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Serving Tribeca, Battery Park City, the Seaport and the Financial District VOLUME 31, NUMBER 12

JUNE 28 – JULY 11, 2018

Razzle dazzled

Historic fireboat gets eye-popping paint job in public art project Photo by Milo Hess

The John J. Harvey fireboat was given a twist on the “dazzle camouflage” paint scheme, which was popular on the high seas during World War One.

BY COLIN MIXSON A historic fireboat that assisted emergency workers during the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has gotten a trippy new paint job inspired by an oddball camouflage scheme that was popular on the high seas during WWI. The John J. Harvey’s new “razzle dazzle” paint job — compliments of artist Tauba Auerbach and the Public Art Fund — combines the water-born fi re engine’s normal red-and-white color scheme with the flowing, geo-

metric patterns that the British Royal Navy once used in an attempt to evade German submarines during the Great War. British marine artist Norman Wilkinson designed the unique form of camoufl age not to hide from German U-boats but rather to confuse torpedo gunners with the profusion of disjointed shapes and colors. But the eccentric camoufl age scheme wasn’t the game changer he hoped it would be — dazzle ships were sunk

about as often as non-dazzle ships — and the striking paint jobs fell out of favor. And while the John J. Harvey never had to dodge German torpedoes, the classic 1931 fireboat is chock full of history, serving New York’s Bravest with its powerful water pump until it was decommissioned in 1994. A non-profit organization created by local preservationists purchased the fireboat after it was pulled from service, docking it at Pier 66 in Chelsea, from

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where the John J. Harvey gives free tours of New York harbor. But the fireboat was pulled back into service following a water main break during 9/11, with its captain quickly unloading passengers before cruising full steam ahead towards Ground Zero, where it served for 80 hours, until water service could be restored. The John J. Harvey will retain its Great War-inspired paint job until midMay 2019, after which its classic FDNY colors will be restored.


Coumo taps two locals for BPCA board BY COLIN MIXSON Battery Park City residents are finally getting a small measure of the local representation they’ve demanded for years after state lawmakers ratified Governor Cuomo’s two neighborhood nominees for the Battery Park City Authority’s board of directors last week. Cuomo’s nominees, Martha Gallo and Anthony Kendall, were appointed just a few weeks after the governor signed legislation introduced by former state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou requiring the Battery Park City Authority’s board to include two neighborhood residents. Gallo, the Chief Information Officer at AIG, already served on the BPCA’s board for six years prior to her resignation in April last year, depriving her fellow BPC residents of local representation for more than a year until her recent reappointment. Kendall is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Mitchell and Titus — which bills itself as the largest minority-controlled accounting firm in the nation — and

Gov. Cuomo has appointed two Battery Park City residents — Anthony Kendall, left, and Martha Gallo, right — to the BPCA board.

a West Street resident. Gallo has a long history of involvement in local community issues, serving as co-president of the BPC Parents and Neighbors Association from 2002–07, but Kendall is a relative unknown to locals, according to Community Board 1 Chairman Anthony Notaro, although he said the ledgerkeeper’s credentials look promising. “Never met him, or heard his name. He’s completely new to me,” Notaro said. “But on paper he sounds like a good addition to the board.” The board’s new resident members were installed following the resignation of former BPCA board chairman Dennis Mehiel and board member Hector Batista, who were both serv-

ing with expired terms, which meant Cuomo was able — though not required — to replace them. Shortly after the governor signed into law the bill mandating local representation on the board, six local lawmakers — including state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, Congressman Jerold Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, assemblywomen Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin — signed a letter asking Cuomo to immediately replace two sitting board members with expired terms with residents. The group applauded the governor’s two nominees. “I’m sure Ms. Gallo and Mr. Kendall will bring an important per-

spective to the Board’s discussions,” Kavanagh said. Mehiel stepped down following six years on the board, during which he presided over repairs to the community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and pushed forward the controversial scheme to axe city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers in favor of private security guards contracted through Allied Universal. He was also the Authority’s only board chairman to also have himself appointed to a staff position as CEO, a move he defended at his final board meeting prior to his resignation. “That was, I think at the time, really the right thing to do,” he said. “[Through] my experience on a previous board, I had learned that by the time things come to the board an awful lot of what can happen or not happen will be talked about and understood.” George Tsunis, whom Cuomo appointed to the BPCA board last June, will take over as chairman of the board, while BJ Jones, formerly president and chief operating officer at the Authority, will shed his COO position to become president and CEO.

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SCHOOL LUNCH BMCC pantry helps food-insecure students keep their mind on studies

BY L AURA HANRAHAN Tucked away inside Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Single Stop — an on-campus student resource center — there is a small room that is having a big impact on students’ lives. The Panther Pantry, a new initiative from the Single Stop office, at 199 Chambers St., is providing students who experience food insecurities with essential grocery items. Launched in April, the pantry itself is small in size, but is pristinely stocked from floor to ceiling with boxes of pasta, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, tins of tuna and chicken, and milk and milk alternatives. “Students come and we sit with them,” said Deborah Harte, director of Single Stop. “We have on a sheet of paper all of the items that are in the pantry, so students have a choice. You can escort us to the pantry and actually see the things, or you can check it off in the

office and we’ll go pack a bag for you.” Dr. Marva Craig, BMCC vice president of student affairs, said the need for a program of this nature was extremely apparent. In recent years, BMCC has assisted more than 600 students with food insecurities, either by helping to apply for New York State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or giving them gift cards to local supermarkets, provided by the school’s emergency fund. For many students, coming from a public high school — where meals are often provided for food-insecure students — to a college campus where they are left to fend for themselves, can be a shock. “When they leave the high school and they come to us, we’ve decided we don’t handle food insecurities, which is irresponsible because we know it has to do with retention and graduation,” Criag said. Harte added they hope to be able to

Photo by Louis Chan

In the new BMCC Panther Pantry, from left, Deborah Harte, director of Single Stop; Marva Craig, vice president of student affairs; Karrin Wilks, provost and senior vice president; and BMCC President Antonio Pérez.

impact the students’ lives beyond a temporary food fix. “Our goal is not only to address the immediate hunger issue,” she said. “We also want to be sure we’re helping the students to devise a more sustainable plan. So that the pantry is used on an emergency basis, as opposed to something that’s regular every month. Sometimes it’s unemployment that put them in the situation, so we put them in the career development department.” Surprisingly, the one item in the pantry that has been largely passed over is generally a staple of every college student’s diet — peanut butter.

“It’s a great source of protein, but the manner in which we pack the bags, which is according to the USDA ‘balanced bag,’ you can only have one peanut butter as protein, as opposed to two or three other protein items,” Craig noted. Craig and Harte are still working out the kinks of this new venture and plan to revisit the way the foods are categorized, so that they will be the most beneficial to students. One aspect of the program they will continue with is asking each student how large his or her PANTRY Continued on page 11

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Longtime leader of BMCC to step down BY SYDNEY PEREIRA The man who has led Borough of Manhattan Community College for nearly a quarter century — and who saw it through the greatest crisis in its history — will be stepping down at the end of the summer. Since BMCC President Antonio Pérez took the helm of the Downtown school in 1995, he has presided over a 40-percent increase in enrollment, and a doubling of the number of Associate degree programs. But even in light of BMCC’s strong growth during his tenure, Pérez’s most remarkable achievement was simply keeping the school running in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. When World Trade 7 came down, it collapsed against Fiterman Hall, doing irreparable damage, and making BMCC the only college building in the U.S. ever lost to a terrorist attack. “I knew that we had lost that building,” Pérez recalled, “and then that’s when the planning began. That next morning, [we were] coming in and trying to figure out what we’re going to do. We had no electricity, no power, no water.”

Undaunted, Pérez quickly set a goal of reopening what was left of the BMCC campus just three weeks after the attacks, and he succeeded, figuring out how along the way. “There wasn’t a manual telling you what to do,” Pérez said. Other aspects of the school’s recovery were long-term projects. It took more than a decade of fund-raising, planning, and construction before Fiterman Hall was eventually reopened in 2012. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Harlem, Pérez’s journey through higher education is not unlike many of the students who have gotten their start at BMCC under his watch. Neither of his parents even graduated high school, so some had doubts about Pérez’s prospects for college. “My guidance counselor told me, ‘Tony, you’re not college material,’ ” Pérez said. One teacher even made a deal that he would pass Pérez on his English Regents exam if he promised not to go to college and instead join the Marines. But rather than signing up with “the few, the proud,” Pérez joined the many who sought a second chance at higher

Photo by Milo Hess

An avid antique toy collector, BMCC President Antonio Pérez will have a lot to pack up in his offi ce at 199 Chambers St. when he steps down at the end of the summer.

education through a community college. His experience at Bronx Community College, sparked his lifelong interest in the two-year institutions, and his appreciation of their importance in jumpstarting students’ education. “I think that’s probably why I’m so passionate — because I see myself in

them,” Pérez said of the students at BMCC, many of whom are immigrants or speak English as a second language. “They come with that desire to learn and have all these hopes and aspirations, and for me, just being with them PRESIDENT Continued on page 18

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SUBWAY NIGHTMARE Cops busted a man after he allegedly started rifling through a sleeping straphangers backpack — and then masturbating — aboard a northbound E train near Fulton Street on June 23. The arresting officer reported spotting the suspect take the 28-year-old woman’s backpack from between her legs as she dozed at 4 am, before allegedly searching through it with one hand, and fondling himself with the other. The 25-year-old man was busted on grand larceny charges, cops said.

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A thief rode off with a manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s $800 bike that he had locked to some scaffolding on Broadway on June 19. The victim told police he used a heavy U-lock to secure his bike near Barclay Street at 11 am, but that the crook partially dismantled the scaffolding in order slide the bike off, along with a baby seat attached to it.

BAD TRIP

SCREAM QUEEN A gunman attempted to rob a woman on Warren Street on June 12. The victim told police the fiend threw her against a building between W. Broadway and Church Street at 11:45 pm, before sticking a pistol into her side and demanding cash. But the woman let out a bloodcurdling scream, which was enough to send her would-be robber running, cops said.

SHADY STUFF

A robber snatched $45 off a man amid a Washington Street stickup on June 12. The victim told police the crook put a gun to his back between Morris Street and Battery Place at 10:25 pm, before grabbing the cash and fleeing.

CASH GRAB A thief was busted for allegedly fighting his way out of a Spring Street retailer with stolen sunglasses on June 23. An employee told police he spotted the suspect nab $765 worth of sunglasses from the store between W. Broadway and Wooster Street at 7:33 pm, but he said that the man used violence to force his way past workers. Following the theft, police searched the area with a worker in tow, and arrested the suspect after the employee IDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d him, cops said. Upon his arrest, the man was allegedly found in possession of the stolen shades, and slapped with a robbery charge for the violent crime, according to police.

ROUND TWO

June 28 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; July 11, 2018

Cops are hunting the crook who robbed a W. Houston Street diner on June 17. A worker told police the thief barged into the store between Greene and Mercer streets with one hand in his pocket at 7:50 pm, demanding cash. The woman forked over $250, and the robber fled with his ill-gotten cash, according to police.

A thief stole more than $35,000 worth of assorted clothes, jewelry, and electronics that a family left in their car on King Street overnight in preparation for a trip on June 18. The victim told police he left the stuff in his car parked between Varick Street and Sixth Avenue at midnight, and returned at 8 am the next morning to find a rear window shattered, and a small fortune worth of personal items stolen.

Cops are hunting two gunman wanted for stealing $14,000 worth of sunglasses from the same Spring Street retailer on June 24.

6

A worker told police he was minding the shop between W. Broadway and Wooster Street at 2:50 pm, when the two men barged in, one of them shouting, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have a gun. If you try to stop me, I will shoot you.â&#x20AC;? The crooks grabbed 61 pairs of sunglasses before fleeing on foot across Spring Street towards the Hudson River, according to police. Afterward, cops once again searched the area for the bandits, but this time came up empty, police said.

APPLE PICKING Cops cuffed a man accused of stealing gadgets from a Greenwich Street Apple store on June 11. A manager told police he spotted the suspect allegedly stuffing Apple Watches, iPhones, and Go Pros into his jacket at the electronics vendor near Vesey Street at 3:10 pm, before slinking past the register and exiting the store with more than $2,300 worth of illgotten gizmos. Police caught up with the accused three days later, busting him for grand larceny, cops said. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com


ARCH-ENEMY Castimatidis calls for resignation of Greek Orthodox Archbishop

penned the incendiary missive after the BY COLIN MIXSON Billionaire grocer John Castimatidis church failed to pay contractors workpenned a letter to the Greek Orthodox ing to rebuild the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at 130 Archdiocese of America Liberty St., leading concalling for its leader to struction to grind to a halt resign over allegations he last December. squandered millions of dolThe projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s budget, lars by mismanaging the originally set at $30 milrebuilding of a Downtown lion, has ballooned to $80 church destroyed during million, the New York the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Post reported, and the â&#x20AC;&#x153;The fi nancial misstate Attorney Generalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s management that has office launched an invesoccurred is inexcusable,â&#x20AC;? tigation into the churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Castimatidis wrote. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Saint Associated Press / Seth Wenig Nicholas at Ground Zero Greek-born grocery handling of the project J o h n funds in April. should be our crowning m a g n a t e Castimatidis alleges jewel; instead we are a Castimatidis. that the churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fi nannational embarrassment. The Archdiocese has misused funds, cial difficulties are the direct result the priestsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; pensions, and God knows of Archbishop Demetriosâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s negligence, and said its time for the 90-year-old what else!â&#x20AC;? The Greek-born multi-billionaire to resign his post as the archdioceseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Photo by Joseph M. Calisi

Work on the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at the eastern tip of Liberty Park was halted last year because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America defaulted on payments to its contractors.

high priest. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Seminary is in danger of closing, but the Archbishop refuses to resign, saying that he wants to fix the

problems. But he is the one who was in charge when these problems happened ARCHBISHOP Continued on page 20

          

        

        

             

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E D ITO R IAL

Think before you call 911 about that kid PUBLISHER

Jennifer Goodstein EDITOR

Bill Egbert REPORTERS

Colin Mixon Sydney Pereira ARTS EDITOR

Scott Stiffler EXECUTIVE VP OF ADVERTISING

Amanda Tarley (P) 718 260 8340 (E) atarley@cnglocal.com ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco ART DIRECTOR

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John W. Sutter

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NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC ONE METROTECH CENTER NEW YORK, NY 11201 PHONE: (212) 229-1890 FAX: (212) 229-2790 WWW.DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM NEWS@DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM Downtown Express is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech Center North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201 (212) 229-1890. The entire contents of the newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2018 Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

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BY LENORE SKENAZY Every couple of weeks I get an e-mail from someone time-stamped 2 or 3 am, because the sender can’t sleep. Here’s one that came three weeks ago, shortened a bit: “Dear Lenore: I am a special police officer in Washington, DC. I wake up at 4 am to work 6 am–6 pm and get home by 8 pm. No family at all. No support. Never been arrested or anything. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t date. Don’t party. I literally have no life trying to be the best parent I can. My son is 2 and had fallen asleep after visiting our second grocery store looking for rice milk. It was 7:50 pm and 65 degrees.” Can you guess what happened next? She let him snooze in the car a few minutes while she got the special milk. She emerged to find “multiple police cars” swarming. Why? Someone had called 911 about a child alone in a car. As if that is automatically neglect. The police grilled the mom for an hour, “All looking at me like the worst mother ever. I can potentially lose my career over this. How then will I support us?” Until she finds out whether she is let off with a warning or is found guilty of a crime, this mom doesn’t know what lies ahead. Perhaps nothing but a bad memory, but perhaps the life of a single mom out of a job, forced to live someplace cheap and dangerous. How will that make her son “safer”? It won’t. And here’s a note I got today. It should sound familiar: “Dear Lenore: I’m a father of two boys in a Midwestern suburb. I took

my kids to school, one of them threw up on the way. So I took him home and cleaned him up. I’m a dad that works at home. I’d sent two files for FedEx to print so I went to pick them up. My son said, ‘I feel better, dad. Can I stay in the car?’ ” Reader, what would you do? I’d do what this papa did: “I parked in front of the FedEx, which is completely made of glass. He’s in plain sight. It’s 63 degrees, the windows are open, the doors are locked.” Again, someone called 911. Long story short: “Child protective services made a ruling and I will be marked as a ‘child abuser’ for five years. I’m a 40-yearold man, without a single mark on my record. But because of this, I won’t be able to coach my kids’ teams any more, or go on field trips with them. What do I do?” Right now, there’s not much any parent can do other than stop calling 911 when you see a child in a car and it isn’t boiling hot and the car is in view of a retail establishment. A truly good Samaritan does not set a case in motion against a family. A good Samaritan stands by the car a few minutes to make sure the parents are coming right back, or goes into the store to see if they can locate them. How dare I say that? Here’s how: • Kids do not die the instant they are in an unmoving car. Of the 30–40 children who die in cars each year,

KidsandCars.org reports, the overwhelming majority were forgotten there or climbed into a car unbeknownst to the parent and couldn’t get out. They were not just waiting out a brief errand. • Believe it or not, more kids die from getting hit by cars in parking lots than in parked cars. So let’s stop pretending “Take the kid out, he’s automatically safe. Leave him in, he’s automatically in danger.” Plenty of parents rue the day they took their kids out of the car instead of letting them wait. • Yes, cars get hot in the summer. So don’t get mad at parents who leave the air conditioning on while they run in to get a gallon of milk. • If you see a child in someplace like the IBM parking lot, that kid is in danger. Clearly she’s been forgotten by a parent who went into work. Calling for emergency help there makes sense. Calling in front of the grocery does not. • Remember we are all in this together. Let’s support parents like that valiant mom, above. And let’s assume that most parents who make a seat-of-the-pants decision are not evil or abusive, but just trying to do what makes sense in the moment like that dad above. • Since forgetting kids is the real danger, the best prevention is to put your phone or wallet in the backseat with your child when you leave the house. That way, even if you’re distracted, you will open the door to get your wallet and see your precious child. Lenore Skenazy president of Let Grow, and founder of Free-Range Kids.

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ZONED OUT Bill expanding WTC no-vending zone rankles street-cart vendors

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A controversial bill to push street vendors out of the World Trade Center area has been blasted as Islamophobic by some street-vendor advocates, because many of the vendors it would exile are Muslims. The bill put forward by Councilwoman Margaret Chin would expand the World Trade Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s novending zone to match the campusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; security perimeter. The Council estimates it would affect around a dozen food-cart vendors and a handful of other general vendors. Proponents of the bill say the wider zone will increase public safety in the area, particularly as the World Trade Center campus nears completion and foot traffic continues to increase. But one reason the street vendors are being pushed out is due to the risk that the

propane stoves on the carts could â&#x20AC;&#x153;wittingly or unwittinglyâ&#x20AC;? be used to hide bombs, according the Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s committee report â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a point of contention for street-vendor advocates who see the bill as targeting Muslims. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The idea that vendors would put bombs in their carts is absolutely offensive,â&#x20AC;? said Sean Basinski, co-director of the Street Vendor Project at Urban Justice Center. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We know who the vendors are. They are there everyday. They have licenses. We have their names. The city has their names. To raise that â&#x20AC;&#x201D; especially when most of them are Muslim â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is really offensive and we find that Islamophobic,â&#x20AC;? he said. For street vendors in the area who could be pushed down the block where other street vendors have already staked their spot, the security argument doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t add up. Many work with police officers

Photo by Sydney Pereira

Street vendor Abdelalim Abdelbaky thinks the proposal to push vendors outside of the WTC security zone misses the point, since he and his fellow vendors are constant eyes and ears on the street who often help police with investigations.

regularly, being the eyes and ears for anything an officer might miss. Officers will usually ask street vendors about an accident on the street before digging out recordings from nearby security cameras, according to one street vendor who plies his trade at the corner of Greenwich and Thames streets. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We see everything,â&#x20AC;? said Abdelalim Abdelbaky, whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been working at his

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fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hotdog cart for eight years. From traffic accidents to suspicious bags left on the sidewalk, Abdelbaky said he regularly assists officers at the nearby checkpoint with inquiries. Basinski said the Street Vendor Project has documented many instances in which street vendors have increased VENDORS Continued on page 12

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Supreme fury Thousands mass in Foley Square to protest High Court ruling in support of Trump administration’s travel ban BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court verdict endorsing President Trump’s travel ban on mostly Muslim countries was announced on June 26, New Yorkers converged on Downtown in response to an urgent call to action. Arab-American activist Linda Sarsour wrote on Facebook: “BREAKING NEWS. We lost. Reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court just took the side of Trump and his white supremacist administration in the Muslim and refugee ban case. They decided in favor of xenophobia. Another dark stain on our country’s history. Meet me at Foley Square at 6pm.” Thousands of activists and immigrant advocates answered the call, packing Foley Square, placards in hand, to protest Supreme Court’s 5–4 vote upholding the ban to travelers from seven countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea — most of which are predominantly Muslim. Opponents argued that — based on Trumps own statements — the ban against mostly Muslim-majority countries was intended as an unconstitutional ban targeting Muslims. But the Supreme Court majority ruled that the ban is based on geography rather than religion, and that it was within president’s authority.

PANTRY Continued from page 4

household is, and allocating food based on that number. “A mother may come but it’s not the mother alone who’s hungry in the household,” Craig said. “One student may be walking out with two bags and one may be walking out with a half-bag because of the household.” A focal point when creating the Panther Pantry was to reduce the stigma that is so often associated with having to stand in line at a public food bank. “We enjoy food, we love food, but when we’re in need of food, it’s not a comforting feeling,” Craig said. “There is no pride in not being able to afford DowntownExpress.com

Photos by Tequila Minsky

The protesters who swarmed Dowtown’s Foley Square on June 26 blasted the Trump administration’s travel ban, and the Supreme Court ruling upholding it, with one sign (above left) even quoting from Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s scathing dissent.

Murad Awawdeh, of the New York Immigrant Coalition, one of the event’s organizers, opened the rally noting that the diverse crowd reflected what New York looks like, taking a stand for “rights of everyone who lives among us.” The signs held up by the protesters reflected concerns of growing xenophobia, fascism, prejudice against minori-

ties, and Islamophobia. In addition to pre-printed placard provided by the organizing groups with slogans such as “No Ban, No Wall, No Raids,” and “I [heart] Immigrant NY,” there were many homemade signs declaring things like “No Nazis in our White House,” “Ban Trump, not Muslims,” and one calling the president “Birther of a Nation,”

referencing Trump’s conspiracy theory about his predecessor’s birthplace, and the notorious 1915 film glorifying the Ku Klux Klan. One particularly erudite placard quoted from Justice Sotomayer’s dissent against the ruling, decrying “the government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy.”

it. So what we’ve done is we’ve brought everything to the college campus where there’s no stigma.” For Mia, a recently graduated theater student, the pantry not only helped provide her with food, but taught her how to prepare meals with higher nutritional value. “I’ve struggled with the fact I could either pay for my tuition or eat,” she said. “I would do this trick where I would just have water and bread. Having the pantry, I’ve now learned how to make food that could last for three or four days.” For Mia, this is the first food pantry she has felt comfortable enough to take advantage of, having often been discouraged by the long lines at pubic food

banks. Now, she said, she often recommends the pantry to other students at BMCC “Sometimes they get scared,” she said, “but I’m like, the one thing that you have there is privacy and they’re not going to judge you.” For Panagiota, an early-childhood education student, the pantry helped her through a recent financial emergency. When she unexpectedly had to move, and put down a deposit and rent on a new apartment, she found herself with little money left over for food. “It became a very tight budget,” she said. “Obviously, the food pantry didn’t cover my whole month but it gave me my breakfast. It gave me juice for a

week. It gave me pasta and some vegetables I could use. So it gave me a little bit of room not to worry about ‘am I getting some food?’” Craig hopes to eventually expand the Panther Pantry to incorporate other areas of the Lower Manhattan college, citing the nutrition department as one example, as well as neighborhood stores like Whole Foods, Pret-A-Manger and Target. For now, they are focused on setting up a donation website to keep the program growing. The pantry is open for BMCC students Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5:30 pm. Students can find out more information at http://www.bmcc.cuny. edu. June 28 – July 11, 2018

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public safety, including reporting a person carrying a gun, stopping a drunk driver, and reporting suspicious packages. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always known that vendors are good for safety, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s especially hurtful to use safety as a reason to displace them,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;To us, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make any sense. And you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just say the word safety and take away peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s livelihoods.â&#x20AC;? The Downtown Alliance and the Financial District Neighborhood Association testified earlier this month in support of the bill. Alliance president Jessica Lappin said in her testimony that the rapidly growing Financial Districtâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s narrow streets are strained by the increased traffic and that the security areas north and south of the WTC campus should be included in the no-vending zone if the police thought it best. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re talking about the World Trade Center site, security is paramount and unfortunately this is an area that has seen not just one, but multiple attacks,â&#x20AC;? Lappin said, deferring to the NYPD and security officials on what the security zone should be. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not a huge change,â&#x20AC;? she added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And while Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not being dismissive of the impacts it will have on that handful of vendors who will be displaced, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a pretty modest change.â&#x20AC;? But the impact on vendors will extend beyond the expanded no-vending zone because displacing food carts from there will increase competition in the surrounding area, according to local vendors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I imagine [the changes], itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be a big problem. That means Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m taking his customers,â&#x20AC;? Abdelbaky said, pointing towards the street vendors a few blocks south of where his cart is located. The bill extends the northern part of the no-vending zone from Vesey Street to the southern side of Barclay Street. Vending would also be prohibited on West Broadway from Park Place to Barclay Street and on Broadway between Barclay and Vesey streets. On the southern side, vendors would be banned from Greenwich Street between Liberty and Thames streets, on West Street between Liberty and Cedar streets, and on the western side of Trinity Place between Liberty and Cedar streets. The eastern and western borders wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change. Chinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office says the legislation is about addressing the unique security infrastructure in the WTC campus. As the zone stands, the line of sight from

certain security booths â&#x20AC;&#x201D; called â&#x20AC;&#x153;sally pointsâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; are blocked by street vendors or their lines of customers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This legislation updates the perimeters of the current no-vending zone to encompass existing vehicle checkpoints that protect the growing number of people in and around a revitalized World Trade Center site,â&#x20AC;? said Chin spokeswoman Marian Guerra in a statement. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This effort is about ensuring the safety of pedestrians who have to navigate a unique security infrastructure â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that is why she is proud to have the support of the Financial District Neighborhood Association and others in the fight to protect our families and everyone else living and working Downtown.â&#x20AC;? Guerra also pointed out that Chin has a long record of supporting street vendors. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For decades, Councilmember Chin has been one of the strongest advocates for vendors, and she is continuing the fight this session as the lead sponsor of a bill that would increase opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs across our city,â&#x20AC;? Guerra said. The NYPDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director of legislative affairs, Oleg Chernyavsky, testified in support of the bill earlier this month, saying that the security zone has expanded, and therefore the no-vending zone should grow to match it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The presence of fixed-site security posts, staffed 24 hours and seven days a week, changes the dynamic of particular points of the World Trade Center Campus and requires an adjustment of the Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s law to move vendors from parts of the site,â&#x20AC;? Chernyavsky said in his testimony. Chernyavsky also said the constant presence of vending carts with propane tanks, piping, and electrical wiring can â&#x20AC;&#x153;soften an officerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vigilance when similar-looking equipment being used to hide explosives is placed near the barriers where the legitimate vendors typically ply their trade.â&#x20AC;? Walid Naama, who moved to the U.S. from Egypt five years ago, saved up thousands of dollars to open his halal cart, and now sends money back to Egypt to support a dozen family members. He works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, serving employees at the buildings nearby his cart located at Church and Barclay streets, where he has spent years building relationships with his customer base. Naama said doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t understand the justification for the legislation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The pushcart is not safe near the [9/11 Memorial]? What does that mean?â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a job for my family.â&#x20AC;? DowntownExpress.com


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â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Get off my lawn!â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Local group takes heat for pushing city plan to fence-off grassy park BY COLIN MIXSON A Parks Department plan to fence off a tiny lawn inside a Downtown green space has pitted neighbor against neighbor, with local nature lovers squaring off against a group of volunteer gardeners over just how accessible a public park should be. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a small issue that has tremendous resonance in terms of the privatization of a public space,â&#x20AC;? said Alice Blank, a member of Community Board 1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Parks Committee. A lawn that comprises about two thirds of the 8,850-square-foot DeLury Square park at Fulton and Gold streets has been sealed off from public access by a temporary fence since 2014, after the Parks Department found that the hordes of visitors and dog-owners who poured through the green space had decimated the grassy area, according to the former Parks employee who originally designed it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We opened the park and it was far more successful than any of us

ever dreamed, in the sense that a lot of people came, and the lawn was really hit hard,â&#x20AC;? said landscape architect Alex Hart. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s probably just not large enough to sustain that kind of use.â&#x20AC;? Now, as part of a $202,000 renovation project, the city agency is planning to replace the current flimsy fencing there with a more substantial version, making the once-temporary change permanent. Local gardeners who volunteer with Friends of DeLury Square â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a group dedicated to maintaining the small park â&#x20AC;&#x201D; appeared en mass at a June 19 meeting of Community Board 1â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Parks Committee to support the construction of a permanent fence, with the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leader informing committee members that handing the parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grassy area back to the public would mean its destruction. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is a complete disaster to even think about doing something like that,â&#x20AC;? said Veronica Silverberg. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It would be decimated.â&#x20AC;?

Parks Department

The city â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and a group of volunteer gardeners called Friends of DeLury Square â&#x20AC;&#x201D; want to replace this temporary fencing blocking access to the grassy areas with a permanent barrier, to the consternation of some locals.

The well-organized group vastly outnumbered opponents of the fence at the meeting, but the volunteer gardeners were nonetheless challenged by several

passionate park lovers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including a former member of the group, who said PARK Continued on page 20

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I get excited.â&#x20AC;? And just as PĂŠrez went on to greater things, the upward trajectories of BMCCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s alumni inspire him. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When they tell me their stories, I see my story,â&#x20AC;? he added. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At time I get goosebumps when they tell me about their successes.â&#x20AC;? Under PĂŠrezâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leadership, BMCC achieved the third-highest upward-mobility rate of any two-year college in the U.S. last year. Around 41 percent of students move up in their household income, according to a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Since PĂŠrezâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s appointment 23 years ago, the student body has grown from 16,300 to 27,000, and the number of associate degree programs has more than doubled. New majors â&#x20AC;&#x201D; such as forensic accounting, geographic information science, gerontology, gender and womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s studies, and financial management â&#x20AC;&#x201D; aim to reflect what students want in the changing economy. One of the keys to student success at BMCC for PĂŠrez has been keeping its doors open seven days a week and providing classes from 7 am to 11 pm, making education as accessible and con-

venient as possible. But a particular challenge PĂŠrez has grappled with has been math remediation classes. During his time as president, he saw that many students fail math remediation courses multiple times â&#x20AC;&#x201D; preventing them from moving on with their education. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the things that, as president of the college, I felt like I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t solve is really how to provide remediation to these students in a way thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not burdensome,â&#x20AC;? PĂŠrez said. To help address the problem, PĂŠrez developed an smartphone app called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hidden Chalk,â&#x20AC;? which helps students practice math on the go through videos and interactive exercises. The app just helps students with math right now, but PĂŠrez hopes to expand the program to other subjects, turning a device that tends to compete for studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; attention into a tool for easier studying. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Students spend more time on phones than they do with anything else,â&#x20AC;? PĂŠrez said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why not put [studying] with something that they feel comfortable with? So when I asked the kids when I did my first beta test, they said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;well sometimes I forget my textbook or I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t remember my notebook or Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll skip class â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but I always have my phone.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;?

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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.

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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.

ARCHBISHOP Continued from page 7

in the first place!” Castimatidis railed. The supermarket magnate suggested that, should Demetrios choose to take the high road and step down, he would be in good company. “Even retired Pope Benedict says it was his ‘duty’ to resign from the papacy,” he said. But if he doesn’t, Castimatidis said he and other well-heeled supplicants will withhold the financial and managerial assistance needed to to complete the long-anticipated rebuilding of the church. “I, for one, know there are many who are ready and willing to step up and fix the problems. But we will only step up to our responsibilities when the Archbishop accepts his responsibility for the mess we are in and steps down,” Castimatidis said in his letter.

PARK Continued from page 17

she quit because she fely that the gardeners had essentially privatized the public space. “The fencing has effectively privatized the lawn area, where for some time now only a select few have enjoyed a public green space that belongs to all of us,” said Joanne Gorman, a resident of the nearby Southbridge Towers and former Friends of DeLury Square member. The new fence — though clearly the focus of public concern — is actually only a minor aspect of the Parks Department project, which is also includes fixing a broken fountain, as well as repaving a short pathway to make it more accessible to wheelchairbound park-goers. Some CB1 members, who were being asked to weigh in on the Parks project as a whole, became confused over where the community stood, as the impassioned back-and-forth over the fence dominated the meeting. “I’m not getting a sense from the community about who’s in support of the plan and who’s opposed to it,” CB1 member Andrew Zelter told the crowd. But other board members, including vice chairman Paul Hovitz and Blank, spoke passionately against the fence, claiming the city should be exploring options for preserving the grassy area that don’t involve a barricade. “I think a design could be provided

Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite

Archbishop Demetrios, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, is blamed for financial mismanagement that squandered tens of millions of dollars earmarked for the reconstruction of a church destroyed in the 9/11 attacks of 2001.

that would allow for the park to be open,” Blank said. “I don’t think we should be spending taxpayer money to pay for permanent fencing to keep people out.” Hart, a former Parks employee turned private landscape architect who was brought on by the city to handle the new DeLury Square renovation project, said it would be possible to maintain the park’s grassy area while allowing public use — but it would be expensive. “I’m not going to say it’s impossible — I think it’s possible,” Hart said. “But it’s going to be a challenge, and it’s going to take a sustained effort.” And the landscape architect insisted that the $202,000 Councilwoman Margaret Chin had allocated for the park’s renovation was far a cry from the funding required for a such major design change. “It’s a small space, but even more small is the budget we have to work with,” Hart said. “Even though that sounds like several Maseratis, in terms of a capital project, it’s almost nonexistent.” Committee members ultimately sided with the Friends of DeLury Square, approving a draft resolution that endorsed the project — fence and all. The full board voted to approve the resolution at its meeting on June 26, but an amendment asking the Parks Department to seek funding that would allow the park’s grassy area to be open to the public.

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Something New for a ‘Change’ Games for Change Festival looks back, ahead, inward

Via playstation.com

“Jupiter & Mars” lets players control a virtual dolphin.

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY The Games for Change Festival has always been ahead of the game, in terms of the social impact of video games. Each year, its panelists and curators examine how games can be used to promote positive change in civics, education, and health. With its 15th installment taking place June 28-30, the festival looks back at its own history, while looking to the future. Attendees will be able to play cuttingedge games and virtual reality, as well as see innovative technology at the festival’s marketplace — and in a new feature this year, fledgling game designers will be able to meet potential mentors in a “Mentor Lounge.” Games for Change (G4C) is especially relevant this year, with one of the panels set to feature a discussion about the recent addition of “Gaming Disorder” to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of DowntownExpress.com

Diseases. G4C was already planning on discussing the matter before the WHO made their decision to classify video game addiction as a disease. This panel is taking a rounded view, according to G4C’s lead curator, Alexander King. “The reason we wanted to have it be a panel, specifically, is to hear about the issues and the different pros and cons,” King told us. “It’s not like [The WHO] are saying ‘Games are bad!’ and we’re going to discuss how they’re good. There are definitely some potential benefits to people taking gaming addiction seriously. But there is also some potential for overstep.” King elaborated: “This is breaking news in the games and health world, so we wanted to bring together some people who could tell us what’s going on and help inform our audience.” In addition to such hot topics, the festival will also have a set of “Well Played” panels that look in-depth at some older

games, to measure their lasting effects. “At the 15th year,” King explained, “we wanted to include some programming that was critical assessment of things that happened, not things that are coming in the future.” “Brain Age” is a venerable Nintendo franchise, and one of the early games that was thought to benefit the mental health of players. They’re entertainment puzzle games, but some neuroscientists claimed that playing them could help fight dementia and other conditions. Thirteen years after their launch, a “Well Played” panel will evaluate the series’ legacy. “September 12,” a 2003 indie game that was made to examine wars in the Middle East, also gets its own “Well Played” panel. In it, players fire missiles into a virtual town to blow up terrorists hiding among civilians. It’s impossible to not incur some degree of “Collateral Damage,” and the game proposes that

brute force can never stop terrorism. “It’s curious, what [September 12] means to us today,” King pointed out, “looking at it as a historical artifact... and how it stands on its own merits, stripped of that context.” Is this an alltime classic, or is it of its time? King wondered. “What does ‘September 12’ tell us about the games for change that we’re making today? In 10 years, will they be historical artifacts, or things that speak across the ages?” Even some of the big commercial game franchises are included in the festival’s mission. “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is set in ancient Egypt, and the recent “Discovery Tour” content pack for it lets players explore the historical setting in an educational manner. The developers of the “Assassin’s Creed” games will be doing a keynote address about the project as part of the G4C continued on p. 22 June 28 – July 11, 2018

21


Courtesy of Games for Change

The new “Assassin’s Creed” game adds educational elements to its historically accurate adventures. G4C continued from p. 21

Games for Learning Summit at G4C. We spoke to Rebecca Rufo-Tepper who co-curates the educational programming along with Arana Shapiro. She explained that “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is “an entertainment game, but it is educational. Even though its main goal wasn’t necessarily to be used in schools, but it actually is a game that has been used in classrooms to impact learning engagement.” Rufo-Teppler also noted there has been “a movement in the past 10 years around teachers using games that weren’t originally designed in an educational context… The more engaged you are, the more you learn, because engagement is part of learning.” New to this year’s festival is a full-day event (Sat., June 30) devoted to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The “X” in XR for Change stands for the combination of “Virtual” and “Augmented.” While VR has been growing in popularity, Augmented Reality, which uses “smart glasses” to superimpose content over the real world, has been lagging behind as an art form — until recently. Ryan Seashore curated the XR for Change Summit. Although many of the projects deal with environmental issues, he said that this wasn’t a deliberate decision. “It was just some of the most stunning, breathtaking, amazing work that

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June 28 – July 11, 2018

Via gamesforchange.org

“September 12” was released the year of the first Games for Change Festival.

Via oculus.com

“She Flies By Her Own Wings” is one of several VR films shot in 360 degrees.

we came across were focusing on [the environment],” he told us. Among the 360-degree VR movies are ones that are shot in the middle

of real wildfires, or underwater with sharks, and on the edge of glaciers that are melting. The VR experiences also include a dolphin simulator, and a sepa-

rate mermaid sim, which both deal with environmental matters. One of the unique things about a VR experience is that it can literally give the user the POV of another person. Among the empathy-generating projects at XR for Change is one that put players in the shoes of a TSA agent (“Terminal 3”). Seashore also recommends attendees experience “She Flies By Her Own Wings,” which he describes as being about “a transgender service member... It gives a window into another situation that people wouldn’t normally be aware of.” Many of the projects seen at G4C will be available to download after the festival ends, and some are on virtual shelves right now. People who miss the festival can also keep an eye out for their year-round Student Challenge, which runs in several cities, including New York. The Games for Change Festival happens June 28–30 at the Parsons School of Design at The New School (66 Fifth Ave., at E. 13th St.). Festival passes for individual days or the entire event range from $179—$499. Special discounts for nonprofit employees, educators, students, and indie developers. Our readers can get a 20 percent discount by using the code NYCCM18. Visit gamesforchange.org, call 212242-4922, or email festival@gamesforchange.org. Social Media: #G4C18. DowntownExpress.com


Make a Point of Seeing ‘INK MADE’ Illustration exhibition draws on FIT grad students BY MION EDWARDS The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) held a June 14 reception where 2018 MFA in Illustration graduate students displayed their Visual Thesis Exhibition, which brought together the unique styles of seven artists into one harmonious expression of creativity. “INK MADE” not only serves as the name of the exhibition, but is an acronym representing each of their projects (In-Vogue, Nudes, Kittens, Mélange, Aliens, Dolls, and Earth). The artists let their lives fi ll the walls of the gallery, expressing their culture, heritage, and creative vision. Whether they used, ink, print, paper, or pixels, there was no shortage of imagination and vitality in the work. “Culture was my biggest influence,” said Hilary Hubanks. “I studied a lot of cultures for this [exhibition] — Egyptian art, Syrian ancient art, different tribal cultures in Africa. My family is Norwegian so I studied a lot of ancient Norwegian culture and tribal art.” Hubanks’ “Visions of Indigo” (aka “Aliens”) represents her fascination with the supernatural, nature, fantasy, and magical creatures. “I have to be true to myself,” she said, by wondering “what’s out there… Don’t stop imagining.” Hubanks, a print designer and illustrator by day (and by night and weekends, an MFA Illustration student), reflects the majority of the group, most of whom have full-time or freelance jobs outside of the program but manage to strike a balance between academia and employment. The artists involved all come from different disciplines. “We have designers, we have teachers, we have people from the fashion world, we have people with illustration careers,” noted Brendan Leach, chairperson of FIT’s MFA in Illustration program. The thesis show is a combination of the students’ three years of study in the program. They have been working on this project since September, and created the title and theme for the show. “They’re all individuals with strong voices,” Leach said, adding that the group has become “a really tight unit, and functions as one.” Even though the majority of the DowntownExpress.com

Photos by Mion Edwards

Sarah Wilmot in front of her “American Mélange.” Each scene begins with a clean line drawing and ends with the creation of an evocative image.

students are professionals working in various fields, they still saw opportunity to sharpen their skills. Mark Higden was influenced by the historic temples of retail fashion known as The Ladies’ Mile Historic Shopping District, which was a prime shopping district in Manhattan at the end of the 19th century. With vivid illustrations representing the Victorian era shoppers, Higden’s “Ladies’ Mile Historic Walking Tour” (aka “In-Vogue”) taps into new technology to bring this blast from the past to life. The “Ladies’ Mile Walking Tour” app uses location technology to provide a window into history (the app is available in the Apple store). “I teach in the fashion business management department [at FIT],” Higden said. “So many of our students don’t really understand or even think about in terms of what retail was over 100 years ago and what the experience was. I thought this would be a good way beyond a textbook and a lecture Awsemon Yari’s “Dolls” (aka “White Dream”) features dolls created by the artist to tell the stories of her life.

INK continued on p. 24 June 28 – July 11, 2018

23


Edgar Alanis in front of work from his graphic novel, “Nudes, Nudes, Nudes (In Art History).”

Photos by Mion Edwards

Hilary Hubanks in front of “Visions of Indigo,” which gives life to her fascination with aliens and outer space.

John Jay Cabuay’s pop-up book, from his “Earth” project.

INK continued from p. 23

[to engage them].” The artists drew from more than just their educational background in illustration — some explored new ventures. “I’ve always been interested in art history,” said Edgar Alanis, “and this was a way for me to explore that passion. I thought, what better subject to pick than nudes, because I can be tongue-and-cheek with it.” Alanis’ “Nudes, Nudes, Nudes (In Art History)” has a wall display in

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June 28 – July 11, 2018

addition to a graphic novel. “I wanted people to smile and make people laugh” and “get to know their favorite pieces from art,” Alanis said. Some in the exhibition, like Alanis, seek to evoke emotion, while others illustrate how art can imitate life. “I wanted to show the everyday person going through their daily activities” and “show that we may look different but we are all the same,” said Sarah Wilmot, whose “American Mélange” has a patriotic tone that represents the different cultures in America. “It’s a reflection of your

Mark Higden’s work invites viewers to use the Ladies’ Mile Historic Walking Tour app to see his series of hand-drawn illustrations.

life,” Wilmot said, regarding her illustrations and animated scenes. Her artwork depicted the cultural melting pot that is America — specifically, New York. Walking through the exhibit, visitors will see the assortment of skills, cultures, and environments. “It’s incredible how it comes together and only we know how they came in,” said Melanie Reim, currently the acting associate dean for FIT’s School of Art and Design. “We see the evolution of where they are at now. They’ve launched into really success-

ful careers.” The INK MADE exhibition will be on view through July 7 at The Museum at FIT’s Gallery FIT (Seventh Ave. at W. 27 St.). Admission is free. Gallery hours are Tues.–Fri., 12–8pm and Sat., 10 am–5pm. For more info, visit fitnyc.edu/museum/ exhibitions or call 212-217-4558. For social media of the participating artists, visit HilaryHubanks.com, edgaralanis.com, thefashionistoprofessor. wordpress.com, JohnJayArt.com, and, on Instagram, @Wilmot.Sarah, @ Awsemonyari, and @juhye.cho. DowntownExpress.com


Exotic Skills in the Vaudeville Tradition Drag is alive, kicking, fire-eating, yodeling, and prestidigitating

Photo by Ernesto Hernandez-Reyes

Impresario S.Q. Stokes encouraged equestrian trick rider Omar Kingsley to perform as “Mademoiselle Ella Zoyara.”

BY TRAV S.D. During Pride Month, drag performers often rightfully get an extra amount of play, attention, and celebration. So we thought it would be fun to take a look at several drag artists from show business history who didn’t just sing, dance, lip sync or tell jokes, but who possessed at least one more exotic skill in the vaudeville tradition. In years past, performers who were “biologically male” — an insufficient categorization for this topic best consigned to history — have made their bones in the guise of female acrobats, magicians, ventriloquists, and more. One of the earliest we know about is equestrian trick rider Omar DowntownExpress.com

Kingsley (1840-79), an apprentice of impresario S.Q. Stokes. In the classic circus era, audiences loved female equestrians. Stokes encouraged young Kingsley to disguise himself as a girl for performances, billing him as “Mademoiselle Ella Zoyara.” Kingsley maintained the subterfuge offstage as well, going out in public in fashionable dresses, and socializing with prominent local women when on tour. Another early drag circus performer was “Mademoiselle Lulu,” presented by The Great Farini from 1870 through 1877. Lulu was an aerialist who performed on a series of trapezes and ladders, and sang songs. Berta Beeson (Herbert “Slats”

Milwaukee-based bombshell Jaymes Mansfield, seen here with Debbie. The duo’s repertoire includes a performance of Julie Brown’s “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun.”

Beeson, 1899-1969) was billed as “The Julian Eltinge of the Wire,” Beeson was tightrope walker who cross-dressed (another contentious term, but one in vogue at the time). Originally from Summitville, Indiana, Beeson started out working at a local vaudeville house, and then debuted with the Sells-Floto circus in 1917 as “Mademoiselle Beeson, Marvelous High Wire Venus.” When famed lady tightrope walker Bird Millman retired from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1925, Beeson was her replacement. Beeson retired from performing 11 years later, but continued to work for the circus as an advance man.

It doesn’t get much more vaudevillian than female impersonator and trapeze artist Barbette (Vander Clyde, 1898-1973). Clyde spent his childhood practicing trapeze skills as a hobby. At age 14, he answered a job ad placed by the Afaretta Sisters, the “World Famous Aerial Queens.” To get the job, he had to dress as a girl. Soon Barbette was working solo. At her debut at the Harlem Opera House in 1919, though only an opening act, she got three curtain calls. She did slack wire walking, rings, and trapeze... and then pulled off her wig for the big “wow.” SKILLS continued on p. 26 June 28 – July 11, 2018

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SKILLS continued from p. 25

Soon, Barbette was a vaudeville headliner — what heteronormative trapeze artist ever accomplished that? By 1923, she was the hit of the Paris cabaret scene and a favorite of the intelligentsia. Jean Cocteau even included her in his 1930 fi lm “The Blood of a Poet.” A character in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1930 fi lm “Murder” is also clearly based on her. In 1935, she was featured in Billy Rose’s “Jumbo” along with many other circus and vaudeville notables. A 1938 bout with pneumonia effectively ended her performing career, and she retired to become a consultant and choreographer for projects requiring drag trapeze artists. You think there aren’t any? What about Hollywood fi lms like “Till the Clouds Roll By” (1946), “The Big Circus” (1959), and “Some Like it Hot” (1959)? Walter H. Lambert (18691949) was a British female impersonator and ventriloquist whose most famous act was called “Lydia Dreams.” His usual turf was the music hall in his home country, but he did come for a tour of US vaudeville in 1906. Most astounding of all, he wasn’t the only British music hall impersonator and ventriloquist. Bobbie Kimber (Ronald Victor Kimberley, 1918-1993), who performed in music hall from the 1930s through the ’60s, wore his hair long like a woman’s, and never divulged his biological gender one way or the other to the audience. The story of Bobbie’s gender identity is complicated. Married and the father of a daughter, he appears to have begun representing himself as a woman when he began performing in 1937, because there were almost no female ventriloquists working at the time, hence he got less competition. Yet, according to fellow performers, he played the woman offstage as well, and the public didn’t know he was biologically male until 1952. Closer to our own time is the late drag magician Cashetta (Scott Weston, 1971-2015). Weston started out as a drag performer in the 1990s at Lips, singing and doing comedy. After studying at the feet of magicians

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while working as a makeup artist in Las Vegas, Cashetta broke in a solo magic act at NYC’s Fez Under Time Cafe, eventually getting bookings on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Today Show.” Top billing was earned in the 2009 show “Magic’s a Drag,” at the Harmon Theater in Las Vegas. We asked NYC drag icon and Wigstock creator Lady Bunny for her thoughts on who’s who in today’s drag vaudeville scene, and this is what she had to say: “Violet Chachki does aerial stuff in hoops combined with smoking burlesque in the fabbest costumes imaginable. Jaymes Mansfield uses puppets and ventriloquism, and will revive the late Wayland Flowers’ Madame this summer in Provincetown, sanctioned by Flowers’ estate. Jaymes made a puppet of me which I now use to interview myself in a comedy routine! Ivy Winters, perhaps the most underrated, uses stilts, fi re-eating, and all kinds of specialty acts. She comes from a circus background. Lavinia Co-op uses stilts, as well. She works for Susanne Bartsch but has also appeared in Wigstock and was a founding member of the English drag troupe, Bloolips. Kennedy Davenport’s Texas-style dancing borders on acrobatic. I’ve seen her walk down the steps from a stage and then summersault back onto it; extremely high kicks and other hijinks!” And as for Lady Bunny herself, she too can claim a special skill, which intersected with a singularly unique moment in pop culture history. “I have performed songs with yodeling,” she told us, including, “creating insane pops to the early electro hit ‘Popcorn’ on ‘Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes’ show on MTV. People think I’m lip syncing because it’s so high-pitched. I’m not!” Lessons to be drawn? Vaudeville is very much alive, and drag is not just alive, but kicking. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Get a gimmick, kids! For more information on the contemporary artists mentioned in this article, visit ladybunny. net, violetchachki.net, jaymesmansfi eld.com, facebook.com/ wintersivy, and kennedydavenport.com.

Photo by Guy Furrow

Lady Bunny’s vaudevillian skills include ventriloquism and, as seen on Andy Warhol’s MTV show, yodeling. DowntownExpress.com


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