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INSIDE: Pier pressure as Seaport — Ferry fury in BPC

Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 30, NUMBER 23

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Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 30, NUMBER 23

DEC. 14 – DEC. 27, 2017

Downtown Christmas The New York Stock Exchange lights up its Christmas tree for the 94th time Photo by Joseph M. Calisi

The New York Stock Exchange celebrated its 94th-annual Christmas tree lighting on Nov. 30, with an event featuring carols, the Radio City Rockettes and, of course, Santa Claus.

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Pier pressure Locals pound Seaport developer at town hall meeting on Pier 17 plans BY REBECCA FIORE Seaport area residents packed the community room at Southbridge Towers on Dec. 4 to give reps from Howard Hughes Corporation an earful about the developer’s Pier 17 project at a meeting convened by Community Board 1. Beyond worries about noise, congestion and crowd control problems from the events that HHC is now planning host on the building’s roof, locals’ biggest complaint is how the Pier 17 rooftop became a 4,000-seat concert venue in the first place. “For a lot of us, what is most disturbing is the pattern here of escalation of a project that started off as a moderate use of a rooftop with no canopy. It was sold [to us] that way. Then it has, when no one is looking, morphed constantly into something bigger. Now it’s an entertainment center on steroids,” said Caroline Miller. Many said the Pier 17 project has followed a pattern with the developer

of seeking approval for smaller plans but then methodically expanding them though a succession of tweaks into wildly different designs. “As the plans keep changing I kind of feel like we are boiling frogs,” said Stacey Shub. Michael Kramer of the local preservation group Save Our Seaport accused HHC of changing its promises of public access to the rooftop. “Community Board 1 was told that there would be 40,000 square feet of public access on the rooftop,” he said. “Now we learn that there will only be a public corridor around the indoor restaurant patios totaling 10,000 square feet.” But Saul Scherl, an executive vice president at HHC, pushed back hard against that assertion. “It’s just not true,” he told the skeptical crowd. “Nothing has changed in terms of public space. The public space is still public space. Our plan is for

Photo by Rebecca Fiore

A full house of concerned locals came out to Southbridge Towers to air their grievances on Howard Hughes Corp’s Pier 17 project on Dec. 4.

whenever it’s not being used, it’s open to the public — the whole rooftop. That being said, there will be times when it will be closed,” he said. When pressed, however, Scherl couldn’t say how much of the time HHC expected to be using the rooftop for private events, which are expected to include concerts, fashion shows, corporate events, and even tennis matches. He also conceded that even as construction on Pier 17 nears completion, HHC’s plans for the project are still not final. Security was another major concern at the Southbridge Towers meeting,

since the thousands of concertgoers will inevitably end up crossing through the complex to get to the pier. Scherl said that the developer was working with several security companies and consultants on public safety for the pier, but locals said a security plan focused solely on Pier 17 wouldn’t address the larger issues the community has already seen with previous concerts HHC has hosted at the Seaport. “I’m glad you have a great security company,” said John Fratta. “But that PIER 17 Continued on page 19

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FERRY FURY Locals blast NY Waterway over noisy boats at BPC ferry terminal

BY COLIN MIXSON After an outcry from people living near the Battery Park City ferry terminal, NY Waterway promised last week to pull four of its loudest ships from service — but locals say the ferry operator is already backsliding. An armada of disgruntled locals living along River Terrace unleashed a salvo of quality-of-life complaints on ferry terminal manager Donald Liloia at a Dec. 5 meeting of Community Board 1’s BPC Committee, saying that the four ear-splitting ships — Fiorello Laguardia, Yogi Berra, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln — are rattling windows and keeping kids awake. “When it starts to effect families is when it becomes a passionate issue,� said River Terrace resident Ryan Stroker. None of the ferry service’s fleet of

passenger ships is particularly quiet, but two of those problem boats — the ones named after dead presidents — are well known for kicking up a din that locals can actually feel it vibrating through their floorboards, according to River Terrace resident Betty Kay. “Two of those four boats send vibrations that some people complain about feeling in their apartments,� Kay said. NY Waterway — the operator of the ferry terminal, which is the only one located nearby a residential community — has known about the issue for years, and even pulled those four ferries from service after locals made a similar fuss in 2014, according to Liloia. “A couple years ago we agreed to some operating changes that fell by the wayside,� Liloia said. All four ships made an uncer-

Associated Press / Mary Altaffer

Battery Park City residents want to keel haul managers at NY Waterway over noisy boat engines at the local ferry terminal.

emonious return after NY Waterway’s partner, the Billybey Ferry Company, sold its stake in the ferry service in 2016, and NY Waterway decided to bring the problem ships back to the BPC port after other ferries were sold

and new routes were added, Liloia said. “What happened with the Billybey sale is some equipment was sold, the FERRY Continued on page 12

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BY JANEL BL ADOW Can’t believe yet another year is rolling to a close. It’s been an eventful one around our ’hood. It’s amazing how such a compact community can generate so much great (and some debatable) news. GOODNESS, GRACIOUS, GREAT BALLS OF LIGHT… Great night out last Tuesday (Dec. 5) when thousands descended on Fulton Street to kick off the Seaport Christmas season. Howard Hughes Corp. threw a grand party with music, DJs, and massive disks of colored lights twisting down the cobblestones. The lozengeshaped structures, a couple as big as nine-feet high, are internally lit with warm light and react to sound. People stood alongside, creating life-size silhouettes. It was a festive and wonderful night, despite the drizzle. I spent the rest of the week walking around the streets and Pier 17 to see if the holiday cheer continued. A couple of the structures were unlit a few nights. Some people lingered and took photos. Out on the dock, the 30-foot Christmas tree looked majestic and glowing — if a bit lone-

some. The lights on the ships Ambrose and Wavertree were luminous. But at dusk, in the windy cold, few people wandered around. I posted my photos on Facebook, and a photographer friend wrote “It looks lonely” about the tree. It did feel that way. My definitely unscientific survey of people hanging around concluded that most people, visitors and locals alike, want the tree back by the Titanic Lighthouse near Water Street where it stood for 30 Christmases as a beacon of holiday cheer and spirit. (Let me know what you think.) HOLIDAY EATS AND PARTIES… If you plan to celebrate the holiday season or go out New Year’s Eve, why not keep the party happening in the neighborhood? There are plenty of nice restaurants for an elegant or casual dinner — think Acqua, Suteishi Sushi, The Paris Cafe, and up the hill on Ann Street, DaClaudio. For a fun night of crazy, check out Cowgirl Seahorse, Jeremy’s Ale House, Fish Market, or Clinton Hall. Or for a mix of the two? How about Kiwi Cuba (formerly Nelson Blue), Salt, V Bar or Il Brigante? Perhaps a hush-hush intimate night out?

Photo by Janel Bladow

Seaport developer Howard Hughes Corp. threw a big party on Dec. 5 to celebrate the opening of “Sea of Light,” an interactive art exhibit created by Alexander Green and Symmetry Labs.

Then quietly pop into The Tuck Room or Mr. Cannon. FLICKS PICKS… Winter is a great time to go to a movie. Get out of the chill. Have a few laughs. Share some romance. Scare yourself silly. Whatever your genre of choice. I decided it was time to check out the iPic Theater on Fulton Street again. I haven’t been in several months. I really enjoy the place, even if it is pricey ($16 a ticket) and if

Photo by Janel Bladow

The Seaport Christmas tree in exile, by the docks in front the festively lit Pier 17 building.

6

Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

you go for the pod seats, snacks and drinks, fuggetaboutit. A few times I’ve looked for films I wanted to see and tickets were sold out. But it looks like Wednesday is a good night to find a seat. I went through their listings for this week with Wednesday as my starting point, and the prime time screening. At press time, five people were going to the 8 pm showing of “A Bad Moms Christmas” and 10 were ticketed for the 7 pm “Coco” show. Seven folks are seeing “Wonder,” four people for ‘Murder on the Orient Express,” and one lonely patron seeing “Daddy’s Home 2.” No one was going to “Ragnarok.” To be fair, I went ahead, checking the rest of the week. Thursday through Monday (as far as their web page goes) iPic is showing only one film in all of its theaters: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” And many of the showings those five nights, at $20 a pop, are already nearly sold out. So if you want to see a flick this weekend, it better be “Star Wars,” or you’ll have to head west or uptown. WONDERFUL WEDDING WISHES… This is the beginning of the fairytale story of a couple who met one night in the Seaport and fell in love. When they traveled halfway around the world to be married, about a dozen neighborhood friends hopped planes, trains, boats and Ubers to share their happiness. Divya Aswani and Shawn Ware were in Fish Market on South Street one night when the pub’s owner Jeff Lim wisely thought to introduce them. The rest is, as they say, history. Congrats to Divya and Shawn. Hopefully we’ll have photos and details for the January Report. Enjoy your holidays and Happy New Year! DowntownExpress.com


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TOOL TIME Some crook stole tools from a Liberty Street work site on Nov. 30. A construction worker told police he stashed the company’s tools in a locked shed at the building project between Nassau and William streets at 2:30 pm, and returned to discover a thief had opened the padlock and nabbed more than $2,000 worth of equipment, including several line lasers and three impact guns.

edly stealing an Exchange Place pizza joint’s delivery bike on Nov. 22. The pizza guy told police that the delivery bike was left outside the eatery between Broad and William streets at 12:30 am, when the suspect hopped on and rode off. Surveillance cameras at the restaurant caught the whole thing, and the owner spotted the suspect walk past the pie joint a week later, and cops busted him nearby.

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Three thieves stole a woman’s purse off her shoulder in front of her Greenwich Street apartment building on Dec. 3. The victim told police the pursesnatchers followed her topside after departing an E Train at Chambers Street at around 1 am, and the trio followed her to the front door of her apartment building between 310 Greenwich Street, when one of them pounced and the three ran off with her bag.

Police arrested an alleged pursesnatcher thanks to the help of not one, but two good Samaritans, who thwarted the Maiden Lane robbery and then detained the suspect on Nov. 29. The victim told police she was outside her building between Pearl and William streets at 10:25 pm, when the suspect grabbed her from behind and tried to make off with her bag. But the woman was in luck and the crook fled empty handed after a nearby witness intervened. And the suspect was out of luck, because he was stopped by another man, who held him until police arrived, cops said.

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Some creep cut open a sleeping straphanger’s pocket to get at his cash aboard a 1 train near Whitehall Street on Nov. 28. The victim told police he dozed off aboard the Downtown-bound 1 train shortly after midnight, but awoke at the Whitehall station near South Street with his pocket cut open and $120 missing.

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PREPPY PERPS Six thieves stole more than $2,000 worth of preppy Lacoste shirts and jackets from a Broadway retailer on Dec. 3. An employee told police he was working inside the store between Spring and Prince streets at 5:08 pm, when the crooks invaded the store and stole 10 articles of prep fashion, before fleeing. — Colin Mixson

CHRISTMAS EVE | SUNDAY, DEC 24TH 5:00 pm — Christmas Pageant & Eucharist 9:30 pm — Prelude of Christmas Music 10:00 pm — Festive Choral Eucharist

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E D ITO R IAL

Facing down the fear factor PUBLISHER PUBLISHER

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BY LENORE SKENAZY Until the advent of photography, every time you witnessed something scary, it was in your neighborhood. A tiger sighting? Better watch out. Guy with a spear? Avoid. Your cousin dropped dead after eating a mushroom? Let’s not put those in the salad. But today, explained Margee Kerr, author of “Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear,” we are bombarded by images of scary things that are absolutely not immediate threats. And yet, we keep reacting as if they are, because that see it–flee it wiring worked well for 99.99 percent of human history. Never mind that New York City is on target to have the lowest murder rate in its history. Kerr was speaking at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, a guest of its senior citizen lecture series. She began by explaining that fear is not just in our brains, in every fiber of our bodies. When startled, for instance, our blood pumps faster. Sugar is converted to energy so we can be quick and strong. We sweat. We breathe faster. Our pupils dilate, perhaps to hyper-focus on the threat. Endorphins are released so that even if we are hurt — a broken ankle, a bullet through the arm — we can temporarily ignore the pain and keep going. Our bodies prepare us for battle. Which is great, if we actually are about to battle. It’s less great when the nightly news just wants to keep us tuned in through a commercial, so it teases: “Up next: The deadly threat to your children that is in your home!” “Our media are filled with images and words that incite feelings of fear and anger, which motivate action,” Kerr explained. Companies incite fear so they

can sell us everything from alarm systems to apps that track our kids. And politicians incite fear so they can promise to keep us safe if elected. It doesn’t matter whether the dangers are real or so remote as to be ridiculous: Fear sells. What’s new is the immediacy with which it infiltrates our lives, and the effect it is having on people, especially parents. “When the Newtown school shooting happened,” Kerr told the audience, “I was in a meeting. Everyone was getting alerts on their phones. And for the rest of the day, we were all just paying attention to this thing that was happening hundreds of miles away that we had no control over, and no connection to.” In an earlier era, the news from several states away would have arrived days later in a newspaper story, or even weeks later, when a traveler came to town. The immediacy brought to us by the media (I’d never realized how closely linked those words are) creates a more constantly outraged public. A shooting here, a bombing there — as these flood in, the literally hyperventilating public demands that more be done. That’s why, even though the Sandy Hook school where the mass shooting occurred had a buzz-in door system in place, schools around the country immediately started making it harder for people to enter — some by adding buzzin systems. Fear and empathy forced them to “do something,” no matter how pointless that “something” was.

Similarly, when you can go on Facebook and see stories of moms who felt their kids were “almost” snatched from the aisles of Ikea, or videos reenacting how easy it could be to lure a child from the park, there’s your bloodpumping, heart-thumping reaction again. Doesn’t matter that those weren’t actual abductions. Your body sends a message to your brain and the message is always “Watch your children even more closely than you’ve been doing.” The problem is that our fears are wildly out of proportion with the danger at hand — because it’s really not at hand, it’s usually far away, or even fictional. Yet that, coupled with the fact we now have the technology to almost constantly watch our kids via baby monitor, smart phone, and even online school grades, makes it almost impossible not to worry and watch All. The. Time. “You have the ability to monitor your child 24-7,” said Kerr. “So now, because you have that choice, if you choose not to do it and something bad happens, it’s all your fault.” That is the reason parents today are “helicoptering.” Unlike our own parents, who could not see where and what we were doing at any given time, today’s parents can. So choosing not to becomes a deliberate choice: “I trust my unsupervised kid in the world.” That’s a hard thing for parents to do, since now if something “bad” happens they will be accused of insufficient hovering: “Why weren’t you watching?” Photography brought us a new level of fear. Technology is bringing us a new level of blame. The upshot is parents worrying and watching all the time. Lenore Skenazy is author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?”

Posted To BALLED OUT: SEAPORT CHRISTMAS TREE MOVING TO PIER 17 TO MAKE ROOM FOR ORBS OF COLORED LIGHTS (DEC. 7) Thirty years it’s been there, and now a bunch of lit balls take over? Looks like sewer intestines protruding through the street. Put the tree by the FDR where its full view is obstructed and in a place not populated by passersby? Oh, brother! Genius (bonehead) move, folks! Richy Ram

Thank you Howard Hughes for riding in from Texas and making grand decisions about our community in New York without understanding the community at all! The residents of South Street Seaport will take every action to return the tree back where it belongs! Arthur McMurray What a grand disappointment! What are those ridiculous glowing Easter eggs coming out of the historic cobblestones at the Seaport? The poor tree. Looks like it shrunk. What happened to the tree ceremo-

ny on Tuesday night? We arrived at 6, thinking we were late, but told by the lonely holiday vendor nearby that the Tree Ceremony was running late. Who knew how late! We decided to check out the music. Live singer. That part is good, but when will people realize that music with a heavy bass is hardly music and for blocks away, all anyone feels is a pounding. Please bring the tree back to the water street entrance! There is still time! Get rid of those ridiculous Easter eggs! Janet DowntownExpress.com


Happy Holidays From The Moral High Ground BY MAX BURBANK At this festive time of year, I find myself wondering just how certain major power players square their moral values with the widely accepted standards embodied in the Christmas classics. Does Mitch McConnell figure Mr. Potter’s big mistake in “It’s a Wonderful Life” was not running for Senate and using raw legislative power to crush George Bailey under his boot like a Socialist roach? Does Paul Ryan role-play King Moonracer from the Rankin/Bass version of “Rudolph,” establishing an Ayn Randian objectivist paradise on the Island of Misfit Toys, furtively pleasuring himself while imagining stripping Charlie in-the-Box and Spotted Elephant of Obamacare? When the specter of Richard Nixon is standing right behind Trump, doing his best Marley’s Ghost imitation by rattling the chains he forged in life and moaning about how all mankind should have been his business, Trump is all, like, “Where the hell is my Diet Coke? I hadda push the button twice!” “No, NO!” Nixon wails. “I’m Marley. You’re Scrooge! Metaphorically! Don’t you get it?” “Not me,” says Trump. “Scrooge might have been rich, but he didn’t live rich. I got my own courses to play golf on every weekend. I get two, maybe three scoops of ice cream on the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen in a restaurant with my name in big letters on the door! I don’t need a change of heart.” It has got be downright hard to be a Republican at Christmas. It must require a mental à la carte menu featuring choice helpings of cognitive dissonance, mental compartmentalization, deep-seated selfishness, evil, and side dish of good old American “I don’t give a crap.” That well-known bastion of liberal pearl-clutchers, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, recently suggested there was only one way Trump and the Republican Party could reclaim that shiniest of all Christmas stars, the moral high ground: “Disown” their sexual harassers, as the Democrats are in the process of doing. I have a sack full of epithets for the Wall Street Journal, but “charmingly naive” is a new one. DowntownExpress.com

How do you “disown” a few congressmembers, but not the Harasserin-Chief? And are they suggesting

that a refusal to admit an institutional penchant for sexual abuse is the only morality problem they have? That’s adorable! Do they have some evidence I’m unaware of that “the moral high ground” is still even an operable concept for the Republican Party? The party currently “too busy” to even hold a hearing about renewing CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), the bipartisan safety net that provides health insurance to over nine million low-income children and pregnant women? The

party whose leader took a moment out a ceremony honoring World War II Navajo code talkers to remind them he enjoys calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas?” Meanwhile, Trump’s personal lawyer, desiccated-pig’s-head-on-a-stick-god-

Illustration by Max Burbank

from-“Lord of the Flies”-impersonator John Dowd recently stated the president, in his role as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, literally cannot obstruct justice. If this line of reasoning seems somewhat familiar, it might be because it’s one of the aforementioned Richard Nixon’s greatest hits. Remember him? Our proud nation’s 37th president? A very moral gentleman who was forced to resign his office before being impeached for,

among other things, obstruction of justice? This arguable interpretation of the president’s constitutional powers might seem somewhat shaky (owing to the fact it’s in every way wrong), but no lesser a legal light than Alan Dershowitz has endorsed it. You might remember him as the stalwart defender of the rule of law who successfully defended Claus Von Bülow (who almost certainly murdered his wife), and being a part of the legal “dream team” that successfully defended O.J. Simpson (who also almost certainly murdered his… you know what, screw it, they TOTALLY murdered their wives; I can say that, this is an opinion column, and also everyone knows it.) So kudos, I guess, to the Republican Party for locking down the WIFE MURDERER vote in the finer neighborhoods of Moral High Ground Hills! It’s not that the idea of the president being incapable of obstructing justice places Trump entirely above the law, it’s that the argument makes the entire question irrelevant. Let’s extrapolate, and indulge Trump’s favorite fantasy, where he stands in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody. No one would argue that he wasn’t guilty of murder, right? So he’s not above the law. But, according to his lawyers, he would have the constitutional authority to prevent any law enforcement agency from investigating the crime, arresting him, or bringing him to trial! There’s an essential trick to making this argument work, requiring one of two things: Either you are a tremendously bad lawyer (any of Trump’s lawyers) or you are a human-shaped, leather sack of amoral weasel bile stuffed into a lawyer suit (Dershowitz). You have to ask: What is the moral high ground worth if it’s at the top of a mound of scorched earth? I wish we could all just remember this is the season of hope, and that an omnipotent, loving being watches over us at all times. So you better watch out. ’Cause he’s got two lists. He knows if you’ve been bad or good. It’s no accident that in the last election, one of the candidates said they were bringing back coal in a big way. Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

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FERRY Continued from page 4

Dates: Thurs., Dec. 14–Wed., Dec. 20

ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES IN EFFECT ALL WEEK ‘Tis the season for Gridlock and there’s no escaping the traffic congestion in Lower Manhattan. We’ve got three Gridlock Alert days in the next week including this Thursday, Friday and next Wednesday. Walk or take the subway whenever you can. The biggest problem areas in Lower Manhattan are, of course, by the Holland Tunnel, especially Canal, Varick, Broome and Hudson Sts. followed by the Canal approach to the Manhattan Bridge and Delancey Street by the Williamsburg Bridge. Park Row and Chambers streets will also see lots of action by the Brooklyn Bridge. The Wall St. area will be tougher to get around for pedestrians as well as cars Thursday night as Bill Clinton and Jon Bon Jovi will help Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrate his 60th birthday at a fundraiser at Cipriani Wall Street. It’ll start getting busier on Wall between William and Hanover Sts. around 5:30 p.m. Protesters will set up outside, adding to the conges-

tion. One small relief for Wall is that the weekly impeach Trump rally, which is usually at Federal Hall Thursday nights, is in Midtown this week. The Downtown subway changes this weekend include closures of the Wall St. and Park Pl. 2,3 stations. Also, the 3 isn’t running below 14th St., and the 2 is local between South Ferry and Penn Station. The uptown C will run express from Canal St. to 145th St., skipping Spring St. among others. The J is not running between Broad and Essex Sts. The R is not running between Whitehall and 59th Sts. N trains will run on the Q line between Canal and Dekalb, and local between DeKalb and 59th. With the Giants facing off with the Eagles this weekend, you can expect some turbulence as fans head to MetLife through the Holland Tunnel for a 1 p.m. start time. One tube of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel will be closed all weekend from Friday 8:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Monday. Weeknights, the tube will close at the same time, but will reopen each morning at 5:30 a.m.

fleet size diminished, and additional services opened up,” he said. “Sometimes when you take a boat out of service, you have to put a boat on a route it might not normally do.” But locals didn’t schlep out to the Downtown community meeting just to protest the four ships’ noisy engines. Residents also complained that ferry captains like to toot their horns excessively when coming in and out of dock. “Some captains just crush it,” Stroker said. “They lay on the horn and are incredibly unaware.” Liloia promised to relocate the four boats to appease residents, but he said that the horn-blowing is mandated by Uncle Sam. Ferry captains have been required by the U.S. Coast Guard to honk their horns near port ever since Hudson River kayakers complained the ferry ships were too quiet, according to the ferry manager. “Because we weren’t sounding the horns, kayakers were complaining to the Coast Guard,” Liloia said. “If the captains don’t do it, they risk losing their license.” Liloia conceded that some captains are heavier on the horn than others, and said that he would have a chat

with his shipmasters to encourage a lighter touch in the future. Residents had other demands, not least that the terminal itself should be moved further north away from housing. But Liloia, who doesn’t represent the port’s owner, the Port Authority, nonetheless put the kibosh on that idea, saying he didn’t think the 30-year-old, multi-million-dollar ferry terminal would be moving anytime soon. “It’s not my terminal,” he said, “but that’s not realistic.” This wasn’t the first time locals have dragged the NY Wateway manager before the community board, and it’s unlikely to be the last, according to Liloia, who said incoming residents eventually want to vent about the ferry service. “Every time a new wave of people move in, I’m back in front of the community board,” he said. “But it’s good. Sometimes we need to be reminded of what our commitments are.” They may need another refresher already. River Terrace resident Jay Han said that on Dec. 12 — exactly a week after Liloia promised to pull the four boisterous boats — one of the loudest, George Washington, resumed making trips to the BPC terminal, starting at 7 am, every 20 minutes.

DOWN  

downiswhatsup.nyc #downiswhatsup 12

Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

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Comics of ‘The Mosquito’ Fly in the Face of Convention Nancy Giles and friends fill Dixon Place lounge with laughter BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Finally, there is a mosquito you will not want to squash, but rather attend. “The Mosquito,” a variety show hosted by Nancy Giles at Dixon Place, is the antidote to Monday doldrums with its offering of laugh-out-loud-worthy comedic songs and stories. Where else can one find takes on Nazis, erasers and stink bugs, a meditation on buying moisturizer at Sephora, and a “come to Jesus moment,” as Giles put it, about the flood of sexual harassment allegations? The show this reporter went to was the same day that the story broke regarding Charlie Rose. Giles, an actress, commentator, and longtime contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning, gathered the other performers for the evening — Michael Huston, Cynthia Kaplan and Susan Burns — to discuss the accusations against Louis C.K., Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, and Rose.

“I was obviously reading the article [about Rose]… another guy walking around in a robe,” Kaplan said, who then said her husband should never wear a hotel robe. Giles chimed in that the “Grand Poobah is a predator,” referring to our current president. “We’re living in troubled times,” Giles said, adding, “Bill Clinton, you are not off the hook.” Then, at the end, she quipped, “Clearly I was grasping at a monologue.” The show takes place monthly, Monday nights, in the lounge at Dixon Place — an intimate space whose smattering of tables and chairs were filled that Nov. 20 night, with a few people also seated at the bar. Giles started off by introducing the show’s “house band” and the “nicest musician I’ve ever met,” Carmen Borgia. Borgia played the ukulele, and Giles snapped along to his song about his baby writing him a letter, “a letter not an

email, not a tweet, [an expletive] letter.” Some in the audience clapped along and hit their knees to the rhythm. First up was Huston, who is also half of the sketch comedy duo Babes in the Woods. “This just happened. This was fun,” she began. Who knew there could be such trials and tribulations to get a specific moisturizer? Step by step, Huston takes the audience along with her as she attempts, twice, to buy something at Sephora that will not wash her out, with a saleswoman who, she says, “drags me over like a seeing eye dog” to the mirror. Finally, she achieves success at a CVS that has the product she has been searching for. “What a hellish couple of weeks,” she deadpans, ending the story. Before the next performer, Giles talked about being on the TV show “China Beach” in the late 1980s. The show, set during the Vietnam War, had the makeup artists spritz the actors before

filming. While the white actors looked good, she said, giving them a bit of color, Giles and another black actor looked like runaway slaves. Giles said some would say that bit is racist or bigoted. “But I lived it,” she noted, “so screw you.” There is an ongoing debate about whether there are topics that are taboo for comics — subjects that aren’t, or can’t, be funny. Kaplan, an essayist, musician, and comedian, belies that idea. Getting onstage, Kaplan introduced herself and her band, The Cynthia Kaplan Ordeal. (She was the only one onstage.) Her first song was “You’re the Nazi,” telling the audience, “…and, Jesus, I hope you like it.” Kaplan noted that if she hit a wrong chord, she was being ironic. The song listed good things that Nazis, such as Heinrich Himmler, did. THE MOSQUITO continued on p. 16

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

L to R: Cynthia Kaplan, Michael Huston, Nancy Giles and Susan Burns had an impromptu discussion about sexual harassment allegations. “House band” musician Carmen Borgia stands to the side.

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Photos by R. Patrick Alberty

L to R: Radiotheatre’s Frank Zilinyi, Caitlin Boyle, R. Patrick Alberty, Alejandro Cardozo, Annemarie Hagenaars and Sarah Walker.

No Kitschy Shtick for Hitchcock Radio Plays Festival founder says they’ll stick to solid storytelling BY TRAV S.D. Sometimes, the drive into the future involves a glance into the rearview mirror. For the past 14 years, Dan Bianchi, artistic director of Radiotheatre, has been presenting theatrical productions that mix state-of-the-art audio technology and one of the oldest art forms in the world: aural storytelling. Complex electronic sound design, which interweaves original musical scores and sound effects, supports live actors who read scripts that are designed to be listened to not as a nostalgic nod to the old time radio of the 1940s, but merely as an effective means of engaging an audience in imaginative narratives. Usually, Bianchi’s bailiwick is horror and science fiction. He’s presented adaptations of works by Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells, and has staged, five times, a version of the 1933 RKO classic “King Kong.” On Dec. 19 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, he unveils his latest: several adaptations of famous suspense films directed by DowntownExpress.com

The Alfred Hitchcock Festival’s namesake looms large behind Dan Bianchi, artistic director of Radiotheatre.

Alfred Hitchcock. Bianchi is a longtime Off-Off Broadway veteran, having done his first shows in New York as early as 1971. He’s won the Beckett Prize (twice) and even gotten to work with the man himself, Samuel Beckett, at the Sorbonne. In the ’80s, with his troupe the Threepenny Theatre Company, he produced an award-winning musical about grave robbers Burke and Hare, and put on an epic spook show called “Shock Theatre” that attracted the attention of Broadway producers. But over time, conditions altered. “I used to produce large-scale shows with elaborate sets back in the ’80s,” said Bianchi, “but the economy got outrageous, and rents went up. Producers started doing shows that consisted of two people sitting around having conversations at a kitchen table or on a park bench. But I didn’t want to do that. I grew up with movies and have a background as a screenwriter. I see and think in cinematic terms: a raging river,

an intergalactic war. A radio format allows me to do that.” From the late 1920s through the late 1940s (roughly the two decades that preceded the advent of television), radio, including radio drama, was the reigning mode of home entertainment. Scripted radio shows were broadcast live from network studios, with actors reading their lines directly from scripts into microphones. In more recent decades, contemporary theatre groups have sometimes done campy recreations of the classic “Golden Age” radio productions, but according to Bianchi, his company has another approach. “We’re not into the old-time radio shtick,” said Bianchi. “I’m uninterested in creating a museum piece of the 1940s with period outfits and hairdos. In those kinds of presentations the star is usually the foley [sound effects] artist, and it usually creates a comedic effect. With the kind of suspenseful, horrific content HITCHCOCK FESTIVAL continued on p. 16 Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

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alone breaks ranks and orders fish,” according to the new book. Burns was able to swerve from the steak-fish tragedy to Charles Manson to how, the night after Trump’s election, a neighbor called the police on her. Frustration with the election flowed into frustration over not being able to watch “Jeopardy!” that turned into yelling. The police came to her door, but, no, Burns was not arrested. Burns, Kaplan and Huston have all known Giles for decades, they told this reporter after the show. All, includ-

ing Borgia, had high praise for Dixon Place and its founder Ellie Covan — Kaplan calling her “a great champion of Downtown theater,” with Huston saying she feels she can “try anything” artistically at the theater, which is “really innovative and cool.” Giles said, “I met Ellie for the first time, golly Moses, I think it was 31 years ago, so like 1986. She had a little apartment on First Ave. and First Street. And she did like this salon-type thing and invited people to perform.” But the venue didn’t have the right

type of permit or licensing so, “If it looked like the cops were coming or there was going to be any trouble, the show that was going on would stop, and everyone would start singing, ‘Happy Birthday To You,’ to pretend it was a party, which I loved,” Giles recalled. Dixon Place moved to a spot on the Bowery before making its home at 161A Chrystie St. toward the end of 2008. “Just having Nancy involved with Dixon Place is really important to me,” Covan said by phone. “She can read the phone book if she wants to.” Giles said having the monthly variety show in the lounge “mirrors more how Ellie’s apartment was.” It is important, she said, for the show to feature female performers in their 40s, 50s, and older. “What we have to say is incredibly valuable,” Giles explained. “We’ve all lived. At this point in my friends’ lives, we’ve all suffered losses, illness, all kinds of wrinkles. Our lives just make us, I think, even better artists and funnier and we bring even more to the table. I want us to have a chance to just like get our voices heard.” So where does the name of the show come from? “The joke of why I call this show ‘The Mosquito’ is a little resentment at ‘The Moth.’ I think I hosted some Moth event… and told a story, and they were like, ‘Oh, we would love to have you back,’ and then nothing ever happened,” Giles said. “Well, [expletive] this, I’ll do my own show and I can name a show after an insect as well,” she said. “And ‘The Mosquito’ was born.” The next installment is Mon., Dec. 18, 7:30pm in the front lounge space at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). The show is free, but donations are welcome. Visit dixonplace.org. Nancy Giles on Twitter: @nancygilesnyc. On Facebook: facebook.com/nancygilesofficial.

the dark around a campfire,” noted Bianchi. “A narrator tells the tale as players act it out. This way we engage directly with the audience and they seem to like that. We entice their imaginations to work to supply the visuals. With traditional plays, TV or movies, [the audience] just sit back and see whatever the director gives them as he sees it... a beautiful girl, a monster, whatever. But with audio theater, if I say a beautiful girl walks into the room, I don’t need to elaborate. I get 180 versions of that in the minds of the audience.” Bianchi normally adapts the scripts themselves from works of classic fiction,

but on this occasion he found readymade scripts from radio days that were in the public domain. Back in the day, it was common practice to present radio adaptations of first run films, both to promote the movies and as entertainment in their own right. The Hitchcock stories Radiotheatre will be presenting are “Strangers on a Train,” “Suspicion,” “The Birds,” “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Rebecca,” “The Lodger,” and “The 39 Steps.” Each performance will feature a different bill, as the scripts can be up to an hour long. “Hitchcock is one of my favorites, and radio is the only way you can tell his stories in a theatre,” said Bianchi. “I’m

hoping it’ll appeal to younger audiences as well as older ones. If you know movies, you pretty much know Hitchcock. He’s still a personality.” Radiotheatre’s Alfred Hitchcock Festival plays Dec. 19-30, at St. John’s Lutheran Church (81 Christopher St., btw. Bleecker & W. Fourth Sts.). All shows at 8pm. Tickets are $24 general admission, $12 for students/seniors. For reservations, call 212-868-4444 or visit radiotheatrenyc.com (where you can also access the titles scheduled for each of the festival’s nine performances). Box office opens 30 minutes before showtime. Wheelchair accessible. Runtime: 80 minutes.

THE MOSQUITO continued from p. 14

Himmler, for instance, planted daisies. “There are some fine Nazis,” she sang. “Back the [expletive] off Nazis, okay?” And the chorus: “If you hate every Nazi, you’re the Nazi.” In her YouTube video of the song, before the music begins, there is President Donald Trump’s quote after violent clashes between white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past summer: “But you also had people who were very fine on both sides.” After the admonition to “stop persecuting Nazis” and finishing the ditty, Kaplan said she was “very proud” of it. Her next tune, “When God Was a Student at Notre Dame,” had the chorus “Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? God” and encouraged the audience to sing along, which they did. Before Burns took the stage, Giles asked the audience if they wanted a story about death or her period. Unsurprisingly, death won. Giles then performed a short piece where she envisions what her funeral would be like. “I would want tears — lots of them,” she stated, along with sobs and fake cries. The scene: a packed house at a megachurch, where The Roots would be playing, Dave Chappelle would be the MC, the paparazzi would jostle for position, and ex-boyfriends are a “mess” with “loud honks” of noses blowing. Burns, a member of the Actors Studio, began her set by talking about the allegations against Rose, and how she “used to worship Woody Allen.” She then read an excerpt from a book review in The New York Times about Ivana Trump’s book, “Raising Trump,” in an accent, pausing to say, “I don’t know if this is the right accent.” Apparently, Trump’s father, Fred, pushed Ivana to have a steak but, “Ivana

HITCHCOCK FESTIVAL continued from p. 15

we try to do, that would ruin the effect we want.” Instead of employing a foley person and live musicians, Bianchi and his collaborator, Wes Shippee, build complex tapestries of orchestrated music, peppered with recorded and synthesized sound effects, generated, mixed and amplified through the latest electronic equipment. Yet, despite all of this futuristic technology, his work also hearkens back to the most ancient human traditions. “At Radiotheatre, we’re going back to the first theater… storytelling in

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Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

Photo via facebook.com/nancygilesofficial

Nancy Giles, host of “The Mosquito” at Dixon Place.

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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 (alvinailey.org), “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 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, DowntownExpress.com

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.

“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 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 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. 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 alvinailey.org 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.). Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

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Westfield’s winter wonderland BY COLIN MIXSON It’s the holiday hub. Westfield World Trade has turned the Oculus transit hub into a winter wonderland for this year’s holiday season, which will feature games, performances, art exhibits, elaborate decorations, and a whole Santa’s village worth of pop up shops. The ground floor of the transit hub’s iconic atrium has been converted into a magical forest centered around a stylized Christmas tree and a 20-foot-tall snowman. The enchanted shopping glade features a festive holiday market stuffed with vendors including Lovepop, The Giving Keys, Toytoise, United Chocolate Works, Pamela, Barsky, Pipcorn, and many more. And to draw in shoppers, Westfield is producing a holiday concert series,

PIER 17 Continued from page 2

security company is for Seaport, not for our community. When we had the concert here for Drake, we had the problems in our community over here. Who did we turn to? We didn’t have the police over here. There was no one here to help us. You are going to be bringing all these people into our community.” Scherl said that the security companies would be at a follow-up town hall meeting slated for February and could discuss locals’ concerns then. Crowd-control issues aside, several residents demanded a traffic study of how the additional foot traffic, tour buses, and delivery trucks the Pier 17 development would attract will impact the neighborhood’s narrow streets. “Has anyone taken a look at the size of the streets down here and how small they are? This is the original part of the city. This is not Midtown where we’ve got three lanes of roadway,” said Margaret Cooney. The biggest concern by far was noise. Almost all of the 19 community members who spoke mentioned being able to hear the concerts that are already happening at the pier. John Fratta said during Seaport concerts he can’t even watch DowntownExpress.com

along with other fun attractions including live music, holiday story telling, screenings of classic Christmas flicks, and a GIF photo booth where patrons can create animated electronic postcards featuring different New York City backdrops. The shopping center also unveiled a unique menorah wrought from steel gathered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Westfield is inviting patrons to design their own holiday centerpieces at an arts and craft station, where they can build snow globes and other festive ornaments. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of one of several celebrity guests Westfield has invited to hobnob with locals from now until Christmas.

television in his west-facing apartment, even with the windows shut. HHC conducted a test of the concert sound system on Oct. 25 — with sound monitors placed on the rooftops of 85 South St., 90 South St., 107 Beekman St., and 200 Water St., as well as inside a vacant apartment in Southbridge Towers — and the results suggested that noise would not be a problem, according to Scherl. He promised that the company that ran the test, Eastern Acoustic Works, would also be at the February meeting to discuss the results in more detail. A few people brought up that the problem isn’t just the sound, but that the vibrations the low-frequency bass creates literally shake the surrounding buildings. “I would just like to say that it’s not the volume of the noise, but it is the fact that you feel it,” said Rona Kluger. “I know you had an event recently at Seaport and I didn’t hear it. I felt it in my apartment with the windows closed and the air conditioning on.” Kluger even challenged the HHC executives to come over and conduct another test in person to see what actual residents experience. “I would invite you all, even

Westfield / Chance Yeh

The decorations at Westfield World Trade Center’s holiday shops mimic the style of the iconic Oculus.

Howard Hughes Corporation

This high-tech, translucent canopy is set to go atop Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport, over a vast rooftop concert venue that will accommodate 4,000 people — which worries locals.

give you a glass of wine — come to my house when you are having an event, if you really want to test it out,” she said. Another suggestion that garnered a round of applause form the audience — but no commitment from HHC — was that the developers install a failsafe device for the sound system linked to monitors on surrounding rooftops that would automatically reduce the volume, or even cut it off completely, if legal noise levels were exceeded. Shub also took issue with

the Oct. 25 sound test, since it just tested the sound from the speaker system, which is only half of the noise equation for a packed concert, and suggested doing another sound test with more community participation. “It’s going to be worse when you do it with 4,000 people,” Shub said. “I would love for you to be a partner and do a test for the sound system for us.” When Scherl said that a second test would cost lots of money, and HHC would have to borrow speakers and spend

a week installing them, the crowd responded with a sarcastic “Awww!” The meeting came to a contentious and unceremonious end when members of the audience were pressing Scherl on how many concerts HHC plans to host at the Seaport, calling out “Can we get an answer?” “I don’t think he has an answer,” said CB1 member Paul Goldstein. “We will have follow up meetings on this. This meeting was intended to raise the issues. We did that.” Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 2017

19


ADVERTORIAL

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

20

Dec. 14 – Dec. 27, 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.

DowntownExpress.com


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