YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Jamestown, Google Preserve Binford Mural
RAMPING UP THEIR ACTIVISM Chelsea-Based Group Advocates for a Better MTA
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The future of a 1950s piece of art, which was on the precipice of being lost, is brighter as Jamestown and Google announced they are teaming up to preserve it. Late last year, preservationists rang the alarm that Julien Binford’s mural — “A Memory of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue” — was on the chopping block. The building that housed the mural — a former bank MURAL continued on p. 3
L Plan Presentation Panned by Citizens BY LAURA HANRAHAN With April 2019’s L train shutdown just over a year away, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have been presenting their proposed plan to alleviate the loss of the heavily used subway line to community boards around the city. The agencies presented to the Wed., Feb. 21 Transportation L PLAN continued on p. 4
see page 6
Photo by Christian Miles
Mary Kaessinger, returning from Feb. 22’s board meeting of the MTA, where she and others pressed for the right of the disabled to access all NYC subway stations.
BY JUDY L. RICHHEIMER Tony Murphy, a fi rebrand with an easy manner, turned his back on MTA board members and directed his words to other members of the public who were also there to testify. Some arrived at the 10 a.m. Feb. 22 installment of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s monthly board meeting with requests to allow free ridership to veterans, for example, or to create a better pension plan for a team of MTA managers — but the majority of the nearly 30 speakers that day came to complain about rotten service on New York City bus and subway lines.
© CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Murphy represents The People’s MTA, a Chelsea-based group of transit activists formed late last summer. Their mission goes considerably beyond the objectives of standard, rider-oriented groups. In addition to demanding lower fares and better service, The People’s MTA actively supports TWU Local 100 (of New York’s Public Transit Union) and decries police in the subway who, in their view, target young black and Latino men for turnstile jumping. But at this hearing, Murphy concentrated on what he calls the group’s “cutting edge” issue: the right of the disabled to have access to all
New York City subway stations. Specifically, he announced the March 5 court date that could determine the outcome of that goal. Pursuant to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, groups representing the disabled are suing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit (an agency of the MTA, handling buses and subways within the five boroughs) to install elevators in all 472 subway stations (approximately a quarter of those stations are currently accessible to the disabled). The defendants have PEOPLE’S MTA continued on p. 2
VOLUME 10, ISSUE 9 | MARCH 1 – 7, 2018
The People’s MTA Wants System-Wide Subway Access for the Disabled PEOPLE’S MTA continued from p. 1
moved to dismiss the suit; March 5 is oral argument on that motion. “The fares that keep going up play a big part of the MTA budget, probably bigger than any other transit system in the US,” noted Murphy. “We say today don’t use your money to fight the just demands for elevators. Don’t spend your money fighting this in court,” he exhorted his audience, interlocutors perhaps between the People’s MTA and the board of the actual MTA. Shortly thereafter, Murphy was told by that board to conclude, having exceeded his twominute limit. “All of a sudden,” he joked, “the MTA is concerned about being on time.” The room erupted in laughter. The People’s MTA came together by degrees. Murphy has been testifying at MTA board meetings under the auspices of various left-leaning political groups since 2008. (He began employing the back-to-the-board tactic in 2010.) Last spring, he was part of a cohort supporting booth clerk Darryl Goodwin, charged with obstruction of government administration, misdemeanor assault, and resisting arrest after he allegedly failed to cooperate with police in pursuit of a suspect. Activists from several organizations, in particular, Chelsea-based People’s Power Assembly NYC (PPA), took up the cudgel for Goodwin, claiming that he was “framed.” (Several months later, Goodwin, dead of an apparent heart attack, was posthumously cleared of all charges.) “We decided that a good venue to bring this up would be an MTA board meeting [May 2017], to sort of publicize his case,” recalled Murphy, sitting in the Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company on Eighth Ave., around the corner from the Solidarity Center NYC (147 W. 24th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.), which houses both the PPA and The People’s MTA. “We noticed that there were dozens of people in wheelchairs at that meeting. We were struck with the terrible treatment they received at the hands of the MTA. And it was a one-two punch.” The fi rst punch, as described in testimony at the May 2017 MTA meeting, was being delivered daily by Access-A-Ride, notorious for its long delays and inflexibility. The “twopunch,” according to Murphy, was the board’s decision to suspend public
March 1, 2018
Platforms rarely line up with the lip of the subway car, forcing scooter drivers to perform a complicated maneuver. Mary Kaessinger, seen here, wants the MTA to use small, portable ramps and provide more staff to assist.
Photos by Christian Miles
Tony Murphy delivered his testimony directly to the people, at Feb. 22’s MTA board meeting.
remarks until the end of its own executive session, thus throwing schedules off for 20-plus activists intent on reporting their own Access-A-Ride stories. Presumably (and ironically), they gave up their chance to speak in part because failure to meet a ride at the appointed time can lead to loss
of enrollment in the Access-A-Ride program. Andrew Albert, rider representative on the MTA board, noted that arrangements were made by MTA personnel to reschedule everyone’s rides to conform to the later departure time. But communication had
broken down, and most of the disabled hoping to testify simply left in disgust, Murphy reported. The upside to that day, though, was the bond created between labor activists and their counterparts in the disabled commuPEOPLE’S MTA continued on p. 12 NYC Community Media
Jamestown, Google Seek to Keep Binford Mural in Neighborhood MURAL continued from p. 1
at the corner of W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. — was slated for partial demolition to make way for condos and retail space. Save Chelsea, a preservation group, sprang into the action, reaching out to then-Councilmember (now Speaker) Corey Johnson’s office. Jamestown, an investment and management firm that, at that time, owned Chelsea Market, and Google were contacted to see if they wanted to play a role in the mural’s preservation. The effort bore fruit: Jamestown said it recently bought the mural from the developer, Gemini Rosemont, for $50,000, Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, told Chelsea Now in a phone interview. Phillips said it was an “involved process” to acquire the much-admired work of art. “We had a hard time getting into the building to see the mural,” he recalled. Eventually, they got experts in to see if the mural, which hung on the bank’s lobby walls, could be salvaged. It is currently in storage, and it will be restored and digitalized, Phillips said. “We have it and we are starting to figure out the next steps,” he said. Those steps include finding a home for the mural, with Phillips saying they are considering the senior center at Hudson Guild. Jamestown has a long history with Hudson Guild and the Fulton Houses, he said. “It’s our neighborhood,” Phillips said. “It would be unfortunate to see [the mural] move to another neighborhood — to leave the neighborhood it started in.” Ken Jockers, executive director for Hudson Guild, said they had been approached to participate in the preservation effort, noting, “I said we would be happy to do that.” The dimensions of the mural — it is 110 feet long — NYC Community Media
Photo by Christian Miles
Seen here at its former home, Julien Binford’s 1950s mural — “A Memory of 14th Street and Sixth Avenue” — will be preserved, restored, and digitalized.
are a challenge to its placement and details are being worked out, Jockers said by phone. He noted that it is important to keep “this Chelsea public art in Chelsea and in the public.” “This neighborhood has a really deep history with art and a lot of extraordinary work has been made in this neighborhood,” he said. “This was a lovely monumental artwork and if there was any way for it to stay here, it is a great way to respect the tradition of art in our neighborhood, in this part of the city.” If the mural does find a home at Hudson Guild, Phillips said it would be donated to the nonprofit. He noted the effort of Johnson’s office, Save Chelsea, and Hudson Guild. “Our goal at the moment — between those two organizations — is to install the mural in a public place,” he said. “Save Chelsea stayed every step of the process with us.” Paul Groncki, a board member of Hudson Guild and chair of the 100 West 16th Street
Block Association, wondered if Hudson Guild would be able to accommodate the sprawling mural — and floated two other possible scenarios. “Somewhere close to 14th St. and available to the public would be best,” Groncki said in an email to Chelsea Now. “One idea, unfortunately not close to 14th St., but in Chelsea, would be the south wall of the Morgan Mail Facility on the north side of W. 28th St., between Ninth and 10th Aves.” That wall, currently blank, faces Chelsea Park. “The challenges,” Groncki acknowledged, “would be getting the Post Office to agree, and the technology to protect the mural in an outside environment. I mentioned this to [Special Assistant] Robert Atterbury in Congressman Nadler’s office, and he said he would look into it.” Anticipating the mural’s eventual public display, Jamestown has been in touch with Binford’s great nephew to learn more about the Virginia
native (who died in 1997), his history, and his work. “Our hope is to tie it together more thoroughly,” Phillips said, noting when the mural was displayed at the bank, no information was provided about the artwork or artist. The mural is thought to have been painted in 1954 for what was then the Greenwich Savings Bank and depicts what preservationists have said is a late 1800s scene of the area. In an emailed statement, Johnson called Binford’s mural “an icon of Chelsea’s history. When my office learned late last year of plans to demolish the mural’s home, I immediately joined Save Chelsea in working toward the preservation of this work of historical art.” Google is thrilled to partner with Jamestown to help preserve the mural, Carley Graham Garcia, head of external affairs for Google NYC, noted in an emailed statement. “It’s an iconic centerpiece
of the Chelsea neighborhood that residents, visitors and art enthusiasts alike should be able to enjoy for years to come,” she said. “We look forward to working together to find it an appropriate home within the local neighborhood.” Recently, the tech giant has made major moves in the neighborhood, purchasing Chelsea Market for over $2 billion from Jamestown in early February, and bumping up its square footage at Pier 57 (as Chelsea Now reported last week). Gemini Rosemont declined to comment for this article, referring questions to Jamestown. Save Chelsea declined to comment, citing a lack of available information at press time. When asked if Hudson Guild had ever fielded an offer quite like the Binford mural before, Jockers, who has been with the organization for 10 years, said with a laugh, “Nobody has donated a 100-foot piece to Hudson Guild before — this I’m certain.” March 1, 2018
Block Reps Give L Train Presentation Skeptical Reception; DOT L PLAN continued from p. 1
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Aaron Sugiura, DOT director of transit policy and planning, explained aspects of the mitigation, including Select Bus Service on 14th St. and increased ferry service to the Stuyvesant Town area (but none for the West Side).
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Planning Committee (TPC) meeting of Community Board 4 (CB4). The audience was mostly made up of members of the new ad-hoc 14th Street Coalition, a group representing Village and Chelsea block associations on and within a few blocks of 14th St. As the agency officials described the cityâ€™s plans, they were largely met with groans from the audience, punctuated by incredulous remarks, like â€œOh, come on!â€? and â€œYouâ€™ve got to be kidding me!â€? The L train shutdown, which is set to begin in April 2019 and last 15 months, will affect the lineâ€™s 275,000 daily riders. The MTA and DOT recently completed a study of data on straphangers that was used to run various alternative transportation scenarios for when the L will be out of service. The study focused on how traffic would be affected in the zone bounded by 12th and 16th Sts. and Avenue C and Ninth Ave. The results were the basis of the plan presented to the TPC. The most notable change would be the transformation of 14th St. into an exclusive â€œbuswayâ€? between Third Ave. on the East Side and Eighth and Ninth Aves. on the West Side. Vehicle exceptions will include Access-A-Ride vehicles, local deliveries, emergency vehicles, and private cars accessing parking garages. To serve Brooklyn commuters, a new ferry shuttle from North Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove at E. 20th St. will run eight boats each hour. The cost will be the same as the standard MTA fare, and tickets will be transferable to either
the bus or subway. M14 Select Bus Service (SBS) will run between the East Side ferry terminal and the West Side terminus at 14th St. and 10th Ave. Currently, local bus service along the 14th St. corridor carries 30,000 passengers each day. When the L train shuts down, the number of bus riders on 14th St. is expected to nearly triple, reaching up to 84,000. With the new SBS, buses are expected to run every one to two minutes during peak times. The MTA is hopeful that with these changes, end-to-end runs will last 17 minutes, a 37 percent reduction from current the travel time. The MTA and DOT are also anticipating as many as 5,000 new cyclists. In response, the city proposes to create a two-way, protected crosstown bike lane on the south side of 13th St. While this will not alter the streetâ€™s driving capacity, it will cut its parking space in half. According to a report released this past Friday by the MTA and DOT, 13th St. was chosen because it â€œprovides the longest continuous east-west connectivityâ€? and is near subway lines along 14th St. A HOV 3+ restriction (requiring â€œhigh-occupancy vehicles,â€? with a driver and at least two passengers) will be placed on the Williamsburg Bridge, and only buses and trucks will be allowed during peak hours. Pedestrian traffic is expected to increase heavily during the shutdown. The MTA and DOT have proposed creating several new pedestrian spaces along Union Square, as well as increased bicycle parking spaces. The proposed modifications are expected to begin in late summer 2018. The start for restricted traffic on 14th
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Judy Pesin, a member of the 14th Street Coalition, presented photos of congested side streets. The Coalition says this situation will only get worse during the L train shutdown, as traffic diverts from a 14th St. â€œbusway.â€?
March 1, 2018
NYC Community Media
Sinks West Side Ferry Scenario
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING and PUBLIC REVIEW AND COMMENT PERIOD regarding a PROPOSED TRANSFER BY SALE OF UNUSED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS by HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST from Piers 59, 60 and 61 and the Associated Headhouse in the Chelsea Section of Hudson River Park Pursuant to the Hudson River Park Act, the Hudson River Park Trust (“Trust”) hereby gives notice of a public hearing and public comment period regarding the following two separate and distinct significant actions under the Hudson River Park Act, each as set forth below: (1) the proposed transfer by sale of 123,437.5 sf of unused development rights from Piers 59, 60 and 61 and the associated headhouse in the Chelsea Section of Hudson River Park and related actions and (2) the proposed transfer by sale of 29,625 sf of unused development rights, or in the alternate, 34,562.5 sf of unused development rights from Piers 59, 60 and 61 and the associated headhouse in the Chelsea Section of Hudson River Park and related actions.
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Members of the 14th Street Coalition heard about plans to mitigate complications stemming from the L train shutdown. “It’s not going to be perfect,” said CB4’s Christine Berthet, “and we all know this is not something that we wanted to have.”
St. will be dependent on the launch of the M14 SBS. The MTA/DOT study analyzed only traffic conditions between 12th and 16th Sts. However, following the presentation, when the public was allowed to ask questions, local resident Kimon Retzos, among others, took issue with this. “It’s a joke,” Retzos said. “It’s actually insulting to the people that live in Chelsea and in the Village that you’re focusing on this little piece when you have much more vast data indicating that traffic’s going to go wherever it can.” As tension started to rise, with many members of the public feeling that the impacts of the proposed changes on their daily lives were being ignored, Christine Berthet, co-chair of the TPC, tried to bring context to the situation. “I think we need to remember that this is a crisis,” Berthet said. “This is not business as usual. We are not planning for something that we’re going to install and it’s going to live forever. This is the result of Sandy. It’s not going to be perfect and we all know this is not something that we wanted to have.” During the discussion period, several suggestions and recommendations were made by committee members and the public. TPC member Jeffrey LeFrancois suggested something that the board has advocated for in the past: West Side ferry service. “Ferries make a lot of sense on the West Side and it would have been very effective to include those as a means of mitigation and they’re not on the table,” LeFrancois said. “Those interviewed from the Rockaways said they much prefer spending an hour on the water than they do on the train. And I understand it might take a little over an hour [by ferry], to get from Williamsburg to, let’s just say, Pier 57 and 14th St.” NYC Community Media
Aaron Sugiura, DOT director of transit policy and planning, said unfortunately that’s just not a possibility. “The issue with that is that we’re maxing out [ferry] capacity on the Williamsburg side,” he said. With parts of 14th St. often being affected by construction projects, Dale Corvino, another committee member, inquired about the status of building projects along the 14th St. corridor during the shutdown. “Have you guys done any coordination with DOT, as far as will there be sidewalk sheds in place once the shutdown happens, or is there a timeline for sheds to go away?” he asked. Jonathan “Yoni” Bokser, the TPC’s co-chair, furthered this idea by suggesting a lifting of the holiday embargo for this coming season. “I know DOB doesn’t usually issue permits from Thanksgiving to Christmas,” he said. “Have you talked about using that in 2018 instead of 14th St. having construction during the L train shutdown? Sugiura indicated that while the DOT has no formal plans to address construction issues on the street and has not looked into lifting the holiday embargo, it is something they would consider. “At the highest level, DOT and MTA, we do not want to see this construction happening during the shutdown,” Sugiura said. “The city does not grind to a halt for the L train, unfortunately, though.” When asked on Mon., Feb. 26 whether the DOT would take the various recommendations made at the CB4 meeting into consideration, an agency spokesperson responded, “DOT and MTA will continue our ongoing work in engaging, reviewing, and evaluating the mitigation plans prior to, during, and after the L train shutdown.”
Date and Time: March 14, 2018 To be held concurrently with the New York City Planning Commission’s public hearing on the Special Hudson River Park District and (1) 601 West 29th Street and (2) 606 West 30th Street, or in the alternate, 604-606 West 30th Street. The City Planning Commission public meeting begins at 10:00 AM. The public hearing on this matter is expected to begin at approximately 11:00 A.M. Place: Department of City Planning 120 Broadway, Concourse Level New York, New York Purpose: To allow the public an opportunity to review and comment on a proposed significant action within the Park pursuant to the Hudson River Park Act. Pursuant to the Hudson River Park Act, Chapter 592 of the Laws of 1998 of the State of New York, as amended (the “Act”), the Trust is responsible for the planning, design, development, construction, operation and maintenance of the Hudson River Park and the improvements therein (collectively, the “Park”), which is located along West Street in the Borough of Manhattan, City and State of New York and includes the property known as Piers 59, 60 and 61 and the associated headhouse in the Chelsea Section of the Park (the “Granting Site”) generally situated between West 17th Street to West 21st Street at Twelfth Avenue in the Borough of Manhattan, City and State of New York. The Act defines the Granting Site as a “park/commercial use.” As such, it is eligible to transfer unused floor area subject to local zoning. Pursuant to a 2013 amendment to the Act, the Trust is authorized: “to transfer by sale any unused development rights as may be available for transfer to properties located up to one block east of the boundaries of the [P]ark along the west side of Manhattan, if and to the extent designated and permitted under local zoning ordinances.” In 2016, the City Planning Commission and the New York City Council adopted a zoning change to establish the Special Hudson River Park District. The intent of the special district is to facilitate the repair, rehabilitation, maintenance and development of the Park, through the transfer of development rights within the Special Hudson River Park District, as well as to promote appropriate uses on the receiving sites that complement the Park and provide housing to residents of varied income levels, to the extent residential use is included. New York City is currently considering several land use actions related to proposed private developments at (1) 601 29th Street, the Borough of Manhattan, City and State of New York and having a tax lot designation as Block 675, Lots 12, 29 and 36 (the “Douglaston Receiving Site”) and (2) 606 30th Street, the Borough of Manhattan, City and State of New York and having a tax lot designation as Block 675, Lot 39 (the “Lalezarian Receiving Site”) or in the alternate, 604-606 30th Street, the Borough of Manhattan, City and State of New York and having a tax lot designation as Block 675, Lots 38 and 39 (the “Lalezarian Alternate Receiving Site”) each currently being reviewed through New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP”) and the City Environmental Quality Review process. Among these are separate Special Permit applications that would, if approved subsequently by the Trust’s Board of Directors, allow the Trust to transfer (1) 123,437.5 sf of unused development rights from the Granting Site to the Douglaston Receiving Site (the “Douglaston Transfer”) and (2) 29,625 sf of unused development rights from the Granting Site to the Lalezarian Receiving Site (the “Lalezarian Transfer”), or in the alternate, 34,562.5 sf of unused development rights from the Granting Site to the Lalezarian Alternate Receiving Site (the “Lalezarian Alternate Transfer”). The Lalezarian Alternate Transfer would only become effective if the New York City Planning Commission approved a Supplemental TDR Special Permit Application with respect to the Lalezarian Alternate Receiving Site and Lalezarian, as developer, acquired Block 675, Lot 38 (also known as 604 30th Street). In connection with the Special Permit applications, the Trust submitted a statement to the New York City Department of City Planning (“DCP”) identifying potential construction projects to be made to the Park within the boundaries of Community Board 4, and confirming the sufficiency of funding to complete such identified improvements as required by the Act. Community Board 4 has subsequently identified its priorities for such potential construction projects. In addition, the Trust has also (1) negotiated a draft Purchase and Sale Agreement (the “Douglaston PSA”) with the developer of the Douglaston Receiving Site for the Douglaston Transfer pursuant to which the developer would pay the Trust $37,000,000, and (2) negotiated a draft Purchase and Sale Agreement (the “Lalezarian PSA”) with the developer of the Lalezarian Receiving Site for the Lalezarian Transfer pursuant to which the developer would pay the Trust $9,570,000. Should the Lalezarian Alternate Transfer proceed, the Trust would negotiate a draft Purchase and Sale Agreement (the Lalezarian Alternate PSA”) with the developer of the Lalezarian Alternate Receiving Site for the Lalezarian Alternate Transfer pursuant to which the developer would pay the Trust $11,164,812.50. For all such draft agreements, the Trust has retained an independent appraiser to conduct an appraisal of the unused development rights in connection with each proposed transfer. Copies of the proposed Douglaston PSA and Lalezarian PSA, the Trust’s statements to DCP regarding the identification of Community Board 4 improvements, and the appraisals in connection therewith can be found on the Trust’s website at www.hudsonriverpark.org. DCP, on behalf of the City Planning Commission as lead agency, has issued a Notice of Completion for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (“DEIS”) for the Block 675/Special Hudson River Park District Proposal. A copy of that document is available at http://www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/applicants/env-review/block-675east.page. The Douglaston Transfer and the Lalezarian Transfer (or in the alternate, the Lalezarian Alternate Transfer) are being considered together for the purposes of environmental review due to their adjacency, similarity of the land use actions being proposed, and concurrent development schedules. In addition to the public hearing, the public will have an opportunity to provide written comments to the Trust. Written and verbal comments will be accorded the same weight. The public comment period extends from February 13, 2018 to April 16, 2018. Comments may be sent by regular mail to Petra Maxwell, Esq., Hudson River Park Trust, Pier 40, 2nd Floor, 353 West Street, New York, N.Y. 10014 or by email to Block675Transfers@hrpt.ny.gov. The public hearing is being held in compliance with the requirements of the Hudson River Park Act regarding significant actions. CN: 03/01/2018
March 1, 2018
Unforgettable Edibles as Unique as Chelsea
Cha Cha Matcha’s Chelsea location is at 1158 Broadway (at W. 27th St.).
The unique hue come from Cha Cha Matchas’s iconic main ingredient.
BY VICTORIA CALI & NICHOLAS ESPOSITO We’re all guilty of it: falling into the same monotonous groove of our everyday eating habits. Why change them, right? But what we fail to fully appreciate is the variety of food at our fingertips — and within easy walking distance. Here at the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (GVCCC), we set out to explore some of the most unique foods our neighborhood has to offer.
CHA CHA MATCHA Is everything green healthy for you? If you’re drinking or eating at our local Chelsea treat shop, Cha Cha Matcha, this is certainly true (and tasty, too). After stepping inside the eye-catching pink and green corner location, you’ll notice that all of the mouth-watering items have a unique green hue. This comes from their iconic ingredient: matcha. If you are one of the few who have managed to avoid this little green sensation, matcha is essentially crushed Japanese green tea leaves packed with antioxidants and loaded with health benefits. Cha Cha Matcha offers green tea, matcha coffee, matcha-based bakery items, and matcha-swirled ice cream.
March 1, 2018
Doughnuttery’s Chelsea Market location provides local access to the sought-after sweet treats.
Yes, ice cream infused with a healthy ingredient! So exactly how does one come up with an idea to make a matcha-centric treat destination? Two New York University graduates, Matthew Morton and Conrad Sandelman, were inspired
after going on a trip to Uji, Japan after graduation. A year later Cha Cha Matcha opened in 2016, creating a matcha trend in Manhattan. Their name, Cha Cha Matcha, is derived from the word “Ocha,” translating to “tea” in Japanese.
Cha Cha Matcha is at 1158 Broadway, corner of W. 27th St. (a second location is at 373 Broome St., btw. Mulberry & Mott Sts.). Visit chachamatcha.com or call 646895-9484. For Twitter and Instagram: @ chachamatcha. On Facebook: facebook. com/chachamatcha. NYC Community Media
L to R: Wisefish Poké owners Drew Crane and Bryan Cowan.
Doughnuttery’s designer sugar sets their product apart from a crowded field of sweet treats.
Wisefish Poké lets you build the bowl that suits you best.
It isn’t your normal day that a purple potato, maple bacon donut (the “Purple Pig”) makes its way into your hand — but the masterminds behind Doughnuttery aren’t concerned with “normal.” Glance at their mesmerizingly sweet menu, and you’ll instantly understand this. From the delicate taste of lavender to the pungent kick of cayenne, to a crunchy brûléed sugar top, Doughnuttery is pushing the flavor and texture boundaries far beyond that of your average powdered donut. Doughnuttery has supplied the Chelsea community with their irresistable confections since 2012, when owner Evan Feldman fi rst opened the shop. When we spoke with office manager Stacy Harrchan about what makes the business special, she had a concise yet confident response: “We’re crafting recipes that other donut shops NYC Community Media
aren’t.” Their exotic ingredients with international flavor combinations have set the bar high for an exclusive and, of course, sweet, donut experience that can only to be found at Doughnuttery. At Doughnuttery, their mission to put a “modern spin on an old-age classic” is accomplished day in and day out — and their commitment to quality and freshness speaks for itself. This pastry shop takes their one-of-akind donuts very, very seriously. Each one of is fresh, made-to-order, and guaranteed to add a splash of variety to your daily routine. Doughnuttery has three locations. Columbus Circle, the Plaza Hotel, and Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave., btw. W. 15th & 16th Sts.). Visit doughnuttery.com or call 212-633-4359. For Twitter, Instagram: @chachamatcha. On Facebook: facebook.com/ Doughnuttery.
Not everyone has the luxury to pack up, take a vacation to a tropical island, and enjoy authentic Hawaiian food. Luckily, Wisefish Poké has been giving us a taste of the tropics since January 2016, when they fi rst brought the traditional Hawaiian poké bowl to Chelsea. Owners Drew Crane and Bryan Cowan told us it’s “awesome” every time they introduce someone to a species of fi sh they’ve never heard of, and broaden their horizons beyond traditional ahi and salmon. Wisefi sh Poké offers unique dishes to introduce seafood lovers to uncommon species of fi sh (blackfi n tuna, porgy, and rabbitfi sh are among the types the’ve had success with). They strive to design specialty poké bowls that showcase these types of fi sh and incorporate global fl avors to comple-
ment the unique textures. Wisefish Poké is committed to sustainability and scratch cooking, sourcing the best and freshest ingredients. Crane and Cowan say they have been thrilled with how Chelsea, and the broader NYC community, has welcomed them with open arms. Wisefish Poké is located at 263 W. 19th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves. Visit wisefishpoke.com or call 212-367-7653. For Twitter, Instagram: @wisefishpoke. On Facebook: facebook.com/wisefishpoke. Cali and Esposito are marketing interns for the Greenwich VillageChelsea Chamber of Commerce. For info on the GVCCC, call 646470- 1773 or visit villagechelsea. com. Twitter: @GVCCHAMBER. On Facebook: facebook.com/ GVCCHAMBER.
March 1, 2018
New Owner Splits Old Il Bastardo Space Into Two Restaurants BY WINNIE McCROY Having long endured headaches from drunken patrons and hangovers from broken promises to improve business practices, community board and block association members are optimistic about splitting the old Il Bastardo space into two small eateries owned and operated by an enterprising, low-key chef with no connections to the old management. “We are excited to have the opportunity to open at this location,” said chef/ owner Adrian Sanchez, via a translator. “We were told that they had so many problems before, but we are just going to do what we said. One side of the place will be Portico, serving Mediterranean Greek food, and the other side will be the Chelsea Grill, serving American food like burgers, and some Mexican food.” The huge space that formerly housed Il Bastardo restaurant (191 Seventh Ave., btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.) was a hotbed of police and New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) citations — including eventual revocation of their liquor license — for their history of drunk and disorderly conduct violations that stemmed from raucous weekend brunches. But Sanchez said they are starting off on the right foot by working with RMR Business Licensing & Consulting Inc. owner Rosa M. Ruiz, a licensing expert who is handling legal issues and will file for Sanchez’s liquor license through the SLA. In the meantime, they are consulting an architect, working on getting a new PA system installed, and setting up a new seating plan that is up to legal code. The two restaurants will operate as the entity Chelsea 191 Corp. Although Sanchez said he opened the restaurant for a week to get a feel for the area, he “had few customers, and realized that if we keep this open without a liquor license, people are going to see the restaurant’s almost empty, and get the vibe that it’s a place they don’t want to come into. So we’re going to hold off until the liquor license comes, however long the paperwork takes, and then have a grand opening.” Outspoken community advocate Bill Borock, president of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, said that Community Board 4 (CB4) members had questioned Sanchez about whether they were affiliated or related in any way to Il Bastardo’s past owners or management. They were concerned that he would be able to fill the restaurants’ 300-plus seats, without heavily relying on weddings and
March 1, 2018
Photos by Scott Stiffler
New signage at 191 Seventh Ave. announces two new restaurants under the ownership of chef Adrian Sanchez.
CB4 says Il Bastardo’s relocation to 544 W. 27th St. puts it in “a more suitable neighborhood.”
corporate events. “They made it clear there were no problems, but if they start to have a lot of private events there, that will cause concern,” Borock said. “Anything would be better than Il Bastardo,” Borock added, noting that he and another community member had walked over the floor plan with Ruiz to discuss size, amplified music, ADA compliance, security, private sanitation pickup times, and concerns that the owner did not speak English (his wife will reportedly manage operations). Borock said he even pointed out to Ruiz a cracked sidewalk near a fire hydrant where a rat problem had developed, in the hopes that it will be repaired before it becomes a sanitary nuisance issue. Borock also hopes that with the
space split into two restaurants under one company name, ownership would meet with higher odds of success. “Unless they start having huge events or make a lot of noise, we don’t see it as a problem,” Borock said. “After all, he and his wife are an American success story. He was a chef at various places, and they saved money to open their first restaurant. Some board members questioned their experience because this is a very large venue, but they said they know what they’re getting into. I hope they do good and stick around, because we would hate to go through this again.” Ironically, Chef Sanchez’s plan mirrors that of Food Network personality Kristin Sollenne, wife of former Il Bastardo owner Robert Malta, who attempted in
July 2017 to split the space into two eateries (one Mexican, the other Italian) with a capacity of 316 people. Although Sollenne insisted that her husband had ‘no involvement’ with Il Bastardo, CB4’s Business Licenses & Permits (BLP) committee quickly rejected her proposal out of hand, with some voicing the sentiment that the location was just too big to feasibly make it as a restaurant. Since that time, Sollenne has set up operations with herself listed as the sole operator at 544 W. 27th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), in the space previously occupied by Cuban eatery Son Cubano. The 270-seat restaurant is operating as Il Bastardo — causing CB4 and some community members to wonder if that name will be a harbinger of old familiar problems at this new venue. The restaurant’s website for its new location (nycrg.com/il-bastardo) touts the prix fixe Weekend Brunch that was once the bane of Chelsea. For $75, patrons get their “choice of one entree and one personal bottle… includes Champagne, Rose, Mimosa or Bellini.” Multiple online Google reviews saying the new spot is “just like a club except it is during the day” suggest that the drunken brunches are as raucous as ever. And one comment even mentioned “the general manager Shareef,” likely the same Sherif Ibrahim who served as general manager at the old location. Chelsea Now reached out to the 10th Precinct Community Affairs office and was told that, thus far, they’ve heard no NYC Community Media
quality of life complaints stemming from Il Bastardo’s W. 27th St. location, either by phone or at their monthly Community Council meetings. Il Bastardo is not in an area of residential density comparable to its former Seventh Ave. digs — but because this new location is near nightlife attractions such as the McKittrick Hotel, CB4’s BLP Co-Chair Frank Holozubiec told DNAinfo.com in Aug. 2017 that perhaps Sollenne “heard loud and clear… that what she was trying to do was the wrong place. So rather than push forward with that, they’ve gone to a more suitable neighborhood.” At the time, Sollenne was planning a “Mediterranean-inspired” restaurant for the space that ultimately became Il Bastardo. In a July 6, 2017 Chelsea Now article (“Arrivederci, Il Bastardo? Owners Close Shop as a New Applicant Emerges”), CB4 District Manager Jesse Bodine expressed the simple desire that a suitable tenant apply for the old Il Bastardo space, learning from the mistakes of the previous owners. “We hope whoever takes over that space and eventually applies for a liquor license recognizes the best route to go forward,” Bodine said at that time. “The size is a significant issue, but it’s a perfect
Photo by Scott Stiffler
This cracked sidewalk on Seventh Ave. is attracting the wrong crowd — rats. Neighbors hope repairs will be done before Sanchez’s restaurants have their grand opening.
chance to design a plan that’s going to be beneficial in the long term.” By September 2017, celebrity chef Todd English had put his name in the running for the spot, considering its location between Chelsea Market and the Penn Station corridor ideal for a neighborhood food hall. But when they discovered that
Sollenne would continue to be involved, they backed out, with Chef English’s Director of Restaurant Development Flip Arbelaez confiding that they “decided that to go forward would only end up disappointing folks.” “It was an integrity move,” said Arbelaez in a Nov. 23, 2017 Chelsea Now
article (“Celeb Chef Abandons Plans, but Former Il Bastardo Space Might Host ‘Southern Hospitality’ ”). “We did not want any association with these same owners. The worst thing we could do is put our investor’s money into play and lose it.” After that, there was a proposal submitted for a Memphis-style Southern Hospitality restaurant, co-owned by Eytan Sugarman, Trace Ayala, and Justin Timberlake. That entity soon withdrew their application under advice from CB4’s BLP Co-Chair Frank Holozubiec, after Sugarman had toyed with the idea of leasing only half the space, to operate a smaller restaurant. Now, the neighbors hope that Sanchez’s attempt to split the restaurant into two distinct eateries will pan out and finally provide the area with a drama-free destination where they can sit down and grab a nice dinner, without being surrounded by drunk and disorderly patrons. “We still need time to polish up the menu, but we can’t wait to finally open our doors to the community members in our area,” Sanchez said. “The food is great, the location is excellent with no empty spaces around it, so we hope that we are going to blow this area away!”
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Cruising the West Side Highway in a Tesla Test Drive BY RANIA RICHARDSON Like many other New York City apartment-dwelling environmentalists, my husband, John, and I do not own a car. Our carbon (ecological) footprint is the size of a postage stamp, and we’d like to keep it that way. But when we came upon the new Tesla flagship in the Meatpacking District, we wondered what it might be like to have an electric car from a maker whose mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Elon Musk, Tesla’s product architect and chief executive, is a considered a visionary entrepreneur with a cultlike adoration by fans. As the engineer who co-founded PayPal and founded SpaceX, he set his sights on revolutionizing the car industry with an electric vehicle that could reduce global energy consumption. Named for Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the company pays tribute to the futurist and inventor whose discoveries in the field of electricity provide a framework for modern technology. The glass-enclosed showroom and the products within are an equally fitting tribute. Tucked under the southern end of the High Line next to Diane von Furstenberg Studio in an area dense with foot traffic — in what is now quite established as a tony part of town and a must-see destination for tourists — this store replaces Tesla’s prior location on W. 25th St. in Chelsea. It joins six other showrooms in New York State and more than 300 worldwide. The gallery-like white space houses three car models, most notably (since delivery in late January) the Model 3 sedan, the company’s highly anticipated mass-market vehicle. Developed to be an affordable option, the Model 3 is the draw, with about 500,000 interested parties submitting $1,000 to be on a reservation list, though it will take at least 12 to 18 months to fulfill orders due to the company’s manufacturing delays. The store also features the high-end Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle that are available for a test drive. We give our contact information to a friendly Tesla rep who schedules a Model S for us in a two-hour block on an upcoming weekday, since the weekend spots are full. On the day of the drive, we put our bags in the frunk (front trunk) and with John at the wheel and a rep in the passenger seat, we drive onto the West Side Highway. A mammoth 17-inch touchscreen
March 1, 2018
Photos by Rania Richardson
Under the High Line, the Tesla showroom features the highly anticipated Model 3, here in “midnight silver.”
Tesla’s flagship showroom in the Meatpacking District.
incorporates the dashboard and car operations. From my view in the (slightly cramped) back seat, it appears that the extra large rear camera display could distract the driver, but apparently it does not. Various functions
are exhibited on the screen, including maps that are clear even from my vantage point. John cruises behind the Whitney Museum, checking out the acceleration that can go from 0 to 60 miles per
hour in 2.5 seconds. He says, “Driving is almost immediately intuitive, and there is instant action — no lag time between my foot on the pedal and the car moving,” as he speeds up smoothly without gears. NYC Community Media
Photos by Rania Richardson
Tesla’s Model S premium sedan available for test drive.
Tesla’s Model X luxury SUV has “Falcon Wing” doors and is available for test drive.
Tesla does not use model years. New features are rolled out through automatic software updates. We are in the safest car ever tested, and the heavy battery, positioned like a skateboard under the car, makes rollover almost impossible. The premium Model S is larger than the Model 3 and meant for long cityto-city drives or road trips — necessitating charging while on the road, via NYC Community Media
the company’s supercharging stations. They are free for owners and will soon rely exclusively on solar power. A destination can be set on the touchscreen map to navigate to the next supercharger station when needed, generally every 200 miles. There, an empty battery can be replenished in 30 minutes or so. The Model 3, though, is designed for commuting and weekend trips, and will generally be charged
Cars in the back of the showroom, awaiting a test drive.
overnight in one’s own garage or in a parking lot equipped with an outlet. We turn onto the Clarkson St. exit and then travel around the West Village looking for a spot to try parking. The Model S defaults to a 12” clearance from the car behind it, but John overrides that to get in closer, in an easy maneuver. He calls the entire driving experience “seamless and satisfying,” and we return to the showroom.
Will we purchase a Tesla? The automaker is at the top of our list should we decide that car ownership is for us. For now, we will not add to traffic congestion and stick with self-powered and public transportation options. Tesla’s Manhattan showroom is at 860 Washington St., at the corner of W. 13th St. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Visit tesla.com. March 1, 2018
PEOPLE’S MTA continued from p. 2
nity, which led to the formation of The People’s MTA. Chelsea Now spoke with three members of The People’s MTA who focus especially on transit issues affecting the disabled. Mary Kaessinger, in her early 70s, lives in Brooklyn, and suffers from MS (multiple sclerosis). Though Kaessinger was diagnosed decades ago, she began to fi rst need a vehicle for mobility only in her 60s. Kaessinger rides an electric scooter, in red — a choice, she admitted, made partly out of vanity. “I saw an ad with a pretty young woman riding a scooter,” she recalled with laughter, “and thought, ‘that could be me.’ ” The scooter proved to have a practical, as well as an aesthetic, advantage over a wheelchair: “The handlebar gives me stability,” which allows her to manage inclines without fear of getting pitched forward. But once in the subway, it’s a different story. As Kaessinger demonstrated, platforms rarely line up with the lip of the subway car. Sometimes the difference in height is as great as five inches. A wheelchair can be tipped to some degree, thus surmounting the vertical gap; the length of a scooter makes that impossible. So instead, Kaessinger and other scooter drivers must perform a fairly complicated maneuver. She looks for the conductor, sometimes to no avail, who can hold the door open long enough for her to enter the car. Either way, she generally relies on the kindness of strangers to fi rst lift the front end of the scooter and then the back. On the day we observed this process it took several minutes to enlist effective aid. No one was strong enough to pick up the scooter, even partially, with Kaessinger’s weight fully on board, so she stood for a moment, straddling the base of the scooter. Because the conductor had not seen her on the platform, the door closed and then reopened as she was attempting to board, a frequent occurrence. “I just close my eyes and pray that I don’t get cut in half by a malfunctioning door,” she noted. A simple remedy exists. “New Jersey Transit has it figured out very well,” Kaessinger said. They employ small, portable ramps and have three or four conductors for every train, each prepared to make the temporary installation. Kaessinger’s political colleague, Reneé Imperato, is a trans woman
March 1, 2018
Photos by Christian Miles
MTA improvements sought by Terrie Mitchell, who has 20/200 vision, include frequent updates for braille maps and automated announcements on buses.
Wheelchair and scooter users at the Feb. 22 MTA board meeting, in anticipation of giving their testimony.
activist who alternates between forearm crutches and a wheelchair. “When I go from one nearby activity to another,” Imperato said, “I use my crutches. I only have a certain number on my ‘daily odom-
eter,’ so if I am going to go on the Women’s March, or some rally, say, at Columbus Circle, I gotta have the chair.” She enters subway stations only to refresh her MetroCard. Though she still has the strong-look-
ing, wiry frame of the long-distance cyclist she was once, Imperato is fearful of subway crowds and of overzealous passengers in a hurry, not paying heed to a person on crutches. (Her mobility impairment NYC Community Media
Photo by Judy L. Richheimer
Photo by Christian Miles
Reneé Imperato, seen here at the Good Stuff Diner on W. 14th St., travels the subway system using either forearm crutches or a wheelchair.
A member of The People’s MTA, with a sign anticipating a March 5 court date pressing for the installation of elevators in all 472 subway stations.
stems from injuries sustained while serving in the Vietnam War, with Agent Orange a possible culprit.) Buses allow for more choice: Imperato can let a fi lled-to-capacity one go by and wait for another, less crowded bus — that is, if time allows. The M14A and the M14D, her standard lines, tend to come in batches of three, said Imperato. She often lets the fi rst and even the second in the batch go by; if the third is still too crowded, a long cycle of waiting is in store. “What time of the year is it? It’s winter. If you are in a wheelchair and you start missing six buses, it’s dangerous. You lose body heat from not moving.” And no matter which bus the rider wants to enter, there is the possibility that the wheelchair lift is out of order. Another challenge for the disabled bus rider is lack of curbside exiting and boarding, which happens when the stop is blocked by parked vehicles. Imperato cited a stunning example of that impediment: police vehicles were parked in the M23 NYC Community Media
Madison Square bus stop, a key site for the Disability Pride Parade, on the day and time of that event. Because the SBS line eliminated the Fifth Ave. stop on 23rd St. to travel in a westerly direction, disabled parade-goers had to use a bus stop two-and-a-half avenues away. Blindness and low vision is a disability rarely mentioned in relation to transit — but Terrie Mitchell, a resident of W. 23rd St.’s Selis Manor who has 20/200 vision (Mitchell’s low vision is connected to her albinism), is aware of how the MTA can do better for the sight-impaired. “Buses are fi ne, if the driver remembers to announce such-andsuch stop. Maybe 70 percent of the time the driver remembers,” Mitchell said. When drivers forget, Mitchell is often forced to walk some distance back to her destination. Great boons to the visually impaired and the blind are transit maps in large print and braille. But Mitchell pointed out that they are obtained at an MTA center in Downtown Manhattan, not neces-
sarily easy to reach. More important, they are several months behind regular transit maps. Mitchell wants certain improvements — the special maps updated more frequently and perhaps automated announcements on buses — but the left-leaning activist worries about “infantilizing” the disabled. She also speaks of blind people not heeding their guide dogs, especially on subway platforms, and as a result putting themselves and the dogs in great jeopardy. “Those people have to take personal responsibility, like everyone else,” Mitchell insisted. Nevertheless, she remains strong on the broad strokes of social justice. That concept of social justice as practiced by The People’s MTA can be a point of contention, even to potential allies. The group places great emphasis on the MTA’s debt service — Murphy points out that the MTA spends $82 a second, $7 million a day in paying off interest on bonds — which is undeniably a legitimate concern. But their
rhetoric on that point suggests the solution to our MTA problems is to default on debt. Jeff Gold, Director/VP of IRUM (the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility; irum.org), a moderate-toliberal think tank heavily concerned with mass transit, concedes that there are times when defaulting on debt is advised, but now is not the time for the MTA to even consider bankruptcy. He hastens to add that we need radical thought, if nothing else, as a bulwark against the thinking of the far right. And The People’s MTA may be having an immediate practical effect, after all. Directly after the public session of that Feb. 22 MTA board meeting, Andy Byford, the head of New York City Transit, spoke earnestly and defi nitively about addressing accessibility problems. “He even mentioned braille,” remarked an accessibility activist. Kaessinger is tentatively optimistic. “I wish him well,” she said. “But I will believe his statements when I see them in action.” March 1, 2018
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
FEEDBACK FROM FACEBOOK
City, State Should Consider Alternatives to Congestion Pricing To The Editor: Re: “Why Downtown Should Back Congestion Pricing” (Talking Point, Feb. 22): Charles Komanoff refers to the need to thin out traffic on Manhattan roadways below 60th St. What he fails to emphasize is that this is really not a transportation issue, but a revenue issue. It is simply an attempt by the state and city to enhance revenue to help fund mass transit. I highly doubt that traffic congestion would be affected in any substantial way from this ill-designed plan. Firstly, I would suggest to anyone who is interested to stand on any street corner below 60th St. and count the number of private vehicles on the road. Anyone doing this would be very much surprised to see that a very small percentage — maybe as low as 15 percent to 20 percent — of the vehicles are privately-owned vehicles. Most are either commercial vehicles, yellow cabs, or livery cabs, such as Uber or Lyft, with TLC license plates. Secondly, many of those private cars on the road are out-ofstate vehicles, such as New Jersey. Well, obviously, these New Jersey vehicles had to have just crossed the Hudson River either by tunnel or bridge, each of which required a toll to be paid. Where has all the revenue from these tolls gone? Thirdly, I always find it interesting that politicians such as Governor Cuomo and Mayor di Blasio, who pride themselves as being on the side of poor and working New Yorkers, have no problem supporting regressive measures, such as congestion
pricing, that will hit the poor and working people of this city the hardest. (Even in New Jersey, it was the Democratic-controlled legislature that pushed through a 23 center per gallon increase in the state’s gas tax that is now hitting the poor and working people the hardest.) Finally, if a congestion pricing plan is implemented, will there be discounts for residents of Manhattan who live below 60th St.? After all, residents of Staten Island get discounts on the Verrazano Bridge and residents of the Rockaways get discounts on the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges. Why should someone who lives below 60th St. in Manhattan have to pay a special fee just to return home from doing a little shopping at Costco in New Jersey or returning home from a holiday dinner with their family in Queens? I just returned from a trip to the Philippines. If you think we have traffic congestion in New York City, you haven’t seen anything. The traffic in Manila is beyond belief. Yet, the government there tries to deal with the problem without loading it on the backs of working people. For example, they have coding days where cars with certain license plate numbers cannot be on a Manila roadway on certain days. I would urge our state and city administrative and legislative leaders to take a real hard look at any congestion pricing plan handed down and consider whether there are alternatives. Howard Babich
POLICE BLOTTER PETIT LARCENY: Half-wit at Whole Foods One man thought it was a great idea to try to steal shrimp and soap out of Whole Foods (250 Seventh Ave., btw. W. 24th & 25th Sts.) on Sat., Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. That is, until he was caught. A security guard saw the 51-year-old suspect take four bags of shrimp, place them in a tote bag, and try to leave. The suspect also had four boxes of soap and a bag of carrots. The total value of the items: $150.
LOST PROPERTY: Forget about Waldo. Where’s wallet? A man was sitting in a car on the 500 block of W.
42nd St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) when he realized his wallet was missing. The incident occurred on Sat., Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. The 70-year-old does not know where he lost his wallet. The wallet had $30 in cash, two credit cards, and his driver’s license.
PETIT LARCENY: Forgetfulness necessitates new phone purchase A woman left her iPhone 7 (valued at $700) in the subway station located at Eighth Ave. and W. 23rd St. The 25-year-old woman boarded the train on Sat., Feb. 24 at 5:20 p.m., not remembering she had placed her phone on the bench. When she realized what happened, she proceeded back to the train station — but the return trip took 20 minutes. She finally arrived to
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March 1, 2018
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CONTRIBUTORS Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Christian Miles Puma Perl Rania Richardson Tabia C. Robinson Paul Schindler Eileen Stukane
Re: “Pier 57 Plans Promise Public Space, Food Hall, Plenty of Google” (news, Feb. 22): Wouldn’t that 100,000 square feet of available space at Pier 57 make a nice home for the Flower Market, as it gets squeezed out of 28th Street and Tin Pan Alley? Jamie Jensen Re: “Frustrated Critics Cry Foul at L Train Open House” (news, Feb. 22): The first thing people in NYC do is express upset and outrage. Then, they start to listen and apply some actual rational mind to what is proposed. Citizens can go to the general meetings and submit comment cards; I was told these ARE being considered. (Could be just lip-service, but we’ll see.) The line must be shut down for these repairs, we DO need more bike lanes (PERIOD)... so everyone can speak out as to why we should not have this and that, why it’s all an outrage... but if we want anything fixed with this system? There will be “pain.” Sorry folks. Kevin Andrew Davidson
find the phone was gone.
PETIT LARCENY: Memory kicks in 29 minutes too late An 18-year-old woman was at Artichoke Pizza (114 10th Ave., btw. W. 17th & 18th Sts.) on Sat., Feb. 24 when her phone was stolen. The victim told police that she went to the bathroom at 11:30 p.m. and left her phone in the bathroom. She didn’t realize the phone was missing until 11:59 p.m. She returned to the bathroom to retrieve the phone, but she couldn’t find it. Her Find My iPhone app did manage to find the device, placing it in Queens. The phone is valued at $700. —Tabia C. Robinson
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March 1, 2018
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
L to R: Caleb Eberhardt, Nehassaiu deGannes, and Anthony Cason in “Is God Is.”
Daring, Deﬁant — and Code-Compliant! Soho Rep returns to Walker Street BY TRAV S.D. Well, that was a close one! Sixteen months ago New York theatergoers got the terrible news that one of Downtown’s oldest and most beloved arts institutions, Soho Rep, was having to vacate its Walker St. space because of decades-old code violations of which the staff had long been unaware. Now, just as suddenly, a little over a year later, the company is back in its old home with a hit play (Aleshea Harris’ “Is God Is”) on the boards. What happened? “During the process of renegotiating our lease for a relatively short extension,” said Soho Rep’s Executive Director Cynthia Flowers, “we became aware that the original folks who
March 1, 2018
secured the space over 25 years ago neglected to file to be functioning as we were, as a theater. When we looked at what we needed to do in terms of implementing the necessary changes, we saw that there was no way we could afford it financially, and we decided we couldn’t be operating in the space, even though no one was filing a complaint.” Announcements quickly went out, and news of the venue’s closure was widely reported in the New York Times and elsewhere. And for the next several months, Soho Rep operated itinerantly, presenting their work at such alternate locations as the Connelly Theater, the Public Theater, and the Mezzanine Theatre at the A.R.T./New York
Theatres. To outward appearances, the caliber of their work did not suffer. The most recent production presented under these conditions was Richard Maxwell’s “Samara,” with original music by Steve Earle. But even as this was happening, the pieces were being put in place that would allow Soho Rep to turn around and come back to their longtime home. “Soon after the [Sept. 28, 2016] Times piece came out, we got a call from Julie Menin, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment,” said Soho Rep’s Artistic Director Sarah Benson. “She’d been a friend to Soho Rep for a long time, and she reached
out and said, ‘What can I do? This is crazy, you guys are important!’ Julie was the catalyst for us to even think it was thinkable to return to our space. She put us in touch with people at the Department of Buildings, who responded and worked with us, and made it a priority to help us get back in.” “Thanks to Julie we first got some hope in October, but we didn’t actually know it would be feasible until February,” added Flowers. According to Flowers, starting in October the company’s leadership put together a “general punch list” of all the things that needed to be accomplished in order to reoccupy the space, in terms of renovation and construcNYC Community Media
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
L to R: Alfie Fuller and Teagle F. Bougere in “Is God Is.”
Photo by Sam Horvath
Up to code and up for anything: Soho Rep, home again at 46 Walker St.
tion. From there, the staff reached out to the board and other stakeholders, and launched a fundraising campaign in April. Renovation work began by the summer. “It was a long process,” said Flowers. “Five city agencies had to sign off on each step. And we were still producing theatre at the same time.” Benson points out that the renovations have “also been an opportunity to improve space for audiences.” Not only has the theater been made code-compliant and safer, but the lobby has been freshened up aesthetically, with gallery walls that currently showcase work from the company’s 43-year history. Founded NYC Community Media
in 1975, Soho Rep presented work in numerous locations before moving into its permanent space on Walker Street in 1991. Kathleen Turner, Ed O’Neill, Allison Janney, John C. Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Steve Buscemi, Jonathan Frakes, Will Patton, and Tim Blake Nelson all acted there early in their careers, and the company has premiered work by María Irene Fornés. Sarah Kane, Young Jean Lee, Richard Maxwell, Annie Baker, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Thomas Bradshaw, Cynthia Hopkins, and Anne Washburn. The current production “Is God Is,” written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Taibi Magar, continues the com-
Photo by Sam Horvath
Soho Rep’s lobby showcases work from the company’s 43-year history.
pany’s cutting-edge tradition. The play is a sort of stew of elements from Greek Tragedy and similar myths, Afro-Punk, and bloody revenge scenarios from Italian cinema and Quentin Tarantino. On top of its explosive and downright dazzling script, and its winning cast, the production’s playful scenography by Adam Rigg, with set pieces that slide and move and flip and otherwise generally keep us on our toes, is also within Soho Rep’s tradition of making the absolute most out of its intimate, not to say tiny, black box facility. The artistic product is clearly none the worse for wear on account of their ordeal, even as the space itself has improved.
“We’re so happy to be back, said Benson, “and it’s been a very inspiring process, seeing how the Soho Rep community came together so that we could keep having this space as our home. It’s been an amazing thing to go through — if a little bit crazy.” “Is God Is” plays through March 25: Tues.-Sun. at 7:30pm, Sat. at 3pm. Then, through March 31: Tues.-Sat. at 7:30pm, Sat. at 3pm. At Soho Rep (46 Walker St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Visit sohorep.org or call 212-3523101 for tickets ($35-$65 through March 11; $45-$85, March 13-25; $50-$90, March 28-31; 99 cents Sun., March 4 & 11, 7:30pm). March 1, 2018
March 1, 2018
NYC Community Media
Stardust Memories ‘Time’ ﬁnds John Kelly in ﬁne, if not linear, form BY DAVID KENNERLEY Attention New Yorkers of a certain age nostalgic for the 1980s avantgarde East Village arts scene. It’s time to rejoice, for a supreme survivor is back to evoke those glory days, and beyond. I’m speaking of none other than the master of mélange John Kelly, the multitalented, genderqueer artist who in 1981 began performing in Downtown dives like the Pyramid Club and later made his way to Carnegie Hall, belting out arias in fractured falsetto and high drag. The introspective impresario has returned to his East Village roots, at the storied La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, to mount his latest piece, “Time No Line.” The multimedia work, based on his meticulous journals, is at once a wistful and penetrating survey of his career spanning four decades, though, as the title suggests, defiantly not in chronological order. “Well, the past is not linear,” he says, sitting at a little desk, his androgynous face lined with worldliness. “In retrospect, it’s a patchwork of emotional triggers — how hard has it been to go back into these journals. I see my missteps — and I see my experience, whether I like it or not.” In classic Kelly fashion, this solo show integrates readings, anecdotes, dance, song, live drawing (in chalk on the floor), and projected images and video to bring his journal entries to life. If you look closely, the screen is actually comprised of white pages that appear to be taken directly from his journals, giving the projected images a textured, fragmented feel. Not that these are ordinary journals. The pages are bursting with screeds, scribbles, lists, doodles, diagrams, sketches, and cartoons, many of them worthy of framing. In fact, a selection of Kelly’s journal transcriptions and memorial portraits is on view at Howl! Happening (6 E. First St.) through March 25. The gifted performer, sometimes in drag, covers an astounding amount of territory in just 70 intermission-less minutes. Predictably, he traces key milestones in his career — a flirtation with the American Ballet Theatre, a stint drawing self-portraits at Parsons, trapeze and tightrope lessons, and NYC Community Media
Photos by Theo Cote
Kelly’s live chalk drawings on stage.
John Kelly sings “What Makes a Man.”
inspiration drawn from the infamous gay den of sin, the Anvil. Not to mention the birth of his Dagmar Onassis character (the fictional love child of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis)
and his character studies of Egon Schiele and Joni Mitchell. All of this is framed by the AIDS pandemic, which decimated so many gay men of his generation, includ-
ing innumerable fellow artists. Kelly reveals that an HIV diagnosis in 1989 left him energized, not despondent. This just two months before his friend Keith Haring died of AIDS-related KS lesions on his lungs. Despite a predilection for drag, it would be a mistake to label his character portrayals as camp. They are too reverential, too sophisticated. Throughout the show, Kelly makes costume changes in full view, so we can witness the process of transformation. Dressed in a sheer red scarf, his plaintive rendition of the French transgender anthem from the 1970s, “What Makes a Man,” is vintage Kelly. His signature embodiment of Joni Mitchell was both a highlight and a letdown. He chose the relatively obscure song “The Last Time I Saw Richard” when I was hoping for a crowd favorite like “Woodstock.” If anyone is stardust, if anyone is golden, it is the ethereal, timeless, consummate creator John Kelly. Through March 11: Thurs.–Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 2pm. At La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($25), visit lamama.org or call 212-352-3101. March 1, 2018
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March 1, 2018
NYC Community Media
March 1, 2018