Union Strife at Hudson Yards 05
O’Donnell Eyes Public Advocate Race 06
Gabri Christa at Theaterlab 14
ROBERT JACKSON WINS BIG AGAINST INCUMBENT SENATOR MARISOL ALCÁNTARA Photo by Sydney Pereira
The Sept. 11 CB7 Transportation Committee meeting included testimony from Captain Timothy Malin (seated at far end of the table), the 20th Precinct commanding officer.
CB7 Pushing for Protected Bike Lane on Central Park West BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Upper West Siders are stepping up their calls for greater protections for bike riders on Central Park West in the wake of the death of Madison Jane Lyden, an Australian tourist killed while cycling on the avenue last month. Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee has voted unanimously on a request to the city Department of Transportation to come up with a proposal for a twoway protected bike lane on CPW. An additional seven CB7 board members who are not members of the committee also voted in favor of the request. Currently, the avenue only has a painted bike lane. Several attendees at the Sept. 11 committee meeting described biking on Central Park West as it currently is as “terrifying.” “I’ll just say that’s true,” Elisabeth Dyssegaard, an East Village resident who frequents Central Park, said testifying at the meeting. “It’s terrifying to bike there.” “I come up to the park on the weekends and sometimes during the week in the summer,” she told Manhattan Express, adding that she went to the park during a parade held after cars were officially barred from the interior roads. “But again, if you can’t get there safely, it kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?” CB 7’s committee resolution will be voted on by the CPW BIKE LANE continued on p. 25
Photo by Sam Bleiberg
Former City Councilmember Robert Jackson (center), who beat incumbent State Senator Marisol Alcántara in the September 13 primary, with Senators Brad Hoylman (right) and Brian Kavanagh at Jackson’s Washington Heights victory party.
BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Third time’s the charm for Robert Jackson, the former city councilmember and longtime education activist. After unsuccessfully seeking the State Senate District 31 seat in 2014 and 2016, Jackson defeated incumbent Senator Marisol Alcántara in Thursday’s Democratic primary. Alcántara was heavily criticized for joining the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) — the group of eight Senate Democrats faulted for effectively handing the Senate to Republican control in recent years, blocking progressive legislation passed in the Assembly. “The people that are up there that are not doing anything, not fighting — their time is over,” Jackson told Manhattan Express. “The message is if you want to really work for the people that you represent, you’ll have to work hard and sometimes you have to stand up by yourself. And that’s what this is about.” Jackson’s win against Alcántara was among five successful challenges to city Democratic senators
September 20 – October 3, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 19
who had been IDC-aligned, with Alessandra Biaggi defeating the Bronx’s Jeff Klein in District 34, former City Comptroller John Liu prevailing against Tony Avella in Queens’ District 11, Jessica Ramos besting José Peralta in the 13th District in Queens, and Zellnor Myrie outdistancing Jesse Hamilton in Brooklyn’s District 20. Just one New York City former IDC member, Staten Island Senator Diane Savino, won her primary on Thursday, in District 23. Upstate, the other two former IDC members achieved split verdicts, with Rockland County’s David Carlucci winning his primary but David Valesky apparently going down to defeat in the Syracuse area, based on an unofficial tally. In past years, IDC members had held off primary challengers, but with progressive activism spiking in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the eight senators understood the risk they JACKSON WINS continued on p. 4
State Primaries Bring Out Voters for Progressive Candidates, National Issues BY SAM BLEIBERG New Yorkers showed up like never before to vote in the state primary elections last Thursday. An attention-grabbing gubernatorial campaign, progressive challenges to Democratic senate incumbents, and a close contest for attorney general brought voters of all ages and backgrounds. City Media spoke with voters at PS33 in Chelsea and PS111 in Hell’s Kitchen, to ask what motivated them to show up at the polls. The consensus: New Yorkers felt challenged to make their voices heard in response to their frustrations with the federal government. Statewide turnout almost tripled from the 2014 Democratic governor’s primary race. That’s not to say candidates at the state level did not inspire New Yorkers. Cynthia Nixon’s challenge to Andrew Cuomo resulted in a 30-point defeat, but her campaign may have bolstered a strong progressive tide that resulted
Photo by Sam Bleiberg
PS111, in Hell’s Kitchen.
in victorious challenges to incumbents across the city. Kathy Hochul won the contest against Jumaane Williams to run for re-election — but at 53 percent
of the vote, her victory was closer than the previous primary. Letitia James, NYC’s current Public Advocate, moved a big step closer to becoming the first black woman elected to statewide office in New York with her win over Zephyr Teachout and Sean Patrick Maloney for Attorney General. The ranks of the recently abolished Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) suffered heavy losses on Thursday night. The IDC represented a group of elected Democrats who caucused independently, granting control of the state Senate to Republican lawmakers. Nixon targeted the IDC early on in her campaign, and Cuomo worked with its members to end the arrangement shortly thereafter. Challengers to former IDC members won several upset races against long-tenured incumbents. Five out of six former IDC candidates lost, including IDC leader Jeff Klein, who lost to Alessandra Biaggi in District 34. On
the West Side, Robert Jackson defeated former IDC member Marisol Alcantara in District 31. Former IDC members benefitted from campaign funds raised by the state’s Independence Party, ruled improper by the New York State Board of Elections. As a show of the scale in the funding disparity between incumbent and challenging candidates, Jeff Klein spent more on his losing race than Nixon on hers. Other victors of former IDC candidates include John Liu, Jessica Ramos, and Zellnor Myrie. Diane Savino is the only former IDC member to win her race. Other impactful primary decisions include Simcha Felder of District 17, who runs as a Democrat, but previously caucused with Republicans. Andrew Gounardes of District 22 won his primary and will face Republican Marty Golden, Brooklyn’s lone Republican senator, in the general election. Despite the impressive turnout, there
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Steve Harris, Hell’s Kitchen
were issues with voter registrations, forcing some supposedly registered voters to cast affidavit ballots. Bill de Blasio’s son, Dante, was among those affected. Others were thrown off by changes in poll sites, leading voters to request better communication from the Board of Elections ahead of polling days. City Media asked voters fresh from the ballots who they voted for and why, as well as how the city could make voting easier. Read their results and get ready for the general election on November 6.
I like Sean Patrick Maloney. I followed him as a congressperson and I wasn’t that excited about the other two candidates. What issues brought you out to vote? Honestly, I think that being able to check the president [of the United States] right now is the main thing that concerns me. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? I like the cards they gave. I carried it in my wallet and I breezed through. I think the press could do more, especially local news that people will watch and see. Someone I worked with didn’t even know today was a primary day. Especially in New York, the primary day is very consequential. One of the things they could do is consolidate them so that state and federal are on the same day. We don’t need to come to the polls three times. We don’t need to pay to come to the polls three times.
in the government is a given. It’s not that it will all go away or be eradicated. That’s impossible. To have it reduced by accountability and transparency. Rather than focusing on one or two issues, that’s one of things across her platform that interests me the most. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? Phone banks. Candy. I don’t know. I think people have to be concerned citizens. I think it’s generational. I think the next generation is really showing that they care.
HELL’S KITCHEN: PS111 CHARLIE TAVARES Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cynthia Nixon, because she’s new. I’m mostly voting against Cuomo. Which candidate excites you? Zephyr Teachout. I remember her running several years ago. I remember her politics being refreshing at the time. Also, the fact that she was endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What issues brought you out to vote? I want to get rid of the establishment Democrats. That’s the biggest reason I’m here. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? Make it on a Sunday.
STEVE HARRIS Who did you pick in the governor’s race? I think Cuomo has done a good job. I don’t think he’s the best governor in the world, but I think he’s done a good job. Which candidate excites you? Three of them. I like Andrew Cuomo. I like Kathy Hochul. I’ve been following her since she’s a congressperson. I like her politics and the way she expresses herself. I think she understands what we need and what we’re going for. And City Media LLC
AMIT DVIR Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cynthia Nixon. I wasn’t sure. I’m not happy with Cuomo, especially his Airbnb policies. Nixon, I’m on the fence. I’m not crazy about her support of big unions, but on the other hand the rest of her platform is progressive. Which candidate excites you? Nobody. What issues brought you out to vote? Mostly the fact that I told myself that if anybody seriously opposes Cuomo, I’d vote for them. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? I never got any letter [in the mail] explaining to me where I’m supposed to vote. Maybe that would be easier for people who aren’t Google-savvy enough to look for themselves.
Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cynthia Nixon. I have been exhausted with Cuomo’s cronyism and entitlement. I really feel like she’s putting her money where her mouth is. On the way she’s conducted her campaign. On the platform issues. On the fact that she’s a liberal Democrat, but she’s interested in reform. That kind of rattles the entire system. I would feel in safer hands with her. What issues brought you out to vote? I think it’s accountability. Corruption will exist in academia and hospitals, so
PRIMARIES continued on p. 10
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JACKSON WINS continued from p. 1
faced by their continued cooperation with Senate Republicans. In April, in a deal brokered by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the IDC returned to the regular Democratic fold but that retreat proved insufficient to hold off a strong slate of challengers. In Washington Heights’ Crazy Annie’s on Broadway and 168th St., longtime Jackson supporters rallied early on in the evening watching the returns unfold, chanting “Robert” and “No IDC” after the election was called. “He relates to people one on one,” said Leslie Espaillat, who worked on Jackson’s campaign and has known him for 26 years. “He would have never crossed the river and sold us out,” she added, referring to Alcántara’s joining the IDC. Alissa Gutierrez, a 41-year-old high school math teacher, said Alcántara joining the IDC was “unconscionable.” “I could not support that, especially in the political climate today,” said Gutierrez, who supported Jackson in his first run back in 2014. Roughly 38 percent of voters in District 31 stuck with Alcántara — some noting that her Dominican roots best represented the needs of a district that runs up the West Side from Hell’s Kitchen to Inwood. “I think that we have somebody to represent us,” Estela Pichardo, a 48-year-old elementary school teacher who has lived in Washington Heights for 33 years. Of Alcántara, Pichardo said she’s “giving her the benefit of the doubt that she’s going to keep doing her job.” Two sisters in their 20s echoed that sentiment. “She’s Dominican and we’re Dominican,” said Kiara, 25, who declined to use her last name. Having someone like Alcántara represent the neighborhood was key in the face of growing gentrification, she added. Her sister, Karol, agreed. Alcántara’s campaign did not respond, by press time, to a request for comment about the election results and any future runs for office.
Photo by Sydney Pereira
The crowd at Jackson’s victory party at Crazy Annie’s in Washington Heights cheered election returns.
Late last month, she highlighted the $7 million she brought back to her district and the 12 bills she wrote and passed. Of the IDC, she said, “I don’t know what to tell people. If it’s dissolved, it’s dissolved. What else can I do?” With five of the six New York City former IDC members voted out, state legislators supporting Jackson feel confident that progressive legislation — such as better rent laws and reproductive rights protections — can pass the Senate. “To me it means that so many of the bills that have been passing in the Assembly but have never had a shot in the Senate will now become law,” said Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side and Hell’s Kitchen. “That’s very optimistic, but I am optimistic because the voters are demanding change in all districts. On state level races, voters are demanding change.” Still, to regain control of the Senate, Democrats will have to either pick up at least one additional seat in November or
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prevail on Brooklyn Democrat Simcha Felder, who has caucused with the Republicans, separate from the IDC, since his election in 2012, to vote with them. In the current Senate, Democrats hold 32 of the 63 seats, but without Felder’s support they could not claim the leadership, even after the eight IDC members disbanded their conference. Rosenthal is confident the Democrats will gain more seats come the general election. “I think that we will pick up seats in the Senate in November,” she said. “You can see the voters are anxious for change… I’m very hopeful that the Senate will turn Democratic and then we can be a legislature that truly reflects New York’s population and New York’s progressive views.” The last contest between Alcántara and Jackson, who served in the Council from 2001 through 2013, was a tight race. Jackson lost by just 533 votes with 30 percent of the electorate. Micah Lasher took 31 percent of the votes, and Alcántara 32 percent. Lasher endorsed Jackson for this
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year’s run, both agreeing that to take back the seat from Alcántara, one would have to support the other. “Let me say publicly to Micah that this was not about you and it’s not about me,” Jackson told supporters on Thursday night. “It’s about the people that we were fighting to represent.” Lasher, now head of communications and policy at Sidewalk Labs, an urban solutions company owned by Google’s parent company, said that two years ago he had known of Jackson’s record but was not acquainted with him personally. “You get to know somebody during a campaign, even when you’re running against them,” Lasher said. “I really came to understand why he had so much love and support in this community because he is a high integrity guy. When the campaign was over, I came away with enormous respect and affection for him and understanding what a difference it would make to get him elected over the incumbent. I was proud to tell him from the start I wanted to be with him.”
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At Hudson Yards, Tensions Flare Between Related, Unions
Photo by Michael Rock
Daniel Vazquez protests Related’s decision to include nonunion workers in the development of Hudson Yards.
BY MICHAEL ROCK As development at Hudson Yards continues, sparring between The Related Companies, which oversees the neighborhood’s development, and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTC), the umbrella organization for the construction unions Related has hired for the project, is poised to go the distance. A major issue of contention for BCTC union members tasked with working on the project is Related’s decision to hire nonunion members for the unskilled responsibilities of the construction. “Nonunion work is done very shabby. They didn’t go to school like union workers to learn the trade,” said Daniel Vazquez, who has been a member of UFL Local 46 since 1986. “A lot of their work has been collapsing, and more accidents than ever are being caused by nonunion workers. They’re a danger for themselves and the livelihood of anyone invested in the project.” A spokesperson for BCTC president Gary LaBarbera agreed. “The next part of the project is both massive and
Photo by Michael Rock
An American flag draped on a building overlooking construction.
extremely complicated,” he said. “This enormous undertaking will require the knowledge and precision of a welltrained and highly skilled workforce, TENSIONS continued on p. 20
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Benny Goodman in Red Square, Moscow, Soviet Union, 1962. Photo courtesy of the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Benny Goodman Papers, Yale University. This and other photos are part of an exhibition created by the Meridian International Center, Washington, D.C. Jazz Ambassadors: Cold War Diplomacy has been made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
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September 20, 2018
Daniel O’Donnell Exploring Run for Public Advocate BY NATHAN RILEY With as email blast, Upper West Side State Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell has announced he will “explore” running for New York City public advocate should Letitia James be elected attorney general in November. News of O’Donnell’s interest in the office was fi rst reported, in advance of that Sept. 17 email, by Gay City News, a City Media publication. Winning that office will be grueling, requiring three elections. O’Donnell, who is gay, may well run against two other LGBTQ candidates — Ritchie Torres, a Bronx city councilmember, and former Council Speaker Christine Quinn — as well as another former speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito. But so far, O’Donnell’s announcement is the most defi nitive of any of the possible candidacies. The New York Times mentioned nine councilmembers, including two Republicans, who might become candidates. There is no word yet from Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who received nearly 436,000 votes in the city in his bid for
Photo by City Media
Upper West Side Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell has launched an exploratory effort looking at a run for city public advocate.
the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination in the Sept. 13 primary election, about his potential interest. The City Charter imposes a heavy burden on any candidate running for the position should James resign on Jan. 1 to assume the attorney general’s post. The mayor calls a special election that must take place within 45 days. The winner of that special election is the “interim” public advocate, said Jerry Goldfeder, an election lawyer. The interim public advocate must then run again in the regularly scheduled September 2019 Democratic primary and go on to win the November election. Even then, the winner would only hold office for the remaining two years of the James term. “I have grown concerned by the increased use of unchecked executive power — from the White House, to Albany, to right here at home in New York City,” O’Donnell stated in his email, saying the job shouldn’t be “a springboard to the Mayor’s mansion.” “I think the Public Advocate’s Office needs to be independent and capable of offering criticism,” he said
in a phone interview this week, amplifying his emailed statement that “I’ve never been afraid to call out those in power for acting out of self-interest instead of for the public good, even when it meant that I was the lone voice in the room.” O’Donnell, who as a state officeholder has never run a race using the city’s public campaign fi nance system that matches money raised by candidates, promises to run without real estate or corporate donations. James’ successor could be public advocate until 2029, under the city’s term limits law, and O’Donnell’s goals are long term: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2020, closing Rikers Island by 2027, “eliminating all trash [sent] to landfi lls,” and reducing 80 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He also promises to “bring a bullhorn” to the “corruption and disorganization” at the New York City Housing Authority, which is facing a federal investigation over false reports fi led that the paint in public housing O’DONNELL continued on p. 22
“Electoral Earthquake” in State Senate Primaries BY PAUL SCHINDELR It was “an electoral earthquake that reverberated all the way to Syracuse.” That’s how State Senator Brad Holyman, a Democrat who represents Manhattan’s West Side, described the Sept. 13 primary that saw seven Democratic state senators, including six of the eight former members of the controversial Independent Democratic Conference, lose to progressive and aggressive challengers. Since 2011, the IDC has frustrated Democratic efforts to win control of the Senate by caucusing with the Republicans, who through much of that period held a minority of the seats. Though IDC incumbents have successfully faced down challengers in the past, the rise of progressive energy statewide that followed Donald Trump’s 2016 election focused anger on the eight IDC members. Sensing their vulnerability in this year’s primaries, the IDC, in April, returned to the Democratic fold in a deal brokered by Governor Andrew Cuomo — who was faulted by many for facilitating the rump faction’s long abandonment of their Democratic colleagues.
September 20, 2018
Despite the return of the IDC members, Democrats, with 32 of the Senate’s 63 seats, remained unable to take control of the chamber because Democrat Simcha Felder, who represents socially conservative Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn, has also caucused with the GOP, separate from the IDC, since his 2012 election. IDC members likely believed that their strategic retreat in April would save them from retribution at the ballot box, but they were sorely mistaken. Their leader, Jeff Klein of the Bronx, was beaten by Alessandra Biaggi; former City Councilmember Robert Johnson bested Marisol Alcántara on Manhattan’s West Side; Queens incumbents Tony Avella and José Peralta were outpolled, respectively, by former City Comptroller John Liu and Jessica Ramos; and in Brooklyn, Jesse Hamilton lost to Zellnor Myrie. In the Syracuse area, IDC Senator David Valesky was defeated by Rachel May, according to unofficial election returns. Among the IDC incumbents, only Diane Savino on Staten Island and David Carlucci in Rockland County survived. A seventh Democratic state senator, Martin Malavé Dilan of Brooklyn, who
was not affiliated with the IDC, lost to progressive challenger Julia Salazar, despite high profile accusations in recent weeks that she has not been honest about her background. Asked to assess the significance of the primary results, Hoylman told City Media, “I think incumbents have been put on notice that voters want change, particularly when you’re talking about Albany and the intransigence on the part of the Senate when it comes to basic issues like equality, housing, and decent wages.” The Senate has refused to take up reproductive freedom and rent regulation reforms pushed by the Assembly, and Hoylman has been a consistent and harsh critic of the Senate GOP’s refusal to take up any LGBTQ-related issues since the 2011 enactment of marriage equality, including a long-stalled transgender civil rights measure. “What struck me wasn’t just the activism that was unleashed by groups like Rise and Resist and No IDC and the number of elected officials who supported the challengers, but also the quality of these candidates,” Hoylman said. “Primary challenges to incumbent legislators are rare in New York. To be
challenged by people who are really capable and have deep roots in their communities is even more unusual, and these candidates across the board were very skillful in these areas.” The extraordinary rejection of seven incumbents, he added, will challenge the “status quo” that has long choked Albany. “As a senator, I find it hopeful that voters are paying attention and that Albany is not going to remain a backwater of second and third tier senators,” Hoylman said. “It’s taken a long time for voters to focus on but they are a lot smarter than many elected officials give them credit for.” Hoylman acknowledged that the primary was only the first step in winning a progressive majority in the Senate. Democrats must still hold their current seats and win at least one more from the Republicans in November in order to achieve a Felder-proof majority. Among the opportunities Hoylman sees for Democratic pick-ups include Brooklyn’s District 22, where Democrat Andrew Gounardes, former counsel to Borough President Eric Adams, faces EARTHQUAKE continued on p. 22 City Media LLC
Longtime Verizon Landline Customers Angered Over Outages BY WINNIE McCROY On Mon., Sept. 17, about 50 Verizon customers residing in various parts of Manhattan gathered in the basement of Our Lady of Pompeii Church (25 Carmine St.) for a town hall, to address continuing outages of landline phone service among longtime Verizon customers. Service has been affected by manhole explosions, like the June fire at W. 15th St. and Ninth Ave., as well as inclement weather, construction mishaps, and cascading outages in other parts of the city. “I’m here today to be accountable for the customer service you’ve been experiencing, but I also want to educate you about our plan,” said Joseph Beasley, Region President of NYC Service Delivery and Field Operations. “I don’t like meeting you under these conditions, but we are here to take action. I’m accountable for this and my team is here to help get your issue resolved as quick as possible.” Representing Verizon was Richard Windram, Director of State Government Affairs at Verizon, plus several others from the company. State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick were on hand, as well as a representative from the office of City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, whose district runs from Canal St. to W. 63rd St. Beasley said phone cables in this area were 100 years old and explained that the copper landline network was in major decline for physical reasons. He explained that copper wire landlines are couched in a paper that must remain dry, which is covered by a lead sheathing pressurized with air to repel water.
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Joseph Beasley (standing), Verizon’s regional President of NYC Service Delivery and Field Operations, with other Verizon officials.
When weather or construction mishaps compromise the structural integrity of these lines — like when a contractor on W. 18th St. drove a pylon straight through the copper mainline — they become unpressurized, water gets in, heats up the copper, and it dissolves the line. To reconnect service, technicians need to access each individual building’s lines, unlike fiber optics, which can be spliced together at the breaking point. Currently, 2.5 million NYC customers are wired for Fios. Verizon is still attempting to get the remaining one million wired with fiber optics. “The copper network is at the bottom of the infrastructure in New York City,” Beasley said. “And there have been dozens of manhole fires, one significantly that lit everything on fire because of a welding mishap
and completely destroyed the network elements of two manholes and everything in between. The 2,700 customers on fiber optic networks were almost immediately back up, because it is basically indestructible. But the remaining 500 or so copper line customers were spread across 1,700 buildings and we had to literally access each individual building to restore it. We still have 25 customers out of service from that June 17 manhole explosion.” But these (mostly older) residents of Greenwich Village and Chelsea are mad that the landline they had installed 40 or 50 years ago has of late become unreliable, and furious that they are being forced to continue to pay their bills under threat of collection, then hector Verizon for refunds. “My landline has gone out three times since November 2016; this outage started in March,” said longtime Leroy Street resident Senta Driver. “And they are still sending me bills. They do give me refunds when they restore service, but I’m assuming if I finally give up and switch to another carrier, I won’t get a refund.” Driver said twice Verizon gave her a Voice Link wireless phone as a stopgap measure. She complained that because it doesn’t show her number, banks and credit cards companies “get suspicious.” She was also concerned about the effect outages could have on those like the elderly disabled woman in the apartment below her, wondering what would happen in the case of an emergency. [Windram said you can register to VERIZON OUTAGES continued on p. 8
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VERIZON OUTAGES continued from p. 7
identify and prioritize your line as a special needs line if you are over 62, blind or disabled.] Still, Verizon officials say they’ll continue to restore copper wire landlines, while replacing them wherever possible with fiber optic lines. But even this process is fraught with roadblocks, as they explained to one coiop manager who said she’d been trying to switch her building over to Fios for three years. Said Windram, “When it comes to Fios, it’s not enough to just get permission for your building; it runs through your basements or behind your buildings sequentially, so you need to have every property on your block give us permission to install. If you’re the fifth house on the block, we still need the other four.” Due to how the lines are laid, a “block” is defined by Verizon as the physical land between bordering paved streets. Those behind you and next to you are on your “block” — but the buildings across the street from you are not. Once you get permission from all buildings on your block to install fiber optics, Verizon still needs to survey the block, make sure everything is accessible, design the network, order the materials, and schedule the production team to go out and install it.
Photo by Winnie McCroy
Local resident Jeff Franklin (foreground) said he’d gone 30 years without a single problem, but now has experienced five outages in the past five years.
HELP FROM ELECTEDS Some community members implored elected officials to force holdouts on their blocks to switch to fiber optic. Sen. Hoylman averred, saying that the government could not force people to let Verizon on their property. He told City Media that he planned on looking at upgrading SB8311, a law passed last year that prohibits landlords from interfering with telephone upgrades. “It was watered down to only apply
to commercial locations, and I think Albany needs to consider broader language that would apply to residents, and add some enforcement provisions,” said Sen. Hoylman. “It is unacceptable that property owners can block someone from getting something as crucial as this.” Verizon retiree Marie Warren tasked the government — specifically, Assemblymember Deborah Glick — with helping get her service restored when it went out from April 12 to May 16. “I guess I’m one of the lucky ones;
I know how the system works because I was a PSC [NYS Dept. of Public Service] manager,” Warren said. “Verizon sent us service dates they kept postponing again and again. They are anesthetized from customers’ predicaments, so we are forced to file PSC complaints and hassle our elected officials. When they finally showed up they fixed it within two days, doing a cable splice to two buildings down the block. We waited 34 days; some have had it much worse. If I hadn’t filed it I would still probably be out of service.” Beasley said that the average customer was only without service for about 30 hours, and noted that for those on Fios, outages were very short. He also said that when Fios is installed, it comes with an emergency D-cell battery pack that gives you 24 hours’ worth of call time. Assemblymember Glick told City Media that Verizon ranked high on her office’s list of constituent complaints, and said she personally had problems with both the lack of skilled technicians on hand to address copper line problems, and the inefficiency of Verizon’s customer service. “Why a tech company doesn’t have the ability for a technician to check other open work orders they could VERIZON OUTAGES continued. on p.13
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being on Tuesdays. I had been planning on voting for this and it caught me off guard, because it’s a Thursday. I think honestly New York should move to a Saturday voting. There was a time when I was an advocate for online voting. Those days are over given some of the interference we’ve seen from foreign players like the Russians. But I think there should be paper ballots and I think it should be on a Saturday to make it easy for everyone to vote, always.
PRIMARIES continued from p. 3
CHELSEA: PS33 CURT STROUD Who did you pick in the governor’s race? I voted for Cynthia Nixon. During most of the campaign, I was not in favor of her candidacy. I think she’s a tremendous actress. I respect and admire her activism — but I think I’m done with non-experienced politicians, given the state we have with Trump. I ended up voting for her because of the antiSemitic flyer that was sent out and the news that it was an ex-Cuomo aide. If it were a closer race it would have been a harder decision. I voted for her knowing she likely wouldn’t win, as a protest vote so Cuomo understands. She’s raising Jewish children and they’re bringing up anti-Semitism about her? That’s really, really awful. Which candidate excites you? I’m really excited about Zephyr Teachout. I’m excited about the entire attorney general race. Any of the four seem like they would be really qualified. There’s a part of me that, because I’m a gay guy, I thought about voting for Sean Patrick Maloney. Because I want to see more people of color, I really was looking at Letitia James and Leecia Eve. Any of the four I think would be great,
Photo by Sam Bleiberg
but after reading the information and reviewing the New York Times’ recommendations, I just think Teachout would be the best choice. What issues brought you out to vote? I try to always vote, no matter how minor the election. In particular today, the attorney general is extremely important given that there may be charges brought up against the Trump organization — more so than even the
governor or lieutenant governor. I’d have to be dead not to show up today, because the Attorney General of the State of New York is going to be instrumental in changing the history of this country. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? Two primaries in a year is ridiculous. That’s from the old mob boss days. That has to be cut out. The second thing is, I have to admit I’m used to elections
Who did you pick in the governor’s race? I’ve only lived in New York for a few years, but the issues she’s [Cynthia Nixon] pressing, including the subway, have really rung true with me. We obviously need a change. I’m also a big proponent of women in office. I think we’ve had men in office for long enough, and it’s time to change it up. Which candidate excites you? Cynthia Nixon. I think that’s one that affects me on a regular basis so that’s one where I really did the research. I really love Cynthia Nixon’s campaign, and that everyone is trying to get the vote out. What issues brought you out to vote?
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Photos by Sam Bleiberg
The fact that no one comes to vote in the primary, and then we end up with bad congressmen. I think the current political climate has shown a light on that. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? The whole voting process is confusing on where you vote and when you vote. I walked to my old location before this, and they weren’t sure where I was supposed to go. I don’t know if there’s an easier system, but I feel like there has to be. I live right down the block so it was super easy.
They should let people know it’s just down the block, and you can do it on your way to work.
What issues brought you out to vote? The MTA is a big one. I think with the current state of our government, we need to vote at a local level. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? Spread awareness.
I read about Teachout being a good alternative to push the standard Wall Street and real estate powers and address some of the Trump issues as well. What issues brought you out to vote? Obviously in the age of Trump we have to activate all voters. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? Make it easier to register. Register at the [time of the] election.
ROYCE WICK Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cynthia Nixon. I’m ready for change, I’m ready for her to tackle the subway system. I think she’ll do good things for our city. Which candidate excites you and why? Cynthia. It’s time to have a woman government. Zephyr Teachout as well.
ADRIENNE STEIN Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cynthia Nixon, because of her progressive platform. Which candidate excites you?
PRIMARIES continued on p. 24
A two-day shopping event with the best denim brands, vintage treasure hunting, seminars, music, food and more... Denim Days Festival Metropolitan Pavilion Saturday, September 22 & Sunday, September 23
18th Street Festival Sunday, September 23
To purchase tickets please visit: www.denim-days.com
A Festival for Denim Lovers City Media LLC
September 20, 2018
World Trade Center Health Program Opens New Clinic Thanks to persistent lobbying by 9/11 victims, the 9/11 community, their advocates, and their attorneys, it became unavoidably clear that something had to be done to alleviate the unfair wait that Ground Zero survivors have had to endure to secure an appointment with the WTC Health Program. Survivors include more than 350,000 Downtown residents, office workers, former students and teachers who lived or worked in Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 or anytime during the eight months that followed. They were exposed to the same deadly toxins as the first responders and, not surprisingly, they are developing the same insidious diseases, including 68 cancers, as the responders. The World Trade Center Health Program recently opened a new clinic at 156 William St. Manhattan. Aimed specifically at survivors of the September 11th attacks, it is hoped that this new “surge clinic” will reduce the serious backlog that now exists in providing sick residents and office workers the treatment they need and deserve. It will also enable them to be certified for their WTC physical illnesses so that they can then receive the compensation that they are entitled to from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). When Congress passed the 9/11 Zadroga Act into law in 2010, it created both the WTC Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund. But Ground Zero survivors, especially those who lived or worked Downtown, have struggled to take advantage of this support, in part because the WTC Health Program’s
NYPD / Gregory Semendinger
The collapse of the World Trade Center in the 9/11 terrorist attacks unleashed a lingering cloud of toxic dust that may have sickened as many as 350,000 Downtowners. The World Trade Center Health Program has now opened a new clinic location on William Street to handle the backlog of survivors seeking to register.
clinics at Bellevue Hospital and Governors Island have been swamped with patients and have not been able to see all of them yet. There are currently 2,800 people who have enrolled in the WTC Health Program who haven’t yet had a single doctor’s appointment. The goal is to reduce this backlog significantly. The new facility has the capacity to see up to 750 patients each month. As a result, survivors with respiratory symptoms (or cancer) will soon be able to get an initial doctor’s visit to confirm that their illnesses are the result of their exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero
between Sept. 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002. Thanks to the results from NYPD Detective James Zadroga’s autopsy, which discovered benzene, chromium, lead and a host of other carcinogens in his lungs, there is now a presumption that these illnesses were in fact caused by exposure to the WTC toxins. Advocates for the 9/11 community have widely praised these plans. As Ben Chevat, the executive director of the advocacy group 9/11 Health Watch, notes: “While it is sad and tragic that there are so many responders and survivors who were exposed to toxins at Ground Zero and are now sick, the good news is that there is a WTC Health Program that it is going to be there for them for the next 70 years.” Michael Barasch, Managing Partner of Barasch & McGarry, also lauded the news. His law firm represented James Zadroga, who lost his life due to WTClinked pulmonary fibrosis, and now represents more than 11,000 WTC responders and survivors and has recovered over $2 billion for its clients from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. “We have long understood how important it is that those exposed to the 9/11 toxic dust receive free medical treatment. Since innocent civilians were exposed to the same toxins as the responders, they deserve be treated equally. This clinic gets us one step closer to giving them justice,” said Barasch. Barasch & McGarry offers free consultations regarding the health program and how to get compensation from the VCF at 888-351-9421, or 911victimfund. com.
“A NIFTY GLIMPSE OF GAYS GONE BY.” —Michael Musto, Out Magazine
BOOK, MUSIC, AND LYRICS BY MARK
CO-CONCIEVED BY SAM
CHOREOGRAPHY BY ANDREW
PALERMO DIRECTED BY MAX FRIEDMAN
BY ARRANGEMENT WITH VISCERAL ENTERTAINMENT AND MARK CORTALE PRODUCTIONS
AL IN THE A NEW MUSIC ’S MIDTOWN HEART OF NYC TRICT EAST ARTS DIS
1965. An Illegal Greenwich Village gay bar. Two men caught in a passion they can’t control and a political revolution they don’t understand. A timeless musical romance inspired by the Great American Songbook.
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September 20, 2018
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VERIZON OUTAGES continued from p. 8
resolve while at a building seems incredibly inefficient, not to mention aggravating. Even if it takes more than one day, they might be resolving three or four problems,” Glick said. “And fiber optic may be the wave of the future, but I also think people are concerned about the cost of bundled services, and maybe they don’t want to put all of their eggs in one basket. Especially when Verizon has had such a poor track record of restoring services, people are nervous about having all their services in the hands of one provider.” When a customer compared Verizon to Spectrum, Windram said it took Spectrum 20 years to install their cable network, while they’d only been working on theirs for 15 years. They promised the end result would be worth it. “Verizon is here to stay,” said Beasley. “If poor service feels like we’re walking away from you, it’s not. We want to get you off copper and onto Fios [at the same price]. New York City’s Fios network is the most advanced in the world; more than Singapore or Hong Kong. But building a new network comes with challenges: digging up streets, getting right of access, coming up with agreements on the look it will have in public hallways, building it future-proof to handle storms. If you want to compare copper to fiber optics, look at Lower Manhattan: the manholes there fill up with salt water every day with the tides, and the network has proven almost indestructible.”
comfort to them that Verizon is working on something else. And paying for a service that you don’t have is adding insult to injury.” Still, Beasley stuck around and took the heat, saying, “It’s not our intent to bill you when you’re out of service. We recently made system upgrades and I know that’s working. I want to be accountable to everyone in here who feels like they’re being screwed. I will make sure no one is paying when they are out of service.” Windram promised that their initial intent was to fix the copper lines, but admitted it was a short-term fix.“The long-term plan is to get fiber optics into your home,” he said. “We designed the network to get rid of these day-to-day issues; it would be irresponsible to build a network that didn’t resolve the issues. In the long run, we think we’ll be better off.”
“In the long run, we’ll all be dead,” groused Franklin. “I’ve gone 30 years without a single problem; now I’ve had five outages in five years.” Nonplussed, one woman sighed and said, “There is just so much difference between what you’re describing, which sounds phenomenally wonderful, and what actually exists.” In a statement to City Media the day after the town hall, Speaker Johnson noted his office “is frequently contacted by constituents, many of whom are seniors, who have problems with Verizon phone and Internet service.” Verizon, he said, “heard loud and clear that people are experiencing real problems with their service” and committed “to creating a task force dedicated to working on these issues.” Constituents can call Johnson’s district office at 212-564-7757.
MONEY FOR NOTHING Although some vowed to never give up their copper landline, most looked forward to getting the reliable fiber optic network they’d heard so much about. But almost all of those suffering outages were united in one thing: their anger over being billed for a service they didn’t receive, and then having to haggle with customer service reps for a refund. Angered, Jeff Franklin demanded that Verizon “either fix the copper or replace the copper. One or the other; neither is no answer. Get the Fios in to replace these copper lines and get people automatic credit through the billing department.” One woman complained she didn’t even know when her copper landline was out; Beasley said Verizon had no way of knowing, either. Experiencing five outages since March 2, she filed a PCS complaint, and said she got a call from a Verizon regional manager within 48 hours. She also felt she shouldn’t have to call Verizon and “stay on hold for an hour to get my $63 service credit.” Another said after paying in advance, she finally canceled service, and found her account in collections over a $16 fee, noting that, “I’m no longer a Verizon customer. I was for 45 years. My mother was. But ruining my credit over les than $20? I want it taken off.” Beasley promised to take care of this “pretty quickly.” Echoed another woman, “You’re a high-tech company. How are you telling me you’re just getting the ability to figure out how to stop charging people when you know they don’t have service?” Said Glick, “These major cable cuts have affected not only individuals but small businesses like doctors’ offices, frustrated by being out of service for weeks at a time. They offer some sort of Voice Link forwarding service, but it does not have the same flexibility, so small businesses have had a hell of a time. It’s cold City Media LLC
September 20, 2018
No Woman is an Island Gabri Christa wrestles with her own heritage and her mother’s future
Photo by Kevin Yatarola
Gabri Christa confronts her mother’s fate in language and dance.
BY ELIZABETH ZIMMER Gabri Christa’s quiver holds many arrows. She dances, choreographs, writes, makes films, and teaches at Barnard. She was formerly a member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and later the artistic director of Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center. She’s also a wife and mother, concerned with issues of family and nurture. Right now, she’s fusing creative arts with a focus on dementia, the challenging illness that consumes the memories and emotions of increasing numbers of elderly people around the world. Her new “Magdalena” tells the story
September 20, 2018
of her mother, Josephina Magdalena Aleida de Jong, now in her 80s and living back in her native Netherlands. The middle one of seven children, she survived a Nazi bombing in wartime Rotterdam, where she was injured by shrapnel and separated from her family. She went to college to become a “teaching nun,” but in 1960 she married a black man from the South American country of Suriname — a less traumatic decision in Holland than it might have been at the time in the US, where “miscegenation” was still illegal. Christa’s hour-long piece combines spoken narrative, old newsreel foot-
age, delicate films of her own making, and passionate, energetic dancing in an effort to evoke the anxiety and depression that have contributed to her mother’s current advanced dementia. Magdalena’s disordered thinking seems to have begun in earnest when Christa and her older brother left home; the playwright/choreographer has collected personal testimony and scientific data to shape her story. A tissue of fine and funny verbal detail, the piece takes us from Holland to Curaçao and finally back to Rotterdam, a journey of some 80 years, tracking the relationships and behav-
iors of three families: Christa’s mother’s clan, Dutch people who gave all of their daughters the same name; her father’s multi-racial Dutch-Caribbean family, better educated and of a higher social class; and Netherlands Antillesborn Christa’s own Staten Island-based household, which includes her husband, musician Vernon Reid, and a teenage daughter. The white box theater is tiny, with perhaps 40 seats on three sides of a loft-like room. Christa begins sitting among the audience, talking quietly. A white sheet hangs on one long wall, and a string of footlights defines the City Media LLC
On Deck for Fall, a Cornucopia of Dance
© Jesus Robisco for Africa Moment, Barcelona, May 2017
Nora Chipaumire in her “#Punk 100% Pop*NIGGA,” at The Kitchen, Oct. 11-13 as part of the Crossing the Line Festival.
BY ELIZABETH ZIMMER
CROSSING THE LINE FESTIVAL Photo by Kevin Yatarola
Christa winds herself up in her past.
performance space, surrounding an ancient valise. On top of it sits a tiny, black porcelain baby doll, a gift to Christa’s mother from her mother that seems to have prepared her to embrace the man she married. She opens the valise and carefully stores the doll. Projected on the inside of the valise’s lid are films about various friends and families. She concludes with a poem she wrote in Dutch as a tribute to her mother (it’s translated for us in the program). And then she twirls herself up in the sheet that has backed the film projections, turning herself into a kind
of dervish/mermaid — a testament to both the sturdiness and the fragility of her parents’ union. Christa’s a product of the African diaspora, fascinated by her heritage, challenged by her mother’s illness. “Magdalena” has its rough spots, trying to be both memoir and polemic, but it represents a sturdy effort to tell a complicated tale and bring attention to a looming medical and social crisis. Wed.-Sat. at 8pm, through Sept. 22. At Theaterlab (357 W. 36th St., 3rd floor, btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Visit theaterlabnyc.com for tickets ($20). Artist info at gabrichrista.com.
Sept. 18-Oct. 13 (crossingthelinefestival.org) | Produced by the French Institute/ Alliance Française, this eclectic festival with the slightly transgressive title foregrounds dance events across the city in its 12th season. It opened with American choreographer Trajal Harrell showing “Caen Amour,” a re-imagining of hoochie coochie, Sept. 18 & 19 at The Kitchen. Next up, Sept. 25 and 27-29 at Danspace Project, is “What Remains,” made collaboratively by choreographer Will Rawls, poet Claudia Rankine, and video artist John Lucas, responding to the violence of the “surveillance state.” Frenchman Boris Charmatz brings his dazzling “10000 Gestures” to NYU Skirball Sept. 27 & 28, and Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen shows “21 Pornographies” at Performance Space New York, Oct. 3-5. French-Algerian artist Nacera Belaza performs at Gibney, Oct. 6-8 — and Nora Chipaumire, late of Zimbabwe, now of New York, returns with the three-part “#Punk 100% Pop*NIGGA” at The Kitchen, Oct. 11-13.
BILL T. JONES/ARNIE ZANE COMPANY
Sept. 22 & 23 (newyorklivearts.org/btj-az-company) | Storytelling has always been part of Jones’ arsenal of choreographic tools. Here’s a chance to see all three parts of his “Analogy Trilogy” — including the world premiere of its final section. The work, in process since 2014, runs six and a half hours including a dinner break, and comprises “Dora: Tramontane” (which tells the story of Jones’s mother-in-law’s experience in World War II), “Lance: Pretty aka the Escape Artist” (based on an oral history conducted with a nephew engulfed by sex and drugs in the 1980s), and “Ambros: The Emigrant,” a fictionalized history inspired by the work of novelist W.G. Sebald. Nick Hallett composes the live score, and Associate Artistic Director Janet Wong and the company contribute to the process. At the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place, at Washington Square South). Visit nyuskirball.org.
Photo by Kevin Yatarola
The choreographer dances with film of her own making. City Media LLC
Sept. 27-29 & Oct. 4-6 (newyorklivearts.org) | Last year she was part of Quadrille, The Joyce Theater’s four-sided fall season of experimental work. This season the always-startling choreographer, the current Randjelovi/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist at New York Live Arts around the corner, brings us a twoweekend run of “Y,” a new work for a cast of eight that asks what language a body speaks. Glen Fogel provides visuals and a sound score; Rick Murray designs the lights. Watch closely: Under all the abstraction are traces of swing! At New York Live Arts (219 W. 19th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). September 20, 2018
Murray Hill is Fixin’ to ‘Break’ Drag king’s latest packs a whole new wallop BY SCOTT STIFFLER Just as Dick Clark had a long and defiant run as “America’s oldest teenager,” drag king Murray Hill gives no indication of intent to abdicate his wellearned position as the “hardest working middle-aged man in show business.” Having made his bones with a breezy, bawdy persona that draws on vaudeville, burlesque, borscht belt humor, acidic quips, comedic crooning, and flights of uncategorizable lunacy, this Hill has his eyes on the best that’s yet to come. As such, that’s where the title of his latest project comes from. “Murray Hill: About To Break” finds our endearing, ever-leering ladies’ man poised for creative growth, by adding another notch to his belt: the autobiographical solo show. Known for over two decades as an ace-in-the-hole guest star around town, or as the indefatigable curator/emcee of his own anything-goes showcases, Hill has paid the bills (more or less) by doing everything from hosting Bingo on the Bowery to touring with Dita Von Teese to cracking jokes at Bally’s in Vegas — but breakout stardom, often within his grasp over the years, continues to elude. Hence this show, which seeks to take lemons and make lemonade, then add ice and infuse with booze. Like a cocktail mixed with mystery ingredients, a night spent with Murray has an intoxicating whiff of risk, and the promise of dizzying reward. “I think the world’s ready for me to be a little more dimensional,” one-time NYC mayoral candidate Hill said, during a late night phone interview two days before the new show’s premiere. “I’m the main act, not the opening act,” he noted, “so it’s an hour and probably a half of me not just doing pure schtick, but also a little bit of info for the kids as to how I got here — the man behind the man behind the man.” The decision to flesh out his backstory is a welcome if risky, gambit, for a performer who’s occasionally hinted at vulnerability (that Christmas show!), but always filled his tank with more brimstone than treacle. The tightrope walk of “About To Break” is summed up in the show’s press release as an intent to “shine a spotlight on the man who keeps going despite years of struggles and heartbreak. For the first time on stage, he flips the record and plays the B-side of his seemingly sparkly showbiz life.” Lest you think Murray has gone
September 20, 2018
Photo by Gregory Kramer
Murray Hill is a man with a plan: To break out, branch out.
soft and turned over a new leaf, fans familiar with Hill’s Don Rickles-like affinity for engaging audience members in conversation, only to insult them mercilessly, need not be afraid. “I gotta make sure to get all the new stuff and keep the show at an hour and
a half, or my director [Tony Award winner Scott Wittman] is gonna kill me,” Hill said, assuring audiences, “There will be improv. I’m always gonna do that — but I’m gonna try this thing I don’t have any experience with, called ‘balance.’ ”
Opining on what else makes the show unique, infamously off-the-cuff Hill noted, “I’ve never rehearsed this much in my entire career. I’ve never had a full script written the week before the show. The difference with this one is, there’s a narrative — and I’m very excited to tell you Marc Shaiman wrote the opening number, which is very much a Catskills vibe. The songs in the show are all written with people I’ve worked with over the last 20 years, people who are part of my history.” Even Murray’s former showgirls, the Gold-Diggers (Frieda Williams and Francis Asher), are “coming out of retirement to do some halfhigh kicks, and backup singing.” Put it all together, Hill vowed, and you have a classy show with enough polish to quite possibly thrust him into the big time — or at closer to it than he’s ever been. “I’m not going fully Uptown,” he admitted, “but I’m definitely going to 41st Street.” The hope, Hill said with sincerity, is that after its six-show run the creative team will “get a real good sense of what it is, and can go ahead and do a full run” not too far down the pike. As for taking the show’s title off the marquee and into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy, Hill believes the time might finally be right for that TV project he’s had his sights on for years. With VH1 airings of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and an HBO documentary crew having followed Lady Bunny’s recent relaunch of her iconic Wigstock gathering (a rollicking Sept. 1 Pier 17 gig Hill performed at), drag artistry and entertainment is being consumed and embraced by the popular culture as never before. “Its more out there,” Hill said, “but it’s more imbalanced than it’s ever been. There is such a huge discrepancy. But I did go to the big networks and had meetings with TV executives — and to me, that was huge progress from 20 years ago. It’s a zeitgeist moment,” Hill said, of the appetite for drag, “that hopefully will tip to include more kings, and not just queens.” “Murray Hill: About To Break” is performed Thurs., Sept. 20 at 7 pm; Fri., Sept. 21 at 7pm; Sat., Sept. 22 at 9:30pm; Thurs., Sept. 27 at 9:30pm; Fri., Sept. 28 at 9:30pm; and Sat., Sept. 29 at 9:30pm. At Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St., btw. Astor Pl. & E. Fourth St.). For tickets ($25-$50), visit publictheater.org. Artist info at themurrayhillshow.com. City Media LLC
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An Age-Old Metaphor Whose Truth Hasn’t Dimmed ‘James & Jamesy In the Dark’ casts a welcome light BY TRAV S.D. “No darkness lasts forever,” wrote the late Ursula K. Le Guin in her 1972 young adult novel “The Farthest Shore” — “And even there, there are stars.” This month a couple of stars have descended upon us from Canada to enact their own struggle against the night, inviting the audience to come along for the journey. “James & Jamesy In the Dark” has been playing at the SoHo Playhouse since Sept. 12, and is scheduled to stay on the boards through Oct. 14. In the popular piece, which the Canadian clowns have been performing on two continents since 2015, James (Aaron Malkin) and Jamesy (Alastair Knowles) are a couple of whitefaced creatures in three-piece suits who literally illuminate the world around them with the lampshades on their heads. It’s an age-old metaphor, but that hasn’t dimmed its truth. Malkin and Knowles met while performing with a community theatre in Vancouver, called Dusty Flower Pot Cabaret. Prior to trying their hand at performing, Malkin, from Toronto, had studied biology. Knowles, from Winnipeg, had been a business major. Like their fellow company members, both men were drawn into studying with David MacMurray Smith, whom Knowles describes as “this under-theradar clown guru of Western Canada.” Knowles says Smith’s training is about being “honest with yourself. Sharing who you are. It’s not about doing something funny but a willingness to be seen.” Malkin and Knowles formed their comedy duo in 2012, with Smith, their former teacher, as their director. Their characters, including their whimsical names, and all of their material, have grown out of improvisational exercises.
No dim bulbs here: With lampshades on their heads, James & Jamesy illuminate the world around them.
Photos by Thaddeus Hink
Canadian comedy duo James & Jamesy are at the SoHo Playhouse through Oct. 14.
There have been three shows prior to “In the Dark,” including “Two for Tea,” “High Tea,” and “O Christmas Tea.” Touring annually, their shows have sold over 60,000 tickets and been performed over 500 times across North America and the UK. Jamesy, Knowles’ character, is the more eccentric, awkward and social one. James (Malkin) is more settled and standoffish, and more attached to
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his individuality. When asked which clowns they admire, the names Bill Irwin, Rowan Atkinson, and our old friend Red Bastard (Eric Davis) came up. According to Malkin, the inspiration for “In the Dark” came to them almost by accident. “We were invited to do some roving theatre at an outdoor music festival performance at night,” he explained. “We were told there would be no stage, no amplification, and no light. This sounded like a fun puzzle. We wanted to be seen, of course, so we came up with idea to play with lights. The grey three-piece suits came later.” “People kept coming up to us [at the festival],” added Knowles, “They were intrigued. They kept asking, ‘What are you? What are you supposed to be?’ We loved that we inspired these questions.” In “In the Dark,” the two performers move about a completely unlit stage, the only illumination coming from the lights in their costumes. “This allows us meticulous control of the focus, both the light and the shadows,” Malkin said. “We stripped away all periph-
eral elements such as plot and location. Somebody said the show reminded him of Beckett as written by Douglas Adams.” Because the characters can only see what they are looking at, and are blind to everything they are not looking at, Knowles noted, “You get a sense of the characters being surrounded by the Unknown. There is an acceptance of the Unknown. The characters are both independent and alone, and then they meet and discover the concept of a ‘we.’ Eventually the concept gets expanded to include the audience.” “It’s existential but not on the nose,” Malkin assured me. “You don’t have to be a philosophy major to enjoy it. You can watch passively or get into layers of meaning.” Having seen the live show, this correspondent can attest to its richness as a theatrical experience. Knowles and Malkin mix elements of improv and movement and, sometimes even it seems, animated cartoons, to tell their story, with no shortage of funny, crazy, facemaking to make their existential medicine go down merrily. Like all great clowns, they’re also great actors. Seventy-five minutes in their company, like our time together on this earth, will fly by all too fast. Through Oct. 14 at the SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam St., btw. Sixth Ave. & Varick St.). Wed-Sun. at 7pm; Sat. & Sun. at 3pm. For tickets ($29), call visit SoHoPlayhouse.com or call 212-691-1444. Artist info at jamesandjamesy.com. Directed by David MacMurray Smith. City Media LLC
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ment (PLA) it had signed with Related during the first phase of the project. Some of the infractions in a statement included â€œcontinued violations of safety rules, no-show jobs, and protests and picketing at which union leaders disseminate false and defamatory information.â€? Due to the unionsâ€™ violations of the agreement, Related refused to sign a second PLA with the BCTC. â€œWe would rather negotiate with the individual unions so they are the ones that are held accountable, and we have a direct relationship with them,â€? Rose told this City Media. â€œWhy would we sign onto a broken procedure that has failed us in the past?â€? A press release supplied by Rose indicated that the National Labor Relations Board had sided with Related against BCTC unions over the issue of illegally executed strikes that were at odds with their collective bargaining agreement as well as the National Labor Relations Act, suggesting merit to her claims. Still, Rose assured this publication that Related is sympathetic to organized labor. â€œWe created over 20,000 union construction jobs all working onsite at Hudson Yards,â€? she said. â€œWeâ€™re probably the largest union employer in the
James Burney of the Local #46 union discusses the grievances he and his colleagues have with Related.
TENSIONS continued on p. 27
TENSIONS continued from p. 5
which means union labor. The continued use of nonunion contractors expose employees to abuse and exploitation.â€? Vazquez, along with his colleague James Burney, also of UFL Local 46, made it clear that the unions have nothing against the unskilled workers, advocating for them to get certification at their learning center in Woodside, Queens. â€œWe have safety training, scaffolding, fire watch, rigging, etc. Everythingâ€™s through a three-year apprenticeship,â€? Burney said. Joanna Rose, a spokesperson for Related, dismissed the allegations that their hiring practices posed such hazards. â€œWe stand committed to working with honest trade contractors who provide good wages, benefits package, and a commitment to complying with safety rules and regulations,â€? she said. Rose proceeded to suggest that the workers themselves were not truly invested in the safety of the project, citing a July 14, 2018 New York Post article accusing dozens of them of consuming alcohol during their lunch breaks (â€œConstruction workers seen getting drunk during lunch hourâ€?). Rose also asserted that the BCTC violated the terms of a project labor agree-
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ever, told City Media that he believes the primary election results delivered a more problematic verdict on the governor. Despite a comfortable win over Nixon, Cuomo remains, after eight years in office, out of favor with a third of the Democratic electorate. At a minimum, he said, that might discourage early endorsers should the governor jump into the 2020 presidential race. The fact that his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, edged out challenger Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn city councilmember, by only six points, and that his favored candidate in the attorney general primary, Public Advocate Letitia James, won but with less than 41 percent of the vote, suggests that Cuomo’s coattails are not very strong, Sherrill added. The rout of the IDC, a group whom he said “carried the governor’s water for a half dozen years [but] were allowed to drown in it,” suggests that Cuomo has demonstrated little political loyalty and may have trouble in the future in asking others to takes risks on his behalf. “If there is a Democratic Senate majority in January, I don’t think they’re going to feel very indebted to him,” Sherrill said. That could mean that Cuomo will face the kinds of taxing and spending demands by the Legislature that, in Sherrill’s view, he’s largely been able to avoid through Republican control of the Senate.
EARTHQUAKE continued from p. 6
off against Marty Golden, an eight-term Republican incumbent; Long Island’s District 5, where Republican Carl Marcellino will once again face James Gaughran, who lost by less than two percent two years ago; District 7, also on Long Island, where first term Republican Elaine Phillips will face Anna Kaplan; District 39 in the Hudson Valley where longtime Republican Senator William Larkin’s retirement opens up an opportunity for Democratic Assemblymember James Skoufis; and District 43, further up the Hudson, where Republican Senator Kathy Marchione’s retirement similarly gives Democrat Aaron Gladd an opening. Hoylman warned, however, “I don’t think any one can take anything for granted,” in making the point that Democrats cannot automatically count on holding on to all the seats they currently hold. Asked what impact the loss of his IDC allies will have on Cuomo — who beat Nixon by roughly the same 30-point margin he did Zephyr Teachout in 2014 — Hoylman responded, “Every incumbent got a message. I think Albany got a message. Albany is all that stands between New York and Donald Trump’s Washington.” Ken Sherrill, a professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College, how-
O’DONNELL continued from p. 6
is lead-free. In the phone interview, O’Donnell talked about his legislation allowing opioid users to access medical marijuana as part of their treatment. Communities where that option is available to heroin users, he said, experience 25 percent lower overdose death rates. He also voiced support for Safer Consumption Spaces, where drug users are supervised by healthcare professionals on hand to prevent fatal overdoses and link them to treatment, though he said “execution” is key given likely community concern about such facilities. A key credential on O’Donnell’s résumé is the critical role he played in making marriage equality a live issue on the state’s political stage. It was O’Donnell who steered thenGovernor Eliot Spitzer’s program bill to passage just weeks after it was fi rst introduced in 2007. Alan van Capelle, who led the Empire State Pride Agenda when O’Donnell notched the fi rst legislative victory on marriage, told City Media in a telephone interview last week, “Danny has never received the credit he deserves
for his work on marriage equality.” The hard slog to get Senate approval — a full four years later — he said, “overshadowed” the groundwork O’Donnell created in the Assembly at a time when gay marriage remained “unpopular and politically risky.” One key to achieving Senate approval, van Capelle explained, was securing GOP Assembly support for the bill so that those members would not be in a position to primary a senator who supported it. Van Capelle said O’Donnell’s personal lobbying “picked up votes we didn’t expect.” O’Donnell has been restless in the Assembly for years and was among those Governor David Paterson considered for the US Senate seat Hillary Clinton vacated when she became secretary of state. After Carl Heastie was elected speaker several years ago, O’Donnell became chair of the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development, a lateral transfer carrying less prestige than his previous post as chair of the Corrections Committee, overseeing the state’s prisons — a sign he is not a member of Heastie’s inner circle.
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PRIMARIES continued from p. 11
JULIUS HOLLINGSWORTH Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Nixon. I think we need some fresh energy in politics right now. It’s obvious from what we have in there now. Which candidate excites you and why? I was excited that she [Nixon] decided to run, because it’s aligned against her. Not that I think he’s a bad guy. In comparison to Trump I’d vote for him over and over. But I think right now people need to stand strongly in what they really believe. Not that he doesn’t believe in these principles, but I think she is living these principles that she says she stands for. What issues brought you out to vote? Right now we need to be more understanding that everybody has a place, not just the wealthy. Everybody should be able to live a decent life. It sounds simple, but obviously from even what is supposed to be low-income housing in New York City is ridiculous to someone who is barely getting by. If you have an entrylevel job, that means you have a place where you have a roommate situation, where you may or may not have a lease. This should not be the case. Every person should have a place to stay, food to eat, and the ability to work in a place that is safe. That’s not the situation right now. What can be done to make voting
Photos by Sam Bleiberg
easier and increase turnout? I wish they could make voting essential for anybody getting services in the state. Even if they say, “I don’t care.” At least they have to come in and say, “I don’t care.” Just like you have to do jury duty, you have to vote. I think it shouldn’t even be a question.
other candidate. What issues brought you out to vote? I always vote. I never miss an election. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? I think there are a couple things you can do. One could be to be able to vote online. Make it a day or a couple of days where you can be off of work. Sometimes the lines are really long, and that’s a turn-off. Maybe if you had more places to work it could reduce lines.
people who are going to stand in there and get the Democrats in. Which candidate excites you? Letitia James, because I know her. My union, 1707, she would always come out. She’s all over the place. I like the things she’s been doing. What issues brought you out to vote? I want to get rid of Trump. I know the people that are running. I know Jackson and Letitia James very well. I know they are going to do a good job. What can be done to make voting easier and increase turnout? What they’re doing right now. Media, calling people on the phone, word of mouth, getting in touch with tenants’ associations and people who support the area.
DANNY STEWART Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cynthia Nixon. I was reluctant to vote for her initially, but her attention to the MTA is really needed. It needs a massive overhaul, and that was my main issue. I had no things against Cuomo, but that was my main issue. Which candidate excites you? I can’t say I was excited about any
DARLENE WATERS Who did you pick in the governor’s race? Cuomo, because I think with everything going on with Trump, he needs to stay in there and finish helping us. I think he has more power right now. We need
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Attendees at the Transportation Committee meeting described cycling on Central Park West as a “terrifying” experience. CPW BIKE LANE continued from p. 1
full board at its Oct. 2 meeting. Questions about how the avenue could be designed with a two-way protected bike lane were raised, but cochair Howard Yaruss emphasized that the committee’s ask currently is for the DOT to come up with a proposal. “We just want to see what it looks like,” Yaruss said. “That’s what we’re proposing right now.” Yaruss, who lives just a block from where Lyden was killed, said he’s been asking the DOT to look into Central Park West for two years with no resolution. The DOT told Manhattan Express last month that the department is studying how to make the avenue safer after Lyden’s death. The 20th Precinct commanding officer, Captain Timothy Malin, told the committee that he has filed a traffic intelligence report, recommending that the DOT explore options to prevent what happened to Lyden from recurring. The report asks the department to assess what’s feasible for the avenue, Malin said. Central Park West has the fourth most total traffic injuries among Upper West Side avenues, including Amsterdam Ave., Broadway, Columbus Ave., Riverside Drive, and West End Ave. But for cyclists, Central Park West is the most dangerous, according to data gleaned from the city’s open data system presented by Transportation Committee member Richard Robbins. The highest number of injuries are where there are park crossings, according to Robbins. Since 2012, 113 cyclists have been injured on Central Park West, compared to 101 on Broadway, 81 on Amsterdam, 69 on Columbus, 46 on West End Ave., and 23 on Riverside Drive. Following Lyden’s death, cycling activists petitioned for better bike lanes and held a memorial ride where City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal City Media LLC
told activists she supports a two-way protected bike lane circling the entire park. Currently, painted bike lanes with no barrier line the park’s north and west sides. The east and south sides have no bike lanes. “Because there’s no protected bike lane, [Lyden] swerved into traffic and a truck hit her and killed her,” Rosenthal told Manhattan Express last month. “A two-way protected bike lane would solve that problem.” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has declined to press charges against José Peralta, the cabbie who blocked the bike lane, forcing Lyden into traffic. Earlier this month, even 20th Precinct Commanding Officer Malin said many cops “took that one very personally” when the DA didn’t prosecute, reported Streetsblog. The driver of the private sanitation truck who struck Lyden, 44-year-old Felipe Chairez, was arrested on a DWI charge. In 2014, Vance didn’t charge a driver who killed nine-year-old Cooper Stock — instead offering a plea deal with a $580 civil fine. Lyden’s mother, Amanda Berry, and Dana Lerner, Stock’s mother, said in a statement responding to the DA not prosecuting Peralta, “Four years ago, when District Attorney Cyrus Vance refused to prosecute the driver who killed Cooper Stock, he sent a message to all reckless drivers in Manhattan that deadly behavior will not have any consequences under his watch.” “If DA Vance had prosecuted Cooper’s killing, it would have sent a message to all drivers that reckless behavior is unacceptable, creating a system of accountability that could have prevented Madison’s death,” they wrote. “DA Vance’s failure to prosecute reckless drivers is sheer cowardice, and as long as he continues to indulge such dangerous behavior, pedestrians and cyclists will continue to die on Manhattan streets.”
Ricky Lumpkin (right, seen here with store manager Benjamin Gonzalez), the winner of a City Media contest for a $500 gift certificate at the P.C. Richard store on W. 125th St.. said he plans to use a portion of the proceeds to buy a new camera and perhaps some other household goods for his mother. Lumpkin is holding up a copy of Manhattan Express, which he said he picks up at his local subway station and enjoys reading.
Heading Back to School, Youth Demand Gun Law Reform
Photo by Donna Aceto
In Times Square, youth, including the late Joaquin Oliver’s friend Tyra in the foreground, show off fashions for schoolchildren faced with school shooting risks.
BY DONNA ACETO On Sept. 9, the activist group Change the Ref, which aims to give young people the tools they need to create change, held a roving Fashion Week Back to School event to show off a collection of schoolchildren’s apparel, including bullet-proof vests. Highlighting the risks youth today face from gun violence, the aim was to be “very graphic, showing how this system is asking us to dress our
kids before going to school, a restaurant, or whatever,” said Manuel Oliver, who founded Change the Ref with his wife Patricia to remember their son, Joaquin, who was one of 17 victims in this past February’s shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The mobile event, staged from a school bus, began in Tribeca and traveled up the West Side of Manhattan. September 20, 2018
September 20, 2018
City Media LLC
Photos by Michael Rock
Some of the construction at Hudson Yards has paused as the construction unions strike. TENSIONS continued from p. 20
City of New York. LaBarbera’s spokesperson disputed Rose’s claim, offering a completely different perspective on the matter. “In 2016, while the trades were working on his development, [Related chairman] Steve Ross publicly stated at a joint labor management Crain’s forum that he believed that nonunion development was a good thing for NYC and that there should be more non-union development. It became increasingly clear in the next few months that Ross would not entertain a PLA for its additional work in Hudson Yards and that Related intended to work the rest of the development on an ‘open shop’ basis,” he insisted. “In fact, Related hired nonunion contractors to work on 50 Hudson Yards and those nonunion contractors created a hostile work environment for many construction workers for well City Media LLC
over a year.” Vazquez shared the opinion that Related’s efforts to include unskilled non-union workers in the construction of the project was problematic. “They want to expand and take over. The unions built the New York City skyline,” he highlighted. “We gave them a hand. They’re trying to take a foot. It’s un-American.” Regardless, the BCTC has a powerful ally in City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, whose district includes the neighborhood. “The Speaker is a staunch supporter of organized labor, and has a long standing relationship with the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York,” said Jennifer Fermino, his Communications Director. “The speaker will do everything in his power to stand with these union workers and urge Related to come to an agreement with the unions to put its women and men to work at the site.” September 20, 2018
September 20, 2018
City Media LLC
September 20, 2018