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

COUNTDOWN TO CROSSTOWN Bicyclists Mark Pending Milestone Project with Monthly Rides see page 3

Photo by Sam Bleiberg

L to R: Melodie Bryant, Carol Porteous and Tom Freudenheim set out on a crosstown ride on 29th St. — on the 29th of the month — to encourage the installation of protected bike lanes. © CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 23 | JUNE 7 – 13, 2018


West Chelsea Site ‘Flagged’ for Non-Union Work, Unsafe Conditions BY JUDY L. RICHHEIMER The message conveyed by the 14-foothigh inflatable rat, standing weekday mornings for nearly two months at the southeast corner of 10th Ave. and W. 25 St., is clear to many New Yorkers: There is a construction site nearby employing non-union labor, and there are unionized workers also nearby who want to tell you why that is a terrible thing. The rat is one of three owned by the Cement and Concrete Workers of New York City (ccwbf.org), also known as District 16, whose members handle excavation and construction of columns and floors. William Loria, organizer for the union, explains, “We have two functional rats. The third is in the shop.” The W. 25th St. rat is positioned somewhat differently from its counterparts around the city. Generally, inflatable rats are stationed directly in front of the non-union site, while this one signals from across the avenue to the southwest corner, where the foundation for 500 W. 25th St., a residential tower, is being laid. Loria wanted the rat situated closer to the object of his scorn. But, he recalled, “The first day that we were here we had the rat across the street [directly in front

Be Dad’s

Photo by Judy L. Richheimer

Organizers and currently unemployed union cement and concrete workers in front of their rat, one of three owned by the union. This inflatable rodent tells us that nearby, non-union construction is underway.

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June 7, 2018

of the site]. We were asked by the police to move it further away. He [the officer] claimed that the rat had to be at least 15 feet from the job site.” Loria was dubious, but did as he was told. “I’ve learned from experience that it’s just better to follow along with what they [the police] say. Even if you’re right, they’re right.” Loria and his colleagues acquiesced on that point, but remained vigilant in their fight against contractors who hire non-union — a sector of the construction world that has grown even in New York, a city that once had a 90 percent union construction workforce. The current percentage of union to non-union construction workers here is a vexed point among both industry and labor activists, and the controversy crosses ideological lines. According to the progressive Murphy Institute for Worker Education, organized labor accounts for 31 percent of the city’s construction workforce, while the Real Estate Board of New York states that the percentage is at least 10 points higher. Gary LaBarbera, the famously outspoken president of the labor advocacy group, the Building and Construction Trades Council, has flatly asserted, “Seventy percent are union. There is no way around that number,” drawing on federal statistics. However, some analysts find it impossible to deter-

mine the differential between union and non-union construction because many non-union workers are paid off the books, thus giving organized labor an artificially high percentage of the total workforce. Regardless of its current strength, District 16 is determined to bring public opinion in line with its cause. Toward that end, its organizers have been explaining to Chelsea residents and anyone else walking near their “soft” picket that union construction is safer than non-union construction. Underscoring that point, Loria spotted a construction truck associated with 500 W. 25th that was blocking the sidewalk, and furthermore, no “flag men” (“or women,” Loria corrected himself) were in sight. A flagger’s job is to alert pedestrians and vehicles to the obstruction ahead. “Look at that kid having to walk between the cars. This is the stuff we don’t like. This is how people get hurt.” Loria, along with lead organizer, Joe Scopo, asserted that flagging has almost never been in place when deliveries are made to the site. That kind of carelessness does not occur, they said, on a union site, but is typical for non-union jobs. “Flaggers serve a very import role, but not just for the public,” accordCONSTRUCTION continued on p. 15 NYC Community Media


Currently, 29th St. has a non-protected bike lane, which double-parked cars frequently obstruct.

Photos by Sam Bleiberg

A car sits double-parked next to heavy traffic in the bike lane on 29th St.

Safe Streets Advocates Almost Ready to Celebrate Crosstown Bike Lanes BY SAM BLEIBERG There are two magic numbers for Chelsea cyclists this summer: 26 and 29. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will implement crosstown protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th St. through Chelsea, and transportation activists are recognizing the victory for safe streets with organized rides on the 26th and 29th of every month. The first series of rides, during the last week of May, aimed to celebrate the decision — but also to encourage expeditious installation of the lanes. After rumors of delaying installation until this fall, the DOT’s latest timeline reports installation beginning in May without a precise date for completion. The DOT’s plan calls for the protected bike lanes to extend from 12th Ave. to First Ave. on 26th St., and First Ave. to 11th Ave. on 29th St. Manhattan organizers with transportation advocacy nonprofit Transportation Alternatives (TransAlt; transalt.org) scheduled the series of rides with the goal to speed up the implementation timeline to paint the lanes before the height of the summer months. Chelsea Now joined the ride on May 29 to interview riders and witness firsthand the current state of affairs on 26th and 29th Sts. “These lanes don’t just protect cyclists. They protect pedestrians, too,” said Chelsea resident Melodie Bryant, who participated in the ride on the 29th. “In the last two weeks, there have been two instances of car crashes where a vehicle plowed into a building. When bike lanes are protected by parked cars, the consequence of out of control vehicles is greatly NYC Community Media

lessened.” A tragic urgency undergirds the call for protected bike lanes on 26th and 29th. Last June, vehicles killed three cyclists in Chelsea. Two of the fatal crashes occurred on 26th street and 29th St. within a week of each other. Activists hope for the implementation of the lanes before the year anniversary of these deaths. Volunteers helped to install “ghost bikes” (bikes painted all white), to memorialize the riders. Steve Scofield, a volunteer with the Ghost Bike Project (ghostbikes.org), explained that the memorials help bring awareness of the work to be done to make streets safer. “Ghost Bikes are critical,” he said, “to remind everyone who sees them — cyclists, pedestrians, and especially drivers — that we are still losing far too many cyclists to traffic violence, despite all the progress we’ve made in redesigning streets for safer cycling and walking over the past few years.” Riders set out from First Ave. and W. 29th St. last Tuesday evening, mimicking a typical sunset commute (this time, with the added benefit of witnessing Manhattanhenge). One participant made the trip on a Citi Bike, while the rest rode their own bicycles. All are impatient for the installation of the new lanes. Kate Birmingham lives in Stuyvesant Town and says she struggles to find a safe path across Manhattan. “The Midtown area is so congested that I don’t feel safe crossing town on my bike in that area. I will be making an exception for the demo rides,” she said. “I am thrilled about cross town bike lanes on 26th and 29th Streets, because this will be the first time

there is a consideration that cyclists need to get across town safely, not just Uptown and Downtown.” Protected crosstown bike lanes have been the goal of a sustained campaign by Manhattan organizers and the Chelsea community. Activists have attended sev-

eral community board committee meetings over the past year to advocate for the project’s approval. Chelsea Now covered the decision by Community Board 4 (CB4) to approve the lanes (“CB4’s

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Chelsea Music Festival Beckons You to Hear, Taste, See ‘Bach 333’

Photo by Ryan Muir

Courtesy of Chelsea Music Festival

Jazz pianist and composer Helen Sung will perform for the festival’s closing.

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC German composer Johann Sebastian Bach was not afraid to take on one of the most controversial beverages of the 1700s: coffee. Indeed, the master addressed the stimulant in one of his secular works known as the “Coffee Cantata,” in which a father beseeches his daughter to forsake the caffeinated drink. Fittingly, the “Coffee Cantata” will be

performed at Counter Culture Coffee — the nationwide specialty coffee roaster’s training center at 376 Broome St. — as part of the Chelsea Music Festival (June 8–16). Now in its ninth season, the festival celebrates the composer and his 1685 birth year with the theme “Bach 333.” Singer Mark Uhlemann, a bassbaritone who also works for Counter Culture Coffee, said the festival, while

The General Theological Seminary will host Matt Haimovitz’s “Overtures to Bach’s Cello” on June 13.

being serious about classical music, also makes it more approachable. “We’re going to serve coffee for one thing,” he said, noting that in addition to the tasting, there will be a discussion of coffeehouses during the 18th century. The cantata, he explained, was originally performed in a coffeehouse and that “a little bit of the coffee atmosphere will add to the experience.” Uhlemann added, “What they do is

super-interesting. I love when people bring classical music to alternative venues.” The “they” is wife-husband team Melinda Lee Masur and Ken-David Masur, the Chelsea Music Festival’s founders, who also serve as its artistic directors. “We’ve specially gone into unconvenFESTIVAL continued on p. 13

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NYC Community Media


Volume 2 | Issue 2

The Pulse of

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Get out and go! 5 useful tips for new runners For many people, nice weather sparks the desire to get outside and exercise. Perhaps you’re thinking of starting a new running routine? Consider these useful training tips to help you avoid injuries while you’re starting out. 1. Invest in the right pair of running shoes. Buy for feel and fit, not fashion. Feet swell and lengthen over a run, so make sure there’s a thumb’s width of space between your toes and the end of a shoe. Your heel and instep should fit snug, but not too tight. 2. Don’t skip out on stretching. Be sure to stretch after a five-minute warm-up, when your muscles and tendons are more pliable and amenable to stretching. 3. Go for distance rather than time - slow it down, warm up, then stretch. Taking it slow allows your body to warm up. Be sure to stretch after a five-minute warm-up, and then gradually increase the intensity of your run to avoid injury and burnout. Once you have built endurance, you can focus on increasing speed and distance. 4. Mix in cross training to supplement your running. Try runnerfriendly alternative forms of exercise such as cycling, swimming and strength training – this will help you build strength and flexibility, prevent injury and recover faster.

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NYC Community Media

June 7, 2018

5


Anti-Gay Colorado Baker Prevails in Narrow Ruling BY ARTHUR S. LEONARD The US Supreme Court ruled on June 4 that overt hostility to religion tainted the decision process at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled that baker Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop had unlawfully discriminated against Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012 by refusing to make them a wedding cake. Writing for the court, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy reaffirmed the right of the states to ban discrimination because of sexual orientation by businesses that sell goods and services to the public, but insisted that those charged with discrimination are entitled to a respectful consideration of their religious beliefs when their cases are adjudicated. Five other members of the court — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer, Neil Gorsuch, and Elena Kagan — joined Kennedy’s opinion. The majority’s focus on a flawed procedure at the Colorado Civil Rights Commission suggests this ruling, controversial as it is, may be of limited significance in other cases involving claims of religious exemption from LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections.

Via masterpiececakes.com

Jack C. Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd.

Kennedy found that the Commission failed in meeting the requirement that government be neutral in matters of religion. During the case’s oral argument in December he had signaled this concern, making a troubling observation during Colorado Solicitor General Frederick Yarger’s defense of the state court’s decision against the baker. “Counselor, tolerance is essential in a free society,” Kennedy said to Yarger. “And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual. It seems to me that the state in its position here has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.” In his opinion this week, Kennedy, pointing to comments made by two Commission members at hearings

in the case, said, “The Civil Rights Commission’s treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs that motivated his objection.” Kennedy continued, “One commissioner suggested that Phillips can believe ‘what he wants to believe,’ but cannot act on his religious beliefs ‘if he decides to do business in the state.’” This commissioner also said, “If a businessman wants to do business in the state and he’s got an issue with the — the law’s impacting his personal belief system, he needs to look at being able to compromise.” At a second hearing, a different commissioner talked about how “freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be — I mean, we — we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to — to use their religion to hurt others.” Kennedy found that in making these

remarks, the two commissioners — who had an obligation to be neutral — in fact disparaged religion. He emphasized that the record of the hearings “shows no objection to these comments from other commissioners” and that the state Court of Appeals ruling affirming the Commission’s decision did not mention them either.

PRECEDENTS CITED BY JUSTICE KENNEDY Kennedy invoked a 1993 decision in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, where the Supreme Court held that overtly anti-religious bias by a Florida legislative body that enacted a ban on the ritual slaughter of chickens directly aimed at the practices of a minority religious sect violated the Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause. Even though the law, on its face, was neutral with respect to religion and so would normally be enforceable against anyone who engaged in the prohibited practice, the court found that the openly stated anti-religious sentiments of the legislative sponsors undercut the ANTI-GAY BAKER continued on p. 16

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NYC Community Media


Attorney: ‘L’-Evator Matter Has Been Settled BY LINCOLN ANDERSON One part of the community lawsuit against the city’s L-train shutdown plan has been resolved, according to attorney Arthur Schwartz. “We have an agreement on station accessibility in Manhattan,” Schwartz told our sister publication, The Villager. “There is a deal, and all of the plaintiffs are reviewing it for signature, and we will announce it sometime next week. Big win.” Schwartz said, at this point, the details of the settlement of that part of the lawsuit are “still confidential,” pending the announcement. In early April, Schwartz — the president of the public-interest law firm Advocates for Justice — sued to stop the L shutdown project on behalf of a coalition of more than a dozen Village and Chelsea block associations, plus two disability-rights groups and six individual disabled plaintiffs. Schwartz is also the Village’s elected Democratic district co-leader. Defendants in the lawsuit include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York City Transit, and the New York City Department of Transportation, plus the Federal Transportation Administration.

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

The elevator to the Union Square subway station on E. 14th at Fourth Ave. is heavily used by parents with baby strollers, seniors, the disabled, people with luggage, and others. Two other stops on the L’s Manhattan leg that currently lack elevators are not scheduled to get them under the city’s L shutdown plan.

In order to facilitate repairs to the L train’s Superstorm Sandy-damaged East River tunnel, the city hopes to shut down the subway line between Bedford Ave. and 14th St. at Eighth Ave. for 15 months as of April 2019. However, the community lawsuit charges the agencies failed to conduct an environmental impact statement, or EIS, for both the tunnel shutdown and the accompanying mitigation plan; the latter would include turning 14th St. into a car-free “busway,” installing a cross-

town two-way bike lane on 13th St., and running an additional 70 to 80 buses — mostly diesel-powered — per hour over the Williamsburg Bridge and through Downtown Manhattan streets to connect to subway stops. In addition, the suit argues that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, elevators should be added to the affected stations. “Although all the L stations in the shutdown [section] are being upgraded,”

Schwartz said in announcing the lawsuit last month, “at least five of these stations will not be made ADA-accessible.” While elevators are being added to the L train’s First Ave. stop, two other Manhattan L stations — at Third and Sixth Aves. — still lack handicap accessible lifts and are not currently slated to get them under the plan. At a recent court hearing on the suit, MTA officials assured elevators would be added — but only after the L project was completed. The Eighth Ave. and Union Square L-train stops do already have elevators. On May 17, local politicians — including State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and Councilmember Carlina Rivera — joined disabled advocates in wheelchairs in a rally outside the L’s Third Ave. station, in demanding that the L project include installing elevators there and at the Sixth Ave. stop. “Less than a quarter of our subway stations are accessible,” Hoylman said of the city’s woeful record on accessibility. “The MTA needs to do better.” “It’s disgraceful,” Rivera declared. Schwartz said the part of the lawsuit that concerns the EIS will be argued in August.

©2018 VNSNY

NYC Community Media

June 7, 2018

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Yee’s ‘Great Leap’ Raises the Bar and Makes Strides B-ball tale bubbles with humor, burns with passion

Photo by Ahron R. Foster

L to R: Ali Ahn, Ned Eisenberg, Tony Aidan Vo and BD Wong in Lauren Yee’s “The Great Leap,” at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 through June 24.

BY MARK NIMAR On stage, in film, and on television, an Asian character is more likely to be practicing medicine or working with technology than scoring a three-pointer or dribbling a basketball down a court. This narrow mainstream portrayal, however, is not what Chinese American playwright Lauren Yee experienced during her formative years in San Francisco. Growing up, “The people I knew who played basketball were Asian,” she noted. “My father played basketball. Every day, all night, on the asphalt courts and rec center floors of San Francisco Chinatown, [and] he was good. Really good.” So much so, in fact, Yee noted, “People [now] stop us on the street and try to explain to me what a legend he was.”

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Her father’s passion for basketball is the subject of Yee’s “The Great Leap,” a smashing new play running at the Atlantic Theater Company through June 24. It concerns a friendship basketball game between Beijing University and the University of San Francisco that occurs in Beijing during the 1989 student riots at Tiananmen Square. At the center of the play is Manford, a young first-generation American loosely based on Yee’s father. Although 17 and only five foot seven, Manford desperately wants to join the USF team as a point guard and go to Beijing. But Saul, the team’s tough-as-nails coach, completely doubts his abilities and refuses to let him on the team. Through tenacity and talent, Manford becomes the star of the

basketball team, and while in Beijing, gets accidentally swept into the politics of Communist China. The play bubbles with humor, burns with passion, and is a testament to the very American notion of hard work and persistence as a means to transcend the limitations of one’s race or society. Like Manford, Yee has also had to overcome the negative expectations of white audience members. “One of my bigger pet peeves is when an audience member decides that one of my plays is not for them, because it’s about Asians,” she said, noting how white audience members often say, “What a great Chinese folk tale,” or “I think my Chinese friend would appreciate it.” But Yee feels her work is more relatable than general audi-

ences are predisposed to give it credit for. She said that “The Great Leap” is “a universal story that anyone can relate to,” and that assertion will bear itself out to those who attend. At its heart, the play is an immigrant story about finding your way in a society than can be unaccepting — a very typical storyline that is in step with Irish American, Italian American, and Jewish American narratives. And when you add sports to the equation, the play is about as American as apple pie. It’s a show in which just about anyone can find something that they like. Despite the accessibility of plays like “The Great Leap,” it is a constant struggle to get plays about the Asian American GREAT LEAP continued on p. 12 NYC Community Media


Divine Design Edward Pierce, on bringing ‘Angels’ to America BY SCOTT STIFFLER Intense, exhilarating, somber, hellish, heartbreaking, ultimately uplifting — and laugh-out-loud funny throughout its two-part, nearly eight-hour running time — the acclaimed London production of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-winning 1993 play “Angels in America” has arrived in its titular country with the dynamic ensemble largely intact (including Andrew Garfield as AIDS patient and unlikely prophet Prior Walter, Denise Gough as pill-popping Mormon wife and vision quester Harper Pitt, and Nathan Lane as conservative kingmaker and closeted “liver cancer” sufferer Roy Cohn). Although the actors dashed across the pond with nary a ripple, transferring the visual elements of this surreal meditation on Reagan-era evolution and inertia from the well-appointed Lyttelton Theatre to its comparatively cozy New York City venue proved a far greater challenge. Edward Pierce answered the call to adapt what he described as a “massive physical production,” and, having done so, will be among the roll call on June 10, when the Tony Award nominees for Best Scenic Design are read. Pierce and his Midtown-based team spent “the better part of nine months” realizing the project — work that began in June 2017 when, he recalled, “they were starting to explore moving to Broadway, so I was able to go to London while the show was still in production” to see what designer Ian MacNeil had done. The two had already covered similar ground, when Pierce took MacNeil’s work for the original West End run of “Billy Elliot” to other stages. With the “Angels” gig secured, Pierce and his team got down to the nuts and bolts process of generating drawings and models to, he said, “figure out how the show was going to embrace a smaller venue. We worked with the lighting designer, the choreographer [and others], to lay all the ideas down on the table; what they hoped to achieve in transferring to Broadway… We spent weeks, literally moving little pieces of furniture around on various drawings, trying to figure out every little nook and cranny where you could put the stuff.” Throughout the course of the play, noted Pierce, “We strip all of that away [the walls, the furniture], and then, as the real world changes, the characters [their lives and reality] dissolve. It shows itself in the set design… In your last moments of ‘Perestroika,’ the stage is bare, all the NYC Community Media

Photo by Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

L to R: James McArdle, Susan Brown, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Andrew Garfield, with Central Park’s Bethesda Terrace angel bathed in neon.

way to the brick wall, all the way into the wings — and the audience, for a moment, I believe, thinks, ‘Did I actually see what I saw over these last two plays? Because there’s nothing here.’ ” Getting to the point of the final scene’s essentially bare stage, populated by only four cast members and an angel statue, wasn’t easy. The National Theatre’s Lyttelton (one of the sprawling facility’s three spaces) “has a lot of technology built into it,” explained Pierce. “The whole stage is able to be rigged through hydraulics, and there’s plenty of room to take big ideas and push them into the wings… The challenge for us in this very small Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway was, where to put it all,” he said, referencing the multitude of moving parts — far more than the average show, given how its two stand-alone installments (“Millennium Approaches” and “Perestroika) dreamily traverse offices, hospital rooms, apartments, airplanes, heavenly realms, Central Park, Salt Lake City, a street in the Bronx, and the diorama room of Manhattan’s Mormon Visitor Center. The physical settings are minimal, with a desk or bed serving as a signature piece that suggests rather than imposes (with the half-finished look of

AFTER 30 YEARS

ANGELS continued on p. 14 June 7, 2018

9


‘Dust’ Invokes Greek Tragedy to Challenge Conventions of 9/11 ‘Political thriller’ penned by controlled demolition believer

Photo courtesy of Delphi Films

Andrew Black (Tommy Schrider) performs “The Osama Song” (a satirical cabaret number) at his radical bookstore in Richard Squires’ “A Blanker of Dust.”

BY TRAV S.D. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 brought about thousands of negative repercussions. Lives were lost and torn apart. Whole communities were devastated. Wars were fought. A rare positive effect, however, was that The Flea Theater, one of the closest performing arts venues to the World Trade Center, geographically went from being a five-year experiment to a permanently instituted arts organization. Then, in December 2001, the Flea commissioned Anne Nelson’s “The Guys,” a 9/11-inspired play and still their best-known production. Through June 30, the Flea will be the location for quite a different sort of play about those events: Richard Squires’ “A Blanket of Dust.” While the conventional understanding of September 11 is that the catastrophic events of that day were a series of coordinated attacks on America by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, Squires’ play takes a controversial, hotly contested position more in line with the “Truther” movement. The play’s main character Diana Crane (played by Angela Pierce) is a woman whose husband is killed in

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Photo by Jonathan Slaff

“A Blanket of Dust” playwright Richard Squires.

the collapse of the North Tower. As the daughter of a powerful US Senator, she is able to gain access to information that eventually causes her to believe that 9/11 was an “inside job.” When neither press nor political leaders, including people close to her, will listen to her version of events, she resolves to take drastic measures to make the public aware of what she deems to be the truth.

“The original inspiration for the play came during the build-up to the Iraq invasion,” Squires recalled. “I was living near Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, and I was in my living room watching the news and it was clear to me that the reason our leaders were giving for war against Iraq was fraudulent. And it occurred to me that if I could tell from where I was, then they must know on Capitol Hill, in Congress, and the White House… I asked myself, ‘What can one citizen do to protest and make people aware?’ And the idea came to me that you could immolate yourself in front of the White House and leave a note behind.” As a political protest act in memory of a murdered loved one, the suicide is not unlike the self-sacrifice of Sophocles’ “Antigone,” and the homage is clear both in the text of Squires’ play, and in its marketing materials. He calls it a “political thriller,” though it is definitely one with a distinct political point of view. According to Squires, “When I became acquainted with the forensic facts, I saw that the World Trade Center collapse was a controlled demolition, and I saw the link between 9/11 and the current wars

in the Middle East, with 1.2 million civilian casualties and a cost of $5.6 trillion. Trump is talking about Iran now. It all stems from 9-11, the casus belli for this imperial march of conquest.” As one source of his belief, Squires cited a petition signed by 3,000 members of the organization Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. (For some numerical perspective, there are nearly 200,000 licensed architects and structural engineers in the US, making the petition account for slightly over 1.5 percent of them, if all the signatures are valid.) “If we had a normal functioning media, ignoring 3,000 architects would be impossible,” Squires asserted. “One of the few public venues that are left where it’s possible to express all points of view just happens to be the theatre. It says something very positive about the theatre. Mavericks can still get a hearing.” Directed by Christopher Murrah. June 7 to 30. Mon. through Sat. at 7pm, with Sat. matinees at 2pm. In previews June 7–11, opening night June 12. At The Flea Theater (20 Thomas St., btw. Broadway & Church). Visit ablanketofdust.com for tickets ($20-$40). NYC Community Media


Open Studios Tour Lets You Buy Into the Creative Process Expanded event adapts to a changing Chelsea BY SCOTT STIFFLER Scotto Mycklebust is always coming up with new ways to roll with the punches and raise the profile of those who share his creative calling — and his zip code. In 2010, when a hot new destination known as the High Line was about to change the face (and the foot traffic) of West Chelsea, Mycklebust started producing the High Line Open Studios event. That first year, he recalled, “It only included artists who had a studio along, and right next to, the High Line. In 2011, for the West Chelsea Open Studios, I found out there were a lot of artists who worked beyond that boundary, and expanded the area to include much larger sections of the West Chelsea area.� This weekend marks the eighth year for the West Chelsea Artists Open Studios event. Participants from Westbeth Artists Housing and the West Chelsea Arts Building are well-represented, as usual. But of the 45 artists located in 13 buildings, quite a few are both new to the event and far-removed from its initial stomping grounds — including exhibits at The Leo House and the Muhlenberg Library (both on W. 23rd St.), custom clothier Andra Gabrielle on the 300 block of W. 21st St., and painter/muralist Joseph Meloy on the 300 block of W. 28th St. “The demographics of the neighborhood are quickly changing,� explained

Image courtesy of The Leo House

Event founder Scotto Mycklebust (far right), seen here speaking with visitors to his 526 W. 26th St. studio.

Ailene Fields’ “Sanctum Porta� (2012, orange translucent alabaster, 36 x 24 x 12 in.) is part of “The Gateway to the Arts� fine art exhibit, on display at The Leo House, June 9–Nov. 9.

diately come to mind) is one of the main goals of Open Studios. Those who take the free, self-guided tour can interact with artists and buy from them directly. “I have many success stories,� noted Mycklebust, “from artists who tell me about what has come from these week-

end events. They help the career, and they help the development of your art.� The West Chelsea Artists Open Studios event (a free, self-guided walking tour) happens Sat., June 9 and Sun., June 10, 12-6pm. For info, visit westchelseaartists.com.

Photo courtesy of the artist

Mycklebust, “due the real estate market and all of the new residential buildings. There are becoming fewer and fewer artists who can afford to live and work in West Chelsea.� There will be a major shift moving artists to the outskirts of the neighborhood, or out of it entirely, he predicted, “especially once the Hudson Yards development is completed.� Keeping Chelsea viable for those whose work has contributed to the neighborhood’s worldwide reputation (say “Chelsea� and our art scene imme-

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GREAT LEAP continued from p. 8

experience, contemporary or otherwise, produced. “Theaters don’t want to take a chance,” Yee said, noting that when it comes time to fill a season, “They often just end up doing another production of ‘The Zoo Story.’ ” But something is shifting. Asian American playwrights are having a bit of a moment right now. Young Jean Lee’s play “Straight White Men” will make history as the first play written by an Asian woman to appear on Broadway. Qui Nguyen’s daring play “Vietgone” had a wildly successful run at the Manhattan Theatre Club last season, and was also a New York Times Critics’ Pick. And Pakistani American playwright Ayad Akhtar’s “Junk” was performed at Lincoln Center this season. His Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Disgraced,” was also named the most-produced play in America for the 2015-2016 season. While the American theatre has a long way to go in giving more visibility to Asian American artists, one can’t help but marvel at the new Asian American stories being added to the canon. “Back in the day,” Yee said, “all we had was ‘The Joy Luck Club.’ And now, we have so many more options.” Yee is a standout member of this club of Asian American playwrights, and her Asian American-themed plays such as “King of the Yees,” “Ching Chong Chinaman” and “Cambodian Rock Band” have gone a long way in adding humor, spunk, and diversity to the American theatre. “The Great Leap” continues this winning streak — the show is marvelous. The stage has been transformed into a basketball court, transforming the audience into spectators sitting courtside. Stunning projections flash across the wall, displaying photos of Tiananmen Square and the defiant student protestors of 1989, who are “only afraid to die with no one watching.” “That is why they write so many of their signs in English,” says Wen Chang (BD Wong), the play’s narrator, “So that the western press might empathize with their plight.” The show also has hilarious moments. Crusty, Bronx-born basketball coach Saul (Ned Eisenberg) shouts insults and expletives at his players during practice, reminding you of your most embarrassing relative at Thanksgiving. And Tony Aidan Vo is stellar in the role of Manford. He is a kinetic ball of energy, dashing across the court with the vigor and passion of a champion. On stage, Manford jumps, shoots, and fights like his life depends on it. Facing the judgments of Saul, his cousin, and the threat of Communist China, Manford has all the odds stacked against him.

12

June 7, 2018

Photos by Ahron R. Foster

BD Wong as Wen Chang, the play’s narrator.

Photos by Ahron R. Foster

L to R: Tony Aidan Vo as Manford and Ali Ahn as Connie.

Stunning projections flash across the wall, displaying photos of Tiananmen Square and the defiant student protestors of 1989.

And watching this underdog point guard meet his challenges head-on is both thrilling and inspiring. There is another basketball player, however, that Lauren Yee hopes sees

her show. “Come find me, Jeremy Lin,” Yee exclaimed. For those who don’t know, Jeremy Lin is a basketball player who is the first American of Chinese descent to play in the NBA. His talent on

the court helped transform stereotypes about Asian men in sports. It seems as if this show was written just for him. And so, Jeremy Lin, if you’re reading this, stop what you are doing and head over to the Atlantic Theater Company, where you will find another Chinese American whose talent also shatters expectations, sets a high bar, and reaches that lofty goal — but instead of doing it with layups, she does it with words. Directed by Taibi Magar. Through June 24 at Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 (330 W. 16th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Tues.–Sat. at 7:30pm, Sat. & Sun. at 2:30pm. There are 7:30pm performances on Sun., June 10, 17 and 24; Monday performance on June 11. No Tues. performance on June 12. For tickets ($50 and up), visit atlantictheater.org or call 866-811-4111. NYC Community Media


Courtesy of Chelsea Music Festival

Music might be the food of life, but the Chelsea Music Festival also has actual food to offer. June 16’s “Bach’s Birthday Banquet” event at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church features a special pre-concert curated dinner.

Courtesy of Chelsea Music Festival

Courtesy of Chelsea Music Festival

A past Chelsea Music Festival performance at St. Peter’s Chelsea. This year, the iconic W. 20th St. church is one of three local religious institutions serving as a venue.

Violist Jesus Rodolfo is performing in the festival for the third time, June 8 at St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church.

FESTIVAL continued from p. 4

tional spaces for our venues,” Melinda Lee said. Ken-David added, “We want to make sure our programming is varied and customized to venues.” Since 2014, the festival’s headquarters has been St. Paul’s German Lutheran Church (315 W. 22nd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). “We are trying very hard to open our church to our neighborhood and being the home base for the festival is a great way to reach out to the community, and share the delight of music and community amongst one another,” the church’s pastor, Miriam Gross, said. Gross noted that Bach was a Lutheran and his music is often used for the church’s services. “This is a perfect match,” she said. Gross, like everyone else Chelsea Now interviewed by phone on Fri., June 1, had praise for the Masurs and the festival — which seeks to connect music, NYC Community Media

the visual arts and food through various events, concerts, lectures, and walking tours — saying the concept “is a beautiful way of reaching people of all ages.” Festivalgoers can “hear,” “taste,” and “see” at events. “Things are visually pleasing, things are acoustically pleasing, and tasting things that are pleasant and enjoyable,” Chef Eric Takahashi, who is this year’s culinary artist-in-residence for the festival, said. “It’s a very sensory-heightened collaboration.” Takahashi, whose culinary background is German cuisine, said he would be making a traditional dish called sauerbraten. “We try to pick themes that are fun for our artists and our artists-in-residence,” Melinda Lee explained. Ken-David said that people love Bach’s music and the festival is “trying to make that come alive for all ages.” He noted the theme’s subtitle (“Master of Adoration, Variation, and Transformation”) as avenues that the

artists could also explore. Aaron Jay Kernis, this year’s composer-in-residence for the festival, said, “Bach is more than a favorite composer — he is the towering figure in Western musical history.” Kernis said that he either plays or listens to Bach regularly, and was “thrilled” to be a part of the programming the Masurs had created. One of his pieces, “First Club Date,” will make its New York premiere at “Dances to Eternity — Bach Trinity Cantatas III” on Tues., June 12 at St. Paul’s. Melinda Lee said one of the highlights of the festival will be the Sat., June 9 event, “333 Minutes of Bach — Master of the Banquet” from 6-11:33 p.m. at St. Paul’s. She explained that there is also a play on “three” — there will be three walking tours, a triple concerto, and the aforementioned 333 minutes of Bach. She noted Bach wrote hundreds of chorales, and said that at 3:33 p.m. on some days during the festival, they will be performed.

Jesus Rodolfo, who plays the viola, will be performing at four events this year — his third time taking part in the festival. “It’s kind of intergenerational so there’s an energy between the artists and the audience… it makes the music and the art blossom,” he said. The festival closes on Sat., June 16 at St. Paul’s with “The Poetry of Jazz — Helen Sung with the Words of Bach and Gioia.” “[The Masurs’] vision is so unique and fun and engaging and inclusive in an organic way,” said Sung, a jazz pianist and composer. Sung, who was classically trained, said Bach was a major figure in her musical life, and she will be performing her original arrangements of Bach as well as “Sung with Words,” which is a collaboration with poet Dana Gioia. She said, “I hope the music is lifeaffirming and joyous.” For more information, visit chelseamusicfestival.org. June 7, 2018

13


ANGELS continued from p. 9

the interiors in “Millennium,” you’d be hard-pressed to glean anyone’s personality or predilection from a scan of their home furnishings). Environments lack definition, with neon lines (sometimes white, sometimes spectacularly colorful) serving as the cut-off point of a particular space. Multiple sets often share the stage, perpetually, as Pierce described it, “appearing, moving, disassembling, and dissolving” through the effort of unseen hands, or a troupe of “Angel Shadows” who also give height, flight, and wing to the show’s titular character. “Transition is what interests me the most about design for the theater, how you move and tell a story and come up with a visual through line,” Pierce said (such exchanges of location happen dozens of times over the course of each play). “Often,” he noted of the planning process, “we figure out how the show will transition before we actually figure out what it will look like… How do you get from one [scene] to the next? Do you keep an audience, or do you lose them?” Most of what the audience will see at the Neil Simon Theatre is, physically, new, although Pierce said “the walls that represented various locations on those turntables in ‘Millennium,’ we brought directly from the London production… there are little elements of neon outlining the edges.” That use of neon was a distinct part of the London production, but Pierce said he augmented and expanded the motif, in ways that invoke its “very 1980s” omnipresence (those who know “Miami Vice” or remember Spencer Gifts might well connect those dots during ‘Perestroika’). Neon, invoking the period or otherwise, is, Pierce said, “certainly not anywhere in the script — and Tony Kushner’s script is rife with detail and expression about what he’d like to see. The flaming Bible coming out of the ground, that’s something that Tony has written… But the visuals [of what the world looks like], that’s not scripted. So the introduction of the neon is a collaboration between both the scenic and the lighting design… When you have eight hours of presentation, it’s important, through lighting, as the camera would do in film or television, to direct the audience — where to pay attention and what to concentrate on. And a little bit of neon is just a slight suggestion, and I think it’s a little theatrical, which is important for this work because there’s a certain theatricality to the storytelling.” Asked about upcoming projects, Pierce said, “I have a lovely play opening at the Cherry Lane Theatre [Charles Mee’s “First Love,” June 14-July 8]…and

14

June 7, 2018

Photos by Brinkhoff & Mögenburg

Walls and worlds dissolve, often defined only by neon, in “Perestroika,” the play’s second installment. L to R: Beth Malone (supported by Angel Shadows) and Andrew Garfield.

L to R: Denise Gough and Lee Pace in an apartment whose design typifies the minimalist approach of “Millennium Approaches.”

A bench and trash can suggest Central Park. L to R: James McArdle, Nathan StewartJarrett in “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.”

we are adapting the original Hal Prince production of “Phantom of the Opera” into a new world touring production that looks to break new ground, in touring internationally. We are about to go into the workshop, to get it constructed, and we’ll open in Manila [Philippines] in February of 2019.” As for “Angels,” which concludes its Broadway run next month, Pierce will find himself in the audience this Sunday night as a Tony nominee for that show. Regarding how he will cast his ballot, Pierce said with a laugh, “You can vote for yourself,” also noting that he was, at the time of our interview, almost done seeing all of the shows required in order to vote. Regarding the extent to which his profession impacts the viewing experience, Pierce said, “It’s inevitable at this point, when I’m sitting in a Broadway theater, that my mind starts to think about the individual craft. However, I have to say, the most amazing moment for me, in the theater, is when I actually start to get taken on the ride and I just enjoy what I am experiencing.” It’s in such moments, noted Pierce, “you realize they were very successful. Because if they can take you away from thinking about the mechanics, then they’ve really done their job.” “Angels in America” closes on July 15. For tickets and info, visit angelsbroadway.com. The Tony Awards (tonyawards.com) are broadcast on Sun., June 10, 8pm on CBS. For artist info, visit edwardpierce.com. NYC Community Media


CONSTRUCTION continued from p. 2

ing to Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the nonprofit New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH).“Struck-bys are one of the leading causes of fatalities on construction sites,” she said, noting, “Flaggers are essential to keep workers from getting killed.” Contradicting Loria and Scopo, Obernauer recalled an instance where flaggers were missing from a union site, which caused two workers to walk off the job. However, she acknowledged that, because the project was union, the situation was quickly cured, and the men could return to their jobs. Also, Obernauer quoted the following statistic that backs up the claim that union sites are safer: 93.8 percent of construction fatalities that occurred in New York City were on non-union jobs, according to the most recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) report, covering the year of 2016. Loria, who in addition to organizing, conducts the union’s OSHA training course, has been calling 311 to report safety violations at 500 W. 25th St. Because one of those violations was that some windows on the construction fence (painted government-mandated hunter green) were often blocked from viewing inside — this reporter discovered that the windows were not only blocked, there weren’t enough of them to meet Department of Buildings (DOB) standards — Loria has performed his monitoring tasks from the High Line, where he can look down into the pit. Last month, this reporter joined him there, and we spotted a new violation: a man working on the site without his hardhat. Later, Scopo commented, “I have thousands of pictures of people without hardhats at non-union sites. I have a picture where they were wearing a sombrero, another they were wearing a cowboy hat.” Citing safety hazards, the Department of Buildings has twice shut down work at 500 W. 25th St. for several days at a time. Violations included at least one in the Class 1(Immediately Hazardous) category — not having a safety monitor on site. (The DOB website, nyc.gov/dob, stated that the DOB inspector spoke by phone to the safety manager, who said that he was “en route” to the job.) “If he’s not there, you really shouldn’t do any work at all,” Loria averred. Both Loria and Scopo asserted that, in addition to having overall better compliance with safety rules — in fact, many contractors concede that point — union site safety practices often exceed OSHA and DOB standards. An NYC Community Media

Photos by Judy L. Richheimer

The view from the High Line of the construction site for 500 W. 25th St. One of the men on the platform was spotted there without his hardhat, a violation of OSHA rules.

Labor organizer William Loria monitors conditions of a non-union work site from atop the High Line. The street-level windows designed for construction site viewing are missing or often blocked for 500 W. 25th St.

William Loria points out that a potential exit from the construction site onto the street is almost always locked from the outside.

example: Loria was particularly nettled that a door leading directly from the site onto the street could have served as an excellent place for personnel to

enter and exit, save for the fact that it has been locked almost continuously from the outside. On the other hand, the door that was designated for personnel required the worker to make a small detour before going from site to sidewalk. Loria said that on a union site the first door would have been unlocked and available to workers throughout the day — it primarily functions now as a portal to bring equipment in and out — and Scopo added that union contractors generally provide their workers with more than one exit. As cited on the DOB website, a May 12 construction accident occurred at 500 W. 25th St., which involved a worker getting hit on the leg by a piece of construction material; the accident was rumored to be serious. Although the organizing team had befriended certain workers at the site and thereby

acquired critical information, they have found it impossible to learn how badly the worker was hurt. What we do know was that his injury required an ambulance. One worker-informant identified himself to the union organizers as the person who had called 911, an act that earned him sharp disapproval from a manager who wanted simply to put the injured man in a taxi. Obernauer told Chelsea Now that this story was similar to those shared at NYCOSH trainings. “Workers get injured and not only are ambulances not called, but they are told to just get off the job. Or, you will hear about employers dropping injured workers off at hospitals and telling them, ‘Don’t say that you work on my site.’ ” LaBarbera believes, though, that “low-road developers” who hire nonunion contractors are in the minority, and most “understand value-proposition building,” which entails union staffing. After repeated attempts to reach Avo, the contractor for 500 W. 25th St., we were referred to the site’s developer, GDS Development, headed by Michael Kirchmann, who declined comment. Foundation work was initiated by subcontractor Red Ball, which could not be located, and later handled by Benchmark (the accident occurred under its watch), which did not respond to our e-mail. But like many current labor leaders, LaBarbera feels that to stay competitive, unions must make concessions, which means that new hires receive a lower hourly pay and a less attractive benefits package as compared to compensation paid to veteran workers. District 16 fits that model. Around two years ago, new, or B level, workers were given $33.50 per hour, while veteran, or A level, workers received around $44 per hour. And, while medical was the same for both groups, B-level pensions were lower than the A-level plan. Chelsea Now discovered that these compromises were not universally embraced by District 16 members. Still, if it is true — as District 16 organizers learned from 500 W. 25th St. workers — a senior employee at that site receives just $19 an hour, then $33.50 would be an excellent hourly wage. At the end of his shift, Loria helped deflate and pack up the rat. He mentioned that he felt no animus toward non-unionized workers — his anger was directed at their employers. Perhaps that attitude has informed his feeling toward the rat itself. “Some people call him Scabby,” he said, gesturing toward the red blotches across the rat’s belly, “but I call him Mickey. After all, I have to work with him every day.” June 7, 2018

15


ANTI-GAY BAKER continued from p. 6

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requirement that government be neutral regarding religious practices. The only reason the municipality had passed the ordinance was to forbid ritual slaughter of chickens by members of this particular religious sect, the court held, and so it was not a neutral law. Similarly in this case, Kennedy said, evidence of hostility to religion by the Commission members tainted the process. Kennedy observed that when the high court decided in 2015 that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry, it had also noted that “the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” At that time, dissenting Justices Alito and Antonin Scalia had emphasized the inevitable future clashes as people with religious objections confronted the reality of same-sex marriages, and Scalia — as was his practice when he dissented from Kennedy’s gay rights majority opinions — ridiculed Kennedy’s statements for falling short of addressing that likelihood. Kennedy statements in this case do not suggest that religious objectors enjoy a broad exemption from complying with public accommodations laws.

CONCURRENCES FROM THE LEFT AND RIGHT Kagan filed a concurring opinion, joined by Breyer, generally joining the court’s reasoning but disavowing Kennedy’s reliance on evidence from a stunt conceived by William Jack, a religious opponent of same-sex marriage who filed an amicus brief in the case. When he heard about the Masterpiece Cakeshop discrimination charge, Jack approached three other Colorado bakers, asking them to make a cake decorated with pictures and Biblical quotations derogatory of same-sex marriage and gay people, and all three bakers refused his request because they found the desired product to be offensive. Jack filed charges of religious discrimination against them, but the Colorado Commission rejected his charges, finding the bakers had a right to refuse to make cakes conveying messages they found offensive. Jack then argued – persuasively, in the view of Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, and Gorsuch — that the Commission’s different treatment of these three bakers compared to Jack Phillips showed its hostility to religious beliefs. Justice Clarence Thomas, whose

separate concurring opinion was joined by Gorsuch, also found Jack’s arguments persuasive. Kagan’s concurrence argued that the case involving the three other bakers was distinguishable. Jack had asked the bakers to make a cake they would have refused to make for any customer, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation, she pointed out. By contrast, Phillips refused to make a wedding cake he would happily have sold to differentsex couples but refused to sell to samesex couples. Gorsuch, in his separate concurrence, in which he was joined by Alito, argued that the three bakers were discriminating against Jack based on his religious beliefs. He also insisted on distinguishing between a cake to “celebrate a samesex marriage” and a generic “wedding cake.” Interestingly, Kennedy’s opinion focused on free exercise of religion and evaded ruling on the other main argument advanced by Phillips: that requiring him to bake the cake would be a form of compelled speech prohibited by the First Amendment freedom of speech clause. The Trump administration had come into the case in support of Phillips’ appeal, but limited its argument to the free speech contention, which Gorsuch and Thomas embraced in their concurring opinions.

JUSTICE GINSBURG’S DISSENT, JOINED BY JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented in an opinion joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, minimizing the significance of the statements by the two Colorado commissioners. “Whatever one may think of the statements in historical context,” Ginsburg wrote, “I see no reason why the comments of one or two commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins. The proceedings involved several layers of independent decisionmaking, of which the Commission was but one.” The state’s Civil Rights Division and an administrative law judge considered Craig and Mullins’ complaint before it went to the Commission, whose finding was upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals. “What prejudice infected the determinations of the adjudicators in the case before and after the Commission?,” Ginsburg wrote. “The Court does not ANTI-GAY BAKER continued on p. 19 NYC Community Media


Photos by Sam Bleiberg

Local businesses rely on bike delivery riders. Protected bike lanes ensure the riders can circulate safely and efficiently.

Three bicyclists were killed by vehicles on the West Side in June 2017, spurring action on safe street infrastructure.

Construction began in May on 26th St. Advocates hope to have the lanes installed before the peak summer months.

CROSSTOWN continued from p. 3

20 minutes. Birmingham maintains that even at modest speeds, cycling can be the quickest mode of transportation. “Riding a bike is an ideal way to get around Manhattan. Although I do not ride fast, it is generally faster than other forms of transportation,” she said. “More than anything else I feel like protected bike lanes make New York City livable for everyone.” Berthet considers the lanes an important step in establishing cycling culture in Manhattan. “Considering that most Citi Bike users cross town, and the vehicular congestion brings most cross streets to a standstill, crosstown bike lanes will yield a very large benefit in efficient and safe mobility. Bicycling may become the mode of choice to cross the city.” The eastbound half of the crosstown loop proved more challenging. One rider dropped out due to construction on Ninth Ave. and several blocks of 26th St. An impatient taxi by Madison Square Park left the entourage cut off, and the object of many car horns. The group concluded the ride eager to return in a month to a safer pathway across town.

TPC Gets on the Bus for Crosstown Bike Lanes,” Jan. 25, 2018 issue). CB4 was the first Community Board to vote in favor of the project, followed by CB6 and CB5. Christine Berthet, co-founder of Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS; checkpeds.com), and a member of CB4’s Business Licenses & Permits Committee, described the lanes as an essential step for safe and accessible bike infrastructure. “If we are to achieve a usable safe network for all bicyclists, we need all north south protected bike lanes to be connected to east west protected bike lanes,” she said. “Some of us will bike only in protected bike lanes, so without crosstown options, bicycling is not an option.” Protected bike lanes feature physical separation such as a barrier or parked cars between cyclists and vehicular traffic, versus a bike lane composed solely of paint. The shortcomings of an unprotected bike lane became clear from the ride’s start. Heavy congestion persisted NYC Community Media

New Yorkers of all ages rely on bicycles for crosstown transportation.

throughout the route, and cyclists were frequently forced into traffic to avoid vehicles double-parked in the bike lane. “I have had several close calls with side-swiping by side-mirrors of trucks in painted bike lanes in Chelsea,” Bryant said. “I find painted bike lanes are a step in the right direction, but give cyclists a false sense of security and are often ignored by motorists.” The riders kept to a leisurely pace, and passed many vehicles stuck in traffic or driving slowly to look for parking. The trip across Manhattan took around

TransAlt Manhattan Organizer Chelsea Yamada explained that campaigns like the series of rides gives community members the opportunity to take agency over the use of public space. “Engaging with community members, where they live or work, gives the public, especially those who aren’t regularly engaging with local politics, an invigorating outlet to communicate our needs for top-notch protected bike lanes,” she said. Scofield similarly hopes his work with the Ghost Bike Project will spur action among others. “The hope is that the sight of a ghost bike might nudge someone beyond just saying, ‘what a shame,’ into safe streets advocacy,” he said. While cycling may just be a means of transportation for some, Bryant experienced her advocacy for safe streets as an entrance to deeper civic engagement. “Cycling is what drove me into advocacy,” Bryant said. “Now I attend transportation and community board meetings all over the city, something that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Once you begin standing up for bike infrastructure, it leads to standing up for everyone.” June 7, 2018

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ANTI-GAY BAKER continued from p. 16

say. Phillips’ case is thus far removed from the only precedent upon which the Court relies, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, where the government action that violated a principle of religious neutrality implicated a sole decisionmaking body, the city council.” Ginsburg focused her dissent on a series of statements in Kennedy’s opinion that make clear that the court’s ruling does not endorse some sort of broad exemption for religious from complying with anti-discrimination laws, including the following: “It is a general rule that [religious and philosophical] objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.” “Colorado law can protect gay persons, just as it can protect other classes of individuals, in acquiring whatever products and services they choose on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public.” “Purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons [may not] put up signs saying ‘no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages.’” “[Gay people should not be subjected to] indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” All of these statements, Ginsburg noted, “point in the opposite direction” from the majority’s finding that Phillips should win his appeal. The narrowness and potentially limited precedent established by the ruling were well-expressed by Kennedy, who wrote, “The delicate question of when the free exercise of [Phillips’] religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach. That requirement, however, was not met here. When the Colorado Civil

Via American Civil Liberties Union

Charlie Craig and David Mullins, whose sexual orientation discrimination complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop, led to this week’s Supreme Court ruling.

Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.”

THE ISSUE OF FREE SPEECH Gorsuch and Thomas would have gone beyond the majority opinion to find a violation of Phillips’ freedom of speech, as well. On that question, Kennedy wrote, “The free speech aspect of this case is difficult, for few persons who have seen a beautiful wedding cake might have thought of its creation as an exercise of protected speech. This is an instructive example, however, of the proposition that the application of constitutional freedoms in new contexts can deepen our understanding of their meaning.” He took the issue no further, however.

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WHAT COMES NEXT The next shoe to drop, which could better clarify the significance of this ruling, may come quickly. The high court, also on June 4, announced it will discuss a similar case, State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, Inc., on June 7; if the case is accepted for review that would likely be announced on June 11. Arlene’s Flowers refused to provide floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding and was found by the state civil rights agency and the Washington courts to be in violation of its public accommodations statute. Arlene’s petition for Supreme Court review was filed last summer, but no action was taken by the court pending a decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop. If the court denies the petition, that would reinforce the view that the Masterpiece

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ruling is narrowly focused on the evidence of “hostility to religion” by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. However, the court might grant the petition and send the case back to the Washington Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of Masterpiece. This could respond to Kennedy’s observation that the Colorado Court of Appeals decision did not even mention the remarks made by commissioners that aroused his ire at oral argument and were a significant factor in the Supreme Court’s decision. A remand to the Washington court could implicitly direct that court to examine the record for any signs of hostility to religion at any stage in that proceeding. The Oregon Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in a similar wedding cake case, Klein d/b/a Sweetcakes by Melissa v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. A ruling by the Oregon court could provide the first sign of how lower courts will interpret Masterpiece Cakeshop. That case was instigated not by the same-sex couple denied service but rather by the state’s attorney general, reacting to press reports about the denial. It can be difficult to predict what controversial decisions by the Supreme Court might mean for future cases. Kennedy spelled out his thinking on that, saying, “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” At the oral argument, Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop were represented by Kristen K. Waggoner of Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based anti-LGBTQ religious advocacy firm. Trump administration Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco made his first appearance before the court in that post to argue the administration’s unavailing freedom of speech position. On the other side, David D. Cole, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, arguing on behalf of Craig and Mullins, joined Colorado Solicitor General Yarger.

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