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Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 31, NUMBER 11

JUNE 14 – 27, 2018

Public pianos

Sing for Hope brings colorful pianos to the streets Photo by Milo Hess

Artists decorated 50 pianos for the Sing for Hope music charity, which held a kickoff event on June 4 at 28 Liberty Street, where pianists young and old were invited to tickle the ivories. For more, see page 15.

Howard Hughes buys lot across from Peck Slip School Page 2

Also inside:

1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 18 N YC C O M M U N I T Y M E D I A , L L C

BPCA releases plans for South End Avenue revamp Page 16

Howard huge Locals fret about new Seaport tower after Howard Hughes Corp. buys lot right across from Peck Slip School BY COLIN MIXSON The Howard Hughes Corporation has purchased an acre of undeveloped asphalt across the street from Peck Slip School, horrifying local preservationists, who are already manning the barricades in anticipation of another protracted fight against an oversized development. “Howard Hughes is now going to wade in on a controversy that has angered the community for 25 years, just when they were trying to make peace with the community,� said Michael Kramer, a volunteer on the steering committee for Save Our Seaport. “We are working on various strategies to protect this historic district.� Howard Hughes purchased the site at 250 Water St. that’s currently being used as a parking lot by owner Peck Slip Associates — which is controlled by the Milstein family — for $180 million dollars, adding the property to a

portfolio that includes the Seaport’s Tin Building and the soon-to-open shopping and entertainment center at Pier 17, in addition to a stake in the Mr. C Hotel on Peck Slip, the developer confirmed. The purchase comes as a huge windfall for the Milstein Family, which purchased the property for only $5.8 million in 1979, but failed to redevelop the property following a decades long battle with community members, which culminated in a 2003 rezoning that capped heights there at 120 feet. The new owner hasn’t shared its plans for the site yet, but Howard Hughes may be looking to transfer air rights left over from its other Seaport properties, which — if the developer exercises its option for the city-owned New Market building — could balloon up to 627,000 square feet, according to its annual report from 2017. If that is the plan, however, Howard

Photo by Colin Mixson

Developer Howard Hughes Corporation purchased an acre of undeveloped property along Water Street currently being used as a parking lot, but which some locals fear is now destined to host a mega-development.

Hughes would still have to undergo a public review process culminating in a City Council vote to get a zoning text change on the site, in addition to other permits needed to exceed the permitted building height, according to Diana Switaj, Director of Planning and Land Use at Community Board 1. CB1 members are anticipating a large project at the site, given the developer’s



MAY 29 - AUGUST 28


record, and the board will definitely weigh in on the repercussions of construction there when Howard Hughes eventually unveils its plans, according to the group’s leader. “Obviously people have the experience of a high rise, or very tall buildings being proposed at the Seaport, and now HOWARD HUGHES Continued on page 16

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(Above) World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, center, cuts the ribbon at the opening of 3 WTC on June 11. (Right) The mirrored facade of the newly opened 3 WTC tower reflects its nearby sibling, 1 WTC.

feet high, making it the tallest outdoor office terrace in the city, according to the company. The floor-to-floor height ranges from 13.5 to 24 feet, and the open-plan office spaces offer panoramic views of Lower Manhattan. The tower was designed with no columns at the corners of the building — allowing for expansive views, said the building’s lead architect. “It was one of the main objectives to

keep the corners of the building completely column free, so every corner on the building allows you panoramic views out on both sides,” said Richard Paul. The setbacks for the outdoor terraces make up for the narrow side streets far below — increasing the space between buildings to allow for more light and better views. The project began back in 2006 when financial companies were the most com-




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BY SYDNEY PEREIRA After more than a decade of work, 3 World Trade Center opened its doors on June 11. The 1,079-foot tower is the fourth to open under Silverstein Properties’ redevelopment of the WTC campus — which has transformed the Downtown skyline since the 9/11 attacks toppled the twin towers. The new tower’s debut also marks the reopening of surrounding streets for the first time since the original WTC campus blocked them off decades ago. Dey Street and Cortlandt Way will reopen to pedestrians, along with the plaza along 3 WTC’s Greenwich Street frontage south of the Oculus transit hub, reconnecting the area to the neighborhood for the first time since the 1960s. “It was always somewhat cut-off and isolated from the rest of Downtown,” said Dara McQuillan, the chief marketing officer of Silverstein Properties. “It just never felt like part of New York. And now, with the reintroduction of the grid, people who live, work and visit Downtown feel like they’re a part of New York again.” The 80-storey tower has three outdoor terraces on the 17th, 60th and 76th floors — the latter reaching 936

Photo by Milo Hess

3 WTC opens, along with two long-closed streets

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ACADEMIC & ACTIVIST Stuyvesant grad tapped as 2018 Milken Scholar BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A Stuyvesant High School student has been tapped for a prestigious scholarship program where students are given $10,000 and a lifetime of mentoring and resources. Joyce Wu, the recent Stuy grad headed to Yale University this fall, said she was surprised to be chosen as one of the 2018 Milken Scholars. “I was not expecting it at all,� Wu said. “The interview was pretty intense. It was definitely the hardest interview I had ever had.� The scholarship program, founded by Lori and Michael Milken nearly three decades ago, recognizes exceptional students selected from Los Angeles County, New York City and Washington D.C. Six students were honored as scholars from New York City this year, including Wu, Caoimhe Boyle,

Bay, the infamous U.S. military prison where terrorism suspects are held without constitutional protections. She and a dozen other students once marched into Stuy High wearing orange prison jumpsuits in a protest to raise awareness about the human rights violations as a part of the high school’s Amnesty International club. At Stuyvesant, where students are so immersed in academics, some people stay in a bubble, Wu said. “Yes, academics are a priority, but sometimes I feel like Stuyvesant students don’t tend to look beyond that and care about different social issues going on in the world or even in their own community,� she said. But Wu believes that if you have privilege, you should take a stand.

Roy Kim, Karen Li, Josselyn Navas, and Angelo Osofsky. Wu hails from Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where she grew up with her parents and two siblings. Her parents immigrated from China in the late 1990s, her father working in a restaurant and her mother in a factory. Growing up in a low-income household with parents who didn’t speak English, Wu developed empathy for the lessfortunate, and, as the first in her family to be able go to college, she is acutely aware of her own privilege, which inspired her to be an activist — raising awareness of critical issues and helping others be more empathetic. During her sophomore year of high school, Wu was neckdeep in academics and extracurriculars, but she was also outraged about Guantanamo

Milken Family Foundation

Yale-bound Stuyvesant grad Joyce Wu has been chosen as a 2018 Milken Scholar.

“I should be aware of those privileges and use them to help other people,� Wu said. Wu has protested El Salvador’s abortion laws and

organized a demonstration at Grand Central Station against President Donald Trump’s proSCHOLAR Continued on page 12





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Cops are hunting a man accused of impersonating a cop to intimidate a man on Platt Street on May 11. The victim told police he was speaking with the suspect wearing an “NYC� ball cap near William Street at 10:15 pm, when the man announced himself as a cop and threatened to beat the victim. Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577–8477. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www. nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.

LESSON IN CRIME Police arrested an NYPD school safety officer accused of stealing a woman’s handbag at Chelsea High School on June 12. The victim told police that she left her bag inside the Sixth Avenue school between Dominick and Broome streets at 2:40 pm, and returned later to find that her bag was stolen. The officer was arrested that day on charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen property, cops said.

JEWELRY HEIST Police are hunting the knife-wielding thief who robbed a Mercer Street jewelry store on June 8. An employee told police the crook barged into the store between W. Houston and Prince streets waving a knife at 6:43 pm, and snatched a whopping $130,000 worth of gold, diamonds, and other precious stones.



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Police say this man impersonated a cop and threatened to beat someone up on May 11.

Cops busted a woman after spotting her allegedly trying to rip off a sleeping straphanger aboard an E train near Chambers Street on June 7. The arresting officer said he was inside the train when he spotted the woman rubbing on the victim’s pockets and reaching into his bag as he napped at 2:30 am. When the patrolman asked the woman to disembark the train, she became irate, shouting, “f--k you, I ain’t getting off,� and struggled as she was placed in cuffs, cops said.

LOOT AND SCOOT A thief looted a 75-year-old man’s car he parked on West Broadway on

June 10. The victim told police he left his car near Reade Street at 3 pm, and returned 15 minutes later to find that his iPad, glasses, Prada handbag, and $700 were missing.

GRAND THEFT AUTO A thief beat a man and pulled him from his car parked on Nassau Street on May 28, but the victim single-handedly recovered his vehicle following an incredible odyssey that took him all the way to the Bronx. The victim told police he was sitting in the back seat of his 2011 Acura parked near Ann Street at 5:15 am, when the crook suddenly opened the door, socked him in the face, and yanked him out of the vehicle. But before the goon could hop in the driver seat and speed off, the victim managed to sneak back into the rear seat of his car, where he hid until the thief stopped somewhere in the Bronx, according to police. When the crook got our and made his way to check the trunk of the stolen car, the victim suddenly sprung back into the driver’s seat and roared away, leaving the would-be car thief in the dust, cops said.

BYE-CYCLE Some crook rode off with a man’s bike he parked on Sullivan Street on June 2. The victim told police he locked his bike up between W. Houston and Prince streets at 12:30 pm, and returned about an hour later to find his lock clipped and $1,500 ride stolen. — Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com

Court okays BPCA lawsuit on 9/11 illnesses BY COLIN MIXSON A federal court gave workers with 9/11-related illnesses approval to move forward with their case against the Battery Park City Authority on June 6, which they claim failed to ensure their safety as they labored amid the attack’s toxic fallout. The plaintiffs include 18 laborers, who worked with insufficient or nonexistent protection against the carcinogenic cocktail of vaporized glass, cellulose, asbestos, and other nasty substances as members of environmental cleanup outfits subcontracted to clear dust and debris from buildings in Battery Park City following the attack. Because the Battery Park City Authority owns the land those buildings stand on, the public corporation is also responsible for ensuring the health and wellbeing of those who labor there, according to lawyer for the workers. “Under New York State labor law, a land owner has a responsibility, similar to the owner of a building, to provide for the safety of a person who comes onto their land,” said attorney Robert Grochow. But because statute of limitations for public entities such as the Battery Park City Authority is so brief, the workers had

to wait for state legislators to pass “Jimmy Nolan’s Law” in 2009, which gave all such claims against state and city agencies a one-year grace period to file suit. The Authority challenged the law as unconstitutional, and U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein agreed in 2014, calling the law an “extreme exercise of legislative power.” The June 6 decision by the Second Circuit Court, however, ruled that, as a public entity, the Battery Park City Authority has no standing to challenge the state on matters of constitutionality. The original lawsuit is now technically headed to trial, but will most likely end in a settlement for the workers, according to Crochow. “We can go back and try the case against BPCA, but I would imagine there’s going to be a discussion to try and settle it,” the lawyer said. The attorney couldn’t say how much money in compensation his clients could expect to receive from the Authority, saying it depended on their illnesses and cost of treatment, but suggested it could be in the hundreds of thousands each. A spokesman for the Battery Park City Authority declined to comment on pending litigation.


The clouds of toxic dust that enveloped Battery Park City and the rest of Downtown after the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in the 9/11 attacks sickened many workers who worked through the arduous cleanup. Now a federal court has cleared the way for cleanup workers to sue the Battery Park City Authority for damages despite the expiration of the statute of limitations.

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June 14 – 27, 2018



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June 14 – 27, 2018

BY LENORE SKENAZY It’s been a summer or two since kids suddenly burst outside in pursuit of virtual Pokemon. Now the question is how to get them outside again, considering the lure of all things air-conditioned and pixilated. The games that most of us adults played managed to entertain not just us, but children for hundreds or even thousands of years. Get your kids to try them and they just may play long and hard enough to need some water from the hose. And then you know what they’re drinking in? Summer! Take a look at how old some of your favorite games are: Hopscotch: If you were a Roman soldier, you would have hated hopscotch. That’s because the game began as a grueling exercise. Soldiers in full armor had to run or hop or somehow make it across 100-foot long hopscotch grids, the same way football players have hop through all those tires. But to kids it looked like fun — at least if you only had to hop through 10 squares. Back in the day, the word at the top would be “London,” because that’s where Rome’s famous 400-mile road led. (You’d think it would lead to “Rome,” but no.) The word hopscotch itself comes from hopping, of course, and “scotch” which is a bastardization of “scratch.” Kids would scratch the lines on the ground. When I was growing up, we called the top “Blue Sky,” which may harken back to the fact that when Germans played this game they called it “Himmel und Hölle” — Heaven and Hell. (Those cheery Teutons!) You’d get to the top and you were in heaven, or the sky.

Letters To the Editor, The Metro NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group advocates for a “layered defense” system encompassing both an off-shore regional barrier system and a network of on-shore perimeter defenses that would be developed by NY City plus participating coastal communities surrounding the 1,000 miles of shoreline of NY Harbor, its tributaries and the lower Hudson River. Such a layered defense strategy specifically separates the functions of the mighty regional offshore barriers, designed to block occasional dangerous

In any event, it is a nifty game and requires only chalk and a stone. Roman armor optional. Jacks: Jacks go back to Ancient Greece. You can see pictures of the game on urns (if you look really hard). Back then, however, no one had balls. Well, I mean, no one had a bouncy ball. Or jacks, per se. They had, instead, the knuckle, wrist, and ankle bones of sheep, so the early name of the game was “Knucklebones.” Kids would toss these into the air and have to catch them either in their palms or on the back of their hands or some other way that made it hard, hence fun. When rubber finally made its way to Europe in the 1700s, the first bouncing balls were introduced and these made their way into the games. But for centuries before that, kids played jacks with whatever they had on hand, including apricot seeds in Egypt and little bags of rice or sand in China. And by the way, jacks is short for “jackstones,” which came from “chackstones” which came from chucking stones — throwing them. Capture the Flag: This one is depressing. The game is just too glaringly modeled on war — and not just war exercises, like hopscotch. In a real war — in the Civil War, as a matter of fact — you’d come upon your enemy and shoot or stomp or bayonet them, all in the service of literally capturing their flag. At the end of the skirmish what mattered most, insanely enough, was

storm surges from future megastorms, from the manageable low seawalls needed to hold back slow but insidious rise in global sea level. Regional storm-surge barriers must be held open 99.99 percent of the time for the purposes of efficient navigation, fish migration, and to allow freely flowing tidal currents, river discharges to the ocean, and daily harbor flushing. But there is no way regional storm surge barriers can hold back sea-level rise — only perimeter seawalls can do that. A robust regional offshore barrier system, designed specifically to withstand the worst storm surges that

not how many people died, but who’d captured the other team’s … er … the other side’s flag. I realize I haven’t watched nearly enough Ken Burns or I’d have known that. But it wasn’t until reading up on this particular game that I learned that the soldiers stuck trying to keep their flag from falling into the enemy’s clutches were called “color guards” — for guarding their side’s colors. I had thought color guards were just a Boy Scout thing. Anyway, the game is played just like war, but without the bayonets. Blind Man’s Bluff: The bluff is that because you are blindfolded you “accidentally” end up touching anyone you want, anywhere you want. No surprise that this game was a big hit with the original #MeToo despot, Henry VIII and his friends. Back then, it was an adult game. Very adult. Kickball: Sit down. Here’s a shocker. Kickball was invented not in ancient someplace, but in Cincinnati — in 1917! Unlike baseball, or even jacks, which require some serious hand-eye coordination, in kickball a giant ball rolls right toward you, for gosh sake. It is like being a human bowling pin. Because it was so much easier than any game ever, gym teachers pounced on it and by the 1920s it was already a physical education staple and today it’s still alive and well,. So here’s the deal. Kids love their video games. But a study often quoted by Peter Gray, author of a basic textbook on psychology used at Harvard and beyond, found that 86 percent of kids prefer playing outside to computer play. Summer’s here. Send ’em out. Lenore Skenazy president of Let Grow, and founder of Free-Range Kids.

nature can hurl at us, enables the city and other coastal communities in both NY and NJ to focus their attention on erecting modestly low-level seawalls, abutments and barrier beach re-nourishment projects in a grand city and bi-state partnership. Only in this way can the essential tasks of protection against both storm surges and sea-level rise be separated and accommodated in an advantageous cost/benefit scenario. The large plus will be the gain in support of both Metropolitan and harbor-fringing citLETTERS Continued on page 9


AFTER 30 YEARS Photo by Milo Hess

R o s y m e m or ie s The Girl Scouts of Battery Park City’s Troop 3320 honored all of the women who helped win World War II by following the example of the symbolic feminist icon “Rosie the Riveter” with a ceremony at The Battery’s East Coast World War II Memorial in on June 1. They were joined by “America’s Longest Working Rosie,” Elinor Otto, at right, who retired as a riveter at the age of 95.

LETTERS Continued from page 8

ies such as Hoboken, Port Elizabeth, Jersey City, etc, which will never accept impossible 20-to-25-foot-high seawalls which will block their iconic shoreline views and severely restrict access to the waterfront, which in modern times is a salient feature of city life. Malcolm Bowman, PhD, Stony Brook University Chairman of Metro NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group To the Editor, It has become apparent more than ever that the current Mayor is going to follow Mayor Bloomberg’s actions in allowing NYC’s historical treasured South Street Seaport district to be fed to the voracious Howard Hughes Corp. with the management collusion of the city’s EDC to be turned into an upscale mall. Mayor de Blasio’s city budget speaks louder than words in mistreatment of our last visible historical remnant of the seafaring that has made our old seaport city one of the greatest in the world, around fifty million tourists visit a year with a must experiencing the South Street Seaport Museum and its early 1800s buildings, piers, and early sailing ships which are now being treated like a poor, unwanted relation. After years of deliberate, destructive under-funding, maintenance neglect by DowntownExpress.com

mayors and the serious damage by hurricane Sandy with no real rehabilitation aid from the city to repair the electrical infrastructure, and not providing any means to support ongoing historical functions, the current mayor has agreed with former billionaire Mayor Bloomberg to allow the EDC to partner with Howard Hughes to gradually make its unique history disappear which is obvious from their revealing ongoing plans and actions. The same fate was scheduled for the magnificent Grand Central Terminal by then mayor and real estate wrecking crew when preservationists at the last moment recruited the former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy to become a modern shining Knight celebrity to enter the preservation fight which convinced Mayor Lindsay to stay the greedy real estate pack from repeating what was done to the classic monumental former Penn Station turned into a sports arena. What we need at this late critical South Street Seaport historical rescue time is one or more celebrities to add their loud voices to the residents of New York City and future visitors who not only want to see modern neon lights and skyscrapers, but also the inspiring historical South Street Seaport site. It is time for everyone to call, write, demonstrate to preserve what wealth can’t buy, pride and cultural dignity. Sy Schleimer June 14 – 27, 2018


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 sub-


June 14 – 27, 2018

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. DowntownExpress.com

Boarding call Pols to Cuomo: Tap locals for BPCA board BY COLIN MIXSON A cadre of Downtown pols have politely asked that Governor Cuomo comply with “the spirit� of legislation he signed into law on June 1 and immediately install two residents to the board of the Battery Park City Authority. “We are glad that the right of this community to have its voice heard with two seats on the board has been enshrined in law. In the spirit of that law, we urge you to appoint two residents as soon as possible,� read a letter signed by state Sen. Brian Kvanagh, Congressman Jerry Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, assemblywomen Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin. The pols’ letter came just a few days after Cuomo signed into law bills introduced by former state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Niou which require the governor to appoint two residents to the Authority’s board as soon as vacancies arise. While the terms of three of the seven current board members have expired,

they can continue serving either until they choose to resign, or the governor chooses to replace them, meaning there’s no legal requirement for him to act fast. But the Downtown politicians are hoping the governor doesn’t lean to heavily on that technicality and instead makes room for some local representation on the board right now. “To make the Board’s composition consistent with this legislation,� the letter read,� we respectfully request two of the three board members currently serving with expired terms be replaced by residents of Battery Park City, in accordance with the new statute.� Locals have been fighting for greater representation and transparency in the state-run authority for years, and many endorsed the pols’ effort to speed things along. “We’ve always wanted local residents on that board,� said Community Board 1 Chairman and BPC resident Anthony Notaro. “We pushed through the legislation, and now it’s time to call on the governor to appoint people.� In signing the new bill, the governor

File photo by Aaron Short

Downtown electeds are calling on Gov. Cuomo to immediately replace two BPCA board member whose terms have expired with residents, in keeping with the “spirit� of a law he just signed.

also put his name to a bill amending the requirements for board members serving on the authority, who must now have experience with real estate,

corporate boards, finance, law, urban planning or design, architecture, govBOARD Continued on page 12

         My Child Protective Specialist pushed me to get the parenting skills I needed to look after my kids. Shelley, Bronx





ACS CHILD PROTECTIVE SPECIALISTS — Protecting kids, supporting families.





1. Promotion begins on 06/12/18 and expires on 07/21/18. Annual Percentage Yield (APY) is effective as of June 12, 2018. Popular, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to change or terminate this offer at  any time. This offer is available in all Popular branches and via our website www.PopularBank.com. To qualify for the promotional APY, new or existing customers must open a 21-month CD with a required minimum balance and opening deposit of $1,000 in new money. New money is defined as deposits not previously held with Popular. APY assumes principal and interest remain on deposit until maturity. A penalty will be imposed for early withdrawal. Fees may reduce earnings on the account. Promotional APY is valid on the initial 21-month term. Automatically renews with the same term and rate applicable at the time of renewal. Copyright Š 2018 Popular Bank. Member FDIC.

June 14 – 27, 2018


B U S I N E S S , B R O O K LY N S T Y L E

Have a party to remember at Sirico’s 9P:8D@CC<JG<II8QQ8 When you’ve got 90 years of experience, you know how to throw awesome parties. Their grandparents may have started Sirico’s Catering, but two cousins, Hercules and Jim Sirico, are the ones that keep these parties going every night.

N\[[`e^j A bit overwhelmed with all to be done? Your life just got easier because everything you need is coordinated by Sirico’s in-house wedding planner who directs the process. Ceremony: Want to get married here? Say the word, and the planner will say, “I do.” Food: They get it. It’s got to be good. With customized menus for every taste and budget, it will be. Guests enjoy drinks and food in a separate room for the cocktail hour, then make their way to another for dinner and dancing. Of course, there’s a lovely bridal suite for the bridal party. Music: The house DJ is young, hip, gets the party started, and keeps it moving all night long. Pictures: Photos and videos will be treasured for a lifetime, so Sirico’s works with proven photographers and videographers who make sure special moments are captured. The beautiful gardens and active fireplace in the lobby make perfect backdrops. Decorations: Lighting sets the mood and atmosphere, so color-coordinate your event with an LED lighting package. It can match your wedding colors. Or, reach for the stars with specialized effects that include an image of a bright blue


June 14 – 27, 2018

sky. Sirico’s has it all covered with chair draperies and sashes, too.

Jn\\k(-j Busy moms can relax because Sirico’s party planner has your back. Your daughter’s party starts in the Entourage Room where the guest of honor can wait with friends before the introductions begin. Tropical Bar: Say aloha to the place where teens enjoy drinks that include virgin pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris, and frozen sensations. Food: A buffet loaded with fun food, customize designed to taste. Among the offerings: taco stations, a mashed potato bar, and sliders. For dessert, there’s an ice cream sundae bar, candy tables, and Sirico’s famous chocolate fountain. Decorations: Select from inhouse designs and decorations, tailored to teens. Balloon center pieces are always a hit.

Fk_\igXik`\j Every special occasion calls for unique needs, and Sirico’s accommodates them all. Whether it’s an anniversary, retirement, Communion, Confirmation, corporate event, or other special occasion, Sirico’s is the place to be. There are party rooms that can accommodate up to 100, 200, and 300 people. Valet parking and a parking lot make it convenient for all guests. Let’s get this party started. Sirico’s Caterer’s [8023 13th Ave. between 80th and 81st streets in Dyker Heights, (718) 331–2900, www. siricos.net]. Open Tuesdays through Sundays, from 1:30 to 9:30 pm.

3 WTC Continued from page 4

est-growing segments of the market. The tower has 2.5 million square feet of office space, much of which is already booked by anchor tenants reflecting the new sector mix. Advertising giant GroupM will lease 700,000 square feet, consulting heavyweight McKinsey has booked 185,000 square feet, and securities-trading startup IEX is taking nearly 45,000 square feet — amounting to about 40 percent of the available space. “We are very happy with the leasing activity at 3 WTC,” McQuillan said by email. “When we first opened 7 WTC, Silverstein Properties was the only tenant in the building and it filled up quickly. 7 WTC and 4 WTC are both 100 percent leased and it won’t be long before 3 WTC follows suit.” The final tower of the rebuilt World Trade Center campus will be 2 WTC, which is expected to be 1,270 feet tall with 2.8 million square feet of office space. Bjarke Ingels Group’s design for 2 WTC features stacked terraces, with tens of thousands of feet of outdoor space expected to overlook Tribeca. But construction won’t begin until Silverstein Properties can secure an anchor tenant for the building, according to McQuillan.

SCHOLAR Continued from page 5

posed border wall. But the budding activist is also an artist and a computer scientist, and an interdisciplinary program at Yale University combining visual arts and computers will help her pursue just that. Her interests are rooted in virtual reality and augmented reality, which are often used for entertainment, but Wu wants to use those technologies to make a social impact. “I’m very, very interested in how virtual reality can get people to empathize with other people,” she said. “In society, the biggest thing that allows people to connect with other people is empathy — just understanding what other people are going through.” In addition to her high-school activism, Wu was an Advanced Placement

BOARD Continued from page 11

ernment or security. And while all board members were presumably already bound by state conflict-of-interest laws in the past, Cuomo also insisted on adding language to the law stating that board members

Photo by Milo Hess

The 17th-fl oor terrace of 3 WTC overlooks the 9/11 memorial.

Deals with possible tenants have repeatedly fallen apart, putting off construction at 2 WTC for years. Rupert Murdoch backed out of relocating 21st Century Fox and News Corp in 2016. Deutsche Bank was rumored to be relocating to 2 WTC until last month, when the bank announced it was relocating to Columbus Circle, according to the New York Post. “The plan was always to build and open one tower at a time,” McQuillan said. “With 3 WTC opening on Monday, the World Trade Center now feels like a finished place — it’s a part of New York again. So this is the perfect time to shift our focus to 2 WTC.” In preparation for the opening of 3 WTC — and perhaps a long wait for work to resume on 2 WTC — last month Silverstein Properties commissioned a set of murals around the future site of 2 WTC near the newly opened tower, brightening the area around the newly reopened streets.

Scholar, a member of two honor societies, and the captain of Stuyvesant’s cross-country and track team. She was also the executive director of Stuyvesant’s biannual hackathon called StuyHacks, which introduces students to computer science. She’s explored her artistic passions at summer classes at Cooper Union and was a communications intern at the YMCA’s Teen Career Connection Program, where she designed newsletters and the program’s website. This summer, she’ll work as an intern for a month a Morgan Stanley before she jets off to Yale for a, orientation camping trip with other incoming freshman. “I’m ready for the independence, and to do big things, meet new people, and have fun for the next four years,” Wu said.

must recuse themselves when conflicts arise, leading some to question whether the governor is seeking to water down the influence of any incoming resident board members. “What constitutes a conflict of interest?” said BPC resident Pat Smith. “I believe it is a bit of a sham.” DowntownExpress.com


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


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 – 27, 2018


BY JANEL BL ADOW Inaugurating the summer season Seaport style! So much to do! PARTY TIME... More than 100 friends and fans of Acqua Restaurante turned out for its Summer Kick-Off Party Monday night. What a blast! Neighbors and patrons drank, ate, chatted and danced to a duo performing Italian standards, dance favorites and the latest hits. Manager Giuseppe Marrone hosted the fun night with special cocktails and $5 imported beers. The Water Street side of the brick-walled eatery was lined with white-clothed tables, filled with platters, appetizers, pastas, and salads. Among the favorite buffet items were the seafood salad, orecchiette in creamy cheese sauce, and heafty meatballs in tomato sauce. Marrone worked the crowd as a charming host promising a surprise later in the evening — and he delivered. The staff circulated partiers doling out small dishes of black squid ink risotto. Deliciously seawater salty! “We are throwing this party as a thank you to our neighbors and patrons and the business they give us,” Marrone said. “We are here to support our wonderful community.” He plans two such events each year. And during the winter months, he’s adding live entertainment, and bands playing Italian and Spanish music. HOME RUN… Vintage 61 (a tribute both to the ’61 Yankees and one of the best years for Bordeaux) opened last month. To kick-off the sports themed bistro, press and friends were invited to sample signature cocktails and the American-French inspired menu.

Cocktails are big, bright and delicious. Not sure which cocktail we liked better — The Catch (Tequila Ocho, strawberry, and peach blossom) or The French Goal (42 Below Vodka, Midori, and peach schnapps). May have to return for another tasting. Thoroughly enjoyed the Saku Tuna Tartare starter with pickled onions and grilled chicken wings with a spicy glaze. Also headed back for seconds of the perfectly braised short ribs and the fresh honeycomb cheese platter. Executive Chef Eric Lind (Flatbush Farm, Inatesso) outdid himself. The weekly specials are a deal — Monday is “Latin Noche” with $10 plates of tacos, guacamole or nachos. Tuesdays all burgers are $12, Fridays are summer-style lobster night (1 ¼-lb with baked potato and corn, market price), and Sunday Italian night features their super spaghetti and meatballs ($15). Co-owner Jason Casano (along with Laurent Vasseur), says they plan to keep the spot “neighbor focused.” Look for weekly podcasts along with local fantasy sports leagues. ALL ABOARD FOR SUMMER… The Pioneer’s sailing season is off to a smashing start with daily sails Wednesdays through Fridays at 7pm, and three times (1 pm, 4 pm, and 7 pm) on Saturdays and Sundays. For tickets ($32 adults, $28 seniors & kids to age 12), see http://southstreetseaportmuseum.org/sailnyharbor. Tickets include free admission to South Street Seaport Museum. Once waterway workhorses, schooners like the Pioneer carried goods between communities along the Atlantic seaboard. Lumber and stone from Maine were ferried south while bricks were brought from the Hudson

Photos by Janel Bladow

(Left) Vintage 61’s French Goal cocktail features 42 Below Vodka, Midori, and peach schnapps. (Right) The Hangover Burger boasts a slice of pineapple and a fried egg.


June 14 – 27, 2018

Photo by Janel Bladow

Acqua manager Giuseppe Marrone kicked off the summer fun with a party on June 11.

River and oysters shipped from the Chesapeake Bay. Bring along a picnic and help hoist her sails. She’s also available for charters (charters@seany.org). FREE FUN… The South Street Seaport Museum is again free on Fridays, from July 6 through Sept. 22, 3 pm–7 pm. This includes the galleries at 12 Fulton St., as well as tours of their historic ships. The 2018 Free Fridays program is sponsored by Howard Hughes Corporation. If you haven’t been aboard the restored Wavertree or seen the maritime exhibits, now’s your chance! FREE MUSIC… Join the Seaport’s own Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra as it rounds out its 10th-anniversary season with two free concerts. Both are on the Hudson Riverfront. But hey, we’re okay with that! Join KCO as it kicks off the 20th season of “Sunset on the Hudson” on Thursday, June 14, at 7 pm, at Pier 45 (Cross West St. at Christopher St.). The program includes such toe-tappers as “Maple Leaf Rag” and “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin and Noel Coward’s “Sail Away” and ’30s hit, “Red Sails in the Sunset.” Then mark your calendar for Thursday, Aug. 9, at 5:30 pm for “Strings-onthe-Hudson”. The ensemble launches Battery Park City’s classical music series on the waterfront at Belvedere Plaza (North Cover NW corner at Liberty St.). KCO performs foxtrots, tangos and waltzes for dancing as well as classics by Johann Strauss and Irving Berlin. FASHIONABLE SHOE-INS… More fashion news for the area. Alexander Wang held his first-ever June runway show on Pier 17, featuring his urban-chic Chinese-American style. Models of the moment Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber sported black leather

bras and miniskirts and a take on the Chinatown plastic “thank you” bags. The Americana mashup included tube socks with loafers and varsity jerseys with shredded denim. And all the models wore red-white-and-blue bandanas around their heads a la Axel Rose. Hot on the heels of Wang’s show came the announcement that Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex in the City”… err, Sarah Jessica Parker is coming to Fulton Street. Coinciding with the TV show’s 20th anniversary, Parker is opening her first permanent NYC shoe boutique (she had a pop-up uptown), “SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker” at the corner of South and Front Streets in late summer or early fall. Parker told the press: “We are in love with our location and all the opportunities associated with being a part of this vibrant must-visit destination, which is transforming Lower Manhattan.” As a shoe lover like Carrie, I’m anxious to see if her spikes can traipse delicately across our cobbled streets! PIER PARTIES… Look for the Heineken Riverdeck to open sometime this month at Pier 17. I tried to get a confirmation of the exact date, but no luck by press time. It’s billed as a pop-up Market Hall on the pier’s north side — probably where the beach bar was so many years ago on the old pier. Also, the Rooftop Concert Series begins on Saturday, July 28, at 8 pm with a free performance by Jon Batiste with the Dap-Kings. But tickets became available on May 18 and were gone in minutes. I’d suggest checking again with ticketmaster.com, or call 1-800745-3000. Or just get steer clear of the pier that night! While the celebrity chef anchor restaurants won’t open until fall, food and drink will be available on the roof patio. DowntownExpress.com

PIANOS FOR THE PEOPLE Artists decorate pianos for music charity BY COLIN MIXSON A plethora of pianists gathered for a unique performance of Bachâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Minuet in Gâ&#x20AC;? at Chase Plaza in Lower Manhattan on June 4, where each musician played one of 50 brightly decorated pianos before the instruments were taken away and scattered throughout the city for public use. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really fun to do it with so many pianos,â&#x20AC;? said pianist Nadejda Vlaeva. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t usually get to play in an orchestra like that.â&#x20AC;? Since its founding in 2006, Sing for Hope has harnessed the talents of local, and internationally known painters to transform dozens of pianos a year into unique works of art, and then dispersed the instruments throughout the city for use by musically talented â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and not so talented â&#x20AC;&#x201D; New Yorkers, according to one of the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s founders. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We founded Sing for Hope with one goal: making the arts accessible to everyone in every community. The arts enable neighborhoods to thrive by positively impacting those who live

there and enriching the community as a whole,â&#x20AC;? said Monica Yunus, who co-founded Sing for Hope alongside Comille Zamora. And in a special partnership this year, Sing for Hope teamed up with car manufacturer MINI USA, which supplied the charity with a souped-up MINI Countryman â&#x20AC;&#x201D; outfitted with a foldout keyboard and sound system â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which will roam the city bringing music to the masses, according to one big shot with the car company. â&#x20AC;&#x153;MINI is pleased to partner with Sing for Hope in its important mission, bringing even more music, more art, more spontaneous moments of community to every corner of NYC with our unique mobile MINI Piano,â&#x20AC;? said Lee Nadler, Regional Marketing Manager, for MINI USA. After the commencement bash for this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s program at 28 Liberty St., most of the instruments were sent outside the borders of Lower Manhattan, but four pianos remain at Chase Plaza, while another was moved to the Battery

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Photos by Milo Hess

(Above) The pianosâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; designs were as creative as the music you could make with them. (Below left) One of the designs even featured â&#x20AC;&#x153;kinky boots.â&#x20AC;? (Below right) Pianist Nadejda Vlaeva joined 50 others for a rendition of Bachâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Minuet in Gâ&#x20AC;? at the June 4 kickoff event for Sign for Hope at 28 Liberty Street.

Park City Esplanade near South End Avenue and Third Place. The pianos will remain available to the public until June 24, after

which the instruments will fi nd permanent homes in city schools through a partnership with the Department of Education.



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South End in sight! BPCA finally has South End Ave. revamp plan that pleases locals BY COLIN MIXSON After spending a small fortune on outside consultants to create a plan to safeguard pedestrians and improve traffic flow on South End Avenue that enraged locals two years ago, the Battery Park City Authority has turned to a new source of inspiration for its scheme to revamp the notorious roadway — residents. “As far as I can tell, the BPCA has worked really hard to mend bridges, and they’ve been successful as far as I’m concerned,” said Justine Cuccia, a member of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee. “This time around they’ve listened, they’ve changed their plans, and they’ve made an effort to speak with the community board certainly, but individual members of the community as well.” The BPCA — a public-benefit corporation tasked with managing Battery Park City — adopted a more grassroots approach in crafting a safety plan for South End Avenue after members of Community Board 1 blasted a previous design in 2016 that cost the authority a whopping $272,000 to develop. That money purchased the services of an outside contractor to survey locals and draw up plans, but the Authority is now consulting directly with residents, hosting tours of South End Avenue and adjoining streets, and engaging with members of CB1’s

HOWARD HUGHES Continued from page 2

you’d be concerned they’re going to do the same thing here,” said CB1 chairman Anthony Notaro. “It could effect the school, streets, sanitation, traffic, depending on the size, it could have a big impact.” Peck Slip School entered into an agreement with the parking lot operator last year to shut down Peck Slip during school hours, allowing kids in the spacestrapped school a place to play during recess, and its unclear how the purchase may effect the kids’ ability to get fresh air. Howard Hughes did not answer questions about the future of the play street. Taking an adversarial role to


June 14 – 27, 2018

Battery Park City Committee on a more regular basis. The walk-through tours in particular have attracted considerable interest from residents, who have proven willing to share their time and two cents with authority reps, according to the neighborhood’s civic honcho. “They were fairly well attended, and I was impressed by the level of dialogue that took place on them,” said Anthony Notaro, chairman of Community Board 1. “I think that the community has stayed constant in wanting to work with the authority, and the authority has finally realized it’s in everybody’s interest to collaborate.” Locals expressed a variety of concerns over the past plans, including filling public arcade space along South End Avenue with ground-floor retail, and moving a bus stop near the Gateway towers on South End Avenue around the corner onto Albany Street. Both schemes have since been abandoned. As a result, the authority has managed to win over some of its harshest critics, including Battery Pointe Condominiums president Pat Smith, who said in 2016 that the BPCA’s proposal and the $272,000 spent on creating it “borders on the criminal.” But recent iterations of the South End Avenue revamp have improved Smith’s opinion of the Authority, and he’s now willing to concede that it is “a

the development will only hurt the community, which should look to work with Howard Hughes in order to ensure that whatever construction occurs there includes benefits for the neighborhood, according to one local real estate guru, who said the developer might be persuaded to include a school, grocery store, library, or other community amenities on the space. “I think the majority of people actually welcome something on this site, especially if the neighborhood gets something in return,” said Luis Vazquez, a real estate broker and author of the Fidi Fan Page. “There are a lot of things the community needs that can be included in this building.”

Battery Park City Authority

The plan to revamp South End Avenue includes widening the sidewalks (gray) and raising the level of the pavement in intersections (yellow) to act like gentle speed bumps.

good plan.” Specifically, Smith came away very pleased with the idea of raising the road bed at Rector Street and South End Avenue, which would in effect create a gentle speed bump encouraging motorists to slow down, and which the condo president hopes will be installed quickly. “We like these ideas and would like them to move quickly with them,” he said. But other plans, such as widening sidewalks along West Thames in order to narrow the road, still have the community at odds with the authority, with locals fearing delivery trucks will be forced to double park there despite the addition of new loading zones, and

negating one of the neighborhood’s key advantages. “I think it’s a little crazy, one of the nice things about Battery Park City is the large streets,” said Cuccia. But there’s a growing sense of optimism now that, after years of trying, the authority is on the right path towards finding consensus with its biggest critics — the residents it serves, according to one community leader. “This has been in the works for eight years, but we’re in a better position now, because they’re willing to have a dialogue with the community directly,” said Tammy Meltzer, chairwoman of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee. “It’s a different type of process, which is what’s really exciting to me.”

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Major construction at the parking lot, on the left, across from Peck Slip School, on the right, could spoil the fun on the school’s cobblestone Play Street out front.


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.” DowntownExpress.com

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. 18 June 14 – 27, 2018


GREAT LEAP continued from p. 17

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


June 14 – 27, 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.

has all the odds stacked against him. 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 17 and 24; Monday performance on June 11. For tickets ($50 and up), visit atlantictheater.org or call 866-811-4111. DowntownExpress.com

Divine Design Edward Pierce, on bringing ‘Angels’ to America

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.

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 DowntownExpress.com

what he described as a “massive physical production,” and, having done so, was among the roll call on June 10, when the Tony Award nominees for Best Scenic Design were 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 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 ANGELS continued on p. 20 June 14 – 27, 2018


ANGELS continued from p. 19

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


June 14 – 27, 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 found himself in the audience on June 10 as a Tony nominee. Although he did not take home the award, his design work was invoked during the speeches of other “Angels” winners. Regarding how he cast his own ballot, Pierce said with a laugh, “You can vote for yourself,” also noting that at the time of our interview, tha the was 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. For artist info, visit edwardpierce.com. DowntownExpress.com

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 DowntownExpress.com

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 — JDA continued on p. 23 June 14 – 27, 2018



June 14 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 27, 2018


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.

JDA continued from p. 21

allowing you to stroll from place to place, experiencing a high volume of 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 includDowntownExpress.com

ing Eastern, Western, and Latin American modalities of grace, balance, 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 – 27, 2018


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Downtown Express - June 14, 2018  

June 14, 2018

Downtown Express - June 14, 2018  

June 14, 2018