Cuomo, Gillibrand ‘20 Auditions? 04
Blue Scrubs & Badges for Baby’s Delivery 10
Olympic Dread 16
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Burt Lazarin at the CB4 offices, with the emerging Hudson Yards skyline behind him.
Burt Lazarin Takes the Reins at West Side CB4 BY WINNIE McCROY After more than 40 years living on the West Side, including many serving as a member of Community Board 4, Burt Lazarin has moved to its top ranks. He was recently voted in as the new chair of CB4 — which represents the West Side from Columbus Circle to W. 14th St. — taking over for exiting chair Delores Rubin. “I don’t think of myself as a leader in the traditional sense, because we’re a board of 50 people with lots of skills and expertise,” the longtime community activist said. “I have no problem if we’re at a meeting and the head of the Housing Committee — who knows a lot more about that than I do — takes the lead. My function is to make sure that person is supported, and then to speak for the whole board.” BURT LAZARIN continued on p. 5
February 22 - March 7, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 4
Photos by Donna Aceto
Gun reform activists Jay W. Walker (left) and Cathy Marino-Thomas (center) protest outside Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater last week to bring attention to the support the building’s patron gives to the National Rifle Association.
GUN REFORMERS TARGET KEY NRA FUNDER, ITS GOP TOOLS
Even as a shooter was gunning down 17 students and teachers in a Florida high school, New Yorkers were demonstrating inside the Washington offices of Texas Senator John Cornyn, the majority whip and a major supporter of the NRA’s agenda.
Construction Problems Persist as Chelsea Hotel Eyes Early 2019 Opening
Photos by Rita Barros
Construction is underway at the Chelsea Hotel for an early 2019 reopening.
BY RANIA RICHARDSON The saga of the Chelsea Hotel (222 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) continues as SIR Chelsea LLC, owner since 2016, progresses with a transformation that began after a decade-long checkered history of revolving ownership and tenant battles. The group of buyers, Sean MacPherson, Ira Drukier, and Richard Born, whose first names comprise the acronym SIR, are established boutique hotel developers and operators with a portfolio of properties such as the Bowery, Ludlow, and Maritime Hotels. Built in the 1880s, the Chelsea Hotel is known for the numerous cultural icons who lived in its atmosphere of creativity and bohemian values, as well as those who immortalized the location in their work. Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey directed “Chelsea Girls,”
Februar y 22, 2018
inspired by the building’s artistic milieu. Warhol muse Viva raised daughter Gaby Hoffman (star of “Transparent”) in the hotel and recounted an abortion in her brief memoir “Leaving the Chelsea with Egg.” Steven Meisel shot Madonna in Room 822 for her book, “Sex.” Current residents of artistic significance include Gerald Busby (composer of the Robert Altman film “3 Women”) and Ed Hamilton, whose written works include “Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with Artists and Outlaws in New York’s Rebel Mecca” as well as his 2017 debut novel, “Lords of the Schoolyard.” In August 2011, the landmarked hotel closed its doors to new guests. Currently in the midst of renovation, the new Chelsea Hotel is expected to open in early 2019 and will consist of 125 to 130 rooms, according to Born
A leak appeared on the fire escape staircase on Feb. 11, migrating down five flights.
in a telephone interview with Chelsea Now. He stated that this figure includes hotel rooms, 30 new one and twobedroom furnished rentals at market rate with access to hotel services, and the 50 apartments for current tenants who are protected by New York City Rent Stabilization Law (RSL). Upon vacancy, NYC Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) regulations will be followed for renovation and rent increases. There will be no condominiums as previously reported. The first floor will feature a restaurant, lobby lounge, greenhouse, and
private event space. The upgrade calls for a basement restaurant and rooftop gym and spa, as well. Art on the walls, a hallmark of the hotel, will once again decorate the location. With plans for so much activity, tenants are concerned about quality of life and safety issues after the changes. Some of these residents attended Feb. 7’s full board meeting of Community Board 4 (CB4) to give input on the initial liquor license application for the Chelsea Hotel that CB4’s Business CHELSEA HOTEL continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Google is set to lease the lion’s share of space at Pier 57, just south of Chelsea Piers, as part of their new West Side tech corridor.
Pier 57 Plans Promise Public Space, Food Hall, Plenty of Google BY WINNIE McCROY Just a week after Chelsea Now reported on Google’s plan to purchase Chelsea Market, the tech giant is in the news again, taking on the space abandoned by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain at the RXR Realty and YoungWoo & Associates-run Pier 57 complex. Now that Bourdain Market has dropped out, the food hall space will be scaled back from 140,000 square feet to about 40,000 square feet. “The Bourdain plan was very ambitious, proposing one of the largest food halls in the world — over three times the size of Eataly,” said Seth Pinsky, EVP Fund Manager for RXR Realty. “Unfortunately, in talking to the Bourdain team and other operators, we repeatedly heard that a food hall of this scale was simply not financeable, with many plans evolving during discussions into ‘Vegas-style’ event spaces, which were not appropriate for this site.” Google had already announced an agreement for a 15-year lease as the anchor tenant for the Pier 57 food hall complex, occupying 250,000 square feet of space. Now, they will add another 70,000 square feet of office space, as well as 50,000 square feet of true public space for cultural events and educational programs, including 24,000 square feet for studio rehearsal space for local performing arts organizations such as the Atlantic Theater Company. In addition to this community space dedicated NYC Community Media
File image courtesy HRPT
Once Pier 57 is open in 2019, it will feature 110,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a green roof of usable public space. Seen here, a rendering presented at a Feb. 2016 meeting of Community Board 4.
to culture and education, Google will provide dedicated public space of about 5,000 square feet, for the community to sit and enjoy the view. “In essence, it’s 70,000 square feet for office space and 50,000 square feet that is either 100 percent ‘true’ public space
or public-facing space,” said Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) President and CEO Madelyn Wils. “Before we had only 20,000 square feet of true public space, so there is a lot more now, because basically when Google wanted more space, we made a point of saying
that we wanted to improve the quality of [it]. What was considered public space before was actually just retail space. So in essence, Google is taking some of that retail space.” PIER 57 continued on p. 19 Februar y 22, 2018
Did Gala Offer 2020 Auditions for Cuomo, Gillibrand? BY PAUL SCHINDLER At its New York City gala this month in Midtown, the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based group that is the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, presented a program that focused just enough attention on the dangers created since Donald Trump became president to press the urgent need for the queer community to engage in productive resistance to the now one-year old administration. “We are living in a very different world than we were just a couple of years ago,” said Chad Griffin, the group’s president, in brief remarks amidst speeches from three high-profile New York politicians. “Living through this moment can be truly exhausting. It’s tempting to want to simply give up… But you know what? That’s exactly what Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and the entire cabinet of deplorables are hoping that we do.” But even as the Feb. 3 gathering at the Times Square Marriott Marquis offered compelling arguments for staying engaged, it was also a showcase for two potential 2020 Trump challengers. Appearances by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand offered distinctive profiles in political rhetoric and the different paths each might take in rallying support should they choose to make the race. Cuomo, the evening’s first speaker, blended his trademark boasting about New York’s storied progressive past with a showy display of the executive power he has wielded for nearly eight years and a subtle reminder that as Washington goes, he’s been an outsider — at least since he served as Bill Clinton’s Housing and Urban Development secretary. “These are dark times in this country,” the governor said in opening his remarks. “What’s even more shocking is how far we have gone from a period of outstanding accomplishment in the pursuit of justice to a place of regression, anger, and intolerance… Yesterday, we had President Obama, we passed marriage equality, we had record LGBT progress, we were defeating intolerance.” In contrast, now, Cuomo continued, “We have this president and this Congress who have brought us to the exact opposite position. We know what they did, and we know how they won. They won by fanning the flames of anger, they amplified people’s anxieties, they appealed to people’s worst instincts to fear people who are different.” Cuomo placed primary responsibility for resisting the changes Trump’s ascendancy threaten on members of his own
Februar y 22, 2018
Photo courtesy Human Rights Campaign Photo courtesy Human Rights Campaign
Governor Andrew Cuomo emphasized the example New York can provide to the nation.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in passionate terms, identified her mission with that of the Democratic Party’s left-leaning grassroots.
party — at least those serving in the nation’s capital. “The Democrats in Washington must join forces and they must stop the administration’s attempts at reversals by any means possible,” he argued. “And whatever the Democrats have to do — stand up, speak up, lay down, shut down, I don’t care. Whatever is necessary to do we must do because you cannot compromise with hate and prejudice.” Then, pointing to New York’s pivotal role in movements including women’s suffrage and LGBTQ rights, Cuomo pledged relief he would deliver as governor here — legislation to bar any “gay panic” defense in the courtroom, not “one penny of state money” for “any school that refuses to protect transgender students,” “an executive order prohibiting New York State government from doing any business with any entity that discriminates against any New Yorker, period.” In capping his argument that New York can lead the way for the nation, Cuomo noted expected declines in federal funding on HIV and AIDS and pledged, “We’re going to redouble our efforts here in New York and assure people that we’re going to reach the goal of ending AIDS as an epidemic by 2020, and we’re going to get it done and we’re going to show it can be done, and then we’re going to say to every other state across this nation, ‘Join us in ending AIDS.’” For those hoping to see a Cuomo presidential campaign in 2020, effective executive action is the winning argument against an administration beset by chaos and divisiveness. Gillibrand’s remarks, which followed closely on the governor’s, opened with less fire, though she immediately tied herself to the most significant advance in LGBTQ rights to have come out of Congress, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, “a monumental task,” she said,
that came during her first two “green” years in the Senate, when a majority of Americans still opposed marriage equality. Gillibrand, in fact, was a key player in getting Democrat Carl Levin, who then led the Senate Armed Services Committee, to hold hearings that proved a pivotal moment in the repeal drive. But having pointed up her own advocacy, she then gave credit to the activists on the ground. The experience, she said, “taught me a fundamental lesson that I will never forget: Washington only acts when courageous people… stand up and demand it. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell didn’t end because of lawmakers like me. It ended because of the protests, the calls, the activism of people like you.” Through much of the rest of her remarks, Gillibrand identified herself with the passion of those activists — at a time when there is more street activism, as her New York colleague Chuck Schumer would later remind the crowd, than at any time since the Vietnam War. Talking about the pride she had in a local youth’s gender transition in a school her child attended, she said, “So when President Trump looks at our transgender troops as valueless and when his party tries to demonize this boy and every other like him, this arrogance and bigotry provokes a fury in me that will not subside.” Gillibrand then talked about the grassroots opposition to neo-Nazis marching in Charlottesville, to the immigration crackdown (noting that an estimated 75,000 Dreamers identify as LGBTQ), and to the failed effort to replace the Army’s out gay Obama era secretary, Eric Fanning, with the virulently anti-gay Mark Green, a Tennessee state senator. “I promise you not until we pass a bipartisan bill that I introduced with Senator John McCain we will stop fighting to protect these transgender troops,” Gillibrand pledged. “In 2011, John McCain was one of our most ardent
opponents of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2017, he added his name to my bill to protect those same troops.” Turning to the poisonous political climate and spiraling hate violence unleashed by Trump, Gillibrand embraced the politics of intersectionality championed by many grassroots progressives, saying, “If you live at the intersections of any of these communities, if you are a black lesbian or a trans woman, the rates of violence are even higher. This hatred has no place anywhere in our great nation.” Gillibrand’s remarks reinforced the widespread perception that she has decided the Democratic Party’s future lies with its left-leaning grassroots activists, many of whom were aligned with Senator Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries. During his remarks, HRC’s Griffin also spoke in intersectional terms, noting an alliance with the NAACP in Alabama’s special US Senate election, pointing to the “epidemic of violence” against transgender women of color, emphasizing the group’s common cause with immigrants’ rights, voting rights, and women’s rights, and name-checking Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo movement, and the new Time’s Up initiative to combat sexual assault in the workplace. The results from November’s legislative elections in Virginia — where Danica Roem, a transgender Democrat, beat the House of Delegates’ most anti-transgender incumbent — and the Alabama Senate race, Griffin said, proved that “the days of attacking our community to scare up votes are over and a reckoning is coming this November.” Schumer, for his part, kept his remarks short, theatrically ripping up his speech to talk about how his political hunger was first stirred at Harvard in 1967 when he was recruited into Senator Eugene McCarthy’s insurgent challenge to President Lyndon Johnson, who bowed out after a win that was humiliatingly narrow in the New Hampshire primary. Seeing the same sort of activism he experienced then, Schumer sounded upbeat about big Democratic victories in November — enough to flip both the House and the Senate. If his party gains Senate control, Schumer said, “I will have the sole power to determine what goes on the floor of the Senate, and that will means we will not get another backward, rightwing justice of the Supreme Court, period. And we will stop the anti-LGBT cascade of things that come into the Senate.” NYC Community Media
BURT LAZARIN continued from p. 1
Lazarin said he won’t be a micromanager who dictates what should happen at every meeting, noting, “That creates problems with members.” Instead, he said, he will let people bring their own expertise to the table. His own field of expertise lies in urban planning. Born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, Lazarin earned his bachelor’s degree at City College, followed by graduate study in Seattle. He has lived in Albany, London, Chile, and Peru, working as an urban planner in South America for two and a half years while in the Peace Corps. When he first returned to New York, he lived in Brooklyn and worked in consulting with labor unions on contract negotiations. After five years in Brooklyn, Lazarin, who is gay, followed a wave of friends migrating to Chelsea, which was emerging as a one of the city’s newest LGBTQ enclaves. Thirtyseven years ago, he began a relationship with Frank Ireland, whom he married last June. “When I moved here in 1977, people asked me, ‘Is it safe?’ — because everything between Ninth Ave. and the river was abandoned,” Lazarin recalled. “There were the hookers and there were the meat trucks but that was it, because the whole area was built in the early 20th century as support for the docks. But by the early ’70s, the finger piers went away, some warehouses became taxi garages, and the whole south side of 23rd St., which is now expensive townhouses, was abandoned.” Lazarin fondly recalls the early years of Chelsea’s emergence as a gay neighborhood, speaking wistfully of the Meatpacking District bistro Florent with the framed maps of different cities — many imaginary — that lined its walls. By then, he was a fixture in the neighborhood and ready to invest in its future.
“I’ve always been involved, always been a group person,” said Lazarin. “One thing I did when I first came back was I got involved with a group called Identity House, which at the time was fairly revolutionary.” The group does peer counseling for the LGBTQ community. “The personal was political,” Lazarin noted, “and we knew that as we worked helping people come out or with relationship problems, we were changing things. It was a self-governing organization that started in ’71, and I served as coordinator, executive director, and clinical director because for many years I did psychotherapy in addition to contract negotiations.” Upon his arrival on the West Side in ‘77, Lazarin banded together with his friends to form another gay organization. “That’s the time when mostly gays were moving into Chelsea and we wanted to have a presence, so we started an organization called the Chelsea Gay Association,” Lazarin recalled. “It was to meet your neighbors, with small breakout groups for safety, theater, and the like. We had regular meetings and connected with block associations, to make allies. We wanted straight allies going to City Council to help pass the Gay Rights Bill, and we got people from the neighborhood to testify in favor of the bill.” That group lasted until 1982, he said. Identity House still offers walk-in counseling at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street. In the late ’80s, Lazarin also joined the Chelsea Waterside Park Association, where he is currently treasurer. Over time, his activism on community issues would grow. “I have always been involved, so when I saw the announcement for CB4 members, I took a deep breath, thought, ‘It’s time to shit or get off the pot,’ and sent off the application with two recommendations,” Lazarin said.
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He was appointed to CB4 in 2005, later serving on its Business Diversity Task Force. One of the first things he recalls the task force doing was conducting a “windshield survey” — walking block by block to tally up the number of bars and restaurants in the area. “We wanted to get some idea of what people meant when they said the area was ‘saturated,’” said Lazarin. “Your saturation might be my fun or my opportunity.” The task force came up with its own definition and kept tabs on new liquor license applications to make sure the community had the chance to weigh in at public hearings. By that time, Lazarin had already become co-chair of the Business Licenses & Permits Committee. “We advise and provide opportunity for people in the community to voice objections to specific aspects of a licensee or their method of operations,” Lazarin explained. “Over the years, we have developed a format of ‘deny unless’ the business meets all of our stipulations. If Albany accepts those stipulations, they become legally part of the licensees’ method of operations. Then, if they are not following those stipulations — often things like no amplified music or an earlier closing time — then they’re liable.” To him, the Business Licenses & Permits Committee’s work is all a balancing act. “We want to make sure [new businesses] are compatible with existing businesses,” Lazarin said. “We are trying to find balance between both the residents and the people who come in for regional recreation. You have to balance it out, so people who live there are not crazed and abused by the people who come to recreate.” As chair of CB4, Lazarin now faces an even broader responsibility to maintain balance and deliver a fair deal to Chelsea residents. He was unfazed by the recent announcement that Google would purchase
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the Chelsea Market building, saying that if he were a businessman he too would see the property’s appeal, given that the rezoning battle was resolved four years ago. He added, however, that he “would hope they honor [seller] Jamestown’s promised community commitments,” and assumes Google will keep the retail portion intact. “It would be a pretty stupid public relations move to eliminate the Chelsea Market,” he said. Lazarin said he looks forward to working with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who chaired CB4 from 2011 to 2013. “This is [Johnson’s] district, where his feet are and where he lives, where his New York roots are,” said Lazarin. “We have our priorities, most of which are probably aligned with his, so I don’t see any problems. Not that he isn’t going to be speaker for the whole City Council — but he may have a softer spot for Chelsea.” Lazarin voiced support for extending the Special West Chelsea District where necessary to protect historic buildings, and said he will spearhead efforts to landmark or otherwise acknowledge buildings like the Federal Houses and the brownstone in the W. 20s where Gay Men’s Health Crisis was founded. Lazarin is also focused on making sure that CB4 gets its promised seat on the board of the Culture Shed, the large performance space being built in the middle of Hudson Yards. He also noted the importance of the 7 train extension to the development of Hudson Yards and said the subway need not terminate at 34th St. “The tunnel already goes down to 25th St., so it’s just a matter of extending it down and bumping it up next to 14th St. and Eighth Ave., and having a cross-platform exchange,” Lazarin said. “It’s time to start thinking and planning for that, as we have that new community integrate with existing neighborhoods.”
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Februar y 22, 2018
Why Downtown Should Back Congestion Pricing BY CHARLES KOMANOFF Early last fall, Governor Cuomo’s “Fix NYC” task force chose my intricate Balanced Transportation Analyzer, or BTA, spreadsheet model as its analytical tool to figure out which vehicle tolls and surcharges could best fulfill the governor’s pledge to implement congestion pricing in New York City. Congestion pricing — tolls to drive into the Manhattan Central Business District, or CBD, south of 60th St., and surcharges on for-hire vehicles (taxicabs, Ubers, etc.) operating within the Manhattan “taxi zone” — stands to benefit our city by thinning traffic in and near the CBD and generating revenues to improve subway service. No part of the city will benefit more than Lower Manhattan. Three East River bridges connect Brooklyn with Downtown Manhattan, and a fourth connects Queens with Midtown. For nearly a century, the failure to toll these bridges has led drivers to pour onto our streets to reach destinations served by multiple subway lines or to pass through to New Jersey. My BTA model forecasts that the robust congestion charges outlined in the Fix NYC report will cut traffic volumes on those bridges by 25 percent. The reduction will reach 35 percent as subway improvements paid for by the tolls draw even more trips out of automobiles. In plain numbers, the 25 percent reduction equates to 10,000 fewer trips in each direction each weekday on each East River bridge. Picture Canal, Broome, Delancey, Chambers, Walker and Varick Sts. and our other “traffic sewers” with thousands fewer cars and trucks. Imagine quieter neighborhoods, healthier air and safer streets for you and your children. Picture our buses not stuck in traffic and our subways not stuck between stations. Congestion pricing offers all this.
File photo by Tequila Minsky
Dodging traffic as usual in Soho amid the Verrazano Bridge one-way-toll-aggravated Downtown traffic disaster.
To be sure, someone has to pay the car and truck tolls and the taxicab and Uber surcharges, and that includes us Downtown residents. My model predicts that under any effective congestion pricing plan, residents of Manhattan will pay much more, overall, than residents of, say, Brooklyn or Queens. While we won’t pay to drive our cars out of the toll area, we will pay when we return across 60th St. or on an East River bridge. More importantly — since relatively few Lower Manhattan residents own cars — we’ll also pay surcharges to use taxis and Ubers and Lyfts within the taxi zone, which could extend up to 96th St. on the East Side and 110th St. on the West Side. I believe that it’s only fair that Manhattan residents collectively pay the most in congestion charges. After all, we’ll reap the greatest benefits of reduced gridlock and healthier streets, so we ought to shoulder the greatest costs. Moreover, every vehicle trip that contributes to congestion, whether in a private car or a for-hire vehicle, should be charged equally for slowing down traffic.
And don’t forget political necessity: Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s attempt to enact congestion pricing a decade ago failed in large part because it tilted toward Manhattan; we must not make that mistake again. Change is hard, especially when it goes after an entitlement — in this case, the “right” to tie up our streets without paying to do so. Typically, the minority enjoying an entitlement organize to defend it, while the majority who stand to benefit from a change stay silent or obsess over details. Witness state Assemblymember Yuh Line-Niou from Lower Manhattan insisting that policymakers “explore a [toll] carve-out for Lower Manhattan” — or West Side Assemblymember Richard Gottfried qualifying his “support [for] the concept [of congestion pricing]” by fretting that “many details still need to be worked out.” Grumbling like that only makes it harder for congestion pricing’s champions — the Assembly speaker, the City Council speaker and the governor himself — to corral legislators from the other boroughs and the suburbs into voting majorities. To pass congestion pricing — in a robust version that will truly decongest our streets and provide the financial wherewithal to revitalize mass transit — the communities that will benefit the most need to speak with a strong, clear voice. Every Manhattan community board, led by those representing Downtown and Midtown, should resoundingly endorse congestion pricing. Komanoff is an energy-policy analyst, a transport economist and an environmental activist. In the 1990s, he co-founded the pedestrian-rights group Right of Way. He lives in Tribeca and has worked in Lower Manhattan since the 1960s.
What Would Jane Do? Show the L Shutdown Study! BY DAVID R. MARCUS How ironic to be in 2018, once again embroiled with the city — albeit through the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) — over the quality of life in our Downtown neighborhoods and streets. A mere 50 years ago, Jane Jacobs led the fight against master builder Robert Moses and his plan to level our beloved Downtown streets in favor of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, or LOMEX. The ill-planned project was meant to facilitate the free flow of vehicular traffic though Lower Manhattan, at the expense of what would become many historic districts — a blend of residential and commercial use in neighborhood districts coexisting in peaceful harmony. Moses even proposed a traffic lane running
Februar y 22, 2018
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
David Marcus, at Feb. 6’s meeting of Village and Chelsea block associations who are concerned about the L shutdown plan, showed a subway map while explaining what he called a serious flaw in the MTA’s plan for 14th St. during the subway’s suspension of Manhattan service.
south through Washington Square Park. How ironic, indeed, now to be faced with a city that would once again propose an ill-advised plan to upset that harmony, yet while suggesting a totally opposite tack: to ban the use of cars at all. Talk about extremes. Talk about ignoring the impact upon the neighborhood and the will of the local residents, many of whom have lived here all their lives and who will be impacted 24/7 by a dubious plan to mitigate the alleged commutation needs of an ill-defined number of morning and evening commuters. Surely, there is a balance to be struck in attempting to solve the unsubstantiated and illusory problem that would result from the L train being shut down for repairs to its East River tunnel. TALKING PONTS continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media
Judy Pesin, a leader of the coalition of Village and Chelsea block associations fighting the L shutdown mitigation plan, called on the MTA and DOT to end the “show and tell” sessions and hold some true public meetings to hear community input and criticism of the plan.
Photos by Lesley Sussman
Participants could go around the meeting hall and ask junior staffers questions about the plan.
Frustrated Critics Cry Foul at L Train Open House BY LESLEY SUSSMAN The atmosphere in the air was more electrified than the third rail at an open house last Wednesday night sponsored by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to discuss the proposed shutdown of the L subway line for 15 months beginning in April 2019. The open house for the Carnarsie Tunnel reconstruction, held at Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard Church (328 W. 14th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) drew more than 100 local residents from Chelsea and the West and East Village, including a slew opposed to the shutdown mitigation plan. Also at the event was Andy Byford, the newly appointed president of New York City Transit, who mingled with the crowd to answer questions. The plan has been sharply criticized by residents in Manhattan and Brooklyn alike who make daily use of the L train, which runs from Eighth Ave. in Manhattan to Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bushwick, and beyond in Brooklyn. Roughly 225,000 commuters ride the train daily between Manhattan and Brooklyn. The city’s transportation agencies say the section of the subway line between Bedford and Eighth Aves. must be shut down because the East River tunnel connecting the two boroughs is in desperate need of repair after being flooded during Hurricane Sandy. The mitigation plan, which transit officials say is still in the making, calls for, among other things, increased service on nearby subway lines, such as the J, M, Z and G lines, to compensate for the L train shutdown, longer subway cars, extra turnstiles in some adjoining subway stations, and new and more frequent bus routes between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The scheme also calls for a car-free 14th St. during rush hours between Third Ave. and Eighth Ave. on the north side of the street and Ninth Ave. on the south side of the street. Also proposed by DOT and the MTA as part of the plan is a ban on the Williamsburg Bridge of vehicles NYC Community Media
carrying a driver only or a driver plus one passenger during rush hours; a new ferry route from Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove, at E. 23rd St., with a free transfer to the M14 crosstown bus; a new two-way bike lane along 13th St. between Avenue C and Horatio St.; and new pedestrian spaces with bike parking from 14th to 17th Sts. Byford, who previously served a five-year stint as the CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission, North America’s third-largest transit system, took over the reins of the MTA just last month. At the Feb. 14 meeting, he fielded some sharp questions from several Village, Chelsea, and Brooklyn residents who wanted to know why there has yet to be a general meeting where people seated in an audience could ask questions of top MTA and DOT officials — instead of the current format, in which junior DOT officials are spread around the room next to posters that detail various aspects of the reconstruction plan. Opponents of the current shutdown plan deride this current format as “show and tell,” and dismiss it as ineffective. Several residents also wanted to know why the tunnel repair work could not just be done on weekends only instead of totally shutting down this segment of the subway line, which they said would inconvenience local residents, students and interborough commuters, alike. However, Byford defended how the process has been conducted, and said there are other venues for the public to have input. “We have been going before community boards and will continue to do so,” he stated. “This is where people have and will have the opportunity to ask questions. Many residents I’ve spoken to like this present format because they don’t have the confidence to speak up at a general meeting, and with this format they can privately ask MTA representatives all the questions they want.” Clearly, Byford doesn’t know Village and Chelsea residents very well if he thinks they lack the confidence to
ask such questions. The NYC Transit honcho also acknowledged to several residents and reporters that, yes, the repair work on the L line could have been done only on weekends. “[But] it would have taken much longer than 15 months to complete all the work,” he noted. “Many residents and business people have told me to just get the work done as soon as possible.” Despite holding 40 open houses since 2016 to discuss the plan — including a number of “community outreach” charrettes over the past two years — both the MTA and DOT have nonetheless been sharply criticized for a lack of clear communication about the plan to the public. Last Wednesday night’s open house did little to quell the outrage and concern that many riders and transit advocates feel about the plan. Residents who spoke to this newspaper said they remain frustrated that there still has not been a full and open discussion in a meeting room where senior agency officials could answer questions from the audience. L TRAIN continued on p. 18
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NATIONAL CHILDREN’S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH
Ace the Fundamentals of Flossing Learning to brush their own teeth is a lesson all children must master. Although parents ultimately may have children who become proficient at brushing their own teeth, getting them to floss is generally more difficult. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 41 percent of children aged 2 to 11 had tooth decay in their fi rst teeth. Dental caries are common among children, likely because they have not become proficient at taking care of their teeth. Soft, sticky foods are commonplace in young kids’ diets, and these can promote decay. Even well-intentioned gummy vitamins can be sources of dental decay. Oftentimes, these foods become lodged between the teeth or on the surface of molars. If left in contact with the teeth for too long, food particles become a source of carbohydrates for oral bacteria, and cavities may appear as a result. To remove food particles from between the teeth, children must floss, advises the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. It is recommended that parents help their children to floss as soon as two teeth are touching and continue to do so until the child is around the age of eight, when a child should have enough dexterity to do it on his or her own.
Flossing is essential to making sure children do not experience cavities at an early age, and it can establish practices that promote oral health
throughout life. Despite being so important, many parents fail to encourage flossing or are at a loss as to how to make it enjoyable and effective. Although regular dental floss is one of the first tools for flossing, the dexterity required to wind the floss around little fingers and then thoroughly clean the teeth may discourage children. Parents can look into the wide array of flossing helpers available at the store. In fact, many ageappropriate flossers are now available that feature fun designs and smaller profiles to fit into kids’ mouths more easily. Flossers may be attached to a handle to make back teeth more accessible and promote more effective flossing. Manufacturers such as DenTek, Butler GUM, Plackers Kids, Dr. Fresh, Oral-B, and Brush Buddies offer children’s flossers. Kids who shy away from flossing may be more likely to use a children’s water flosser. In lieu of string floss, a water flosser uses a pressurized stream of water to dislodge food from between teeth. Although a water flosser may be messier, children may enjoy the opportunity to “play” with water and the cleaning sensation provided. To prevent the buildup of plaque and the development of dental caries, parents should educate children about proper flossing techniques. —Courtesy CNG
Tips for Taking Care of Tween Dental Hygiene ute timer in the bathroom. By supplying your tween with products in the flavors (e.g. not-too-spicy, not-too-sweet) and cool designs, they might even forget what they’re doing something healthy — and those two minutes will fly! “Oral health is an important issue, particularly for kids in their adolescent years. Tooth decay is still recognized as the most common chronic disease affecting children in the United States. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 51 million hours of school are lost each year due to dental-related illness,” noted Dr. Jennifer Salzer, orthodontist, dentist and mother of a tween. “Not only can poor oral hygiene affect the health and well-being of a child, it also plays a role in self-esteem.”
With school, sports, friends, and hobbies, today’s tweens lead busy and active lives, and sometimes they don’t take the time — or know how — to practice good hygiene. Discussing proper hygiene with your tween can be difficult, but it is possible to address the topic without making them feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. One approach parents can take is to appeal to your tween’s growing maturity by making it clear that these self-care tasks are their own responsibility. Giving tweens the respect and encouragement to make their own choices in these transitional years can help them develop healthy habits for life. To help empower your tween to take better care of dental hygiene, parents can follow these tips:
MAKE IT FUN The tween years are all about finding a unique sense of style. Allow your tween to choose their own shampoos, soaps, and oral care products. This
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will encourage them to take interest in hygiene without you having to ask.
BRACE FACE Brushing can be a struggle at this age. Tweens may go in the bathroom for
30 seconds and declare that they have brushed. They should know that good oral care is just as important as taking a shower, especially if your child has braces. Make the process a little easier and ensure they are brushing for the proper amount of time by keeping a two-min-
LEAD BY EXAMPLE Whether tweens admits it or not, they notice your habits. Set an example by showing that a healthy hygiene routine is important to you, too. —Courtesy CNG NYC Community Media
FEBRUARY IS NATIONAL CHILDRENâ€™S DENTAL HEALTH MONTH
Childrenâ€™s smiles brighten our lives. Letâ€™s give them healthy smiles that last a lifetime! Good dental habits start at a young age and continue as children grow with: â€˘ Regular dental checkups (2x a year) â€˘ Brushing and flossing (at least 2x a day) â€˘ A healthy diet with fruits and vegetables
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Februar y 22, 2018
Baby’s Delivery Team Had Blue Scrubs With Badges BY TEQUILA MINSKY Amidst the deluge of traffic, screeching sirens, and overall tumult of Manhattan’s far west 40s, a sidewalk ceremony took place on 10th Ave. on Feb. 15 honoring Police Officers Tiffany Phillips and Carlos Guadalupe. At the event, where they were joined by their fellow officers assigned to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Midtown Manhattan Traffic Enforcement Task Force, Senator Brad Hoylman honored Phillips and Guadalupe with the State Senate Liberty Award, among the highest civilian honors bestowed on New Yorkers. In what for many Manhattanites have been very dark times, the two officers were recognized for performing a service that is something to smile about. On Jan. 16, Phillips and Guadalupe delivered a seven-pound, 10-ounce baby boy in a car on the corner of W. 41st St. and 10th Ave. Baby Liam’s father and mother, who wish to remain anonymous, were driving through the Lincoln Tunnel with their 17-month-old daughter secured in their Hyundai’s backseat on their way to Lennox Hill Hospital on E. 77th St. when Mom’s water broke. A
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Senator Brad Hoylman looks on as Police Officer Tiffany Phillips speaks after Hoylman bestowed New York State Senate Liberty Award medals on her and Officer Carlos Guadalupe.
frantic husband flagged down the two traffic cops. Guadalupe went into the nearby Yotel Hotel to get a blanket, and Phillips called for an ambulance and stayed with the mother, her leggings off, as the baby began to crown. “I wasn’t thinking, I was just doing,” recalled Phillips, describing her auto-
matic responses as she coached the mother. “My main concern was for the baby to breathe.” When Liam came out, he wasn’t breathing. “I laid him at an angle and gently patted his back,” Phillips recounted, recalling her joy and relief when his eyes began to blink and he began to cry.
“I knew to swaddle him,” said the officer, who has no children and said her only training along these lines was in CPR. Clearly, her professionalism as a cop took over. Both officers have 12 years on the force. Phillips placed the baby on the mother’s stomach, instructing her to gently massage Liam’s back. “I was concerned that the baby would make it,” said Guadalupe, who assisted with the whole process. When the ambulance didn’t arrive, Phillips drove the family in their car to Bellevue Hospital at First Ave. and E. 28th St. From the time the father flagged the cops to arriving at the hospital, this speedy episode took a mere 30 minutes. Phillips estimated the delivery itself took about 15 minutes. One block away from the site of the delivery, with their families present, the two received the Liberty Award for their clear-headed professionalism. The honor’s criteria include “meritorious, humanitarian, selfless, noble, heroic, and exceptional actions by the recipient on behalf of their community.” DELIVERY continued on p. 11
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DELIVERY continued from p. 10
“Police Offi cers Tiffany Phillips and Carlos Guadalupe embody the highest ideals of the New York City Police Department,” Hoylman said in presenting the medals. “Their selflessness in the line of duty, helping to deliver a baby on a hectic city street, is emblematic of the important work — seen and unseen — that the NYPD does every day. I am thrilled to bestow upon them our state’s highest civilian honor.” In the spirit of a new baby’s arrival, Hoylman gave each officer a chocolate cigar and a bouquet of flowers. Baby Liam will never hear the end of his exciting and colorful entrance into this world from his grateful family. As part of his family’s lore, no doubt, this story will be retold countless times as he grows up. And this writer should know. She, too, was born in a car. Not on Manhattan’s West Side, but — what more appropriate place to begin life in a car? — in Detroit.
Gun Reformers Target NRA Funder, Its GOP Tools BY ANDY HUMM In the wake of the latest US gun massacre that killed 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida, more than a hundred demonstrators joined Gays Against Guns (GAG) to march on Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater last Thursday evening, protesting the plutocrat who is one of the big funders of the NRA’s massive “dark money” political spending. Jay W. Walker of GAG — founded in response to the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre that killed 49, mostly LGBTQ Latinx victims, in Orlando — said, “Congress is bought and paid for by the NRA, and this building is bought and paid for by David Koch.” While GAG is out on the streets after every one of these atrocities, he added, “We work to keep the focus on gun violence non-stop between the mass shootings.” Cathy Marino-Thomas, another GAG veteran, said,
Photo by Donna Aceto
Gun reform advocates marched in Manhattan last week in the wake of the murder of 17 students and teachers at a Florida high school.
“People need to get off their asses, out into the streets, and get to their legislators.” She encouraged people to join GAG at its biweekly meetings at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street, the next of which is March 1 at 7 p.m. Marino-Thomas pointed to tweets from students in the Florida school calling out Trump “as a piece of shit” for his offer of “prayers and condolences.”
“Kids are the ones who are going to make a difference,” she said. Plans are in the works to hold a nationwide student walkout to protest gun violence and demand meaningful action such as a ban on assault rifles, the brutally lethal gun of choice in these mass killings. Hal Moskowitz joined fellow GAG members on Wednesday in Washington for a sit-in at the offices of Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas,
a reliable tool of the NRA. “There were 23 of us sitting in while the massacre in Florida was happening,” he said. Six of them were arrested and fined $50 each. At the kick-off rally in front of LaGuardia High School near Lincoln Center, GAG’s John Grauwiler called for more civil disobedience. Lisa Byrne of Rise and Resist, a group that arose in the wake of Trump’s 2016 election, said, “I’m looking forward to the midterms and getting the Democrats back in control.” Kevin Hertzog of GAG said because of the Florida catastrophe, “there does seem to be a renewed sense of horror.” He hopes it will swell the group’s numbers as well as those of its allies enough “for us finally to break through the malaise” that sinks in when nothing is ever done to control weapons of mass destruction.
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Februar y 22, 2018
Call Me by Your New Name Horse Trade joins the nonproﬁt FRIGID stable
Photo by Benjamin Davis
In “Lenny Bruce is Not Afraid,” the last two “normal” people in the world have an especially uncomfortable first date as they negotiate the streets of zombie-filled NYC on the way back home to one of their apartments (and kisses for two?).
Courtesy Mary Stucchi Photography
Brooklyn-based artist and clown Mélissa Smith’s “The Magician’s Assistant” is an awe-inspiring show especially suitable for kids.
Februar y 22, 2018
BY SCOTT STIFFLER A brush with the law. A bounty on your head. A credit rating beyond repair. Cruel schoolyard taunts that still sting after all these years. There are many good reasons to change your name — but perhaps none so noble as the mission to make sure the show goes on. In such a case, who among us would deny one’s right to be called FRIGID? Those caps aren’t just for dramatic effect. They’re part of a wintertime tradition that has Horse Trade Theater Group turning over its two East Village performance spaces to the anything-goes FRIGID Festival — half of whose 30 participants are culled from first-come email submissions, with the remaining half determined by pulling names out of a plastic trick-or-treat pumpkin at the stroke of midnight on Halloween. A chancy acceptance policy, yes. So kudos to FRIGID for taking that leap of faith, then backing it up with free rehearsal and performance space, tech support, PR outreach, and the promise that each festival participant will walk away with 100 percent of the box office proceeds from their show. But that’s a difficult business model from which to eke a profit, so Horse Trade is trading in its trademark name and rebranding all future endeavors under the umbrella of a nonprofit named… FRIGID. “Horse Trade was created 20 years ago to be an entirely self-sufficient organization,” said managing artistic director Erez Ziv. “It’s become clearer over the years,” he deadpanned, “that independent theater needs funding.” With their flagship Kraine Theater seating 99, and a 45-seat capacity at the basement space UNDER St. Marks, “Those numbers are just not enough to create a situation where artists are getting paid anything near what they should be.” Nonprofit status, Ziv said, “opens all of what we do [sans rentals] to fundraising” as well as grants and tax-deductible donations from individuals. Those sources are of particular importance, since, Ziv noted, “The FRIGID festival is not curated. That puts us out of play with private foundations that have certain opinions. They won’t fund a thing that NYC Community Media
Photo by Jody Christopherson
Addressing elements of PTSD and the stigma of seeking psychiatric treatment, Megan Bandelt’s “what she found” puts central character Fiona through a Lewis Carrollike looking glass journey after she unearths a lost gift left by her deceased grandmother.
From brothers Zach (pictured) and Joey Stamp, “Life in 60 Minutes” takes that amount of time to tell the story, rock show-style, of a Marine Corps veteran’s journey from high school to boot camp to Afghanistan (and from addiction to recovery).
From Sour Grapes Productions, “As He Likes It: A Shakesqueer Comedy” is an LGBTQ adaptation of you-know-who’s “As You Like It.” And we like that!
Photo by Jenny Rubin
Hide your prescription pills and cash! “Molly’s World” finds nacho-eating security guard/poet Molly “Equality” Dykeman (the sidesplitting alter ego of Andrea Alton) looking for a lady to go home with (and promoting world peace). NYC Community Media
goes against those opinions, so an openaccess [uncensored] festival could easily offend.” There’s an up side to that too, however, in that annual festivals with a special focus — like June’s Queerly (LGBTQthemed) and November’s Gotham Storytelling lend themselves to financial support from likeminded or otherwise sympathetic sources. “This year,” Ziv said of January’s Obie-winning The Fire This Time Festival (featuring early career African and African American artists), “we got a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and a nice grant from the Time Warner Foundation.” Having spent the last few years bringing more and more of its monthly shows, co-productions, and annual festivals into the nonprofit FRIGID fold, they’ll make it official at a multitasking March 4 event. “Horse Trade is turning 20 this year,” Ziv said wistfully, “and since the Oscars moved from our middle weekend to our
Photo by Jody Christopherson
Ilsa Jule admits to occasional small deceptions, but the title “I Lied to Marianne Williamson” hints at larger transgressions (including fibbing to a guru and the titular NYT bestselling author).
last, instead of an Oscar party for our mid-festival party, we just decided to do a variety show with FRIGID participants doing material specifically not from their festival show. Then, in the summer, we’ll have a 20th anniversary party for Horse Trade. Starting at the end of this season, it’s all going to be FRIGID on the front end.” Consider that a head start on the challenge of adaptive language as it applies to FRIGID becoming a way to describe all
of the in-house productions. Meantime, though, for a taste of what’s in the offering for this year’s FRIGID festival (now through March 4), see the captions in this article. For the entire schedule and to purchase tickets ($5 to $20; three-show pass for $30), visit FRIGIDnewyork.info. The Kraine Theater is located at 85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave. UNDER St. Marks is located at 94 St. Marks Place, btw. First Ave. & Ave. A. Februar y 22, 2018
The Best of Yesterday, Fun to Play Toy Fair brings nostalgic wonderland to New York BY CHARLES BATTERSBY New York is home to lots of fun events at our convention centers, but the annual North American International Toy Fair is off-limits to the general public. Only industry pros and press are allowed to experience its whimsical wonders. We were lucky to have access to this secret toyland during its Feb. 17–20 run at the Javits Center, and played with some of the new toys that will be delighting kids and grown-ups in the months ahead. Among the flashy Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets, we were pleased to learn that the simple teddy bear is still a mainstay of the industry. The Toy Fair (toyfairny. com) had booths showing the latest designs from classics like Beanie Babies and Gund, along with a relatively new addition to the plush market: Rilakkuma, a Japanese bear character who is popular with teens and adults. Pillow Pets fell out of fashion for a few years — but they’re back, and they even have a certain nostalgia for millennials who have grown into adults. A new line of baby-sized Pillow Pets are out now, so that parents and kids can have matching pets without the grown-ups having to share. Nostalgia, on the whole, has always been a part of the toy industry. Middleaged people might be surprised to learn that the ’80s are now a source of nostalgia, especially thanks to the TV show “Stranger Things” and the upcoming movie “Ready Player One.” At the Toy Fair, the company World’s Smallest had mini recreations of classic ’80s toys: everything from a miniscule Stretch Armstrong (who really stretches!) to arcade cabinets with postage stampsized screens that played working versions of Pac-Man and other ’80s games. Nearby, another company, My Arcade, was promoting a slightly larger set of retro arcade cabinets — which had bigger screens and controls, but were less portable. A form of nostalgia that should hit New Yorkers particularly hard is FAO Schwarz, whose iconic flagship store closed down in 2015. A new flagship store is coming back to New York later this year. In the meantime, FAO Schwarz has re-emerged as a brand, with some of their products for sale at other retailers and online. The giant piano from the movie “Big” was available to play at the Toy Fair, and a full-sized Zoltar the Fortune Teller was there, but was not granting wishes. Their website currently sells a smaller version of the piano that is
Februar y 22, 2018
Photos by Charles Battersby
FAO Schwarz is returning to NYC, and their website currently sells a smaller version of the playable piano keys popularized in the Tom Hanks film “Big.”
Behold, the World’s Smallest working arcade cabinet.
Pillow Pets are back, for young and old.
more suitable for playing at home. A tiny home version of Zoltar is on the way. Another strong theme at this year’s Toy Fair was how to get kids away from their electronic screens. One way is through board games. Iello was showing
an extensive lineup of board games that were suitable for various age groups. Of note for New Yorkers is the giant monster game “King of New York.” In it, players take on the roles of giant monsters and compete against each other to
do the best job of destroying the city. Kids who want to rampage for real will want to grab some “Battle Bunkerz.” These are aren’t toys — they’re inflatable set pieces for creating life-sized battlefields for laser tag and Nerf fights. NYC Community Media
Barbie can now add “beekeeper” to her resume.
They look like slabs of concrete, old tires, rusty barrels: the exact kind of debris that kids would see in a video game or action movie. They deflate for easy storage, and have a relatively low price point. The larger packs come with instructions for how to create organized games with rules and objectives. Edible toys are a trend that comes and goes. What kid hasn’t blown soap bubbles with a bubble wand, then tried to eat one of them? In the primitive years past, this resulted in nothing but a mouth full of soap. Candylicious has solved this age-old problem by making edible, candy flavored bubbles. These come in small pouches for single play sessions, or parents can invest in electric bubble blowers that shoot a constant stream of edible bubbles. Also at the fair was a more practical edible product: Magic Straws. These straws have flavored filters built into them, so that any glass of milk becomes chocolate flavored (or strawberry, and others). They also have a line of straws for water that add flavoring and carbonation. It’s a clever solution to getting kids to drink more milk, and stay hydrated. Barbie, of course, remains a constant presence in the toy industry. This year, Mattel adds “beekeeper” to Barbie’s absurdly long resume. But she’ll have some more fashionable outfits, too. We found other dolls, including My Ballerina Dolls, a company founded by two retired ballet dancers. Co-creator Tiffany Koepke was in full fairy costume at her booth and told us that her dolls are unique. “They have 22 points of articulations,” she noted, “so they easily go to all of the classical ballet positions.” Koepke adjusted a dancer doll into a proper arabesque as she elaborated, “They are great learning tools for children. A lot of the ballet schools purchase them to teach children hands-on in the classroom.” Among the other dolls were the Tonner line of high-end collectible dolls. NYC Community Media
Photos by Charles Battersby
Battle Bunkerz are inflatables for your backyard battleground.
The giant monster game “King of New York” allows you to destroy your most (or least) favorite borough.
Suitable for children but targeted at adults, Tonner products are larger and more elaborate than most fashion dolls made specifically for kids. Several are based on pop culture icons, but a new addition to their line is a doll based on Jazz Jennings, the teen reality TV star who has been openly transgender since her early childhood. The Founder of the company, Robert Tonner, explained that he reached out to Ms. Jennings because, “As a gay man, I didn’t really think about transgender issues. I thought of it as another degree of being gay. With her, I realized that’s not true... Sales or not, I knew that this was the right time to bring something out like this. Why shouldn’t a transgender kid be recognized in the toy store?” A sign of changing attitudes mixed in with the nostalgia of this year’s Toy Fair.
Transgender teen Jazz Jennings gets her own fashion doll.
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Max’s Magniﬁcent Torch for the Dreadful Olympics The perfect metaphor for whatever burns forever bright BY MAX BURBANK Oh lord, it’s here! The Winter Olympics! That magical time when everybody pretends to be wildly passionate and knowledgeable about figure skating, despite the fact it’s the only time they ever watch it. I mean, between cable, Dish, and the Internet, you could watch figure skating if not constantly, certainly weekly. People who hate baseball but get giddy over figure skating watch more baseball than they do figure skating. Baseball fan or not, you know the basic rules, right? But you only pretend you know what a “triple Lutz” is. Aren’t you ashamed that until you read this sentence, you thought the maneuver known as a “Salchow” — a jump featuring a backward takeoff from the backward inside edge of one skate to the backward outside edge of the other, with one or more full turns in the air, requiring the use of the word “backward” THREE TIMES just to describe it — was called a “sowcow?” Didn’t you wonder why a particularly difficult jump taking years to master would be named after some sort of hideous bovine/pig hybrid? You did not. That is the kind of hold the Olympics has over people. It’s so magical it makes us stupid. And that’s my point. The Olympics is the pinnacle of human physical achievement and a cesspool of doping, institutional corruption, and color commentary so god-awful it could make you wish someone would pull your brain out through your nose like the ancient Egyptians did — but at least they had the decency to wait until you were dead. It’s everything and nothing, the best of times and the worst of times, just like America! Or your life. Or poutine. If you don’t know what that last one is, Google it. Because the Olympics is totally poutine. The Olympics is the perfect metaphor for… well, everything involved with the human condition. Like life itself, the Olympics is simultaneously magnificent and dreadful. “That’s an interesting thesis, Mr. Burbank. Would you care to support it with evidence from childhood memories?” Gladly, and also I’m not entirely sure I care for your tone, imaginary reader’s voice in my head. 1968, Grenoble, France. The first Olympics I remember. I was six years old, watching it in black and white. Jean-Claude Killy was my hero. Suave, debonair, quintessentially French, the
Februar y 22, 2018
Illustration by Max Burbank
son of a Spitfire pilot for the FreeFrench during the Nazi occupation, he dominated the alpine events, taking home three gold medals and, yes, the parts of my confused child’s heart not already committed to Peggy Fleming, America’s figure skating sweetheart. Killy’s reward? In 1972 he starred in the movie “Snow Job,” a heist flick wherein a French ski instructor skis a lot and also pulls off a very complicated bank robbery to impress his co-conspirator/ girlfriend — but in the last minute of the film, you find out it was a con job and Killy splits the money with the insurance agency detective who’s been pursuing them but turns out to have been in on it all along. How awful a film is it? Well, Killy only acted once more, in the 1983 Jim Carrey/Alan Thicke buddy comedy, “Copper Mountain, A Club Med Experience.” Killy played himself, and his screen time was mercifully brief. That same winter Olympics, the captain of the US women’s ski team and a favorite for the gold, Suzanne Stevia “Suzy” Chaffee, finished a disappointing 28th in the downhill. Her life after
retirement was in every way exemplary and inspiring. She championed Title IX legislation, demanding equal opportunity for women in school sports. She was the first woman to serve on the board of the United States Olympic Committee, and co-founded the Native Voices Foundation, and advocacy organization seeking to develop Olympians from Native American tribes. So how is Ms. Chaffee best remembered? From an ad campaign wherein she ponders the possibility of changing her name to “Suzy ChapStick.” And remember Peggy Flemming? She was the spokesperson for Robitussin’s “Last Names Giveaway” campaign. Because her surname sounds like phlegm. Think it was just my first Olympics that leaned so heavily on pathos and irony? Try Googling this string: “Olympics embarrassments disappointments god-awful scandals crimes.” From geopolitics to doping to the ritual humiliation we inevitably visit upon our heroes, it has always been thus. It’s human nature that bearing witness to excellence thrills us briefly and then compels us to transform it into a giant
slalom of excrement. There can be no doubt — the Olympics inspire. But about half of what it inspires is reprehensible. Fox News had to take down a column written by executive editor John Moody arguing that the US Olympic Committee wanted to change their motto from “Faster, Higher, Stronger” to “Darker, Gayer, Different.” Okay, A) That’s terrible writing. The adjectives aren’t opposites or even slightly parallel, and B) How ugly does a sentiment have to be for Fox News, the network that thought Roy Moore might make a pretty okay Senator, to officially state it does not reflect their views and values? And hey, where’s President “America First!” in all of this? As of press time, team USA had five gold medals. Wouldn’t you think there’d be a “Failing fake news media won’t report most gold medals won under any presidency!” tweet? My god, he tweeted about NASCAR the day I wrote this, but aside from some generic boilerplate about the opening ceremonies obviously written by Hope Hicks, nothing. Honestly, there’s not much he can tweet about it. What would he tweet? “Congratulations on half-pipe gold, Chloe Kim! Hope you love ICE as much as snow! So convenient Olympics in South Korea, feel free to stay! Why can’t our immigrant athletes be from Norway? They win most medals!” “Adam Rippon let America down, didn’t individual medal, only team. Many people are saying lifestyle choice. Should have chosen to be Norwegian. So much more manly. So glistening white.” Trump himself is too one-dimensional to be like the Olympics, but the games are a perfect metaphor for the American presidency — an office that has been home to the unmatched genius of Jefferson, the heart, passion, and courage of Lincoln, and Obama’s eloquence and steady hand is now occupied by a boy king who makes George W. Bush look like that uncle who’s kind of fun at Thanksgiving as long as it’s the only time you see him. Remember when you thought there could never be a president that damn teeth-grindingly stupid? Sweet, sweet, nostalgia. Ivanka is scheduled to attend the closing ceremonies. That should finally draw our president’s attention. “About time Olympics got good! Forget Darker, Gayer, Different. Gimmee Whiter, Blonder, HOT!!!” NYC Community Media
Photo by Eric Stephen Jacobs
Liza and the original Kit Kat Boyz. L to R: Adrian Rifat, Richard Westfahl and Tim Canali demonstrate their skilled use of jazz hands.
Bazazz is Back! Rick Skye’s Liza returns to ‘Mama’ BY SCOTT STIFFLER Whether crossing herself for the spiritual strength to knock “New York, New York” out of the park or repurposing a song from “Cabaret” to address the mobility issues of an aging hoofer, Rick Skye’s Liza Minnelli walks (and occasionally Fosse-Fosse-Fosses) the thin line between reverent and ruthless. Singing in his natural voice but nailing Minnelli’s idiosyncratic mannerisms and showbiz patter, Skye’s layered, loopy Liza is easily winded, frequently dehydrated, and oh-so eager to please — and please she does, as the kooky, complicated, showbiz warhorse centerpiece of “Bazazz! A Sequined Variety.” Seen on Dec. 29 of last year to the sheer delight of this publication, this monthly happening fits Midtown cabaret room Don’t Tell Mama like a snug and sparkly evening glove. With musical director Ricky Ritzel on piano, Skye’s special guests for the Feb. 24 show are comedian Nancy Witter (four-time MAC award-winner and author of “Who’s Better Than Me? A Guide to Living Happily Ever After”) and the preternaturally talented Molly Pope, who will join Liza in what Mr. Skye assures us will be either a “Valley of the Dolls” medley or a duet version of “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Either way, mamma likes — especially with assurance that the aesthetically pleasing, well-choreographed Kit Kat Boyz will again be on hand to back up (and occasionally prop up) our beloved Liza. There will be jazz hands! Sat., Feb. 24, 8pm at Don’t Tell Mama (343 W. 46th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). $20 cover, two-drink minimum (cash only). For reservations, visit donttellmamanyc.com or call 212-757-0788. “Bazazz” returns Sat., March 10, 8pm, with the Kit Kat Boyz, alt cabaret star Lykken, and certified cabaret royalty Jay Rogers. NYC Community Media
Februar y 22, 2018
CHELSEA HOTEL continued from p. 2
Licenses & Permits (BLP) committee on Jan. 9 had voted to recommend for approval. The early version of the application stipulated that there would be no rooftop bar and no alcohol sold in outdoor spaces. Additional restrictions were added following comments provided at the full board meeting. Born, who attended the meeting to represent the hotel, gave remarks and agreed to the updated license application, which the full board then voted to recommend for approval. The new stipulations included noise controls such as limiting live music to the event space on the first floor, prohibiting music on outdoor portions of the roof, and enclosing and soundproofing the greenhouse. CB4 BLP Co-Chair Frank Holozubiec wrote in an email, “For 90% of the license applications presented to us, we and the applicant reach agreement on stipulations regarding the applicant’s method of operation. We include those stipulations as the conditions for our recommendation to the State Liquor Authority, and, in most of our cases, the State Liquor Authority makes the stipulations part of the license.” Rita Barros moved into the Chelsea Hotel in 1984 and is one of the current tenants. A professional photographer who exhibits around the world, she has found inspiration at the hotel for several photo books. Barros spoke at CB4’s full board meeting in reference to the
Photo by Rita Barros
At right, a garbage can collects water as part of a makeshift system to control the leak on the 10th floor.
L TRAIN continued from p. 7
They also said they continue to worry about the impact on West Village and Chelsea side streets, in terms of parking and detoured traffic, and for carowning residents on 14th St. where only buses will be allowed during rush hours. Adding to that concern is the MTA’s interest in expanding the hours and the number of blocks included in these special bus lanes. “From the MTA perspective, we’d like those dedicated bus lanes to work for longer hours to accommodate more riders,” Byford said at the open house. “We’re also looking at whether we should have these buses-only lanes start from Third Ave., or could they start further east on First Ave. We want more feedback on all of this to further refine our plan.” Several residents also expressed concerns about the new two-way crosstown bike lane planned for 13th St. West Village resident Mark Brenner said the bike lane would be dangerous, particularly for handicapped people living along that block. “This is especially true for handicapped people,” he said. “So many of these bike riders speed down the block and make sudden turns and pay no attention to who is crossing. These bike lanes are dangerous for pedestrians throughout the city.” Judy Pesin is a spokesperson for the recently
Februar y 22, 2018
Photo by Lesley Sussman
Andy Byford, the new head of New York City Transit, was also on hand to answer people’s questions — though one on one, not in a large audience setting.
formed 14th Street Neighbors group, comprised of block associations between 12th and 18th Sts. who are concerned with the plan. (Pesin later told us that the new group’s name was not official yet and
liquor application and accepts the final recommendations by BLP, generally speaking. She does have other areas of concern that she brought up at the meeting, regarding the dust and noise from ongoing construction on the 10th floor, as well as a leak that has been in existence for six years, pre-dating the current owner. “We are in 2018 and we are still plagued with this issue, which is right in front of my door as I exit my apartment,” she wrote in an email. “When they started working on the new fire escape staircase they opened the ceiling and that created the leaks.” Water from rainfall moves down five flights as illustrated by a recent video from Barros that winds through the area. When she calls 311 to make a complaint, their representatives show up days later, usually when all is dry. When they do see water flooding the corridor, they write a violation. “There are numerous violations at this point,” she wrote. According to Born, there are obstacles in fi xing the leak and work is moving as quickly as possible. “We don’t want a leak!” he said. CB4 District Manager Jesse Bodine visited the Chelsea Hotel on Feb. 16 to observe the situation in person. He met with some of the residents of the 10th floor and took a quick tour of some of the units, the hallway, and the roof. CB4 will continue to pursue solutions along with the office of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
would be a discussion topic at their second meeting on Feb. 20.) “We got together,” she said, “because independently our voices are not heard, and as a group of block associations, we might be able to show strength in numbers. “We just want to have a two-way discussion with MTA officials and we’re not getting that,” Pesin said. “These open houses are like a science fair — it’s all show and tell. And they’re junior people staffing them and they haven’t answered any of our questions.” Rosemary Goldford, an 18th St. resident, said she was angry after finding out what the open house was actually like. “They misadvertised this meeting,” she said, accusingly. “They totally mishandled it. We were led to believe that this would be a general meeting with questions and answers.” Byford said he was aware of local residents’ many concerns about the mitigation plan during the upcoming reconstruction. “The plan is not set in stone and changes can still be made,” he said. “The whole purpose of these sessions is to get feedback and refine the plan. I think most people understand, absolutely, that we have no choice but to do this work, and that we’re trying our best to make sure we get it right — not only along 14th Street, but the proposed bike lane along 13th Street, as well.” NYC Community Media
PIER 57 continued from p. 3
As Chelsea Now reported back in July of 2013, the original plan for the long, mint green building at W. 15th St. that was the former Marine & Aviation center had always been a multi-use complex with retail, food, cultural programming, and public space. When YoungWoo & Associates and RXR Realty won the RFP (Request for Proposal) back in 2009, they projected there would be 425,000 square feet of retail, in addition to more than 100,000 square feet of public space. And Pinsky noted that their updated plan leaves in place the public amenities of the original plan, including 110,000 square feet of outdoor open space, but now also includes 70,000 square feet of additional pure office space that will be occupied by Google. “This makes possible significantly more truly public, indoor open space; exciting cultural, educational, and community space; an updated program for the pier’s historic caissons that will ensure significantly more public access; new waterborne transportation serving the West Side community; and a right-sized food market that will still be among the largest in New York,” said Pinsky. “Last but not least, the revised plan will generate nearly $20 million in additional revenue for Hudson River Park, providing the Trust with additional resources with which to operate this one-of-a-kind public amenity.” Wils said that the team at HRPT was pleased that the south side of Pier 57, which was previously slated for retail outlets with south-facing windows, will now be public seating where, she said, “You won’t have to buy anything. You can just come in, sit down, and read the paper.” Google also confirmed that they are seeking HRPT’s approval to fund the construction of a landing for waterborne public transportation, such as a water taxi or trans-Hudson service. The landing will be fully funded by Google, which is in the exploratory stage, investigating options with different operators to select a certified operator. The Trust will assess their plan when it is presented, with details, and will go through the Significant Action process, including holding a public hearing for people to comment before any determination is made. The Waterfront, Parks & Environment (WPE) committee of Community Board 4 (CB4) seemed to take the news in stride. Said WPE Co-Chair Lowell Kern, “The current operating plan does more good for the community than the previous Bourdain plan. There are more NYC Community Media
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Beyond the fencing, work continues at Pier 57.
Runners and bicyclists negotiate the narrow pathway alongside the Pier 57 construction site.
open public spaces, as well as more community and educational elements in this latest plan, the cost for which is being underwritten by Google. When Pier 57 is complete, Chelsea will have gained another valuable public space, and the fact that it was paid for by Google will be irrelevant.” “The Community Board obviously wants to see the details, but they were pretty positive about it,” said Wils. “I can’t possibly say that every single person feels the same way, but in general a lot of people are happier that it’s not going to be such an intensive retail space.” Some, like Save Chelsea’s Dave Holowka — himself a member of CB4’s WPE committee — were less thrilled about the prospect of Google’s “multiple-block technology corridor” taking
over this public space. He wondered whether HRPT was doing their jobs as a proponent of waterfront-related amenities. “Google is known for their employee perks,” said Holowka, “and if they are allowed to build out their development rights directly about the High Line and Pier 57, they will be sending their employees to work directly above two public parks. Talk about perks!” But Wils believes the new plan would actually mesh better with the Trust’s existing 3.1 acres of outdoor open space. “The whole footprint of Pier 57’s roof is a park,” she said, “and the whole perimeter of the pier is a public walkway. You can walk around the entire pier. So that’s already a considerable amount of public space.” Wils also said she was pleased that
Google would be footing the bill for the additional 24,000 square feet of classroom space, exhibition space, and theatre rehearsal space, noting that the tech company will be responsible for making sure it is fully fitted out, wellrun, and nicely maintained. Overall, said Wils, the Pier 57 complex with Google as the largest tenant will be better for all facets of the operation. “We are very interested in having a quality market there, and we think we’ll get a better operator than before,” said Wils. “Bourdain was a great idea, but it never jelled. We think this will get us a better quality market.” CB4 Chair Burt Lazarin also felt that the updated plan would better serve the area and the HRPT waterfront parks. “Pier 57 is an important pier for both the park, as a money-generator, and the community at large,” he said. “Any plan for this pier must support the operation of the park, but more importantly be both an asset and accessible to the community. Google’s financial backing of this project will not only provide desperately needed revenue for the park, but it will also create new assets for the community. With this commitment Google is showing us the kind of good neighbor they want to be in our community.” RXR Realty and YoungWoo & Associates have affirmed that they are on schedule to finish construction and open the facility to the public by the end of 2019. Februar y 22, 2018
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Februar y 22, 2018
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TALKING POINTS continued from p. 6
Surely, there will be an impact — but what will that be? DOT claims to have studied the effect, but has yet to release its promised and legally required “data study” to the communities that will be harmed by its proposed plan. And if and when that data is released, there needs be adequate time to study and debate and discuss the validity of these findings — not to mention to entertain alternative suggestions. Doing that — considering alternatives — is something DOT has demonstrated time and again that it is not willing to do. Instead, its reputation is of dismissing any community suggestions in order to advance its own agenda. Jane Jacobs believed that city planning often did not respect the needs of most city dwellers. She disputed the traditional planning approach that relies on opinions and recommendations of outside experts, instead claiming that local expertise is better suited to guiding community planning. She based her opinions on experience and observation and opined on how government planning policies are usually inconsistent with neighborhoods’ real-life functioning. She was an advocate for thoughtful development and for empowering residents to trust their common sense and become advocates for their neighborhoods. So, with the teachings of Jane Jacobs in mind, we are once again faced with the challenges of creating an appropriate solution to a genuine and pressing urban problem. The L train shutdown is real. The magnitude of the problem is being portrayed by DOT as catastrophic. However, absent any empirical evidence to support that claim, it is dubious that all L train riders will find their way onto 14th St. as part of their alternate commutes. The unsubstantiated rationale for the proposed traffic ban on 14th St. is the need to provide alternate options for the straphangers who will not have access to the L train during the tunnel repairs. The proof of that claim (i.e., the data study) is being withheld from the community in order to advance a dubious plan to ban vehicular traffic on 14th St. and promote the one-sided agenda of Transportation Alternatives (TA), which is to turn Manhattan into bicycle heaven. TA is well-funded and well-organized and does not know the meaning of peaceful co-existence. They hate cars and want to see them permanently banned. Talk about live and let live. We must see the required study that DOT promised to release. Without seeing that study, it is impossible and irresponsible to offer any solutions. Absent the L train, commuters will enter Manhattan at other points — not 14th St. Alternate transportation lines are then available at those points with no need to come to 14th St. However, the DOT plan to bus people to 14th St. from those entry points exacerbates the very problem DOT says it must solve, compounding the ill effects of the proposed closing of 14th St. to cars. The plan will indisputably impact and burden the neighboring side streets, which are already congested with traffic. It is wrongheaded to try to solve a perceived problem by creating other major problems. The Village’s and Chelsea’s narrow side streets are already currently overburdened with overflow traffic from 14th St. The side streets were never intended to be crosstown thoroughfares. Increased traffic congestion, noise pollution and air pollution will be an obvious NYC Community Media
and unacceptable consequence of this plan. In the case of traffic congestion on the 100 Block of W. 13th St., the street is already narrower than other blocks: just 28 feet at the block’s western end. There was a DOT sign at 13th St. and Sixth Ave. prohibiting trucks on 13th St. — the intent of which was to alleviate congestion on this narrow street. Yet, the restriction was unenforced. We asked DOT and it agreed to eliminate daytime parking on the north side of the street between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., also to reduce congestion. The Citi Bike station at the western end of 13th St. further narrows the roadway. Emergency, sanitation, Access-A-Ride, delivery and other vehicles are delayed — and because they must double-park, cause traffic to back up past Fifth Ave. throughout the day. That
the currently proposed DOT scheme will result in an increase of traffic going from 14th St. onto 13th St. will dangerously exacerbate those problems. And given all that, the proposed two-way bikeway on 13th St. makes no sense at all. The population of this neighborhood area well exceeds the commuter population that DOT says it must transport; and yet it is we who will suffer 24/7, as opposed to those commuters merely during their morning and evening commutes. This is nothing more than a veiled plot to permanently alter traffic patterns to our detriment. We cannot and we will not stand for it. Marcus is an executive board member, W. 13th St. 100 Block Association, and treasurer and vice president for finance, Cambridge Owners Corp.
Februar y 22, 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
Februar y 22, 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.
NYC Community Media
February 22, 2018