite small when we started. Now they are a major group, maybe the largest. Our budget has changed. In the beginning it was around $15,000 for the season. Now it’s now up to $2.2. million. And there have been changes to our repertoire. In the ’80s there was much more demand among older people for zarzuelas (a particular kind of Spanish language musical theatre) and operettas. In recent years, demand for that kind of thing has dwindled. Now we commission and present more original material.” Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz is a playwright the company works with. They’ll be premiering his newest play — “Exquisita Agonía” beginning April 21, 2018. For more information, and their entire upcoming season, visit And if you don’t speak Spanish, not to worry. All shows are translated into English as individual simultext. NYC Community Media

What the World Needs ‘Now!’ Reverend Billy at Joe’s Pub is a tonic for our toxic times

Hey, Santa, what about this wish list? It’s full of 2017 must-haves for Reverend Billy and his flock.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER They made a list and checked it twice — but unlike the cattle stampede of shoppers who stormed retail stores, this vertical collection of musthaves was focused on how to give of oneself rather than take marching orders from Big Retail. That explains items #6 (“repurpose”) and 8 (“scavenge”), alongside reminders to “build community” and “exercise restraint.” With this altruistic challenge to Black Friday in mind, a white-suited preacher and his golden-throated flock spent November 24 hunkered down in the heart of Herald Square — where director Savitri D staged an anti-consumerism protest to unfold as if a bout of performance art truthtelling had suddenly overtaken NBC’s coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In a year where fresh slices of hell have been served daily by President Donald J. Trump, we thank heaven for Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir. Fresh from the front lines of street-level resistance and ensconced at Joe’s Pub for their annual December run, they fi ll that intimate room with the kind of tent revival energy that shoots through the crowd like an electric current of cosmic consciousness, until the space between performer and audience is as thin as the line between power and corruption. Preachy in the wonderfully pure, purpose-driven sense of the word, Reverend Billy prowls the stage with NYC Community Media

Photos courtesy

When Black Friday comes: Reverend Billy and members of the Stop Shopping Choir took their message to Macy’s shoppers on Nov. 24.

a new inspirational sermon befitting each week’s particular theme. Dec. 17’s show, for example, centers around young women and girls — with members of The Lower Eastside Girls Club chorus joining Billy’s spoton band and spirited, 25-member choir. Politically aware and morally sound, this is one Sunday service that will send you back into the big bad world determined to keep the faith — and pass it on — until the balance of power has been restored by the scales of Karmic justice (and voter turnout?). It’s a long arc, yes, but this communal exercise in basic decency makes you believe that lasting change is just around the bend. “NOW! NOW! NOW!” is presented Sundays through Dec. 17, 2pm, at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St., btw. Astor Pl. & E. Fourth St.). Tickets are $15. For reservations, visit or call 212-9677555. Get info on Church of Stop Shopping activities at December 7, 2017


what would likely be a years-long development project at Pier 40 does not significantly impact use of its sports fields or the boathouse, the report adds, noting that youth sports are an essential part of the area’s “quality of life.”

PIER 40 continued from p. 10

a continued high level of public concern about privatization.” The draft report lays out, not necessarily in order of importance, 21 “findings” about the future of Pier 40.


‘PUT PARK FIRST’ First, it states that any RFP that the Trust issues for the pier “must start with recognition that the income generation is secondary to protection and enhancement of park uses, as mandated in the park act.” Also, any change to the Hudson River Park Act to allow for commercial office use at Pier 40 “would need to be balanced by changes that maximize public open space and assure its public control.” In other words, “Areas of commercial use must be strictly defined to protect the park use and character from privatization,” the report states.

‘DON’T MAX OUT’ In a key point, the group’s draft report urges that not all of the pier’s existing unused development rights be used. Factoring in the 100,000 square feet of air rights that will be transferred to the St. John’s project, Pier 40 still has an additional 380,000 square feet of unused air rights left. As for the currently “used” air rights on the pier, its existing three-story “donut”-shaped pier-shed structure encloses roughly 760,000 square feet of space. “While some commercial office use may be compatible with the goals of the park,” the CB2 working group report states, “full use of the currently available development rights [at Pier 40] may not be ‘practicable’ because of incompatibility of the intensity of the use or the scale of required buildings. …[T]here is no law or regulation suggesting that the Trust will have full access to floor area currently allowed by zoning. … [T]he Trust should anticipate the likely need to reduce the total amount of commercial use in a park setting to win public support for zoning changes.”

ENSURE SAFE ACCESS The working group also feels that, if commercial uses are increased on Pier 40, a separate entrance for the increased commercial traffic must be created to keep pedestrians safe. “Safe access to and use of the park is more important than revenue from commercial use,” their report stresses.


December 7, 2017

File photo courtesy The Villager

Fear of heights doesn’t seem to affect these trapeze acrobats on Pier 40. But if plans for the pier’s redevelopment include taller buildings, it’s bound to produce anxiety — and opposition — in the surrounding community.

The report also notes that any future building at Pier 40 should be sited to protect the park and river from shadow impacts and, as required by the park act, provide view corridors from cross streets to the river. Currently, Pier 40 — like Chelsea Piers — does not provide any river view corridors, since its pier shed rings the whole structure.

ADD MORE FIELDS The draft report also advocates that even more space for playing fields be created at the W. Houston St. “sports pier,” noting the fields are used mostly by neighborhood families, schools and leagues. “The large size of Pier 40 offers a unique opportunity to increase the amount of space for sports fields serving all the large and growing communities adjacent to Hudson River Park,” the report states. “Substantially increasing space for fields is essential for the growing number of families with children in these neighborhoods and for nearby schools that lack sufficient sports facilities. If the [pier’s] current building is not retained, any redevelopment at Pier 40 should include substantial increase to the number of fields and also add opportunities for indoor recreation to respond to the growing unmet need for youth sports facilities.” The working group notes that more space for sports fields could also be identified further north in the park. “Gansevoort Peninsula [between Little W. 12th and Gansevoort Sts.] will be primarily for passive uses, but could still include fields for younger children,” the report adds. “Pier 76 [at

W. 36th St.] may be another opportunity to build fields within the park.”

DOG RUNS, TOO The report further recommends that Pier 40 “should support a mix of park uses,” including passive use, with river views, playgrounds, dog runs and more. But it stresses, “Because ball fields are too large to be located elsewhere and the boathouse depends on access to the protected cove created by the pier, these uses should be prioritized at Pier 40.”

PRESERVE PARKING In addition, monthly and hourly parking should be preserved at the Lower West Side pier, and parking has a strong constituency, the group says. “Because it has low value per square foot, parking consumes lots of space, but it is a relatively passive use, and its elimination may be disruptive and may generate opposition to a [development] proposal, and therefore needs to be carefully considered,” the report notes. Putting recreational and sports uses on the rooftop of a new development at Pier 40 needs careful consideration, due to the strong winds on the Hudson River; and measures to mitigate the wind would be needed, the report says. On the other hand, the rooftop would be a good spot to add indoor sports uses, the group says. (Currently, the pier’s main sports-field area is protected from the river’s strong winds since it is ringed by the pier-shed “doughnut.”) Efforts also should be made so that

As for potentially increasing the height of structures at Pier 40, the report cautions, “Taller buildings at Pier 40 will change the character of the Hudson River waterfront and may cast too many shadows on the park and the river. There are currently no buildings exceeding two stories on the west side of Route 9A [West Side Highway] north of Chambers St. … There is a long and consistent history of objection to extending the Manhattan height context to the river.” The report notes that, “paradoxically,” 73 percent of survey respondents want more open space [for recreational uses] at Pier 40, even if it results in taller buildings, while 62 percent of respondents think buildings should stay at the current height, even if it means no new open spaces. “In any case,” the report continues, “the determinant of building height should be based on the overall impact on the park and adjacent neighborhoods, not solely commercial considerations. “The response of neighbors to taller buildings is impossible to know outside the context of a specific proposal, but any increase to building heights will require a proposal with a high degree of sensitivity to the overall needs and concerns of the entire community.”

RFP NEXT YEAR As for a “specific proposal” for Pier 40, the Trust won’t issue an RFP until it knows how its effort to amend the park act in Albany turns out. The state Legislature doesn’t go back into session until January, so nothing will happen until after then. According to a source, the Trust would, thus, likely issue an RFP sometime between February and June. Finally, speaking of wind on the Hudson, and Mother Nature, in general, the CB2 working group’s draft report also says the design of Pier 40 “should prioritize green architecture and flood resiliency and if possible use wind and sun to generate power. One way to build green is to reuse,” the report notes, “so the Trust should not discourage proposals that retain parts of the existing [two-story pier-shed] structure while removing [other] parts to create openness to the river.” NYC Community Media

TENANTS continued from p. 3

Linda Rosenthal headlined the “Housing and Public Benefits for Seniors” workshop by noting that many seniors were unaware of the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) which allows seniors age 62 and over, who earn less than $50,000 a year and live in rentregulated apartments, to freeze their rent if it is taking more than 30 percent of their income. She reported that “In 2016, 77,000 senior households that qualified for SCRIE had not enrolled in the program.” Rosenthal set up clinics in her district office and passed legislation on the state level to raise awareness of the program. Now landlords are required to notify tenants once a year with their rent bill about the existence of SCRIE. When a senior tenant’s rent is frozen, the city provides the difference between what the rent legally can be and what the tenant has to pay, by giving the landlord a tax credit. The Assemblymember’s office can be contacted for information regarding SCRIE, either online via or by phone to her NYC District Office: 212-873-6368.

Photos by Eileen Stukane

Keynote speaker Afua Atta-Mensah inspired the Conference to heal “a fractured Housing Justice Movement” as HCC’s Jonathan Furlong looked on.

AND THE GOOD NEWS IS… Jonathan T. Furlong, Director of Organizing, HCC, reports that coming out of the workshops, “The burning question is: ‘We want to organize our building but don’t know how to do that.’ ” The workshop “Organizing 101” noted the new law signed in August 2017 that guarantees legal representation to low-income vulnerable tenants who face eviction, organize, and wind up in Housing Court. In addition to the new August law, in September, 12 Stand For Tenant Safety Coalition bills were passed by the NY City Council, bills that uncover landlord abuses, enforce existing policies, and protect tenants. Then in November, the City Council passed an expansion of the Certificate of No Harassment beyond the Clinton Special District. In order to sell a building, or acquire construction permits, landlords have to prove that they have not engaged in tenant harassment. The law flips the power to the tenants. The Tenant Movement is proceeding. New York State Senator Liz Krueger reminded attendees during a lunch break that activism should also spread to the NY State Legislature, which needs more Democrats, and reunification of its existing Democrats, and there is a 2018 election cycle coming up. “We need stronger laws to protect us from illegal NYC Community Media

Attendees stand to greet their neighbors and commit themselves to each other’s tenant struggle.

hoteling, to put a freeze on rent control or at a minimum, sane increases for rent control, rent stabilized apartments,” she said. “All of these could be done as free-standing bills, but you have to keep

telling us. Real people in the districts we represent are being harmed. Let us know. Don’t assume we do know,” Krueger advised. HCC’s Furlong summed up an impor-

tant aspect of the conference, one that every workshop seemed to touch upon: “No matter which neighborhood you live in, you have to be concerned about what’s happening all over.” December 7, 2017



December 7, 2017

NYC Community Media

FEDERAL STYLE continued from p. 2

the back.” Federal style homes have simple, flat facades, with ornamentation along the doorways. The brickwork of these buildings were laid using a Flemish bond, where the bricks are alternated stretcher (long side) and header (short side) in every row. Usually the bricks were painted red or grey, and the mortar lines were highlighted in white. Additionally, Federal style homes are modest, symmetrical, usually two rooms deep, and two to three stories high, with a steeply pitched roof. According to Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s website, 349 W. 19th St. just sold for $4,588,000. “Someone spent $4.5 million to buy it, but probably not to preserve it,” Bankoff said. “It’s really tragic and unnecessary,” Berman lamented. “It speaks to the fact that not nearly enough of Chelsea has the Landmark protections that it deserves. It’s also unfortunately a reflection of some owners, who are developers, who don’t realize what a precious and irreplaceable commodity these houses are. To destroy a nearly 200-year-old facade for a cheap-looking modern replacement is the height of foolishness.” Unfortunately, these buildings fall just outside the Chelsea Historic District’s boundary. The original district, which spanned from 10th Ave. to

RICK CARRIER continued from p. 5

pioneer in the film industry. At the time “Strangers” was created, Bowen recalled, American-made independent films didn’t reach a wide audience and were true labors of love. Carrier’s film certainly was a labor — and sometimes a bit dangerous. In a June 12, 2013 interview, Carrier told Bowen that he would just “grab the camera and go out. One I did on Seventh Ave. right on 56th Street, right near Central Park… I stood right in the middle of the street with the camera and I held my breath. Had a big red hat on, so everybody could see me.”

between Ninth and Eighth Aves. from W. 22nd St. to W. 20th St., was designated on Sept. 15, 1970. A extension was granted on Feb. 3, 1981, which included the other side of W. 22nd St., and parts of W. 23rd St. from 10th Ave. down to Eighth Ave. “At the time, the LPC was being very cautious,” Bankoff noted. “It was 47 years ago. They were doing things differently. For reasons I am unaware of, it didn’t fall into what they were considering. [These buildings] survived until the ridiculous pressures of the Manhattan real estate decided to sink its teeth into it.” State Senator Brad Hoylman said he believes the reason why these buildings weren’t previously protected may have had something to do with increased market value of the neighborhood. “I think there may have been some local opposition… I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some real estate interest or someone who didn’t want their building landmarked because it creates a limitation on what they can do with their property,” Hoylman said. “But the greater good is to save the character of Chelsea.” Zodet Negron, director of communications at LPC, said that the commission runs on surveys and through Request for Evaluation (RFE) forms from the public. “The LPC has not identified these buildings as potential landmarks or received any requests to evaluate

them,” Negron said. Save Chelsea was given a small grant from HDC to survey unprotected properties in the neighborhood, Bankoff noted. “I know that Save Chelsea is looking for proposing and advocating for the extension of the district,” Berman said. “Ideally, this is something that city’s LPC should be doing on their own. They should be doing this, but clearly that hasn’t happened. It really falls on the shoulders of community groups.” HDC board member John Jurayj agreed with Berman that since the LPC is somewhat dependent on locals self-reporting, through RFEs, only certain neighborhoods would benefit from protections. “It falls on who can scream the most, usually those who are the most privileged because they have time and energy to advocate,” he said. Negron said the LPC would consider district expansion. “If someone submits a Request for Evaluation,” she noted, “LPC will evaluate it and see if it merits further consideration.” Jurayj said he believes the LPC is more reactive rather than proactive in protecting buildings. “Why should it take a community to call attention to this block or other things?” he wondered. “[LPC] won’t move on anything without a RFE. [LPC] forces it to be something that is community driven. You want com-

munity support, but the fact that the community has to pay to do the work seems crazy, when they are the experts. Everyone else is not getting paid and they are.” Jesse Bodine, district manager of Community Board 4 (CB4), said they are working with the Department of Buildings (DOB) and Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office after concerned neighbors expressed safety concerns. “The neighbors of the building contacted us,” Bodine said. “Unfortunately, it is not in the Historic District, so it doesn’t have to go through LPC. We were contacted after all the very serious damage had been done to the party wall [on 347 W. 19th St.]. We met on site with residents and the DOB. We are having the DOB monitor the site.” The DOB issued a Stop Work Order on Nov. 28 for 347 to “stop all work immediately, make site safe.” On Sept. 10, the DOB issued a partial vacate to 349, due to “structural stability,” according to its website ( “These buildings are significant not because someone famous lived in or designed them — they are significant because when you see the old brick buildings you are visually transported into the era when people weren’t worried about Wi-Fi,” Bankoff said. “The tangible presence of human effort from 200 years ago imparts a certain feeling. Its removal is detrimental. You lose that feeling and sense of history.”

Carrier recorded all the music in his living room, in a single session. Additionally, he recorded hours of street noises from the window ledge of his Greenwich Village apartment, which he used as natural sound in the movie. “I had a 1952 Cadillac convertible and I took the back seat out and I mounted the camera on a tripod. Bolted it right to the floor so that it was in there good,” Carrier noted in the Bowen interview. “And then I got a friend to drive it and I would get in the back and do all the tracking shots. Had to let a good bit of air out the tires so it would absorb the bumps.”

In a July 17, 1962 New York Times review of the drama, A.H. Weiler took note of Carrier’s camera work. The writer, like Bowen, compared the film to a documentary. “Mr. Carrier has caught, however, some stark scenes that reflect the values of the documentary approach,” Weiler wrote. “His rubble-strewn lots of Harlem, his views of crowded streets with a Negro obtaining tinkling music from a set of glasses, hawkers shouting their wares, vistas of a deserted Coney Island in winter and the chase after a rat in the Alvarez apartment are glints of reality that stay in the mind’s eye.”

Carrier is one of many early directors who set the foundation of independent New York City films, Bowen said, opening the door for directors like Martin Scorsese, Abel Ferrara, and Spike Lee. “Hollywood films rarely ever show you the real world,” Bowen noted. “But New York indie films depended on the real world.” Carrier’s film will be shown Tues., Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m. at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Ave. at E. Second St.). Tickets are $11 general admission and $9 for students and seniors. Runtime: 83 minutes. For reservations and more info, visit

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