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

THEIR GOOD IDEA WILL GROW ON YOU Inner City Farmer and Midtown South Community Council Seek to Sprout More Rooftop Gardens

Courtesy of Inner City Farmer

A flower on the roof of 205 W. 39th St., as part of Inner City Farmer’s garden. Efforts are underway to create more rooftop gardens in our area, in order to provide nutritious food as well as job opportunities. See page 3. © CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 16 | APRIL 19 – 25, 2018


Hudson River Park Trust Plans Renovation of Pier 97 BY WINNIE McCROY On April 12, nearly 50 community members gathered at the Hotel Trades Council building in Midtown for a meeting of the Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee (WPE) of Community Board 4 (CB4), to share their “wish list” of items for the renovation of Pier 97. On hand to discuss the project was Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) President & CEO Madelyn Wils, and Senior Vice President of Design & Construction, Kevin Quinn. “We have $50 million each from the governor and the City for the Hudson River Park to develop the north end, Pier 97 at 57th Street, which is currently a big concrete slab,” Wils said. “We are here to figure out how to use our money.” HRPT plans on spending $24M on renovating the pier for active recreation, with another $6M dedicated to programming on the “upland” portion of the piers (the apron of land in front of the piers), as well as installing necessary restrooms/ maintenance building. After they determine the types of programming the community wants, negotiate the projects that will fit into the space and tabulate their economic feasibility, HRPT will have landscape architects, a design team, and several other architects

Photo by Winnie McCroy

L to R: Hudson River Park Trust Senior Vice President of Design & Construction Kevin Quinn and President & CEO Madelyn Wils discussed ideas for Pier 97 at the April 12 meeting of CB4’s Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee.

create renderings of the Pier 97 project to share with the community. They hope to be able to return to the board of CB4 in the early fall with this presentation, and work with them to define the project. To keep to budget and time constraints, they will try to avoid any projects that involve the water, with the possible exception of the recent request for proposal (RFP) they released to attract a water taxi ven-

dor to nearby Pier 84. “This is the beginning of the process and we have no designs created yet,” Quinn said. “We are here to hear your ideas, so we can put out our RFP. This is the very beginning of the process.” During the meeting, HRPT showed slides of plans created 13 years ago by architect Richard Dattner & Partners — but they noted that these plans are prob-

ably no longer relevant to a community that has grown over the past decade. After being used until 2011 as a garbage truck parking lot for the Department of Sanitation, Pier 97 was rebuilt in 2013, and now stands at 79,620 square feet (663.5 ft. long x 120 ft. wide), with a 6,433 square feet “upland” area. “We’re going to start over,” Wils declared. “It’s up to the designer to add his own flair on how to pull it all together,” she noted, “but we’re asking you what programming you want.” While the Historic Vessels project will remain, as they’ve already retrofitted the pier to accommodate the ships, the rest of the space is up for discussion. And the community had some ideas. Many ideas were discussed for the future of Pier 97, among them a skate park, a playground, basketball courts, lawn space, water features, a sculpture garden, a dog park, snack bars, and even mini-golf. Envious of Tribeca’s beach volleyball courts, WPE member Jeffrey LeFrancois suggested they build some of these Uptown. Safety was a big issue, with community members urging HRPT to be sure PIER PLANS continued on p. 14

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NYC Community Media


Seeds Planted for Rooftop Gardens to Feed Midtown Needs

Courtesy of Inner City Farmer

Much of the produce Inner City Farmer grows is donated to a women’s shelter and a church’s food pantry in Hell’s Kitchen.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Can a freshly grown tomato help with homelessness? Ask John Mudd and Andrea Winter, and the answer is a resounding “Yes.” Winter, of Inner City Farmer and Mudd, of the Midtown South Community Council (MSCC), have partnered to help spread rooftop gardens in and around Midtown. Now entering its third season, Inner City Farmer grows thyme, tomatillos, and, yes, tomatoes on the roof of 205 W. 39th St. Much of the produce — including collard greens, kale, carrots and all kinds of lettuces — is donated to the Dwelling Place, a homeless women’s shelter at 409 W. 40th St., and across the street to the food pantry at Metro Baptist Church, Winter told this publication in a phone interview. Winter recounted a story about giv-

ing tomatoes to a group of guys who are regularly at the corner of W. 39th St. and Ninth Ave. She said she often stops to chat with them, and on this occasion, they ate tomatoes while she explained where, and how, they were grown. “We [were] connecting,” Winter said, noting that is part of Inner City Farmer’s mission. Her son, who started the initiative, wanted to get fresh, quality produce in the hands of people who might not be able to afford it, she explained. Indeed, Mudd, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident who is president of the Midtown South Community Council, said, “It’s starting to build a foundation for a community.” The council has been working on the complicated problem that is homelessness GARDENS continued on p. 16

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Back to Work We Go — But First, Some Back-Patting! BY SCOTT STIFFLER From subways to congestion pricing to taking control of development around the Penn Station area, your hard-working friends here at Chelsea Now rightly (and righteously) chafe at being told what to do by a certain guy in Albany — but we fold like a load of dryer-hot laundry when folks in the New York State Capitol tell us we’ve won an award. That was the pleasant scenario last weekend, when the New York Press Association (NYPA) held its annual convention, the highlight being a series of ceremonies announcing the winners of the 2017 Better Newspaper Contest. Chelsea Now and its NYC Community Media sister publications (Gay City News, The Villager, Downtown Express) were recognized for excellence, as were publications from our sister company, Community News Group (the companies are owned, respectively, by Jennifer and Les Goodstein). Newspapers throughout the state competed, with the same awards given in several divisions. Keep that in mind as we go through the list, because we’re not going to bore you with the specifics of what comprises a division (long story short, they’re broken down according to circulation size). So, without further delay, on to the shameless back-patting promised by this article’s headline. Headlines, you say? Chelsea Now Editor Scott Stiffler was given (he’s far too modest to say “earned”) the third place award for Headline Writing. “Smart headlines through and through,” said the judge, of the five news and arts headlines submitted. “Subheadlines explained the pithy headline,” the judge also observed. Two examples of that: “Paradise Lost: Garden of Eden Cast Out of Chelsea by Changing Times” referenced Dusica Sue Malesevic’s article about the closing of a longtime market on W. 23rd St. For Winnie McCroy’s article chronicling tenants dealing with the lack of a crucial utility, Stiffler penned the headline, “Chilly Scenes of a Hot Plate Thanksgiving: Tenants Talk Turkey About Living in Buildings Without Cooking Gas.” Our CNG sister publication, The Brooklyn Paper, earned the fi rst place honor in this very same category. Editor-inChief Vince DiMiceli, Deputy Editor Anthony Rotunno, and Art Director Leah Mitch shared the honor, with

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April 19, 2018

Design by John Napoli

Strong visuals and a forceful headline from our issue marking the one-year anniversary of the Chelsea bombing contributed to its win in the Special Sections and Best Front Page categories.

the judge calling their work “punchy, descriptive, on-point.” Adding to the prestige: Headline Writing is a statewide award, not broken down into divisions. Three Chelsea Now freelance contributors picked up their very fi rst NYPA win. Photographer Christian Miles was awarded second place in the Picture Story category, for his Fleet Week images taken in Times Square and the area around the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. “Nice variety and great topic,” wrote the judge. Longtime Chelsea Hotel resident Gerald Busby was part of the fiveperson team who contributed to this newspaper’s second place win in the Coverage of the Arts category, for his piece written in advance of a Film Society of Lincoln Center screening of Robert Altman’s “3 Women” (Busby composed the music). Also sharing in that win: Sean Egan, for his profi le of Matt Butler, a Chelsea resident whose solo debut album, “Reckless Son,” was informed by his addiction

and recovery. “It’s nice to read about an artist overcoming adversity to succeed,” said the judge. Also sharing in the win: Stiffler, for an entry in his “Just Do Art” column, which features local arts events; Rania Richardson, for her profi le of YouTube Space (a production facility located in Chelsea Market); and Stephanie Buhmann, for her look at the Whitney Biennial. Buhmann was also honored when Downtown Express took home the fi rst place award for Coverage of the Arts (for her critique of an exhibit at the 56 Henry gallery). Others who contributed to that win were Trav S.D. (writing about the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene), arts section editor Stiffler (for another Just Do Art column), Charles Battersby (for a preview of virtual reality offerings at the Tribeca Film Festival), and Puma Perl (profi ling a tattoo exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum). Of Perl’s article, the judge wrote, “Loved the story on tattoos, especially compelling.”

Max Burbank, who has been our political satirist since the 2016 presidential primaries, holds nothing back in his decidedly unfavorable view of the man we currently must refer to as President Donald J. Trump. But his barbs are not limited to mere words. Burbank’s columns also feature his hand-drawn illustrations, which often serve as their own form of stand-alone commentary. For this, he earned fi rst place, Editorial Cartooning — for the December 2017 column, “Happy Holidays From the Moral High Ground,” in which he depicted two Republican presidents as characters from a beloved Dickens classic. “I felt the use of Donald Trump and Richard Nixon as Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley was very appropriate for this point in time,” wrote the judge. In the same category, The Brooklyn Paper took second place, and The Villager was awarded third place. Bonus fact for our conspiracy-minded readers: Trump was a visual reference in each of the three winning cartoons. We swear it wasn’t a coordinated effort! Chelsea Now’s coverage marking the one-year anniversary of September 17, 2016’s bombing of W. 23rd St., and attempted bombing of W. 27th St., was recognized for its “strong content and photos,” which were used to “tell the story. Beginning, middle and end were well thought out,” wrote the judge, who gave this coverage fi rst place in the category of Special Sections/ Niche Publications. The 12-page section featured a timeline review of the bombing and its aftermath (compiled by Stiffler and drawing upon three week’s worth of coverage in 2016, that part of the section featured photos by, among others, Daniel Kwak, Zach Williams, and Tequila Minsky). Elsewhere in the section, Dusica Sue Malesevic wrote about the work of fi rst responders from the NYPD, FIT, and Penn South on the night of the bombing; Sean Egan compiled a timeline about the search, capture, and charges against the bombing suspect; Eileen Stukane revisited the small businesses she fi rst wrote about in 2016 that were impacted by the closure of W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves.; and then-Councilmember (now Speaker) Corey Johnson (who was in the area when the explosion happened) recalled his interactions that night with area residents, law enforcement, the FDNY, and, through a series NYPA continued on p. 25 NYC Community Media


Nine Revolting Rebekah Mercers — In One Museum! BY SYDNEY PEREIRA The Revolting Lesbians were back on the steps of the American Museum of Natural History on Friday, and they weren’t afraid to get kicked out or even have the cops called on them. In fact, that was partially their goal. The Friday the 13th “horror show” was a demonstration against Rebekah Mercer — a museum trustee who has donated to various climate change denial groups, owns half of the website Breitbart, and is a board member of the data firm Cambridge Analytica. “It’s outrageous,” said Amanda Lugg, a member of the Revolting Lesbians, which formed last November to follow the money of right-wing organizations. “This institution is basically giving her a legitimacy and a cover and an aura of respectability that she doesn’t deserve.” Nine protesters wearing floor-length black robes with masks of Rebekah Mercer solemnly marched through the museum late in the afternoon Friday. They began their march in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals near the elephants. The group — which had some dozen security officers monitoring the procession — marched in a single file line, humming and chanting: “Why am I a trustee here?” and “I do not belong at the American Natural History Museum.” After exiting, they stood on the steps facing Central Park West, continuing to chant: “Rebekah Mercer is killing our planet, get her off the board goddammit!” “They wanted us out as quickly as possible,” said Lugg, who was not wearing a robe, but explained to the security guards why the protesters were marching. “We wanted out just as slow as possible.” A nearby security guard murmured into a walkie-talkie, telling a colleague that the group was chanting and humming softly in the hallway. Another one told Lugg that they would have to call the police if they didn’t leave. She responded, “Well, that’s kind of what we want.” That revelation, Lugg added, “kind of stumped him.” The group’s demand is that the museum remove Mercer from the board of trustees. But the demonstrators’ second goal is much broader than that. Many people do not know who Mercer is or that she serves as a trustee of the museum. “We’re trying to be creative and think of any way that’s different to reach different people,” said Anne Maguire, another protester among the Revolting Lesbians. NYC Community Media

Photos by Donna Aceto

Revolting Lesbians, dressed as Rebekah Mercer, passed museum visitors.

Amanda Lugg was the uncostumed spokesperson for the protesters.

The Friday the 13th horror show theme would help expose who she is, and “she is a horror,” said Maguire. Maguire and others hope the recent focus in the news cycle on the data firm Cambridge Analytica’s involvement with scraping data from tens of millions of people on Facebook will help people “connect the dots.” Mercer’s father, Robert Mercer, is a major investor of the firm, and Rebekah Mercer serves on the board. The billionaire heiress has donated more than $48 million to groups promoting climate change denial, according to the group’s review of the Mercer Family Foundation’s 990 tax forms from 2005 to 2016. She also served on President Donald Trump’s transition team alongside Steve Bannon and Kellyanne

Conway. Late last year, Mercer and her sisters acquired the stake their father sold in the Breitbart website, known for promoting alt-right content during the 2016 presidential election and since. “She’s flying under the radar,” said Jo Macellaro, another member of the Revolting Lesbians. She added that if someone with a bigger name — such as Trump or Bannon — were on the board, then “people would be furious.” When asked about Mercer’s potential influence on scientific information in the museum, a spokesperson for the museum said that is not the responsibility of trustees. “It’s not the role of Trustees or donors to make decisions about scientific and educational content,” Scott Rohan, senior publicist at the museum, said by email. “At the Museum, those decisions are made by scientists and educators based on evidence, facts, and research.”

Rohan added, “As a scientific and educational institution, the Museum believes that human-induced climate change is well-supported by scientific evidence and is one of the most serious issues currently facing our planet. We are deeply committed to presenting evidence-based, scientific information about climate change to a broad public. That has included, and continues to include, exhibitions, educational and public programs, scientific research, and content in our permanent halls, including updating content where we have new scientific information.” The Revolting Lesbians are planning their next actions on Earth Day, April 22 at the museum’s entrance. Back in January, the group protested outside the museum with the same demands, as NYC Community Media earlier reported. Their campaign to remove Mercer from the board won’t stop until she is removed as a trustee or resigns herself.

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10 Indicted for Stealing $500K Via Check Fraud, Mail Theft BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office last week indicted 10 people accused of stealing more than $500,000 from various banks through a scheme that involved check fraud and mail theft, according to court documents and a press release. “US mail dates back to 1775 but remains a vehicle for complex frauds like identity theft in 2018,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said in the Tues., April 10 press release announcing the indictment. The defendants allegedly orchestrated “an elaborate check fraud scheme that included altering checks stolen at random from the mail,” Vance said. He added, “What’s more, the defendants knowingly recruited disadvantaged New Yorkers in desperate need of cash at homeless shelters and public assistance offices in order to broaden their scheme.” From around May 2011 to October 2017, Craig Haffaney, 48, Andre Evans, 54, and James Anderson, 31, paid those they recruited to set up bank accounts and then to hand over their debit cards and personal information, according to the New York State Supreme Court indictment and the release. The three men, Nyomi Anderson, 37, and Dorrinda Bell, 63, allegedly used the bank accounts to deposit forged checks, and then withdrew money before the banks rejected the checks, according to court papers. The defendants are accused of running this scam at TD Bank, Capital One Bank, Bank of America and Citibank, according to the indictment. Court papers show a separate but related scheme allegedly involv-

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April 19, 2018

File photo by Scott Stiffler

A familiar sight on area side streets: Steep steps make it difficult to bring heavy mail carts into buildings. Unattended, they provide opportunities for theft.

ing fraudulent wire transfers at USALLIANCE Financial. “Mr. Haffaney and his ‘crew’ thought they were very clever when they stalked [United States] Postal [Service] employees and stole US mail from USPS satchel (push) carts. They were looking for checks to fund their bank fraud scam,” Philip R. Bartlett,

inspector in charge of the New York division for the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), said in the release. He added, “Let me be crystal clear, if you steal the mail you’re going to jail.” INDICTED continued on p. 15

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Bella Abzug Remembered on Bank Street BY PAUL SCHINDLER Bella Savitzky Abzug, who with her election to the US House of Representatives in 1970 from a West Side district became the embodiment of the rising political voice of America’s women, was honored in March, the 20th anniversary of her 1998 death, with a street naming at the corner of Bank Street and Greenwich Avenue in the West Village. Abzug, who was born in the Bronx in 1920 and raised there, lived at 37 Bank Street for 20 years. Abzug won election as a progressive, anti-war reformer in an upset primary victory over longtime Democratic Congressmember Leonard Farbstein. Though her district was then eliminated after Census-dictated redistricting, Abzug went on to serve two more terms in a configured West Side district. In 1976, she chose not to seek reelection, instead waging a Democratic primary fight for the US Senate, which she narrowly lost to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who went on to serve there for 24 years. In 1977, Abzug fell just short of making it into the mayoral primary run-off that pitted Mario Cuomo against the victor,

Courtesy of Liz Abzug

At the street naming ceremony last month, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Liz Abzug, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Eve Abzug hold up the sign for Bella S. Abzug Way.

her fellow House member Ed Koch, who served at City Hall for 12 years. Abzug was known for her relentless advocacy of peace, labor and civil rights, and other progressive causes — as well as striking hats with which she cut an indelible figure. She was the fi rst member of Congress to introduce

gay rights legislation, her approach being a full-scale incorporation of sexual orientation into the protections afforded by the 1964 Civil Rights Act against discrimination based on race, religion, sex, and other categories. Curiously, for many years after that, the LGBTQ community pursued a

narrower focus on winning employment protections only. It was not until 2015, with the introduction of the Equality Act, that LGBTQ advocates and their allies on Capitol Hill returned to the comprehensive vision Abzug laid out 41 years earlier. At the street-naming ceremony for Bella S. Abzug Way on March 29, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “She was a strong voice with a thick New York accent for those who needed her most, namely the poor and marginalized. Bella was truly ahead of her time, championing issues like gay and civil rights well before many of her peers. Those issues are still very much relevant today, and I am delighted that her legacy will live on forever at the corner she called home with her family, friends, and constituents‌ It is an honor well deserved for a true New York icon.â€? City Comptroller Scott Stringer said, “Bella Abzug was a role model for so many women who were blocked from entry into the corridors of power. She was a tireless, tough-as-nails trailblazer, who embodied the very best of New York. As a leader and advocate

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April 19, 2018

NYC Community Media


Courtesy of Liz Abzug

Bella Abzug, 1920-1998, was the most potent embodiment of women’s political power when she arrived in Congress in January 1971.

for peace, for labor, for civil rights and gender equality, she never hesitated to speak out.� Abzug’s two daughters, Eve and Liz Abzug, in a joint statement, said, “My sister and I are thrilled that our great

mom is fi nally getting the recognition in her beloved Village and on the street where our family joyfully lived and which was part of the district she represented as a congresswoman in the 1970s.�

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How to Hang Photos and Artwork with Ease Personal touches turn a house into a home. Hanging pictures, whether theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re personal photographs or artwork, can really change the character of a room. Unfortunately, some people may not know the proper ways to display pictures on a wall. Design maven Martha Stewart advises that the first step is to gather all of the pictures that are in consideration for hanging. This will enable a person to see what is available and edit his selection based on the space available, theme, or color scheme. Having the artwork there enables a person to move it around like a puzzle until the placement feels just right.

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Many might associate the number 57 with Heinz ketchup, but it actually refers to the ideal height at which artwork should be hung.

be hung horizontally or vertically. These templates can then be easily taped to the wall and rearranged until the grouping is ideal. There are no hard-and-fast rules concerning frames, meaning they do not all have to match. But placing framed artwork side-by-side can give a person a feel for whether the images and the frames work together in the space. Some people like to use frames of similar colors and sizes. Others want the eclectic mix-andmatch appeal. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ultimately up to the homeowner. Measuring is key to hanging a picture correctly on the wall. Take into consideration the type of attachment, whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s D-rings, sawtooth hangers, wire or other fasteners on the back. Measure from the top of the frame to the hanger. Measure the wall to achieve the 57-inch on center location, and then calculate where this falls within the height of the artwork and frame top. Adjust accord-

ingly and mark. Then measure the distance from the frame top to the hanger location on the wall. Be sure to take the weight of the picture into consideration when selecting hanging hardware. Wall anchors may be needed if measurements determine a wall stud will not help secure the artwork â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to keep the frame sturdy in the drywall. Home-improvement resource Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Homeowner also suggests attaching self-adhesive rubber bumpers to the bottom corners of the frameâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s back before hanging so that the picture will not damage the wall and to help it hang level. It can take a few attempts to hang pictures correctly, but with practice it should come with greater ease. The good news is there are new products constantly being evolved to make picture hanging easier, including those that enable removal and relocation of artwork without damaging walls. NYC Community Media


NYC Community Media

April 19, 2018

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Riders Caught Unawares by UWS Shuttering of B, C Stations BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Four Upper West Side subway stations are getting a makeover this summer â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but for some, the changes hardly seem substantial and were wholly unanticipated, and the lengthy station closures could cause a bump in train crowds along the 1, 2, and 3 lines. Four stations along the B and C lines will be entirely shut down as part of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Enhanced Station Initiativeâ&#x20AC;? renovations at the 72nd St., 86th St., 110th St., and 163rd St. stations. The Cathedral Parkway-110th St. station closed on Apr. 9, and the 163rd St.-Amsterdam Ave. station shuttered a few weeks prior. Many riders at the 72nd St. station had no clue that they are next. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I had no idea,â&#x20AC;? said William Cohen, 76, an architect who lives off the 125th St. stop. He takes the B and C trains, but luckily for him, most of his day-today activities involve express stops not affected by renovations. Upon hearing the news that the 72nd St. station would be closing come May 7, he said itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;disconcertingâ&#x20AC;? the stations will be shut down for so much time without notice. Though the MTA announced the closures last year, many riders did not

Courtesy of Councilmember Mark Levineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Offi ce

Councilmember Mark Levine, with Assemblymember Daniel Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donnell to the left in the picture, at an Apr. 9 demonstration outside the shuttered Cathedral Parkway110th St. station, protesting the lack of any disability access improvements during the B and C line renovations.

know their stations would be closing â&#x20AC;&#x201D; often citing unclear signage in the stations. The 72nd St. station will close May 7, and the 86th St. station will close Jun. 4. Both are expected to re-open in October. The stations at 110th and 163rd will be closed until September. The four stations are getting major upgrades during the shutdowns, includ-

ing more countdown clocks, Wi-Fi, USB ports, and better lighting. Despite the lengthy disruptions, the renovations will not include elevator installations at any stations, but accessibility for people with visual disabilities will be improved with the application of yellow tactile strips at the edge of the platform. The lengthy station closures are a part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authorityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

so-called â&#x20AC;&#x153;top to bottom approach,â&#x20AC;? renovating stations quicker over a fullshutdown period, rather than stretching work out over nights and weekends. But nearly one year after the renovations were first announced, critics of the plan are saying that the renovations arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough. Upper West Side City Councilmember Mark Levine recently launched a petition (at marklevine.nyc/bc_shutdown_ petition) calling on the MTA to provide monthly status updates on the renovations to community boards, add temporary shuttle buses along the affected subway routes, increase bus service along the M10 Central Park West route, and develop a strategy for reaching full rider accessibility at the stations. The petition has received hundreds of signatures, and the day the 110th St. station was closed he rallied alongside transit and disability advocates, State Senator Brian Benjamin, and Assemblymember Daniel Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Donnell. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Full station renovation, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re lucky, happens once a generation,â&#x20AC;? Levine said. The six or so month shutdowns will improve the stations, no doubt, but Levine questioned why they would last

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NYC Community Media


that many months with no elevator installations. He added that there are entrances into these stations that have long been sealed, and there is no clear plan as to whether those entrances will be re-opened after the renovation. “It’s another missed opportunity to re-open those entrances,” he said. “We’re really dismayed that the renovation plan does nothing to improve service or accessibility.” Much of the renovations, he said, focus on station aesthetics. The MTA is expected to increase M10 bus service to make up for the B/ C line curtailment, but the agency did not respond to Manhattan Express’ request for clarity on how much the service would be increased. The Transportation Committee of Community Board 7 is also requesting shuttle service between shuttered stations and that the MTA monitor the 1, 2, and 3 lines regarding the potential need for increased service. One rider, Meg Lupardo, 70, who lives off the 72nd St. station, mostly takes the C train. Lupardo, who works as a patient actor for medical school students, has assignments at various locations along the B and C lines. She said she’ll likely end up walking the extra few blocks over to the 1, 2, and 3 lines, though she expects those trains to be packed. “If it’s too crowded, I won’t be able to get the train,” she said, but added, “We’re lucky we have the 1, 2, 3.” Most CB 7 members support the renovations because of the expected improvements they will bring, according to Andrew Albert, the co-chair of the board’s Transportation Committee. Albert said the committee was able to secure agreement from the MTA to make three-legged transfer cards available, so riders can request a free pass if

Photos by Sydney Pereira

The 72nd St. B & C station on Central Park West, which will close for at least five months for renovations, beginning on May 9.

they have to transfer twice as a result of the renovations. “Of course, we wish every station would be accessible,” Albert said. But he added that “this is not the end of the line for accessibility if it doesn’t go in now.” Edith Prentiss, the president of Disabled in Action, isn’t so sure about that. Prentiss, who rallied alongside Levine on Apr. 9, recognizes the difficulties of installing elevators at every station from an architectural and space standpoint. But the lack of any elevator installation plans whatsoever is unsettling, considering how few and far between renovations occur. She warned it could be another 50 to 75 years before the MTA gets back around to these Upper West Side stops. By not building any elevators this time, “you’re really condemning generations to this lack of accessibility,” Prentiss said.

A sign in the 72nd St. station warns riders that the 110th St. station is closed, but makes no mention that service will be curtailed for months at this station beginning in May. NYC Community Media

April 19, 2018

13


PIER PLANS continued from p. 2

the bike lanes could accommodate the increased traffic. Wils said while they will rebuild the esplanade, the state Department of Transportation was responsible for expanding the bike path. She also hoped Con Edison could be persuaded to relocate some of their equipment further west, to allow for safe expansion. Bernadette Consigliere, of W. 54th St., said she would like to see a West Side Highway crossover bridge created for the safety of the many children who would likely use the new parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amenities. Wils and Quinn helped the community visualize possibilities by pointing out successful programming on similar piers. They pointed to Pier 25, which Wils called, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the most densely-used pier we have,â&#x20AC;? and showed how the urban skate park there was valuable, as it reduced the wear and tear from street skaters on the rest of the park. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Certain uses get repeated just because they are so popular,â&#x20AC;? Wils noted â&#x20AC;&#x201D; among them, playgrounds and ball courts. Quinn assured that these items were high on the list for Pier 97, and agreed with WPE member Brett Firfer that breezes coming off the water impacted play on mid-pier basketball courts, saying this amenity might be better suited to the â&#x20AC;&#x153;uplandâ&#x20AC;? area. And although they want Pier 97 to be a place for recreation, they do intend to save space at the end for small bands to play, similar to Friday Night Salsa on Pier 45, which attracts nearly 1,000 people. Designers say they are targeting Pier 97 for â&#x20AC;&#x153;activeâ&#x20AC;? recreation, rather than â&#x20AC;&#x153;passiveâ&#x20AC;? recreation like picnicking, sunbathing, or ecologically-based education, in places where neighboring piers or parks already provide

Photo by Winnie McCroy

CB4â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Waterfront, Parks & Environment Committee at their April 12 meeting.

these amenities. Nearby Clinton Cove provides lots of â&#x20AC;&#x153;passiveâ&#x20AC;? recreation spots for seniors and young families, as does Riverside Park South, right across the highway. Notwithstanding, HRPT is still intent on showing how the style of new items could be meshed into existing elements (the science playground on Pier 26, for example, features large sturgeon sculptures; and the Chelsea Waterside Playground will get a large pike fish installed next week). Wils believes that the theme of local wildlife could carry over to some elements on Pier 97. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Different activities than the norm is what we should be looking for,â&#x20AC;? LeFrancois said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The playground area is important, and we would hope they could bring some new sea creature to that.â&#x20AC;? Some ideas were rejected, including a proposed satellite site of the New York Aquarium (once located at the southern tip of Battery Park), as Wils noted that building construction must be limited to 12,000 feet. WPE Co-Chair Maarten de Kadt suggested an alternative: an

â&#x20AC;&#x153;eyeâ&#x20AC;? under the water, to allow passers-by to look in on marine life. Kathleen Treat wondered if there was room for softball Little League, but Wils informed her that while T-Ball practice space was available, the footprint of the pier was just too narrow to accommodate a full-sized ball field. And a suggested sculpture garden by David Holowka was panned, as it would take up a lot of room for â&#x20AC;&#x153;passiveâ&#x20AC;? recreation in an area intended for â&#x20AC;&#x153;activeâ&#x20AC;? community recreation. As LeFrancois put it, â&#x20AC;&#x153;a backyard park that meets the needs of our neighborhood.â&#x20AC;? Innovative ideas abounded. Marc Hirschfeld of W. 53rd St. suggested they form an ersatz sundial, using a lamppost and markings on the ground. David Tillyer, longtime advocate for DeWitt Clinton Park, pointed out their capacity-filled baseball diamonds, half-basketball courts and water playground, saying designers should â&#x20AC;&#x153;make sure [the parks] complement each other.â&#x20AC;? Isaac Astarchan, Second Vice President of the Downtown United Soccer Club, said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you build fields of any size or surface, kids will play.â&#x20AC;? And a representative for local block associations urged HRPT to â&#x20AC;&#x153;think outside the box rather than standard swing sets; find something innovative.â&#x20AC;? Wils said that if they are able to get their RFP out this fall, it would take about a year for concept, design, schematics, and permits (including a minimum 60-day review from the Public Design Commission). If building starts by the end of 2019, weather permitting, Pier 97 could be open to the public by early 2021. Said Allison Tupper of W. 43rd St., â&#x20AC;&#x153;It all sounds terrific!â&#x20AC;?

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April 19, 2018

NYC Community Media


INDICTED continued from p. 6

Haffaney and Evans allegedly â&#x20AC;&#x153;directed co-conspirators to steal mail in order to obtain checks that could be altered for use in the scheme,â&#x20AC;? according to the release. Four mail carts were stolen in the Chelsea area, including one cart full of mail that was swiped on W. 19th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. in January. It was later found empty, Chelsea Now reported in February. The January theft spurred resident concern about the safety of the mail, with one resident getting their checks stolen and a suspect unsuccessfully trying to cash it. The 10 defendants were â&#x20AC;&#x153;all collusive in the theft of the mail,â&#x20AC;? USPIS spokesperson Donna Harris said by phone. The USPIS is the federal law enforcement arm of the postal service. Harris said the defendants were allegedly responsible for stealing the four mail carts. The DAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office declined to comment. Lieutenant John Grimpel, an NYPD spokesperson, referred questions confirming the cart thefts to the postal inspection service and the DAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office. Grimpel did confirm in an email that â&#x20AC;&#x153;at least 19 mail carts have

been stolen... since the summer,â&#x20AC;? 11 of which were south of 59th St. between Oct. 2 and March 15, which the New York Post reported in a March 26 article. The mail cart thefts were not part of the indictment, and Harris said later in an email, â&#x20AC;&#x153;As to why the mail charge is not listed or how we know they are responsible, those details are part of the investigation and will not be disclosed.â&#x20AC;? She added, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Their alleged offenses have impacted US Postal Service employees and the many customers who place their trust in the US mail. We hope this arrestâ&#x20AC;Ś sends a strong message to anyone who steals the mail and then uses it to steal from our customers; we will fi nd you and bring you to justice.â&#x20AC;? The 10 defendants â&#x20AC;&#x201D; who include Eric Benson, 68, Atanda Nuraina, 58, Dierdre Johnson, 44, Kendra Golden, 44, and Darline Gregory, 45 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; face several counts including grand larceny in the second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, and scheme to defraud in the first degree, according to the indictment. They have been arraigned and are scheduled to appear next in court on May 30, according to the DAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office.

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GARDENS continued from p. 3

Courtesy of Inner City Farmer

Vegetables and herbs are grown at the Inner City Farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s garden on the roof of 205 W. 39th St.

for years, bringing in speakers to talk about the topic as well as partnering with several organizations to tackle the issue in Midtown. Mudd said he also has been working on a study about the homeless and housing. In a project that dovetails with that effort, Mudd has created a rooftop garden proposal that also includes estimated budgets. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a huge puzzle and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all ever-linking,â&#x20AC;? he said in a phone interview. A rooftop garden could provide numerous benefits â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including nutritious food and job opportunities â&#x20AC;&#x201D; for those who are homeless, Mudd explained. Initially, the idea was to have a rooftop garden at the Midtown South Precinct â&#x20AC;&#x201D; located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Mudd said that while they are still pursuing that idea, he hopes to â&#x20AC;&#x153;fi nd a rooftop soon to catch the season,â&#x20AC;? and they have expanded their search to schools, churches, and munici-

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April 19, 2018

NYC Community Media


Photo by Winnie McCroy

John Mudd, president of the Midtown South Community Council, recently talked about his rooftop garden project at a CB4 committee meeting.

pal buildings — and are now focused on shelters. Mudd said he recently emailed the Bowery Residents’ Committee, known as BRC (131 W. 25th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.), to see if there is interest in a rooftop garden. He also had a meeting with Services for the UnderServed, a nonprofit that has an Urban Farms program that has “more than 40 growing spaces in four boroughs, including eight community farms,” according to its website. “We met with them — that might be a great fit,” Mudd said. Winter, who is also the urban farm director for the MSCC, said that the Services for the UnderServed’s Urban Farms gets people to work while teaching them skills as well as showing the therapeutic quality of farming. Mudd and Winter talked about rooftop gardens at Community Board 4’s Waterfront, Parks & the Environment Committee meeting on Thurs., April 12. “The community board seems to be wholeheartedly behind stuff like this,” Mudd said afterwards. Winter added, “I thought they were encouraging and enthusiastic.” The committee offered to a put information about the rooftop farm project on the board’s website, and Mudd said board members as well as those attending the meeting may have contacts and connections that could be helpful. At the meeting, it was suggested that they reach out to the Hell’s Kitchen South Coalition and Penn South. Winter noted at the meeting that rooftop farms could help with the area’s air quality — with the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in the neighborhood, air quality has been a source of concern and an issue the community is focused on. Both Winter and Mudd said they wanted to involve kids and families in some way, with Winter saying that she might give tours of her rooftop garden. Mudd said he hopes to replicate the rooftop garden model as much as possible, and Winter said that she is also interested in helping out on smaller projects — even if it is planting one pot. “I’d be delighted to do that,” she said. For more information on the organizations and programs mentioned in this article, visit innercityfarmer.com, midtownsouthcc.org, brc.org, thedwellingplaceofny.org, mbcnyc.org, sus.org, and nyc.gov/ mcb4. —Additional reporting by Winnie McCroy NYC Community Media

MAX

April 19, 2018

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Tangible and Social Virtual Reality Tribeca Immersive 2018 is much more than goggles BY CHARLES BATTERSBY The stereotype of Virtual Reality (VR) is an isolated person sitting alone in a room, their head sealed within a helmet, master of a lonesome utopia. Early efforts at VR often met this cliché — but the “Tribeca Immersive” programming at the Tribeca Film Festival (TFF; tribecafilm.com) aims to make virtual reality a more tangible and social experience. Tribeca Immersive includes a Virtual Arcade of VR experiences (Apr. 20-28), along with a festival of films shot in 360 degrees. Both are running at the same time at TFF this month (Apr. 18-29), and will give even hardcore VR users an excuse to leave home and experience these site-specific installations at the festival’s headquarters. Almost any smartphone can be converted to a VR rig, but the top-end hardware continues to grow more elaborate. In the last two years, Tribeca Immersive had experiences that used motion-sensing controllers, and digital cameras that recorded the user’s movements around a room. This year, the event goes even further, with VRs that stimulate the senses using scent, heat, and elaborate physical set pieces. Loren Hammonds, Senior Programmer of Film and Immersive at TFF, pointed out that at the Virtual Arcade, “We like to offer audiences a sense of immersion before they put on the headset. So we give all the artists the opportunity to craft their own spaces to speak to the experience you’re about to have before you put on the headset.” A prominent project is “Hero,” which unfetters the user by putting all of the VR equipment in a backpack, and allows users to move around freely in a simulated Syrian neighborhood. We spoke to the co-creator of the project, Navid Khonsari, who said that “Hero” will “push VR to be as immersive as possible, but also to be a project that has real impact to show people what it’s like in another part of the world.” Another VR experience that addresses social themes while still pushing the use of technology is “The Day the World Changed,” which takes place in a recreation of Hiroshima. Gabo Arora, cocreator of the project, said it is a “social

18

April 19, 2018

Images courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

The Tribeca Film Festival will have an early look at the recently announced “Shadow of the Tomb Raider” game.

“Into the Now” is more than just sharks — but it has those, too.

interactive Virtual Reality documentary” which addresses nuclear weapons and allows users to experience life in Hiroshima the day of the atomic bombing at the end of World War II. Rather than being a passive, lonely experience, Arora pointed out that this is a rare example of a VR experience for multiple simultaneous users. “You’re doing this with three other people, so the whole concept of going through a documentary inside the documentary with other people who are also avatars gives it a whole new relationship of what a shared

experience with history can be.” New Yorkers can also get a look at their hometown with several projects set in New York. “Fire Escape” puts users on a simulated fire escape in Crown Heights, but the installation at Tribeca will use a real fire escape so that it will feel authentic even when users are inside the helmet. New York’s theater community helped inspire “objects in mirror AR closer than they appear.” It’s based on a show at the New York Theatre Workshop, and uses many aesthetic

elements of the theatrical set. It also has “Augmented Reality” features that superimpose digital objects over the real set. Graham Sack, one of the creators of the piece, noted that many VR festivals “have a binary nature. You’re either in the headset or not in it… We wanted to create something that was the exact opposite of that.” The experience, Sack noted, “has this open floor plan, so many people can interact with this at once, both with headsets and without the headsets.” “BattleScar” is set in the 1970s, so modern people can walk the streets of the Lower East Side as it was 40 years ago. It is about an immigrant exploring the punk scene when this was a new subculture. Because of the interactive nature, users can experience this from a more personal point of view. Fred Volhuer, CEO of Atlas V, the company behind “BattleScar,” explained to us, “From a creative perspective VR allows [users] to identify more with the character, and put the user in a position they could never be in with a flat screen.” Another perspective that people rarely get is a close-up view of sharks. “Into the TRIBECA continued on p. 24 NYC Community Media


We Are The Champions Documentary compels us to respect the art of industrial musicals BY SCOTT STIFFLER Powered by a personal journey as eccentric and endearing as the show business subset it plumbs with the precision of a forensic investigator, the documentary “Bathtubs Over Broadway” — Dava Whisenant’s quirky and compassionate directorial debut — wants you to see the world of industrial musicals through the eyes of a cynic who blinked in the face of sincerity. It’s not a tough sell. If you don’t know what an industrial musical is, you’re far from alone. In the three decades or so during America’s post-World War II economic boom, the relentless quest for profit meant companies like GE, Pepsi, and Ford needed a way to train employees and keep the sales staff motivated. Musical theater extravaganzas designed to entertain and inform could have budgets that exceeded what it took to mount an actual Broadway show — and became a place where composers, lyricists, choreographers, and performers honed their skills (including Sheldon Harnick, Susan Stroman, Martin Short, and Chita Rivera, all of whom appear in the fi lm to contribute pithy, heartfelt observations). While the careers of many flourished beyond the industrial musical circuit, some its greatest contributors remain unsung — an injustice the fi lm and its evangelizing protagonist are driven, by moral obligation as much as artistic appreciation, to correct. With catchy music and productspecific lyrics (one song was tasked with working in dozens of uses for silicone), these shows were often performed only once, to a highly select audience, and then forgotten. But a fraction of the souvenir LPs and ephemera survived. Sometimes, an album made its way to a used record shop — and that’s how the industrial musical was rescued from the scrap heap of history by an unlikely champion. In the early part of what would become a 25-year career writing comedy for David Letterman, Steve Young was tasked with digging up oddball audio clips for a 1980s bit called “Dave’s Record Collection.” One of Young’s fi nds, the title track to the show “My Insurance Man,” was appraised on air by Letterman NYC Community Media

Photo by Nick Higgins

Steve Young makes the soul-nurturing trip from ironic detachment to sincere belief in “Bathtubs Over Broadway.”

as “actually more annoying than my insurance man.” When heard in small doses as the set-up for dismissive comedy snark, such clips are, Young admits, “bizarre and hilarious.” But those, he notes, “are only the beginning layers” — and that’s where the fi lm pivots to a place of unexpected emotional depth. “I did take great glee, from the beginning, in enjoying something that I wasn’t supposed to hear,” Young told this publication in a recent phone interview. “I couldn’t wait to tell people about it, and show people what I found. I still feel that way now,” he said, of what he declares in the fi lm to be a “hyper-American art form.” With few friends outside of the Letterman show and a self-diagnosed case of “comedy damage” that denied him the ability to consume humor in the manner the masses do with ease, the world of industrial musicals — similar to his day job in many respects (a tight-knit community serving the general population, yet cut off from it) — was a perfect match for Young’s off-kilter outlook and obsessive nature. But a funny thing happened as songs from “Diesel Dazzle” (a 1966 show from the Detroit Diesel

division of General Motors) played in constant mental rotation. He became a passionate collector who was smitten by, as he told us, “the weird, unexpected beauty; programs, tickets, playbills — the wonderful professionalism of it all.” Soon, Young was able to distinguish, and happy to celebrate, the nuances between genre greats. “It varies,” he told us, regarding those who worked in teams and those known for solo efforts. “Some of my great heroes were purely the music and lyric people, and somebody else was

writing the book.” (Hank Beebe and Bill Heyer created “Diesel Dazzle,” while, for example, Sid Siegel penned all aspects of 1969’s “The Bathrooms are Coming!,” an ode to new fi xtures from American Standard.) “Some especially talented and ambitious people really had the vision for the whole thing and could carry it off,” Young noted of Siegel, while “Hank Beebe’s late partner, Bill Heyer, was a great talent in comedy and would write the whole show, not BATHTUBS continued on p. 27

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Beware the Coarsening How the h-e double hockey sticks did we get here? BY MAX BURBANK Fair warnings: First, the column you are reading is about bad behavior, moral blindness, and filthy language. As such, we need to spend a moment discussing the rendering of cuss words; a matter I have given perhaps more thought to than strictly necessary. Used for decades in newspaper comic strips, I considered the classic #!*@&%!! — but that offered no way to indicate specific nuggets of potty-mouth parlance, and I’m going to need to reference more than a few. I toyed briefly with alternate spellings, like “phuck” or “azwhole” — but that seemed a tad too twee and precious, the sort of tawdry literary trick a man who described things as “a tad too twee and precious” might use. I’ve settled on inserting random hyphens into bad words, because you can still totally tell what they are and, also, that’s how CNN does it. Hey, CNN! That’s a swell f---ing idea! Second, I’m aware that since the FBI raid on Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, we have entered into a moment of unprecedented political volatility. By the time you read this, the world I wrote it in might be irrelevant. The president could’ve fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, or forgone actual firing and literally set fire to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Maybe, instead, we rained fire and fury on Syria, presumably after warning the Russians so they could leave whatever strategically insignificant field we selected as a target so that none of their soldiers got an owie — but who knows? Oh, hey, look, we did do that, WHILE I WAS TYPING! Are we under martial law yet, or have America and western democracy themselves been saved by the timely actions of a porn star and her super-badass (sorry, bad---) lawyer? Let me check TWITTER! In any case, I won’t be writing about any of that, except maybe just a little at the end to tie all my themes together like a for-real writer. Everybody else will cover it anyway, from the New York Times to your disgraced Uncle Bernard who, after a longish stint in the pokey, has only just discovered social media. I can’t, because at this point in my career as a pundit, unwritten law requires me to write a column on The Coarsening of

20

April 19, 2018

Illustration by Max Burbank

America. We’ve all done it since Elvis Presley first lewdly waggled his leatherpantsed pelvis at the youth of America. It’s simply my turn. “I’m not answering your f---ing questions!” That’s what Corey Lewandowski didn’t get held in contempt of Congress for shouting during testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. It’s a little unusual to say “f---ing” to members of Congress during a hearing, but is it significantly indicative of cultural decline? Lewandowski’s just a minor player after all, one of the many folks president Trump barely knew, who worked for him briefly doing small menial tasks like fetching coffee, running his campaign, or paying porn stars and Playboy models hush money. There’s an old saying: “A fish rots from the head down.” Michael Dukakis used it to describe the Reagan admin-

istration when he ran against Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988. He lost, but the point remains. The reason a man can say “f---ing” to Congress is because his boss, a hulking toddler with zero impulse control and a mound of burning garbage for a soul, says it frequently. And yes, I know Lewandowski works for CNN these days, but Trump is still the boss of his heart. Everybody knows it. It’s difficult to get accurate citations for all the sh-t our president has talked, because papers of record are loath to print it verbatim. You know the biggies: “Grab ’em by the p-ssy,” “Sh-thole countries,” “Get that son of a b-tch off the field right now.” There’s plentiful video evidence he said way worse, repeatedly, on the campaign trail and at rallies since. When the leader of a country sets the

bar that low, there are consequences. Every dark thought and filthy utterance you knew better than to let seep out of your brain and tumble out your chow hole? The leader of the free world has already tweeted it multiple times, probably in the last week, so go for it! Language is always the tip of the spear. It seeps into the public sphere and changes the way we feel and behave; words become concrete actions, and then legislation. If the president can talk like that in public, what else is okay? For instance, once upon a time if you were a convicted criminal, you’d be too ashamed to run for office. Now, as long as you’re white, male, old and Republican, a rap sheet is an asset! Three out of the four convicted criminals currently running for Republican congressional seats are citing their crimes as reasons you should vote for them! Rotting fish head or no, Trump can’t be entirely to blame. He isn’t dragging a nation into the gutter single-handedly; he’s nowhere near that strong. The very system he’s working so hard to tear down has grown weak enough to actively enable its own destruction. The incessant assault on cultural norms may have begun with words, but it’s far more than speech now. The immobility in the face of Russian aggression; the almost daily executive orders stripping away environmental protections and workers’ rights; the genuflecting to the gun rights lobby; the kleptocracy of presidential golf trips and hotel chains; the nepotism; the promotion of the astoundingly unqualified; the vast transfer of wealth: They all lead to an unsupportable level of chaos. When we normalize the language, we normalize the behavior, and invite all this. Nixon fell, but only when his own party had enough of him. The current iteration of the Grand Old Party doesn’t seem so inclined toward profiles in courage. It’s nice to dream of being rescued by Stormy Daniels and, god save him, Robert Mueller — but this isn’t a movie about plucky, misfit heroes. This is reality. We all have to consciously decide to step away from the precipice. NYC Community Media


NYC Community Media

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Tribeca’s Rich Offering of Queer Cinema Terrence McNally, Robert Mapplethorpe among films on tap BY GARY M. KRAMER Unspooling at half a dozen Lower Manhattan venues April 18-29, the Tribeca Film Festival (tribecafilm.com) features several LGBTQ films and filmmakers. While not every queer-focused title was available for preview, a handful of features, documentaries, shorts, and special programs were. One of the highlights of this year’s fest is the world premiere of Jeff Kaufman’s “Every Act of Life” (Apr. 23, 8pm; Apr. 24, 5pm; Apr. 25, 6:15pm; Apr. 26, 4pm), a lovingly made documentary about the esteemed playwright Terrence McNally, tracing his life growing up in Corpus Christi in the 1950s through his extraordinary success in the theater. McNally candidly discusses his failed relationships with playwright Edward Albee, closeted in the 1950s when they were together, and actor Robert Drivas, as well as his drinking — and how Angela Lansbury told him to stop. McNally also shares his thoughts about his intensely vulnerable characters and the themes of invisibility and connection that were the basis of plays of his such as “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” among others. “Every Act of Life” highlights many of McNally’s gay productions, including “The Ritz,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” and “Mothers and Sons. Though the film skimps on detailing the controversy surrounding McNally’s 1998 “Corpus Christi” and generally rushes through his late career work, it features fabulous photographs, letters, and archival footage. There are also wonderful interviews with a who’s who of theater, including Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, Tyne Daly, Billy Porter, John Glover, John Benjamin Hickey, and many more. Though it may seem a hagiography, “Every Act of

Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Forrest Goodluck, Sasha Lane, and Chloë Grace Moretz in Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.”

Life” clearly demonstrates that McNally deserves the genuflection. On the phone from Europe, where he is working on a play, out gay actor Hickey described McNally as “one of the biggest influences in my life as an artist. He is a writing and theatrical hero of mine. I’m so proud to be part of the film.” Hickey also appears on screen at Tribeca as Sam Wagstaff, benefactor, mentor, friend, and lover to the provocative gay artist Robert Mapplethorpe (Matt Smith) in Ondi Timoner’s eagerly awaited biopic, “Mapplethorpe” (Apr. 22, 9pm; Apr. 23, 8:45pm; Apr. 24, 6:30pm; Apr. 27, 9:30pm) — one of the titles unfortunately not available for preview. Loving the challenge of playing a real person, Hickey said he researched the role by reading Philip Gefter’s biography and seeing the documentary “Black White + Gray.” “You get to go to school,” he said. “Research helped open doors for me to learn about the art world in 1970s New

York. It was exploding. Sam’s collection presaged the idea of photography as fine art. I’m a huge fan of his taste. His eye was downright intimidating.” Hickey acknowledged, however, that he didn’t identify closely with Wagstaff. “I don’t feel we have that much in common other than being gay New Yorkers,” he explained. “He was such a huge influence and cultural force in the arts in the later part of 20th century. It was daunting because Sam was so incredibly handsome. He had extraordinary hair. I had Charles LaPointe make me a wig, which I loved wearing.” As part of Tribeca TV, the festival is hosting the world premiere of Melissa Haizlip’s and Samuel Pollard’s “Mr. Soul” (Apr. 22, 8pm; Apr. 23, 5:45pm; Apr. 25, 9:15pm; Apr. 26, 6:30pm), a terrific documentary about the landmark late 1960s/early ’70s WNET-TV series “Soul!,” which was made by, for, and about African Americans. The show’s producer and frequent host,

Ellis Haizlip, was a gay man who provided both a showcase for and a celebration of African-American singers — Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, and Al Green among them — as well as poet Nikki Giovanni and writer James Baldwin. Interviewing Louis Farrakhan on the program, Haizlip dared to ask the leader of the Nation of Islam about homosexuality on air. “Mr. Soul” is an astonishing collection of interviews and archival footage of a program that was both of its time and ahead of its time as one talking head suggests. PJ Raval’s riveting documentary “Call Her Ganda” (Apr. 19, 6pm; Apr. 20, 5pm; Apr. 21, 5:30pm; Apr. 24, 9:15pm; Apr. 29, 8:30pm) chronicles the 2014 death of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipina who was murdered by US marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. The film, which features gender-nonbinary journalist Meredith Talusan following the case, addresses issues of transphobia, US colonialism, and justice — including some interesting wrinkles — to show how Laude’s death exposed some painful truths about gender-based violence. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (Apr. 22, 8 pm; Apr. 23, 6:45pm; Apr. 24, 9:30pm; Apr. 26, 3:15pm) is bisexual filmmaker Desiree Akhavan’s (“Appropriate Behavior”) bittersweet adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s novel about forging one’s independence in the face of repression. Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a teenage lesbian who loves Coley (Quinn Shephard). When they are caught having sex, Cameron is sent to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy center. Of course, Cameron knows there is nothing wrong with her, and her same-sex desires — which she sometimes acts on — remain unabated. It is only through the friendship of fellow “disciples” Jane (Sasha Lane) and

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Adam (Forrest Goodluck) that she finds a way to maintain her authentic, true self. As Cameron measures herself against her teen peers, she learns that weakness — she experiences a series of hardships — can in the end provide strength. “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” is a somber drama, and Moretz gives a compelling performance as the film builds to a quietly powerful conclusion. Another lesbian-themed film involving religious oppression at Tribeca is “Disobedience” (Apr. 24, 8pm; Apr. 25, 7pm), co-written and directed by Sebastian Lelio, who adapted Naomi Alderman’s novel. When her father, Rav Krushka (Anton Lesser) dies, Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns to London and the Orthodox Jewish community she abandoned. When she reconnects with Esti (Rachel McAdams), the childhood friend she loved, the women rekindle their forbidden romance. Alas, despite some heat in the bedroom scenes, “Disobedience” is top-heavy with didactic speeches and obvious symbolism. The actresses do their best, but Weisz’s performance smacks of selfimportance and McAdams is woefully miscast. As part of the Tribeca N.O.W. Showcase, which features independent online work, the comedy web series “Driver Ed” (Apr. 19, 8:30pm; Apr. 21, 5pm) has the title character (co-creator Jacob A. Ware) signing up for driving lessons because he is “living a lie.” He told his online girlfriend that he is a professional racecar driver — but he does not even have a license. When he meets Sweet Jody (Eddie Diaz), sparks fly as they put on their seat belts and Ed realizes he may be lying about more than just driving. This deadpan series offers three segments in its 10 minutes. Viewers will likely be curious to see where “Driver Ed” goes next. The Tribeca Immersive entry “Queerskins: A Love Story” (daily, Apr. 20-28 at the Tribeca Festival Hub, fifth fl., Spring Studios, 50 Varick St., just below Canal St.) is a virtual reality experience that has viewers sit in the back of a vintage 1986 Cadillac Sedan DeVille driven through a Midwestern landscape by the parents of Sebastian, who died of AIDS. As objects along the route come into focus, so too does Sebastian’s life. Illya Szilak — who co-created the interactive film with Cyril Tsiboulski, an out gay man — hopes viewers “create their conception of who Sebastian was through a box of objects.” The creators chose the VR format because, Szilak said, they were “interested in exploring the dynamic of embodied, material, historical, political, and social realities, and the human desire to transcend that.” The interactive storyteller explained that the nearly twodozen objects in the box include items such as 3-D models of vintage Tom of Finland drawings. Viewers get to see nine of those objects in a 15-minute short. “The box changes and acts as a placeholder for Sebastian’s character,” Szilak explained. “The objects are randomized, so each viewer gets a different set, and their responses to them will differ based on the objects and the viewer’s own personal history. You come up with your own conception of Sebastian. If you are Catholic, you may have a relationship to a vintage statue of Mary with a broken nose. As the viewer, you put on a costume and enter someone’s reality. We recognize your own history, bias, and perceptions construct the story. It is the real playing against the virtual, the imaginative, and memory.” “Queerskins: A Love Story” should provide a heady experience one can only have at the Tribeca Film Festival. NYC Community Media

Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz in Sebastian Lelio’s “Disobedience.”

April 19, 2018

23


TRIBECA continued from p. 18

Now” is a documentary of ocean wildlife, but director Michael Muller was quick to point out that it’s much more than just sharks. It’s his way of encouraging people to learn about the ocean and the environmental problems facing it. In his words, “People only protect what they love.” Penrose Studios has made some of the longest VR experiences at previous Tribeca Immersive events, and this year they return with “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall,” which has a running time of a whopping 30 minutes. Eugene Chung of Penrose said of it, “When making narrative VR experience it is crucial never to forget that you are creating for the viewers. We are always thinking about the consumer experience here at Penrose, and with a 30-minute experience, we are currently pushing the limits and the boundaries of VR stories.” Among these lofty projects are some outright silly uses of VR, too. People who come to the Virtual Arcade will find the farcical “Vacation Simulator,” by Owlchemy Labs. Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs is well aware that their comical games are oddballs at Tribeca. “It doesn’t fit in with the other content, and that’s by design,” he said. “At Owlchemy, we’ve always sprinted in the opposite direction of the expected... We’re using this limitless, incredible technology to simulate a satirical vacation with a bunch of floating robots.” More traditional games are also being honored for their narrative and design at TFF this year. The Tribeca Games line of programming is giving an early look at the upcoming “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” as well as a talk with the creators of recently released “God of War.” Both franchises have recently been rebooted with exceptional results. Many of these projects, like “Arden’s Wake: Tide’s Fall” and “The Day the World Changed,” are premiering at Tribeca Immersive. Others use new hardware and tech that’s debuting at the festival, too. It promises an experience that people won’t get at home just putting their smartphone into a Google Cardboard VR headset.

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April 19, 2018

Photo by Max Gordon

Note the clever capitalization in the Augmented Reality experience “objects in mirror AR close than they appear.”

Image credit: Nico Casavecchia, Martin Allais

“BattleScar” recreates the New York of the 1970s.

The new God of War game has a greater focus on the father/son narrative.

Photo via godofwar.playstation.com

NYC Community Media


NYPA continued from p. 4

of informative tweets, the world. The fi rst page from that section contributed to a third place win for Best Front Page, an honor shared by Stiffler and Chelsea Now’s Art Director, John Napoli (who’s responsible for every aspect of this publication’s design and layout). The judge noted that “strong art” (i.e., dynamic photos and Napoli’s placement techniques) “separated this entry from others.” In addition to Headlines, this was a category in which we were recognized alongside a CNG sister publication. In this case, the Bay Ridge Courier won fi rst place. Editor Vince DiMiceli and Deputy Editor Bill Egbert (who also serves as Editor of Downtown Express) were commended for their “strong headlines supported by good art.” Other publications in our company were given much-deserved recognition for their excellence. Bay Ridge Courier reporters Julianne Cuba and Julianne McShane earned second place for their coverage of the heated race to replace termlimited Councilman Vincent Gentile, which included in-depth interviews with all the candidates. McShane and former Bay Ridge reporter Caroline Spivack, who is now with the New York Post, won an honorable mention for their stories about an oil spill in Gravesend Bay. There was a tie for fi rst place in the category of Best Obituaries, shared by The Villager and Gay City News. The Villager took home both fi rst and second place for Best Column, with Gay City News fi nishing third in that category. Editor Lincoln Anderson, of The Villager, was recognized with a fi rst place win for Editorials. “This is a publication that is plugged into its community and is taking active stands on issues,” the judge declared, noting The Villager is “driving momentum” on those issues and having “impact.” The Villager was also recognized with honorable mentions for Best News or Feature Series as well as the prestigious Thomas G. Butson Award for In-Depth Reporting. The Villager’s Michele Herman and Carl Rosenstein won, respectively, fi rst and second place in the Best Column category. Gay City News Editor Paul Schindler shared a third page win for Best Editorial Page, along with regular contributors Kelly Cogswell, Susan Day, Nathan Riley, and Ed Silkov. “Biting commentary from a clearly identified standpoint that represents its readership” is what the judge noted, calling the writing “thoughtful and highly

Photos by Christian Miles

Christian Miles’ look at Fleet Week earned him a second place win in the Picture Story category.

informative.” Cogswell was also awarded third place in the Best Column category. Also included in the wins for Gay City News: second place for Overall Design Excellence, recognizing the work of Marcos Ramos and Schindler. The “good use of space and color,” noted the judge, “draws you in as a reader.”

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY

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

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EDITOR Scott Stiffler ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

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

We’re enormously proud of these honors, grateful for the talent and dedication of Chelsea Now’s freelancers, and in constant awe when it comes to our NYC Community Media and Community News Group colleagues. Now let’s all get back to work, lest we rest on our laurels and have nothing to show for it next year!

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Chelsea Now is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2017 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR: The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

April 19, 2018

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NYC Community Media


BATHTUBS continued from p. 19

the lyrics… but by the time they had been working for, not too long, they seemed to really mesh and be great for each other, and turn out this very unified thing that would seem like a solid vision.” As for picking a favorite, Young referred to another fruitless quest to declare a winner among disparate styles. “Beebe and Heyer vs. Sid Siegel? This is like in the ’60s, the kids would say, ‘I’m a Beatles fan.’ ‘Oh, yeah? I’m a Rolling Stones fan.’ ” By the ’90s, hooked for life on industrial musicals and emboldened to seek a stronger fi x, he began to cold call cast members and creators — leading to a series of face-to-face meetings. Some are genuinely overwhelmed, even a bit uncomfortable, to be validated as artists of worth and integrity by an insistent Young. But they return the goodwill by sharing a treasure trove of anecdotes, insights, and rare items that have languished for decades in storage. As this happens, we see Young’s evolution into a (slightly) less socially awkward fellow with a growing circle of associates. Captured on fi lm as he drives en route to visit the great Sid Siegel, Young invokes the old “don’t meet your heroes” warning, his voice trembling as he asks, “But what if we just don’t click?” It’s a watershed moment that’s tremendously satisfying to watch; a one-time connoisseur of the seemingly odd who’s crossed the Rubicon into a realm where sincere admiration and anthropological curiosity get along like gangbusters — but that capacity, said “Bathtubs” director Dava Whisenant, was always there. “Steve has this outlook and perspective on comedy that I hadn’t ever seen before,” she told us, recalling her years as an editor on “Late Show with David Letterman.” Whisenant often found herself “laughing out loud at his [Young’s] juxtaposition of these things that weren’t supposed to go together.” Although she recalled he had “a really cynical attitude” during his early years of consuming industrial musicals, he would later “talk about the people he was meeting, and he’d get teary — and I’d go, ‘What’s going on here? This isn’t the Steve I know.’ ” Whisenant knew a good story when she saw one, though. So when Young and co-author Sport Murphy released their comprehensive 2013 tome — “Everything’s Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals” — she chose Young’s journey as the NYC Community Media

Courtesy of Dava Whisenant

Dava Whisenant’s directorial debut is quirky and compassionate.

narrative hook for her fi rst fi lm. “The documentary,” she noted, “is the perfect storytelling medium for editors. You get to really explore and create the story arc in the [editing] room, as opposed to getting a script and putting it together. You get to delve into some new world that otherwise you would not get to live in.” Whisenant does just that, effectively enmeshing the viewer in a realm where worlds often collide, and always inform one another: fellow collectors (including Dead Kennedys singer/songwriter Jello Biafra), bit players from golden age industrial musicals, and Young’s own family (once befuddled witnesses to his knack for these strange songs, his daughters emerge as aware appreciators of dad’s role as the genre’s champion). “I love blurring the lines,” Whisenant said, of her own fi lm, as well as those she admires — including “Wormwood,” “King of Kong” and “Casting JonBenet.” You can use the medium, she noted, “to tell an amazing story. Ours is kind of like a musical, in a certain sense. We’re using the lyrics from these industrial

show tunes to tell Steve’s story.” And with the documentary’s notoriously small footage-shot-to-footage-used ratio, the director told us, “There’s still so much amazing stuff left on the floor. He [Young] has over 2,000 examples of these songs, and they are so fantastic. It was really hard not to include everything.” Pressed for a tidbit that didn’t make the cut (fodder for the inevitable DVD bonus footage?), Whisenant recalled the story of “Michael Brown, one of the compos-

ers, who did so well, he was able to fund his friend, Harper Lee. He gave her the money so she could write ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ So that’s a kind of untold industrial musical story.” Of Whisenant, Young said he “knew she was a great editor and had a great comedic sense,” but learned, over the four-year process of working with her, “what fi lmmakers do. It was a range of skills I was only dimly aware of.” Still evolving since “Late Show with David Letterman” ceased production (a process we see glimpses of in the fi lm), Young’s quest to spread the gospel of industrial musicals has compelled him to embrace a variety of roles — including live stage show producer, journeyman fi lm historian, guitar-plucking accompanist, and, in the fi lm’s immensely satisfying fi nal scene, a… well, they asked us not to spoil it, and we won’t. Let’s just say the whole thing ends on a high note, and farm equipment is involved. But will modern audiences be able to make, as Young did, that great leap from ironic detachment to emotional investment? “Since I started out in the ’80s,” he said, “there’s now more of a readiness to look at supposedly disposable cultural things and at least try to understand them in context… I do think people are ready to learn about, and to assess the value of, stuff — more, maybe, than they were a generation or two ago.” As of press time, most Tribeca Film Festival screenings of “Bathtubs Over Broadway” were sold out. Tickets were still available for the Sat., Apr. 21, 2pm premiere at BMCC Tribeca PAC (199 Chambers St.). The screening is followed by a Q&A with members of the cast, including Susan Stroman and Sheldon Harnick, as well as a live performance inspired by the film. To purchase Rush Tickets to sold-out screenings, visit tribecafilm. com/filmguide/bathtubs-over-broadway-2018.

April 19, 2018

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Chelsea Now - April 19, 2018  

April 19, 2018

Chelsea Now - April 19, 2018  

April 19, 2018