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Rent-Regulated Tenants Fight to Stay Put BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC It is a tale full of limited liability companies, buyout offers, and, for some reason, chocolates, that has become all-too-familiar in this current landscape of New York City real estate: longtime, rent-regulated tenants fighting to stay in their homes. This story, centered on 125 W. TENANTS continued on p. 3

Clean Slate, Murky Fate at Gansevoort Peninsula BY LINCOLN ANDERSON As anyone who is passing by Gansevoort Peninsula on the Hudson River bikeway or lives within sight of it knows, the hulking former garbage-truck garage there clearly is being demolished. What is less clear is whether the PENINSULA continued on p. 4

A Swinging Birland Christmas

See Page 10

Photo by Christian Miles

L to R: Midtown South Officers John Connelly and Nicholas Pastore, Sixth Precinct Officer Thomas Sheehy, 10th Precinct Officers Matthew Powlett and Joseph Spector, Ninth Precinct Officer Antonio Arroyo, Fifth Precinct Officer Kharloz Ortiz, and 13th Precinct Sergeant José Morales holding their “Officer of the Year” awards at the Manhattan Penthouse at the 14th annual Safe City Safe Streets luncheon.

THE BEST OF NEW YORK’S FINEST Annual GVCCC Luncheon Honors NYPD Officers BY REBECCA FIORE B Modesty went hand in hand with heroism as, time and time again, NYPD officers singled out for their achievements t emphasized the importance of teamwork and training. e “I really have to thank all the officers who were with me that day,” Officer Thomas Sheehy said in the acceptance speech for his “Officer of the Year” award, at the 14th Annual Safe City Safe Streets luncheon, held by the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce ( on Dec. 14. “It was teamwork that helped the girl get out of the situation that she was in,” Sheeby recalled. “I’m really honored for this award.”


While working a street fair in September, Sheehy, of the Sixth Precinct, witnessed a vehicle collision at University Place and E. Eighth St. involving a moving vehicle and a parked one. As he approached the collision he noticed a female driver in the front seat, bent over and unresponsive. After attempts to open the driver and passenger doors failed, Sheehy used his expandable baton to break the rear driver’s side window. Once the driver was removed from the vehicle, Sheehy called the ambulance and began administering chest compressions. Upon receiving backup and an AED (automated exterSAFE continued on p. 2 VOLUME 09, ISSUE 51 | DECEMBER 21–27, 2017

14 Years Strong: Safe City Safe Streets Honors Stellar Officers SAFE continued from p. 1

nal defibrillator), Sheehy attached the electro-pads to the woman, gave two shocks, and she regained a stable pulse. The FDNY EMS arrived to the scene and the driver was taken to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital. Sheehy has been on the job for six and a half years. Additionally, he volunteered to assist in his department’s field training program, where he trained 34 officers newly assigned to the Sixth Precinct. Sheehy, along with six other police officers and one sergeant, were awarded with “Officer of the Year” recognition from their respective precincts. For going above and beyond, demonstrating outstanding community policing, and keeping neighborhoods safe. Sergeant José Morales was appointed to the NYPD on June 30, 1992. Seven years later, he was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the 13th Precinct as the conditions unit supervisor. Based on his performance, he was assigned to the anti-crime program as a supervisor in Jan. 2007. From then to the current day, his team made 1,380 arrests — and of those, 359 were felo-

Photo by Christian Miles

L to R: Neighborhood Coordination Officers Joseph Spector and Matthew Powlett were awarded “Officer of the Year” from the 10th Precinct. They have been working as partners for nearly six years and have made over 150 arrests.

nies and 1,021 were misdemeanors. In March of 2013, he was promoted to Sergeant Special Assignment, which is only given to a select few out of the NYPD’s over 5,000 sergeants. Morales took to the microphone, thanking all those who came before him. He even said in the past, he has been a guest at this event and has seen

his officers accept this award. “I’ve been doing anti-crime since 2007. A lot of my guys have gone up to be some of the finest detectives throughout the city. Some of them have moved up the ranking, sergeant, lieutenant, and I have one currently that’s going to be a captain,” Morales said. “It’s a pleasure working with these guys and I have

four of my anti-crime cops sitting with me now, who also in the future will be some of the finest detectives throughout the city. It’s a unit, it’s a team.” Teamwork was also front and center, when two pairs of officers were awarded from the 10th and Midtown South precincts. Officers Matthew Powlett and Joseph Spector were both appointed to the NYPD on Jan. 9, 2006. In February of 2011, they became partners. Since February of this year, the pair has been assigned to Sector B of the 10th Precinct (btw. W. 29th St. & 21st Sts., west of Seventh Ave.) under the Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCO) program. During their six-year partnership, they have affected over 150 arrests. “Besides their arrest record, they exemplify the definition of a ‘NCO’ Officer,” Justin McManus, of the Peter McManus Cafe (an iconic Chelsea gathering place) said. “They both continually display leadership and mentoring qualities that are second to none within the 10th Precinct. These are not traits that can be taught, these are traits that SAFE continued on p. 12

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December 21, 2017

NYC Community Media

TENANTS continued from p. 1

16th St., unfolds as many do, with the longtime owner of the building dying and the property then changing hands. For decades, the building was owned by a woman who also lived on the property, explained Alison Frauenglass, 37, who has lived in the building for over 30 years. Her mother, now 76, moved into the building when she 22, and Frauenglass said there are many secondgeneration tenants like her. It was — and is — the type of building where people knew each other, where Frauenglass babysat the landlady’s grandkids (she joked that the “new girl� is someone who moved in 20 years ago). “It’s definitely a community — it still is,� Frauenglass said during a recent phone call with Chelsea Now. “We help each other out.� Another tenant, Anna Wheatley, 58, agreed, saying, “We were an exceptional building from the get-go.� In April 2015, Raphael Toledano bought the six-story building through a limited liability company, known as an LLC, for $41.5 million, city property records show. According to Frauenglass, who is spearheading tenant outreach to city and elected officials, the building has 42 units, two of which were offices with

Photo by Scott Stiffler

L to R: Alison Frauenglass, Anna Wheatley, Miguel Pozo, Eva Pozo and Philip Bruno are longtime, rent-regulated tenants at 125 W. 16th St. looking to stay in their apartments.

separate entrances in the front, with a mix of both rent-regulated and marketrate tenants that got along. Many marketrate tenants have lived in the building for years (the longest one, for 17), and the landlady had been doing minimal rent increases, she said. After Toledano bought the building,

he stopped renewing the leases of the market-rate tenants or gave them small buyouts to leave, Frauenglass said. Either way, at one point, there was a “flood of moving trucks,� and interior construction on the empty apartments began, she said. Both Frauenglass and Wheatley said

the foreman and construction crew were respectful. “It was by the book,� recalled Wheatley, who noted the construction was satisfactorily done and the crew mopped the floors three times a day. In addition to buying 125 W. 16th TENANTS continued on p. 14

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December 21, 2017


Peninsula’s Park Plans Could Proceed, Sans Transfer Station PENINSULA continued from p. 1

peninsula, slated to be redeveloped into a park, will eventually also be home to a marine transfer station for recyclable municipal garbage. And that question could impact the process of designing a park there. Before it was a garage, the structure now being wrecked was a smoke-belching incinerator that burned municipal waste. The peninsula is the only remnant of when Manhattan, in the 1830s, was extended with landfill out to a 13th Ave. that ran from Bloomfield St. on Gansevoort Peninsula up to W. 29th St. In the early 20th century, the landfill was cut back to allow longer ships to dock at the Hudson River piers. Gansevoort Peninsula, though, was preserved because it was the site of the bustling West Washington Market, a sprawling outdoor farmers’ market. Now, in its latest transformation, the nearly 6-acre peninsula, located between Little W. 12th and Gansevoort Sts., is set to be remade into a park as part of the 4.5-mile-long Hudson River Park. But getting the garbage trucks off the pier first was a challenge.

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

The former incinerator, known as the Gansevoort Destructor, that was later a Department of Sanitation garage, is being demolished at Gansevoort Peninsula to help clear the way for the site to be redeveloped into a park.

To force the city to vacate the peninsula, the Friends of Hudson River Park, formerly the park’s main watchdog group, sued and achieved a settlement in 2005. Under the agreement, the Department of Sanitation was to

leave the peninsula by 2013 and pay escalating fines to the Hudson River Park Trust, the park’s state-city operating authority, for every year it failed to vacate. In addition, the city agreed to pay the Trust $21.5 million for using

St. Clement’s

All Are Welcome Lessons and Carols at 11:00am Sidewalk Caroling outside of the church from 7:00pm till 7:45pm 12/24/17 Free Choral Concert at 8:00pm Christmas Eve Service 8:45pm

PENINSULA continued on p. 16


Episcopal Church

A Free Christmas Concert December 24th at 8pm at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church — “The Theater Church” — at 423 West 46th Street, New York, NY will be offered to New York City. The choir, comprised of Broadway notables, Julliard and Manhattan School of Music Students, some of the well-known singers of cabaret, and instrumentalists join under the baton of Mr. Mark Janas of Manhattan School and leadership of Mr. Darryl Curry, Minister of Music, to perform traditional and newly written music of the season.

Gansevoort and also Pier 97, at W. 57th St., for Sanitation uses, in annual installments, to be used to fix up both spots as parks.


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 24 CHRISTMAS EVE 35.$!9 $%#%-"%2s#(2)34-!3%6% Candle Lighting Lighting Candle Service and Service and Reception Reception AT 4:30P.M. P.M. AT 4:30

Annual Eve 25thChristmas Anniversary Performance of Performance of Handel’s Messiah Handel’s Messiah Christmas Portion and Christmas Portion and Hallelujah Chorus Hallelujah Chorus

AT AT7:30 7:30 P.M. P.M. SUNDAY, SUNDAY,DECEMBER DECEMBER 27 31 KwanzaaCelebration Celebration Kwanzaa 11:00A.M. A.M. ATAT11:00




December 21, 2017

NYC Community Media

Photos by Scott Stiffler

A staple of the Upper West Side, this Seventh Ave. and W. 15th St. location opened in 2004.

Westside Market’s Demetri Belesis calls the space on W. 23rd St. near Seventh Ave. a “great location” in the “heart of Chelsea.”

Grocery Gain: Westside Market to Open Second Chelsea Location BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Chelsea is ending the year with a win, after a loss that took many by surprise and deprived its major thoroughfare of a reliable destination for prepared food and grocery store staples. Signs covering the doors and windows of the former Garden of Eden Marketplace on W. 23rd St. near Seventh Ave. confirm that the area will soon have one less empty storefront. “We always wanted to be in the 20s,” Westside Market’s Demetri Belesis said. “It’s a great location. It’s the heart of Chelsea.” For decades, Westside Market has been a neighborhood staple on the Upper West Side. The family-owned chain opened its first Chelsea location in 2004, at 77 Seventh Ave. and W. 15th St. “We love the area and we jumped on an opportunity to keep doing business in the area,” Belesis said by phone, noting that about a year ago, Westside was offered the W. 23rd St. space — but

as Garden of Eden was still there, they passed. “We wouldn’t want to do anything like that,” he explained, noting the family’s thought at the time was, “If it’s available, we’ll discuss — and that’s what happened.” In early August, independently owned Garden of Eden Marketplace closed after two decades in the neighborhood. Longtime customers told Chelsea Now before its shuttering that it was a more affordable option than other grocery stores in the area. Advocates, such as Italo Medelius, have been focused on food access in the neighborhood after Associated Supermarket, which was located at W. 14th St. and Eighth Ave., closed last year. Medelius and a subcommittee at Hudson Guild have been studying the issue, launching a survey earlier this year about grocery store affordability in Chelsea, and looking at the impact it has on seniors, those with disabilities, and lower-income residents.

Happy Holidays

For help in the coming year, please don’t hesitate to contact me via the information below.

NYS Senator Brad Hoylman (212) 633-8052 322 8th Avenue Suite 1700 New York, NY 10001 NYC Community Media

“For me, it’s a positive that a local chain, and a chain that services its neighbors, is coming into our community rather than a big corporation or a megastore,” Medelius said by phone. “It’s really good to see that there is going to be some more competition.” Medelius said he was familiar with

Westside Market, having shopped at the current Chelsea location and on the Upper West Side, saying, “They are not the most affordable, but they are on par with the Garden of Eden.” In addition to affordability, advocates WESTSIDE MARKET continued on p. 17

Advent & Christmastide at St. Luke’s





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

CHRISTMAS DAY | MONDAY, DEC 25TH 10:30 am — Choral Eucharist

NEW YEARS DAY | MONDAY, JAN. 1ST 2018 FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME 12:00 pm — Choral Eucharist

The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields | 487 Hudson Street West Village (Hudson and Grove) New York, NY 10014 | 212.924.0562

December 21, 2017



Courtesy Office of Councilmember Corey Johnson

Photo by Rebecca Fiore

Shirley Littman was a woman who wore many hats. In addition to working at the DHS and Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office, she was also a member of Chelsea for Peace, CWA Local 1180’s Committee on People with Disabilities, and the Raging Grannies.

The Raging Grannies performed a song, written by Littman for the 2014 Support the Postal Workers Rally, at her memorial service. Right foreground is Councilmember Corey Johnson, who gave opening remarks at Littman’s service.

The ‘Revolutionary Optimism’ of Shirley Littman, 80, Will Shine On BY REBECCA FIORE Shirley Littman was a cab girl. She lived her life in Manhattan, taking cabs everywhere. Every time she slid in the backseat, her husband Larry would give directions, and she would whip up a


December 21, 2017

thoughtful conversation with the driver. More times than not, at the outset, the driver would be reserved and quiet. By the end of the ride, the driver would be laughing along with their new best friend,

Shirley. Littman had that effect on people — endless humanity along with a deep contagious laugh. Littman passed away in her Chelsea home Thurs., Dec. 7, after a short but fierce battle with cancer. Born in Brooklyn on April 30, 1937 and raised in that borough, Littman moved to Greenwich Village and worked for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) until she retired about four years ago to work on now-Councilmember Corey Johnson’s campaign. Johnson, who spoke at Littman’s Dec. 15 memorial service at Chelsea’s Church of the Holy Apostles (296 Ninth Ave., corner of W. 28th St.), told stories of Littman being one of the hardest, most dedicated workers on his team, and later, his staff, as a legislative aide. She worked the phone banks six nights a week for Johnson’s campaign. “She called 3,000 voters over the course of the campaign. It would have been more, except Shirley wouldn’t let a voter off the phone until they committed to me,” Johnson recalled at the service. “She would not let them off the phone! She needed a hard sell. She needed an answer, and it had to be the right answer.” Additionally, Littman was a committed labor activist who served as a shop steward for CWA Local 1180, one of the largest public sector local unions, serving more than 8,500 workers and 6,200 retirees. She was also a member of the union’s Committee on People with Disabilities. She was a devoted union worker,

her husband Larry said, because she believed in people uniting for the common good to help one another. “It was in her bones,” Larry noted. “She was a people person, through and through.” She is survived by her husband and their son, Danny, and her stepdaughter Zoe Krylova; sister Vida Cooperberg; niece Amy DiLuca and her husband Tony DiLuca, and their children Michael and Antonia; nephew Chuck Cooperberg, and his wife Maricela Cooperberg, and their daughter Anna; and a host of friends. “We were both left-handed,” Larry said at the service. “Lefties physically and politically.” Larry told stories of his wife calling up her sister, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, each morning to read her stories from the newspaper, telling her what the weather was like, or just having a quick laugh. He would tell Littman that her sister didn’t know what she was talking about, or to whom she was talking. “Shirley would say, ‘We have to talk to her. We have to communicate. We have to communicate, no matter what.’” Her son said, “The foundation of mom’s personality was love… she made sure I knew that all the time.” Danny said her friendliness could turn around the most jaded teenager. When he was younger, bringing home friends with tattoos and mohawks, Littman sat down with each one, engaging them in thoughtful, fun conversation. SHIRLEY LITTMAN continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media

Psychedelic wall paintings and retro-futurist seating give the club a cozy, intimate vibe.

Photos courtesy retroclubnyc

The dance floor is illuminated by multiple disco balls, naturally.

Everybody Dance Now: Retroclubnyc Delivers Throwback Thrills, Playful Nostalgia BY SEAN EGAN While New York is rightly known for its active nightlife and plethora of trendy clubs, variety is not necessarily its forte. Often, it seems the same throngs of club kids and incessant four-on-thefloor beat follow you wherever you go. This leaves very few options for those of a slightly older persuasion looking to hit the town, but less-than-enthused by the prospect of rowdy 20-somethings and blaring EDM. Enter Retroclubnyc, a new venue more concerned with capturing the timeless than chasing the latest trends. Situated in the heart of Chelsea, Retroclubnyc (161 W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) is the brainchild of Jeff Wittels, city nightlife veteran and sometime DJ. The club’s grand opening this past August represented the realization of a long-term dream for Wittels: to create a club that specifically caters to the tastes of the 35-and-

older crowd (though, he notes, all ages are welcome). Through its throwback cocktails, funky aesthetic, and focus on music from the 1970s to the ’90s, Retroclubnyc aims to create a classy club atmosphere with a distinct dollop of playful nostalgia. When Chelsea Now last spoke to Wittels in March 2017, during the club’s design phase, he asserted: “It’s not going to be corny; it’ll be fun. It’ll be new, interesting, chic.” A visit to Retroclubnyc one recent Friday night bore out Wittels’ assertion in full. Dozens lined the dance floor or sat at the bar, drinking, moving, and absorbing the delightfully retro vibes, visibly reveling in the tastes and sounds of decades past. “I’ve seen, over time, the crowd is just building week after week. More and more people, inquiries,” Wittels told Chelsea Now in a phone interview following the visit, noting that crowds can swell to 200 people or more on a bustling Saturday.

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Upon entering, one quickly realizes that the club has no interest in indulging in garish kitsch. Under dim lights, the combination of gently psychedelic wall paintings and retro-futurist seating lends the club a cozier, more intimate vibe than many of its peers. The dance

floor is illuminated by multiple disco balls, naturally. The bar furthers the tasteful throwback trend. “We have a whole two-sided page drink menu of retro throwback drinks and concoctions RETRO continued on p. 15

You are invited to spend Advent & Christmas with Historic St. Peter’s Chelsea Episcopal Church The Christmas Church

ADVENT & CHRISTMAS SERVICES Thursday, December 21, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017, Christmas Day

7:00pm Annual Community Messiah Sing

9:00am Children & Family Service 10:00am Holy Eucharist 6:00pm Evening Prayer

Sunday, December 24, 2017, Advent 4 & Christmas Eve 10:00am Advent Lessons & Carols 5:30pm Children & Family Christmas Eve Service 10:00pm Carols 10:30pm Mass of the Angels

Sunday, January 7, 2018, Epiphany 9:00am Children & Family Service 10:00am Holy Eucharist 6:00pm Evening Prayer

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St. Peter’s Episcopal Church 346 W. 20th St. (btwn 8th & 9th Aves.) 212.929.2390 |

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December 21, 2017




POLICE BLOTTER LOST PROPERTY: Somebody ran off with joggerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stuff Never leave your belongings unattended, unless you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t particularly care for them. On Tues., Dec. 12 at 3 p.m., a 39-year-old man left his bag on a jogging path at the corner of 12th Ave. and W. 26th St. When he returned, the bag was not where he left it. It was a black JanSport bag with a shaving kit, slacks, and pills inside. The total value of the property is $280.

PETIT LARCENY: â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Sneakyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; shoe thief A 31-year-old man placed his sneakers outside of his apartment door on the floor in his hallway â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and when he returned, they were gone. The incident happened on the 200 block of W. 19th St. on Tues., Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. The victim valued his green Allbirds sneakers at $95.

PETIT LARCENY: Sticky ďŹ ngers go for gum At 2:40 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 15, a 32-yearold man walked into CVS (272 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 23rd & 24th Sts.), took several items, and walked out without paying. The ill-gotten gains on this shop-

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-7418226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT Located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Inspector Russel J. Green, Commanding Officer. Call 212-239-9811. Community Affairs: 212-239-9846. Crime Prevention: 212239-9846. Domestic Violence: 212239-9863. Youth Officer: 212-2399817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-2399836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council meets on the

lifterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s list included several packs of gum, some Hanes white shirts, power charging cords, and a 24oz bottle of Heineken. The total value of the items is $150.

IDENTITY THEFT: Big bill for bad calls â&#x20AC;&#x2122;Tis the season for identity theft. A man received a collections letter in the mail from North Shore Agency on Thurs., Dec. 7 at 12 p.m. The letter indicated he had a bill of $3,115.73 owed to Verizon Wireless. The victim, 41, who lives on the 400 block of W. 24th St., realized that an unknown person opened a Verizon account in his name in Los Angeles, CA. He is not at any financial loss at the time.

LOST PROPERTY: Shutterbugâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sorrow A man left his belongings on the corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 20th St. on Sat., Dec. 16 at 1:30 p.m. When he realized he left his items on the sidewalk and went back to look for them, he could not find them. The items include a $7,000 Nikon camera, a 70mm Nikon lens valued at $2,900, and a SONY memory card valued at $525. The total value of missing items is $10,425. The 48-year-old victim does not feel that he is the victim of a crime. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Tabia C. Robinson

third Thurs. of the month, 7 p.m., at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.). Visit THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Brendan Timoney. Call 212477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-4777427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct. CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.

PARKING NYC Community Media

Community Calls for Engagement, Education Following Local’s Alleged Subway Bombing BY ADAM LUCENTE Religious leaders must not disown the Brooklyn man who on Dec. 11 allegedly ignited a bomb in a tunnel linking two subway stations, but instead recognize his connection to the Islamic faith and better educate young worshippers, argued some local Muslims who gathered at a Kensington restaurant the day after the incident. “He is Muslim, he belongs to us. He did something wrong, and saying he doesn’t belong to us doesn’t solve the problem,” said local Sirajul Islam. “Many don’t provide proper Islamic education to their children, but when it comes to condemning this and finger-pointing, they’re experts.” More than 100 people attended the event, including members of Kensington’s Masjid Nur al-Islam mosque, where the suspect — 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant Akayed Ullah — sometimes prayed, according to a congregant. “People in the mosque have seen him,” said Maruf Alam. “I may have seen him. He’s a very quiet kid.”

Photo by Adam Lucente via Community News Group

Muslims and Bangladeshis debated what actions the groups should take in the wake of their fellow community member Akayed Ullah’s alleged subway bombing.

Local religious leaders need to more actively engage young Muslims in their communities because youths here have unfettered access to ideologies that can corrupt their understanding of the faith, another attendee said. “Islam is not for killing people so you can go to jannah,” said Kensington resident Abdul Hamman, using the Arabic word for heaven. “Our youngsters do anything here. There’s no freedom back

home, but freedom has a limit. We need to watch what they are watching and doing.” But others at the meeting argued that local Muslims and Bangladeshis should not collectively accept blame for Ullah’s alleged act of terror, because he acted alone when committing the crime. “You don’t have to say, ‘Nobody I know supports terrorism,’ because this is not our mistake,” said Kazi Fouzia, who

heads South Asian activist group Desis Rising Up and Moving. “Nobody can target us. We are okay as a Bangladeshi community and proud.” Another local firmly rejected the possibility that area Muslims share the radical view of Ullah, who told investigators he set off the bomb in support of the Islamic State. “As Muslims we never accept or support it,” said Kensington resident Mohammad Khan. And one speaker expressed concerns about how community leaders will broaden their outreach to further the anti-extremist message preached at the session, which two NYPD community affairs officers, reps from the city’s Commission on Human Rights, and electeds including Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D–Kensington) and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington) also attended. “This was largely attended by older men in the community — no women, no young people — and it wasn’t advertised,” said Shahana Hanif, Lander’s Bangladeshi-community liaison.

Corona Woman Dodges Bungled Port Authority Blast BY MARK HALLUM Veronica Chavez from Corona was one of the three victims who made it out of the Dec. 11 Port Authority bombing alive Monday and said the experience conjured another traumatic memory: 9/11, according to a news report. Chavez, who was pregnant at the time of the World Trade Center terrorist assault over 16 years ago, worried for her brothers who worked downtown back then and on Monday, at the time the tunnel shook, she only wished to see her children again, she told the New York Daily News. “The September 11 attacks are memories I can’t forget,” said Chavez before describing her experience at the Port Authority. “There was smoke everywhere and debris falling. My ears were ringing. They haven’t stopped ringing. All I kept thinking is, I want to see my children again. If something happened to me, who will care for them?” Chavez works at a wedding dress factory and had just left the No. 7 train at 42nd Street-Times Square, she said, when Akayed Ullah, 27, allegedly set off a homemade bomb which was strapped to his torso. NYC Community Media

Photo by Christian Miles

On the morning of Dec. 11, evacuated commuters filled the streets surrounding Port Authority.

The bomb, which malfunctioned, failed to kill anyone, including Ullah himself, and Chavez simply went home to be with her children, she told the News. Ullah is a Bangladeshi immigrant from Brooklyn. Her 16-year-old son, Alex Chavez, was born the day after the 9/11 attack, she said. “I’m really happy she’s home. Yesterday I was thinking, I just hope she gets home,” Alex Chavez said. “When I saw her come through the door, I gave her a big, big hug. She was alive.”

MTA workers help Chavez evacuate the tunnel and she met with her Alfonso Chavez, 42, and Juan Chavez, 40, on W. 40th St., the Daily News reported. The helped her to Mount Sinai West. “My ears are still throbbing. I can’t sleep. My head hurts,” Chavez said. “I’m still not OK.” President Donald Trump used the opportunity to strike out against immigration and promote the travel ban he issued by executive order barring emigres from eight predominantly Muslim nations. “Today’s attempted mass murder attack

in New York City — the second terror attack in New York in the last two months — once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people,” Trump said, calling for an end to chain migration, which gives preference to people with family already in the country. “First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for president, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.” Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) urged support for the Bangladeshi community to condemn the terror attack and to create a clear distinction between the Muslim community and terrorists like Ullah. “I stand with my Bangladeshi colleagues in condemning this horrific act of violence,” Dromm said. “Akayed Ullah is an extremist. He does not represent the Bangladeshi community or the Muslim community, who soundly reject his hate. We gather together to proclaim with one voice that we will not cower from or be divided by such despicable acts.” December 21, 2017


All About Eve: Two Tuneful Things on The Night Before Christmas BY SCOTT STIFFLER

CHRISTMAS EVE CAROLING What a year for freedom of assembly in Washington Square Park. That setting saw crowds gather to refuse fascism, support the rights of women, workers and immigrants, and protest a tidal wave of Trump-prompted federal policies that fly in the face of the public park’s well-earned reputation for progressive politics. So it’s no accident that the Washington Square Association’s press statement promoting their Christmas Eve caroling event included this tactfully understated chestnut: “The words are in the songbooks distributed by the Association, but many will know them by heart; ‘Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men’ resounding with special meaning this season.” Taking place in the shadow of a 45-foot Christmas tree located just south of the iconic arch (its usual resting place, displaced this year by Ai Weiwei’s public art installation), this annual tradition gives you one last chance to “fa-la-la-la-la” before Santa completes his annual trek across the globe, and

Photo by Trevor Sumner

Sing along as The Rob Susman Brass Quartet plays traditional carols, Dec. 24 in Washington Square Park.

visions of New Year’s Eve revelry begin to dance in heads previously preoccupied with sugarplums. As always, The Rob Susman Brass Quartet provides the instrumentation — and you, along with friends and convivial strangers, will, the Association heartily asserts, “lustily sing out the familiar tunes.” Bonus holiday treat: The tree will remain lit for the season, between 4 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Photo by Bill Westmoreland

Cabaret’s must-see Christmas dream team convenes at Birdland, Dec. 22–25.

Free (songbooks provided). Sun., Dec. 25, 5 p.m. near the Washington Square Arch (at the foot of Fifth Ave., one block south of Eighth St.). For info, visit or call 212-252-3621.

A SWINGING BIRDLAND CHRISTMAS Snow on the ground would certainly be nice, but its absence isn’t enough to quash the deal — but Christmas without the three cool cats sporting plaid scarves and warm smiles in the above photo? That’s non-negotiable — and for good reason. What began as an affectionate tribute to old school showbiz TV holiday specials of yore from the likes of Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, and Carol Burnett has sung, danced, joked, and otherwise amiably wormed its way into the very heart of Midtown Manhattan’s Christmas consciousness. Now, the trio with triple-threat-talent-to-burn is back at Birdland Jazz Club for another run of the holiday-themed show we once said (having attended multiple times) is “dripping with sophistication and refreshingly free of cynicism.” But don’t take our archived words for it. “Klea, Billy, and I are overjoyed to bring our ‘Swinging Birdland Christmas’ back to the stage of our favorite music room for the eighth year in a row,” said Jim Caruso, in an email to this publication’s arts editor. As host of Birdland’s weekly lines-out-the-door “Cast Party” open mic shindig, Caruso knows how to sell an act to the audience (but had to be prodded for this quote, modest chap that he is). “It seems fitting to present feel-


December 21, 2017

good, old-school entertainment during these anxious times,” Caruso continued. “It’s become a happy tradition for lots of audience members, to say nothing of our own family and friends!” Joined by his frequent musical collaborator Billy Stritch (no grounds for impeachment when these two collude), Caruso trades quips and pitch-perfect sustained notes with the brassy, tacksharp, beyond-likable Klea Blackhurst. Swinging, Stritch-penned arrangements of tunes including “Christmas Waltz,” Kay Thompson’s “Holiday Season” and “Sleigh Ride” give this cabaret feast its cheeky goose — but it’s the camaraderie and charisma that will make your season bright, and send you out the door well-insulated from any Scrooges you might encounter on those busy city sidewalks dressed in holiday style. Bonus track: For these December shows, the trio will be joined by Steve Doyle on bass and Daniel Glass on drums. Easter Egg: Dec. 28, 6 p.m. at Birdland, Billy Stritch is joined by Tony Award-winning actress/singer Christine Ebersole for their “Snowfall” show, set to rain down classic seasonal material, new songs, and lively chatter. “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” happens at 6 p.m., Fri.–Mon., Dec. 22–25, at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For reservations ($30 cover, $10 food/ drink minimum), visit or call 212-581-3080. A CD based on the show, of the same title, is available on Birdland Records, via the Birdland website or iTunes. Artist info at jim-caruso. com,, and For these December shows, the trio will be joined by Steve Doyle on bass and Daniel Glass on drums. 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 21, 2017


SAFE continued from p. 2

define Matt and Joe as officers because of their dedication and hard work to their community and co-workers.” “It’s a great place we work, Chelsea. We love dealing with the community. We’ve been there over 10 years and most especially, me and my partner getting this award for the [our work over the] last six years,” Powlett said. “Six more will be a pleasure.” Another dynamic duo, with much more in common than meets the eye, accepted the award graciously as they are relatively new to the job. Midtown South Officers Nicholas Pastore and John Connelly were raised on Long Island — Deer Park and Garden City, respectively. They both come from a line of police officers in their families, and are both currently working towards their master’s degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. They entered and graduated from the Police Academy in 2015, and shortly thereafter joined the Midtown South Precinct. In a matter of six months, they successfully closed out two cases of assault and three robbery patterns. They even aided in the arrests of three wanted criminals — while they were off duty. Pastore accepted the award for the two, and thanked his team members. “It was a collaborative effort, all these arrests,” Pastore said. “I’d like to say that we did it by ourselves but there were so many other people involved in this.” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, who was the event’s keynote speaker, noted that in light of recent terror events — including ISISinspired terrorist attacks on Oct. 31, which killed eight people and Dec. 11, which injured three — it’s a “dangerous environment to be an officer, whether uniformed or not.” Boyce, who has been working in law enforcement for over 35 years, added, “I’m at the end of my career. I’m 62 years old and I have to be out by my 63rd birthday, but I would switch with any one of those guys.”


December 21, 2017

Photos by Christian Miles

Sergeant José Morales, of the 13th Precinct, has made 1,380 arrests since becoming the Precinct’s anti-crime supervisor in 2007. He stands with four of his officers from the anti-crime unit. In his acceptance, he said many of his officers have gone on to become detectives.

Anthony Arias, president of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (GVCCC), on left in red, with the honorees. In red in the middle, Maria Diaz, executive director of GVCCC, and second to right is Jennifer Goodstein, GVCCC board of directors member and publisher, NYC Community Media.

Keynote speaker and NPYD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce standing with Midtown South Officers John Connelly and Nicholas Pastore. The two partners are both studying for their master’s degree at John Jay College for Criminal Justice.

NYC Community Media

Stepping Up for Doug Jones — in Queens BY NATHAN RILEY Doug Jones’ victory in the Alabama Senate race was a thrill — the biggest Democratic victory since Donald Trump’s election. Black votes surged, demoralized Republicans stayed home, independents supported him. A dream turned plausible: that in 11 months, the 2018 election will bring a wave of support for Democrats. But what kind of Democrat will Jones be? Southern conservatives used to stifle needed reforms. Jones was a federal prosecutor — who, no small thing, convicted the last of the KKK terrorists tried in the heinous 1963 black church bombing in Birmingham that killed four girls aged 11 to 14, nearly 30 years later, no less — but, by and large, prosecutors are the hard-asses who push the draconian sentences that drive mass incarceration. Good news came quickly from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Jones was active in a bipartisan group that advocated for reducing harsh sentences and increasing alternatives to incarceration. According to the Marshall Project, a vital source of news about prison reform, “after long and careful negotiations, one senator almost single-handedly torpedoed the measure: the junior Republican from Alabama, Jeff Sessions.” Jones has a serious policy reason for opposing Attorney General Sessions. As Sessions’ successor, a comparisons of their views will be news. This history of different philosophies about crime and corrections makes an excellent backstory. A murkier question is the role of the Jones campaign in rolling out black votes. Last year, complaints roiled the Hillary Clinton campaign that its donations overwhelmingly were spent to reach white voters. In her book “Hacks,” Donna Brazile artfully observed that a local radio announcer with a loyal black audience would become more enthusiastic if the Clinton campaign bought ads on his show. The Jones campaign spent money on its black get-out-the-vote drive, but it also made at least one serious mistake, sending out a mailer with a picture of a black man with a wry smile asking this misguided question, “Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?” The Jones literature attempted to raise Alabama’s double standard on race, but was deaf to the legacy of hurt from the state’s history of lynching black men based on false accusations that they NYC Community Media

Photo by Cara Stallman

Kathleen Warnock’s souvenir Doug Jones button sent along by her Alabama ally Ashleigh A. White.

Courtesy Kathleen Warnock

Kathleen Warnock, a writer and longtime lesbian activist, found a way to help the right candidate win in Alabama.

made plays for white women. Specialized political action committees are active in the black community. Arisha Hatch, the managing director of campaigns at Color of Change’s PAC, and Adrianne Shropshire, the executive director of BlackPAC, gained favorable notices for their work and received money from both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee. Party officials are now committing to this type of spending. The myth that blacks don’t vote is dead and buried, replaced by a new truth: that without black votes Democrats lose. Activists will now be unsparing in their insistence that Democrats make black concerns — in urban areas and elsewhere — a critical part of their agenda. On the other hand, it’s worth acknowledging that Alabama has seven congressional districts, but only the predominantly black one supported Jones. The other six supported Roy Moore. Even if the Democrats win seats in 2018, these Democrats will represent majority white

areas. The challenges this reality raise could bedevil Democrats if they can’t find ways to speak to diverse and divergent communities. What about turnout in the LGBTQ community and among their friends? Clearly their stake in the Alabama elections was as great as the black community’s. Roy Moore, with a long history of inflammatory, dehumanizing comments about gay and transgender people, was suspended for the second time as chief justice of the State Supreme Court for instructing Alabama’s county probate judges, which he oversaw, not to issue same-sex marriage licenses in defiance of the 2015 US Supreme Court ruling. On their “Gay USA” TV program, Ann Northrop and Gay City News contributor Andy Humm emphasized the rainbow hue of Jones’ victory party, showing the Human Rights Campaign posters attached to the speaker’s podium and waving in the crowd. HRC was upfront on the TV screen that night. That Jones was good for queers became national news in the final days of

the campaign. Nathan Mathis, a farmer standing outside a Roy Moore rally, held up a sign reading, “Judge Roy Moore called my daughter Patti Sue Mathis a pervert because she was gay. A 32-yearold Roy Moore dated teenage girls aged 14 to 17. So that makes him a pervert of the worse kind.” The Daily Beast’s Tim Teeman reported that Mathis acknowledged that he lost his daughter to suicide in 1995 at age 23, after she faced her parents’ rejection of her sexuality. Mathis’ one-man demonstration of his love and loss 22 years later went viral. Moore’s hostility toward gays mobilized a protective feeling even among some who are uncomfortable with homosexuals — they don’t want gays bullied and that was what Moore promised to do. He wanted to make gay sex illegal. When Alabama elected Jones they knew where he stood on LGBTQ issues. On election night standing behind Doug Jones on the podium was his handsome son Carson, who is a zookeeper in Denver. The day after his father’s election pictures of Carson in pink shorts at the pride parade went viral, and he came out in the Advocate. Clearly Doug Jones will support marriage equality and he may well accept the argument that discrimination against gays is a form of sex discrimination and that all the laws that protect women also protect the LGBTQ community. The Advocate reports that at a campaign event Jones, when questioned about transgender rights, including access to the restrooms appropriate to their gender identity, said, “We’ve got to protect them.” He also said of the Trump administration, “They were wrong to ban transgender [people] from the military. Just wrong, wrong, wrong.” Trudy Ring, long a guru of sorts at the Advocate, put it nicely, writing that Jones’ “election was not just the defeat of an enemy, but a victory for an ally.” December 21, 2017


TENANTS continued from p. 3

St. in 2015, Toledano was snatching up properties in the East Village. SaMi Chester, a tenant organizer with Cooper Square Committee, said that tenants at those 26 buildings — including 125 W. 16th St. — owned at that time by Toledano and Brookhill Properties, came together to form the Toledano Tenants Coalition. “Toledano was literally harassing the tenants,” Chester said by phone. “He’s a real piece of work.” Chester said Toledano and people who worked for him were dropping by tenants’ apartments at 8 p.m. at night. He was at the door “with a box of chocolates and a story why they should leave,” he said. By New Year’s Eve 2016, the remaining rent-regulated tenants at W. 16th St. got notices that the landlord needed access to their apartments for electrical upgrades, Frauenglass said. The tenants banded together and hired a private attorney — they were willing to give access but wanted to know exactly what was going to be done, she said. Eventually, they backed down, she said. Toledano has “gutted the apartments and left them empty,” Philip Bruno, 70, who has lived in the building for over 25 years, said by phone. Michael Leonard, a staff attorney for the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center who now represents the majority of tenants at the building, noted that on Jan. 30 of this year, a foreclosure case was filed. Madison Realty Capital foreclosed because the LLC owned and controlled by Toledano was not making its payments, he said. The Real Deal reported that Madison had “provided $34 million in financing” to Toledano. The foreclosure, Leonard said, left the tenants in limbo. There was no maintenance of the building, and the superintendent and bills for services such as Con Edison were not being paid for a period of time. “No one is managing the building,” Frauenglass said, noting that around the end of April, early May, the tenants went 10 days without heat or hot water. The foreclosure proceedings, however, “came to a screeching halt” when the LLC declared bankruptcy at the end of September, Leonard said by phone. All business must now be conducted in a federal bankruptcy court in White Plains, he said. When reached by phone, Toledano declined to comment due to the proceedings, and said he didn’t own the building anymore. AAK Acquisitions LLC is in contract to buy the building, The Real Deal reported


December 21, 2017

Courtesy Alison Frauenglass

L to R: On Mon., Dec. 18, Alison Frauenglass, SaMi Chester, a tenant organizer with Cooper Square Committee, and Michael Leonard, an attorney with the Urban Justice Center, protested Madison Realty Capital in front of their offices on Third Ave.

Courtesy Office of State Senator Brad Hoylman

Tenant advocates and State Senator Brad Hoylman (right of Santa) protested in front of Madison Realty Capital on Dec. 18. Hoylman said financial institutions, like Madison, which lend to landlords who don’t have credit worthiness to develop properties, are part of the problem.

in September. Leonard said the sale of the building must be approved by the bankruptcy court and that has yet to happen. Mitchell Greene is the lawyer who represents Richard Cohen, who now manages the LLC that owns the building. Toledano hasn’t controlled the LLC for about six months and while he is still equity owner, if the sale, which Greene said is for about $49 million, is approved and does go through in the next 45 days, “Mr. Toledano will be receiving nothing.” Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, whose office has been working with the tenants, said by phone, “The turmoil in ownership is a problem for tenants. It’s important to know who is charge and who is accountable.” The tenants are in a “grey area,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said by phone. “At the end of the day, rent stabilization and rent regulation needs to stand for

something.” Bruno, the tenant, said that a man who said his name was Eugene came to his apartment to talk about a buyout. Eugene did not give a last name, Bruno said. “It scared the hell out of me,” he said. Eugene said they were going to gut the building, and it could take four to five years to complete construction, according to Bruno. Bruno said he currently has a two-bedroom apartment, but there was no telling how much space he would come back to if he did wait through the construction. “All this malarkey of pushing us out and coming back to a studio, we’re protected by New York City laws,” he said. “We have a lot of rights and they are trampling on them.” He added, “I’m 70 years old and I don’t want to move.” Wheatley, who moved into the building in 1995, said in a phone interview that

Eugene came to her apartment as well. “Eugene didn’t explicitly [say] who he represented but it was very much implied it was the new owner of the building,” she said, noting he did not give his last name or give her a card. She described Toledano as “hyper, young, talks a mile a minute and didn’t listen,” and “he didn’t come to my apartment but he went to most everybody else’s apartments with chocolates.” She added, “When Eugene came to my apartment, he did bring a box of chocolates.” (Bruno said he did not get chocolates.) Eugene told her that the new owners would begin construction in February — starting with the stairs — and that the building would be unlivable, Wheatley said. “He presented it as a done deal,” she said. “I’m not naive but I was blindsided.” William Schneider, an attorney representing AAK Acquisitions LLC, said “no comment” when reached by phone. He did say that Eugene is part of the management company but did not elaborate. Leonard, the attorney for the tenants, said that there are specific procedures codified in law regarding buyouts, including that the offer has to be made in writing, and, if rejected by the tenant, the landlord can not make another offer for 180 days. Frauenglass said, “I’m not interested in a buyout. I don’t think the community we have is something you can buy someplace else.” Leonard, Chester, the tenant organizer, and Hoylman, the state senator, pointed to the role financial institutions, like Madison Realty Capital, play. On Mon., Dec. 18 in the morning, there was a protest in front of Madison’s office at 825 Third Ave. (btw. E. 50th and E. 51st Sts.) “We want to continue to make noise. There is something rotten in the state of Denmark,” Chester said before the protest. Hoylman, who was at the protest, said, “This is an example of what’s wrong with our financial institutions, which are propping up fly-by-night developers like Toledano.” He added they “don’t have the credit worthiness to develop these properties and speculate on rent-stabilized properties with the hope of driving these tenants out. The lending institutions are part of the problem.” Madison Realty Capital did not return calls requesting comment. Wheatley said, “We’re not going anywhere. They can’t kick us out — it’s all a scam.” NYC Community Media

RETRO continued from p. 7

we’ve made up,” Wittels said, “ranging from our signature we’ve created called ‘The Retro,’ which is a gin-based cocktail. Then, we have things like a Red Devil or a Long Island Iced Tea, Sloe Gin Fizz.” There’s also a food menu, including popular options such as fresh guacamole and crab cakes. However, at the very center of the enterprise is the music, which Wittels takes a particularly hands-on approach with, given his DJ background (he’s usually up in the booth, and often spins himself). During our visit, selections ran the gamut from pop royalty like Prince, to new wave hits from Eurythmics and Tom Tom Club; the dance floor never thinned out. “We aim to please,” Wittels quipped, noting that it’s no small feat to keep people moving. “It’s a challenge to work with a diverse crowd and make sure that everyone is happy. It’s something that we’ve been doing. When you have people who are in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, you have to mix it up a lot and keep everyone dancing,” Wittels explained, on reading crowds. “People respond to popular songs that they know. That’s always the way it’s been, and that’s always the way I continue to see it. Everyone identifies whatever experience they have with a

Courtesy retroclubnyc

Retroclubnyc founder Jeff Wittels can often by found in the DJ booth, spinning crowdpleasers that keep the dance floor packed.

particular song, and they want to hear that song… If you hit a Michael Jackson song and you play ‘Billie Jean,’ or if you play something popular from Madonna — always crowd pleasers.” Still, Wittels has his eyes on taking the music to new levels, asserting that live performances are “definitely on the horizon” for the club. “Probably by early next year,” he elaborated. “We have some bands and stuff that we’re working with, still, and talking to, that play a lot of the ’70s, ’80s music.” For now, though, much of their energy is directed toward their bustling sched-

ule of private events — which Wittels said has taken off quickly. Thus far, Retroclubnyc has served as a venue for wedding parties, high school reunions, and corporate parties, and a swath of holiday functions are lined up for the near future. Still, though, Wittels’ top priority is to continue establishing Retroclubnyc as both a destination club, as well as a local neighborhood touchstone — a balance its Chelsea location has aided significantly in. “It’s great spot. Close to public transportation and just nice, great people here in this area and all over the city. We have

a lot of local people come in,” Wittels commented. “We have a core group of people showing up every week… they meet me, and it’s very personal.” “It’s been fulfilling. It’s just good to see that the concept has worked and people come in and they really enjoy themselves. They’re happy, and they’re dancing,” Wittels reflected. “Everyone with smiles on their face. Everyone having a good time, singing along to the songs. People just want it, and they like it. Happy to have a club they can go to for their age group, and not have to go down to the Meatpacking [District] and go to one of those 20-year-old clubs where there’s just house music. People are excited,” he concluded. “It’s fun to just watch everyone be happy and enjoy themselves.” Retroclubnyc (161 W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) is open until 2 a.m. Wed. & 4 a.m. Thurs.–Sat. Open for Happy Hour Wed.–Fri., 5–8 p.m. (free admission). Cover is $10 after 9 p.m. Fri. & Sat. Visit or call 212-929-0900. Their New Year’s Eve celebration happens 9 p.m. Sun., Dec. 31 through 1 a.m. Tickets: $125. For reservations, email (email for reservations); includes champagne toast at midnight, hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar of beer, wine, and well drinks.

WE WON’T GIVE IT TO YOU STRAIGHT TV’S LONGEST RUNNING LGBT NEWS PROGRAM Thursdays at 11 PM on Spectrum 34 &1995 HD, RCN 82, FiOS 33 Video & Podcast online at NYC Community Media

December 21, 2017


PENINSULA continued from p. 4

Under the deal, Gansevoort was to have been environmentally remediated and handed over to the Trust by 2013. The total amount of fines reportedly may have reached around $32 million before Sanitation finally moved its trucks off a couple of years ago, sending most of them to its new garage — which essentially was built because of the lawsuit — at Spring and Washington Sts. A few months ago, concerned that there had been no motion on environmentally remediating the peninsula, Dan Alterman, the attorney who represented the Friends in the 2005 settlement, tipped off our sister publication, The Villager, that he was getting ready to readdress the issue with the Trust and Sanitation. But then the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) finally started demolishing the old garage. “We don’t have to file the lawsuit,” said Tom Fox, a former Friends board member who more recently sued the Trust over Barry Diller’s Pier 55 “Fantasy Island” plan. “It’s on the Department of Sanitation to take down the building, remediate the peninsula, and they’re supposed to deliver it clean, broom-swept,” Fox said. He noted that the former incinerator’s towering dual smokestacks that were razed more than a decade ago were supposed to remain, under the original Hudson River Park plan, “as a symbol of the industrial past.” But, he said, James Ortenzio, the Trust’s former board chairperson, decided to remove down. A Trust spokesperson said the authority expects DDC to hand over Gansevoort Peninsula to the Trust by this spring. One big question mark, though, is whether the peninsula will also have a marine transfer station, or MTS. Under that scheme, which was approved by the city and state in 2008, up to 60 garbage trucks per day would haul recyclables to Gansevoort — of course, first having to cross the busy Hudson River bike path. At Gansevoort, the trucks would dump their loads into barges, which would then ferry the waste to the city’s recycling plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. About 1.36 acres on the peninsula’s northern and western sides would be set aside for a 25-foot-wide road for the garbage trucks that would ramp up to a new transfer station. The Gansevoort facility was also to have an “educational component,” teaching about recycling. According to a source, the Trust wants to move ahead with designing a park on Gansevoort, but first needs to know what the city’s plans are for a possible MTS. there. Currently, the transfer-station plans are “not clear,” the source said. To “alienate” the needed land from park use, so that it could be used for the MTS, the Trust is seeking around $50 million — a payment that, theoretically, would be split by the city and state. At least that was the figure Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president, told The Villager four years ago. However, a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, between the city and state on the issue is nowhere to be found. “I’m unaware of any movement around that one way or another,” Assemblymember Deborah Glick said. “There haven’t been any conversations recently to my knowledge.”


December 21, 2017

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

On Gansevoort Peninsula’s western edge is a broken-down cobblestoned remnant of 13th Ave., from when Manhattan’s shoreline extended further out into the river.

Glick said the city wants to alienate the needed part of Gansevoort, but the state doesn’t want to pay for what is basically a city use. “I think the question is to the city at this point,” she said. Similarly, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said, “I haven’t heard any discussion of anything happening on Gansevoort in quite a number of years. I’m not aware of there having been any movement on the transfer station or anything else at Gansevoort in many years. The whole thing seems to have fallen off everybody’s radar.” Erik Bottcher, Councilmember Corey Johnson’s chief of staff, said the Gansevoort demolition work was delayed a bit because, several months ago, a

worker was injured at the site, and the Department of Buildings enforced a Stop Work Order while safety procedures were checked. “There has been no progress on the city-state MOU,” Bottcher said. “The state has expressed no interest in signing an MOU.” Plus, Bottcher noted, “The Department of Sanitation is contemplating a move to single-stream recycling, where the paper and plastic would all be in one bin. So that is also why they are not in a rush: They don’t want to have a facility there that is obsolete. They would build it after they decide — but single-stream seems to be the future. “Based on those two factors,” he said, “the MTS is probably not happening anytime soon.” NYC Community Media

WESTSIDE MARKET continued from p. 5

in the neighborhood have been working on expanding the number of stores in the area that take WIC, a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. Ideal Marketplace at 317 Ninth Ave. and Western Beef at 431 W. 16th St. are the only two stores in the area that accept WIC vouchers. Medelius and Miguel Acevedo of the Fulton Houses Tenants’ Association have been spearheading a grassroots effort to get Gristedes, which has three stores in Chelsea, to once again take WIC checks. Elected officials have also been working on this issue. Medelius said he is concerned that Westside Market does not take WIC. Belesis confirmed that the chain does not take WIC, but declined to elaborate why. Westside Market signed a 20-year lease at 170 W. 23rd St. for the 8,000 squarefoot store, according to a press release from Jack Resnick & Sons, the space’s landlord. A rep for Jack Resnick & Sons declined to comment on the asking rent. Belesis said that the store is expected to open in around six to eight months. The chain is also opening two additional new locations: one at E. 17th St. and Third Ave., and one at E. 92nd St. and Lexington Ave, he said. One of Westside Market’s stores on Broadway near W.

Photo by Scott Stiffler

Signage announces the new W. 23rd St. store, expected to open in around six to eight months.

77th St. closed recently, he confirmed. John Zoitas started the business in 1965, after coming to the US from Greece “more than 45 years ago. He brought with him a love of fresh-grown produce, authentic cooking, and a steadfast commitment to service and quality,” according to Westside Market’s website. Belesis, who is Zoitas’ son-in-law, has run the business with Zoitas’ son, George,

for the last 12 years. Belesis emphasized that is a family business that prides itself on the personal touch and its customer service. “We have a relationship with our customers,” he said, noting that the owners are usually at one of the stores. One of the things that is unique to Westside Market is its prepared food, which Belesis said they focus on a lot — each store has its own onsite kitchen

with a staff of about 25 to 30 people, he said. The food offered ranges from Asian to Greek to Spanish cuisines among others, he said. “A lot of recipes come from Maria Zoitas,” he said, noting that she is coming out soon with a traditional Greek cookbook. Belesis said that they are “very excited” about the new store.

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December 21, 2017


Mark of Distinction Rylance shines as a crazed king soothed by the healing powers of music BY DAVID KENNERLEY A stunning dual highlight of the 2013 theater season was “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night” in repertory, imported from London’s Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and starring the wily virtuoso Mark Rylance. Aside from the spot-on performances, what made those works so exquisite was the obsessive attention to historical detail, with sumptuous periodperfect costumes, bearded musicians playing Baroque instruments, and a stage lit almost exclusively by candlelight. Select theatergoers even got to sit in a gallery onstage, much like they did in the Globe Theatre back in the day. If you wish to recapture the magic, hie thee over to the Belasco Theatre where Claire van Kampen’s new play “Farinelli and the King” has taken residence for a strictly limited engagement. Director John Dove has repeated those authentic touches to enhance van Kampen’s atmospheric drama (the playwright, by the way, happens to be Rylance’s wife). But there’s an added treat. In this retelling of Philippe V, the notorious maniacal king of Spain, and the efforts to cure his manic-depression with the aid of famous castrato Carlo “Farinelli” Broschi, the play features haunting Handel arias sung in Italian by countertenor Iestyn Davies (the vocals are so taxing that James Hall covers select performances). It should be noted that Sam Crane, the actor who plays Farinelli, does not sing; Davies stands beside him, “Avenue Q” style. The triumph of “Farinelli and the King” is showcasing the distinct pleasures of these magnificent vocalizations, transporting theatergoers back in time. As mesmerizing as it is magical, it’s easy to see how Farinelli drove adoring crowds wild — the way, say, Tom Jones did in the 1960s or Harry Styles does today. The shaky plot, as it happens, would seem contrived if it weren’t true. Set mainly in the Madrid palace circa 1737, Philippe’s behavior has become so erratic — staying awake through the night, fishing out of goldfish bowls,


December 21, 2017

Photo by Joan Marcus

L to R: Sam Crane and Mark Rylance in Claire van Kampen’s “Farinelli and the King,” directed by John Dove, at the Belasco Theatre through March 25.

talking to clocks — that he no longer can govern, and his chief minister, La Cuadra, schemes to have him dethroned. But when his wife Isabella brings the beautiful, angel-voiced Farinelli to court to perform a kind of music therapy, Philippe is entranced and indeed becomes stabilized. For his part, the young maestro is grateful to be of service and to leave behind the pressures of being a slave to his rabid fans. He never performed in public again. Although the big draw is triple Tonywinner Rylance, who renders Philippe’s abrupt mood shifts utterly convincing, the rest of the cast is equally fi ne. As the great yet tragic Farinelli, the highly appealing Crane expresses a superstar’s self-assurance while avoiding narcissism. We admire his fortitude — Farinelli long ago accepted that

his brother castrated him at age 10 to make money. Or has he? Melody Grove’s Isabella radiates an inner core of strength as she is torn between love of her husband and duty to their subjects. Edward Peel is extraordinary as La Cuadra. His nearcomical, exaggerated facial expressions are so telling that his dialogue is almost superfluous. Rounding out the cast are Huss Garbiya as the royal physician, Colin Hurley as the opportunistic theater manager, and in other supporting roles. Nearly as remarkable as the historical details is Isabella’s progressive stance on treating mental illness. Most experts at the time believed afflicted people were mad or possessed and treated them with exorcism or bloodletting or imprisonment. The good

queen knew that Farinelli, with his unearthly vocal range of nearly three octaves and his ability to hold a note for two-and-one-half minutes, might cure the king. Modern clinical studies have proven that certain music releases mood-lifting chemicals like dopamine and endorphins within the brain. In fact, Handel has often been compared to the mythological Orpheus in his ability to profoundly move audiences with music. Surely van Kampen had the well-known quote from the period in mind, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast.” Through March 25, 2018 at the Belasco Theatre (111 W. 44th St., btw. Broadway & Sixth Ave.). Tues. at 7pm; Wed.-Sat. at 8pm; Wed. & Sat. at 2pm; Sun. at 3pm. For tickets ($32-$169), visit or call 212-2396200. NYC Community Media

Buhmann on Art ‘The World Is Sound’ BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN Employing sound in new ways, the Rubin Museum of Art’s “The World Is Sound” exhibition aims to animate and intensify the experience of the museum’s stunning permanent collection, which is particularly focused on Tibetan art. It is organized cyclically, tracing themes from creation to death and rebirth, to explore how the different dimensions of sound have played a key role in Tibetan Buddhism. By featuring a selection of works by a variety of contemporary artists, including Christine Sun Kim, Ernst Karel, Hildegard Westerkamp, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Samita Sinha, among others, this exhibition aims to bridge the past with the present. In fact, the juxtaposition of these contemporary positions and historical objects makes for both an unpredictable and inspiring experience. Hoping to encourage visitors to reflect on how we listen in general, curator Risha Lee succeeds in transforming the Rubin into one large instrument and vehicle of sensatory transformation. In this context, the “Le Corps Sonore” (Sound Body) — an immersive, sitespecific installation composed for the museum’s iconic spiral staircase by the pioneering electronic sound artists Éliane Radigue, Laetitia Sonami and Bob Bielecki — serves as the centerpiece of the exhibition. Here, ambient drone sounds inspired by Buddhist philosophy are “tuned” to the building and will ascend and descend as visitors wind their way up or down the staircase. For many, the subtlety and ephemeral quality of sound should prove an ideal catalyst for understanding music as a metaphor for constant change and hence, impermanence. Through Jan. 8, 2018 at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St. btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Museum Hours: Mon. & Thurs., 11am–5pm. Wed., 11am–9pm. Fri., 11am–10pm (free admission to galleries after 6 p.m.). Sat. & Sun., 11am–6pm. Closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. $15 general admission ($10 for students/seniors; free admission for seniors on the first Monday of the month; free for kids 12 and younger, and RMA members). Call 212-6205000 or visit NYC Community Media

Courtesy Rubin Museum of Art

A ceremonial conch trumpet (dung kar). Tibet; 19th century (?), made of conch shell and metal with gilding (9.75” h. x 14.625” w. x 2.625” d.).

Photo by Filip Wolak

Monks recording for the museum’s “The World Is Sound” exhibition.

Photo by Filip Wolak Charlotte Feng Ford Collection, courtesy Elizabeth Dee, NY

John Giorno: “Words Come From Sound” (2016. Rainbow silkscreen; 40 x 40 in.).

The immersive, site-specific installation “Le Corps Sonore” was composed for the museum’s iconic spiral staircase. December 21, 2017


Do we even have to tell you it’s L to R? Liza Minnelli sits with Rick Skye (do we even have to tell you they’re both Rick?).

Photo by Chris Carlisle

Set Your Sights on ‘A Sequined Variety’ Rick Skye and friends do it at Don’t Tell Mama BY SCOTT STIFFLER Short of the real McCoy, the best way to see the mighty Minnelli on stage is to spell “Liza” with an “S” — as in Rick Skye. In a world of drag show lip-synch acts, YouTube parodies and petty impressionists, no version of Liza Minnelli hits the heights and sticks the landing quite like the one Skye has spent years sharpening and polishing (in shows such as “A Slice of Minnelli” and “Judy and Liza Together Again”). As fascinatingly idiosyncratic and hell-bent on entertaining you as Minnelli herself, Skye’s take on The Great One cleverly melds what we know and love (and are loathe to admit) about Liza May with timeless zingers and contemporary observations that have little or no relation to the source material — making for a reliably unpredictable evening. Now, monthly at the iconic Midtown Manhattan cabaret space Don’t Tell Mama, “Bazazz! A Sequined Variety” finds our man Skye is joined by the topshelf eye candy unit known as the Kit


December 21, 2017

Kat Boyz, along with special guests and, of course, Skye in Liza mode (singing in his own voice and presenting personally penned parody lyrics to beloved Minnelli standards). In this month’s waning days, “Bazazz!” does double duty — first, on Dec. 29, with songwriter/Broadway performer Rick Crom and pop songstress Karen Wyman; then, on Dec. 31, with alt-cabaret artist Lykken and three-time MAC Award-winning comedian Nancy Witter, in a special New Year’s Eve show. See “Bazzaz!” now, before they ban glitter and turn their gaze to our precious sequins! At Don’t Tell Mama (343 W. 46th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For the Fri., Dec. 29, 7pm performance, $20.00 cover/two-drink minimum (cash only; visit for reservations). For the Sun., Dec. 31, 9:30pm performance, $160 tickets include a 3-course prix-fix dinner and champagne flute toast. To make reservations for this special New Year’s Eve performance guests must email NYC Community Media

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SHIRLEY LITTMAN continued from p. 6

“I’d say, ‘Come on let’s go,’ and they would say, ‘Just a minute, wait, we’re talking to your mom,’ ” Danny said at her service. “They wanted to stay and talk to mom.” Her stepdaughter Zoe called her “an equalizer.” She said if it weren’t for Shirley’s encouragement and blessing, her father, Larry, might have never reconnected with her. She said Littman was “a beacon of positivity but [that] did not stop her from criticizing the system.” Littman was a real example of someone who dedicated her life to economic and social justice, Johnson said. She even filed grievances against the DHS, where she was working at the time, when she found out women and people of color weren’t receiving equal pay. She was a messenger of doing the right thing. She was described as having strong opinions on most things, but genuinely wanting to get to know everyone she’d met. “She was a champion for women. She was a champion for unions. She was a champion for everything. She loved her community. She loved Chelsea. She loved her neighbors,” Gloria Middleton, secretary-treasurer at CWA Local 1180 said. “She had no problems saying what she needed to say for the rights of people.” Middleton joked that even after

Courtesy the Littman family

When Littman wasn’t fighting for social and economic justice, she enjoyed buying and selling trinkets at the local flea market. Her husband Larry described her as a “people person, through and through.”

Littman had retired, she still came to meetings and “still fussed about what we were doing wrong.” Littman, also a passionate anti-war activist, was a member, and later president, of Chelsea for Peace. In 2015, she received the Dr. John Lovejoy Elliott

Senior Service Award, an award honoring her leadership in the Chelsea community, and an award her husband also won (they were both active members of the Hudson Guild). She was also a member of the Raging Grannies, an internationally recognized

activist group promoting justice, social, and economic equality through song and satire. Members of the New York chapter, some dawning gardening hats with plastic flowers, just as Littman had worn, sang a song Littman wrote to the tune of The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” for the Nov. 14, 2014 Support the Postal Workers Rally. Additionally, the Raging Grannies performed “Her Song Goes On,” whose lyrics resonated through the church: “The songs she sang / While with us here / Still bring a smile, a laugh, a tear / And those she touched, must surely know / Though she is gone / Her song goes on.” Over a dozen people spoke, sharing memories and testimonies of Littman’s kindness and spirit, each person from different aspects of Littman’s multifaceted life. To some she was a co-worker, a mother, a wife, an aunt, a friend, a neighbor — but to everyone she touched, she was a truth-telling, justice-seeking warrior who radiated warmth without expectation or pretension. Eddie Yood, a member of CWA 1180’s Committee for People with Disabilities, said Littman brought about a “revolutionary optimism” to the world. “Living in New York, it’s so easy to be jaded. It’s so easy to not care,” her great-niece said. “That was the opposite of Shirley. She taught me not to be complacent. She taught me to care.”

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