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YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN

ON THE BUS TO MARCH FOR OUR LIVES West Side Riders Motivated by a Common Interest to End Gun Violence

see page 3

Photos by Sam Bleiberg

© CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 13 | MARCH 29 - APRIL 4, 2018


Saying No to Guns, New Yorkers Stand in Solidarity with DC March for Our Lives

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Mary Lou Montalto — whose 14-year-old granddaughter, Gina Montalto, was killed in the Parkland, Florida shootings in February — opened the program.

Holy Week and Easter Services at

St. Peter’s Chelsea Episcopal Church Maundy Thursday, March 29 5:30–6:45pm Community Meal 7pm The Liturgy for Maundy Thursday 9pm Vigil at the Altar of Repose

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Sam Hendler read the names of those killed on Feb. 14.

BY TEQUILA MINSKY They couldn’t get to the epic march in Washington on March 24, but 175,000 New Yorkers rallied here in solidarity against gun violence in the March for Our Lives. This youth-led movement was sparked by the February 14 shooting of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nationwide, shaken school students are channeling their grief into action and speaking out

against both gun violence and the easy availability of guns. In Manhattan, the corridor of Central Park West from 62nd St. north past 86th St. fi lled in early Saturday morning in anticipation. When the program began shortly after at 11 a.m., the crowd relied on loud speakers set up at intervals to follow what proved an emotional series of speeches. NO TO GUNS continued on p. 12

Good Friday, March 30 12pm The Liturgy of Good Friday

Holy Saturday, March 31 7pm The Great Vigil of Easter

Easter Sunday, April 1 9am Children & Family Service 10am Mass of the Resurrection 6pm Evening Prayer Easter Egg Hunts follow 9am & 10am Services

346 W. 20th St. (8th & 9th Aves.) 212-929-2390 | stpeterschelsea.org All are welcome here! 2

March 29, 2018

Meghan Bonner recounted the horror she experienced at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last month. NYC Community Media


West Siders Ride to Washington, DC and March to End Gun Violence BY SAM BLEIBERG Manhattanites made their voices heard on the national stage last Saturday, when a charter bus took them from Chelsea to the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC. Motivated by a common interest to end gun violence, the group began in the early hours of the morning. With signs in tow, marchers gathered near W. 23rd St. and Eighth Ave. as early as 4:30 a.m., huddled under the light of the Cinépolis Chelsea movie theater complex. They came alone, with friends, and in families, bearing T-shirts, ribbons, and pins with their messages. All lived, worked, or attended school on the West Side of Manhattan. They were of all ages, too. Young people have been at the heart of the #NeverAgain movement against gun violence. The Parkland students leading the organization for the March made a conscious effort to put young activists, organizers, and artists at the center of the event. Young people were also well-represented within the group of over two dozen who made the bus trip to DC. Zhané Parker, 21, explained why it was important to her to attend. “This year I’m trying to be aware, read up, and go to protests,” she said. “It’s not that I didn’t care before, but I was defenseless and didn’t know what to do.” Chelsea resident Maren, 14, also made the trip to DC for the Women’s March earlier this year. “Traveling and making the effort is important,” she said. “Thousands of people get killed by guns each year, and it’s possible to stop this.” Despite a march also planned for March 24 in Manhattan (and, for that matter, around the world), West Side residents wanted to seize the opportunity to send a message directly to the federal government. “After seeing how DC works, I think that’s where we need to put more pressure,” said Lily Fremaux, 18. “The gun control movement is about power and money. Seeing lobbyists go into congressional offices made me realize I should go to DC.” Parker added to this sentiment of accountability, asking, “What better way to put pressure than to go to DC? It needs to stop there, with the people in power.” NYC Community Media

Photos by Sam Bleiberg

The group arrived in DC ready to make their voices heard.

L-R: Friends Miranda Sofia Ranghelli Duran, Lily Fremaux and Zhané Parker went to DC to “put pressure where decisions are being made.”

Maren, 14, also traveled to DC with her family for the Women’s March earlier this year.

The activists benefitted from the complimentary bus service, courtesy of State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Richard N. Gottfried, and Linda B. Rosenthal. Hoylman travelled to DC, while Glick, Gottfried, and Rosenthal stayed in New York to attend the Manhattan March. “We thought it was a great way to connect constituents with this watershed national movement on gun law reform,” Hoylman said. Shortly after 5 a.m., the bus arrived, and our chaperone for the day, Hoylman’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Eli Szenes-Strauss, led the boarding. Clear skies warded off any complaints about the weak sun and brisk early spring temperature. At the first rest stop, the parking lot filled up with charter buses. School groups in uniform, activist groups, and communities like those on the West Side bus fueled up for the long day. Our bus pulled in to the parking lot at Robert Kennedy Stadium around 11 a.m., and the riders headed to the nearDC MARCH continued on p. 13 March 29, 2018

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Photo by Judith Sokoloff

“Great memories are flying around El Quijote in its very crowded last few days (at least for now),â€? said longtime Chelsea resident Judith Sokoloff, who took this photo on the evening of Mon., March 26. “I had the same meal that I had my first time in the late ’70s — lobster, soggy broccoli, potato, salad. No menus. Customers were stealing them‌ I heard the servers are getting only two weeks’ severance, no matter how long they’ve been working.â€?

With El Quijote’s Closure, One Less Colorful Character in Chelsea BY WINNIE McCROY Chelsea’s old guard lines up to say their fond farewells this week to El Quijote, the Spanish restaurant

located on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel (226 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). The wild — and wildly uneven — eatery has

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went to when it was difficult to go anywhere else,� said Gerald Busby, a 40-year resident of the Chelsea Hotel (and arts contributor to this publication). “I used to go there with my friend Virgil Thomson, the composer, whenever the weather was bad. There EL QUIJOTE continued on p. 20

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been serving up lobsters and liquor since the 1930s, and although the new owners say they plan to reopen by next year, longtime fans say no scrubbed-up boutique restaurant could compete with the decades of memories the outpost provided. “El Quijote always had a sanctuary quality. It was the place residents

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NYC Community Media


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NYC Community Media

March 29, 2018

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Almost 20, Chelsea Wine Cellar Gets Better With Age BY RANIA RICHARDSON Payment of the last tuition check symbolized freedom for Sun Ae Song, who, with her husband, had put three children through college. An empty nester ready to start a new chapter, she chose to focus on a favorite libation: wine. “It was time to do what I liked to do,” she recalled, “what I wanted for my retirement… and now it’s been 20 years!” In 1998 people were consuming more wine, so Song decided to learn all about it. She sold the dry cleaning business she owned for 15 years in upstate New York where the family lived, and downsized with a move back to Chelsea, where she and her husband had settled after emigrating from South Korea as young adults. She bought a rundown liquor store nearby on the ground floor of 200 W. 21st St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves., right off of Seventh). “I built it from the ground up,” she said, referring to the three-week overhaul that transformed the store into a wine emporium and thriving business. She boned up on the basics through an eight-week course at Windows on the World Wine School with Kevin Zraly (who was the wine director of the storied restaurant atop 1 World Trade

Photos by Rania Richardson

Sun Ae Song, owner of Chelsea Wine Cellar, with manager Gregory Cho.

Center, until its destruction on 9/11). Back in the 1990s, Chelsea was not as developed as it is now. Song remembers that the neighborhood had not yet witnessed the arrival of prestigious art galleries and the booming LGBTQ community, let alone the influx of high-rises. Her business grew, as the neighborhood did, into the 2000s — but dipped after the 2008 stock market crash. Now, with a staff of four, Chelsea Wine Cellar serves the local community with wine and spirits packed to the rafters in a small store that features classical music in the background. Song said,

“Most customers are surprised by how much stock we have and that there’s such a variety.” Predictably, business peaks during the major national holidays, as well as Mother’s Day and Pride Weekend. In general, customers stop by to make purchases before going home after work. Song has noticed that more women are buying alcohol (sometimes, she noted, the store is full of female shoppers). Her sales are 70 percent wine and 30 percent liquor in volume. The store makes deliveries, but it is suffering without a WINE CELLAR continued on p. 14

Every nook and cranny of the store is packed to the rafters.

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NYC Community Media


NYU LANGONE MEDICAL ASSOCIATES – CHELSEA At NYU Langone Medical Associates – Chelsea, we treat a range of cardiac conditions, including diseases of the aortic and mitral valves and coronary arteries, as well as venous and arterial disease, congestive heart failure, and adult congenital heart disease. We also provide primary and preventive care for adults, as well as pulmonary care, pulmonary function testing, advanced sleep services, and cardiac imaging and testing in one convenient location. We’re bringing together the comprehensive resources, technology, and expertise of NYU Langone with the physicians you’ve come to know in your neighborhood. Dianne Acuna, MD

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Lawrence Hitzeman, MD

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160 West 26th Street, 3rd Floor | New York, NY 10001

To make an appointment: 646-660-9999 | nyulangone.org

NYC Community Media

March 29, 2018

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Canadian Newsprint is Not the Enemy — Tariffs Are BY DAVID CHAVERN Every day at the News Media Alliance headquarters, a stack of newspapers arrives for the staff and myself. But with the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) currently considering tariffs on Canadian newsprint, those days of screen-free reading could be coming to an end. The fact that newsprint is being threatened is the work of one newsprint mill in the Pacific Northwest, NORPAC. In August 2017, NORPAC petitioned the United States Department of Commerce to begin applying tariffs to newsprint imported from Canada, claiming the imported paper was harming the US newsprint industry. But NORPAC is not acting in the best interests of newsprint consumers or the US paper industry at large — they are acting in their own interest and no one else’s. The buying and selling of newsprint has always been regional without regard for the border. Consumers of newsprint — from newspaper and book publishers to telephone directory manufacturers — tend to buy newsprint in their region, close to their printing operations. The printers who typically utilize Canadian newsprint are those in the northeast and Midwest, where there are currently no US mills operating. But those regions are not newsprint deserts because of unfair trade by Canadian paper mills. Rather, newsprint mills shut down or converted to producing other, more profitable paper products when the demand for newsprint fell, something that has been happening steadily for decades. Since 2000, the demand for newsprint in North America has dropped by 75 percent. But affordable Canadian paper has helped keep the printed news alive and flourishing well into the 21st century. With new tariffs, many smaller newspapers will

Photo by Scott Stiffler

The free newsprint publications of NYC Community Media: Chelsea Now, Downtown Express, Gay City News, Manhattan Express and The Villager Express.

feel their belts tightening. The combination of preliminary countervailing and antidumping duties increase the cost of imported newsprint by as much as 32 percent, and a number of newspapers have already experienced price increases and a disruption in supply. If the ITC and the DOC make these tariffs permanent in the coming months, it could lead some small local publishers to cut their print product entirely — or even shut their doors. Some, like NORPAC, may argue that by imposing duties on Canadian imports we’re saving American jobs and boosting our own economy, but while that may sometimes be true for other industries, the opposite is true of newsprint. What we’re seeing with the newsprint tariffs is not a government acting to try to better the economy for its citizens. Instead, it is “political arbitrage” by one private investment group — where they are effectively looking

to use the US government to tax local and community newspapers across the United States in order to bolster their own bottom line. When considering whether to take NORPAC’s claims seriously, the Department of Commerce excluded input from US newsprint mills owned by Canadian companies — specifically Resolute Forest Products and White Birch. Excluding manufacturers who, during the period of investigation, had three functioning newsprint mills in the US because they have sister mills in Canada shows an unwillingness to understand the borderless newsprint industry and the restructuring that has taken place in recent decades. If the tariffs on Canadian newsprint are allowed to stand, we’re not only risking a centuries-old relationship with our neighbors to the north, but we’re putting our own US news industry in jeopardy. While the big national and regional papers may have less trouble finding the funds to keep their print editions coming, we could see small publishers lose footing, and those tiny local papers are some of the most vital members of our news community. Under the right conditions, those papers can find a way to maintain their footing, but if the newsprint industry can’t support them, those communities will become news deserts, and that’s a future none of us want. We may not be able to save the entire industry by keeping tariffs off our paper, but we can keep it thriving while we re-position ourselves for the years to come. Having affordable newsprint will help us do that. Chavern serves as President & CEO of the News Media Alliance. He has built a career spanning 30 years in executive strategic and operational roles, and most recently completed a decade-long tenure at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Extra! Extra! Local News Read all about it!

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY

NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 www.chelseanow.com scott@chelseanow.com © 2018 NYC Community Media, LLC

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EDITOR Scott Stiffler ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

CONTRIBUTORS Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Christian Miles Puma Perl Rania Richardson Tabia C. Robinson Paul Schindler Eileen Stukane

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Chelsea Now is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2017 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR: The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

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1-917-246-2888.

NYC Community Media

March 29, 2018

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POLICE BLOTTER PETIT LARCENY: Denim as good source of calcium

Goose coat, valued at $800, contained her passport from Poland.

Strong bones, moral weakness: A man stole a bottle of milk from London [Terrace] Grocery (250 10th Ave., btw. W. 24th & 25th Sts.). The incident occurred on Fri., March 23 at 1:05 a.m. Police say the 23-yearold suspect tried to hide the bottle of milk in his jeans and left the store without paying. He was caught and arrested.

LOST PROPERTY: What’s white and silver and lost all over?

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Dim bulb breaks lamp A man walked into Eighth Ave. Tobacco (288 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 24th & 25th Sts.) and broke a lamp. The incident occurred on Fri., March 23 at 9:30 p.m. A witness told police that upon entering the establishment, the man intentionally struck the lamp. The damages are $200.

PETIT LARCENY: Coat, coat, goose A 24-year-old woman left her coat unattended at the Highline Ballroom (431 W. 16th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) on Sun., March 25 at 1:50 a.m. When she returned to get her coat, she realized it was missing. The Canada

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

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A man lost his cell phone as he was walking home from a restaurant on W. 12th St. The incident happened on Tues., March 20 at 2:30 a.m. When he got to his apartment on the 200 block of W. 22nd St., the 27-year-old realized that he no longer had the phone. He believes he simply lost it (the phone, that is), and does not think he is the victim of a crime. The white and silver Apple iPhone 8 is valued at $800.

PETIT LARCENY: That empty nest feeling after the Eagle After a great night out, a man realized that he no longer had his cell phone. The man, 45, was leaving the Eagle NYC (554 W. 28th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) on Wed., March 21 at 3 a.m., but didn’t notice his phone was missing until he arrived at home. He believes that someone took the iPhone 7, valued at $700. The phone was turned off when he tried to call it. —Tabia C. Robinson

212-239-9863. Youth Officer: 212239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7 p.m., at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.). Visit midtownsouthcc.org. THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Commanding Officer: Deputy Inspector Steven M. Hellman. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct.

NYC Community Media


Transit Workers Mourn

St. Clair Ziare

Richards Stephens

Sammuel McPhaul 7/17/01

Joy Anthony 11/21/02 Chris Bonaparte 8/8/02

Transit Workers killed on the job since 2001

Kurien Baby 11/22/02

Janell Bennerson 1/18/03

Harold Dozier 12/14/04

Barrington Garvey 4/20/05

Louis Gray 11/3/16 Lewis G Moore 12/1/05

Daniel Boggs 4/25/07

Marvin Franklin 4/29/07

William Pena 2/12/14 Edwin Thomas 12/01/08

The 43,000 men and women of Transport Workers Union Local 100 mourn the tragic death of Trackworker St. Clair Richards Stephens, 23, killed on the job March 20, 2018 in service to the City of New York. Transit workers are on the job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide New York City with its most essential service. We toil in tough, dirty, dangerous conditions both above and below ground. TWU Local 100 strives to insure the safety of this valiant workforce, yet the incredibly dangerous jobs we do continue to take its toll on the men and women of New York City Transit. We ask that the millions of New Yorkers who take public transit every day recognize             Paid for by TWU Local 100, Tony Utano, President

NYC Community Media

March 29, 2018

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NO TO GUNS continued from p. 2

Leading off was Pelham resident Mary Lou Montalto, who spoke next to a poster placard that read: “My granddaughter could not make it here today, I’m here for her.” Montalto’s 14-year-old granddaughter, Gina Montalto, died in the Parkland shooting. Youth were the center of the presentations. Two Marjory Stoneman Douglas survivors spoke movingly. In front of a backdrop montage of his fallen classmates’ photos, 16-year-old Sam Hendler read their names. His fellow student Meghan Bonner, her mother and sister at her side, tearfully gave her own harrowing account of that day. “The adults failed us,” Bonner said. The rally included speeches from a survivor of last fall’s Las Vegas massacre; a librarian who saved students during the shooting at Sandy Hook; NzaAri Khepra, a student activist and co-founder of the Wear Orange campaign that brings awareness to gun violence; children — who are now young adults — of parents who died on 9/11; Nupol Kiazolu, the head of New York’s Black Lives Matter youth coalition; and members from Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. and Guns Down Life Up, both local initiatives focused on gun violence reduction. Ethan Rubin, an 11th grade student at Columbia Secondary School, entered Central Park West at 72nd with friends and his mom. They listened to the program through amplified speakers. “There were just as many people as the Women’s March, but this felt more emotional,” he said, particularly noting the testimony from the Pelham grandmother and the Parkland survivors. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio were among those at the start of the march that proceeded down Central Park West after the program concluded. Also up front walking were Gays Against Guns with their Human Beings veiled in white, memorializing those lost to gun violence at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando two years ago and elsewhere. The Human Beings took the place of someone who would have wanted to be there that day but could not be. The march, which headed toward Columbus Circle and then east to Sixth Avenue, continued for hours. The crowd was passionate and strikingly diverse in race, ethnicity, and age. Youth walked together amidst many families, some with small children perched on their parents’ shoulders. One toddler was spotted carrying a sign, and many a seasoned demonstrator walked with a cane. One veteran marcher’s sign read: “I marched in the 60s and I’m marching in my 60s.” Another placard — bright yellow with a flower, reminiscent of the peace movement — adapted a famous anti-war slogan and read: “Guns are not healthy for children and other living things.” On Central Park South, onlookers held similar signs, and some apartment windows along the marchers’ route displayed messages of solidarity. Actors were spotted in the crowd, and Paul McCartney told the media how he, too, had lost a good friend — John Lennon — to gun violence. The multitude of handwritten signs — some simple, some clever — voiced a wide array of personal and nuanced expressions, all focused on

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Photos by Tequila Minsky

An adapted anti-war slogan from the 1960s was among the placards.

Many signs emphasized the importance of voting this coming November.

A family united in their determination to end gun violence.

Demonstrators pointed to the culpability of those resisting change.

the meaning of the day. There were clear themes, including the need to vote — “Vote them out” or “I’m going to vote in 2020” — which is part of this movement’s agenda. Voter registration — for 2018, never mind 2020! — was available during the march. Teachers held signs speaking to the inappropriateness of guns, in any form, in schools. Many marchers pointed to the hypocrisy of regulating women’s reproduction but taking a hands-off approach to buying guns. Over and over, written messages as well as chants condemned easy access to guns in this country, its tragic consequences, the profit motive behind it, and the politicians unwilling to act to stop it. NYC Community Media


DC MARCH continued from p. 3

by Metro station with signs in hand. The march drew protesters with a wide range of experiences and views on gun control, reflected in the diversity of messages written on cardboard. For Lisa Nord, who rode down on the bus along with her two daughters, school shootings hit close to the heart. “My two daughters and I work in public schools in New York City,” she said. “I’ve told my family that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re condoning things with your silence. There wasn’t a thought that we weren’t going to be here.” Aliyah Griffith felt a personal connection to school shooting victims. Having grown up in the DC area, she had a firsthand experience with a school shooting when an active shooter across the street caused her school to lock down. “I was in the middle of Latin class conjugating verbs, and, all of a sudden, teachers were getting emails telling them the campus was on lockdown,” she recalled. “What brought me out here today was the kids. School is a place where you can go to be safe, to learn, to thrive, and be yourself.” The group filed out of the Metro and made their way to Pennsylvania Avenue, right in front of the Trump hotel. Marchers joined a crowd colored by flags, hand-painted signs, and printed shirts signaling school affiliations or memorializing gun violence victims. Protesters of all ages witnessed together the series of speeches and musical performances, almost all from younger generations. “I was immediately struck by all the students that came, and that so many of them were in large, coordinated efforts from their schools or communities, wearing matching shirts or hats or school colors,” said Jennifer Hoppe, who advocates for issues including gun control in her capacity as the Village Independent Democrats’ VP. “The most powerful moment — really six minutes and 20 seconds — was during Emma Gonzalez’s speech,” she said. “To be in that massive crowd with everyone so silent was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.” Speakers included the now-familiar faces of students from Parkland along with youth activists from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. The March organizers made an effort to include those affected by gun violence who have not historically received the same level of national attention as the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, including people of color and those from less DC MARCH continued on p. 19 NYC Community Media

Photos by Sam Bleiberg

Lisa Nord, left, attended the March with her two daughters. All three work in New York City public schools.

The crowd filled Pennsylvania Avenue for blocks on end.

Protesters used the occasion to call for more resources for school programs.

March 29, 2018

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WINE CELLAR continued from p. 6

website. Since millennials find it easier to go online, Song plans to rectify the situation this year. There is no competition from the many grocery stores in Chelsea, as they are not permitted to sell wine and liquor in New York State, although the proposition comes up from time to time. Convenience stores can sell wine products if they contain less than 6 percent alcohol, but that is not an issue, as wine at Chelsea Wine Cellar averages 12 to 13 percent. “Sixth Avenue has high-rise rentals where people stay six months to two years, tops, and the prices reflect that. We are more cost-oriented in this neighborhood [around Seventh and Eighth Aves.], where people own their own homes and watch their pocketbooks,” Song said. Customers favor red wine in the winter and white in the summer, although rosé sales have been gaining ground in the warmer months. “The new rosés are different. They are not as sweet and fruity; they are dry,” she noted, recalling the popular brands from decades back, such as Mateus from Portugal, with distinctive shaped bottles perfect for candles. Last year the store had 50 different rosés. This year, she’s not sure she’ll go that far, but there is already a good selection in place. On the liquor front, bourbon is a current trend and the store sells a number of brands. They also carry an affordably priced soju imported from Korea, a clear sprit that is gaining traction in the US (but no makgeolli, this reporter’s favorite Korean rice wine, which has not quite caught on in this country). Jonathan Dyer, a representative from a wine and spirits distributor who has been doing business with Song since the store opened, said, “She has an amazing palette and is on top of the business more than most.” If someone comes in looking for a recommendation Song asks what they have been drinking, their general preferences, and their price point. For spaghetti and meatballs, she might select a light chianti or pinot grigio and for sushi, Sancerre or another dry white from the sauvignon blanc grape. Her own favorite is pinot noir. Pinot noir saw a surge in consumption after it was popularized in Alexander Payne’s “Sideways,” the 2004 film about two friends on a wine tour in California, in which the grape was praised as “haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle.” Merlot sales went down because it was scorned, with one character declaring, “If anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any

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March 29, 2018

Staff member Alain M. Martinez prepares to make a delivery.

Photos by Rania Richardson

Chelsea Wine Cellar (200 W. 21st St., at Seventh Ave.) is nearing its 20th year in the neighborhood.

Staff member Binod G.C. checks inventory.

f**king merlot!” “It’s so funny how people are swayed,” said Song. “After that movie came out, merlot almost died. Vintners ripped up their merlot vines and planted pinot noir, but it takes years to have a real fruit. Wine sellers had to import pinot noir from all over the world to keep up with the demand. Merlot is back now.” Wine is a family affair for the Songs. Mr. Song worked for a distributor until

his retirement and now helps out at the store. He owned a liquor store when the couple first lived in Chelsea in the 1970s. In order to communicate with more customers, the Songs studied Spanish through free classes at W. 23rd St.’s Muhlenberg branch of the New York Public Library. Their son owns Village Vintner (448 Sixth Ave., btw. W. 10th & 11th Sts.). With a 20-year anniversary coming

up in September, Song is optimistic for the future. And, with a five-minute walk home, “I have the best commute ever,” she said. Chelsea Wine Cellar is located at 200 W. 21st St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves., right off of Seventh). Hours: Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Sun. 12 p.m.–8 p.m. Call 212-675-1813 or email them at chelseawinecellar@gmail.com. NYC Community Media


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NYC Community Media

March 29, 2018

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Photo by Marina McClure

A bloody good time is guaranteed. L-R: Vania Mendez, George Olesky, Maria Fontanals, Julie Atlas Muz and Austin Pendleton.

A Roller Coaster Ride Through Fraught Terrain Pamela Enz’s play is refreshingly racy and rich with talent BY TRAV S.D. If the chef’s truism that good soup depends on good ingredients holds firm, then “City Girls and Desperadoes” has the right fixings. The new play by Pamela Enz co-stars award-winning stage and screen actor/director Austin Pendleton; world-renowned choreographer and neo-burlesque pioneer Julie Atlas Muz; and Obie award-winning Meg MacCary, co-founder and former co-artistic director of acclaimed Downtown theater company Clubbed Thumb. It also features an original score by Elliott Randall, a session guitarist best known for his solos on Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” and the Irene Cara song, “Fame.”

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March 29, 2018

Others attached to the production include director Marina McClure, a resident director at The Flea Theater who came out of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab; and Julie Petrusak, artistic director of JP Dance Group, who designed original video projections. Enz’s play, based on a true story, is about a man (Austin Pendleton) who falls in love with a woman (Julie Atlas Muz) who reminds him of a former lover, whose death he blames himself for. Complicating matters is the fact that he is married to yet another woman (Meg MacCary), who is getting awfully tired of waiting for what she believes is a phase to play itself out. Both Muz and Pendleton’s

characters cope with grief and loneliness by snorting mountains and mountains of cocaine, supplied by a pair of lesbian drug dealers (Maria Fontanals and Vania Mendez). The play, not incidentally, is set in the late 1970s. This correspondent found the experience something like a combination of David Rabe’s “Hurlyburly” and Abe Burrows’ long-forgotten “Cactus Flower.” According to Enz, the plot of “City Girls and Desperadoes” is based on a true story — a case where a couple argued before the woman drove off and died in a car accident. Later, like in something out of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” he met a woman who resembled the woman

who he lost. “Everybody thinks, even he thinks, he’s in love with her because she looks like the dead woman,” Enz said. “But he falls in love with her and [that] makes him forget the dead woman, which is something his wife has been trying to do for years.” According to Enz, Pendleton — well-known for his turns in movie classics like “What’s Up, Doc? ” and “The Muppet Movie,” his many Broadway roles (including originating the part of Motel in the original production of “Fiddler on the Roof”), and scores of productions he’s directed in New York and regionally — CITY GIRLS continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media


‘Distant Observer’ Merits Close Inspection Collaborative playwriting project is pleasingly chaotic BY SCOTT STIFFLER No fooling: You have until April 1 to see “Distant Observer: Tokyo/ New York Correspondence” at La MaMa — and you should. Written by Japanese playwright/director Takeshi Kawamura and American playwright/ director John Jesurun over a threeyear period via corresponding chapters (10-minute sections in response to the most recent contribution), this “tag, you’re it” technique effectively grounds the proceedings in a realm of chaos and uncertainty that calls to mind our current political climate. Initially pitched to us as the familiar tale of an ex-con trying to start anew, that ground floor premise is built to the hilt, thoroughly upended, and pleasingly perverted. Vexed by everything from a romance gone sour to his murder victim’s score-settling family, our everyman hero (or victim or villain) is soon thrust into a web of intrigue beyond his grasp (or, possibly, of his own design). What’s really going on at that embassy? How did the suicide forest burn down, and might it be repurposed for Olympic glory? Is a tuna cut to ribbons this play’s red herring; and who’s left standing when the ramen is ready to slurp? Tasked with non-stop shifting of personas, agendas, and set pieces (gauzy curtains separate one side of the audience from the other, and play host to ghostly projections), the top-notch ensemble is as nimble with the wordy, quicksilver script as they are on their feet. From bell-ringing, town crier-like hotfooting to fearless track and field tryouts to prowling the stage in full-on interrogation mode, seldom has there been so much running around by those giving their former lovers, current foes, and potential allies the run-around — making for a “Distant Observer” that merits close inspection. Minor quibble: The constant push and pull of that curtain has the effect of a party host interrupting a conversation’s flow by rearranging the furniture in a room whose aesthetics need no improvement. Far less potent productions might benefit from this sort of visual element — but the words and the deeds and the charismatic players are more than enough to command your attention far beyond the final (sense of closure NYC Community Media

Photos by Paula Court

L-R: Samuel Im, Kyle Griffiths, Anastasia Olowin and Claire Buckingham ponder a multitude of identities and motivations.

A bloody knife and a bell don’t stay put any longer than, left to right, Kotoba Dan, Kyle Griffiths and Anastasia Olowin.

Their circumstances constantly change — but Samuel Im as an ex-con, and Anastasia Olowin as his ex are consistently complex.

open to interpretation!) scene. Through April 1 at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club/Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. Fourth St., 2nd Fl., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). Thurs. through Sat. at 8pm; Sun. at 4pm. Call 212-352-3101 or visit lamama.org for tickets ($25; $20 students/seniors; Ten $10 tickets available every performance on firstcome, first-served basis; $1 facility fee on all tickets). March 29, 2018

17


Photo: Bianca Bunier

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L-R: Julie Atlas Muz, George Olesky, Meg MacCary and Austin Pendleton. CITY GIRLS continued from p. 16

has been “generous and supportive,” and “a consistent champion of the piece.” Co-star Muz has had a high profile lately as well, mostly recently directed her husband Mat Fraser’s Christmas panto, “Jack and the Beanstalk” (due in no small part to the strength of that production at Abrons Arts Center, the pair were named 2017 “New Yorkers of the Year,” a New York Times reader-nominated honor). While best known as a dancer and choreographer, Muz is terrific as the woman of Pendleton’s obsession. Enz aptly describes her as “a dynamic mixture of the cerebral and the sensual.” Intertwined with the tapestry of human interaction is the audio/video-scape devised by Randall and Petrusak. Said Enz, “As the play was being birthed, Elliot and [Petrusak] came together and created the home

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March 29, 2018

in which it could live — evocative without words, and viscerally quite powerful… Our colleague Ève Laroche-Joubert said so smartly that Ms. Petrusak [who has evolved from choreographing dance] was now simply choreographing images through space.” Readers should be advised that the production contains copious nudity and simulated sex acts which, on top of the rampant drug depictions, make for a refreshingly racy night of theater. Played without intermission, “City Girls and Desperadoes” is a roller coaster ride through fraught terrain and a highly recommended chance to see world-class theater artists do their thing. Through April 8 at Theater for the New City (155 First. Ave., btw. E. Ninth & 10th Sts.). Thurs.—Sat. at 8pm; Sun. at 3pm. For tickets ($18; $12 students/seniors), call 212-2541109 or visit theaterforthenewcity. net.

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NYC Community Media


DC MARCH continued from p. 13

affluent communities. This diversity of voices expanded the conversation to topics such as a shortage of funding for mental health services in schools, violence against women, and police violence against people of color. Vic Mensa, a longtime gun control activist, dedicated his performance to Stephon Clark, Decynthia Clements, and all unarmed black people killed at the hands of police. Groups present including #GoodKidsMadCity from Chicago and Bmore & Beyond from Baltimore put resources for education, mental health care, and anti-poverty programs at the center of their movements. This message resonated with members of the West Side bus trip who attended to protest gun violence in all its forms. “My biggest motivation to protest is the underlying culture of violence that we live in,” said Miranda Sofia Ranghelli Duran, 19. “The military industrial complex, police brutality, our lack of gun control in the US — they all go together. To me, banning guns and getting the NRA out of politics is important — but nothing will change unless we work together to end this culture of violence.” Parker agreed. “We’ve been talking about state violence a lot, and probably my biggest reason for wanting to come is these institutionalized forms of gun violence and policing,” she said. “I think we need to reform the state, and it starts there.” A recurring message from speakers and activists attending was the importance of policy changes and empowerment through voting. Chants of “Vote them out!” were heard in the periods between one speaker and the next. “I was really glad to see the March for Our Lives organizers registering voters on Saturday, because public policy is ultimately determined by elections,” Hoylman said. “We need to ride the wave of interest on gun law reform and defeat the NRA at the polls.” The West Side bus riders departed from DC in the late afternoon, arriving back in the city around 10 p.m. Eighteen hours of travel and activism left the group tired but inspired. Hoppe returned with a renewed optimism in the younger generation’s potential. “I have not just hope but absolute confidence that these kids will vote their values and become a force in getting people into office that will finally pass gun safety laws,” she said. “I also know that this is a generation that understands the power they have in working together and raising their voices. We’re about to see all kinds of change.” NYC Community Media

Photos by Sam Bleiberg

L to R: Aliyah Griffith and her sister Zariah marched to support schools as safe places, with Aliyah asking, “If our future is gunned down, then what do we have left?”

Draped in white, members of the NYC-based group Gays Against Guns were “Human Beings” representing individual victims of gun violence — a practice developed by performance artist James (Tigger!) Ferguson following the Pulse nightclub shooting of 2016.

Jennifer Hoppe and Cameron Krause mentioned the importance of concrete policy results in the wake of the March. March 29, 2018

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EL QUIJOTE continued from p. 4

was a back entrance from the hotel lobby to the restaurant, and I would go in and open it from the other side for Virgil. It was never a fi rst-rate restaurant, and it only got worse and worse with time.” But that hardly kept Busby and his cohorts from patronizing the place. He outlined a romantic and slightly scandalous history Thomson once told him of the Spanish fi shermen who controlled the area in the 1950s, when seafood restaurants were abundant up and down 23rd St. Back then, lobsters and oysters were considered peasant food; Busby remembers that even as recently as 1977, an El Quijote dinner special offered two lobsters for $10. “So that’s the heritage, where they all came from,” Busby noted. “It was always kind of crude; the waiters were nice, but also kind of thugs. But that was part of its charm. If you complained about something, they’d yell back at you, ‘Nothing’s wrong with this paella!’ ” Busby remembers Thomson’s habit of caterwauling to the waiters with some “horrible sound” that made them come running. During one of the composer’s last visits before his death in 1989, Busby said the waiters gathered round their table to make the noise back at Thomson. Busby called it “part of my rich history with El Quijote.” And he’s not alone. His friend Gavin Henderson, principal of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, called Busby to say that he was traveling to New York City this month, for one last meal at El Quijote. “He and his son are coming over from London just to eat there one more time, even though it’s ghastly food,” Busby said. “There is all this sentimentality attached to it. And part of the appeal is the portions are huge. Even though it’s awful food, they give you a lot of it. The doggie bag is somehow important.” Busby said despite the rubbery lobsters, El Quijote still managed to hold a spot in everyone’s heart, perhaps because of its easygoing staff and “lustrous provenance” of serving literati and bon vivants from Dylan Thomas to William S. Burroughs, who would get besotted at El Quijote, then stumble out the side door, back to their hotel rooms. His neighbor, Judith Childs — EL QUIJOTE continued on p. 23

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March 29, 2018

Photo by Mike Fackler

At El Quijote in the mid-1990s: Chelsea Hotel resident Judith Childs with Gene Fackler (a Texan and frequent visitor to the hotel) and, in the foreground, the late Dr. Helen Armstead Johnson (who lived at the Chelsea for many years and was a regular at the restaurant). “Regulars from around the neighborhood and the city throng the restaurant every evening to say a sad goodbye,” Childs said. “It is like an extended family gathering, with perfect strangers talking from table to table and taking pictures with their favorite waiters, who will miss us, too, and, of course, their jobs.”

Photo by Scott Stiffler

An “Open for Business” sign, good only through March 29. After that, loyal locals are unsure what sort of taste the new El Quijote will leave in their mouths NYC Community Media


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March 29, 2018

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NYC Community Media


EL QUIJOTE continued from p. 20

probably the hotel’s longest resident — shared some of these memories as well, recalling the time when someone’s jilted girlfriend started a fi re on the second floor, forcing residents to flee in their nightclothes into the lobby. “The fi reman eventually came down and said we could go back to our rooms, but we looked at each other and didn’t want to go home,” Childs recalled. “So we went through the door to the El Quijote, and there we were, sitting in our nightclothes, talking things over. And the folks at El Quijote didn’t even bat an eye. At the time, it was seen as perfectly normal — not only to us, but to the people running El Quijote.” Despite its storied history, change has been on the horizon for the Chelsea Hotel for almost a dozen years, ever since real estate developer Joseph Chetrit and his brothers bought the hotel in 2011 and tried to harass longtime residents into leaving. Busby and other tenants teamed up and “sued them with a fancy, pro bono lawyer and won our case in court. We can all stay until we die or leave of our own accord.” After that, the hotel changed hands three or four times, with owners attempting to renovate while being sued for a litany of infractions. A nasty landlord was followed by a nice one, which somehow only made those suing even angrier. Throughout the years, tenants got help from elected officials, including then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the current Speaker, Corey Johnson. The Chelsea Hotel — and the El Quijote restaurant inside it — were purchased in 2016 by Richard Born and Ira Drukier of BD Hotels, along with Sean MacPherson of the Jane Hotel. They took the place over after acquiring a managing interest from minority owner Ed Scheetz. “We defi nitely plan to reopen it in about six to eight months,” Drukier told The New York Times. Drukier’s BD Hotels did not respond to our multiple requests for additional comment by press time. But a recent update on Eater New York reports that longtime restaurant staffers from the busboy to the executive chef were given two weeks’ severance pay, which some employees have called “disrespectful” but which Drukier characterized as “appropriate… for the time we’ve owned the restaurant.” Workers have reportedly NYC Community Media

Photo by Scott Stiffler

A sign posted outside the restaurant last weekend announced its closing date.

been told they can re-interview for their jobs after the renovations, with no guarantees of being rehired. But an insider told Chelsea Now that it was doubtful whether El Quijote staffers would bother. Busby said that at some point in the Chelsea Hotel’s history, the famed owner Stanley Bard allegedly gave El Quijote a 99-year lease. But Chelsea Hotel CEO Scheetz bought the restaurant back in 2014 with promises similar to Drukier’s to maintain “the spirit of El Quijote” rather than scrap the place entirely in favor of bringing in an established restaurateur. “I think they’d like to have a restaurant in there by the time the new hotel opens up in late 2019, which would work to their advantage because the clientele will likely be rich businessmen from Europe and Saudi Arabia,

who want a fi rst-class restaurant in their hotel,” Busby said. “They’ll put in what they think is a ‘proper’ restaurant,” speculated Childs of the new owners, saying that even if the place is called El Quijote, it will not be the same. “It’s like how they restored the Minetta Tavern, but introduced an artificial climate. El Quijote is an accretion of many years of events, and I hope they would keep the funky murals [depicting scenes from “Don Quixote”]. But it can’t possibly be the same. If this is going to be a five-star hotel, it isn’t going to be the same.” Untroubled, Childs said, “Change is part of life for those in the arts and humanities. We just want to be able to go on with our lives and not be unduly disturbed.” The exact nature of the change is

at this point unknown. Manhattan Community Board 4 (CB4) District Manager Jesse Bodine told Chelsea Now that they are still waiting to hear from the new owners regarding how they want to move forward. “We are still working off the original application… in which El Quijote was not included,” Bodine said. “In their original application for the hotel, they had carved out a portion [of the restaurant] for a private events space, and were going to come back later for either a separate license, or to amend the current license.” Bodine noted that once the new owners submit this updated application, CB4 would have additional information about the incoming restaurant. “I think all of our lives are tied up with El Quijote,” Childs said, noting that an attractive older woman in the building recently bemoaned the loss of her go-to spot for a quiet evening drink. It will eventually reopen, but patrons say that’s too little, too late. “The folks at El Quijote always took care of us, and although the management will open up again, it won’t be the nice, funky place we always loved,” said Childs. “We never thought it was shabby. Of course it is, but we don’t think so. It’s like walking into your living room; it’s just home. I think there’s a general feeling that we’ll all miss it, but we’re grateful for the times we had there.” In Busby’s eyes, the storied reputation of the Chelsea Hotel was created by Bard, and, “when he died, it was all over. It’s unrealistic to make a fuss about some ‘lost nostalgia’ number, of all the things we’ve lost and how horrible it is. That’s just life, particularly in New York City. When it’s over, it’s over. I don’t use up my energy thinking about that.” Still, it’s the history of the Chelsea Hotel that’s its biggest draw — the place where Mark Twain, Sam Shepard and Jack Kerouac wrote their stories, where Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre visited and Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe created art, and where Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin had the affair outlined in Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel.” “The mythology of the Chelsea Hotel is what the new owners are going to be drawing on, and it’s a hell of a place,” Childs said, adding a bit of hope in a March 28 email sent just before we went to press. “I spoke with Ira Drukier today,” Childs wrote, “and he said they were going to change [the restaurant] as little as possible. I am willing to believe they might try.” March 29, 2018

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