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DO OR DIE IN ALBANY Local Healthcare Advocates Take the Bus to Make Their Case see page 6

Photo by Donathan Salkaln

Rain didn’t dampen the drive of those who arrived in Albany on June 5 to rally with others and lobby for single-payer healthcare (seen here, attendees at the midday march, with the state capitol building looming in the background). © CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 24 | JUNE 14 - 20, 2018

Senate Passes Bill Requiring City Resident on State Liquor Authority BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC One hurdle down, two to go: Legislation that would mandate New York City representation on the state agency that regulates alcoholic beverages, including licensing, passed the New York State Senate last week. In a 40 to 21 vote, the measure, introduced by State Senator Brad Hoylman, passed the chamber on Wed., June 6. The state’s Division of the Alcohol Beverage Control, known as the State Liquor Authority (SLA), is comprised of two commissioners and one chair — positions that are appointed by the governor. The legislation would require at least one member to be a New York City resident. “New York City doesn’t have a voice on that very important regulatory body,” Hoylman told NYC Community Media by phone. “We have the vast majority of licenses considered by the SLA. It only follows that New York City would have representation on the board. It’s a matter of fairness and equity.” Among other regulatory functions, the board reviews and issues licenses and permits for restaurants and bars — as well as for manufacture and the wholesale distribution of alcoholic beverages — which is an important issue for neighborhoods citywide, including Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. Quality of life concerns — such as smoking, noise, and hours of operation — often take center stage at SLA continued on p. 23

File photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Brad Hoylman

Along with Assemblymember Deborah Glick, State Senator Brad Hoylman continues his quest for NYC representation on the State Liquor Authority board.

©2018 VNSNY


June 14, 2018

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Shared History: Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen Divvy Donated Design Elements BY WINNIE McCROY Parks in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen will now have a common design thread running through them, thanks to the conciliatory actions of the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) and the neighborhood group Hell’s Kitchen Generations (HKG). A June 2 protest rally organized by HKG was canceled when HRPT agreed to share some historically significant statuary salvaged from a Hell’s Kitchen slaughterhouses. Now, Chelsea Waterside Park and (pending Parks Department approval) DeWitt Clinton Park can showcase the limestone cow’s and ram’s heads. “We are getting two of the ram’s heads and some remnants of the ‘collars,’ the places where the animals were cast onto the sides of the building, as well as some other pieces,” said Michelle Diaz, the longtime resident who organized Hell’s Kitchen Generations, in a June 7 phone interview. “We’re also getting a couple of those winged ramp markers from the old West Side Highway. I just heard back from Hudson River Park Trust, and they are sending the rams back to a space on 12th Avenue and 54th St. [DeWitt Clinton Park], where [City Council Speaker] Corey Johnson’s office

Photo by Christian Miles

Winged markers once placed at the entrance ramp of the West Side Highway will grace outdoor spaces in Chelsea as well as Hell’s Kitchen.

suggested they go.” “These artifacts have a strong connection to the local history of Hell’s Kitchen,” said Speaker Johnson, “and I am very happy that Hudson River Park is

making them available for future generations to enjoy in Hell’s Kitchen. My office is working with local residents, NYC Parks, Community Board 4 (CB4), and other stakeholders to discuss potential

locations for the placement of the sculptures. I’m thankful to the local residents who are great stewards of our past.” SHARED continued on p. 18

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Nixon Outflanks Guv on Safer Consumption Spaces BY NATHAN RILEY While Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio dance around harm reduction measures to reduce the record-high number of overdose deaths, Cynthia Nixon is embracing Safer Consumption Spaces at events in the city and upstate. Cuomo’s Democratic primary challenger unequivocally supports allowing users to inject in health care facilities where overdose prevention workers can step in and reverse overdoses, while the governor and mayor approach the issue like it’s a political third rail that could destroy them. De Blasio gave the program a yellow light; he’s for it but he wants the cover of the state health commissioner concurring. The delay there has been laid at the feet of Cuomo, who faced interruptions during his speech at the recent the State Democratic Convention by activists chanting, “End overdose deaths now!” The protesters were removed from the hall. The following day, State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker sent a letter to a de Blasio aide asking for more information, especially related to concerns about neighborhood objections,

Photo by Mikola De Roo for Housing Works

Last month, protesters heckled Governor Andrew Cuomo as he accepted the State Democratic Convention’s endorsement for reelection.

before he would green-light the programs in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx — as well as upstate Ithaca, the first locality statewide to authorize such Safer Consumption Spaces. In the meanwhile, the number of deaths keeps rising, with the latest


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figures for New York City reaching a new high of 1,441 in 2017, 80 percent of them from opioids. More people are dying of overdoses than from homicides, suicides, and vehicular accidents combined. This number averages out to an overdose death every seven hours in the five boroughs, a figure that explains the activists’ sense of urgency. The governor’s hesitation was challenged on June 3 during a campaign appearance Nixon made in Ithaca. Asked about the issue by a local doctor who operates a harm reduction clinic for drug users, Nixon gave Safer Consumption Spaces her enthusiastic endorsement. “If we can show it’s successful here,” the Ithaca Journal reported her saying, “it will explode across the country and save thousands of lives.” The close working relationship between Cuomo and Charles King, the CEO of Housing Works, the AIDS services organization that has pushed the Safer Consumption Space issue hard, has become strained over the governor’s failure to approve the plans in the city and in Ithaca. “I’ve always praised the governor when he did the right thing, but I don’t have any reservations about calling him out when he falls short,” King said in a telephone interview. He added that a personal conversation he had with Zucker convinced him that the health commissioner is on board. Indeed, in his May 25 response to a de Blasio aide, Zucker wrote there is “emerging evidence that SIFs” — Safer Injection Facilities, another name

for Safer Consumption Spaces — have many public health benefits that would “reduce overdose fatalities, lessen public nuisance, and curtail the transmission of bloodborne infections.” In addition, these programs “help bridge marginalized and vulnerable individuals” into treatment, care, and support. Though he termed Zucker’s queries to the de Blasio administration a bit disingenuous because the state health department knows the answers to the questions,” King added, “It’s an effort by him to buy time knowing he [Cuomo] is right in the middle of a primary election.” Despite warnings by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he would move against Safer Consumption Spaces under federal “crack house statutes,” according to The Economist, advocates are convinced the state and city can act under the same provisions of the New York Public Health Law that enabled clean needle exchanges to emerge decades ago without federal authorization. Safer Consumption Spaces are touted as effective in preventing infections, including hepatitis C and HIV, but most dramatically in curbing overdose deaths. These facilities are widely used in Canada, Europe, and Australia to permit drug users to consume drugs under the watchful eye of overdose prevention workers. Should a user go into a deep nod and lose consciousness, staff can provide oxygen or naloxone, a drug that is inhaled and quickly revives a user and restores normal breathing. NIXON continued on p. 21 NYC Community Media

UESers Debate How to Curb Mushrooming Supertalls BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Upper East Siders are debating how tall they want buildings to rise in their neighborhood. A discussion on height limits was the focus of a land use forum hosted June 6 by Civitas, a non-profit that advocates on neighborhood quality of life issues on the East Side. Though some at the meeting advocated for no height cap, Civitas presented a zoning proposal that would cap building heights at 400 feet, while Community Board 8 reiterated its position that the cap should stand at 210 feet. At the crux of last week’s discussion were tough questions about the affordable housing crisis in New York City. “I thought that those positions clearly resonated with various members of the audience,” Mark Alexander, president of Civitas and principal of Alexander Development Group, said referring to the discussion about some height limit being needed on the Upper East Side. “There clearly is a significant majority — at least in the crowd — of people wanting some kind of height limit.” Civitas released a zoning recommendation plan for areas along York Ave., First Ave., Second Ave., and Third Ave. between the 60s and the 90s that are currently zoned C1-9, which specifies no height constraint. Based on a report by Frank Fish of Buckhurst Fish Jacquemart Planning, Civitas recommends that the city rezone that C1-9 zone into C1-9X, which would cap height limits at 400 feet and the street wall setback at 60 to 85 feet. The proposal, Civitas hopes, would allow for more development and increased density, but preserve the neighborhood’s traditional context. A 400-foot building, which would likely be between 30 and 40 stories, is still much smaller than the often criticized “supertalls” — buildings rising to more than 1,000 feet that are popping up citywide. Alexander, who moderated the discussion last Wed., aimed to emphasize that the varying proposals on what’s to be done on overdevelopment on the Upper East Side and citywide involve complex choices and trade-offs depending on what route neighborhoods and their elected officials take. “You’re going to end up with tradeoffs, and one of those trade-offs is affordability,” he said. Panel members Moses Gates, the Regional Planning Association’s vice president for housing and neighborhood planning, and Michael Slattery, the Real Estate Board of New York’s senior vice president of research, generally agreed NYC Community Media

DDG Partners

DDG’s rendering of its tower nearing completion at 180 E. 88th St. at Third Ave.

that more density and new apartments are necessary to mitigate the affordability crisis citywide — and, specific to this forum, on the Upper East Side. Gates argued that although public infrastructure — sanitation, schools, public transit, and so on — must increase alongside development of taller, denser buildings, that argument isn’t as salient for a neighborhood that has famously received a great deal of public infrastructure in comparison with the rest of the city. “There’s kind of a consensus that with more people needs to come more of this public infrastructure,” Gates said. “I would say, and perhaps this is controversial to folks who might live here, but I would say the Upper East Side has received more than its fair share of the recent public infrastructure investment in New York.” He added, “We have built four subways stations in the last 50 years and you’ve got them all. So I would say you have one of the best parks in the entire United States [Central Park] right at your door, with a very generous conservancy that supports it, and you have some of the best schools in the city.” But for some residents, particularly those on Community Board 8, the view is that their neighborhood is being threatened and more development could displace people who have been able to afford to live in the area for decades. Last Sept., CB 8 voiced its support to the

Department of City Planning for a 210foot height cap on York Ave., First Ave., Second Ave., and Third Ave. within the board’s district. “Nobody wants to live in shadows all the time,” said Alida Camp, chairperson of the board since Jan. and a member for three years. Camp was also a panelist. “We’re concerned about affordable housing,” she said. “These buildings cause the loss of subsidized rent-controlled apartments in the walk-ups they’re replacing.” A 210-foot height cap, Camp said, “just makes more sense for the scale of the neighborhood.” The support for increased density at the forum surprised Camp, who sees the area’s streets, public transit, and schools already overcrowded. “It was somewhat disconcerting,” she said. “We would like the community to have more of a voice in these kinds of decisions.” Much of the development across the city is as-of-right, which allows new construction to proceed without signficant oversight and review from the public. When asked whether increased density could remedy the widespread feeling that New York is becoming increasingly unaffordable, Camp questioned how much affordable housing is allotted in new buildings to begin with. She referred specifically to 1297 Third Ave., a development in the works between E. 74th and 75th Sts. that was originally supposed to be a 31-story condo. When the developers came before the board, Camp said, they didn’t have a plan for any affordable units. Since then, the developers appear to have scrapped that plan. The new plan is expected to be a six-story building with just three units, the Real Deal reported in March. Another recent development in the works is at 180 East 88th St. DDG’s soon-to-be luxury condo building on Third Ave. will rise to 50 stories, according to a company press release last month. Community groups and elected officials, including City Councilmember Ben Kallos, sued the developers in Feb. for suspect zoning practices, reported Crain’s. “One of the things I’m most interested in is closing the loopholes that let this happen,” Kallos said at last week’s forum, referring in general terms to problematic development on the Upper East Side. It’s hard for him to believe, he said, that the zoning text can lead to preservation of neighborhoods when loopholes — such as the purchase of developmental rights known as air rights

and the use of mechanical voids in buildings that reduce floor space and so allow for taller buildings — are exploited. “I’m wondering if we can’t get more aggressive on our affordable housing and to do better and bring it all over the city,” added Kallos, who did not say whether or not he would support some kind of height cap on the neighborhood’s avenues. “There’s a problem when you have billionaires replacing millionaires,” he added, referring to an Upper East Side phenomenon of recent years. Alexander of Civitas was surprised at the number of people in the audience who supported no height caps. A group known as Open New York, which advocates for more development of both affordable and market rate housing and aligns itself with newer YIMBY — Yes In My Neighborhood — groups, opposed any height cap in the neighborhood. “I was actually surprised. In some ways, pleasantly surprised,” said Alexander, whose group is cognizant that any solution must preserve incentives for more housing development on the Upper East Side. Open New York has about 15 active members who frequently go to community meetings, according to one member, Alex Walker. “Our approach to housing issues is that we just think the region needs to build a lot more housing in general,” said Walker, who lives on Madison Ave. and 28th St. “Both dedicated affordable housing and more market rate housing. And we think that will benefit people all along the income spectrum.” Neighborhoods across the city, notably the West Village, have shown that resisting new development hasn’t improved affordability whatsoever, Walker argued. The group officially became a notfor-profit organization recently, and leadership roles will be decided upon at an upcoming meeting, according to Walker. “Our focus is really on neighborhoods that we think have been too successful at sort of resisting growth for selfish reasons of the people who live there,” Walker said, adding that new housing would accommodate population growth and newcomers in general. But Walker joined others in the audience who questioned the use of mechanical voids that allow luxury apartments to surge high into the sky. “To be frank, that seems like kind of a wasteful use of space,” he said. June 14, 2018


Locals Spend a Day in Albany Advocating for Statewide Healthcare BY DONATHAN SALKALN How bad has our health care system become? A 25-year-old man is sideswiped by a truck on a busy Downtown street. The ambulance brings him to an East Side emergency room. “Broken leg, shattered bone sticking out of skin,� recalled Dr. Danny Lugassy. “He’s pulling out IVs, and pushing away nurses. I ask him, ‘What are you doing?’ He begs me, ‘Please do the bare minimum possible. I just started a job, but my health care won’t start until next month!’ � On June 5, two buses loaded with advocates of single-payer healthcare, mostly from Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and Greenwich Village, left W. 33rd St. near Penn Station and headed to the state capitol to rally with others and lobby for single-payer healthcare. The event was organized by the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) in tandem with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), 1199 SEIU, and over 100 labor and community organizations in the Campaign for New York Health. The day included pre-arranged individual office meetings with state senators, to voice healthcare concerns. The day’s battle cry was for passage of the New York Health Act, a bill sponsored by local NYS Assemblymember Richard

Having no insurance, he neglects to go for an examination, thinking the ailment would just go away. By the time he passes out and is brought to the hospital, he dies from an internal infection. Said Austin Horse, his longtime friend and fellow bike messenger, “All he needed were a few pills and he’d be still be alive.� A woman who is being treated for a massive heart attack at Bellevue Hospital’s emergency room interrupts medical procedures demanding that the doctor retrieve her phone and insurance card. While her EKG monitor was indicating emanate death, the woman needs to find out if the cardiologist was in her health care network, saying, “I can’t afford a heart attack right now!� Tom Thomas, of Hell’s Kitchen, is sideswiped by a speeding motorcycle. He is thrown 25 feet, breaking bones from his right shoulder to his right toe. “I’m grateful for modern medicine to be alive,� he told me, “but what followed were multiple bills of seven figures. After the first bill my insurance coverage ran out and I was forced into bankruptcy. This, after thirty years of being a respectable professional.� Thomas became an activist after learning he was not alone: 64 percent of

Photo by Donathan Salkaln

“Nearly every day, patients tell me they can’t afford the care that I want to give them,� said Dr. Danny Lugassy, board member, Physicians for a National Health Program — NY Metro Chapter.

Gottfried (A04738) and NYS Senator Gustuvo Rivera (S4840). It would provide health care for every NYS resident with no deductibles, no co-payments, and no financial burden to receive service. Gottfried’s bill has passed three times in the Assembly, but it as yet to come to the Senate floor. The plan resembles the Medicare federal program for the elderly, which was first pushed in 1912 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and later by Presidents Harry Truman and

John F. Kennedy, and finally enacted by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. Between a long bus trip, a rain-soaked rally that faced a looming NYS Capitol Building looking like the dark side of a Harry Potter set, and an intense afternoon meeting in the office of a Republican state senator —too many frightful narratives ruled my day: Bill Meier, a bike messenger who lived on 28th St, east of Seventh Ave., becomes lethargic and pale over a period of weeks.

HEALTHCARE continued on p. 8


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

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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.

June 14, 2018


Photos by Donathan Salkaln

Austin Horse and fellow messengers peddled to Albany in memory of Chelsea bike messenger Bill Meier, each taking turns to hold Meier’s empty ten-speed along the two-day trip. HEALTHCARE continued from p. 6

all US personal bankruptcies are due to medical issues. “It’s a demoralizing time to be working in primary care. Too often we tell patients, ‘You don’t have coverage. You can only take your medication for nine months out of the year because the co-pay card from the drug manufacturer is going to run out,’ � said Dr. Andrew Goodman, Associate Director of Medicine, Callen-

Lorde Community Health Center (356 W. 18th St.). The clinic is struggling with the amount of time and dollars diverted from actual care. Also, a third of the Callen-Lorde patients (6,000 a year), are uninsured, as no one is turned away. “We spend thousands of hours fighting insurance claim denials. It’s such a huge waste,� added Issac Evans-Frantz, MPA. The midday rally in the park not only brought rain showers, but also an outpouring for better heath care. Exclaimed

Heading to Albany were, L to R, NYU medical students Ashley Lewis, Joanna Watterson, Kristin Medley and Alcida Karz. Said Lewis, “It’s very upsetting to learn in an environment where you see patients not getting the care that they need.�

Gottfried, “No New Yorker should have to go without health care and no New Yorker should have to suffer financial hardship in order to get it! It becomes complicated if you’re focusing on taking care of health insurance companies and their finances, and not taking care of New Yorkers.� “When we talk about health care for all, we’re talking about life and death.� shouted Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez RN, President, NYSNA. “How many times

do we see people break their pills in half and they go get a stroke! And maybe they die!â€? Added fellow NYSNA board member, Anne BovĂŠ, “Reports are saying that one in three New Yorkers can’t get health care that they need because they can’t afford the co-pays, the deductibles or the insurance. The for-profit insurance game has got to come to an end!â€? The afternoon included over 80 meetHEALTHCARE continued on p. 20


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June 14, 2018


Town Hall Heat Over Pride Parade Route Change BY DUNCAN OSBORNE The organization that produces New York City’s annual Pride Parade and related events first considered a controversial new route for this year’s parade in Dec. 2016, but throughout the first six months of 2017, as it was negotiating a resistance contingent in last year’s parade, it never told activists in that contingent or the broader community that it was contemplating a change going forward. “My concern is that [Heritage of Pride] has not consulted with the rest of the community,â€? said Sheri Clemons, who is a stalwart member of the LGBTQ community who regularly turns out for protests and meetings, during a heated June 5 town hall that was organized by Heritage of Pride (HOP), which produces the parade, the mayor’s office, and senior members of the NYPD. “You have to listen to the community and that also means reaching out and engaging‌ Everybody should have known that these changes would be disturbing.â€? HOP shortened and reversed the 2018 parade route so it runs south on Seventh Ave. from Chelsea then east on Christopher and Eighth Sts. before heading north again on Fifth Ave. to

Photo by Donna Aceto

HOP’s march director Julian Sanjivan, Detective Carl Locke, the NYPD’s LGBTQ liaison, Patrol Borough Manhattan South Executive Officer James Kehoe, Patrol Services Bureau Executive Officer Fausto Pichardo, and Joseph Gallucci, the commanding officer of the NYPD’s citywide counterterrorism unit, at the June 5 town hall.

end at 29th St. Contingents are limited to 200 people and the number of floats and vehicles has been reduced. HOP is expecting 43,000 marchers this year as opposed to 55,000 last year. HOP is making all marchers wear wristbands, a requirement that led to “No wristbands�

chants during the town hall. In meetings held last month, HOP said that discussions with the NYPD and other city agencies about the new parade route began in Aug. 2017. HOP ultimately presented the NYPD with six choices and the agency selected the route.

While HOP meetings are public, it never announced the new route until after the final decision was made in Jan. 2018. The Dec. 2016 date was first acknowledged publicly in a PowerPoint presentation made at the June 5 town hall, which was held to explain the new march route. The fact that discussions, even if they were only internal HOP deliberations, had begun months earlier and that the group had multiple opportunities to inform the community and activists as they negotiated the 2017 resistance contingent inflamed feelings at the town hall, which was already going to be contentious. Ken Kidd, a longtime LGBTQ activist, was the lead negotiator for last year’s resistance contingent, organized to respond to the election of Donald Trump. He described the new route as a “stupid, small, rinky-dink route� and a “march to nowhere.� After the meeting, Kidd told NYC Community Media that “I was on the phone with them four times a week� and there were other chances for HOP to disclose the plan. “That does not speak well to transparency,� Kidd said during the town hall. Out gay City Council Speaker Corey





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Johnson, whose district includes major portions of the parade route, including the West Village and Chelsea, told NYC Community Media he was not brought into any discussions of the changes. The day after the town hall, NYC Community Media learned that Erik Bottcher, Johnson’s chief of staff, met with the mayor’s office and four HOP officers on May 31. They agreed to a community planning process for the 2019 march route that could result in the route changing again. HOP and a representative of Johnson’s office who spoke did not disclose this at the town hall. Julian Sanjivan, HOP’s march director, conceded at the town hall that the group had missed the mark. “Could we have done a better job at it?� he said during the two-hour meeting. “Clearly, yes, we could have done a better job at it.� Last year, the sole demand was for a resistance contingent at the front of the march. This year, a group of activists with deep roots in the LGBTQ and other movements organized as the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC) asked for a resistance contingent, a reduced corporate and police presence at the march, including two police-free zones in the West Village, an explanation for the new route, and that members of the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) march without

Photo by Donna Aceto

Sheri Clemons holds up a sign expressing her displeasure with Heritage of Pride’s community engagement.

uniforms or weapons. The Coalition members, who range in age from their early 20s to much older than that, were clearly not inclined to be generous, feeling that HOP has not been accessible. The longstanding complaint that large corporations dominate the parade is a central issue. Activists believe that HOP has torn the march from its roots in an anti-police riot and turned it into a commercial and a celebration. “You think that making something

public is the same thing as community engagement and it’s not,â€? said Jeremiah Johnson, a member of the Coalition. “You have to intentionally do that‌ My concern right now is that you guys are party planners with no sense of rebellion.â€? For its part, HOP has responded that community groups and non-profits continue to make up 65 to 70 percent of the contingents in the parade and even the corporate contingents are made up of LGBTQ employees. Shortening the parade is not only an accommodation to the city, which must police and clean up after the parade, it is an accommodation to marchers who do not want to wait for hours to step off. The new route is a test in anticipation of the far larger crowd expected next year for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The reasoning is that dispersing the crowd in Midtown, as opposed to the West Village, gives more public transportation options. A panel comprised of HOP co-chair Maryanne Roberto Fine, Sanjivan, three senior NYPD officials, Matthew McMorrow from the mayor’s office, Detective Carl Locke, the NYPD’s LGBTQ liaison, Detective Brian Downey, GOAL’s president, and Lydia Figueroa, GOAL’s recording secretary, spent about

30 minutes presenting to the crowd of roughly 100. When Sanjivan first mentioned the new route, it was greeted with hissing. Police officials and GOAL made presentations that were received politely. Audience questions and comments lasted about an hour and most of the heat was directed at HOP, though police and GOAL caught some flack. When panelists began to respond to the questions during the final 30 minutes of the town hall, there were repeated interruptions. There were two sympathetic moments during the meeting. One came when Hannah Simpson, a transgender woman, praised the police. “What I can say is I’ve interacted with the NYPD on many levels, including sitting in on a hate crime investigation supporting a trans woman of color friend of mine,� Simpson said. “What you don’t hear about on the news are the thousands of officers who are saving lives and respecting us.� The second came when Downey said, as he has before and as HOP has supported, that GOAL members would be marching in uniform. “I will not dishonor Charlie Cochrane and Sam Ciccone by taking off those uniforms,� he said referring to two of the founders of the 36-year-old organization. That comment drew applause.

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June 14, 2018


Love Wedding Music? Why Don’t You Marry It? An engaging look at songs that get a good reception BY JIM MELLOAN Fifty years and a couple of months ago, Sly & the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. And so, in March and April, I was playing that one on my “50 Years Ago This Week” radio show (on radiofreebrooklyn.org). I had dinner with my dad a while back, and he remarked what a classic it was. He had heard it played at a wedding reception recently. He suggested I should write about it. I told him great idea, but my editor, Scott Stiffler, wanted my column to concentrate on acts with New York connections — and Sly & the Family Stone were from San Francisco. Dad said, “Well, you could write about the fact that they still play it at New York area weddings.” I thought this was funny, and I related it to Scott as an amusing anecdote. Much to my surprise, he liked the idea, and what with it being wedding season in June, suggested I do a column on the stuff they play at wedding receptions around here these days. So this is that column, and that was the intro to this column. Now here’s the part about that song and Sly & the Family Stone: It was the first Top 40 hit for the group. It pioneered a genre that became known as psychedelic soul, and soon major acts such as the Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the Four Tops started churning out hits with a similar sound. It led to the development of funk. CBS Records executive Clive Davis had asked the band to come up with a poppier sound than was reflected on their first album, “A Whole New Thing.” Sly rose to the occasion with “Dance to the Music” (which also served as the second album’s name). The band wasn’t crazy about going in this direction. Saxophonist Jerry Martini said it “was such an unhip thing for us to do.” But it did the trick of launching the band into the pubic consciousness, and the band’s unusual combination of four lead singers, rock guitar riffs, gospel organ, and horns seemed plenty hip to the record-buying public. The song takes the hoary format of introducing members of the band and letting each one do a lick so we can hear how the


June 14, 2018

Courtesy of Code Bleu

The Long Island-based band Code Bleu (with singer Pamela Lewis, third from the right) questions the bride and groom, then sets up a crowd-pleasing playlist in advance.

whole sound comes together. Archie Bell & the Drells had a number one hit a couple months later with a song with a similar structure, “Tighten Up.” The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band sent up the format in 1967 with “The Intro and the Outro,” in which a couple dozen fanciful characters are introduced as members of the band, including John Wayne on xylophone, Adolf Hitler “looking very relaxed” on vibes, and the Count Basie Orchestra on triangle. “Dance to the Music” may have gotten a boost in popularity in the 21st century with its inclusion in “Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party,” a DVD extra for the 2001 movie “Shrek.” I haven’t been to any weddings in years. So I realized, to paraphrase The Martian, I’m gonna have to report the shit out of this column. That was easily enough done thanks to crowdsourcing via a Facebook query and an interview with a local contemporary expert, a singer with one of Long Island’s most successful wedding bands. Through these we can piece together what the musical fare at a New York metro area wedding reception in 2018 might consist of. Weddings are, of course, multi-generational celebrations, so we can expect that music from every era that attendees

might have witnessed will be represented. The cocktail hour will feature the jazzier stuff: Kenny G, “Wave,” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. As the guests file in and sit down to dinner, the music will continue to be low-key: Fleetwood Mac, Marvin Gaye, Sade, Anita Baker, and the soft side of Amy Winehouse. There will also be contemporary love songs of the unabashed variety, like John Legend’s “All of Me” or Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Pamela Lewis is a singer with Code Bleu, an 8 to 11-piece Long Island band that does about 100 weddings a year (details at skylineorchestras.com/ code-bleu). She explained how the outfit combines a rigorous process of determining what particular songs and genres any given couple is interested in with the skill of reading the room at any given time and deploying an instinctual knowledge of what is going to work best at that time. Bandleaders Sean and Donna Gillen send out a questionnaire to the bride and groom and then meet with them personally to make sure everything they want is covered. The couples are often already familiar with Code Bleu’s work, and they have the option to see them at regularly scheduled showcases. The Gillens then send out a CD to all the band members that

contains all the songs they need to know for the week’s upcoming gigs. After dinner may be the time when the parents and grandparents have a few drinks under their belts and are ready to cut loose, so a ’50s and early ’60s set might be in order: “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “Rockin’ Robin,” “Heat Wave,” a couple of twist numbers, and (generally a must) the Isley Brothers’ “Shout.” “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll)” serves up the neat trick of being event-specific and evoking nostalgia for both the late ’70s, when it was written by Nick Lowe, and performed by both him and Dave Edmunds, and the ’50s rock ‘n’ roll style it’s written in. The ’70s and ’80s brought out a number of wedding warhorses, many of which are still practically de rigeur today: Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight,” Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” and “Last Dance,” and the standard Barry White half-dozen. There may be the part where the groom is blindfolded and has to find and remove the bride’s garter with his teeth, often while a recording of Yello’s 1985 electronica number “Oh Yeah,” featured in the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” is played (or alternatively, says Lewis, the band plays Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”). Cakecutting ceremonies have recently often featured “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, an anthemic paean to the pleasures of, yes, home. The 21st century kicks in with a few songs that have become classics: OutKast’s “Hey Ya!,” Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (a prime example of today’s music’s total disregard for the importance of melody), and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” (a welcome exception to that trend). Two others with which I was not at all familiar: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk” (which has, holy shit, more than three billion views on YouTube), and Walk on the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” (nice enough, but WEDDINGS continued on p. 15 NYC Community Media

The Madness of King Donald A busy week for weak (but dear) leadership BY MAX BURBANK My, but it’s been a busy week! So much has happened! As Trump himself eloquently put it, “This is going to lead to more and more and more.” It’s difficult to pick a place to start and end up at the point I want to make. Bear with me. I’m gonna skip around a bit. Okay, there’s this president. And his administration is being actively investigated for collusion with Russia, which you can’t forget for even a second, because he’s made “No collusion!” the biggest catchphrase since everyone in your middle school was hiking up their pants Urkel-style, and whining, “Did I do that?” And he’s on his way to Toronto for the G7 summit — this president, not Urkel —but first, he takes a moment to let the press know he wants Russia — the country he’s accused of colluding with — readmitted to the group. Why? Because, “You know, whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run.” Now maybe the “we” in this sentence doesn’t mean him and Russia, except it totally does. Who the hell else could it mean? Russia. The country that got kicked out of the group for violently annexing the Crimea, annoyingly forcing everyone in the G8 to change their business cards and stationery back to G7. Since then, Russia shot down a passenger plane killing 300 people, went on a European poisoning spree, and “meddled” (a harmless word, as if Putin is Scooby-Doo) in our election, which makes it seem the teeniest bit sketchy for Trump to demand the G7 let Russia back in because they “have a world to run.” You have to wonder (and many are): What does Russia have on this guy? So hold that thought. Put a pin in it. Let’s jump back a bit, to the beginning of the month. The president’s lawyer, Rudy “America’s Terrifying Reptilian Mayor with Anger Management Issues” Giuliani, argued that Trump could shoot former FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office and not be indicted for it while serving as president. “In no case,” said Giuliani, “can he be subNYC Community Media

poenaed or indicted. I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.” Italics added by me, to indicate how super creepy that last sentence is. Now you know Giuliani

2016, those halcyon, fairy tale days when Trump was never going to be president. At a campaign rally, Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, ok? It’s, like, incredible.” You have to conclude that Trump wants to whack a guy. He’s always seen himself as a mob boss in a direct-tovideo gangster flick. On his best day, Trump is woefully ignorant of basic civics. He has no understanding of the branches of government and what presidents can and can’t do. He thought being president would make him king and he’d get to shoot somebody On his worst day? I think he imagined the presidency would be Aladdin’s lamp and come with a wishgranting genie. He thought he’d be driving real big trucks whenever he wanted, eating buckets of KFC atop

Illustration by Max Burbank

didn’t come up with that example on his own. I mean, look at him. The man has a single elephant testicle with glasses and ten-dollar Walmart dentures where most people have a human head. That idea had to have come from a conversation with Trump. Jump back further to January 23,

the world’s tallest mountain of KFC and singing “A Whole New World” while soaring over the capital with porn stars on an enchanted carpet. Instead, he has to see Mike Pence almost every day. Small wonder he’s up all night rage tweeting! Trump’s gnawing disappointment in

the reality of his job is key to the “what does Russia have on Trump” question. It’s unanswerable, because it’s the wrong question. Oh, they have stuff; emails, wiretaps, very unpleasant videos, but he doesn’t care about that. He’s constitutionally incapable of shame and totally comfortable lying in the face of incontrovertible proof. You can’t blackmail him, and he honestly believes he’s above the law, so he thinks no one can punish him, either. It’s not what Russia can do to him. It’s what they can do for him. Russia is Trump’s magical genie. They gave him money when no one else in the world would. Scooby-Putin helped put him in a position to establish his own personal kleptocracy, a pipeline running straight from the treasury to his ridiculous branding empire, a business that now doesn’t even have to pretend to do anything. It’s been said Trump has grown as a person less in office than any president, but I disagree. Putin taught him to put away childish things. He’s not waiting for a magic carpet ride or a few paltry murders. He has a new dream, one that he’s seen evidence can be achieved in reality. And he’s made a new friend. To hell with our backstabbing, socalled allies; the Canadians, threatening our national security with their insidious dairy and soft timber mafia, the French trying to fool you with their pretty parades, but then shake your hand so hard it LEAVES A VISIBLE MARK! The British and the Germans with their scary LADY LEADERS, who don’t have the common decency to be even a seven on his “Hot Lady” list, let alone a 10! Shirtless equestrian enthusiast Vladimir Putin was alluring and impressive, a great role model — but that was puppy love. There’s a new man in town and, like Trump, he knows the importance of iconic hair. A month ago they were swapping insults and trading threats of nuclear annihilation — but it was always more of a “will they or won’t they” Ross ‘n’ Rachel-type deal. Trump finally gets he’ll never be a king. But with a little midterm assistance from some meddling, computer nerd tovarisches, a complicit Republican Congress, and a 5-4 Supreme Court? He might yet be a Dear Leader. June 14, 2018


Drag in the Days of Yore Classic comedy awash with dudes donning dresses BY TRAV S.D. It’s Pride Month! We take the opportunity to recall that “LGBT” often comes with a “Q” appended to it. Queerness being by definition a wild card, we take the liberty of exploring a related, if tangential, phenomenon: drag performance in classic comedy. Back in the day, nearly every comedian, major and minor, donned a dress at one time or another to make audiences laugh. Sometimes the comedy was pegged to how very unconvincing the men registered as female; other times, shocked laughter sprang from how believable the performers were as women. Even a century and more ago, the practice was not new. As is well-known, all the female parts in Elizabethan theatre were men played by men, and this almost certainly had to have resulted in broad comedy (e.g., can you imagine how the Nurse in “Romeo and Juliet” must have been played?). British panto is famous for its Pantomime Dames. In American minstrel shows and vaudeville, every major comedian had a “wench” in his repertoire. Tony Hart, of the team of Harrigan and Hart, was especially esteemed in the 1870s and ’80s for his ability to do comedy drag — and a duo called the Russell Brothers played two foul-mouthed Irish serving girls. When cinema came on the scene, it was inevitable this new medium would continue the stage tradition. Silent film comedy, dependent as it was on broad, visual gags, was especially suited to the ritual of donning dresses for laughs. (This is distinct, by the way, from the closely related phenomenon of vaudeville female impersonators, like Julian Eltinge or Bothwell Browne, who also made films. Female impersonation was about illusion and aesthetic beauty, with no comic component necessarily attached.) During his first couple of years as a screen comedian, Charlie Chaplin did drag in several films. This was, of course, prior to the time when he was playing his Little Tramp, who had a mustache, in every single film. In “The Masquerader” (1914) and “A Woman” (1915), Charlie disguises himself as a female to evade antagonists — a frequent plot device. Most astonishing, though, is “A Busy Day” (1914), in which he is simply playing a female character for the duration of the film!


June 14, 2018

Charlie Chaplin donned drag in “The Masquerader” and “A Woman” (1914 and 1915, respectively). Here, in the 1914 short “A Busy Day,” he plays a jealous wife who wreaks havoc en route to confront her husband.

Via tylerperrystudios.com

Tyler Perry’s “Madea” character continues the tradition of comedic drag, in a longrunning series of popular films.

This was surprisingly common in early silent comedy days. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle did this on several occasions, sometimes billing himself as “Miss Fatty,” although his character was just as often male, putting on skirts to escape one pursuer or another. Perhaps most grotesque of all, Wallace Beery, best known as the gruff, hypermasculine star of such films as “The Champ” (1931) and “Treasure Island” (1934), began his film career as a female character named “Sweedie” in a

series of comedies for Essanay Studios. Naturally, much comedy was derived from Sweedie’s unattractiveness. Buster Keaton also did drag on a couple of occasions. Typically, his experimentation with the tactic was idiosyncratic. In the 1921 short “The Play House,” through trick photography, he plays every single performer and audience member in a vaudeville theatre, some of whom are women. And in the feature “Sherlock Jr.” (1924), he briefly dons a dress as a disguise, only to leap

through a window and emerge as his male self on the other side — one of the most celebrated moments in all of his films. In comedy duos, one member or the other of the team will tend to be the one who specializes in the drag turns, and it is usually the less conventionally “masculine” of the two. As a famous example, Stan Laurel of the team of Laurel and Hardy was the natural one to take on these chores, as Oliver Hardy was a much larger man and had a mustache. In their 1927 silent short “Duck Soup” and its 1930 remake “Another Fine Mess,” the boys are squatting in a vacant mansion while the owner is on vacation, when some visitors show up unexpectedly. Hardy pretends to be the butler of the house; Laurel, the maid. But in one of their most outré comedies, they both play drag roles. In “Twice Two” (1933), their characters are married to each other’s sisters, also played by the comedians, thanks to trick photography. In the team of Wheeler and Woolsey, Bert Wheeler was the natural one to do drag turns. He had a naturally highpitched voice, and played a character that seemed very much like an innocent NYC Community Media

young girl. His partner, Robert Woolsey, by contrast, had a rough voice and was rarely seen without a cigar, making drag much more of a stretch. The Wheeler and Woolsey comedies coincided with the Pre-Code era, and they appropriately stretch the sexual implications of gender ambiguity much further than most any other comedians of the classic era. In “Hips, Hips, Hooray” (1934), the pair is first discovered by viewers in bed together. They almost come off as husband and wife. Later in the film, Wheeler dons a lampshade as a tutu and dances around in it. In “So This is Africa” (1933), Wheeler, dressed as a native girl in a leopard skin two-piece, is seized by a Tarzan-type wild man, who carries him off to his tent for what can be only one purpose. And Wheeler doesn’t put up much of a fight, given the circumstances! The most drag-heavy Wheeler and Woolsey film is “Peach O’Reno” (1931). Wheeler spends a good hunk of the film in disguise as a naughty widow, in an attempt to ensnare a fellow in a divorce case. In other teams, the choice of which member would do drag was even easier because the roles of each comedian were more starkly drawn between “straight man” and comedian. In Hope and Crosby, for example, Bob Hope was very much the sillier of the two. In “The Road to Morocco” (1942), it is Hope who haunts the pair’s dreams as “Aunt Lucy.” And in “The Road to Rio” (1947), it is Hope who has the Carmen Miranda number. Later, without Bing Crosby, Hope dons drag to escape gangsters in “The Lemon Drop Kid” (1951). In the team of Abbott and Costello, it is obviously Lou Costello who resorts to putting on a dress and makeup in films like “Lost in a Harem” (1944) and “Fun on the Run” (1949). As a later example of a comedy team with this kind of relationship, in Martin and Lewis, Jerry Lewis was the obvious guy to do comedy drag, Dean Martin being the heartthrob of the team. Lewis’ best-known routine along these lines is in “At War with the Army” (1950). Comedy trios, of course, lacked this kind of polar gender dichotomy. In trios, all three members of the team tended to dress in drag together, as with the Ritz Brothers in “Argentine Nights” (1941) and The Three Stooges in “Nutty But Nice” (1940), Rhythm and Weep (1946) and Self Made Maids (1950). One old theatrical warhorse, the 1892 English stage play “Charley’s Aunt” by Brandon Thomas has a drag turn at its heart, and has been adapted for the screen several times featuring famous comedians and comic actors, including Sydney Chaplin (1925), Charles Ruggles (1930), Jack Benny (1941), and the musical DRAG continued on p. 23

WEDDING continued from p. 12


I prefer the hard-rocking 1980 song of the same name, by the very obscure San Francisco new wave band Pearl Harbor and the Explosions). Lewis reports that in the past five years country has gotten much more popular, with couples requesting songs such as “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” by Luke Bryan, and “The Fighter” by Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood. So that is my report. Now, before the month is out get yourself a decent suit or a fine new dress, get invited to a wedding or just crash one, and celebrate: get down tonight, shut up, and dance to the music! NYC Community Media

June 14, 2018


Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER THE ARC SIZZLIN’ SUMMER RECORD + CD SALE Whether it pops, rocks, swings, or just plain sizzles — one stop at this jam-packed brick and mortar music sale will secure many, many selections destined for heavy rotation on your summer playlist. So before the sun sets on June 24, make a covenant to visit ARC — Tribeca’s ARChive of Contemporary Music — a nonprofit archive, library, and research center “dedicated to saving and digitizing copies of all popular music recordings worldwide.” And do they ever. With a collection numbering in the millions and donations pouring in all the time from music labels and private collections, this record and CD sale offers up tens of thousands of their redundant stock at ridiculously discounted prices, plus a sweet selection of music-themed books, posters, DVDs, and memorabilia. Cheaper than downloading, it’s also a lot more fun (the tactile experience of flipping through rows and rows of those wooden bins always yields a few unexpected items utterly necessary for your collection). So get it while it’s hot — and become an ARC member while you’re there. That way, you’ll secure an invite to the preview night of December’s sale, where dedicated music lovers commune, scoop up the stock before it’s available to the general public, and enjoy free food and drink (at the summer sale’s preview, it was compliments of Two Boots Pizza and City Winery). Free admission. Open to the public daily through June 24, 11am–6pm at the ARChive of Contemporary Music (54 White St., btw. Church & Broadway). Visit arcmusic.org, call 212-226-6967, or email info@arcmusic.org. THE WASHINGTON SQUARE MUSIC FESTIVAL Taking place in one of the city’s great alfresco concert settings, and with an equally iconic rainspace at the ready, the Washington Square Music Festival has two more free nights of dynamic performances, as part of their 60th season celebration. On June 19, Music Director Lutz Rath conducts the Festival Chamber Ensemble in a program ranging from baroque (Jan Dismas Zelenka’s “Hipocondrie” quintet) to classical (Joseph Haydn’s “Der Geburtstag,” aka “The Birthday)” to


June 14, 2018

Courtesy of the ARChive of Contemporary Music

Daily through June 24, the ARChive of Contemporary Music’s summer sale raises funds for the nonprofit by allowing you to peruse, and purchase, their considerable supply of redundant stock.

Photo by Sally J. Bair

The Frank Lacy Sextet (fronted by Kuumba Frank Lacy, seen here) and guest vocalist Liz Torres will close out the Washington Square Music Festival’s 60th season on June 26.

20th century (selections by Bohuslav Martinu and Heitor Villa-Lobos). The series closes on June 26 with the Frank Lacy Sextet. Fronted by Kuumba Frank Lacy and featuring guest vocalist Liz Torres, the Sextet’s eclectic set list includes free form jazz, “updated arrangements of modern expression in jazz today,” and the world premiere of a composition by Lacy. Seating at these free concerts is on

a first come, first served basis. Tues., June 19 and 26, 8pm in Washington Square Park (Fifth Ave./Waverly Place, btw. W. Fourth & Macdougal Sts.). Rainspace: Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, at Thompson St.). For more information, visit washingtonsquaremusicfestival.org, call 212-252-3621, or email info@washingtonsquaremusicfestival. org.

THE RIVER TO RIVER FESTIVAL With a ticket price as free as the air you breathe — and a geographic breadth that allows audiences to experience some of the best dance, music, theater, and visual art Lower Manhattan has to offer — the 17th annual River to River Festival delivers 10 days of eye-opening (often genreblurring) activities taking place at over 40 indoor and outdoor venues. Here are a few definite destinations that caught our eye when we scanned the meaty menu presented by event producer LMCC (the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council). On Thurs., June 21, 6–9pm, “Tribeca Art + Culture Night” delivers on its name by showcasing the neighborhood’s vibrant gallery district. Over 20 fine art and design galleries, university and institutional art galleries, nonprofit art institutions, and performance spaces will stay open well into the night — allowing you to stroll from place to place, experiencing a high volume of NYC Community Media

AFTER 30 YEARS Courtesy of Namoi Goldberg Hass and Laura Nova

The LES Citizens Parade, part of this year’s River to River Festival, happens June 22 and 24.

Courtesy of Tribeca Art + Culture Night

Part of River to River, June 21’s Tribeca Art + Culture Night showcases the neighborhood’s vibrant gallery district.

openings, talks, workshops, and performances. On Tues., June 19, “Night at the Museums” is a likeminded event, with free admission to Downtown cultural institutions and museums. On Fri., June 22 at 5:30pm and Sat., June 24 at 4pm, The LES Citizens Parade (as in, Lower East Side) is an activist processional and a series of performances taking place in Seward Park (Broadway between Essex & Jefferson Sts.). Co-created by choreographer and Dances for a Variable Population artistic director Naomi Goldberg Haas and visual artist Laura Nova, the work, they assure us, “creates a celebratory, visual journey that honors the experience of long-term residents of the Lower East Side, examining the community through lenses of movement, performance, and visual art. Performers create literal and figurative routes through a neighborhood of disparate and intersecting traditions including Eastern, Western, and Latin American modalities of grace, balance, NYC Community Media

and beauty.” Sun., June 17, 7pm in Rockefeller Park, “Naamah’s Ark” is an epic oratorio that looks at the Noah’s Ark story from the viewpoint of Noah’s wife. Mon., June 18 through Fri., June 22, “It’s Showtime NYC” finds one of the city’s largest street dance companies doing their thing on the steps of Federal Hall (all performances at 4pm). On Fri., June 15 and Sat., June 16 at 7pm (and again, 5pm on Sun., June 17), the Brookfield Place Winter Garden is the setting for choreographer Catherine Galasso’s “Of Granite and Glass,” a site-specific modern dance work that uses the venue’s marble staircase as “a dramatic backdrop for a performance evoking failed spring breaks, ecstatic dance rituals, and sacred StairMaster routines.” The River to River Festival takes place June 15–24. All events are free. Visit rivertorivernyc.com. Facebook: facebook.com/LMCCNYC. Twitter: @ LMCC. Instagram: @LMCC_NYC. June 14, 2018


Photo by Christian Miles

Chelsea Waterside Park is being redesigned for community use. SHARED continued from p. 3

A spokesperson for HRPT said that members of the Trust were very happy to have been able to work with the community to come to this compromise. “When we rescued the architectural relics from the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Building from auction in 2012,” said James Yolles, “we had no idea where they would end up. We are grateful that through this process, we have been introduced to the Hell’s Kitchen Generations group, which will help ensure that the ram’s heads and the remnants of their decorative architectural frames remain

a part of Hell’s Kitchen’s rich history for all to enjoy.”

HK HISTORY AT STAKE In the mid- to late 19th century, local slaughterhouses were often decorated with architectural animal ornamentation. The pieces in question — four limestone steer heads and two ram heads, each about four feet tall and weighing more than a ton each — were salvaged from the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company Building on 11th Ave. between W. 39th and 40th Sts. — the

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area Diaz dubs the ‘meathacking’ district, on account of the slaughterhouses there. When the building was torn down in the early ’90s, the statuary ended up in a Williamsburg warehouse, along with other relics the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had salvaged. When LPC had to put up its holdings for public action in 2011, they doled out two steer heads and two ram’s heads, a garlanded medallion, and the slaughterhouse’s 30-foot limestone sign to Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC), and two cow’s heads and two ram’s heads to HRPT, for the nominal fee of $250. There were also two Art Deco winged carvings that once stood at the entrance ramps to the West Side Highway, formerly called Miller Highway when built in 1933. “There were six pieces in total, and when Landmarks was about to auction everything off, I by chance read about it in the New York Times, and asked then-Speaker Christine Quinn to intervene,” remembered CHDC Executive Director Joe Restuccia, who has been a vocal advocate for preserving this statuary since 1989. “They auctioned four pieces to Hudson River Park Trust, and four to Clinton Housing: two cow’s heads and a medallion, and the sign for New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company

Building. We also have the cornerstone from when the building was first built.” For years, HRPT’s statuary sat in wooden crates in an old lot in Hudson River Park near W. 34th St., just south of the New York Police Department tow pound; the CHDC’s pieces were kept in a garage on W. 53rd St. But now, all of the reclaimed pieces will end up in West Side green spaces. Restuccia said that CHDC will put their pieces in local community gardens, including the Adam’s Garden at 544 W. 53rd St., and Captain Post Garden at 560 W. 52nd St. Both are community gardens, developed as part of affordable housing projects. Restuccia said that the first is under construction, and the second will begin construction in 2019. Although he still regrets that CHDC couldn’t save the original slaughterhouse building, he’s pleased that they were able to rescue this statuary and very happy to see these pieces returned to the public view. Restuccia laughed when he recalled first moving the sculptures into storage. Thinking they were made of concrete, the CHDC had secured a truck with a boom to move the statuary. But when they attempted to load the cow’s heads and the truck tipped, the movers realized the statues were made of limestone, and weighed more than a ton. They had to go NYC Community Media

File image courtesy of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.

Although all of the cow’s and ram’s head statuary was intended to be repurposed as part of Chelsea Waterside Park’s “water maze� area (as seen in this 2016 rendering), they will now share some of it with other West Side parks.

back and get a bigger truck. The pieces were intentionally made big enough so they could be seen from the ground, even when mounted to the top floor of the slaughterhouse. Once upon a time, cattle traveled via an underground cow path reputed to be hidden under 11th Ave., and then walked up a ramp to the roof of the New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company Building, where they munched on grass in the open air until it was time for them to be butchered. The sculptures were secured to the six-story slaughterhouse from the roof, and will now come to these green spaces complete with the limestone ‘collar’ that once attached it to that building. Restuccia noted that they will be reassembled in their entirety at these community gardens. “I’m shocked and amazed, because these things have been orphaned for the longest time, so for them to get not only one home but four homes, all of which are accessible to the public, is great,� said Restuccia. “And these are absolute neighborhood artifacts of our industrial neighborhood; there is no question about that.�

HRPT DOES RIGHT BY HKG In a display of forward-thinking generosity, HRPT was quick to accede to HKG’s request to return the statuary to its neighborhood of origin. They shared half of the statuary they had, delivering it to Hell’s Kitchen within days. Now, many West Side green spaces will share these unified design elements. “They could have been jerks about it, because they did acquire the pieces in a private auction, even though they only paid $250 to transport them to their park,� said Diaz. “But we saw that they took these items to salvage them, instead of having them dumped or discarded. And then when the person who was

designing Chelsea Waterside Park saw them, he was inspired to use them in his design for that 23rd Street Park.� Plans for the redesign of CWP had been circulating for quite some time, as reported in a Nov. 16, 2016 Chelsea Now article. Scott Streeb of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. had tackled the redesign, presenting several water play areas for kids that would feature this repurposed statuary transformed into spray fountains. But it wasn’t until a member of Hell’s Kitchen Generations happened by the designs for Chelsea Waterside Park at 12th Ave. and W. 23rd St., and recognized that the statuary hailed from his neighborhood that he contacted Diaz to make her aware of the situation. “We had to act fast, because these pieces were being packed up to move. I decided to plan a June 2nd rally and I emailed HRPT to let them know,� said Diaz. “They got back to me the day before the rally and said that they had had a discussion, and decided to give us back the majority of pieces, with the exception of two cow’s heads. They could have said, ‘We own this, tough luck on you,’ but instead they changed the design, and also gave us the winged West Side Highway pieces.� Diaz cancelled the rally, and was very happy at the good faith efforts HRPT made toward sharing the historical statues. She said that Hell’s Kitchen activists recognized the group was working under honorable intentions to improve local parks. “They could have used some prefabricated animal head, so we know they meant to give new life to those old pieces,� said Diaz. “We realized from the beginning that they were trying to salvage the pieces that LPC couldn’t hold onto anymore and wanted to give them to places that would treat them the right way. They couldn’t know we wanted them.� But Diaz said they were more than

Photo by Michelle Diaz

A limestone ram’s head statue that was saved from the old New York Butchers’ Dressed Meat Company building will be returned to Hell’s Kitchen

happy to split the statuary, especially since CB4 and CHDC have two additional cow’s heads and some other pieces. She hopes that the provenance of the pieces featured in CWP will be marked with a plaque or other marker. “We felt that they were giving these historic pieces a new life by including them

in their park design,� said Diaz. “When HRPT said they’d use them in a park, we assumed it would be in a Hell’s Kitchen park. I was thinking Hell’s Kitchen, they were thinking Chelsea. But their intentions were good: to salvage these pieces for the West Side. And all of the West Side’s parks will be connected now.�

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June 14, 2018


“No New Yorker should have to go without health care and no New Yorker should have to suffer financial hardship in order to get it,” exclaimed Assemblymember Richard Gottfried (holding the umbrella is Physicians for a National Health Program board member Joel Berger, after arriving in Albany with other members of the bus contingent). HEALTHCARE continued from p. 8

ings between healthcare advocates and the aides of state senators, as the electeds were on floor — earlier in the day Republicans had blocked two reproductive bills. All meetings were thankfully in the warmth of the Legislative Office Building, although my assigned group went to Republican State Senator Martin Golden’s office, an opponent of single payer, and some moments were downright frigid. Senator Golden, a former NYC police officer, represents the shoreline communities that sweep the

Brooklyn side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Golden is a strong advocate for our men in blue and elders in grey. As Chair of the Senate Aging Committee he is credited with many bills in reforming assisted living, prescription drugs, and long-term care. Senator Golden’s aides were well versed with the single-payer bill. We learned that Golden is not against universal healthcare, but had issues with the bill being pushed. He feels it would cost considerably more to taxpayers, not less, and that it is a federal issue, not state (like Medicare). An aide wondered why

Photos by Donathan Salkaln

“Who in New York City would like to cut their property taxes, where half your tax levy goes to pay for health care?” shouted Darius Shahinfar, Albany’s treasurer and tax collector. Albany is the latest of 15 municipalities to sign a resolution for the New York Health Act.

the bill isn’t backed by Governor Cuomo, and also cited numbers in studies that contradicted the studies our group had brought. His office is also very concerned about the predicted 29 percent rise of health insurance rates that will further strain the budgets of families and municipalities across the country. After a strategy meeting at State Senator Brad Hoylman’s office (already a co-signer), our group headed home. During the trip, our bus captain, Jeff Mikkelson (from Chelsea), told me of his campaign to get New York Health Act resolution adopted by the NY City

Council. His group has been working with Councilman Mark Levine, Chair of the Health Committee, and also City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. But that’s a story for another day. Everyone made it back to the city safe and sound. As Sheridan-Gonzalez yelled at the rally, “I hope nobody gets sick from all this rain!” Anyone can join the Physicians for a National Health Program — NY Metro Chapter (pnhpnymetro.org). Most meetings take place at 10 Union Square East. To join the Campaign for New York Health, visit nyhcampaign.org.

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A Landmark Moment BY LINCOLN ANDERSON After four years leading the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), Meenakshi Srinivasan has resigned as its chairperson, and will take a position at New York Law School. Srinivasan’s decision to step down from the critical agency, which she announced in April, came less than a month after local activists and preservationists packed an LPC hearing regarding the agency’s proposal to change its procedure on public review of applications. Basically, Landmarks wanted its staff to make a lot more of the decisions on applications. The staff already makes the majority of them — but this would go too far, in the view of most in the room. Those who testified against the plan strongly argued that allegedly “small” things — like rooftop additions and how visible they are from the street, changing backyard windows and the like — are not minor at all. Rather, they said, in a historic district or on an individual landmark, these features are part of the whole, and the public and community boards — both of whose input is vital — must not be cut out of the process. After all, who knows more about their neighborhoods than local residents, activists and preservationists? Yet, with Srinivasan’s departure, word is those proposed rule changes are now not moving forward. But there are still myriad problems besetting LPC. For example, just look at the Gansevoort Historic District, a small area that covers much of the Village’s

old Meatpacking District, to see what Landmarks has been doing wrong. In short, many feel Landmarks has lost its way in recent years, no longer upholding its mandate of protecting landmarked buildings and districts, but has become pro-development. Take that “glass cube” plopped on top of the former one-story Pastis restaurant building, at Ninth Ave. and Little W. 12th St. Why? How could LPC approve that? We’re told that Restoration Hardware, the trendy furniture outfit that will be taking the space, was aghast at the design — resembling a giant frostedglass shower stall — and that the cube design is now being tweaked and its perimeter pulled in a bit. Then there is “Gansevoort Row,” a truly unfortunate project that will build up parts of what had been one of the Meatpacking District’s most iconic blocks — the south side of Gansevoort St. between Washington and Greenwich Sts. Save Gansevoort, co-led by the late Elaine Young, waged a valiant court battle to stop that project, but they recently ran out of court options after the Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, refused to hear the case. As a result, 70-74 Gansevoort St., that strip’s westernmost building, has been demolished, and will now be rebuilt with a much-taller multistory building. In short, what was the point of creating the Gansevoort Historic District if LPC is going to allow these kind of projects? For the record, the “Pastis cube” was approved under Robert Tierney,

Srinivasan’s predecessor. (Pastis itself will actually be returning, but in a building in the “Gansevoort Row” project.) And let’s not forget the facade of the former Florent restaurant. Thanks to — that’s right — a “staff-level decision,” that beautiful classic diner storefront was renovated with the wrong materials (wood) and resembled nothing of its former self. After the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) raised an outcry, the misstep was corrected. But this is exactly what can happen when the public is cut out of the process. So where are we left now? Not necessarily in a better place. Namely, Fred Bland, a longtime member of the Landmarks Commission, has been elevated to acting vice chairperson. However, according to Andrew Berman, director of GVSHP, Bland tended to “march in lockstep” with the former chairperson. Essentially, preservationists and community activists are now raising an urgent call for the next leader of the LPC to have — hey, what a concept! — actual preservationist credentials. They are waging a letter-writing campaign to the mayor and City Council to ratchet up the pressure to achieve this commonsense goal. Several hundred letters have already been generated. As Berman warned, “Left to his own devices, I believe that the mayor will appoint someone to continue to carry out the same agenda as the past chairperson, which was not very sympathetic to true

preservation. That said, a permanent appointee must be approved by the City Council. I believe the Council can use its leverage to pressure the mayor to appoint someone who will actually care about the mission and duties of the LPC.” Kirsten Theodos, of Take Back NYC, added that Bland also has conflicts of interest, since he is a principal at Beyer Blinder Belle, a pre-eminent New York City architectural preservation firm with projects that come before the LPC for review “all the time.” Bland should not even be on the commission, in Theodos’ view. Laurence Frommer, president of Save Chelsea, has also written to the mayor, strongly urging him not to elevate Bland to chairperson, and stressing that it’s now time that LPC “changes course for the better.” Frommer mentioned, for example, how Bland inappropriately failed to recuse himself from a discussion on facade modifications proposed for 404 W. 20th St., the oldest house in Chelsea, even though Bland’s firm and the applicant’s attorney had previously worked together on other projects. We absolutely agree. It’s high time that Landmarks and Mayor de Blasio “change course for the better.” LPC must get back on track with what it should be doing — preserving and protecting our historic buildings and neighborhoods, not enabling developers to chip away at and destroy them. Send a letter! Lincoln Anderson is editor of our sister publications, The Villager and Villager Express.

NIXON continued from p. 4

It’s too soon to know the impact of Nixon’s endorsement of the program, but the questions being asked by the state health department seemingly pose few obstacles to moving forward. Zucker asked whether drivers would be allowed to use drugs — to which King

tartly replied, “Of course not.” Nor will the facilities provide drugs to clients; those would have to be bought in the illegal market and carried into the Safer Consumption Space. Zucker also posed the ultimate softball question: “What kind of care is

provided after use?” This is the biggest selling point for the approach. The user stays in the center, where help is just steps away. “If you don’t like people nodding out on a street corner,” King said, “let’s give them space to do it indoors safely.”

Since the first such facilities were opened in Basel, Switzerland in 1986, these facilities have handled thousands of overdoses, with not a single death reported in more than 100 sites worldwide.

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein


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SLA continued from p. 2

community board meetings as new or established businesses look to get a license or extend one. Community boards serve in an advisory capacity and make recommendations to the SLA regarding an applicant. On the one hand, there are small businesses trying to make it in a competitive market, and on the other are communities that want to safeguard the character of their neighborhood and have concerns, Hoylman noted. “It’s a balancing act and that balance is decided by three commissioners,” he said. For nearly two years, one of the three seats has been vacant (Commissioner Kevin Kim stepped down on Aug. 25, 2016). Vincent Bradley is the current chair and resides in Kingston, and Greeley T. Ford is one of the commissioners and lives in Camden, according to the SLA’s website. The authority received 2,879 applications for on-premise licenses for “Zone 1,” which includes the five boroughs, compared to 1,461 for the rest of the state in 2015, according to the latest publicly available report on the SLA’s website (sla.ny.gov). In 2017, the SLA issued 43,264 renewals statewide, with more than half of those renewals — 26,772 — were for the zone that includes the city, William Crowley, the SLA’s director of public affairs, said in an email. He did not respond to questions about why there has been a lag in the public release of data or if the authority would be releasing a new report soon. When asked about the proposed law, Crowley said the authority “does not take positions on pending legislation.” Hoylman said that community boards “have a very good relationship with the SLA in recent years and we want that to continue.” Frank M. Holozubiec, co-chair of the Community Board 4 (CB4) Business Licenses & Permits Committee, said that having a commissioner who

DRAG continued from p. 15

version, “Where’s Charley?” (1952), with Ray Bolger. Here is some cinematic irony: Today, Joe E. Brown is best-known for his performance in Billy Wilder’s drag-heavy comedy “Some Like it Hot” (1959) and for his utterance of the priceless line at the end of the film when Jack Lemmon reveals his idenNYC Community Media

Via sla.ny.gov

A chart from 2015 — the latest publicly available report on the SLA’s website — that looks at licensing throughout New York state. Zone 1 includes the five boroughs.

resides in the city would be very helpful to the process. “It’s one thing to have abstract knowledge of balancing the needs of residents and licensed establishments but I think it adds a lot if someone lives in the area,” Holozubiec, a Hell’s Kitchen resident for 18 years, said in a phone interview. For example, he noted how a bar on the ground floor within a string of residential buildings can affect those who live above, adjacent, and nearby. Assemblymember Deborah Glick also cited the large number of licenses within the five boroughs. “People live directly over licensed premises,” she said by phone. Glick is carrying the companion legislation in the Assembly and said that it is in committee right now. “It’s not at all clear that we’ll be

able to get it out of committee,” Glick said. “That’s the first step.” With the legislative session ending on June 20, she said, “We’ll be working long days and well into the night. There’s a lot of time. It’s possible but it’s not a foregone conclusion.” If the legislation does pass the Assembly, it will then go to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk. Repeated requests for comment from the governor’s office went unanswered, and it is unclear why no one has yet to be appointed to the vacant seat. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce did not respond to request for comment. Despite the status of the current proposed law, Glick said, “Nothing prevents the governor from doing the right thing and appointing a resident from New York City right now.”

tity to him. The irony is that Brown’s very presence in the film was selfreferential. Brown was America’s top comedy star during the 1930s, and he resorted to low-comedy drag in many a film, including “When’s Your Birthday?” (1937); “Fit for a King” (1937), “The Daring Young Man” (1942), and “Chatterbox” (1943). At any rate, by the time we get to the 1950s, the classic comedy

torch was largely passed to television, where Milton Berle would make much comedy hay by doing drag. Drag comedy continues to the present day (Madea, anyone?) — although as a form that can be said to be less than respectful to women and transgender people on occasion, if not intrinsically, its future is an open question. It has certainly made people laugh in the past. June 14, 2018


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