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

IN AND AROUND CHELSEA, CLAIM YOUR BIRTHDAY BOUNTY

Wheels in Motion for 10th Ave. Bike Lane

Free Things Await Simply Because You Were Born see page 19 Courtesy of Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance

A proposal for a protected bike lane on 10th Ave. has taken a step forward. This rendering shows what the northbound bike lane, which would run from W. 30th to W. 42nd Sts., could look like. See page 2.

Singer, at 60, Serenades Port Authority

Photo by Tequila Minsky

It was a night of pure adrenaline and plenty of affirmations, as longtime Village resident Jonathan Kuhn celebrated his birthday with a 90-minute concert at a unique performance space in Port Authority. See page 14.

Groups Sue to Stop L Train Shutdown

File photo by Tequila Minsky Photo by Lizzie Pepper

Our Birthday Girl prefers IHOP’s Cupcake Pancakes over the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity. © CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A coalition of block associations from Chelsea and the Village, along with two disability rights groups, are petitioners in the suit. See page 4. VOLUME 10, ISSUE 14 | APRIL 5 – 11, 2018


10th Ave. Bike Lane Proposal Peddled, to Positive Results BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC A proposal for a protected bike lane on 10th Ave., from W. 30th to 42nd Sts., has taken a step forward. The Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance formally requested support from Community Board 4 (CB4), at the March 26 meeting of their Transportation Planning Committee (TPC). Patricia Gouris, the Alliance’s planning and development manager, presented details about the northbound bike lane (seven feet across) to the TPC. There would be a threefoot buffer, and then some type of protection between the bike lane and traffic, such as parking, bike parking, or plantings, she explained to the packed room at CB4’s offices (330 W. 42nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Currently, 10th Ave. has six lanes that are about 11 feet. To make room for the bike lane, there would be five lanes of 10 feet, Gouris said. The committee welcomed the plan. “This is thrilling,� said TPC member Andrea Bernard. “I’ve been waiting for a bike lane on 10th Ave. for a

Courtesy of Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance

A rendering of what the northbound bike lane, which would run from W. 30th to W. 42nd Sts., could look like.

very long time — in conjunction with the protected lanes that would be on 37th and 38th.� Indeed, much of the brief discussion focused on connecting the bike

lane to other proposed crosstown bike lanes, and whether it could be extended up to W. 55th St. in Hell’s Kitchen or down to W. 23rd St. in Chelsea.

Gouris noted that the Alliance — a business improvement district that runs from W. 30th to 42nd Sts. from BIKE LANE continued on p. 12

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Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Plan Seeks to Expand Affordable Housing, Green Space BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition (HKSC) unveiled a draft of their neighborhood plan at their Tues., April 3 meeting. “We are excited to share what we’ve been working on in the past year,” Rev. Tiffany Triplett Henkel, chair of the coalition’s steering committee, said to kick off the meeting at Metro Baptist Church (410 W. 40th St., btw. Ninth & Dyer Aves.). But fi rst, Christine Berthet, a member of Community Board 4 (CB4) as well as the HKSC, gave an update on the status of efforts to engage with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) regarding the proposed renovation of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Last year, the community met with the authority three times, while, in contrast, they have already met six times this year, she noted. “You see that there has been a sea change in the relationship,” Berthet said. “They’re very, very interested in hearing what we have to say.” Indeed, in 2016, when the Port Authority announced it would be expanding its aging bus facility on Eighth Ave. (btw. W. 40th & 42nd

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

After the meeting, residents were encouraged to use sticky notes to comment on the plan’s proposed uses for the nine Port Authority-owned sites.

Sts.) without seeking community input as well as bandying about the possibility of invoking imminent domain, opposition from the neighborhood and elected officials was fierce. The Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition formed in response, and had its fi rst official meeting in February 2017. “All the things that this community and its elected officials opposed are gone,” Congressmember Jerrold Nadler told the crowd, noting that

they can “seize this opportunity” for improvements. Betty Mackintosh, chair of the HKSC Neighborhood Plan Committee and a CB4 member, went through the plan, which focuses on nine Port Authority-owned properties spanning from W. 33rd to W. 42nd Sts., from Eighth to 11th Aves. The plan’s goal is to create new public green spaces as well as permanent affordable housing, encourage local

businesses, and improve air quality, she said. Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea have the third highest average of an urban air pollutant called PM2.5, according to city data, and the community and coalition have been focused on improving air quality in the area — where both the bus terminal and Lincoln Tunnel are located. NEIGHBORHOOD continued on p. 8

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Residents, Disability Rights Groups Sue to Stop L Train Shutdown BY LINCOLN ANDERSON It’s either “L yes!” or “L no!” — depending on your point of view — as a federal suit to block the city’s L train shutdown plan was filed in federal court Tuesday morning. Opponents of the city’s L train shutdown plan held a press conference on April 3 at Lenox Health Greenwich Village (W. 13th St. & Seventh Ave.), to announce their legal effort to stop the Canarsie Tunnel repair plan, along with related mitigation efforts, including the so-called “PeopleWay” on 14th St. The suit contains two main charges: that government has failed to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the plan, and that it fails to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). A coalition of more than two-dozen Village and Chelsea block associations, along with two disability rights groups, are petitioners in the suit, which is being brought by Village attorney Arthur Schwartz. At the press conference, Schwartz blasted the failure to do required environmental studies as “arrogant,” and said the traffic schemes in the plan were cooked up by misguided transportation “zealots.” The petitioners include the ad-hoc

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

From left, attorney Arthur Schwartz spoke at the announcement of the lawsuit against the L subway shutdown plan, while Edith Prentiss, of Disabled in Action, and Judy Pesin, of the 14th Street Coalition, listened. Both Disabled in Action and the coalition are parties to the lawsuit.

14th Street Coalition — the group of Village and Chelsea block associations and building co-op and condo boards that has been meeting regularly to organize against the plan — individual block associations covering blocks between 12th and 18th Sts., the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, the Flatiron Alliance, and two large apartment buildings — the Victoria,

at 7 E. 14th St., and the Cambridge, at 175 W. 13th St. — along with Disabled in Action and the 504 Democratic Club, the city’s leading political club for disabled individuals. Defendants named in the lawsuit include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York City Transit and the New York City Department of Transportation

(DOT), plus the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA). The FTA is included because, the suit alleges, the agency has “failed to enforce compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),” even though the L tunnel repair work is a $1 billion federally funded project. Attorney Schwartz argues that, under NEPA, because federal funding is involved, ADA-accessible elevators must be installed at L stations as part of the project. The suit also charges the MTA/ NYC Transit and city DOT with failing to conduct an EIS under the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), and the City Environmental Quality Review Act (CEQRA). “Despite all sorts of community meetings and obscure modeling, no EIS has been done,” Schwartz charged. “It’s incredible to me, as a lawyer with 40 years experience, that this is a $1 billion project and the MTA and DOT did not do an environmental impact study. It’s almost the epitome of arrogance — because when you do an EIS it requires more work, but it requires transparency and community engagement. GROUPS SUE continued on p. 9

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Lesbians Locked in a ‘Qualifying’ Round BY PAUL SCHINDLER Even among the 40 percent of New York State voters who say they know who Cynthia Nixon is, much of that recognition comes from her long-running role as Miranda Hobbes in the “Sex and the City” TV and film franchise. Theater aficionados will be familiar with her substantial body of work on stage, which has earned her two Tony Awards. She’s even won a Grammy for the album issued in tandem with Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” But Nixon is no slouch when it comes to public affairs. For more than a decade and a half, she was a spokesperson for the Alliance for Quality Education, a teachers’ union-backed effort to organize parents to advocate for public schools. She was active in the marriage equality fight and has represented Planned Parenthood in Albany, spoken out about surviving breast cancer, and been a ubiquitous presence at local resistance demonstrations since Donald Trump’s election. But perhaps her highest profile politically — at least until last month — was her enthusiastic support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, both in 2013 and last year. Five years ago, when her candidate was still struggling at the back of the Democratic pack, lagging behind frontrunner Christine Quinn — who would have been the city’s first out LGBTQ mayor — Nixon, who has variously described herself as bisexual and lesbian, headlined LGBT for BdB, a raucous Cutting Room campaign event featuring an impressive array of stage actors and downtown nightlife personalities. She reprised her emcee duties at LGBT for BdB II this past August. No political figure in New York has been a bigger thorn in the side of Nixon’s mayor, of course, than Andrew Cuomo. They’ve battled over funding

Photos courtesy of CynthiaForNewYork.com and Donna Aceto/ Design by Marcos Ramos

Cynthia Nixon’s gubernatorial bid drew immediate fire from Christine Quinn.

de Blasio’s signature pre-K program and the city’s ailing subway system as well as the mayor’s hopes to extract greater tax revenues from New York’s wealthiest. No mere political disagreements, these battles have featured nasty personal snubs and brazen bureaucratic maneuvers. So it’s not surprising that Nixon harbors antipathy toward Cuomo, regarding both his priorities and his style. For months, there was widespread speculation, dismissed initially but over time taken more seriously, that she would take on the incumbent even with his $30 million war chest. One would expect the governor’s allies to be prepared for the moment on Mar. 19 when Nixon made it official. That would seem, however, not to have been the case with Christine Quinn, who during her eight years as City Council speaker was rarely at a loss for the well-crafted sound bite, whatever the question posed. In what can at best be described as an unfortunate interview with the New York Post one day after Nixon took the leap, Quinn said, “Cynthia Nixon was opposed to hav-

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ing a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City. Now she wants an unqualified lesbian to be the governor of New York.” That an ally of Cuomo would go after a challenger for, in Quinn’s words, never having “run an organization,” is hardly surprising. But Quinn’s decision to distinguish “qualified” and “unqualified” lesbians betrayed an undiminished resentment over Nixon’s support for her 2013 rival and made her the butt of untold numbers of social media posts. In a series of Twitter posts and in several TV interviews, Quinn tried to backpedal, but the phrase will no doubt stick to her — at least through the primary campaign, making her utility to Cuomo nil. The governor, for whom she worked for a time as a special advisor and who no doubt blessed her appointment as a state party vice chair, must certainly have hoped for a better assist from Quinn in the event the primary becomes a horse race. Nixon responded substantively by telling reporters, “My being a lesbian or her being a lesbian I think has nothing to do with why we’re running for office.” But she also understood the PR opportunity Quinn’s slam unintentionally handed her. On Twitter, she posted, “When I announced yesterday that I’m running for gov, one of Cuomo’s top surrogates dismissed me as an ‘unqualified lesbian.’ It’s true that I never received my certificate from the Department of Lesbian Affairs, though in my defense there’s a lot of paperwork required.” It would be surprising if Nixon hasn’t raised money from the contretemps. If comparisons are to be made, an effective introductory video followed by a fiery speech in Albany put Nixon in good stead when placed side by side with a serious misstep by a political

pro. Ken Sherrill, a professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College, lauded Nixon’s campaign launch, saying he is struck by “how much more polished she was as a candidate than Zephyr Teachout,” the Fordham law professor who four years ago challenged Cuomo from the left and captured 34 percent in the primary. In Sherrill’s view, Cuomo has few substantive achievements to tout from his second term, in part because at least prior to this week he had co-signed Republican-Independent Democratic Conference control of the State Senate in order to maximize his own power by having a divided Legislature. That power, however, is largely the power to block things — more state spending, higher taxes, and wealth redistribution — according to Sherrill. Nixon has focused considerable attention on failing schools, a crumbling subway system, and income inequality hobbling upstate communities — all issues that require spending. Cuomo’s tightfistedness, he suggested, is where Nixon’s message “can resonate.” Pointing to Cuomo’s leadership on marriage equality in 2011, Sherrill noted that most of his “progressive” achievements have been on issues that didn’t involve spending money. Nixon’s challenge — against long odds, Sherrill acknowledged — is to show voters she’s done her homework on a broad range of issues so that they “can have real confidence in her.” Cuomo, if he begins to feel the heat, will likely try to show up her relative ignorance about how the state operates. “Can she be successful running on a wave of discontent,” especially against an incumbent “who virtually never comes over as pleasant?,” Sherrill asked. “Maybe. Can she be credible? Perhaps.” As for Quinn’s swipe at Nixon, Sherrill said, “She was like an aging shortstop who’s lost a couple of steps to the left. She was not in campaign shape. She just didn’t get the sentence structure right.” George Arzt, who owns a communications and lobbying firm long active in city politics, agreed that Nixon will likely give Cuomo a tougher challenge than Teachout did. “But the governor should win, and should win easily,” he added. Nixon’s strength, he said, is the anger on the left — aimed primarily at Donald Trump, but also diffuse enough that QUINN VS. NIXON continued on p. 11 NYC Community Media


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NEIGHBORHOOD continued from p. 3

Mackintosh explained that the plan would add a significant amount of green space to the neighborhood. It also focuses on a longtime community goal: affordable housing. The plan calls for residential development where feasible, with a requirement that 30 percent of it would be permanent affordable apartments. For one site, Galvin Plaza — a oneblock area between W. 39th and 40th Sts., between 10th and 11th Aves. — the plan calls for both commercial and residential development on top of a proposed bus facility. The authority has been looking at that site for a bus garage, Mackintosh said in a phone interview with this publication before the meeting. The proposal also looks at possible affordable small-scale retail space, but the details are still being worked out, she said. Mackintosh noted by phone that there was “robust community participation” in developing the plan, and all kinds of research, including fieldwork, that went into it. “The complexity of the area is really kind of amazing,” she said. The building of the bus terminal

Courtesy of Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition

There was “robust community participation” in the development of the plan, Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition member Betty Mackintosh told this publication.

and the Lincoln Tunnel “tore the fabric of the community,” Mackintosh noted. At the meeting, HKSC and CB4 member Joe Restuccia added, “We should see tonight as a broader plan because the Port Authority came with a just a plan to replace the terminal,

but our community response is ‘you must reknit the whole community back together,’ and it’s not just a terminal, it’s the bus parking lots, Dyer Ave., the ramps…” Platforms would be required for development, which are expensive to construct, Mackintosh said. The plan

also calls for the “submission of a zoning text amendment which would go through the ULURP process,” according to the presentation slides. (ULURP stands for Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.) NEIGHBORHOOD continued on p. 16

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GROUPS SUE continued from p. 4

“Although all the L stations in the shutdown are being upgraded,” he continued, “at least five of these stations will not be made ADA-accessible. “The residents, the leaders of this community have decided to go to court to stop the plan because government should be required to do the required input and studies.” These studies, the attorney added, “would require consideration of alternatives, and develop analysis and statistics that would be reviewable at public meetings and at court — that could be challenged, as in Westway. Striped bass numbers were fudged in Westway,” he noted. “Here, we believe they have fudged the number of cars that go down 14th Street.” Schwartz was referring to how the $2 billion Westway tunnel-and-landfill project on the Lower West Side was defeated in the mid-1980s due to environmental concerns. As for allegedly “fudged numbers” on 14th St. traffic, Schwartz and members of the 14th St. Coalition charge that the DOT data excludes trucks from its figures — plus is more than 10 years old. If the city’s mitigation plan goes through, Schwartz added, “There will be more traffic on Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Aves., and on the side streets.” He added that for-hire vehicles, like Uber, are currently clogging up Manhattan’s streets more than anywhere else, especially Downtown. And, with the closure of St. Vincent’s in 2010, there is no nearby hospital, other than Beth Israel all the way over on First Ave., meaning increased traffic would be putting people’s lives at risk. “The plans of DOT could be a matter of life and death,” he warned. In addition to compelling the agencies to conduct an EIS and for the MTA to install handicap-accessible elevators at L stations, the suit also seeks to stay any funding for and work on the Canarsie Tunnel shutdown project. Schwartz, of the law firm Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, is also the Village’s elected Democratic district co-leader. The city hopes to close the East River L tunnel for 15 months for repairs starting in April 2019. This would set off what has been nicknamed the “L-pocalypse,” causing a mad commuter scramble of displaced L straphangers. The city’s proposed transportation mitigation measures would see 14th St. transformed into a “busway” without cars during rush hours, if not for even longer periods, NYC Community Media

File photo by Tequila Minsky

At a recent presentation of the city’s L subway shutdown plan at Community Board 4, Judy Pesin, a leader of the 14th St. Coalition, used photos to illustrate her concerns over the mitigation plan’s impacts on local streets.

while roadway space on 14th St. would be taken away to increase pedestrian space; a two-way protected crosstown bike lane added on 13th 1St.; a flotilla of small ferries sailing back and forth between Williamsburg and Stuyvesant Town; and a fleet of 70 diesel-powered buses per hour motoring over the Williamsburg Bridge that would link to Downtown local subway hubs, as well as 14th St., where the busway would be filled with even more newly purchased diesel-fuel buses. Many Village and Chelsea residents fear that displaced car traffic from the 14th St. “PeopleWay” would overwhelm their narrow historic streets, while 13th St. residents and City and Country School parents vehemently oppose the novel two-way crosstown bike lane. Judy Pesin and Julianne Bond, two leaders of the 14th St. Coalition, also spoke at the press conference. “We believe there’s strength in numbers,” Pesin said of why the coalition formed two months ago. “These plans were devised with just the commuters in mind. We’ll be impacted by them 24/7. The businesses will also be impacted.” “The DOT has not been interested in listening to us until now,” Bond said. She added that, even now, trucks already are going down side streets that have “No Trucks” signs, implying that it would be even worse under the city’s mitigation plan. Pesin said the “rush hour” periods for the 14th St. busway plan to exclude

cars from the street seem to keep growing. “We’ve seen anywhere from 16 hours a day to 21 hours a day,” she said. “I’m not sure what universe that exists in.” Most people consider rush hour to be

7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., “not 16 hours a day,” she added. “We also believe the DOT data is based on 2005 numbers, which is way before the for-hire vehicles,” Pesin added. “And we need solid data to have a real plan. We can’t come up with alternatives until we know what we’re facing.” Similarly, Schwartz questioned the need for widening the sidewalks on 14th St. “They say there is going to be this crush of people,” he said. “A lot of us don’t understand where this crush of pedestrians will come from.” Meanwhile, he noted, the traffic data that the DOT recently released — which is just tables of raw numbers and times — is “incomprehensible to most people.” Under the city’s plan, 14th St. would be narrowed to two lanes of traffic, with a passing lane in the middle, while University Place would be closed to traffic between 13th and 14th Sts., and much of Union Square West would be closed to traffic. “So cars will be zigzagging all around,” Schwartz said. “There are all kinds of bottlenecks that are created.” According to Schwartz, the DOT is GROUPS SUE continued on p. 21

April 5, 2018

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Temple Emanu-el Offers Seniors a Home on Passover BY TEQUILA MINSKY Welcomed with smiles and, often as well, greetings of recognition from years past, 200 elders celebrated Passover at Temple EmanuEl’s Second Night Community Seder, a congregation tradition extending back more than 40 years. This is a way for Jewish seniors not to have to be alone during Passover but instead continue to celebrate with their community. “It’s part of our mission,� emphasized co-coordinator Stuart Goldsmith of the Mar. 31 event that brought fulfi llment to volunteers and guests alike. The elders came from 16 senior centers around Manhattan, transported to and from the Reform congregation on Fifth Avenue and 65th St. Co-coordinator Phyllis Hahn accompanied the bus that picked up guests at three Lower Manhattan centers. Each table in the temple’s vast social hall held a Seder plate with the holiday’s requisite symbols — parsley, a shank bone, chopped apples, a chunk of horseradish, and an egg. Guests followed the Passover story with a large-print Haggadah, the text

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Senior Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson led the Seder.

Sandy and Bengy taking the evening’s first cup of wine.

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of the order of the Seder that tells the story of the exodus from Egypt. Participants from Tanya Towers on the Lower East Side are deaf or hearing-impaired and followed the entire program of text and song through signers, one each assigned to their two tables. With a light touch, Senior Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson led a condensed version of the “telling� as guests were guided through the ritual-rich Seder meal. Participants dunked their parsley into salt water and ate Hillel’s sandwich of horseradish and charoset (the chopped apples mixed with nuts and honey). They blessed and drank their four cups of wine —actually, here, grape juice — and the door was opened for Elijah. The rabbi occasionally asked entire tables to read portions from the Haggadah. Fifty volunteers kept the evening moving along, beaming while serving gefi lte fi sh, matzah ball soup, chicken, potato, and noodle kugel, and ztimmes — a sweet and savory carrot stew — fi nished off by macaroons and tea. Cantorial intern Alex Kurland,

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Photo by Tequila Minsky

The main table included all the ritual objects — the Seder plate, Elijah’s cup, the afikoman, and the Haggadah.

with a rich and melodic voice, led the room through a litany of traditional songs, including “Ma Nishtana” (“the four questions”), “Dayenu” (“it would have been enough”), and “Hal’luyah.” On piano, Dr. Andrew Henderson’s lively accompaniment added even more joy to the evening. Usually there are loads of children singing at the Second Night Seder but this Passover coincided with their spring break. Still, the afi koman, a

middle piece of matzah broken off and hidden, was found and ransomed by the youngsters who were there. A goodie bag of matzah, honey, a candy bar, and tea bags placed on each bus seat wrapped up the evening of remembrance, tradition, and community. The congregation also delivers Passover meals for homebound individuals and provides boxes of holiday non-perishables for seniors in need.

QUINN VS. NIXON continued from p. 6

it could hurt any incumbent. “When you’re in for a long time, people can be fickle and may want a change,” he said. But Trump, in fact, may be Cuomo’s best argument against Nixon, Arzt said, noting the governor could argue, “You have a novice in Washington, and look at what a mess he’s made of the nation, if not the world, in terms of destabilizing it. You need an experienced hand to defend our values.” Comparisons between Trump and Nixon, in fact, were voiced by a number of progressives on social media who rejected her as a “celebrity candidate.” In contrast to Sherrill and Arzt, Mitchell Moss, an urban policy and planning professor at NYU, wasn’t much willing to credit Nixon’s candidacy at all. “I believe that government requires some level of knowledge and experience that is not found on the Broadway stage or the TV screen or the wrestling ring,” he said. “The problem we have is that we don’t know enough about Cynthia Nixon and what we know about her is not relevant.” Then, adding a comment he predicted would raise hackles, Moss said, “I have found that when an actor is no lonNYC Community Media

Courtesy of HRC

Cynthia Nixon accepting the Visibility Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Greater New York dinner in Midtown on Feb. 3.

ger able to compete on the stage, they somehow think they can translate their name recognition to the ballot box. I think that we should learn from Donald Trump that name recognition doesn’t translate to being able to do the job.” Nixon’s best shot, he said, comes in the ever-declining number of voters who participate in primaries. An energized left could possibly spell a major upset, but in a general election, Moss predicted, Nixon “cannot win statewide.” April 5, 2018

11


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April 5, 2018

with intersections of other crosstown bike lanes as a priority.â&#x20AC;? In January, the committee threw its support behind the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plan for crosstown protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th Sts. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is slated to install protected crosstown bike lanes on 52nd and 55th Sts., and is considering a pair through the Times Square area, Streetsblog reported. The city is also proposing a two-way bike lane bike on 13th St. as part of the L train shutdown plan. The TPC voted to support the Allianceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposal, which was scheduled to be heard at CB4â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s April 4 full board meeting (which was happening as we went to press with this article). â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is the new normal,â&#x20AC;? Christine Berthet, TPCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s co-chair, said later by phone. â&#x20AC;&#x153;To us, it is making it consistent with other bike lanes. We want all those crosstowns to connect to this protected bike lane.â&#x20AC;? She added, â&#x20AC;&#x153;You have all these beautiful bike lanes going northsouth, and then you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have anything going east-west. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a major, major deficiency.â&#x20AC;? Berthet said that the board was somewhat aware of the Allianceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bike lane plan â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it had commissioned Courtesy of Hudson Yards / Hellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kitchen Alliance a large study called the Streetscape The Transportation Planning Committee Improvement Plan â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but Monday was concerned about connecting the night was first time the Alliance had proposed protected bike lane to others, presented and given details. like crosstown lanes, in the area. Gouris, the planning manager, said later by phone that the Alliance BIKE LANE continued from p. 2 had decided to do a comprehensive Ninth to 11th Aves. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t request study of the district to see areas in the bike lane going further north or most need of improvement. More green space and bike lanes were on south, as it is not within its district. Committee member Paul Devlin its radar. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We knew there was a lack of bike said he was concerned that cyclists â&#x20AC;&#x153;all of a sudden go from unprotected access in the district and asked them to protected to unprotected again.â&#x20AC;? to look at it,â&#x20AC;? she said, noting they He said it should be noted in the hired Sam Schwartz and Mathews TPCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s letter to the full board of CB4 Nielsen Landscape Architects for the â&#x20AC;&#x153;that we want to see it in conjunction plan. As 10th Ave. is the main north-south corridor, it was an obvious candidate, and Gouris said she has been using the Streetscape Improvement Plan, which was finalized last year, as a guideline. g Individual Tax Returns g â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been using it as a jumping board to g Business Tax Returns g pursue projects,â&#x20AC;? said CALL US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION Gouris, who has been with the Alliance (hud42 W. 38th St., Ste. 901 sonyardshellskitchenalNew York, NY 10018 liance.org) for about a Tel: 212-302-8970 year.

www.goldburd.com

NYC Community Media


Courtesy of Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance

Courtesy of Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance

Tenth Ave. would go from its current six lanes to five to make space for the bike lane.

The bike lane would be seven feet across, with a three-foot buffer as well as some type of protection between it and traffic.

After the full board meeting, both CB4 and Gouris will follow up with the DOT, she said. “It will take a few years to happen,” she said. “We want to see what kind of reception we get from DOT to see how hard we should pursue this.” After two cyclists — Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis — were hit by charter buses and killed last summer, the committee wrote the DOT in October asking for protected bike lanes on W. 37th and 38th Sts. “We need to get to a higher level of safety to get everyone comfortable with this mode of transportation,” said Berthet, who is also a member of the pedestrian advocacy group CHEKPEDS (Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety; chekpeds.com). Berthet said she has not heard back from the city about the 37th and 38th Sts. bike lanes, and the DOT did not respond to this publication’s questions about them. Also at the Monday meeting, Berthet demonstrated how to use CHEKPEDS’ upgraded web-based app called Crash Mapper (crashmapper.org). First rolled out early last year, it now has additional functions, such as rankings — letting New Yorkers compare what is going on in their neighborhood, for instance, cyclists and pedestrian injuries, to other areas. A Crash Mapper custom search on 10th Ave. between W. 14th and 59th Sts. showed that there were two fatalities — one cyclist, one pedestrian — between December 2013 and December 2017. “It gives you a lot of ways to slice the data,” she said later by phone, noting it can then be brought to elected officials or a city agency like the DOT.

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Patricia Gouris, a planning manager for the Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, presented details about a proposed protected bike lane on 10th Ave. NYC Community Media

April 5, 2018

13


Affirmations and Adrenaline as Singer Celebrates 60th with Port BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Broadway or bust, so the saying goes. Or… you could also sing near Broadway — in a bus terminal. Not just any bus terminal, that is, but the most famous and busiest one in the world. That’s what Jonathan Kuhn did for his 60th birthday, giving a 90-minute virtuoso performance during a recent Friday evening rush hour at the Port Authority. A longtime Villager, Kuhn is the director of arts and antiquities for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. When he’s not overseeing the countless statues and monuments in New York City’s green spaces, however, one of his great passions is singing. And, yes, the Port Authority actually does have a performance space — on the second-floor balcony of its south building on Eighth Ave. — with an amplification system that piped Kuhn’s pipes throughout the place. A baby grand piano was first added there in October 2016 — in a space formerly occupied by monitors for the terminal’s security cameras — through a collaboration between the Historic Districts Council and Sing for Hope, the program that puts colorfully painted pianos in the city’s parks. Kuhn said he first learned of the perfor-

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Sandwiched between two heavily traveled escalators and above a sandwich shop, the performance space was formerly home to the Port Authority’s operations control center, when it was filled with a battery of monitors hooked up to security cameras. The piano was placed there a year and a half ago.

mance space — which is free to use — from reading about it in The New York Times. As cabaret veteran Woody Regan tinkled the ivories, Kuhn stood and crooned into a microphone a total of 17 songs, ranging from “Something’s Coming,” by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, “Sweet Baby James,” by James Taylor, and “Both Sides Now,” by Joni

Mitchell, to “Tupelo Honey,” by Van Morrison, “Thunder Road,” by Bruce Springsteen, “Imagine,” by John Lennon, and finishing, fittingly, with “Forever Young,” by Bob Dylan. A crowd of about 70 friends took “a ticket to ride” with Kuhn, cheering him on from other sections of the balcony. “We had quite the Village contingent there,” Kuhn said, “including folks

from West Village Houses, West Village Nursery School, Westbeth, PS 3… even Jean Bambury, the longtime co-owner and manager of Tortilla Flats.” Meanwhile, of course, there were also droves of commuters and travelers streaming through the station. “The stage manager at the Port Authority said that 260,000 people use the terminal daily,” Kuhn said. “So, one must assume that many, many thousands passed through the space during the show. Commuters would often stop for a song or two or three. So, at any given moment, there seemed to be 100 to 125 stationary audience members, and many more hundreds passing through. “People rimmed the balcony on the second floor, while others lingered and looked up from the ground level. The stage is flanked by two escalators, which at all times were essentially filled. It was fun while performing to see people turn their heads!” Despite all the hubbub and motion, he said, “It was surprisingly intimate.” That said, due to the din and the place’s sound-swallowing acoustics, he refrained from the usual cabaret-style patter in between tunes. For Kuhn, it was also, as he put it, “a culmination of about seven years of vocal

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April 5, 2018

NYC Community Media


Authority Performance

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Jonathan Kuhn sang a 90-minute set at the Port Authority on March 9 for his birthday. Accompanying him on piano was Woody Regan.

instruction and dabbling in the world of popular music, cabaret and open mike.” His singing started out years ago simply enough, as he “honed his craft” at home, by singing his children to bed at night. Next came several years of classes at HB Studio, on Bank St., followed by independent group lessons. His harmonic hobby has opened up a whole new world for him. “It’s a community of creative people expressing themselves through song in a myriad of ways and forums, and a remarkable antidote to the ills of the world at large,” he reflected. “I knew none of these people when I passed the threshold of 50, and the singing experience and all that comes with it has transformed my life.” Some of those singers — from the monthly Groovin’ on a Sunday cabaret series — performed during an intermezzo while Kuhn took a break. As for his song set, Kuhn said, “The show was loosely built around the theme of the stages of life — it being my 60th birthday, after all — and the commitments we make to one another, and the commitments we sometimes sever or release. “Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’ seemed the appropriate song to close the show for my 60th birthday celebration,” he said. “May we stay forever young in spirit and commitment to the things we value at any age.” He saw some songs as vibing well with the venue: “Thunder Road,” for example, was a good one for the Jersey commuters. “Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ felt just right for the bus terminal,” he added, “a sea of humanity from all walks and stations of life, where we become — became — one.” Before belting out Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” Kuhn gave a shout-out to his “silver girl,” wife Michele Herman, a longtime columnist for our sister publication, The Villager. Asked afterward what she thought of her husband’s transportation terminal tour de force, Herman said, “It was a triumph. His voice just got better and better. He always sings well, but I think the affirmation of a huge audience and the adrenaline brought out the best in him.” Kuhn agreed that serenading the bus station really got his musical motor running. “It was so energizing to perform for this cross section of humanity, from commuters to the indigent to the National Guard at the lower level providing station security,” he reflected. “To perform for a crowd numbering in totality that of Madison Square Garden was the thrill of a lifetime! It was an opportunity to connect the personal with the universal, and bask in a collective experience.” NYC Community Media

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April 5, 2018

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Courtesy of Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition

The Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition draft plan focuses on increasing green space in the neighborhood and looks to create some permanent affordable housing. NEIGHBORHOOD continued from p. 8

After the presentation, residents asked questions about the plan, and were encouraged at the end of the meeting to add comments and concerns to large photos of the sites that lined the church’s walls. The next steps for the plan include additional coalition meetings to reach consensus, the inclusion of elected officials, dialogue with the Port Authority, and asking CB4 for support. Port Authority representatives did attend the meeting, but did not present or publicly comment on the plan. The authority is currently considering a build-in-place option for the bus terminal, and a spokesperson told this publication last September that a request for proposals for environmental work and for preliminary architectural and engineering services were going to be reissued last fall. The environmental review process for the new bus terminal is ongoing, Lenis Rodrigues, authority spokesperson, wrote in an email.

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Congressmember Jerrold Nadler said at the meeting the community can “seize this opportunity” for improvements.

The Port Authority did not respond to questions about the architectural and engineering services, if there is any update on the bus terminal plan, and declined to comment on the neighborhood plan.

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April 5, 2018

NYC Community Media


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Our Lady of Pre-Code Cinema: Charles Busch as Lily Dare.

‘Lily’ is the Latest by Eternally Ephemeral Charles Busch ‘Dare’ to be taken for a limited time only BY SCOTT STIFFLER Twenty-four times for “The Confession of Lily Dare” — the latest from actor, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director, and drag legend Charles Busch — sure seems like a scant amount. And yet, in this age of on-demand streaming platforms and everlasting social media posts, the fleeting nature of what goes on at Theater for the New City (TNC) suits our lady in question just fi ne, thank you. NYC Community Media

“One could think it’s sort of a dotty thing to do, because we put a lot of effort into these,” said Busch, of the many blink-and-miss-it productions he’s brought to Crystal Fields’ iconic East Village venue over the years (including 2012’s Biblical epic “Judith of Bethulia,” with Busch as the morally sound, titular heroine). “When I want to rekindle a sense of pure joy in putting on a show,” Busch said, “which often happens when I start feeling low ebb and want to pull

myself up, other people might take a stiff drink. For me, I put on a play. I have a very loose relationship with Crystal. I just call her up before there even is a play, and ask her if she has a couple of weeks when one of her theaters is available.” Demonstrating a steadfast commitment comparable to what might account for the longtime presence of those in his own creative ensemble (actors Christopher Borg and Jennifer Van Dyck, along with director Carl Andress, are on

board for “Lily Dare”), Busch noted of Fields, “She produced my very fi rst play when I was extremely young… and she never lost faith in me. And so I return, often.” Although he granted our interview request with no grand effort required (and let the clock run well past the chunk of time we asked for), Busch doesn’t court review coverage for his shows at TNC. He doesn’t have to. LILY DARE continued on p. 18 April 5, 2018

17


LILY DARE continued from p. 17

They’ve long sold out by word of mouth, buoyed in more recent years by updates on his Facebook page. Still, some potential audience members see the limited run and the small house and need to be advised not to miss the boat. “People always think it’s a workshop,” Busch observed with benign bemusement, “and I have to explain, ‘No, this is it.’ It just so happens twice, we have actually transferred these plays commercially [“Shanghai Moon” and “The Divine Sister”]… But honestly, there’s never any ulterior motive or agenda. It’s just do it 24 times, take the pictures, and then move on.” The cumulative effect of this ethic is a body of work that seems like a mirage, albeit one with real pleasures. “The last one we did [at TNC] was my version of ‘Cleopatra.’ I wrote it so quickly, and we performed it so quickly, and since nothing really appeared in print about it, sometimes I think, did I really play Cleopatra or did I just have a dream that I was in ancient Egypt? It’s just so ephemeral. I mean all theater is, but particularly in this case… that aspect, I fi nd rather moving and fascinating.” Armchair analysts might fi nd it interesting to note that just under a year into the Trump presidency, the playwright set about writing his current project, grounding it in an era of permissiveness cut short by conservative backlash. Asked if the subject matter connects to our current political climate, Busch said, “I certainly have passionate feelings about what’s going on today. But as a writer, I don’t know if that’s really in my wheelhouse to do contemporary satire. There are other writers who are much better suited to that kind of material… I do think everything you write is personal, whether you know it or not. Certainly my emotional state is reflected in whatever I’m writing.” Set along California’s lusty Barbary Coast during the turn of the 19th century, “The Confession of Lily Dare” takes its title character from the sheltered life of a convent girl to success as a cabaret chanteuse to serving as the madam in a sting of brothels to the downwardly mobile lot of a “drunken waterfront hag,” as Busch put it. It’s all in the spirit of the story arc found in what came to be known as the “confession fi lm” genre. “There was a spate of movies between 1931 and 1933,” Busch explained, “that centered around a female character who suffered all sorts of romantic tribulations, and had an illegitimate child who she gives up for their own good.” During this period, American films were “free from any moralistic limitations on stories of adultery, and a woman didn’t have to be punished for her sins. The language could be racier. There were intimations of homosexuality among the minor characters. They weren’t censored, and it was an exciting thing.” Then the pendulum swung back. “Catholic groups were appalled by the open sexuality,” Busch noted, “so the motion picture community decided to police their own works, because they were worried that other groups would come in and police it for them.” Thus, the confession fi lm had its day during the last bastion of pre-code picture making. But you don’t have to be cinephile enjoy your night out at the theater. “I like to think that if you’ve never seen a motion

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April 5, 2018

Photo by Michael Wakefield

Playwright and leading lady Charles Busch (seen here) assures you’ll need no prior knowledge of the “confession film” to enjoy his latest.

picture before,” Busch submitted, “you can have an awfully good time at ‘The Confession of Lily Dare.’ I do think if you have a fondness for classic fi lm, certainly you would notice details. But I really don’t think there’s a single laugh in the play that’s predicated on your familiarity with the particular movie genre.” Audiences familiar with his body of work, however, are likely to recognize the source of those laughs. “Humor, the best humor to me,” Busch said, “is self-recognition at the noble foolishness of people trying to do the right thing and failing — but trying so hard; just the folly of human existence.” What’s more, the playwright assured, you can make those post-show dinner plans with confidence. “Most of the movies, for the 1940s, were under two hours,” Busch noted. “And in the ’30s, it could be 80 minutes. So when I’ve done a parody, I see no reason to make it much longer than the original movie would be… at two and a half hours, you lose your welcome. And I like to get to the restaurant before it closes.” Not long after “Lily Dare” closes, Busch returns to the road. “Like most careers, there are changes and chapters,” he said of his cabaret act. “They happen before you know you are doing it.” With longtime accompanist and “marvelous arranger” Tom Judson at the piano, “It’s almost like a two-person show,” Busch noted, “because he sings duets with me… and it’s been so fun. My god, we’ve been to at least 27 different cities and four different countries.” Over the past six years, Busch has refi ned his approach. “In a creative situation, the question you should ask yourself is, ‘What do I have to offer?’ I think that’s a little healthier than, ‘God, I can’t do this.’ So when I fi rst stated doing cabaret, I said, ‘I’m a playwright and a storyteller. I’ll go about it that way. It doesn’t matter if my singing is a little sketchy. I’ll choose songs I can really act and do a lot of anecdotes in between.’ ” But as Judson’s arrangements became “more complex and demanding,” Busch recalled, he made “the move, about a

year ago, to take some singing lessons, which really helped a lot. And now I’m really singing… It sounds rather obvious, and yet, it was challenging for me.” As an interpreter of song prone to favor playwriting mode, he conceded, the lyrics “have always been more important to me than the melody. But to use the melody as an expressive tool, as well as the lyrics, was something I had to trust.” Be it Barcelona or South Bend, Indiana, Busch seems to encounter the same faces likely to be found in the house at Feinstein’s/54 Below, here in Manhattan. “Every audience is all New Yorkers. Wherever I’ve gone, it really seems to happen,” he said. “In Paris, I was determined to learn a French song — in French. I worked so hard on this Edith Piaf song, and it turned out there wasn’t a single French person around. They were all from Yonkers.” Busch and Judson will tour again in the summer (heads up, Sag Harbor, among other places). In the meantime, TNC audiences hoping for a tune or two will not walk away disappointed, as, after all, Lily does go through her cabaret entertainer phase. “I was searching for an old song,” he recalled, “and Tom said, ‘Well, I’ll just write you one,’ and he wrote this most perfect song, called ‘Pirate Joe’ that is just every song Marlene Dietrich ever sang.” Cast member Kendal Sparks, as Mickey, plays Judson’s “rather complicated arrangement,” while Busch, of course, sings — “which is ironic,” he noted, “because we have, in the cast, Howard McGillin and Nancy Anderson, who are two of the most accomplished musical theater performers around. Howard has played the Phantom of the Opera for more performances than anyone else, ever, and Nancy, among her many credits, recently stood by for Glenn Close in ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and went on one night, spectacularly. So it’s a little embarrassing, that they keep their mouth shut and I’m the one doing the singing.” Lest one think these high achievers are shooting daggers at their leading lady, Busch noted, “I think they’re relieved. They don’t have to worry about their voices, or getting a cold. Musical theater people are thrilled when all they have to do is act.” As for Busch, it seems as if another act is in store for his 2000 Broadway hit, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.” Bette Midler and Sharon Stone are currently attached to the long-awaited screen adaptation, and the playwright is optimistic. “At the moment,” Busch said, “it’s looking very good. We have a wonderful director [Andy Fickman]. But I can’t tell you when the cameras are going to start cranking.” Circling back to his upcoming cabaret work, Busch said that although “a lot of people think of me as a drag performer,” he’s “recently stopped being in drag during in my act, because it seemed like the more I was unveiled, the better it is.” “The Confession of Lily Dare” is presented through April 29; Tues. at 7pm, Wed.–Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 3pm; Sat., April 7 at 3pm. In the Johnson Theater at Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., btw. E. Ninth & 10th Sts.). For tickets ($25 general admission), call SmartTix at 212-8684444 or visit smarttix.com. To be placed on the waiting list for sold-out performances, call TNC at 212-254-1109. Venue info at theaterforthenewcity. net and artist info at charlesbusch.com. NYC Community Media


A Birthday Fit for a Princess — At a Pauper’s Price From cupcakes to caffeine, claim your complimentary bounty BY CHARLES BATTERSBY I strut through Union Square in my $750 cocktail dress, and take a sip from my $10 coffee, careful not to smudge my professionally applied lipstick. A gentleman hands me a free cupcake as I walk by. Other people give me food, cosmetics, and beverages because... I’m special! Am I a movie star? A princess? A social media influencer with a million followers? No, I’m special because I’m The Birthday Girl — and today, I’m living the sweet life for free. All it takes is some comfortable shoes, knowledge of New York’s neighborhoods, and an email address I was willing to hand over to data miners. Stores, restaurants, and small businesses offer free stuff to people celebrating their birthday, usually with some strings attached. I spent my special day trying to turn the tables on them, and collect as much birthday loot as possible while avoiding the cunning stratagems from online marketers. I started with Rent the Runway, whose flagship location is right off Union Square (30 W. 15th St.; renttherunway.com). This company will give you a $30 credit toward a rental dress for your birthday — but you must sign up for the $30 a year “Pro” subscription. The subscription provides free shipping and insurance on orders, and is balanced out with the $30 credit. I used it for a couture Badgley Mischka cocktail dress and spent the entire day wearing $750 worth of “free” sequins. First on the birthday To Do list was grooming. Benefit Cosmetics (benefitboutiques.com) has several “Brows A-Go-Go” salons in New York, including one in Chelsea (177 Seventh Ave.). At any time during the week of your birthday, you can get a free brow waxing (but tipping is polite). Next was the 119 Fifth Ave. location of Sephora (sephora.com), where I had my choice of several free cosmetics items. This required registering for their free “Beauty Insider” account, but no purchase was necessary. While there, I took advantage of their free minimakeovers to have the makeup around my eyebrows touched up. Nearby, on Sixth Ave., between W. 14th and 15th Sts., a Pinkberry yogurt is on the same block as a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop. Both forced me to jump through online hoops before getting my free frozen treats. Baskin Robbins required me to register at baskinrobbins.com, and to bring a printed copy NYC Community Media

There’s no such thing as “overdressed for Chipotle.”

Photos by Lizzie Pepper

Suffer for beauty with a free waxing at Brows A-Go-Go.

of the coupon. Pinkberry also required me to register an account online at pinkberry.com, and to download their app onto my phone. Sugared up, but in need of caffeine, I turned to Starbucks. They give you a free cup of coffee on your birthday, but you have to sign up for their “Gold Star” program at starbucks.com, and actually buy something from a Starbucks before your birthday rolls around. At the Union Square Starbucks (they have locations at 10 Union Sq. E. and 25 Union Sq. West), my barista was quite happy to help me concoct a wildly extravagant cappuccino monstrosity for free. Union Square is ground zero for gaining birthday loot. There’s a Sephora, NYX, Fresh Cosmetics, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera Bread, Chipotle, and Au Bon Pain in a convenient ring around the park — all of

which have freebies for people who join their online rewards program. I made the circuit in less than an hour. A pleasant surprise was the Union Square Chipotle (117 E. 14th St.). I wandered in, flashed my “Birthday Princess” sash and was promptly given a complimentary meal for me and my guest. No need to visit chipotle.com or even give them my email. Another hotspot of freebies is Penn Station. Hooters, at 115 W. 33rd St., will give you a free plate of chicken wings if you register for their “eClub” online at originalhooters.com. You can’t get the wings to go, but that’s okay because the Hooters girls will gather round your table and sing you a birthday song. On the same block as Hooters is another Sephora, a Sbarro pizza (free slice with purchase of beverage), and, right next to the Penn Station entrance on Seventh

A cab is your birthday chariot, from a hot yoga class to the frozen yogurt shop.

Ave., a tiny Sprinkles Cupcakes kiosk. Register online at sprinkles.com, and they’ll give you a cupcake to go. In the East Village, the International House of Pancakes (235-237 E. 14th St.) serves up a free stack of pancakes on your birthday, as well as a free stack just for signing up for a Pancake Revolution account (at ihop. com). Edible Arrangements (ediblearrangements.com) will give you a box of goodies, but there’s a catch: You need to spend $29 on their products before your birthday rolls around. The store manager at their 100 St. Marks Place location took pity on me and let me have a few chocolate-covered strawberries, anyway. After eating all these free meals, I needed to burn off some calories. In BIRTHDAY continued on p. 20 April 5, 2018

19


Mini-makeovers at Sephora are complimentary year round. BIRTHDAY continued from p. 19

Photos by Lizzie Pepper

Hot wings are free at Hooters, but cocktails are extra.

Three coffee shops in Union Square provided free coffee.

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the West Village, right across the street from the LGBT Center is the Integral Yoga Institute NYC (227 W. 13th St.; iyiny.org). On your birthday, you and a pal can take a free class. Uptown and in Williamsburg is CorePower Yoga (corepoweryoga.com), which gives you a week of classes for registering on their site, plus an additional free class for your birthday. Birthday girls who want to earn their birthday spanking can get a free class at the 520 Eighth Ave. location of StripXpertease, which has exotic dance fitness, and even naughtier classes (stripxpertease.com). Many of these companies were on the level and tossed me a gift, no strings attached — but most of the “free” offers came with a catch. Some required me to fork over my email address. Others demanded I buy something before getting the freebie. We spoke with Gabe Carey, Junior Analyst at PCMag (pcmag.com), about whether these offers are worth the potential consequences. “The moment you hand over your personal information to a company, you’re putting yourself at risk of identity theft,” Carey said. “Chain retailers, like Best Buy and like Starbucks, will tell you they won’t pawn your data to third parties, and unless there’s a massive loophole in their user agreement, they’re probably telling the truth. What they fail to disclose to you upfront, because they aren’t legally obli-

Our Birthday Girl had trouble carrying all of her loot.

gated to, is that data breaches — such as the infamous Equifax one that took place in the middle of last year — can put you at risk of your personal information going viral. As 4,000 cyber attacks happen every day, you have to ask yourself if that danger is worth the occasionally discounted Frappuccino.” My royal birthday provided me with a couple hundred dollars of goods and services, but it also provided market researchers with information on my dining habits, makeup choices, exercise routines, and fashion sense. It was worth it for my special day — but according to Carey, “After that initial transaction takes place, you are no longer the customer. Instead, you’ve become the product.” NYC Community Media


GROUPS SUE continued from p. 9

now saying it would move the bike lane from the south side to the north side of 13th St. — but now people on that side of the street are upset about it. Edith Prentiss, a member of Disabled in Action, rolled up to the podium in her wheelchair to give her remarks. She said the L train serves an area with a number of facilities serving the disabled and that the area has a high density of disabled individuals, such as residents at Penn South and other large developments. “Look at Canal Street,” she said. “Try getting across Canal St. in a wheelchair — forget it. If you’re going to close the subway for [15] months, I think that’s enough time to put in elevators.” In Manhattan, the L line currently has elevators at Eighth Ave. and Union Square, and is now getting ones installed at First Ave., but doesn’t have elevators at Sixth and Third Aves., and the current shutdown plan does not include adding them there. “This would be an excellent opportunity for the MTA/NYC Transit to actually look at deficiencies in the system,” Prentiss said, “instead of trying to just patch the bleeding wound.” In addition, state Senator Brad Hoylman has said, if anything, electric buses, not diesel, should be used in any mitigation plan, while some local environmental advocates say ultra-lowpollution, renewable natural gas buses, though more expensive, would be even better. The city is purchasing 200 diesel buses to deal with the expected L shutdown. Schwartz and Pesin added that they expect the Grand St. Democrats political club to join the lawsuit since Lower East Siders are concerned about the increase in bus traffic and pollution due to the mitigation plan. Schwartz said that the MTA and DOT could start right now and easily do an EIS in plenty of time and still be able to begin the L Canarsie Tunnel repairs in April 2019. However, he said, an evenbetter option would be for the tunnel repairs to be done only at nights and on weekends, which would lead to far less disruption. Schwartz stressed that the MTA has made it clear that the repair of the Canarsie Tunnel is not an emergency situation and that the tunnel’s structural integrity is not at risk — so there is no pressing need to do the job as quickly as possible. “I don’t know why they have to opt for the most severe option,” he said. NYC Community Media

Answering his own question, Schwartz said he believes the L shutdown scenario and related mitigation measures are being driven by “zealots” who want to use it as a form of congestion pricing — basically, by making it harder for drivers to get around the area. “These people have a vision,” he said. “There are some zealots in the New York City Department of Transportation. But they can’t get congestion pricing. They can’t limit the number of for-hire vehicles.” But Schwartz said the DOT is wrong to think that making it harder to drive in Downtown Manhattan will lead to cars simply vanishing from the streets. “That theory has no basis in New York City,” he said, “because most of the cars on our streets now are for-hire cars and trucks. These people get paid to sit in traffic.” Stanley Bulbach, from W. 15th St., said the plan to widen the sidewalks on 14th St. is actually just a gift to landlords and developers, “so they can put seats out” for cafes. “This has nothing to do with the subway,” he declared. Schwartz said the sidewalk widening obviously would be a permanent change, though DOT is declining to say so. “It’s not temporary. They have no plan to ever, ever go back,” he stated. He and Bulbach also both said that an increase in traffic would impact the infrastructure of the side streets they live on — Bulbach referring to a problematic asbestos-covered steam pipe and a gas main underneath 15th St. “The building I live in was built in 1840,” Schwartz said of his W. 12th St. home. “It wasn’t built to withstand that traffic going by 24 a day. The street has a cast-iron water main.” In response to the lawsuit, a DOT spokesperson said, in a statement: “The crisis stemming from next year’s closing of the L train tunnel is not just an issue for north Brooklyn and Greenwich Village. This unprecedented challenge will be felt citywide, requiring hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to think about their commutes and their streets differently. DOT and MTA will continue to work with stakeholders over the next year to improve the plan. This follows extensive community outreach since the closure was announced.” DOT officials have previously stated they do not feel an EIS is needed for the project because it complies with all environmental requirements.

Our Perspective

Equality at Last for Airport Food Service Workers By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW ens of thousands of workers at New York City’s airports have a reason to rejoice this Spring – they just secured the highest targeted minimum wage in the country. After intense organizing by a coalition representing members from RWDSU, UNITE HERE Local 100, and RWDSU Local 1102, the Port Authority passed a resolution to steadily increase workers’ base wages to $19 an hour by 2023. For these workers – many of whom had been earning the minimum wage – this will represent a dramatic improvement in their jobs and their lives. The proposal is set to be enacted at the June 28th board meeting after a 60-day public comment period. Workers would start to see wage increases towards the end of summer 2018. Four years ago, the Port Authority raised wages for security officers and baggage handlers at the airports in New York due to successful efforts by SEIU local 32BJ. However, the Port Authority excluded thousands of workers represented by RWDSU Local 1102 and UNITE HERE Local 100, creating a wage gap in the workforce. The Port Authority’s action remedies this oversight for over 40,000 workers. Most importantly, it recognizes that over 7,600 RWDSU and UNITE HERE members who work in airline catering, and airport concessions and kiosks have a right to fair pay for a fair day’s work. The action by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – and the leadership of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy – are to be commended. Service workers at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty, are key to the success and security of our region’s airports. Raising wages has the potential to positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of workers at these facilities. Raising the wage floor shows these workers that they are valued by the people of New York and New Jersey and will allow hard working men and women to finally support themselves and their families with their airport job. And, this action sets an example for all food service employers throughout New York and New Jersey. “Airline catering workers at Newark Liberty International Airport earn as low as $9.75 an hour and at LaGuardia and JFK $13.00 an hour. We work hard and should be making what all other airport workers make. That is what equality and fairness is all about,” said Shirley Drennon a RWDSU Local 1102 member and station attendant at Flying Foods at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Employers can afford to treat their workers decently, pay them a fair wage, and act as responsible members of their communities. It’s no excuse to pay workers the bare minimum simply because they work in the food service industry. And, when workers join unions, and support each other, they can demand and win the dignity and respect on the job that they deserve.

T

www.rwdsu.org April 5, 2018

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Chelsea Now - April 5, 2018  

April 5, 2018

Chelsea Now - April 5, 2018  

April 5, 2018

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