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

ONE MILE LONG AND FIVE BOROUGHS WIDE High Line Opera Offers Engagement Events Prior to October Performances see page 2

Photo by Matthew Johnson

Photo by Matthew Johnson

© CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Photo by Matthew Johnson

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VOLUME 10, ISSUE 35 | AUGUST 30 - SEPTEMBER 5, 2018


COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES BY SCOTT STIFFLER

“MILE-LONG OPERA” ENGAGEMENT EVENTS It’s as ambitious as it is site-specific — but you don’t have to visit the High Line to get a taste of what it’s all about. We did, however, when our reporter Michael Rock recently walked Chelsea’s elevated park for a preview of “The Mile-Long Opera: a biography of 7 o’clock.” The epic choral project, to be performed Oct. 3-7, takes place over the entire length of the High Line, and features 1,000 singers from across New York City. Rock found the minimalist work to be “hardly a traditional opera, in that it lacks traditional arias and recitatives… Rather than telling a coherent story, it contains countless short ones reflective of the challenges of life in New York City. The lyrics, particularly as sung against the backdrop of the night sky, are especially haunting and sometimes even heartbreaking.” Leading up to October’s five free public performances (reservations required), the project recently announced a series of borough-wide community engagement events that evoke and explore various aspects of the opera’s themes and subject matter. On Aug. 30 and Sept. 16, for example, “Circle Sing Shout” takes the techniques of Ring Shout and Haitian Rara (movement, voice, rhythm, improvisation) in order to create an atmosphere of connection and openness,

Photo by Liz Ligon

Before “The Mile-Long Opera” is performed Oct. 3-7 on the High Line, a series of community engagement events will touch upon its themes.

while cultivating a sense of confidence in one’s own body. On Sept. 9, 10, 16 and 28, “Autobiography of 7 o’clock: A Community Conversation” invites participants to share their own stories of how NYC’s rapid transformation has informed, and transformed, their

own lives. The event features audio clips from some of the interviews that would ultimately become part of the “Mile-Long” project. For a complete list of ACTIVITIES continued on p. 19

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New Kids on the Block: 200 W. 23rd/24th St. Block Association Formed BY WINNIE McCROY Prompted by ongoing issues such as neighborhood beautification, the tenants and business owners of the 200 block of W. 23rd and 24th Sts. have teamed up to form their very own block association. And if you live there, you can be a part of it — by heading to the Chabad of Chelsea (236 W. 23rd St.) on Wed., Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. for the inaugural meeting. “I had just moved here last summer and was thinking every day, ‘What’s going on in this area? Why is there so much garbage and why are the tree beds empty with the trees all cut down?’ ” recalled Omar Fattal, M.D., co-founder of the 200 West 23rd/24th Street Block Association. When Fattal saw the board meeting minutes for his co-op, Chelsea Gardens, and noticed that other tenants were also concerned about these issues, he reached out to the phone numbers provided, and contacted the umbrella organization, the Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA). The organizers suggested he attend their upcoming meeting to get some more information. “So I went and met all the different Chelsea block associations, and saw that they had similar issues [such as] garbage and general beautification,” Fattal recalled. “I got the same message from everyone: If you want to get anything done, you have to get a block association so you have a stronger voice.” Fattal teamed up with neighbor Laurence Frommer and spread the word: They’d host their first 200 West 23rd/24th Street Block Association meeting at the local synagogue. Within an hour of sending the email, Fattal said he received 15 interested replies. At this point, he’s gotten replies from about 30 people — and that doesn’t even include tenants in buildings without a doorman, where he hasn’t been able to do outreach or post flyers. “That block of West 23rd and West 24th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues has long been in need of an organization of commercial and residential interests. This new block association is a great start,” said Paul Groncki, Chair of 100 W. 16th St. Block Association, and President of the 130 W. 16th St. Owners, Inc. This new block association has NYC Community Media

reached out to a number of local businesses, which is extremely important because W. 23rd St. is a largely commercial corridor. It seems that residents and businesses alike share the same issues. “We would like to address issues around garbage, both garbage pickup and general littering, plus getting to an overall feel of more cleanliness,” Fattal said. “We also want to improve the tree beds and plantings, and stop people from using the sidewalks for inappropriate uses such as stacking up piles of empty boxes.” Co-founder Frommer echoed this sentiment, saying, “Because 23rd Street gets so much traffic, we want to make sure to keep the block clean.” Frommer, who also serves as president of Save Chelsea, said that he was working to reclaim the tree pits with plantings of some kind, noting that CCBA member Pamela Wolff had provided him with garden tools. He even cleaned and planted one tree pit last week as an experiment, but was dismayed to see that people had thrown litter atop the plantings. “That project requires maintenance,” he noted. “Maybe each building can take ownership of the tree pit in front of them.” Another big issue comes with addressing the area’s growing homeless population. Fattal understands the problem: He’s a psychiatrist at Bellevue who figures that about 60 percent of his patients are homeless. Still, he knows the issue demands kid gloves. “Everyone understands it’s a complicated and sensitive issue,” Fattal said, “but still people want to see what’s the best approach to dealing with that, for everyone’s benefit.” Frommer said that they were lucky to have “a good advisory group with the BRC shelter nearby,” referring to the homeless shelter at 131 W. 25th St., noting that he also recently worked with Carl Wilson, Speaker Corey Johnson’s Community Board 4 (CB4) liaison, to help assist a local homeless man suffering from a foot injury. But they’re taking the rest one step at a time. Said Frommer, “We figure we’ll start with planting pretty things and cleanBLOCK ASSOCIATION continued on p. 13

Photo by Scott Stiffler

L to R: Omar Fattal, M.D. and Laurence Frommer invite their neighbors to the 200 West 23rd/24th Street Block Association’s Sept. 5 inaugural meeting.

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Photo by Andy Humm

L to R: FIERCE’s Jason Morales, Abena Bello of the Ali Forney Center, Desmond is Amazing, Bree from FIERCE, and the Department of Education’s LGBTQ liaison, Jared Fox, at an Aug. 25 town hall on bullying at Judson Church in the West Village.

New Chancellor Could Step Up DOE Efforts to Combat Bullying BY ANDY HUMM School starts Sept. 5 in New York City for 1.1 million students in 1,800 schools with a new chancellor, Richard Carranza, who has served in San Francisco and Houston and who wrote in June about his support for his gay twin brother, Reuben, and explained “Why It’s So Important to Include LGBTQ Education in Schools.” The new school year will be a test to see whether that promise and the school system’s commitment to

seriously change school culture to stop bullying and integrate LGBTQ issues into curricula will make a meaningful difference. “My job is to ensure that in every school, in every classroom, our beautifully diverse student population is reflected, represented, and nurtured,” Carranza wrote in Teen Vogue. “My job is also to provide teachers and school staff with the resources they need to teach more inclusive lessons, and the tools to facili-

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tate thoughtful and engaging conversations about race, sexuality, gender, and other relevant topics.” The city Department of Education (DOE) ramped up its procedures for taking and dealing with reports of school bullying last year in the wake of bullied Bronx student Abel Cedeno killing a classmate and wounding another a year ago in what his defense lawyers say was self-defense. Led by out gay Queens City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, a sixhour hearing was held in October by the Education Committee where thenChancellor Carmen Fariña was put on the defensive, but announced $8 million in new initiatives to address bullying. Dromm said the City Council appropriated $1 million for GSA’s — school clubs once called gay-straight alliances and now termed gender sexuality alliances — and diversity clubs. “The Council also doubled the funding for a program called History UnErased to integrate LGBT history lessons from $100,000 to $200,000 and gave another $100,000 to the LGBT Network to get into the schools and do staff training on LGBT issues,” he said. “The DOE had a

training day for 900 students and teachers on LGBT issues. These are all steps in the right direction, but still a drop in the bucket in a city with a $25 billion [school] budget.” Dromm said, “Every school should have a GSA and every principal who doesn’t have one in their school should be questioned why.” Current policy is to mandate a GSA if it is requested by a student in any school, but estimates are that less than 15 percent of city schools have them. The DOE is required to report on the actual percentage in October. At an “Anti-Bullying Town Hall: LGBTQ+ Youth in Our Schools” sponsored by the group FIERCE, a community organization led by LGBTQ young people of color, at Judson Church on Aug. 25, students, advocates, and parents tried to come to grips with why bullying is so pervasive and how to curb it. Mustafa Sullivan, FIERCE’s director, said, “Our culture is violent. It was created through violence, and adults don’t want to deal with that. The question is BULLYING continued on p. 8 NYC Community Media


POLICE BLOTTER HOMICIDE: Passerby alerted FDNY On Wed., Aug. 1, an adult male was passing by 440 W. 38th St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.) at approximately 3:40 a.m., when he noticed a man lying on the street, unconscious and unresponsive. He alerted those working at an FDNY firehouse on the block. EMS responded and tended to the 45-year-old victim, who was taken to Mount Sinai West (1000 10th Ave. at W. 58th St.), where he was pronounced deceased. No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.

into the Rite Aid at 282 Eighth Ave. (on the corner of W. 24th St.) at around 1:45 a.m. on Fri., Aug. 24. Scanning the aisles for something to wet his whistle, he settled on the “King of Beers,” walking out of the store with a sixpack of Budweiser (valued at $12). It goes without saying, but is worth noting, that the man did not stop to pay for his boozy bounty. Supplied by a store employee with a description of the perp, a canvass of the area by officers from the 10th Precinct did not yield positive results.

UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A MOTOR VEHICLE: PETIT LARCENY: Stolen moments Different blotter item, same This one gives new meaning to the old phrase “rent to own.” An employee of the U-Haul facility at 536 W. 23rd story St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) told police that the man who rented a 2018 white Ford van did not return the vehicle. When confronted via phone by the U-Haul employee, the uncool customer said, “It was stolen.” He is, of course, the one suspected of stealing it.

PETIT LARCENY: One wrong at a ‘Rite’ Thirsty for a cool one but short on cash, a man walked

Here’s an incident eerily similar to the abovementioned item, except it occurred one day prior to that six pack theft: At around 11:30 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 23, a man entered the 7-Eleven at 368 W. 23rd St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), took a beer from the fridge, and left without paying for it. Police say there was video footage of the dastardly deed. We mention that hopeful fact, mainly because we don’t want to send our readers on their way with a hangover from so many sad, sudsy situations. —Scott Stiffler

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commanding Offi cer: Capt. Kevin Coleman. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-7418211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-9243377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT Located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Commanding Officer: Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney. Call 212-239-9811. Community Affairs: 212239-9846. Crime Prevention: 212-2399846. Domestic Violence: 212-239-9863. Youth Officer: 212-239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7 p.m., at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.). For more info, visit midtownsouthcc.org.

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TALKING POINT

Making the Case for Community Justice BY ANA L. OLIVEIRA It’s time to put an end to the ongoing misery of the Rikers Island jails. Doing so will require wholesale justice reform and investments in community programs to divert people out of the system in the first place. It will also require establishing a smaller system of modern facilities in the boroughs that treat detained people with dignity and better prepare them to reenter society. Recently, the city released initial plans for an expanded jail adjacent to the criminal courthouse in Downtown Manhattan, as well as plans for Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. The decision to close Rikers was spurred, in part, by a report from an independent group that was tasked with studying New York City’s justice system. I am a member of this group — sometimes called the Lippman Commission after its chair, former New York chief judge Jonathan Lippman — along with more than two dozen other New Yorkers from a wide range of backgrounds, including law enforcement, the judiciary, corrections, social services, and business. Several have themselves spent time behind bars at Rikers. We heard from prosecutors and public defenders, correction officers, union representatives, health care providers, and educators who work in city jails. We heard from those who have been incarcerated, who described awful living conditions and a culture of brutality. We heard about the unique challenges faced by women at Rikers, who are more likely to arrive in the system with underlying histories of trauma and abuse that are often exacerbated by the harshness of the jail environment. We also took a hard look at the data about who is in city jails. Nearly 80 percent are awaiting trial, and the rest are sentenced to less than one year or alleged to have violated the conditions of their parole, such as missing an appointment or failing a drug test. The majority — 75 percent — return directly to our neighborhoods when they exit jail. It did not take long for our commission to conclude, unanimously,

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Photo by Colin Mixson

The building at 80 Centre St. currently houses the Manhattan DA’s Office and the Marriage Bureau, plus court-related services. Mayor de Blasio plans a new borough-based jail at the site that could rise more than 400 feet tall.

that the Rikers jails should be closed. The outdated layout and poor condition of the jails themselves is a danger to correction offi cers and detained people alike. They lack welldesigned spaces for programming to keep detained people busy when they are incarcerated — which is critical for safety — and for the care and services to help them succeed when they come home. Rikers is also physically and psychologically isolated. We heard again and again about the difficult, and sometimes harrowing, experiences of family who sought to visit Rikers, often spending most of a day traveling to and from the jails for just a few minutes with a loved one. Yet these visits are key to maintaining the bonds that help detained people when they return home, especially mothers who are separated from their children. Because most of the people on Rikers are awaiting trial, they regularly must be bused to and from courthouses in each of the five boroughs. This process takes all day, even for court appearances that last only a

few minutes. It causes case delays and costs more than $30 million each year. To address these deep-seated problems, our commission put forward a roadmap for a smaller and more effective justice system that would preserve safety while sending fewer people to jail. We called for reforms at every stage of the process. These include diverting people with mental health and substance abuse issues out of the justice system so they receive the care they need, reforming the bail system so that your wealth doesn’t determine whether you go to jail, and prioritizing alternatives to incarceration. Also critical are gender-responsive interventions to dramatically reduce the number of women held in jail, who often have not benefitted from previous reforms to the same extent as men. Over the past year and a half, as initial changes have taken hold, the jail population has declined by more than 1,000 people — and the city remains safer than ever. Our commission also called for borough-based jails located next to

the city’s criminal courthouses. These facilities can be much better-designed than the obsolete jails on Rikers, creating a more humane environment for correction officers and detained people. They can also provide benefits to the neighborhood — and the City’s proposal to build on the site directly south of the criminal courthouse would permit the return of a plot containing the current Manhattan Detention Center, which is to the north of the courthouse, to the community. Moving forward, the design of these facilities must take place with community involvement and address the concerns of those who live and work nearby. Together, we can create a community justice system worthy of our great city and — in the process — become a beacon of fairness and justice for the rest of the country. Ana L. Oliveira is president and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, and a member of the Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. NYC Community Media


Prison Uprising! Furor Over Change of Jail Site BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Chinatown activists were outraged after the city formally announced it would convert the Marriage Bureau into a new jail as a part of the plan to close Rikers Island and nearly halve the city’s prison population. After months of believing the borough’s jail would be at the existing Manhattan Detention Complex — nicknamed “The Tombs” — at 125 White St., the city told local stakeholders at an insiders’ meeting it would be located at 80 Centre St. instead. The new location came as a shock to the Chinatown community, which felt left out of the discussion. Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou quickly held an “emergency meeting” on Wed., Aug. 15, after Mayor Bill de Blasio formally released the scoping documents for a new borough-based jail system. “I’m not breaking away from the fact that we need to close Rikers Island,” Niou told our sister publication, The Villager. But the last-minute changes and the complete lack of community engagement on deciding where the jail would be located “enraged” her, she said. She added that she is “criticizing the lack of transparency here.” “Our community has not had a voice wherever in this process,” she said. “They named one site for a whole year, and then 10 days before the draft scoping is done, they tell us that it’s a whole different site. That’s insane. When were we supposed to have any input?” Those able to attend the hastily called, midday meeting felt blindsided by the city. Leaders of numerous Chinatown organizations blasted the city for the lack of public discussion about the location change. “There was no public hearing for Chinatown to respond or discuss on this very important issue that will directly impact our community,” Eric Ng, the president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, said in a statement. “We are against any plan to rebuild or expand the Manhattan Detention Center and relocation without proper engagement.” “This process is completely unfair, nontransparent, and insulting to our community,” Raymond Tseng, president of the Hoy Sun Association, said in a statement. Karlin Chan, a longtime Chinatown activist on Community Board 3, vehemently opposes closing Rikers. He had NYC Community Media

some of the toughest words for Chin at Wednesday’s meeting. “I think we should take off the damn gloves here,” he declared. “Councilmember Chin has sold out Chinatown. [She] has turned her back on Chinatown.” But Justin Yu, Democratic district leader for the 65th Assembly District, Part D, disagreed. “Our enemy is not Margaret Chin,” Yu said. “Our enemy, in this case, is the City Hall of New York — Mayor Bill de Blasio.” Yu added that the community needs Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on its side. Local politicians support closing Rikers, which would require opening several smaller jails under the city’s borough-based plan. In a statement on Friday, Chin said, “It’s crucial that the administration participate in a robust community engagement process, which must begin with full transparency about the proposal to move the Manhattan Detention Center from its current location to 80 Centre St.” The councilmember urged the administration to participate in several town halls in her district to allow for community engagement on the new jail, as well as on how The Tombs would be used in the future. “As a strong supporter of the effort to reduce the number of detainees in our city that would allow us to close Rikers Island,” Chin said, “I believe this administration must seize this opportunity to provide clarity, address concerns and engage residents, business owners and community leaders in a productive dialogue.” The city’s announcement last week kicked off the lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) regarding the plan, which would see one jail in each borough except for Staten Island. De Blasio’s scheme to close Rikers is part of a larger strategy to reduce the city’s jail population to 5,000 by 2027. This year, the jail population has averaged around 8,200 — the lowest in three decades and 13 percent less than last year. The proposed facilities would each have around 1,500 beds, for a total of 6,000 prison beds citywide. The existing Lower Manhattan jail is inadequate to meet these needs since it only has 1,000 existing beds, according to scoping documents. Furthermore, the The Tombs’ facilities are outdated, falling short of modern detention facilities in terms of inmates’ space, sunlight and social spaces.

“We’re taking a big step forward in the process of closing Rikers Island and creating a modern, community-based jail system that is smaller, safer and fairer,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “Now we can move full-steam ahead on the engagement and planning for our new facilities, so we can close Rikers as fast as possible.” Each borough’s jail is expected to include space for educational programming, recreation, therapeutic services, publicly accessible community space and parking. Manhattan’s planned new jail could be as tall as 430 feet high, situated where the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the city’s Marriage Bureau and other court-related services are currently located. When the Daily News first reported the address change that was announced at the early August private meeting for stakeholders, community leaders who had attended told the Daily News that the jail possibly could include affordable housing. However, the documents released last week show that only the Bronx jail is expected to have some 234 residential units, some of which would be affordable.

Under the plan, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office would be relocated to The Tombs’ south tower. The future use of the north tower — which Chin has her eyes on for community use — has not yet been determined. At this point, Chin and Niou are not saying which location they favor for Manhattan’s jail — White St. or Centre St. Right now, their priority is to keep the focus on ensuring future community input. “Not everybody is going to be happy,” Niou said, “and not everybody is going to get what they want. Not everybody is going to walk away from it thinking that, ‘Oh, I love this in my neighborhood.’ But at the same time, I think that what can happen is that at least people can feel heard.” The city has scheduled a public meeting on the proposal for Thurs., Sept. 27, at 6 p.m., at 1 Centre St. People can submit written comments at the meeting and until Oct. 15, to Howard Judd Fiedler, the administrative architect and director of the design unit at the city’s Department of Correction, at 75-10 Astoria Blvd., Suite 160, East Elmhurst, NY 11370 or boroughplan@ doc.nyc.gov.

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BULLYING continued from p. 4

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how do we address this violence in a humane way?” “Staff and adults in general need the ability to look at students as people and be trained in dealing with the trauma that so many of these students are living with,” said Abena Bello, a client advocate at the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth. “What happened to this person [who bullies] for them to act this way? What’s happening at home? Is there abuse at home?” Latifah Blades of FIERCE cited the crisis in school safety. “There are officers what beat up kids and drag them through the hallway,” she said. Jason Morales, also of FIERCE, said that metal detectors are necessary due to gang violence in schools. Desmond, an 11-year old “drag kid” and founder of a house called Haus of Amazing (Desmondisamazing.com) who performed at the forum, said, “I want to show the world that kids can do drag and kids should always be themselves.” Jared Fox, the LGBTQ Liaison for the DOE, went over all the policies and procedures the schools have established to deal with bullying. “If you are bullied you can tell any teacher and the teacher has 24 hours to let the principal or Respect for All liaison put it in the online registry,” Fox said. He added that students or parents can also go directly to the 311 system to report incidents. He said students are entitled to a copy of the complaint reports. “The principal has five days to conduct an investigation,” Fox said. “And your parents do not have to be notified.” He praised the new chancellor for his commitment to dealing with LGBTQ and bullying issues and to the new structures being set up within the department. Fox talked about a brochure he developed explaining how to address bullying, but acknowledged there was no plan to get it into the hands of every single student in the school system. Bree, a FIERCE organizer, who had harrowing experiences in school for being gender non-conforming, said she was not made aware of her recourses when she was in high school. Fox said that if any transgender student is not being allowed to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity, “Let me know and I will call the principal.” His email is jfox16@schools. nyc.gov. This week, Miranda Barbot, a spokesperson for the DOE, said, “We understand the impacts bullying can have on students’ social and emotional well-

being as well as their academic success, which is why we have invested significant resources to better serve students and families. We work to make resources available and well-known to all students and families, and at the start of every school year, schools are required to distribute Respect for All information to all students. Additionally, staff members are trained annually on reporting protocols, and will be trained on culturally responsive education in the coming years.” A Bullying Complaint Portal is being launched soon and a Bullying Complaint Coordinator has been hired to administer it. In addition to the contact information Fox provided, Barbot said that students and parents can report bullying via email at RespectforAll@schools.nyc. gov. Students who request a transfer due to bullying “will receive a transfer offer,” something that was not offered to Cedeno despite his family’s years of complaints about being bullied. A transfer might have averted the incident at his Bronx school last year that left Matthew McCree dead and Adrian Laboy injured. The city, Barbot noted, is providing $23 million to train all staff over the next two years in “anti-bias and culturally responsive education.” Three hundred schools are being targeted with funds to enhance school environments through “social-emotional supports,” training staff and students “on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.” Despite all these procedures the DOE points to, Skye O’neal Adrian, a youth organizer with FIERCE, told the town hall, “The process from reporting an incident to when it gets to DOE remains unclear. Even though Jared says it is a seamless process, it doesn’t look that way right now. Young people just aren’t aware of the reporting system.” FIERCE, he said, is planning more town halls in the other boroughs. Details will be posted on the group’s Facebook page. With kids coming out at younger and younger ages, most school environments around the country are not prepared. Just this week, a nine-year boy who came out as gay at his Denver elementary school was subjected to kids telling him to kill himself. And he did. “It’s not enough to tell students that they will be accepted for who they are,” Chancellor Carranza wrote in Teen Vogue. “We must show them, in the literature we read, in the language we use, and in the way we invest our resources, that we are a deeply connected society made up of different voices and perspectives that all deserve to be seen, heard, and respected.” NYC Community Media


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NYC Community Media

August 30, 2018

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August 30, 2018

NYC Community Media


FREE ADJUSTABLE BASE when you spend just $599 on a mattress.

OR

KING MATTRESS. QUEEN PRICE. QUEEN MATTRESS. TWIN PRICE.

LABOR DAY

SALE

ALL BEDS ON SALE Every. Single. One. FIRM MATTRESS

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HYBRID PLUSH MATTRESS

QUEEN WAS $597

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PLUSH MATTRESS

FIRM MATTRESS

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NYC Community Media

August 30, 2018

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when you spend just 599 on a mattress. $

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QUEEN WAS $249

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ALL BEDS ON SALE 1-800-MAT-FIRM | MATTRESSFIRM.COM 0% APR: 6 years* with a minimum purchase of $3999, 5 years* with a minimum purchase of $2799, 4 years* with a minimum purchase of $1999, 3 years* with a minimum purchase of $1299, 2 years* with a minimum purchase of $999 on your Mattress Firm credit card. 72, 60, 48, 36 or 24 equal monthly payments required. *Offer valid 8/29/18-9/3/18 and applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. No interest will be charged on promo purchase and equal monthly payments are required equal to initial promo purchase amount divided equally by the number of months in promo period until promo is paid in full. The equal monthly payment will be rounded to the next highest whole dollar and may be higher than the minimum payment that would be required if the purchase was a non-promotional purchase. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases. Down payment equal to sales tax and delivery required. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Subject to credit approval. 1. Free Adjustable Base Offer: Offer valid 8/29/18-9/3/18. Receive a free Head Up 50 adjustable base (up to a $699 value) with select mattress purchases of $599 and above. Free adjustable base offer valid on same-size mattress purchased. Split king or split California king base purchases consist of 2 bases. For split king or split California king purchases consumer will receive one free adjustable base with promotion, with second base at regular price. Free adjustable base offer valid to complete mattress set, has no cash value and cannot be used as credit. Offer not valid on previous purchases, floor models, clearance items or Final Markdown. Other exclusions may apply. Price of adjustable base (up to $699) will be deducted from refund if mattress is returned for a refund. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Limited quantities available; offer valid while supplies last. See store for complete details. 2. Get select king-sized mattresses for the price of a queen-sized mattress. Or get select queen-sized mattresses for the price of a twin-sized mattress. Savings applied to our low price. Savings vary by mattress set and model (max savings up to $600). Product selection may vary by store. Offer not valid on previous purchases, floor models, clearance items or Final Markdown. Other exclusions may apply. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Limited quantities available; offer valid 8/29/18-9/3/18 or while supplies last. See store for complete details. 3. Doorbusters: One Doorbuster item each per household. Offers valid select date and times only. Limited quantities available; offers valid only while supplies last. In-store dollar savings range from $50-$699. We invite you to ask about any individual prices. Product and selection may vary from store to store. Photography is for illustration purposes only and may not reflect actual product. Mattress Firm, Inc. strives for accuracy in our advertising, but errors in pricing and/or photography may occur. Mattress Firm reserves the right to correct any such errors. Store hours may vary by location. Unless otherwise indicated, offers valid 8/29/18-9/3/18 or while supplies last at your local Mattress Firm. See store for complete details.

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NYC Community Media


BLOCK ASSOCIATION continued from p. 3

ing up the block — stuff that everyone agrees with — and then go from there.” The block association has reached out to local businesses, because they want to ensure they’re working with the residents to make the area nicer for everyone. “Having so many businesses on our block, how can we leverage that so they are invested in making sure the block is clean and beautiful, visually?” Fattal asked. “Our thought is that businesses might have more money than our noincome block association. Some of these businesses, like Whole Foods, are really big. But we also have a public library, a synagogue, the Chelsea Hotel, and lots of small shops and restaurants.” Chelsea Now contacted the local Whole Foods store (at 250 Seventh Ave., at W. 24th St.), and the store leader Patty said that they looked forward to working with the block association, and had already donated flowers for their meeting. Fattal said he’s hoping to spread the word about the 200 W. 23rd/24th Street Block Association’s Sept. 5 meeting, and wants to make clear that just because he started the group doesn’t mean he’s put himself in charge. He encourages those interested in leadership to reach out to him. And he’s also touched base with other local block associations and resources for tips on how to take the “baby steps” necessary to become an established organization. When it comes to block associations, Chelsea has a very strong history, dating back to the mid-’70s for groups like the 200 W. 21st St. Block Association, and the 400 W. 21-23rd Street group. Longtime organizer Pamela Wolff, who is also active in the group Save Chelsea, spoke on behalf of the CCBA, saying that she had an abundance of wisdom on how — and how not — to do things. “We’re always excited when another group of people who live in the same place get their act together and form a group, because that way they get a bigger voice on what happens on the block,” Wolff said. “Early on, it’s easy to sink the ship with too much time spent on constitutional searching for formation, opening bank accounts, tackling tax questions about non-profits, and deciding whether to become a 501(c) (3). My advice is don’t bother with it. Just get your people together and create some letterhead with your name on it, sit around someone’s living room and pick your officers, and go from there.” Wolff suggests people make themNYC Community Media

Photos by Scott Stiffler

This Rite Aid on Eighth Ave. and W. 24th St. often treats the sidewalk like a storage unit, said Omar Fattal, M.D., during Chelsea Now’s Aug. 28 tour of West 24 St., btw. Seventh and Eighth Aves.

In an effort to reclaim local tree pits, Laurence Frommer cleaned and planted this W. 24th St. one last week, only to discover litter atop the plantings.

selves “reasonably official” by putting officers’ names on the letterhead, and picking a logo or design to represent your block. Then, once you’re an established, bona fide block association, you can approach the CCBA for membership in a group that will give you an even bigger voice. Said Wolff, “You can bring matters to them and they will discuss it and come to some conclusion about what they want to support. Then they’ll write a letter on their letterhead supporting your quest for new trees or whatever it is.” CB4 liaison Wilson offered Frommer and Fattal similar advice, pointing them toward the strong network of block associations in Chelsea, especially CCBA, as the best way to grow. “Block associations work to keep their blocks clean and safe, promote

community engagement, and provide an avenue for residents to organize around community issues. I look forward to working with the [200 West 23rd/24th St.] block association and assisting them in the years ahead,” Wilson said. The CCBA meets faithfully every month, often at the Fulton Houses offices, to discuss business. Wolff counts about 16 different block associations now affiliated with CCBA. Wolf noted that you need to elect officers, at the very least a president and a treasurer, and open an account. For this block association, she suggested they approach Apple Bank (250 W. 23rd St.) both to open the account, and to see if they want to join the block association. If you want to be an association that charges membership dues, Wolff said, you’ll need to have annual meetings and

executive board meetings. But that’s for those groups with a lot of manpower, operating under a big head of steam. Wolff’s most sage wisdom: Start small. Pick an area of one or two blocks, something that’s a reasonable chunk of space to manage. Don’t cross avenues, because issues change with new populations, like those now facing the upscale condo owners that flocked to Sixth Ave. after rezoning. Block associations should remember to include the east and west sides of the avenues that connect directly to the blocks represented. And before you go starting something, make sure there’s not already a block association covering your area. Newbies should focus on growing their membership, and then on basic fundraising. This can be via a letter soliciting donations, contributions from local businesses, doing a stoop sale, member street sales, or a block party. She suggested that 24th St. would be fairly easy to have a block party on, with help from local businesses like the Whole Foods, CVS, the Gap, and Rite Aid. The inaugural meeting of the 200 West 23rd/24th Street Block Association will be held from 7-8 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 5, at the Chabad of Chelsea (236 W. 23rd St., 2nd Floor; btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). August 30, 2018

13


It’s Far From Over for UNDER St. Marks New lease guarantees more life for longtime East Village venue

Photo by Antonia Stoyanovich

A slice just for you: Clay McLeod Chapman serves up a one-on-one version of his “Pumpkin Pie Show” Sept. 2-Oct. 7 at UNDER St. Marks.

BY TRAV S.D What is it that comes out of the ground? Lore and science tell us: good things and bad. Diamonds, gold, silver, and oil wells! Life-sustaining water! Root vegetables to get you through the winter! Archaeological revelations about extinct species and civilizations! But… also, monsters: vampires, mummies, zombies, and mole people! On some level, theatre is what you get when you mix all those things together. And one particular subterranean venue, UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl., btw. First Ave. & Ave. A), has been unearthing dreamstuff and nightmares for over two decades. Downtown audiences will be delighted

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August 30, 2018

to know that the process of excavation won’t be stopping any time soon: FRIGID New York, the parent company of UNDER St. Marks, as well as The Kraine Theater, has secured the use of this much-cherished basement theatre space for another seven years. This development is significant because there were times in recent memory when UNDER St. Marks’ future as an arts venue seemed uncertain. In 2011, a lease re-negotiation necessitated an emergency scramble (a crowdfunding campaign called “Save UNDER St. Marks” saved the day). Last year, ownership of the building changed hands, and it briefly seemed that such an effort would need to be

revisited. But according to Erez Ziv, Managing Artistic Director, the danger has passed, at least for a while. “We’ve been in negotiations for like a year,” Ziv said. “Fortunately for us, the real estate market’s a little rough right now, so we were able to get a two-year lease with a five-year option. We’re also planning a bunch of renovations, including a second bathroom, and some other more cosmetic changes that will improve the look of the place.” Not bad for a literal hole in the ground. Ziv says that he first fell in love with UNDER St. Marks after seeing shows there during the New York International Fringe Festival in 1998.

Given that the space is just a few dozen yards from the other two venues he then managed, The Kraine Theater and The Red Room (both at 85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.), his company “took it and ran with it.” In its two decades under Ziv’s management, a long list of distinguished performing artists have trod its basement boards. “It is rare that I sit through an evening of TV without seeing someone I saw on our stage at least once,” he said, citing a wide range of successful actors, comedians and writers from Broadway and television: Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”), Joshua Conkel (“A UNDER ST. MARKS continued on p. 16 NYC Community Media


Rhymes with Crazy

That’s the Spirit! Most Believe in the Beyond BY LENORE SKENAZY Clay Routledge, author of the new book, “Supernatural: Death, Meaning, and the Power of the Invisible World,” was watching his university’s football team play a national championship game on TV. There were about 20 other friends in the room when a girl of 9 or 10 twirled in. She pointed out that just because their team was ahead didn’t mean they couldn’t lose. At which point, one of the men told the girl to leave and if she came back she would jinx the game. “Hey, take it easy!” “She’s just a kid!” “Don’t be a jerk!” Sorry — none of the adults said any of that. They just kept watching the TV, as if this guy had not just said something both mean and, well, crazy. How could a girl twirling in or out of a room possibly affect the outcome of a football game? To believe that cause-and-effect connection would be to believe in the supernatural. And that turns out to be something all of us, even the most hardened atheists, do. Routledge studies why we believe what we believe and, in turn, how those beliefs affect us. Every day most of us do some little things without thinking about what spiritual reality they represent. We miss a train and think, “I wasn’t meant to catch that one.” We find

a dollar and think, “Someone’s looking out for me!” We take an umbrella in case it rains — and also to prevent it from raining, because someone somewhere is paying attention to our accessories and deciding the weather accordingly. We act, in other words, as if there is a being unseen and unknown, deeply concerned with the way our day (and life) is going. This doesn’t mean we’re nuts. And in fact, it can be healthy to believe in something beyond the concrete, says Routledge. It’s even possible we are hardwired to believe in the supernatural, and always have been. A 100,000-year-old archeological site showed signs of some sort of ritualistic burial, he writes, suggesting that a belief in the supernatural has been around a long time. But why? “A big area of my research is studying the underlying nature of the super-

natural in the mind, especially issues related to fear, anxiety and uncertainty,” Routledge said in a phone interview. “And our need to be part of something bigger than ourselves.” A child of missionaries, Routledge was born in West Africa and grew up with religion all around him. One thing religion does very well, he says, is provide some solace about death. Faced with mortality, many of us dearly hope or believe that death is just a portal to someplace else. Routledge quotes Larry King — yes, the former CNN guy — saying, “If you didn’t die, there would be no religion.” But religion does more than just comfort those contemplating death, or whose loved ones have died. It actually makes us more able to deal with life. A 2010 USA Today and Gallup poll found that 83 percent of Americans believe prayers get answered. That means most of us believe help is on the way, even if we don’t know how or when it will appear. A belief in a god also seems to make people braver, for two reasons. First of all, it is an “anxiety buffer.” A deep, committed faith mitigates anxiety, as does the strong social network religion often offers. Then, too, feeling like you are in the hands of a higher being can be as reassuring as growing up bathed in the love

of a supportive parent. If you are sure that someone is always believing in you, you can go further out into the world — do more, try more — because you know that that person will always be there when you need them. In short, religion is so powerful, so comforting, and so helpful in making sense of the world, that it is hard to live without. And that may be why many of the folks who say they don’t believe in a god are really just rejecting a “brand” of god — organized religion. “The less traditionally religious people become more interested in other kinds of magical ideas,” says Routledge. These include conspiracy theories and paranormal activity. “The percentage of people who believe in ghosts is much higher among people who don’t regularly attend church,” he notes. In our smorgasbord society, fewer and fewer people affiliate with an established religion. Instead, they mix and match: a little yoga, a little Oprah, a dollop of Kabbalah. But scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a belief that the world somehow makes sense, even if we don’t understand the plan. So long as we keep pint-sized skeptics out of the TV room. Lenore Skenazy is the president of Let Grow, and the founder of FreeRange Kids.

Extra! Extra! Local News Read all about it!

NYC Community Media

August 30, 2018

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Photo by Benjamin Spradley

FRIGID New York Managing Artistic Director Erez Ziv has been giving voice, and a stage, to Downtown performers for 20 years. UNDER ST. MARKS continued from p. 14

Series of Unfortunate Events”), Netflix staff writer and playwright Ming Peiffer, Tony winner Ari’el Stachel (“The Band’s Visit”), Christopher John O’Neill (“The Book of Mormon”), and — full disclosure — your humble correspondent. Another “repeat offender” is multiple threat Clay McLeod Chapman, whose popular theatrical horror series, “The Pumpkin Pie Show,” will be returning from Sept. 2 to Oct. 7 in a risky iteration called “The Pumpkin Pie Show: One-on-Ones.” (He’s performing the show for one audience member at a time.) “UNDER St. Marks is worth its weight in gold,” Chapman told this publication. “Erez has given me his faith and trust and access to the venue for 20 years, with the onus on me to give a good show. Places like that are so important now with theatre spaces all going the way of the dodo. It’s a black box for all the black sheep!” While it’s wonderful to know that his organization is stable, Ziv is eager to point out that it also is not static. All manner of positive changes are afoot, and have been for some time. The most seismic for longtime fans of the organization will be the knowledge that they are moving away from “Horse Trade” — the brand name we have always associated with the company that manages The Kraine and UNDER St. Marks. “This is probably the last year we will use the name ‘Horse Trade,’ ” Ziv said. “We incorporated as a not-forprofit called FRIGID New York six years ago.” Previously, “FRIGID” was the name of the annual theatre festival put on by Horse Trade, which had, by design, never been a not-for-profit. “It was not exactly profitable,” he joked, “but not being a not-for-profit allowed us to do a lot of things we might not have if we’d been one. But it’s even

16

August 30, 2018

Photo by Erez Ziv

A new lease on life worth noting: UNDER St. Marks is safe and secure for another seven years.

Photo by Erez Ziv

A ground level sign beckons theatergoers to the basement.

nicer to be able to pay people, and now we can qualify for foundation and government grants that have allowed us to start doing that.” Also on the horizon: long-term plans to purchase their own permanent theatre complex with the participation of Indiespace, an organization Ziv cofounded with Randi Berry and Paul Leibowitz, which helps New York theatres with the difficult task of acquiring real estate in the toughest real estate market in the world. But until that day, the company remains snug in the home it has known since the Clinton administration. In an age when most other Off-Off theatres have been folding or moving to the outer boroughs, that can be counted as a major victory. “The Pumpkin Pie Show: One-onOnes,” written and performed by Clay McLeod Chapman, takes place Sept. 2-Oct. 7 at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl., btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). Sessions are 20 minutes each, and reservations are required. Audience members will receive an email questionnaire that will help select a story best for their experience. Personal requests are welcome. For tickets ($15) and info, visit FRIGIDnewyork. info. Artist info at claymcleodchapman.com. NYC Community Media


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TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS DIRECTORY CALL (718) 260–8302 NYC Community Media

August 30, 2018

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ACTIVITIES continued from p. 2

events and locations, visit milelongopera.com — where you can also sign up to attend the October High Line performances.

PENNY JONES & CO. PUPPETS Come for the show, they told us, and stay for the sunset! On Thurs., Aug. 30 at 4pm, Pier 62 in Chelsea is the setting for a free performance by the wise, witty, and whimsical puppets from Penny Jones & Co. Puppets — an early childhood puppet theater currently celebrating 40 years of making kids laugh, learn, and think. The Aug. 30 show, “The Circus and Sebastian,” is a ballet set to the music of Kabalevsky’s symphony suite, “The Comedians.” In this tale, park attendant Sebastian pines to join the circus. He does, but is quickly fi red. Despair doesn’t have long to take hold, however, when a little dog shows him how to master the art of tightrope walking — which leads to a triumphant return to the circus he loves. The free performance takes place Thurs., Aug. 30, 4pm on Pier 62 (cross at W. 22nd St.). If you miss that performance, don’t despair as Sebastian did, because there are plenty of other opportunities to see Penny Jones & Co Puppets. The troupe will be back this fall for a new season of performances at Westbeth (155 Bank St., btw. West & Washington Sts.). For more info, visit pennypuppets.org. Also visit westbeth.org.

Courtesy of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership BID

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership’s free Labor Day-themed walking tour shines a light on local labor conditions in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

FLATIRON WALKING TOUR The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership puts a new spin on its informative series of walking tours, with this Labor Day-themed installment sure to stimulate the mind while it brings you closer to your daily step goal. “Labor History & Madison Square” is a 90-minute, rain-or-shine tour that takes place at 11am on Sun., Sept. 2. No advance registration is required

Image courtesy of Penny Jones & Co.

Penny Jones & Co. Puppets are back this fall, for another season at Westbeth.

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY

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— just meet in front of the William Seward statue in Madison Square Park (23rd St. & Broadway). Native New Yorker Mike Kaback will be your guide, taking you on a journey through time that touches on the history of, among other things, the old Fifth Avenue Hotel on Madison Square, where an 1872 fi re claimed the lives of 22 hotel employees. The tragic incident would ultimately lead to reforms in working and safety conditions. Also along the way, you’ll learn about the role Madison Square played in the fi rst Labor Day Parade (Sept. 5, 1882), and fi nd out about the connection between the old location of Madison Square Garden and the fight for an eight-hour workday. What we just described might seem like a bunch of spoilers, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For more info on the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership — and their other walking tours — visit flatirondistrict.nyc.

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August 30, 2018

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August 30, 2018

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Chelsea Now - August 30, 2018  

August 30, 2018

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