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Again, Massive Women’s March 02

Boro Prez’s Priorities 05

AmfAR’s Mathilde Krim Dies at 91 10

State Assembly Hearing on Legalizing Pot BY NATHAN RILEY Demanding that New York State stop racist law enforcement patterns by legalizing adult use of marijuana, advocates told members of the State Assembly, including Health Committee chair Richard N. Gottfried, a West Side Democrat, that police stops are traumatizing black and brown New Yorkers. At a Jan. 11 hearing in Lower Manhattan, speaker after speaker insisted that being searched, handcuffed, marched into court, and chained to other arrestees in the morning is often traumatizing. “Marijuana decriminalization has fallen short and will continue to do so,” Kassandra Frederique, the New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance, contended. Even with reductions in stop and frisk, it remains up to the police officer to distinguish between private possession and possession in public view, which can trigger a criminal arrest. Those nabbed, overwhelmingly black and Latino New Yorkers, are fingerprinted and given retinal scans. Police officers have no immediate way of knowing if their victim faces deportation or loss of a job or a scholarship, but no matter what the arrestee is left cowed and confused. Over the past 20 years, more than 800,000 New Yorkers living in a “decriminalized” legal environment LEGALIZING POT continued on p. 7

Photo by Brice Peyre

Democratic Assemblymembers Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, and Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan’s West Side at the Jan. 11 hearing.

January 25 – February 7, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 2

Photo by Donna Aceto

On the Martin Luther King, Jr., national holiday, crowds thronged Times Square to remember the slain civil right leader and denounce President Donald Trump’s notorious “shithole countries” slam the previous week.

HONORING KING WHILE RESISTING TRUMP BY REBECCA FIORE Nearly a half-century after the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and on the holiday memorializing him, hundreds gathered together in the freezing cold of Times Square for a Rally Against Racism, held in response to President Donald Trump’s most recent inflammatory and racist comments — referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries.” Cara Noel, communications director for 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which hosted the Jan. 15 rally, explained, in an emailed statement, that the “coalition came together to show the world that working people are taking a stand for our sisters and brothers from Haiti, throughout Africa, El Salvador, and other nations that have been targets of the hatred and bigotry of the Trump administration.” She said the coalition made a conscious decision of holding the rally on MLK Day to honor King and show “the world the progress we are making towards helping to achieve Dr. King’s dream.” It was one of five rallies that day — including ones at Washington Square Park and in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — against the current administration, according to

Take Action NYC (takeactionnyc.com). Numerous public officials as well as event organizers and members of the public spoke out against Trump’s slur and voiced support for the city’s immense immigrant population. The roster of speakers included Mathieu Eugene, the first Haitian-born person elected to the New York City Council, and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte, the first Haitian-American woman elected to office in the city. “Today as we celebrate the legacy of a champion for justice, Dr. Martin Luther King, it is important we come together to condemn the words of the president and offer respect for Haitians, Africans, and immigrants,” Eugene, who represents Brooklyn’s District 40 on the Council, said. “Haiti is the model of liberty. Haiti is the model of human dignity.” Many members in the crowd, draped in the Haitian flag, shouted “1804!” — the year of Haiti’s independence from French colonizers. Haiti is the only nation established as a result of a slave revolt and is considered the first black republic. Bichotte, representing the 42nd Assembly disMLK DAY continued on p. 7


At the Women’s March on NYC, Reaction Becomes BY EILEEN STUKANE The pink “pussyhats” showed up on thousands of heads again as the second Women’s March on New York City brought an estimated 200,000 people onto Central Park West from W. 61st St. to W. 80th St. and beyond. “I love the fact that I cannot see the end of this,” said Whoopi Goldberg, speaking from the platform stage at W. 61st St. Last year’s Women’s March, originally planned for Washington, DC, inspired same-day Women’s Marches across the globe, an organic uprising of millions who were stunned by the 2016 election that made Donald J. Trump America’s president. (Worldwide this year, 280 Women’s Marches filled the streets simultaneously.) The mood of that first March was reactionary — an outlet was needed to oppose the misogyny that threatened women’s reproductive rights, and equal rights in general. Resistance was needed to protect freedom of the press, an expected assault on the environment, and a feared crackdown on minority populations and immigrants. This time was different. Reaction has become action, and a movement is under way. This 2018 Women’s March was a call to vote, to run for office, to speak out, and never be silenced. “The core principles have remained the same,” said Sarah Steinhardt, press officer for Women’s March Alliance (WMA), organizer of the Jan. 20 NYC Women’s March. “We march for women’s rights and gender equality, to empower women to use their voices, and to give them the tools and the knowledge and the information to do so.” However, in addition to those core principles, this year’s March promoted voter registration, with a clear message to vote. “Our goal is to register one million women to vote by the November election,” Steinhardt explained, “We feel

Photos by Christian Miles

“I love the fact that I cannot see the end of this,” said Whoopi Goldberg, speaking from the platform stage at W. 61st St.

very strongly that women should know how to exercise their rights and the most basic example of that is voting.” On that initiative WMA is working with voter registration groups such as voter.org, Rock The Vote, and Voto Latino. While the marchers would hear that call to vote from speakers who rallied the assembled thousands on this goodfor-marching 50-degree Saturday, they would mostly be moved by the stories of those who were not household names. There were familiar faces who inspired, Rosie Perez, Whoopi Goldberg, the quiet presence of Yoko Ono, and New York State Attorney General (AG) Eric Schneiderman — but the day belonged to those women who were committing themselves to change the culture behind the headlines.

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An estimated 200,000 participated in the 2018 Women’s March on NYC.

Jersey Freeholder Ashley Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener attending grad school, shared the story of how she had seen New Jersey Freeholder John Carman post a meme during last year’s Women’s March that read: “Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?” Bennett was offended, and although she had never been in politics she was inspired by the 2017 Women’s March to run for Carman’s seat. “When I announced my candidacy many people wrote me off because I’m just an ordinary woman,” Bennett recalled. “I wake up early, I go to work every day, I have student loans, and I have to check my bank account before I do just about anything — but I had to remind myself that when ordinary people stand up for what they believe, when they come together around a common purpose and a true desire to lift up everyone in the community, extraordinary things happen.” Bennett admitted that she was initially afraid and said, “If you feel the

call and you’re afraid, just do it afraid. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be willing.” Repeated by several speakers was the reminder that this emerging movement is not about vengeance. Succinctly put by Bennett: “It’s about time, time for women to stand together, not just once a year but every day.” Sulma Arzu-Brown introduced herself as a Garifuna woman from Honduras, but she wears multiple hats as director of operations for the NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, co-owner of Boogie Down Grind Café in the Bronx, and author of “Bad Hair Does Not Exist!” (a children’s book). On the stage with her mother and two young daughters, Arzu-Brown spoke emotionally of the sacrifice her mother made by leaving her and her brother behind in Honduras to come to the USA. In her native country, her mother was told she would not be promoted in her job because she was Black, Latina, Garifuna, and a woman. “I stand on the shoulders of my mother,” she said. NYC Community Media

Action — And a Movement is Under Way

Often, women on stage spoke of helping younger women, mentoring them, supporting them whenever possible. “We are creating a path for our children that lets them know that we are not just people of color, that we are people of beautiful color, that we belong to the human race and we come from beautiful places that we cultivated with our bare hands.” Through her books, she is striving to spread knowledge of her community and how “we share very similar experiences as human beings and as women, experiences that include love and compassion and heart.” (After the march, although Arzu-Brown herself was inspiring, she felt inspired: “The crowd gave me warm eyes and attentive ears and open hearts to hear my story, to take ownership of everything God has given me. I got so much comfort from the women. They gave me courage.”) Although the #MeToo movement was not mentioned by name, the ability to speak out about the pain of sexual harassment and abuse presented itself. From her wheelchair Nadina LaSpina, NYC Community Media

an activist for people with disabilities, told the marchers that the disabled are not spared from sexual assault by medical professionals, and also by those in academia. “I was made to feel that I should be grateful because I was not as good as a nondisabled woman,” she said, the injustice clear in her voice. She also reminded that in the struggle for equal pay, disabled individuals earn 37 percent less overall than the able-bodied. (AG Schneiderman had noted that achieving equal pay for equal work was fighting the existing “Seventh-five cents on the dollar if you’re a white woman, 63 cents if you’re an African-American woman, 54 cents if you’re a Latina.”) The moment when a hush fell over the crowd was when the singer Halsey approached the microphone to share her poem, “A Story Like Mine,” her memories of being sexually assaulted as a child; sitting with her best friend in the waiting room of Planned Parenthood after her friend had been raped; being forced to have sex with a “boyfriend”; performing onstage after a miscarriage; and realizing that her celebrity is not a

Many of the signs, such as Chelsea artist Mary Frank’s poster painting “Don’t Tear Families Apart,” showed concern for the current crackdown on immigration and support of DACA.

protection from sexual abuse. “I believe I’m protected ’cause I live on a screen / Nobody would dare act that way around me / I’ve earned my protection, eternally clean / Until a man that I trust gets his hands in my pants /… And every friend that I know has a story like mine.” The spoken words touched the gen-

erations, from three-year-old Adelaide Carter from Brooklyn, participating in her second Women’s March, this time walking with no need of her stroller, to 89-year-old Upper West Sider Mary Vanschaick, in a Women’s March for WOMEN’S MARCH continued on p. 18

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Januar y 25, 2018


MOME’s Menin Brings Back Grammys, Backs Empowering Initiatives

Photo by George Kalinsky for Madison Square Garden

Back in 2003, the last time the Grammys were at MSG, a promising newcomer by the name of Norah Jones won Best New Artist.

BY WINNIE McCROY When Commissioner Julie Menin of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) saw an opportunity to reclaim a prestige event, she didn’t skip a beat — and now, just in time to celebrate their 60th anniversary, the Grammy Awards are back in the New York groove. Set to broadcast worldwide from the nation’s music capital on the night of Sun., Jan. 28, the Grammys bring with them more

star power than any solo gig Madison Square Garden has ever seen, along with an estimated $200 million in attendant revenues. “In the first week that I was on the job, I went out to LA to meet with The [Recording] Academy, because we knew the contract with The Staples Center was up,” Menin recalled. “There was an opportunity for us to create a very compelling case for New York, because the Grammys had not been



Januar y 25, 2018

Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Julie Menin, in a Jan. 16 interview with NYC Community Media.

here for 15 years… So we were very focused on what we could do to bring them back to the city. It was a golden opportunity.” Menin had heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about how the music industry had moved to LA, but she wanted data. So, being the commissioner, she commissioned a study of the music ecosystem. It revealed that, despite the recent closing of smaller venues, New York City’s music industry supported 60,000 jobs and “sold more live music tickets last year than the top other three cities, LA, Nashville and San Francisco, combined.” The negotiations involved the various labor unions at Madison Square Garden, putting together a host committee, and details regarding a one-day load-in, rehearsals, and the ceremony itself at MSG — and the Grammys are just the beginning. “Certainly having a close relationship with labor and working very closely with them, they’ve been a fantastic partner in this,” Menin noted. “There were a lot of different components to the negotiation and we’re thrilled it is happening, and I think it’s a great harbinger. We are actually in negotiations with other shows outside of music that we think would be great to bring here to New York City. It’s value-added, economic revenue.” And that economic revenue is conservatively estimated to be at least $200 million. Last year, the city of Los Angeles commissioned a study to show how much the Grammys brought in — everything from hotel rooms to transportation, and all the different industries that will benefit. “The Grammys bring dozens and dozens of staff members who stay here well in advance,” Menin noted. “There

is everything from wardrobe to trucking to so many different attendant costs, and it’s not just that one night, it’s weeks and weeks in advance, and oftentimes months in advance.” As for the main event itself, Menin’s three teenage sons are rooting for their favorite hip-hop artist, Lil Uzi Vert, to win — but their mother just hopes everyone brings their best to the stage. “They have a great roster of people,” she said, “and I think it’s going to be a great night. What’s exciting is, no matter what kind of music you like, there’s something for everyone.”

MENIN’S MOME MISSION Having served as a three-term chair of Community Board 1 and thrown her hat into the ring for the 2013 Manhattan Borough President race, Menin was appointed Commissioner of Consumer Affairs by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his first term. “It was really wonderful running that agency, because it goes to the core of the type of law I practiced for many years,” she recalled. “And I really believe in the ability, through consumer protection regulation, to make sure consumers are not being defrauded.” Two years into her work at Consumer Affairs, Menin was tapped by the mayor to revamp MOME. “One thing I’ve really focused on is trying to increase opportunities, in particular for women,” said Menin. “And so well before the Harvey Weinstein allegations, we made an announcement that we were going to do five women’s initiatives. Because if you really want to help women in media and entertainMOME continued on p. 20 NYC Community Media

Gale Brewer Emphasizes Residents’ Input on Land Use Choices, Updating City Charter

Photo by Donna Aceto

Gale Brewer taking the oath of office for her second term as Manhattan borough president on Dec. 27, flanked by her son Mo Sumbundu and husband Cal Snyder.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER In 1989, after the US Supreme Court ruled that New York City’s powerful Board of Estimate, which gave each borough equal say despite enormous population disparities, violated the Constitution’s one person-one vote principle, voters approved the most sweeping Charter revision since the city became unified in 1898. Now, Borough President Gale Brewer — joined by Public Advocate Letitia James — is calling on the City Council to convene a new Charter revision commission to bring the city into the 21st century. In an interview this week, she said and her staff emphasized that the goal is a “top to bottom” review of the “entire” Charter. Brewer and James, writing last month in the Daily News, mentioned greater community input into land use and zoning, a more meaningful City Council role on budgeting, and streamlining bureaucracies as their priorities from a Charter revision commission. Their legislation, however, merely mandates the process, the results of which would then be subject to voter approval, Brewer’s Charter commission proposal was one of numerous issues — including land use, small business survival, food deserts, congestion pricing, and government transparency and accessibility — that

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she addressed in a 75-minute sit-down with the editors of Chelsea Now, Downtown Express, Manhattan Express, The Villager, and Gay City News. Brewer talked about two notable land use milestones she’s achieved in her four years as borough president and her tenure on the City Council prior to that. On the Council, she won approval for novel Department of City Planning zoning regulations that limit street frontage that can be taken up by banks and large retail outlets, many of them chains, that threaten the small businesses that once dominated her Upper West Side district. The regulations exempted supermarkets — “We want supermarkets,” she emphasized — as part of an effort to maintain the full range of services once the norm in New York neighborhoods. Another significant land use victory Brewer pointed to is her stewardship, along with former Councilmember Dan Garodnick, of the recently completed East Midtown rezoning, which will allow for high-density development of modern office space in the area north of 42nd St. from Fifth Ave. east to Third Ave. while providing funding both for landmarked buildings selling their unused development rights and for public amenities including open space BREWER continued on p. 8

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Januar y 25, 2018


CB4’s TPC Gets On the Bus for Crosstown Bike Lanes


Street width and uninterrupted connectivity from the Hudson River Greenway to First Ave. make 26th and 29th Sts. ideal for the protected bike lanes.

BY RANIA RICHARDSON Citing an urgent need for more robust measures to protect cyclists and pedestrians, the Transportation Planning Committee (TPC) of Community Board 4 (CB4) voted unanimously to support a plan from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to install crosstown protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th Sts. In a packed room at Cameo Studios (307 W. 43rd St.) on the night of Jan. 17, the majority of local residents, block association members included, expressed enthusiasm for the new plan. Many experienced cyclists brought up very specific issues regarding individual blocks and intersections — input they hoped would further inform the plan presented by DOT Director of Greenways, Ted Wright. “Our goal is to make it more and more safe for more people to take bicycles,” Wright said. With a four percent growth in ridership yearly and no signs of slowing down, it is imperative to protect the safety of cyclists — especially as the city is still mourning the deaths of Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis, who were killed within days of each other last June by charter buses on W. 26th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) and on Seventh Ave. at W. 29th St., respectively. The fear is that BIKE LANES continued on p. 12

Photo by Rania Richardson

At CB4’s Transportation Planning Committee meeting, community members asked questions and gave feedback (seen raising her hand, a local resident). Standing: the DOT’s Ted Wright and Christine Berthet, co-chair of the Committee.


Januar y 25, 2018

NYC Community Media

LEGALIZING POT continued from p. 1

have faced criminal charges. In 2016, there were 20,133 arrests, more than 85 percent of them among African-American and Latinx New Yorkers and one-third of them under 21. The Start SMART (Sensible Marijuana Access through Regulated Trade) New York campaign supplied most of the witnesses at a joint hearing of the Assembly Health, Codes, and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committees. With Codes chair Joe Lentol of Brooklyn out sick, Gottfried presided with fellow West Sider Linda B. Rosenthal, who chairs Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. The three committee chairs have primary oversight of legislation legalizing marijuana that is sponsored by Buffalo’s Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, who traveled to the city for the hearing. The effort is championed in the Senate by East Side Democrat Liz Krueger. Frederique demonstrated the dire need for reform with horrifying stories of marijuana arrests gone wrong. Two New York City detectives were indicted for raping an 18-year-old girl after searching her car for marijuana. Wayne Henderson, a 25-year-old New Yorker, died on Rikers Island after his parole was revoked for marijuana possession. One fifth of all parolees sent back to prison are violated for pot-related infractions. In the Bronx, 69-year-old Mario Sanabria died during a no-knock search for marijuana. He was taking care of his 92-yearold brother-in-law, and the man named in the warrant was not at home. According to a July 21, 2017 New York Times story, the city’s Administration for Children’s Services separated Colyssa Stapleton from her children for months before it became clear she was a victim of a false marijuana arrest. Other reasons advanced for legalizing pot included the tax revenue stream available to officials contending with an estimated $4 billion shortfall in state revenue and the opportunities for enhancing the medical marijuana program currently crippled by restrictions imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2014. The hearing included testimony from two police professionals. Sheriff Barry Virts, from Wayne County on Lake Ontario, warned that legal pot would make the drug more easily available to young people, but Major Neill Franklin, a retired Maryland police officer who is executive director of LEAP, an organization of police officers opposed to prohibition, supported adult use. He argued that the illegal sellers use children to sell and deliver prod-

uct because the young need the money and if arrested face lighter penalties. The Assembly hearing took place amidst a roller coast ride for the emerging legal pot movement. On Jan. 1, legal sales began in California, but just three days later, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions terminated an Obama era policy of stepping back from federal prosecution of marijuana growth and sales operating legally under state law. Almost immediately, a cloud was cast over legal activities in eight states. The head of Alaska’s cannabis program, a police chief, immediately resigned. In Colorado, however, where pot became legal four years ago, Democrats and Republicans rose in unison to protect their program. Republican Senator Cory Gardner warned Sessions he would block appointments at the Justice Department unless the AG backed down. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, defended California’s new law, insisting that protection of legal pot sales be in the budget with a bar on federal dollars going to pot prosecutions in states that have legalized. Politico could find no member of Congress willing to speak up in favor of Sessions’ assault on adultuse legalization. The legislature in Vermont responded to Sessions by becoming the second state sharing a border with New York to adopt adult-use. Massachusetts’ legalization will be implemented later this year. And New Jersey, under the leadership of Governor Phil Murphy, elected last year on a pro-legalization platform with 56 percent of the vote, is likely to follow suit soon. The nation’s earliest legal pot initiatives came through the work of advocates who won popular referenda. In New York, the lead will be taken by legislators, not first and foremost the advocates. Following the Jan. 11 hearing, Gottfried, in a written statement, said, “The hearing was extraordinarily informative, and the testimony certainly conveyed the importance of the issue for people’s lives. People need to understand that this is not about just allowing a recreational activity; our current law destroys tens of thousands of lives a year. The hearing made that very clear.” Last week, Cuomo announced a study of a “Regulated Marijuana Program” in consultation with “state agencies” that will look at the impact of “legalization in surrounding states.” There was no mention in the governor’s announcement of studying the program in Colorado, which now has four years of success under its belt.

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein jgoodstein@cnglocal.com Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides PUBLISHED BY

NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 www.manhattanexpressnews.nyc © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC NYC Community Media

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CONTRIBUTORS Donna Aceto Lincoln Anderson Nathan DiCamillo Bill Egbert Dusica Sue Malesevic Tequila Minsky Colin Mixson Scott Stiffler Eileen Stukane

MLK DAY continued from p. 1

trict in Brooklyn, which has the largest number of Haitian immigrants in the city, explained that not only did the president’s comments come days before MLK Day, but also just one day ahead of the eight-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the small Caribbean nation, killing as many as 300,000 people. “We are still mourning,” Bichotte said. “How insensitive can you be, Mr. Donald Trump? But then again, you go around and make money off our backs, off the backs of the countries you call shitholes.” Daphne St. Valliere, born and raised in Brooklyn, came to the rally with her brother, her husband, and their two children, ages four and six. She is the daughter of immigrants, making her a firstgeneration Haitian immigrant. “It is deplorable how our president is speaking about black and brown people,” she said. “I’m here in solidarity with my Haitian people.” St. Valliere was one of many who brought their children, the next generation, along with them. Erika Drezner, an American Studies teacher living in Brooklyn, brought her son and held up a sign with part of Langston Hughes’ poem “Let America Be America Again.” “I’m patriotic, but I’m patriotic in the context of knowing this country was built on white supremacy,” Drezner said. “That’s a tension I struggle with as a white teacher every day.” Saying she goes to about one protest a week, Drezner added, “We need to put our bodies in the way of this administration. It’s so disastrous and scary on so many levels.” Repeating the phrase “Can you hear us, Mr. Trump?” to the enthusiastic crowd, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “The

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silver lining is that [Trump] has awoken a sleeping giant, immigrants, women, undocumented, LGBT people, people of color, poor people, and union members. We are in the struggle together. Every time he says this, he wants us to feel beaten down, divided. But on a cold Martin Luther King Day, in his name, we are out here at the crossroads of the world, Times Square, standing united, all communities against the maniac in the White House.” Mayor Bill de Blasio took to the podium to remind the audience to not get discouraged by the racist rhetoric coming from Washington and to remember that America is a “society that welcomes and respects all.” The mayor also said, “I say to anyone in this city who hears something they find appealing in the voice of the president that if these same standards were applied to your ancestors, you wouldn’t be here in this country. Treat the new generation of immigrants just as we wish our fathers, grandfathers, and greatgrandfathers were treated, that this is meant to be a place for all.” Protestors held up signs including, “Stop the Billionaire Bigot” and “America is an Ideal not a Race,” and an American flag with the words “Resistance is Patriotic.” Ulysses Contreras said he attended the rally because he felt it was crucial to keep King’s legacy and dream alive. “With everything going on in the country, it’s important for us to carry [King’s mission] on and to understand that his death was not in vain,” Contreras said. “We need to do better as a people, be more inclusive, be more respectful. It’s important to be out here demonstrating, letting the government and Trump administration know that he can’t divide us, we are still here.”

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Januar y 25, 2018


BREWER continued from p. 5

and transportation improvements. Garodnick, she said, having rejected the original rezoning plan for East Midtown late in the Bloomberg years, was a key ally in crafting a solution broadly acceptable to stakeholders. Brewer and Garodnick oversaw biweekly meetings over many months at the borough president’s office that included representatives from the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry trade group, major landmarked buildings, the area’s Business Improvement Districts, and the local community boards. Key to the process were neutral facilitators, urban planning professionals paid for by the city, she explained. “That’s what we call pre-planning,” Brewer said. “Then the clock began to tick from the beginning of the process, so it was less contentious.” This pre-ULURP planning, as she terms it, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that projects at odds with existing zoning must go through before getting a vote from the City Council, ensures greater community input prior to the fi nalization of a plan that might then move rapidly down the ULURP track. Similar pre-ULURP planning, she said, is underway in the contentious debate over a Midtown Garment district rezoning plan that under the city’s Economic Development Corporation’s initial blueprint would have migrated much of the industry to Brooklyn over the objections of many longtime Manhattan garment trade players. The city, she explained, has also committed to employing this approach in planning land use policies for NoHo and SoHo, where the borough president — concerned about the rise of big box stores — said, “we want more artists, we want more makers, we want more light industry.” On another controversial proposed development, further downtown, Brewer continues to press — along with Councilmember Margaret Chin, Congressmember Nydia Velázquez, and community residents — to make sure that the Department of City Planning requires that four new megatowers proposed for the Two Bridges waterfront area on the Lower East Side, near the almost completed 823-foot Extell condo tower, go through ULURP. “Can you imagine this huge project not going through ULURP?,” she asked. “It’s very hard for the community to understand. Even then they’ll be upset with what comes out of ULURP.” Despite her advocacy for community input on land use changes, Brewer is realistic about those she sees as inevitable. In the heated battle in Little Italy that pits supporters of the Elizabeth Street Garden against the city’s plan to redevelop the site as affordable housing — with the participation of the LGBTQ seniors advocacy group SAGE and Habitat for Humanity — she said, “It’s going to happen.” While insisting, “I love the garden,” she said she is focusing her efforts on ensuring that “it has every inch of public space possible.” Brewer is highly critical of other land use decisions stripped of any meaningful public input, particularly the controversial decision to “infill” open spaces in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties. There, the agency is able to


Januar y 25, 2018

Photo by Donna Aceto

Borough President Gale Brewer.

move forward with development projects without winning ULURP approval. At the Holmes Towers site on East 92nd St. at First Ave., NYCHA has chosen a developer for a mixed market rate/ affordable housing building roughly twice the height of the public housing there that will eliminate a playground open to residents. Though the agency has committed to building a replacement playground and devote a portion of the revenues from the new development to needed improvement at Holmes, residents have been unhappy with both NYCHA’s process and its fi nal plans. “The meetings were very paternalistic,” Brewer said of the community outreach the agency undertook with residents. “Did they have input? I don’t think so.” The borough president is also alarmed by suggestions from Community Board 8 members that the developer, in Brewer’s words, “is making off like a bandit.” The community board’s sidelining due to the lack of a ULURP process, then, is all the more troubling to her. Brewer also addressed the threat that escalating commercial rents pose toward the survival of the borough’s small businesses. She is well versed in the long pending Small Business Jobs Survival Act — having drawn up an early draft of the legislation back in 1985 when she served on the staff of Ruth Messinger, who then held the Council seat Brewer later won — but acknowledges constitutional concerns about the measure’s potential infringement on property owners’ rights. Over the last four years, she signed on to an alternative measure that would substitute mandatory mediation over rent

increases in place of government regulation of commercial rents. Under former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the measure could not be taken up given its similarity to the SBJSA, but Brewer is hopeful that Speaker Corey Johnson will allow for competing measures addressing the same issue to be considered. Asked why she is not pushing the version she originally favored, Brewer replied, “If we pass such a law and then it goes to court and we lose, then we’re nowhere. We want to have something that is airtight before we get there.” Late last year, the City Council sought to ease the burden on small businesses by raising the annual lease expense threshold for businesses that must pay a 3.9 percent commercial rent tax — applicable only in Manhattan below 96th Street — from $250,000 to $500,00, providing relief to an estimated 3,000 businesses. Brewer advocates also exempting supermarkets, regardless of their annual rent expense, from the CRT given the low margins under which they operate and what she sees as the consequent emergence of food deserts hobbling residents of some neighborhoods. Regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans for a big push to revisit congestion pricing as a way to ease traffic in Manhattan and provide funding for mass transit, Brewer responded cautiously. Acknowledging, “I support the idea that subways need money,” and “I believe in the concept of congestion pricing,” she raised logistical concerns about the efficacy of new technologies — such as photographing license plates — for capturing tolls on East River crossings or from cars entering Midtown from Upper Manhattan, and mentioned the State Thruway Authority’s loss of millions in unpaid tolls where booths have been replaced completely by electronic tolling. She also insisted that any tolls imposed on traveling from Upper Manhattan to Midtown and Downtown could only be collected beginning at 60th St., not from 96th St. south. On the issue of government transparency and accountability, Brewer touted the implementation this year of the city’s open data law — that she pushed through the Council in 2011 — requiring accessibility through a city web portal. To improve constituent services as borough president, she has opened the first storefront office, on W. 125th St., which she said offers access without the need to navigate security detectors or elevators. Residents, she said, “feel respected” in that setting. In support of the borough’s 12 community boards, Brewer explained, her office has enhanced training in technology, ethics, bylaws, and parliamentary procedures for all their members, and over her first four years as borough president, she replaced roughly half of all CB incumbents. For the first time, 16 and 17-year-olds are now able to serve on Manhattan community boards. Brewer endorsed an effort by State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick to ensure that Manhattan has representation on the State Liquor Authority, which oversees liquor licenses, though she also specifically lauded the SLA’s chair, Vincent Bradley, for recently spending three and a half hours meeting with roughly 90 representatives from the borough’s community boards. NYC Community Media


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Mathilde Krim, AmfAR Founder, Dies at 91 BY PAUL SCHINDLER Dr. Mathilde Krim, a geneticist and virologist who between 1983 and 1985 founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), which became the leading private funder of research, advocacy, and treatment to battle the epidemic, died on Jan. 15 at the age of 91 at her home in Kings Point on Long Island. Krim had ample professional experience motivating her interest in AIDS, including her 1953 Ph.D. in biology from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, her research on cancer-causing viruses at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and her leadership in the interferon program at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York. But, according to Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Nan Robertson, to understand Krim, “one must go back to a single event that changed her life forever, shaping every major decision thereafter.” Born in Italy and raised in Geneva, she was at a movie house there in the winter of 1945 when she saw newsreels of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The scenes

Photo by Donna Aceto

Dr. Mathilde Krim, seen here in 2006, died last week at the age of 91.

of emaciated survivors struggling to stand up informed her passionate outrage at all forms of prejudice and discrimination, Robertson wrote. Asked by the New York Times nearly 40 years later what prompted her to move out front in the fight against AIDS, Krim said, “Because I was incensed.” Her obituary in the New

York Times recalled that in 1988 she told the Times Magazine that she acted because of the prevailing public attitude she found at the time, explaining, “They felt that this was a disease that resulted from a sleazy lifestyle, drugs, or kinky sex — that certain people had learned their lesson and it served them right. That was the attitude, even on the part of respectable foundations that are supposed to be concerned about human welfare.” In his 1997 book “The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America,” Charles Kaiser wrote, “One scientist outside the government was more important than any other heterosexual in New York City in sounding the alarm about the growing crisis. Her name was Mathilde Krim.” The late Allan Rosenfield, who was the dean of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a longtime amfAR board member, wrote, “Mathilde did carry AIDS into the social mainstream. She saw that AIDS would demand the intellectual resources of the fields of medicine, basic science, and public health, and she set out to bring them to amfAR to

guide its research grant-making, overturning many stereotypical notions of gay men in the process.” AmfAR credits Krim as being a pivotal figure in moving Washington to belatedly provide significant funding for both research and treatment regarding the epidemic, after nearly a decade of neglect. AmfAR grew out of Krim’s collaboration with Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, who in New York in the early 1980s pioneered a community-based approach to studying and responding to AIDS. With other allies, they formed the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983, which two years later merged with a California-based group to form amfAR. By the time Krim stepped down from the group’s board in 2004, it had come to be known as amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, to reflect both the global impact of the epidemic and the group’s broad international reach. In addition to her scientific credentials and her impassioned advocacy, Krim, from her elegant townhouse on E. 69th St., also brought a connection to New York society life and


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Dr. Mathilde Krim with ACT UP founder Larry Kramer and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, at a 2006 New York Times Talk focused on the 25th anniversary of the first public health recognition of AIDS’ emergence.

its deep pockets, with her marriage to Arthur B. Krim, an entertainment lawyer who had chaired both United Artists and Orion Pictures as well as the Democratic National Finance Committee. Krim was able to bring on board Elizabeth Taylor, who became the group’s founding international chair and lent Hollywood glamour and universal visibility to an epidemic that in its earliest years was ignored by public officials and other leading figures in American life. Because her commitment to the AIDS issue was motivated, in good measure, by her passion for social justice, Krim found an easy fit with the street activists who scared off other establishment figures. In 2006, Larry Kramer, whose 1987 appearance at the LGBT Community Center is credited with launching ACT UP, said of Krim, “One can only be filled with overpowering awe and gratitude that such a person has lived among us.” In a written statement issued by the Treatment Action Group, which grew out of one of ACT UP’s committees, its executive director, Mark Harrington, said, “We have lost an inspirational, tireless, and catalytic leader of our movement. Dr. Krim understood the gravity of the epidemic, in its earliest and darkest days, and was driven by her own remarkable intelligence, fierce commitment to civil rights and social justice, extraordinary social and political networks, and true grit to galvanize funders, scientists, policy leaders, and activists toward a single cause: ending HIV and AIDS as a threat to humanity.” Tim Horn, the group’s deputy execuNYC Community Media

tive director, said, “I genuinely believe that we wouldn’t be where we are today without Dr. Krim’s brilliance, determination, and mobilization. Beyond her unparalleled contributions to HIV/ AIDS research fundraising and awareness, she was an interminable source of strength, support, and wisdom for countless activists over the years.” Barbara Hughes, the president of its board, perhaps put it most simply, saying, “TAG has lost a matriarch of our family, a leader in our movement, and a steadfast supporter of our work.” In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Krim the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. AmfAR quoted Krim as saying, “Were it not for the profound sadness I feel for being so close to immense tragedy, I would consider my work for amfAR, an organization poised on the frontiers of medical research, the most exciting, enviable, and rewarding of all.” Iconic performing artist and civil rights leader Harry Belafonte, a longtime amfAR board member, said, “Mathilde will be remembered as one of the great human rights leaders of our time. Her brilliance and compassion reached far beyond public health as an example for us all of the importance of tolerance and social justice.” Krim, whose husband died in 1994, is survived by her daughter Daphna Krim of Bethesda, Maryland, a grandson and granddaughter, and her sister Maria Jonzier of Port Washington. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to amfAR.

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BIKE LANES continued from p. 6

without swift implementation of protective measures, there could be more injuries when spring brings out more riders. According to TPC co-chair Christine Berthet, the biggest concern for safety is the “mixing zones at intersections where cyclists and pedestrians are not protected from turning vehicles.” CB4’s endorsement of the plan contains stipulations including, but not limited to, implementing solutions to minimize conflicts for vehicles and cyclists turning at intersections, two-way lanes between Eighth and Ninth Aves., and additional lighting under the United States Postal Service facility on 11th Ave. and W. 24th St. The bigger plan includes additional protected crosstown routes in Midtown — the largest central business district in the world — with its dense concentration of retailers, transportation hubs, and tourist attractions that make city cycling even more of a challenge. Unsurprisingly, the area has the highest cyclist fatalities and severe injuries (referred to as “cyclist KSI”) in Manhattan. In its broadest definition, Midtown runs from 14th to 59th St., the areas serviced by Community Boards 4, 5, and 6, which generally cover the area on the west, center, and east, respectively. CB4 was the first to vote on the initial plan and it will be presented to CB5 and CB6 in the coming weeks. This will be followed by design adjustments based on community feedback and another round of presentations. Berthet confirmed that this process is a significant improvement over the early days of the Bloomberg era, when the city added bike lanes without due diligence with the public, which the then-mayor later admitted was a misstep. Street width and uninterrupted connectivity from the Hudson River Greenway to First Ave. make 26th and 29th Sts. ideal for the protected bike lanes, in which cyclists are separated from traffic by a lane of parked cars. This measure prevents vehicles from drifting into bike


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lanes and other dangerous moves. “Thirty-four is the magic number,” said Wright, referring to the ideal width needed. The two proposed corridors have more 34’ wide blocks than adjacent streets. In the new plan, a typical block will get a 5’ bike lane, a 2’ buffer zone and an 11’ travel lane flanked by 8’ parking lanes on either side. From Park Ave. to Seventh Ave. (the commercial “Midtown Core” blocks) the far “parking” lane will be used only for short-term curb-

side access, for drop offs and emergency vehicles. Safety on the roads is an issue with a gender divide, as 10 percent more women use protected bike lanes than unprotected. The ongoing safety initiatives should close the gap and increase their ridership. Wendy Brawer, a New York City bike commuter since 1995 said in an email, “As an everyday cyclist I see these improvements as critically important in a city where the many pleasures of riding are too often

overshadowed by the dangers that await you at every turn.” Brawer is the founder of the Green Map, a resource that offers connections to ecological living services around the world. Benefits abound for the city as it continues to accommodate the growth of bicycle ridership — reduced congestion, cleaner air, and healthier commuters. If approved, work on protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th St. could begin as early as April. NYC Community Media

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WOMEN’S MARCH continued from p. 3

the first time with the help of her wheelchair. With Yoko Ono looking on, the singer MILCK performed “Quiet,” a song with the refrain, “Let it out, Let it out now.” Barricades removed, women, men, and children, united, surged forward through the streets. An electric energy spread from person to person, especially when the marchers passed Trump International Hotel & Tower, and then Trump Parc, shouting chants: “Not a creepy tweeter, we want a leader,” “Love, not hate, that’s what makes America great,” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go,” and the repurposed, “Lock him up!”


Photos by Christian Miles

Three-year-old Adelaide Carter, from Brooklyn, participated in her second Women’s March — this time, walking with no need of her stroller.

The determined, hopeful spirit of the marchers was felt by Mayor Bill de Blasio who held hands with his wife, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, as they marched in the thick of the crowd, and easily spoke with other marchers. “I’m very proud of New York City today with over 100,000 already out to fight for the rights of women and build a movement

Yoko Ono looking on as the singer MILCK performed “Quiet,” a song with the refrain, “Let it out, Let it out now.”

Sulma Arzu-Brown, author of “Bad Hair Does Not Exist!” (a children’s book), spoke emotionally of the sacrifice her mother made by leaving her and her brother behind in Honduras to come to the USA.


Januar y 25, 2018

NYC Community Media

that started last year. It’s going to grow from this point on,” said the mayor. NYC First Lady McCray, when asked what she thought of her New York sisters on the march, responded, “I love them! They’re out here with so much energy and enthusiasm. I think there are more people out here than last year. I marched last year too. This shows much of what we really believe in. You see the signs out here, the values that they’re representing; this is the direction we have to move in. We’re laying the foundation with this march for the elections coming up. I think we’re going to see so many more women in office, so many more, leadership from women like we’ve never seen before. It’s a great thing!” Many of the signs, such as Chelsea artist Mary Frank’s poster painting “Don’t Tear Families Apart,” showed concern for the current crackdown on immigration and support of DACA. The banner “Marching For Everything We Hold Dear” was held at one corner by Lynn McMahill from Washington Heights who said, “I don’t know all the people holding the banner with me. People just joined in to help and really, that’s what this is all about, people joining together.” Nina Kulkarni, with the League of Women Voters, was marching nearby with a speaker announcing that she could register voters on the spot. She repeated the mission of registering a million women to vote before the 2018 midterm elections and reminded that on Sun., Jan. 21, the Power to the Polls ini-

NYC Community Media

tiative was being launched in Las Vegas in conjunction with the Women’s March organizations. Mothers marching with daughters, aunts with nieces, sisters marching with sisters and brothers, wives with husbands, LGBTQ partners and friends, the March had a feeling of family. Chandra Turner, who lives in Westchester, brought her 11-year-old daughter Madeline, “because I wanted her to be here and witness this and not feel alone. I wanted her to see that she is not the only one who feels the way she does, that there are other people who are standing up for equality. She is worried about children being deported who were brought here. Her father is not an American citizen. It’s scary to think about what can happen with this administration.” Creative signage revealed continued loathing of President Trump, points being made with humor. Shari Oliver, a 7th grade Social Studies/History teacher from Connecticut, came with her 15-year-old daughter Grace, a first march for both of them, because “We’ve been disgusted with so much for so long.” Grace carried a sign reading, “Cheeto In Chief Is Making Me Gassy.” The Oval Office as a toilet bowl was another clever image. The day was peaceful, with the NYPD only a subtle presence, the sky devoid of buzzing helicopters, the focus being on the power of one’s voice multiplied by others.

NYC First Lady McCray (seen here with reporter Eileen Stukane to the left) said, “We’re laying the foundation with this march for the elections coming up. I think we’re going to see so many more women in office, so many more, leadership from women like we’ve never seen before.”

Januar y 25, 2018


MOME continued from p. 4

ment, you have to create more economic opportunity for them. It is absolutely critical.” First, Menin announced a $5 million fund for women filmmakers and playwrights — making MOME the first city agency in the country that is actually giving direct cash grants to them. Then she held a financing conference for women filmmakers and playwrights, after studies showed that that they were not getting the same access to capital as male directors and playwrights. So MOME connected them to venture capital firms, to angel investors, and to different funding sources. When research showed that women doing their proverbial “elevator pitch” weren’t seeing the same track record of success as men, “We did pitch workshops to help women refi ne their elevator pitch,” Menin said, “and it culminated in this women’s financing conference. I was incredibly personally gratified to see these women be able to get their projects financed.” Currently in the midst of its launch is the Greenlight Her program, a TV screenwriting contest for women that received 300 script submissions, winnowed down to two. With the help of students at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which MOME has provided scholarships for, and whose student body is primarily people of color and women working at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, two pilots were filmed. To see the pilots — “Half Life” by Patty Carey and “Maturity” by Robin Rose Singer — visit nyc.gov/GreenlightHer. Voting ends on Sat., Jan. 27. The winner gets four episodes of their show greenlit to be produced and aired on NYC Media later this fall. MOME also launched the show “Her Big Idea,” a block of programming profiling women entrepreneurs who had “one big idea” and blew it out of the water, and the attendant challenges, trials and tribulations. They also launched The Vanguard, a TV show about women in the media business, their challenges, and how they overcame them. Also on the slate of women’s initiatives, Menin noted, is “a study on the role gender plays in film directors’ histories. We’re going back and looking historically at how gender plays a role and, if so, what were the implications of it between male directors and female directors. We are pretty close to releasing that study.” A lack of women in leadership roles is not just endemic to media and enter-


Januar y 25, 2018

Photo by Antoine Braxton

The city is expected to have 10,000 jobs in animation in the coming years, which prompted MOME’s animation training for at-risk youth ages 12–24.


Courtesy MOME

Voting ends on Jan. 27 for MOME’s Greenlight Her initiative, with the winning pilot awarded a four-episode run of their show (airing on NYC Media this fall).

Photo by Antoine Braxton

The Film Green Initiative sets standards for everything from recycling to set disposal. Productions meeting that criteria get a seal of approval — but no guarantee of meeting Oscar the Grouch, as Julie Menin did.

tainment, said Menin; it exists in every industry, from medicine, to politics, to law. It’s part of her job to fi nd parity. “We have an attendant duty to real-

ly break down these walls and create these economic opportunities for women,” Menin vowed. “And if we’re not doing that, shame on us.”

“When I fi rst came into the agency, one of the charges given was to make sure we keep production at an alltime high, because it’s an economic driver for the city,” Menin explained. “If you want to build more school seats and more affordable housing, we want to ensure that our economic sectors and revenue generated for the city are as strong as possible. Film and TV are a $9 billion industry for New York City, employing 130,000 New Yorkers, everything from the truck driver driving to the set to the makeup artist.” With production at an all-time high, Menin focused on creating workforce development programs for those who have been traditionally shut out of the system. Hearing that TV writers of color were having trouble breaking into the industry, she launched a program with The Writers Guild to train 500 diverse TV writers. She had them working with some of the best TV showrunners in the business as their mentors. “Every single participant in the program got feedback on their script, and that’s invaluable. And a subset of them were chosen for an intensive one-onNYC Community Media

one program,” she said. “And the feedback we got on that was so tremendous because so many of these writers say to us, ‘I never heard anything. I never knew what about my writing was good or bad, or was it just thrown in the waste paper basket?’ ” The Made in New York PostProduction program has also been launched, an extension of the agency’s Production Assistant training program, which gives training to 700 New Yorkers on how to get a job in production. Menin followed that with a workforce program on podcasting certification, calling it the most democratic medium, where the job growth is doubling. In an effort to balance the needs of the community with fi lm projects, Menin launched the Film Green Initiative, becoming the first city in the country to instill a set of rules around sustainability, everything from recyclability to how to dispose of sets. If the production meets the criteria, they’re added to MOME’s certification program, and are permitted to use the NYC Film Green seal of approval on all their marketing and promotional materials. Menin also branched out into publishing. Bemoaning the closing of both independent and mainstream bookstores, she launched the One Book, One New York program, which became the largest community read in the country. It resulted in a sales increase of 400 percent of participating books. Not only will MOME hold One Book, One New York again this spring, but they will also continue their analog program, One Film, One New York, partnering with A.O. Scott from The New York Times to pick films about New York City and put them out to public vote. Last year, Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn” won, and was screened across the city so all families could have a night at the movies. To further ensure this kind of access, MOME distributed 1,000 free tickets to NYCHA residents to see Broadway shows, and another 1,000 tickets so families could go to the movies for free. “It’s all about having access to the arts and culture,” Menin said. “Being able to express yourself creatively through the arts is important. Just last week, we announced animation training for at-risk youth aged 12–24. The city is expected to have 10,000 jobs in animation in the coming years, so having these kids trained in this field is so important. It’s all about trying to make the city better, each and every day.” Visit nyc.gov/mome. NYC Community Media

Photo by Stephanie Browne

The Made in New York Post-Production program gives free training to New Yorkers on how to get a job in production.

Januar y 25, 2018


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NYC Community Media

The Flea Flies High in a New Home Tribeca anchor theater’s ‘Season of Womyn’ is underway BY TRAV S.D. Much change of an ostensibly positive sort has been taking place at major Off-Off Broadway institutions in recent months. As we have reported here, La MaMa is now beginning a major renovation project, and Performance Space New York (formerly PS122) has just reopened, with a new artistic director at the helm. Similar transformations have been taking place at The Flea Theater, which has gotten a new artistic director, moved from their longtime home on White St. to a new one at nearby 20 Thomas St., and announced a series of innovative artistic partnerships with smaller organizations. The Flea was founded in 1996 by Jim Simpson and actress Sigourney Weaver (his wife), along with playwright Mac Wellman and lighting and stage technology professional Kyle Chepulis. It was originally intended to be a “five year experiment,” but in 2001 the company had a major hit with Anne Nelson’s “The Guys,” The Flea’s response to the September 11 destruction of the World Trade Center, which occurred only four blocks away from their theater. The Flea then made a long-term commitment to serving the Downtown community. Over the years, they have commissioned dozens of timely works by the likes of Christopher Durang, Elizabeth Swados, José Rivera, Qui Nguyen, Adam Rapp, and Thomas Bradshaw, and presented 10 world premiere productions by A.R. Gurney. They are also known for The Bats — their resident acting company, selected from thousands of applicants annually. After nearly two decades of leading the organization, in 2015 Simpson stepped down as artistic director, handing the reigns to Niegel Smith, a director and performance artist with a track record at such venues as The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, PS122, and Abrons Arts Center. “Off-Off Broadway needs to keep reinventing itself,” said Carol Ostrow, who has been the Flea’s producing director since 2001. “Jim and Sigourney are in a different place now. Their daughter is all grown up. They decided NYC Community Media

Photo by Elizabeth Felicella

A series of innovative partnerships and three theaters named for greats distinguish The Flea’s new Thomas St. facility.

it was time to do something new. They are based out of LA now, although they are still on our board, and still very much involved with the company. Niegel was brought on prior to the move to the new space. He oversaw the final stages of the transition and planned the recent fall season and the one now.” After 15 years on White St., The Flea unveiled its new home at 20 Thomas St. (btw. Broadway & Church) in September 2017. The new facility has three separate theaters: The Sam, named after the theatrical agent

Sam Cohn; The Pete, named to honor the late playwright A.R. Gurney, who passed away last June; and The Siggy, named for Sigourney Weaver. The theaters have flexible seating, but are normally configured to under 99 seats. “[The new location] is the same, but better!” Ostrow gushed. “It’s very reminiscent of the old Flea, very much OffOff Broadway. Small, and with affordable tickets. It’s just a little bigger and nicer. The seats have been refurbished. But when you walk in, it totally takes you back to downstairs at the [old]

Flea.” To maximize the new space, The Flea has inaugurated a formal program of what they call Anchor Partnerships, season-long residencies by smaller companies with a track record of producing on The Flea’s small scale. The Flea’s current Anchor Partners include LAVA (which has been in residence at the Flea since 1999), New Georges, EPIC Players, ARTEK, and The Bang Group. Their current and upcoming programFLEA continued on p. 24 Januar y 25, 2018


FLEA continued from p. 23

ming couldn’t be more appropriate for our times. Billed as “The Season of Womyn” (their spelling), it spotlights work largely by and about women. “It’s serendipity that we’re presenting this work now,” Ostrow noted. “We had been planning these shows for some time and noticed a common thread that went through the work and went ‘A-ha!’ But that’s what The Flea and Off-Off Broadway are supposed to do: respond quickly.” The Flea’s Season of Womyn kicks off with the premiere of Steph Del Rosso’s drama “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill,” in which a woman tries to fill the various physical holes she feels after a painful breakup. Resident director Marina McClure helms a cast comprising members of The Bats (now through Feb. 25). Upcoming productions in the Season of Womyn include “Locked up B*tches” (Feb. 21–April 28), a “hip-hop musical parody of a certain Netflix women’s prison drama” in which the characters are all dogs, written by Catya McMullen with music by Scott Klopfenstein, choreographed and directed by Michael Raine; and “ms. Estrada” (March 22-April 22) is a hip-hop version of “Lysistrata” written and performed by Q Brothers Collective, directed by Michelle Tattenbaum, and choreographed by Ana “Rokafella” Garcia. In addition, from Feb. 14 through March 4, Flea Anchor Partner New Georges (which has been producing work exclusively by women since 1992) will be presenting two sounddesign oriented plays in repertory: “Sound House,” inspired by the work of British composer Daphne Oram, written by Stephanie Fleischmann and directed by Debbie Saivetz; and “This is the Color Described by the Time” by Lily Whitsitt and Door 10, based on the writings of Gertrude Stein. Also on their calendar, a return of their late night series “Serials,” a children’s theater series called “Cereals,” and “Flea Fridays,” an immersive weekend cabaret. For more information, visit theflea.org.


Januar y 25, 2018

Photo by Hunter Canning

L to R: Valeria A. Avina, Sarah Chalfie and Joseph Huffman in “Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill” at The Flea through Feb. 25.

Photo by Charlie Madison

At the grand opening, L to R: Niegel Smith (Flea artistic director), NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Linda Schupack (Flea board president), and Carol Ostrow (Flea managing director).

Photo by Charlene Warner

EPIC Players, a resident company at the Flea, will follow up their 2017 production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (seen here) with a neuro-inclusive adaptation of “The Tempest.” NYC Community Media

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Colin Campbell and Evanna Lynch are the “Disco Pigs” who drink, dance, bond and brawl their way through the night.

Dangerous Dances at the Disco Meaty ‘Pigs’ has much to feast on BY SCOTT STIFFLER Bouncing off the walls of Chelsea’s Irish Repertory Theatre with the pent-up energy and destructive potential of a storm wave that’s finally made its way to shore, “Disco Pigs” gleefully wallows in the twin-like bond between a boy (Colin Campbell as Pig) and a girl (Evanna Lynch as Runt) born on the same day, in the same hospital (or, as Runt puts it, “Da two mams squealin on da trollies down da ward. Oud da fookin way!”). Upon turning 17, quick-tempered and adrenalineaddicted Pig begins to angle for a physical intimacy beyond the dangerously co-dependent dynamic of their intense friendship. Witnessing Pig give an alpha male, felony-level beating to their bus driver, Runt seems happy to play Bonnie to his Clyde — but no amount of binge drinking, bar fights, Scampi Fries, or dance floor head games can keep her from the melancholy pull of imagining what life might be like with other suitors, and in other places beyond County Cork, Ireland. This 20th anniversary production of Edna Walsh’s 1997 Edinburgh Fringe hit unspools at a breakneck pace that captures the urgency of one’s teen years, with a physical and emotional intensity that’s both exhausting and exhilarating to watch. Kudus to the athletic, kinetic, two-person cast, brimming with sexy/ dangerous chemistry and equally compelling in the vulnerability they display during telling soliloquies that are as memorable as they are pivotal to the changing relationship. Deciphering the verbal shorthand Pig and Runt use to keep themselves enmeshed and the world at bay requires persistence — but like the struggle to get past those velvet ropes and into the Palace Disco where the play’s pivotal event takes place, your determination will be rewarded. “Disco Pigs” is directed by John Haidar. Runtime: 75 min., no intermission. Through March 4 at the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Wed., 3pm & 8pm; Thurs., 7pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 3pm & 8pm; Sun., 3pm. For tickets ($24-70), visit irishrep.org. NYC Community Media


Januar y 25, 2018



Januar y 25, 2018

NYC Community Media

Donzo’s Proto SOTU Peek at his pending State of the Union points BY MAX BURBANK On January 30, Donald J. Trump will deliver his fi rst State of the Union address — unless he doesn’t. He’s not legally required to, and it’s not like he gets what laws are, right? He loves not doing things other president have done; no Kennedy Center Honors, no White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Perhaps a little night golfi ng might be more enticing? Honestly, if someone told him night golfers get to wear cool-ass little headlamps, he’d bail on the SOTU like chubby, elderly lightning. There’s no such thing as night golf, right? I made that up. I hope. I’m never sure of anything anymore. Assuming he’s doing it, I’m as curious as I imagine you are. But unlike all you poor, regular folk — as I revealed in my unpublished White House tellall, “Tantrums and Tyranny” — I have figured out the secret of “access.” No one in Trump’s inner circle could fi nd their ass with a map, a flashlight, and a Sherpa guide. So I rung up White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and said “Hopey, on the off chance Donzo has started working on his SOTU speech, send me his notes.” And Hope was all like, “Who authorized this?” I told her, “You know, that guy? The weird-shaped-head-guy with the voice like when you force open a weasel’s jaws and scrape their front teeth down a blackboard? The really pale one with the face you always want to punch?” And she’s afraid to admit that could be any one of the eight people she answers to, so hey presto, I got the notes. I won’t bore you with the whole thing. It’s just a first draft, and a lot of it is in crayon and partially obscured by cheeseburger grease stains. I’ll give you some highlights, though, and you’ll get the gist.

OPENING NOTES (Enter backlit by purple neon through a smoke machine fog bank. No, I rise up out of the floor on a hydraulic platform through red smoke and lasers. Bannon would love. No. Bannon gone. Bannon betrayed. Maybe enter Mileystyle on wrecking ball? Rip through paper circle? So pep rally! I was the best at gym.) NYC Community Media

INTRO “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, strategically chosen provocative guests (smile, thumbs up, finger guns at Mooch, Sheriff Clarke, Joe Arpaio), my fellow Americans, you know who you are, some of you are very fine people… Losers, haters, the failing media, sons of bitches, disloyal former employees I never met who don’t know

government because they want to let billions of criminals swarm across the border and murder our children in their sleep. Is the government open again now? I don’t know. I’m in the past writing this first draft. And honestly, I don’t care. The government. So wasteful. It’s like the State Department, but bigger. So much bigger. We don’t need it. All we need is me. Okay? Okay. Okay?

both know what I meant” or “I’ll leave that up to you.” The whole act seems pretty transparent, but tomorrow the mainstream press will all gush about how presidential I was, in that I spoke in whole sentences without slurring my words, making some kind veiled reference to my penis, or saying something awful about black people again. No matter how many times I play this trick, they’ll always hope against hope that I’m finally going to “pivot,” that I’ll finally grow into the presidency. They do it every time, and they’re doing it again right now. Believe me. Believe me.


Illustration by Max Burbank

me, who were errand runners and coffee boys, strangers with misleading job titles. So misleading… so disloyal. I came here directly from beautiful Mara-Lago, so beautiful. Cutting short a fiveday working weekend of such important meetings in meeting rooms, Mar-a-Lago has the best meeting rooms. No golf. But if I had played golf, and even the Democrats admit I never golf, this I will tell you, a hole in one. Eighteen holes in one. First drive, hole in one, bounced out of the cup, landed in the second hole, et cetera to eighteen. Never before in history. Never before. The lying media will not tell you that. Okay. On the anniversary of my inauguration, the Democrats shut down my

THE MIDDLE PART This is the middle part, where I read straight from the teleprompter for a long time without deviating from the script as written. It shows I am a normal, mentally competent person, and allows me to use words like “deviate” — a word that, like many other words, I do not know the meaning of. It also allows me to demonstrate that despite claims to the contrary, I can read. I can see letters on a page and decode them correctly into sounds that come out of my mouth. When I read aloud, I have no understanding of the content of the words at all. If you asked me what I just said, just now, I would say, “I think we

(Eugh, the catchphrase part. Everybody says I have to do this. I hate it. I hate everybody. It’s not even a good catchphrase, like “lock her up” or “you’re fired” or “shithole countries.” It’s not my catch phrase. I have to make it mine. Rebrand it.) “Ladies and gentlemen, the state… of my union… is fine. It’s very fine, the best since Truman is what a lot of people are saying. The state of our union is… No one understands Trump, no one appreciates Trump and no one… not one of you… deserves Trump. Even the ones who pretend to like me. I am looking at you, Lindsey Graham. Right. At. YOU! So unfair. So unfair. Well, you’re grounded, America. I want you all to go to your rooms right now and think about how you treated me. And maybe if when we all wake up tomorrow the Russian witch hunt is gone and everybody stops yip-yip-yip-yip-yipping about a few lousy PORN STARS and we can all agree that Trump is the least racist person ever born on earth in all of human history, then maybe… maybe we can pretend everything is okay between us. It’s like I promised you during the campaign: I alone can save you. From ME! After all, it’s not like the Republican congress is ever going to! G’night everybody! (Balloon drop. Or fireworks? Defi nitely smoke and lasers. Exit music: “Eye of the Tiger.” No, “Final Countdown.” No, that Lee Greenwood “Proud to be an American” thing. Rubes eat that patriotic crap like it’s pancakes.) Januar y 25, 2018



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


Januar y 25, 2018

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

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Profile for Schneps Media

Manhattan Express  

January 25, 2018

Manhattan Express  

January 25, 2018