Storefront Vacancy Tax Floated 02
LPC Chief Exits Amidst Rules Flap 05
The Shed’s Sneak Preview 09
Photo courtesy of Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit
The M60 SBS line, which runs from the Upper West Side to LaGuardia Airport, currently makes use of transit signal priority.
Beat that Light, Every Bus Rider Says Silently BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Red light, green light! The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is ramping up its efforts to install “transit signal priority” — a traffic light technology aimed at speeding up bus travel times and diminishing delays — across the city’s bus routes. Last week, the MTA announced that transit signal priority would be expanded to more routes “aggressively” as it works with the city Department of Transportation on implementation. TSP works by connecting traffic lights to buses through a GPS signal — the traffic light can sense when a bus is approaching, according to Chris Pangilinan, the program director of technology and rider engagement at TransitCenter. The signal then, based on the bus’s location, stays green for longer so the bus just makes the light. Considering buses spend 21 percent of travel time at red lights, TSP could help buses cruise through traffic. “Transit signal priority has a huge potential to remove a lot of that delay,” Pangilinan said, whose group, TransitCenter, is one of the transit advocacy organizations that is part of the Bus Turnaround TRANSIT SIGNALS continued on p. 4
May 3 — 16, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 9
CULTURE SHOCK, EVEN IF ONLY 1 TROMBONE LED THE BIG PARADE Photo by Christian Miles
On April 21, the High Line played host to “Culture Shock,” a day of music, art, performances, and plenty of hands-on activity. For upcoming events there, visit thehighline.org.
RESIDENTIAL PARKING PERMITS PUSHED FOR UPPER MANHATTAN BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A new bill percolating in the City Council is looking toward a residents-only parking system for Manhattan from 60th St. to Inwood. Introduced late last month, the bill is part an effort to curb park-and-ride commuters grabbing scarce street spots, particularly in anticipation of a potential congestion pricing plan that would make entry into Midtown more costly. “This bill is really broad and flexible,” said East Side Councilmember Keith Powers, one of the cosponsors of the bill, who took office in District 4 earlier this year. The bill “doesn’t say it has to happen here or at this time. It really opens up the conversation to every community.” Powers added that the system could be a starting point for solving the city’s parking problems. Should congestion pricing win approval at the state level, he said, an “invisible wall” would essentially go up, most likely at 60th St. Implementing a resi-
dential parking system would be a part of solving a larger problem of over-congestion of vehicles hunting for spots north of Midtown. “This is really step one in doing that,” Powers said. The bill requires the Department of Transportation to authorize a residential parking permit system north of 60th St. through Inwood. The bill says that, subject to approval by specific communities, 80 percent of parking spaces would be designated for residents with a permit — not including streets with commercial, office, or retail uses. Non-residential parking spots that remain would be reserved for short-term parking. Should the bill go through, councilmembers say the DOT would hold public hearings with community boards to approve neighborhood programs, ensure that residential permits are only issued to RESIDENTIAL continued on p. 4
Vacancy Tax Would Fine Landlords Who Let Storefronts Languish
Via NYC Council
A map looking at small retailers and restaurants gained and lost, according to a Dec. 2017 City Council report.
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC As the specter of empty storefronts continues to haunt the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s floating of a possible penalty for landlords who leave properties vacant for long periods of time has been greeted by elected officials and advocates as an encouraging sign. “I’m heartened [by] City Hall’s attention to the issue and the mayor’s personal interest,” State Senator Brad Hoylman said in a phone interview late last week. On March 30, de Blasio told WNYC, “I am very interested… in fighting for a vacancy fee or vacancy tax which would penalize landlords who leave their storefronts vacant for long periods of time in neighborhoods because they are looking for some top-dollar rent, but they blight neighborhoods by doing it…” He added, “That’s something we could get done through Albany.” A vacancy tax falls under the state legislature’s purview. Hoylman said, “We’re engaged with City Hall on pursuing legislation, but it’s early in our process.” He noted they are looking at bill
language and there is a possibility it could be ready at the end of the legislative session in June. Whether Albany would pass the measure is another matter. Republicans still control the New York State Senate as Simcha Felder, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn, continues to caucus with Republicans. The mayor’s office said there is no update on the vacancy tax, and did not respond to questions regarding details or a timeframe. “One of the major challenges we’re still working through is how to thread the needle and do something that will actually result in people leasing storefronts they otherwise may not. If we don’t do that successfully, it’s just a tax without purpose,” Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, said in an email. Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said that he supports the idea. “A vacancy tax or fee imposed on landlords with vacant storefronts would discourage landlord[s] VACANCY TAX continued on p. 10
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Guitar Shop Owner Hopes Egress Won’t End His Era at the Chelsea Hotel BY WINNIE McCROY The Chelsea Hotel is a storied meeting spot for musicians, writers, and artists. And there’s been a music store in the hotel since 1908. For over a quarter century, Chelsea Guitars (chelseaguitars.com) has been that place. But now, owner Dan Courtenay has been given until June 30 to vacate the premises. He’s not sure he can afford to stay in the neighborhood — and his neighbors don’t want to lose him. “I care about my store, above and beyond money,” Courtenay said. “The history of mom-and-pop shops doesn’t really exist anymore.” For nearly three decades, Courtenay’s tiny shop, located at 224 W. 23rd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) has been a gathering place for musicians, who come from as far away as Asia, Europe, and South America to purchase his vintage guitars. They come to him not only for the best guitars, but to tap into a piece of the Chelsea Hotel’s global reputation for creative expression. Courtenay said that those who once chose to stay at the hotel (and continue to show up, even while it’s closed for repairs) are seeking the kind of New York City experience that his store has always offered — a valueadded service, he said, that shouldn’t be dismissed. “The new owners don’t realize that I know so many touring bands and their agents and managers. They all come into my store,” Courtenay said. “I’ve gotten to know people who changed society; musicians like Jackson Browne and Dee Dee Ramone, writers like Arthur Miller, and actors like Robert Downey Jr. I hope I can stay in the neighborhood, but wherever I am, my business will always be associated with the Chelsea Hotel.” The new owners, Ira Drukier of the BD Hotel group and his frequent collaborator, Sean MacPherson, of The Bowery Hotel and The Jane, are not blind to the benefits a historic guitar shop could bring to their property. “I have nothing against [Courtenay], and I like his small, charming guitar store, but right now, that location doesn’t work for us,” Drukier said in an exclusive April 30 interview with Chelsea Now. “We can take a look at fi nding him something else, but it’s tough because we’re trying to bring back the spaces from before that got all chopped up throughout the years, and we don’t want to make any promises.” NYC Community Media
The store’s present location, at 224 W. 23rd St.
to our attention. Part of the difficulty with small business leases is that we often fi nd out after the fact, when it’s of course too late to intervene.” Hoylman’s office reached out to Courtenay. The District Office of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson did so as well, and also had a conversation with Drukier about extending the June 30 deadline to vacate. “Absolutely, our neighborhood and others are losing their character,” said Bill Borock, President of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations. “Towers of Babel are rising all over and our shoemakers, dry cleaners, and bodegas are becoming empty storefronts blighting our Chelsea community.” Carla Fine, a writer who has lived in Chelsea since 1981, wondered if the store’s history could be landmarked. Said Fine, “Passing his store each day fi lls me with joy and hope. There are always people inside talking, I assume, about craftsmanship and legacy and memories, and hopes for the future.” When she told her colleague, Dr. Frank Campbell of Baton Rouge, that Chelsea Guitars could be closing, he texted her, “So few really great guitar shops left! An endangered merchant refuge!” He then added: “Please tell Dan that I hope he prevails. Rock on!” The shop is a Chelsea mainstay, as is Courtenay, who grew up in Queens, and has lived in Chelsea since the ’80s. He swore when he was a kid that he’d live close enough to his job that he could walk to work — and for the past 30 years he has, making the minuteslong commute from his co-op in Penn South to his shop. And it’s not only his clientele he loves; he’s crazy about the diversity of the neighborhood, and doesn’t want to see that end. “Back in the day, I watched a gay CHELSEA GUITARS continued on p. 12
Photos by Christian Miles
For musicians from around the world, Chelsea Guitars is a go-to place while in NYC.
Locals are standing up for the beloved business, many of them reaching out to Courtenay after, with his permission, Chelsea Now sent an April 19 email to area block associations, preservation groups, Community Board 4, the Greenwich VillageChelsea Chamber of Commerce, and elected officials, alerting them to the situation. Said State Senator Brad Hoylman, “I really appreciate you bringing this May 3, 2018
RESIDENTIAL continued from p. 1
those with a New York State driver’s license and are attached to specific license plate numbers, and establish a limit to the number of permits per driver. Upper Manhattan Councilmembers Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, and Diana Ayala are also sponsors of the bill. Levine and Rosenthal agreed with Powers that the policy will help discourage people from driving into Upper Manhattan, parking on residential streets for free, and hopping on a subway or walking to where they work in Midtown or below. Rosenthal, in a written statement, said that a residential permit parking system “is a great step toward a more sensible street policy.” The policy, Levine added in his statement, is “long overdue.” A second bill was introduced by Upper Manhattan Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Transportation Committee, that takes the residential parking idea citywide. The bill is similar to the bill focused on Manhttan above 60th St. in other respects. “We also feel that by paying a small fee every year, those local residents then will not have to compete with anybody else that come from other states that are idling the streets,” Rodriguez said at a press conference last week. The permit system would help to protect mom-and-pop shops, too, he added. Citing a study from the City University of New York, he tweeted that more than 50 percent of city residents said they would be willing to pay an annual fee for a permit. Parking spaces have become an increasing rarity in Manhattan. NY1 found that 2,330 parking spots south of 125 St. had been lost in recent years to bike lanes and bike-sharing sta-
tions, based on public records obtained through the Freedom of Information Law. “Many residents on the Upper East Side, most of them can’t afford to park their cars in garages and who need cars for a variety of reasons,” said Valerie Mason, president of the E. 72nd St. Neighborhood Association. She said many Upper East Siders need a car — whether because someone in their home has disabilities, is elderly, or is a small child and cannot always take public transit. Other residents, Mason added, “reverse commute” to jobs outside Manhattan or the city itself to places where there isn’t public transportation. Mason, who is also a member of Community Board 8’s Transportation Committee, added that the board regularly hears concerns from residents about the importance of street parking in the community. Hardly a meeting goes by without such comments, she said. Neither the community board nor the neighborhood association had yet discussed the bills — they were only introduced last week — but she said any measure to protect residential parking is welcome. An often-ignored problem in the city is how many trucks take up parking spaces without paying their fair share, Mason said. Before any discussions about congestion pricing are brought to the table, she said, there needs to be an analysis of who is really clogging the streets. For her, it’s not residents traveling throughout the city. “We’re not just landlocked to the island of Manhattan,” Mason said. “We, like every other resident, travel to different boroughs, to Long Island. There isn’t decent public transportation outside of the City of New York.”
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TRANSIT SIGNALS continued from p. 1
Coalition. The DOT and the MTA have been working since 2012 to implement signal priority, with similar TSP technologies dating back to 2006. The DOT’s starter program of TSP along five routes found signal priority reduced travel times by 14 percent during peak commuter hours, according to a July 2017 report. In some cases, travel reductions were as high as 25 percent. To date, 10 routes have TSP, and another 10 are expected to be added by the end of 2020— even prior to the MTA’s recent ramping up commitment. The technology, however, still has a ways to go before becoming a citywide phenomenon. Upper Manhattan currently boasts signal priority along the M60 Select Bus Service from Broadway and W. 106th St. to LaGuardia Airport. Bx12 SBS from Inwood into the Bronx was the second corridor to use TSP. The specific technology used there proved too pricey for the city, so TSP is no longer active on that route. A different TSP system the DOT developed in 2012 is the new generation that’s been implemented most recently. “TSP really helped that bus,” said Andrew Albert, the co-chair of Upper West Side Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee, referring to the Bx12’s first TSP iteration. “That’s a long ride from the Pelham Bay Park area all the way to Inwood.” Among the 10 routes where TSP is already in the works for 2020 are the Bx6 SBS that travels from Washington Heights to Hunts Point in the Bronx and the Bx12 SBS line between Inwood and the Bronx’s Coop City. Of the routes already online, only the M60 SBS and the M15 SBS, running from East Harlem to South Ferry, serve Manhattan; the others run in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Some city councilmembers are pushing the city to implement TSP along bus routes at double the pace DOT has planned. In January, Upper West Side Councilmember Mark Levine along with his Brooklyn colleagues Justin Brannan and Kalman Yeger introduced a bill that would require the DOT to implement signal priority at 10 routes per year for the next four years. “New Yorkers have a right to a reliable transit system, but millions who rely on buses are suffering because of slower speeds and
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longer travel times,” Levine said in a written statement last week. “I’m especially excited that the MTA plans to equip every one of its 5,700 buses with transit signal priority (TSP) technology by 2020.” The MTA’s Bus Action Plan announcement was welcome news to Levine, but his legislation points toward the next step, which is for the city’s DOT to bridge the gap between buses having the technology and routes being green lit for the innovation. Levine rallied last year with members of the Coalition, suggesting that the DOT take a look at the M4, running between Penn Station and Washington Heights; the M5, from Herald Square to the George Washington Bridge; and the Bx19, which runs from Harlem to the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. The Bus Turnaround Coalition rates all three with an ‘F,’ and the Bx19 is among the slowest with average speeds at around 4.7 miles per hour. A person walks about 3.1 miles an hour, according to the Coalition. Despite widespread support for TSP from the community, city agencies, and politicians, citywide implementation faces challenges. Some signal priority efforts outside of New York City focus on shortening red lights, but on city streets with high foot traffic, the DOT is instead reliant on extending green lights. “Extending the green light is a lot easier to do for the bus coming down the avenue or whatever it might be and provide the benefits for the buses that way,” TransitCenter’s Pangilinan said. Unfortunately for Manhattan riders, the technology is best suited to the outer boroughs along along two-way streets. The DOT emphasizes that each corridor has to be studied individually, but generally speaking, TSP works where there are not numerous turn signals, on streets with bus lanes, and along streets that don’t already use an existing signal progression approach — dubbed “green wave” — intended to keep traffic moving on a systemic rather than light-by-light basis. These are issues in the DOT’s court. From the MTA side, its Bus Action Plan also commits to other upgrades, such as expanding bus lanes and all-door boarding. These tools work best together, according to the DOT. TransitCenter’s Pangilinan echoed that sentiment. Each transit technology advance feeds the others, he said, adding, “That is where the magic happens, if you will.”
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Amidst LPC Rules Change Fight, Chief Resigns BY SYDNEY PEREIRA When Meenakshi Srinivasan announced on April 19 that she would be resigning as chairperson of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the timing struck many as peculiar. Less than a month earlier, a public hearing at LPC over a proposed rules change for the agency was standing room only, and the overwhelming majority of the crowd were opposed to Srinivasan’s proposal. A leading member of at least one group called for her resignation, as the audience applauded. Yet, Srinivasan denies that the hearing — and the outpouring of opposition to the proposal — had anything to do with her decision to resign. In fact, she had been planning to leave the post for months, according to a spokesperson for the 53-year-old city agency. The Architect’s Newspaper reported that Srinivasan is taking a position at New York Law School’s Center for New York City Law to develop curricula for it. The TimesLedger of Queens, our sister newspaper, broke the news about her resignation, which comes after four years as LPC chairperson and 28 years in city government. “I am proud of what we have accomplished — promoting equity, diversity, efficiency, and transparency in all aspects of LPC’s work, and working with the administration to make preservation a critical part of the city’s planning process,” Srinivasan said in a written statement. “It’s been an intense, challenging, and incredibly rewarding experience.” Her resignation was “surprising” to Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “Just based on the history of the Landmarks Commission, typically, there have been changes in the chairperson when there’s changes in the mayoral administration,” he said. While news of Srinivasan’s departure came as a shock to some preservationists, her tenure was certainly not without controversy. Preservation groups have been deeply critical of a myriad of decisions she made as the Commission’s leader — most recently the rules change proposal, which, preservationists charge, would drastically reduce transparency and public oversight. Decisions by the LPC seen as developer-friendly, such as approving “Gansevoort Row,” a major rebuilding project on Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District, fall on Srinivasan’s back, as well. Yet some note that under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, there’s not much hope for Srinivasan’s replacement being NYC Community Media
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Audience members protest proposed LPC rule changes at a March 27 public hearing.
Photo courtesy of LPC
Landmarks Preservation Commission chairperson Meenakshi Srinivasan is leaving that post on June 1 after four years at the helm.
any better for preservation in the city. “While she has pushed the agency in many ways to be more inclusive, I think that she has, by and large, tried to loosen its regulatory powers,” Bankoff said. Srinivasan’s landmark designations such as the Rose Reading Room and Bill Blass Catalogue Room at the New York Public Library’s main branch at 42nd St. and Fifth Ave., select interior spaces in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the historic West Village Stonewall Inn, and in underrepresented areas, like East Harlem, Brownsville, and East New York, are just a few of the shining moments in her tenure, but they have been overshadowed by pro-development decisions, her critics say. The overarching power of the mayor is to blame, some argue. “This mayoral administration has been extraordinarily clear about its growth agenda and about attempting to deliver social services,” Bankoff said. That agenda is also overly friendly to real estate developers, preservationists feel.
According to Bankoff, the mayor’s agenda is fundamentally at odds with what the core goals of the LPC should be. “That’s not what the agency does,” Bankoff said. “It’s like asking the Fire Department to pick up garbage.” Srinivasan was appointed Landmarks commissioner by the mayor in 2014. She previously served as chairperson of the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals for a decade during the Bloomberg administration, and prior to that, worked at the Department of City Planning for more than 20 years, rising to deputy director of its Manhattan office. Her time as LPC chairperson focused on increasing transparency and expediting the lengthy process of applications for permits and landmark designations — including, in particular, what was dubbed the “backlog initiative,” an effort to make final decisions on applications that had been pending for years. It’s ironic then that, by and large, the recent LPC rules change proposal was accused of being anything but transparent — lessening public oversight for certain applications and creating vague language for the criteria in decisions that would be made at the staff level rather than voted on by the commissioners. More than 100 pages of bureaucratic rule changes were released to the public in mid-February, and a public hearing was held March 27. The LPC maintains that the new rules would streamline the application process, leaving just the major architectural changes and developer applications for public hearings and review by local community boards. The new rules, the agency says, are intended to increase the clarity of criteria for stafflevel decisions. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation testified at the March 27 hearing about several phrases in the regulations that were far from
clear — but rather would leave many decisions dependent on staffers’ subjective opinions. “For the most part,” said Andrew Berman, the society’s executive director, “people were not buying it.” One example of vague jargon in the rules was whether or not a proposed architectural addition calls “undue attention” to itself. How LPC staff would make such a determination was not clear to preservation groups. The public’s input would be best for answering such a vague question, they said. “What can that possibly mean?” scoffed Christabel Gough, the secretary of the Society for the Architecture of the City, another group critical of the subjective phrases that GVSHP flagged. Her group’s testimony — nearly 10,000 words long — pointed out that determining what the subjective phrase “undue attention” means would be decided behind closed doors. Other changes the LPC says will make the process more efficient by way of staff-level approval include allowing more options in restoration efforts to use substitute materials rather than original materials; creating a “standardized formula” in evaluating storefront designs and windows, which could lead to design homogenization; and cutting the public out of the review of rooftop and rear-yard additions that don’t “significantly increase visibility” in the judgment of staff. To its credit, the LPC has made significant transparency improvements in the form of publicly available online databases and search tools. And, the agency noted, of the 14,000 permit applications the LPC receives each year, between 93 and 96 percent are already reviewed at a staff level. Only three to six percent of applications are reviewed by local community boards through a public hearing — and the Commission says such review would not change under the new rules. Looking ahead, Gough and others are now keeping their focus on the LPC., with or without Srinivasan. Explaining Srinivasan’s abrupt resignation, Gough declared, is largely a “distraction” Her group is concerned about the rules change at the agency. Srinivasan’s last day is not until June 1 and the public comment period for the rules change ends May 8 — which gives the Commission plenty of time to approve the rules change while she is still around. But Gough hopes the other commissioners will see fit to vote against the proposal. “It’s up to them to take a stand,” she said. May 3, 2018
Midtown West Side Residents Meet to Mitigate Noise BY RANIA RICHARDSON In a city with rampant development and a strained infrastructure, it seems like everywhere you turn there are construction sheds, blocked sidewalks, and the earsplitting sound of jackhammers. But no neighborhood is as concentrated with work as the Special Hudson Yards District, roughly from W. 30th to 41st Sts., between Eighth and Eleventh Aves., where real estate behemoths are laboring day and night to extend the Midtown central business district westward with new offices, hotels, and apartment complexes. When local resident Julia Campanelli received notice in early April that Con Edison would be working on 33rd St. between Ninth and 10th Aves. from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for many weeks, she mobilized her neighbors and contacted local officials. Through the office of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, she requested a town hall-style meeting where the community could speak to city agencies and other officials regarding the all-night noise and other matters of concern. On May 1, about 25 residents met with representatives from Con Edison, the NYC Department of Transportation, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Port Authority (including Lincoln Tunnel) and Community Board 4, as well as Brookfield Properties (the developer behind Manhattan West, a project located in the vicinity of the Con Edison work). “This has been going on for years,” Campanelli said,
Photo by Rania Richardson
On May 1, members of the community met with officials to discuss noise on Manhattan’s Far West Side. At table, L to R: Kimberly Williams/Con Edison, Michael Moccia/Con Edison, Colleen Chattergoon/NYC DOT, Humberto Galarza/NYC DEP, Carl Wilson/City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office, and Jesse Bodine/CB4. Standing: Matt Green/City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office.
referring to noise in the area. “Asking us to go without sleep for months at a time is a serious health issue.” The requests on Campanelli’s agenda included specifics regarding new work hours, adherence to scheduled work dates and times, noise mitigation, compliance with legal noise levels, and input by residents when new phases of work are planned.
A fervent discussion ensued, with some community members furious with the prolonged sacrifice they are making in their quality of life. The room agreed to a final list of proposals, to be addressed by the representative organizations in the next few days. This publication will update readers on the results of these proposals via future print and web coverage.
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Outrage at Union Busting Gay-Owned Adult Boutique By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union n June of 2017, the employees of Pleasure Chest stores voted unanimously to join the RWDSU. But their owner, a wealthy gay man who lives in L.A., has fought them every step of the way, dragging out ﬁrst contract negotiations for nearly a year and refusing to agree to even the most basic safety provisions and trainings for his largely LGBTQ workforce to choose union representation. He’s gone so far to hire one of the most notorious and expensive anti-union law ﬁrms, Jackson Lewis, to ﬁght his workers’ contract needs. It’s a shocking blow to workers who are seeking much more than just improved wages and beneﬁts. The sex toy industry is rife with workplace issues, including sexual harassment and even physical assault. A union voice can make a huge difference toward making workers in adult toy stores safer and more secure. One has to look no further than the case of Babeland – another queer-owned chain of adult toy stores in New York City – to see the difference. Babeland workers won RWDSU membership in 2016, and have secured a strong ﬁrst contract that not only improves wages and beneﬁts, it created safety protocols in the workplace that address the many issues these retail workers face, and workers have won increased pay and hours. The workers at Pleasure Chest want the same kind of protection, they are demanding it, but it’s also their right. They’ve continued ﬁghting, by protesting and even engaging in a Black Friday work stoppage. Their boss responded not by addressing his workers’ safety needs, but by ﬁling a frivolous charge at the National Labor Relations Board that would have allowed him to ﬁre workers who participated in the strike. The ﬂimsy charges were soon dismissed by the regional labor board, but Pleasure Chest has now appealed his charges to the Trump-controlled NLRB in Washington, D.C. Union-busting is always troubling, but in this case, it is even more so. It’s an outrage that a gay man running a supposedly inclusive non-judgmental sex toy shop would appeal to the Trump administration for help in repressing the rights and potentially ﬁring his own employees, who are mostly low wage trans and gender non-conforming people of color, just because they wanted to be safe while doing their very difﬁcult and emotionally intimate jobs. The workers aren’t going to stop ﬁghting, and neither is their union. Like so many other workers, their ﬁght for justice is all of our ﬁght – for fairness, for justice, and for equality.
Ceramics Studio Sale is Solid Choice for Shoppers Every single year, it’s the same thing — and that’s just fi ne with us. Handmade, oneof-a-kind items are about to be put up for grabs at the Penn South Ceramics Studio Spring Sale. Artsy and affordable, this sale is perfectly timed for Mother’s Day. Are you planning to get her flowers? Pick up a vase at Penn South. Does somebody on your list like scented candles? Well, surely one of the Studio students or instructors has put a votive on the shelf, for
sale. Does that special person in your life like to be draped in jewelry? Oh, they’ve got jewelry. Platters, mugs, and bowls — this sale offers those practical products as well, plus other unique
Images courtesy of Penn South Ceramics
items that make browsing a pleasure, and gift-giving a breeze. What’s more, you can pick up a brochure and treat yourself to a class or two, so by the time their annual Holiday sale arrives in December, you will have arrived as one of the featured artists. We’re not sorry for the (some would say shameless) endorsement on this annual event. We meant every word. Put that in your kiln and fi re it! Sat. and Sun., May 5 and 6, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Penn South Ceramics Studio in Building 6B, 276 Ninth Ave., at the northeast corner of W. 26th St. Send an email to pennsouthceramics@ gmail.com for more info. —Scott Stiffler
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‘Prelude’ Provides Preview of Programming at The Shed BY WINNIE McCROY On May 1, The Shed at Hudson Yards began presenting a free, twoweek showcase in a temporary structure located a block from the where massive complex is poised to establish itself as major cultural presence on the West Side. “A Prelude to The Shed” is intended to give people an idea of the of the type of programming to be offered once The Shed officially opens in spring 2019. “Rather than artists serving a building, this is the idea that the building becomes a sort of software that informs the hardware of art,” said Alex Poots, Artistic Director of The Shed. “Its functionality inspires the way it looks. It can move and adapt, appear and disappear.” Among the performances will be Tino Sehgal’s “This Variation,” a series of movements and sounds presented in pitch black. The structure that houses this preview is, like The Shed, able to be configured in myriad ways. For this presentation, the walls close in to complete darkness, giving the sensation of being buried alive. But as your eyes acclimate, the fear turns to funk, as the group create a capella grooves to pop songs like
Photo by Winnie McCroy
At the May 1 opening, two men danced to Tino Sehgal’s “This Variation.”
“Good Vibrations,” with no variation repeated twice. Another dance presentation is William Forsythe’s short “Pas de Deux Cent Douze.” Specially commissioned for “Prelude,” it’s a radical reimagining of the central duet from his seminal 1987 ballet “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.” There will also be musical perfor-
mances by Atlanta-based R&B singer Abra, singer/songwriter Azealia Banks, and Venezuelan electronic music producer Arca — plus D.R.E.A.M. Ring dance battles organized by Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray, taking place in the early evenings. The D.R.E.A.M. Ring dancers are part of The Shed’s preopening commission, FlexNYC, whose participants (elementary through high
school age) explore social issues and self-expression through FLEXN, a form of street dance with roots in Jamaican Bruk Up. Influencing the creation of both The Shed and the temporary “Prelude” space, “A stroll through the fun palace,” will give viewers an insight into Cedric Price’s archives — including his influential but unrealized inspiration, the Fun Palace, visualized as an open infrastructure able to accommodate myriad “plug and play” presentations. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Program Advisor at The Shed, spent a lot of time with Price when they began working together in 1996. He said Price wanted architectural documents to be circulated rather than buried in some office filing cabinet. “I think he would love this idea that younger architects like Kunlé [Adeyemi] can be inspired to create a flexible structure very much based on what he and I discussed,” Obrist confidently speculated. “He didn’t want architecture to be an object, he wanted it to be a process. Also the playfulness; Cedric never wanted to be stuck in the architecTHE SHED continued on p. 14
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VACANCY TAX continued from p. 2
Via NYC Council
Chelsea and Hellâ€™s Kitchen were part of the top 10 zip codes that lost small retailers and restaurants.
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from evicting commercial tenants just because they hope they can get a much higher rent. Of course what we really need, especially to help small businesses, is a commercial rent protection system,â€? Gottfried said via email. Last year, Hoylman released a report â€” â€œBleaker on Bleecker: A Snapshot of High-Rent Blight in Greenwich Village and Chelseaâ€? â€” that took a look at vacancies on â€œselected streets that we knew to be major commercial corridors in the East Village, Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, the West Village, and Chelsea.â€? The total vacancy rate on all four streets was 9.76 percent, according to the report. â€œOur constituents want to know why storefronts are vacant,â€? he said. Hoylman noted that there are â€œa lot of factors at playâ€? when it comes to why a storefront is empty. Amazon and online shopping have taken a chunk out of retail, which has been struggling nationwide. In Manhattan, commercial rents have increased, putting greater pressure on small businesses that also contend with taxes and regulations. From 2006 to 2016, â€œaverage retail asking rents rose from $108
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NYC Community Media
ACCESS ACCESS THE CITY CITY Y Photo by Scott Stiffler
Empty storefronts on Eighth Ave. (btw. W. 20th & 21st Sts.). The City Council’s Dec. 2017 report noted Chelsea and Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen are among the top 10 zip codes that lost small retailers and restaurants.
per square foot annually to $156 in Manhattan,” however, that figure masks “significant differences at the neighborhood level,” according to a December City Council report titled “Planning for Retail Diversity: Supporting NYC’s Neighborhood Businesses.” In Midtown South, for example, rents rose from $85 to $143, according to the report. “For many neighborhood retailers and restaurants coming off 10-year leases, this is a shocking increase that is in some cases impossible to absorb,” the reports states. According to the report, the top 10 zip codes that lost small retailers and restaurants include Midtown East, Times Square/Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the Upper East Side and Upper West Side. “You don’t have to walk far in Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen to know that there’s a crisis underway with our street level retail. The empty storefronts not only cause blight and a loss of character, they also reflect the loss of basic neighborhood staples like laundromats, supermarkets and other essentials,” Speaker Corey Johnson said in an emailed statement. Johnson noted this issue is one of his top priorities as Speaker. “I am determined to achieve solutions from government after many years of inaction of inertia,” he said. “I’m also [hopeful] that Albany, with a Democratic majority in the State Senate, will enact a vacancy tax on empty storefronts. The future of our neighborhoods — and our city — depends on it.” The City Council report, which came out during Johnson’s predecessor, Melissa Mark-Viverito’s tenure, made several recommendations, including requiring “landlords to register with [the city’s Department of Small Business Services] after a storefront has been vacant for 90 days and report on the status every 90 days thereafter.” NYC Community Media
When asked about this, Goldstein, from the mayor’s office, said that it “still reviewing” the City Council’s report. Last year, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office surveyed the entire length of Broadway and found more than 188 vacancies. “Cushman & Wakefield did a similar survey, with similar findings, a month later,” Brewer said in via email. “This is a real problem, and the truth is, we don’t have enough data. It’s hard to solve a problem when you don’t have a full picture of where it’s happening, how long it’s happening, and why it’s happening.” Brewer said she is “very encouraged that the mayor is open to a tax on storefronts that sit vacant for months. This is a tactic that’s been used in other cities, and it’s something we should be looking at.” Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen is the campaign coordinator for equitable economic development for the citywide organization Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, which is part of a coalition called United for Small Business NYC, and part of its platform calls for a penalty for landlords “who neglect vacant properties or intentionally leave space vacant” for more than six months. “We want to see some movement on this,” Moritz-Chapelliquen said in a phone interview. A penalty is needed to hold people accountable, he said. “The policy needs to be worked out but the acknowledgement that this is a citywide problem is a good development and a good step forward,” he said. SaMi Chester, a tenant organizer with Cooper Square Committee, called small businesses the “backbone of the city.” “The fact that there are empty storefronts — it boggles the mind because they are so many small businesses that have been displaced,” Chester said by phone. “I think we owe small businesses a lot more respect and urgency to this problem.”
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L to R: Guitar builder Dean Gordon and sound engineer Chris Diehl are part of a staff who are as much of a draw as the instruments. CHELSEA GUITARS continued from p. 3
man in full leather with assless chaps have an awesome conversation with the 85-year-old woman, Sheila, who lived down the block,” he recalled. “They connected because they both had toy poodles. These people care about what’s in your heart, not what outfit you’re wearing. I hate to sound like my father, but certain changes in our neighborhood worry me.” Chelsea is a haven for outcasts and artists, Courtenay noted, and he doesn’t want to see that change. He thought he had two years left on a 10-year lease that, he concedes, had an addendum allowing the owner to give him the boot if their renovation plans deemed it necessary. Drukier contends Courtenay was actually operating on a month-to-month lease, but is sympathetic to his plight. “We really tried to do the best we can,” Drukier said. “He knew this was an issue a long time ago, and we gave him proper notice. If he needs an extra month or so in that location before he fi nds a place, then the lawyers can work that out. But we are really trying
May 3, 2018
Expect the unexpected at Chelsea Guitars.
to maintain what the Chelsea Hotel is, and part of that is bringing the ground floor back.” Courtenay is in favor of the Chelsea Hotel being restored, saying sympathetically that, “It’s such a unique building, just getting it up to code is going to be a hell of a job. Four guys before them tried, and couldn’t do it. So, I admire them. And I don’t have any problem with the hotel being
reopened and welcoming. But I fear it will become a place that attracts people who are absolutely f**king clueless about the remarkable history it holds.” Despite his circumstances, Courtenay doesn’t fault Drukier and the other owners for being businessmen, saying, “It’s just business. I can’t get mad at that.” But, he added, “I would hope that the guys who bought
the hotel would be cool enough to realize [the store’s potential]. I think these guys are so totally involved with getting this hotel up and working that they can’t see any further than that. They may be missing what people could bring to the equation.” His tiny guitar shop is currently being scrapped to make way for an alternative entrance to the Chelsea Hotel, which to Courtenay hardly makes sense. But Drukier said that it’s the only place that works. “The real issue is that we’re redoing the lobby and breaking ground on floor space to make the Hotel back to what it was, and this place is the only logical spot for an entrance,” Drukier told Chelsea Now. “We are going to maintain the El Quijote, and we’ll try to restore the interior spaces to what they were many years ago. We’ll hang the art back up, and try to bring back as much as we can. But the only entrance and egress we can use right now is via that store, because of landmark issues preventing changes to the front of the building.” CHELSEA GUITARS continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media
Affordable Housing for Rent 222 EAST 44th STREET 109 NEWLY CONSTRUCTED UNITS AT 222 East 44th Street New York, NY 10017 Midtown East Amenities: Washer/Dryer in Unit, Indoor Swimming Pool*, Sauna*, Indoor Basketball & Squash Court*, Fitness Club*, st 41 Floor Lounge w/ Dining Room*, Outdoor Deck w/ BBQ*, Screening Room*, Tech Lounge*, Childrenâ€™s Playroom*, Golf Simulator*, Dog Washroom*, Bike Room*, Tenant Storage*, Coin-Operated Laundry Room (*additional fees apply). Transit: Trains: Grand Central Station, S, 4, 5, 6, 7, E, B, D, F, M Buses: 200, 250, 300, 400, 500, M15, M15-SBS, M101, M102, M103, QM31, QM32, QM36, QM44 No application fee â€˘ No brokerâ€™s fee â€˘ Smoke-free building This building was constructed through the Inclusionary Housing Program and is anticipated to receive a Tax Exemption through the 421-a Tax Incentive Program of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program of New York State Homes and Community Renewal Who Should Apply?
Individuals or households who meet the income and household size requirements listed in the table below may apply. Qualified applicants will be required to meet additional selection criteria. Applicants who live in New York City receive a general preference for apartments.
A percentage of units is set aside for applicants with disabilities: R Mobility (5%) R Vision/hearing (2%) Preference for a percentage of units goes to: R Residents of Manhattan Community Board 6 (50%) R Municipal employees (5%)
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Rent includes gas for cooking. Household size includes everyone who will live with you, including parents and children. Subject to occupancy criteria. Household earnings includes salary, hourly wages, tips, Social Security, child support, and other income. Income guidelines subject to change. 4 Minimum income listed may not apply to applicants with Section 8 or other qualifying rental subsidies. Asset limits also apply. 2 3
How Do You Apply? Apply online or through mail. To apply online, please go to nyc.gov/housingconnect. To request an application by mail, send a selfth addressed envelope to: 222 E. 44 Street c/o Breaking Ground, PO Box 3620937, New York, NY 10129. Only send one application per development. Do not submit duplicate applications. Do not apply online and also send in a paper application. Applicants who submit more than one application may be disqualified. When is the Deadline? Applications must be postmarked or submitted online no later than July 2, 2018. Late applications will not be considered. What Happens After You Submit an Application? After the deadline, applications are selected for review through a lottery process. If yours is selected and you appear to qualify, you will be invited to an interview to continue the process of determining your eligibility. Interviews are usually scheduled from 2 to 10 months after the application deadline. You will be asked to bring documents that verify your household size, identity of members of your household, and your household income. EspaĂąol
Presente una solicitud en lĂnea en nyc.gov/housingconnect. Para recibir una traducciĂłn de espaĂąol de este anuncio y la solicitud impresa, envĂe un sobre con la direcciĂłn a: 222 E. 44th Street c/o Breaking Ground, PO Box 3620937, New York, NY 10129. En el reverso del sobre, escriba en inglĂŠs la palabra â€œSPANISH.â€? Las solicitudes se deben enviar en lĂnea o con sello postal antes de 2 de julio 2018.
ä‡Żä°žnyc.gov/housingconnectŕľ˜ă“ŻâŁäˆ§Ç„ŕž˛ăžąă§§ŕ¨†áľœá’ŻŕŠşŕ§şŇ–äś’âŁäˆ§ăş˜â˛´ă†°ÖƒŃ?áŽˇâĄ¸Ëˆäˆ§áˆśá›˜â˛´ŕ´Žä›žŘ‘áˆąá‡´ä˜ąă ŁË–222 E. 44th Street c/o Breaking Ground, PO Box 3620937, New York, NY 10129.Ř‘áˆąă›źäś’äˆ§â˜ă¤Ąäˆ?âŒ˜á°žÄ€CHINESEÄ Ç„á—ľäşŤŕľ˜Ô•Đťá°•áľ?ŃťŕĄ˝ŕľ˜ă“Żá¨€Ó”âŁäˆ§áĄ†ä›žá‡´Ň–äś’âŁäˆ§á’¤ á´¸á°•
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Aplike sou entĂ¨nĂ¨t sou sitwĂ¨b nyc.gov/housingconnect. Pou resevwa yon tradiksyon anons sa a nan lang KreyĂ˛l Ayisyen ak aplikasyon an sou papye, voye anvlĂ˛p ki gen adrĂ¨s pou retounen li nan: 222 E 44th Street c/o Breaking Ground, PO Box 3620937, New York, NY 10129. Nan dĂ¨yĂ¨ anvlĂ˛p la, ekri mo â€œHATIAN CREOLEâ€? an AnglĂ¨. Ou dwe remĂ¨t aplikasyon yo sou entĂ¨nĂ¨t oswa ou dwe tenbre yo anvan dat jiyĂ¨ 2, 2018.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo ÍťMayor Bill de Blasio ÍťHPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer Íť HCR Commissioner/CEO Ruth Anne Visnauskas
NYC Community Media
May 3, 2018
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Image courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group
L to R: Alex Poots, KunlĂŠ Adeyemi and Hans Ulrich Obrist, at May 1â€™s opening day of â€œA Prelude to The Shed.â€?
A rendering of The Shed and Lawrence Weinerâ€™s public installation, â€œIN FRONT OF ITSELF.â€?
THE SHED continued from p. 9
tural world, he wanted to go beyond the boundaries of disciplines. Important to his Fun Palace was the idea of visionary theatre, street theatre, bringing these ideas literally to the people to the street, which is kind of what weâ€™re doing here with Tino Sehgalâ€™s choreography.â€? There will also be panel discussions curated by Dorothea von Hantelmann on the role of art and culture in social
connectivity. Von Hantelmann has written an essay specially commissioned for â€œPreludeâ€? that considers new ritual forms for the 21st century; her booklet will be distributed free at the site. Architect KunlĂŠ Adeyemi collaborated with Sehgal to create this flexible venue on an undeveloped lot at 10th Ave. and W. 31st St. (one block from The Shedâ€™s future home). Tickets are free online or via standby for these standing room, general admission performances. It is a
rain or shine event, with free ponchos available in the case of rain; organizers ask that you please donâ€™t bring umbrellas. It is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but there is a no re-entry policy. Said Adeyemi, â€œI think weâ€™ve tried to respond to the functional requirements of culture, of flexibility, of context, of space, and how people interact with it. We didnâ€™t work toward making a Fun Palace type of piece, but I am very glad
itâ€™s in the spirit of Cedric Price.â€? In spring 2019, when the inaugural programming launches at The Shed â€” the 200,000-square-foot structure designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with The Rockwell Group â€” people will be able to access the arts venue where the High Line meets W. 30th St. â€œI know that Cedric Priceâ€™s work had a huge impact on Liz Diller and David Rockwellâ€™s thinking,â€? Poots said.
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NYC Community Media
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Like The Shed itself, the structure that houses “Prelude” is able to be configured in numerous manners.
“Cedric was so ambitious, some people wondered if it was even possible to do this, but that was his genius. He set the bar so high for people to aspire to.” Poots noted they own the temporary structure, and assured that it would be used again for another purpose. It might even be sold in its entirety to an art collector. The Shed was created exclusively to commission, produce, and present all kinds of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture events, from hip-hop to classical music, visual art to literature, film to theater to dance. As it expands and contracts, it can be set into many configurations to accommodate multiple events simultaneously. It will have the capacity for 1,200 seated or 2,700 standing. Flexible overlap space in the two adjoining galleries allows for an expanded hall audience up to 3,000. The entire ceiling is a theatrical deck with rigging and structural capacity throughout. Its most notable design feature is its telescoping outside shell that deploys over the plaza to provide a vast, 120-foot-high, temperature-controlled hall. The shell is made of ETFE panels, a durable, lightweight, highly resistant plastic that is more energy efficient and economical than glass. When the telescoping shell is rolled back on its rails, the plaza offers nearly 20,000-square-feet ideal for outdoor events, with the eastern façade able to serve as a backdrop for projection. And when using the adapted gantry crane technology to close the outer shell, The Shed can still provide 17,000-square-foot of space for programming. For now, the two-week “Prelude” will give New Yorkers a taste of what’s to come: new works by artists and choreographers, musical performances, and panel discussions throughout the day, demonstrating The Shed’s mission to support artistic invention and present multiple art forms in one flexible space. Free and open to the public, “A Prelude to The Shed” runs through May 13 at The Shed (10th Ave., btw. W. 30th & 31st Sts.; entrance on W. 31st St.). A number of walk-in tickets to all events, including those sold out online, will be available on-site daily. For more information, visit theshed.org. NYC Community Media
May 3, 2018
Six New Studios, Endless Possibilities for Gibney Broadway facility expands commitment to dance, community
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
On stage, L to R: Dancers Tamrin Goldberg, Thomas Tyger Moore, Calleja Smiley and Emily Tellier at a Hands are for Holding assembly at PS81 in Ridgewood, Queens.
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Enthusiasm pulsed in the air as the fi fth graders remained in rapt attention of the dancers onstage. “If you hear my voice, give me a clap,” Thomas Tyger Moore instructed. “If you hear my voice, give me three claps. If you hear my voice, give me six claps.” The students followed suit, and in the hush that followed, two of the dancers — Calleja Smiley and Emily Tellier — showed how to stand up while being back to back. It was then the students’ turn. They bounded onstage and tried to do the same, to mixed results and giggles. The recent morning assembly at PS81 in Ridgewood, Queens was part of a program called Hands are for Holding, which uses dance to spur conversations among middle and high school students throughout the city about healthy and unhealthy relationships, bullying, technology, and social media. “The kids are very receptive to what they see,” Tellier said afterwards, noting that most kids “love to dance, and so using dance that way to communicate this kind of message, I think, is the best point about this. We’re not just talking at them, they’re actually seeing the differences between healthy and unhealthy.” In between the dances and demonstrating gestures that signal healthy
May 3, 2018
relationships, such as respect, trust and support, someone from the nonprofit Day One, or from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence facilitates a conversation around what the students saw, Tellier explained. Hands are for Holding is one branch of a larger organization now known as Gibney, which focuses on social justice work, community, and its beating heart: dance (visit gibneydance.org for more information). At the center of the organization is Gina Gibney, who founded her eponymous dance company in 1991, and when she last spoke with NYC Community Media in fall 2014, had recently taken on the space at 280 Broadway — in addition to running 890 Broadway. Now, Gibney Dance recently rebranded as Gibney, expanded its studio space, and has become a presenter of dance. “People come here and I overhear their conversations on the phones, they say, ‘I’m at Gibney,’” she said in a recent interview at 280 Broadway. She added, “We feel that we have grown incrementally, but we’re kind of approaching being an institution now, and so we want to have a name that feels a little bit more — rolls off the tongue, simple.” Gibney reiterated the deep commitment to dance, despite the removal of the word.
Photo by Scott Shaw
It took about 18 months to renovate the space into studios.
“At the same time, think of how many organizations you’ve heard of that are — fi ll in the blank — dance,” she said. “We think we needed to have a name that really in some way just captured the concept that we are an institution, we do many, many things. Part of what we do is have a resident dance company but we have grown… beyond that.” That growth has been literal as well. Six new studios — 10,000 square feet of space — recently opened at 280 Broadway. “First and foremost, dance artists just need space,” Gibney explained. “There is a crisis of space, and we had, before having those six studios, we had 17 studios that were literally full morning to night and we’re turning people away.” Of the 17 studios before the expansion, she said many of them were not large, and those are needed to serve sizable groups of dancers. Initially, when Gibney signed the lease at 280 Broadway, there was a subtenant in the back. “The original space here was 26,000 square feet, our space at 890 is about 16,000 square feet and this was another 10. So at the time, I just thought are you kidding, you know, more risk, more responsibility, more rent,” she said with a laugh. Then she started to realize the back space was ideal.
“The original space was complicated. There are a few spaces where there are pillars right in the middle of rooms,” she said. “The columns back there just cooperated beautifully, they just lined up, literally, as if… the space was meant to be used as a dance studio.” It took about 18 months for the renovation. “We want that back wing to feel like a residency space. So we’re working on mechanisms that would allow us to either rent it to people in blocks of time, or to partner with other organizations to provide residency space, or to use some of our own funding,” she explained. One of the residencies — called Dance in Process — is aimed at midcareer artists. “It’s very generous funding. It gives the artist complete access, 24/7, to the space for three weeks,” Gibney said, noting the funding came from the [Andrew W.] Mellon Foundation. “It gives them a really generous fee. It gives them a resource menu. It gives them a budget for artistic advisors, or rehearsal assistants, or some resource connected to their creative process.” And because Dance in Process was started before the organization was a presenter, artists are under no obligation to create a work to present. GIBNEY continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media
Souls for Saving or Claiming Strong ensemble means smooth sailing for ‘Seafarer’
Photo by Carol Rosegg
L to R: Matthew Broderick, Michael Mellamphy, Andy Murray, Tim Ruddy and Colin McPhillamy in “The Seafarer.”
BY SCOTT STIFFLER The chance of a Christmas miracle for the motley crew of problem drinkers and eager gamblers wallowing in vice as that holy holiday approaches is about as slim as the branches on the tiny, artificial tree relegated to a corner of the oddly constructed home where “The Seafarer” unfolds. But like a winning hand when the chips are down, miracles have been known to happen — and not always to the most saintly among us. Wearing a scowl so deeply embedded it could pass for a birthmark, James “Sharky” Harkin spends the play’s opening moments (and a good deal of the following ones) picking up after the boozy indiscretions of his recently blinded older brother, Richard, who barks orders and hurls insults from a ragged armchair he occupies as if it were a throne. Having arrived back in this downscale coastal settlement north of Dublin City after the latest in a series of employment opportunities gone awry, dutiful caretaker Sharky — two days sober and starting to show it — attends to his domestic chores with the air of a man gunning for penance, rather than one victimized by the NYC Community Media
uneasy dynamics of sibling cohabitation. “The hypocrite’s voice haunts his own den,” Richard shoots back, after a scolding from Sharky. Skilled at rubbing salt in wounds to gets what he wants, life under the same roof as Richard is “a choppy ride,” according to Colin McPhillamy, who balances the character’s bellicose nature with surplus charisma and just enough vulnerability to keep him from being abandoned by family, friends, and the audience. Paired with Andy Murray’s intense and restrained performance as Sharky, the brothers are reason enough to merit a trip to the Irish Repertory Theatre — but the pot is sweetened when old, equally dysfunctional friends Ivan (Michael Mellamphy) and Nicky (Tim Ruddy) show up for the annual Christmas Eve poker game, with new acquaintance Mr. Lockhart (Matthew Broderick) in tow, who raises the stakes by revealing himself to Sharky as a sinister collector of old debts. “It’s actually an allegorical, redemptive tale couched in the costume of these extraordinarily sort of lowlife, vulgarian alcoholics,” McPhillamy said during a recent interview with this publication.
Looking past the play’s verbal abuse, physical altercations, mortal sins, and so very, very many uses of the F-word, McPhillamy rightly declared the supernatural-tinged 2008 work by Conor McPherson to be, when all is said and done, “just beautiful. The message is that there can be mystery, magic, redemption, grace, all these good things, in any context.” That’s not to say, however, that one should expect to exit on a note of unfettered optimism. “The Seafarer,” like previous Irish Rep productions of McPherson’s work (“The Weir” and “Shining City”), never grants its characters satisfaction without strings attached. Ciarán O’Reilly directs with his usual knack for presenting to viewers the playwright’s dense language and signature cadence as swoon-worthy rather than demanding, further buoyed by O’Reilly’s ability to bring simmering emotions to the surface at just the right moment. And that’s a necessary skill, as a series of revelations change our perception of karma, damnation, and self-destruction. “This is a play,” McPhillamy noted, “that has a range of experiences. It’s
really quite funny, but it’s got an element that is profoundly alarming. Whether you’re a person of faith or have a metaphysical view of life, the play confronts us with a universal truth, which is that we will all die — and none of us, or at least no one in my acquaintance, has any definite information about what happens then… In our culture, so much focus is on the idea that death is optional, and that life can be extended indefinitely with a reverse mortgage and the right kind of medication... It’s kind of refreshing to have a breath of truth, and that’s something the play brings.” Of the man who plays Sharky, McPhillamy said, “He’s immensely dedicated to the craft, meticulous in his work, whereas I’m more of a splash it around guy, a bit untidy in my approach… It worked out very well for the stage relationship. He’s doing all of these things for me: making toast, cleaning up, always on the go — and I’m sitting there,” McPhillamy chuckled, “being waited on.” There was, McPhillamy said, from SEAFARER continued on p. 20 May 3, 2018
Photos by Scott Shaw
Gina Gibney founded her eponymous dance company in 1991.
GIBNEY continued from p. 16
When Gibney took the space at 280 Broadway, she recalled, “We had converted studio C into a white box theater, and the downstairs into a lab, so we now had three performance spaces, and were a somewhat reluctant presenter.” She added, “I was concerned about the idea of becoming a presenter because presenting is as much about who is not on the stage as it is about… who is in that square of space for that amount of time. Those dynamics at the time seemed somewhat at odds with the character of our organization, or our kind of ethos as a community-minded organization.” Gibney said they developed separate tracks for the organization — social justice work, training, digital technology, the resident dance company, and presenting. Ben Pryor — the founder of the festival American Realness — is the in-house curator for Gibney. Class offerings have also increased, and many are down in partnership with Movement Research, and some intensives in partnership with the Joyce, she said. “We are essentially trying to, in a very sort of thoughtful way, expand offerings around a framework that we have, but in ways that we think are needed by the [dance] community,” she said. The larger community of Lower Manhattan is also welcome at 280 Broadway, where Community Board 1 has held meetings, as well as other groups. “I continue to be really energized by the fact that we are across… the
May 3, 2018
Dancers Nigel Campbell, the company’s co-director, and Zui Gomez.
street from City Hall,” she said. “It’s just very exciting to me to be a civic player. To be able to provide space to the Progressive Caucus, or to a specific group, or to the community board.” Gibney said it has been more challenging “to sort out what is the relationship between our actual programming and the Lower Manhattan community.” To that end, she said the organization is partnering with the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund “where we’re focusing on our own resident company and doing audience development from the neighborhood with that.” From May 3-5, the Gibney Dance Company will perform two pieces: Amy Miller’s “Valence” and Bryan Arias’ “One Thousand Million Seconds.” “For many years, the company was a vehicle for Gina Gibney’s work,” Miller, the senior company director, explained by phone. “For the past three years we’ve started the initiative where we invited guest choreographers.” Miller said she is “resetting an older work” with “Valence,” a piece with a lot “fierce, virtuosic moments” she created in 2009. Somehow, she recalled, she came across a laminated cheat sheet for chemistry, saw valence and its defi nition, and was inspired to create the dance. Company co-director Nigel Campbell said by phone, “It’s a wonderfully mixed program.” Arias’ piece is a new commission, and Campbell called it a “study on memories and moments.” Gibney Dance Company has five NYC Community Media
Photos by Scott Shaw
Gina Gibney said the new black box was “consciously built so you could do everything from a rehearsal in bare feet to build a set in that room.”
full-time dancers, known as “artistic associates,” which Miller is explained is a model based on three ideas —
the dancer as an artist, activist, and advocate. “Gina has created something so
special here,” Campbell said. For more information about Gibney Dance Company’s May 3-5
performances, go to gibneydance. org /event/gibney-dance-companyamy-miller-bryan-arias/2018-05-03.
B U S I N E S S , B R O O K LY N S T Y L E – A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Accessible Dispatch Article – May 2018 5 Facts You Should Know About the Accessible Dispatch Program The Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC)’s Accessible Dispatch program is making it easier than ever to connect with wheelchair accessible taxis in all five boroughs. Here are five facts you’ll want to know about the program, which helps individuals with disabilities access the city like never before. 1. The TLC first launched the Accessible Dispatch program in 2012 with 233 accessible cabs in Manhattan. There are now more than 2,000 green and yellow wheelchair accessible vehicles taking trips across New York City. 2. Service animals are permitted in all TLC-licensed vehicles. You never have to pay extra for a service animal, or for accessible service in a TLC-licensed vehicle. 3. Our dispatch team includes New Yorkers with
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disabilities, and all of our dispatchers are here to help you! If you need a ride, call 646-599-9999, 311, or 711 for NY Relay; visit www.accessibledispatch.com; or download the app: Accessible Dispatch NYC. 4. The Accessible Dispatch NYC app is available on both iOS and Android devices. The app is a great way to book a trip – you can select the right vehicle for you, contact our dispatchers through the app, and even track your taxi when it’s on the way to your pickup. 5. We offer trips in all five boroughs! Book your trip today!
You can learn more about the Accessible Dispatch program at www. a c c e s sibl e di sp at c h .c om , and we always welcome your feedback! Call us at 646-599-9999 or email us at email@example.com to ask questions or give us feedback about your trip. May 3, 2018
Photo by Carol Rosegg
Andy Murray’s Sharky is the man in the middle, with big brother Richard (Colin McPhillamy, right) conversing with the elephant in the room (Matthew Broderick, left, as devilish debt collector Mr. Lockhart).
SEAFARER continued from p. 17
the beginning, “a highly creative atmosphere” created by O’Reilly, first and foremost by “casting the play very well. We’re all very different in terms of the energy and quality that each of us supplies, and so of course as you begin to explore what the relationships are, so much is created in rehearsal... Ciarán gives you a supportive space where you can experiment.” As for Matthew Broderick, McPhillamy called his interpretation of the Mr. Lockhart character “an object lesson in modesty and generosity. I believe he is, kind of, ‘underacting’ everybody off the stage [laughs], and it’s a very smart and clever approach… To get inside the character in this way, that isn’t completely obvious, it’s tremendously interesting.” Regular visitors to the Irish Rep know of what McPhillamy speaks, having seen Broderick excel with his similarly non-comedic and layered turn in 2016’s “Shining City,” as a grieving widower haunted by visions. “It’s very exciting,” McPhillamy said of the diverse cast, “when actors at different levels in the profession mix it up. It’s something that happens in London, which is where I spent my first years [as an actor].” That city also played a part in helping him nail Richard’s accent, McPhillamy recalled, referencing London’s “large Irish population. So I was very familiar with the Irish sound, if you like.” It’s all the more impressive, given the actor’s Aussie roots. (Londonborn to Australian parents and now an American citizen, he no longer has to talk his way past customs by hoping they recognize him from “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.”) Asked how he spends his down time after the play, McPhillamy — who once
May 3, 2018
lived in the Village — said he knows the Chelsea area around the Irish Rep well, and noted it’s not an uncommon practice to “after the show, go and have a drink with a friend at Champignon [200 Seventh Ave., btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.], or Restivo [209 Seventh Ave., at W. 22nd St.]. And I get spicy Korean seafood soup sometimes at Essen [699 Sixth Ave., btw. W. 22nd & 23rd Sts.].” But he won’t be a presence in the neighborhood for long. “The Seafarer” closes on May 24, at which point McPhillamy will shift his focus to co-directing, with wife and Irish Rep veteran Patricia Connolly, “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at the Bagaduce Theatre in Brooksville, Maine. “It’s as far northeast as you can go without getting to Canada,” he noted. “The only thing I’m hesitant about is the size of the mosquitos, which are Special Forces-trained.” After that, he’ll join the company of “The Ferryman,” coming to Broadway in the fall. Assessing this, his first time working with the Irish Rep, McPhillamy said, “I’m very happy with the gig. It’s a management and a company that does it right. There’s a culture of friendliness and respect that extends to every level… Every now and again, you come across something and it’s just pitch-perfect. This has really been a delight, this whole experience.” “The Seafarer” plays at the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) through May 24. Wed. and Sat., 3pm & 8pm; Thurs., 7pm; Fri., 8pm; Sun., 3pm. Additional performance on Tues., May 22 at 7pm. Runtime: 2 hours, 20 minutes, including one intermission. For tickets ($50-$70), visit irishrep.org or call 212-727-2737 or visit irishrep.org. For Colin McPhillamy’s blog, visit mcphillamy.com. NYC Community Media
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May 3, 2018
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CHELSEA GUITARS continued from p. 12
In a perfect world, Courtenay would love to see a tiny spot made on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel for his guitar shop, so that hotel guests, bigname musicians, and even those “looky-loos” who stop in to serenade their girlfriends can soak up the history Chelsea Guitars has to offer. Drukier said that while they’ll restore the Hotel’s internal shopping arcade, the space isn’t suitable for a guitar shop. Barring that, Courtenay feels that street level stores are too expensive, and he’ll have to move to an upstairs space. “I’d lose street traffic, but you don’t walk down the street and decide to buy an expensive guitar. Who does?” Courtenay said that musicians from Japan and Europe, who are so conscientious of music they only buy vinyl, take music seriously and can afford to dole out thousands for musical equipment that will still prove to be a deal after the exchange rate is figured. Drukier said that he and MacPherson have not completely given up on the idea of maintaining a music store in the Chelsea Hotel. Having always made due with the limited space he has, a larger store would allow him to get rid of his three storage spaces in the city and display more retail product. “I hope to get a little more time, because it’s really hard to fi nd a space,” Courtenay said. “But I don’t need people to feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for the whole city changing around us. And money is important to me, but I’d be selling Mercedes Benzes if I just wanted to make money. I got into this because years ago, I was at my happiest when I was around people who knew more than I did about music and art.” Courtenay realizes that the co-owners of the Chelsea Hotel have already spent millions, and are most likely afraid to get involved with “the knucklehead who owns the guitar store.” He does, however, think that they are in jeopardy of losing out on what could be a prime attraction, custom-made for the artistic clientele for which the hotel is known. Should Courtenay fi nd another store close to his present location, he wants to continue his association with the hotel. For now, Courtenay hopes that the new owners will be able to fi nd a small space for him, somewhere out of the way, or perhaps around the corner, but still associated with the hotel. That way, he can share his connections with clientele who have traveled far to purchase a vintage guitar and hear the tales Courtenay tells of a bygone era where the Chelsea Hotel was synonymous with artists and musicians. “This hotel has always had a music store in it, and who else has 28 years of knowledge about the hotel and what went on there? I want them to succeed, I want it to remain a hotel, and I want it to be a place where people can come and experience what New York City is really about.” Said Drukier in response, “It’s a very small store, and we want to keep the funkiness of the place, but we need an egress, and that’s where it needs to be. If we can fi nd a place for the guitar store, then keeping it around is not a bad idea. But at this point, we can’t make any promises.” NYC Community Media
Photo by Christian Miles
Vintage amps are among the offerings.
May 3, 2018
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
May 3, 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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May 3, 2018