Page 1

10th Ave. Bike Lane Peddled 02

Lesbians Locked in ‘Qualifying’ Round 06

A Passover Home for Elders 10


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

On Central Park West, Saying No to Guns BY TEQUILA MINSKY They couldn’t get to the epic march in Washington on Mar. 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 Feb. 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 the weapons. In Manhattan, the corridor of Central Park West from 62nd St. north past 86th St. filled 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. 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 NO GUNS continued on p. 4

April 5 - 18, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 7

Photo by Sydney Pereira

The M101 bus, which travels down Lexington Ave. and up Third Ave., has an average workday speed of under 5 miles per hour. The M31 and M57 don’t even hit 4 miles per hour.

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A coalition of public transit groups has called out buses in a scathing. report card-style fashion. The Bus Turnaround Coalition included three lines serving Midtown and the East Side — the M101, M57, and M31 — on a list of nominees for major upgrades late last year, including technological upgrades ranging from bus lanes to queue-jumps. Solving the city’s plummeting bus ridership through improving speed and reliability is critical, according to the coalition. The issue — historically overlooked compared to subway performance — requires cooperation from both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city’s Department of Transportation. “We have bus riders from all over the city who are experiencing really slow commutes,” said Stephanie Burgos-Veras, senior organizer at the Riders Alliance, one of the four groups in the coalition. “This is a way to pressure the city.” Dedicated bus lanes, she said, would be a tangible first step the DOT could take, that city agency — and not the MTA — having authority over designating such lanes. In a rejoinder to the report, the DOT noted that the three Manhattan bus lines already have dedi-

cated lanes in large swaths of their routes, including along 57th St., Lexington Ave., and Third Ave. Burgos-Veras said the coalition’s agenda is about more than just painting the roads, but also about improving enforcement where bus lanes already exist. Parked cars and drivers dropping off passengers can block the lanes, causing the buses to crawl through the city, sometimes at speeds hardly faster than a person walking. The data driven-approach used by the coalition identified the three Manhattan routes after considering existing street designs, how high the ridership was, and the difference in speeds between off-peak and peak hours. All three lines received an “F,” joining some 80 other routes across the city. The M101 crawled at 4.9 miles per hour (a typical walking speed is 3.1 miles per hour, by comparison) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when measured from May through October of last year. The M31 and M57 moved at 3.7 and 3.8 miles per hour, respectively. For comparison, London and Boston buses cruise at more than 10 miles per hour, according to the coalition. BUS ADVOCATES continued on p. 4


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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NO GUNS continued from p. 1

BUS ADVOCATES continued from p. 1

fall’s Las Vegas massacre; a librarian who saved students during the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook; Nza-Ari Khepra, a student activist and cofounder 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 SAVE 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 St. 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 Ave., 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-

“Slow speeds are one of the reasons that bus ridership is plummeting,” said Tabitha Decker, the deputy executive director of the TransitCenter, which researches transit systems across the country. One in six buses on the M101 were bunched, which is another metric the coalition used, indicating that buses were arriving at stops too close to one another, leaving some riders waiting longer than they should. On the M31 and M57, one in 11 and one in 14 buses buses were bunched, respectively. All three routes were on-time less than 60 percent of the time. Ridership dropped between 19 and 26 percent on the routes since 2010. For Ted Moy, a Midtown resident who works in finance, his biggest annoyance is the accuracy of the countdown clocks at the bus stops. On a Monday around 5:30 p.m., the M31 time estimate was inaccurate and the M57 wasn’t showing an estimate at all. “What’s the point of having it?” Moy asked, as his seven-year-old son trailed behind him while waiting for the bus. “It seems to be a pattern.” He added, “I feel like I’m waiting longer than I’m supposed to be.” Another bus rider shrugged when asked about the M57 and M31. “It’s just a lot of traffic in Midtown Manhattan,” Maureen McGean said. She added that the two bus lines are no worse than others. The coalition formed back in 2016, with the Riders Alliance, Straphangers Campaign, TransitCenter, and the TriState Transportation Campaign collaborating to bring data wonks together with grassroots groups. Their recommendations also include adding bus bulbs and boarding islands as well as queue-jumps and optimizing traffic signals, three additional approaches aimed at improving reliability and timeliness. Bus bulbs and boarding islands are infrastructure changes that expand the boarding area into the street to eliminate the need for buses to merge in and out of traffic, which slows them down, and to add waiting space for passengers. Queuejumps are smaller bus lanes near intersec-

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Many signs emphasized the importance of voting this coming Nov. 6.

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 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 and selling 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.

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

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EDITOR IN-CHIEF Paul Schindler editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

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

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tions that help buses reach the front of a line of traffic. Optimizing traffic signals involves employing “signal priority,” in which a green traffic light can sense an oncoming bus and stays green a little longer than it would for a car. Buses spend an average of 21 percent of the time at traffic lights, so this technology would improve timeliness. The DOT, with oversight of roads, sidewalks, and traffic signals, has in recent years implemented some of these technologies. Transit signal priority has been implemented on five bus lines, and the DOT announced last July that the travel times on those routes dropped by nearly one-fifth. Some select bus service routes have implemented bus bulbs and queue-jumps, as well. “DOT recognizes that each route operates on very congested streets resulting in speed and reliability challenges,” a DOT spokesperson said by email. “We are open to studying design and curb modification to better enforce bus lanes on these routes.” Those design changes, the department added, would have to incorporate community input about local transportation priorities. All-door boarding on buses, which falls under the purview of the MTA, is another recommendation that could shave off a significant amount of time at bus stops. Some SBS routes already have this in place, as well. “Getting our buses moving again is absolutely essential,” MTA New York City Transit president Andy Byford said in an email. “Working with our partners at the city to unclog the streets and improve bus lanes, we are committed to delivering for our riders. In fact, I explicitly made buses one of my four equal priorities on my first day in office.” Byford, who was appointed as president of the city’s public transit system in January, is expected to release a bus action plan sometime this spring, according to the MTA. Burgos-Veras voiced optimism about the upcoming plan. “We’re pretty confident that they have been hearing us,” she said, referring to both the MTA and DOT. “We have high hopes that the things that we’ve been calling for are included.”

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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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April 5, 2018


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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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

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April 5, 2018


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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Alex Kurland’s rich and melodic voice lent beauty to the proceedings.

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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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


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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.


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


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


April 5, 2018


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


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


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


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.


April 5, 2018

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

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TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell


April 5, 2018

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

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

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

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

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

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

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

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Manhattan Express - April 5, 2018  

April 5, 2018

Manhattan Express - April 5, 2018  

April 5, 2018