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Big Baby Giant “Baby Trump” balloon makes its first NYC stop Downtown Photo by Milo Hess

A giant “Baby Trump” balloon rose above Battery Park over the weekend at its first New York stop on a nation-wide tour meant to build support for impeaching the 45th president. For more, see page 14.

Also in this issue: Amazon Go coming Memorial for victims November’s to Brookfield Place at Tree of Life Seaport Report Page 12 Page 6 Page 16 1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 18 S C H N E P S C O M M U N I T Y N E W S G R O U P

‘No way’ on one-way: CB1 Community board slaps down city proposal to legitimize illegal NYPD parking BY COLIN MIXSON Battery Park City civic gurus shot down a Department of Transportation proposal to accommodate illegal NYPD placard parking with a plan that would inconvenience locals without providing any meaningful relief from the inability of New York’s Finest to obey the law, say members of Community Board 1. “We don’t want to find a solution to accommodate the NYPD, we want the NYPD to accommodate the community,” said Tammy Meltzer, chairwoman of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee. In August, Downtown Express reported on large-scale parking-placard abuse by city police attached to a nearby state, federal and local antidrug task force, finding dozens of cars brandishing NYPD paraphernalia on their dashboards parked in a threeblock-long no-standing zone along River Terrace, where legal parking was eliminated to give ambulances and fire trucks room to maneuver along the narrow roadway. In response, transportation officials

have suggested removing a driving lane along the two-way street, converting River Terrace into a one-way street heading south, and opening up enough space to convert the cop-congested nostanding zone into legal parking without impeding emergency traffic. Police could then legally park there, and so could civilians, who are currently the only people who get tickets for illegally parking on that street. Local residents were quick to note the drawbacks of the Transportation Department’s plan – such as making it more difficult to get to River Terrace, and potentially increasing traffic on nearby North End Avenue, which would become the only other northbound route through the neighborhood’s north end. But for many it was a matter of principle – and the flagrant disregard by police of parking regulations they enforce on everyone else. The problem is not limited to the illegal parking along River Terrace, but extends to other spots across the neighborhood, according to Meltzer, including in front of fire

Photo by Colin Mixson

Battery Park City resident Dave Grin is fed up with police using their parking placards to illegally park in the neighborhood. And Community Board 1 agrees, pushing back against a city plan to legalize it.

hydrants, at crosswalks, and in loadingand-unloading zones, despite repeated complaints to Captain Angel Figueroa at the First Precinct’s monthly community council meetings.

One condo dweller claimed to have spotted off-duty officers using their placards to park illegally before heading PARKING Continued on page 11




November 1 – November 14, 2018


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November 1 – November 14, 2018



Manhattan Health & Wellness


New Center Brings Thyroid Care to Union Square BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Mount Sinai has launched a new, comprehensive thyroid center in Union Square that gathers specialists in both diagnosing and treating thyroid disease and thyroid cancer all under the same roof. This multidisciplinary facility at 10 Union Square East — which Mount Sinai says is the first in Manhattan and the Northeast — streamlines the process for patients when they are first diagnosed with thyroid disease or cancer. With endocrinologists, radiologists, surgeons, and pathologists all in the same center, patients can see every doctor they need to in one place. Biopsy results come back quicker as well, thanks to inhouse testing. “It basically eliminates ‘fragmented care,’ ” said Maria Brito, assistant professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Fragmented care, she said, is a problem that arises when “you’re seeing doctors of different specialties for a condition in which per-

Courtesy of Mount Sinai Health System

Ribbon cut, care available: Mount Sinai says their new facility is the first of its kind in the Northeast.

haps they don’t communicate with each other, or there are delays in information between one to the other.” In addition to hampering treatment, “that also creates a degree of uncertainty for the patient,” said Brito, who will co-direct the center with Terry Davies, professor of endocrinology, diabetes,

and bone disease at the Icahn school. But at Mount Sinai’s Union Square thyroid center, most of the doctors’ patients need to see all work together in one place. “There are some patients who will never have to leave the building for their thyroid care completely,” Brito said.

In addition to providing better treatment, doctors at the center will also be able to focus on research of thyroid conditions in both clinical and lab settings. The center aims to maintain a 72-hour new-patient appointment policy, where a patient will see a doctor no more than three days from when they first call. Because of the rise in diabetes nationwide, endocrinology appointments fill up quickly, said Brito, but so far, they’ve been able to meet that 72-hour policy goal. Three surgeons from the Icahn medical school, Mark Urken, William Inabnet, and Eugene Friedman will also be based at the center, but the doctors make a point to offer effective non-surgical alternatives as well. A procedure known as “ethanol ablation,” for example, uses an injection of alcohol to destroy a tumor, rather than radiation or chemotherapy, or removing it surgically, and can also treat benign cysts without surgery. It’s a treatment option that could have

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November 1 – November 14, 2018


LOCKER UP! New venture offers secure bike parking BY SYDNEY PEREIRA The third time was the charm. After Shabazz Stuart had three bikes stolen within five years, the entrepreneur decided that cyclists need a secure space to park their rides. Three years ago, Stuart began working to launch Oonee — a subscription-based parking garage for bikes. After a pilot of the garage-like pod in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Oonee has launched its first location in Manhattan at Water-Whitehall Plaza on Oct. 22 through a partnership with the local business improvement district, the Downtown Alliance. And Stuart said lots of city cyclists are eager to take the new service for a spin. “The response has been overwhelming so far,” said Stuart. The way people move around the city and use public space is changing quickly, said Oonee co-founder J. Manuel Mansylla, and Oonee’s pods are designed specifically to address those needs. “Infrastructure can’t be the way it used to,” he said. Mansylla, who also founded the design firm Totem, is the brains behind the pods’ design, which can be expanded or shortened depending on need. The pods are also not permanently fixed to the ground, but rather secured in place by water-filled Jersey barriers. “We need something that is going to be as fast and dynamic and flexible as we are,” he said. The Downtown pod is already at capacity, according to Mansylla, with some 50 subscribers who will share 20 spots inside. “We need a sustainable place where we can park our bicycles,” said Frederick

Photo by Sydney Pereira

Oonee’s parking pods are designed to be expanded or shortened depending on need, and are not permanently fi xed to the ground, but rather secured in place by water-filled Jersey barriers.


Cordner, one of Oonee’s first subscribers and a Newark resident who commutes to Lower Manhattan. “I feel it’s a great step forward.” Colin Hong, a West Villager who works in Tribeca and comes to Lower Manhattan regularly for lunch with friends, is also a subscriber. “I’ve had bikes stolen before, so I’m just a little more paranoid than usual,” said Hong. Stuart and Mansylla are betting that cyclists are willing to pay $4.99 a month for a spot in the pod, with the first month free. Oonee also offers day passes for $1 and weekly passes for $2.50 during off-peak times. “I got into this project to provide affordable cycle parking on scale — for everyone,” Stuart said. The company plans to expand to Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and Queens Place Mall next year, according to Stuart, though an agreement with Madison International Realty, which owns both, and several other sites are in the works. “It doesn’t really help if there’s only one,” Stuart said. But in the heart of crowded Lower Manhattan, Stuart had a lot of trouble securing space for his parking pod. Conversations usually stop at the first email, according to Stuart, because property owners are hesitant to cede precious outdoor space to an untried venture. The Downtown Alliance has been the most supportive, he said. “Our partnership with Oonee allows us to offer a low-cost solution to answer one of our biking community’s biggest concerns — bike security,” said Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin. The private use of this public space at Water-Whitehall Plaza is allowed through an agreement between the Department of Transportation and the Downtown Alliance. Though the plaza is city property, the Downtown Alliance has a concession agreement to operate, manage and maintain the space, according to DOT spokesperson Alana Morales. The Alliance can make commercial contracts for use of the plaza, but all revenue must be used for the plaza’s maintenance and management, she said. “All of the money from Oonee goes

Photo by Sydney Pereira

Oonee co-founders Shabazz Stuart, at left, and J. Manuel Mansylla explained the company’s subscription-based bike-parking pods at an Oct. 22 kick-off event at Water-Whitehall Plaza.

to fund maintenance of all of the DOT plazas that we oversee in the district,” said Alliance spokeswoman Elizabeth Lutz. “Currently there are two of them — Water-Whitehall Plaza and Coenties Slip.” Alliance chief spokesman Andy Breslau said that he is “particularly

stoked” that Downtown’s first Oonee pod is located across from the Staten Island Ferry, which he thinks will go a long way to promote cycling as a transportation option in Lower Manhattan. “If biking is ever really going to reach a maximum,” said Breslau, “bike parking has to be solved.”

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November 1 – November 14, 2018


New York unites against hate Memorial at Park East Synagogue honors those slain at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life BY LESLEY SUSSMAN A who’s who of some of the city’s top-ranking faith, civic, and political leaders attended a gathering Wednesday morning at Park East Synagogue, on the Upper East Side, to remember the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue last weekend, and denounce all acts of violence and hate that have occurred throughout the nation. Among those who attended the gathering, at 163 E. 67th St., were Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York; Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; United Nations SecretaryGeneral Antonio Guterres; New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill; and Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. Other important personages who attended the meeting to speak out against religious intolerance and bigotry were Reverend Clifton Daniel III,

dean of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine; Sheikh Musa Drammeh, chairperson of the Islamic Cultural Center of North America; and Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York. More than 200 people attended the memorial, which was co-organized by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith partnership of corporate and spiritual leaders. Since 1965, the foundation has worked on behalf of religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. The event’s other co-organizer was United Against Hate, a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization composed of people seeking to blot out hateful speech and actions. On Wednesday, meanwhile, New Yorkers continued to beat the drum against anti-Semitism and religious and racial bigotry at a noontime rally on the steps of City Hall attended by a coalition of city councilmembers, faithbased leaders and advocacy groups.





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November 1 – November 14, 2018

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Children from the Day School lit a candle for each person killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27.

Speakers expressed solidarity with the city’s Jewish community. At Park East Synagogue, Senior Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, told the audience that he was a Holocaust survivor who had seen his synagogue in Germany burned to the ground by the Nazis while police and fi remen stood by and did nothing. “I thank our police forces for the protection against harm they are providing us,� he said. “How good it is that they and everyone else — including members of Congress — are together as one and here, today, to promote peace in the world and remember the people who were killed in Pittsburgh.� Cardinal Dolan told the audience, “We are not afraid.� “The wounds of Pittsburgh are still oozing but we are not afraid,� he said. “We know that God changes darkness to light and we praise God for his mercy and endurance forever.� U.N. Secretary-General Guterres told the audience that he fears the rise of neo-Nazism throughout the world. “Anti-Semitism is the oldest and most persistent form of hatred in the world,� he said. “Jews are being perse-

cuted and attacked just for being who they are. I see the roots of neo-Nazism growing.� Archbishop Demetrios said he had “no proper words to express my sorrow and condemnation for the event that happened in Pittsburgh. “We must continue God’s dream for the world to put an end to division and hatred,� he said. “We must help create God’s dream of unity and peace for this world.� Saturday evening, an interfaith vigil was held in the Village at Judson Memorial Church. Faith leaders from Lab/Shul and Judson came together for a service, which was followed by talking circles and a candlelight memorial in Washington Square Park. During the service’s first part, an African-American reverend led the group in singing “Amazing Grace� and “We Shall Overcome.� A woman from Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood where the Pittsburgh shooting occurred, spoke. An African-American played the piano and sang a Yiddish song, “It Is Burning,� based on a poem about the burning of shtetl written in 1936 by Mordecai Gebirtig. The poem was written in response to the pogrom of Przytyk, which occurred on March 9, 1936.

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


November 1 – November 14, 2018

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

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

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

A would-be thief attempted to rob a woman inside the Bowling Green subway station on Oct. 24, but the wouldbe victim put up a savage fight, and even ended up chasing her attacker out of the station — and snatching his sweater of his back. The target told police she had boarded a northbound 5 train at the station near Battery Place at 6:15 pm, when the suspect reached through the closing doors and attempted to snatch her book bag, according to police But the lady pulled back, and the man grabbed her hair and started slugging her, but she managed to overcome him and ended up pursuing him topside, at one point ripping the sweater off his back, cops said. In the end, the attacker ended up escaping his “victim,” and no arrests have been made in the case, according to police, who noted they recovered his sweater as evidence.

DIDN’T TAKE THE BIKE A knife-wielding crook robbed a 71-year-old man on Watts Street on Oct. 28. The victim told police he was riding his bike near West Street at 8:40 pm, when the suspect pulled a knife on him and demanded his valuables. The goon nabbed the victim’s wallet, cellphone, and watch before fleeing on foot with his ill-gotten stuff, cops said. No arrests have been made in the case, which remains open, according to police.

CYBERCRIME A burglar looted a Grand Street clothing boutique on Oct. 28, nabbing laptops. Surveillance footage shows the crook inside the retailer between Greene and Mercer streets at 4:38 am, when he grabbed the computers and fled. No arrests have been made in the case, which remains open, cops said.

LOOKING SHARP Three shoplifters nabbed more than $9,000 worth of designer duds from a Spring Street department store on Oct. 28. A worker told police he spotted

the suspects inside the store between Greene and Mercer streets at 4:16 pm, when the crooks nabbed a few choice article of expensive clothing, including a $1,925 pair of pants, and made a run for the exit. No arrests have been made in the case, which remains open, cops said.

PACKAGE PERP A burglar let himself into a Sullivan Street apartment building to steal packages on Oct. 16. Video surveillance shows the crook somehow defeat a lock to let himself into the lobby of the building between Prince and Spring streets at 4 am, nabbing six packages there and fleeing.

TOOL TIME A thief nabbed $2,700 worth of gear from a Washington Street worksite on Oct. 20. The head of a contracting outfit told police 25 workers had access to the construction site between Desbrosses and Vestry streets at 3:30 pm, and suspects at least one of them made off with a small fortune worth of laser levels and drill sets that were left there.

SHADY CHARACTER Cops busted a man for allegedly stealing more than $2,000 worth of sunglasses and a child’s jacket from a chain store on Liberty Street on Oct. 20. An employee told police the suspect pilfered shades and a jacket from the store near West Street at 2:40 pm, stuffing his ill-gotten accessories into a black gym bag, then slinking past the register. Police cuffed the suspect that day, charging him with grand larceny, cops said.

HANDY CROOK A thief dismantled scaffolding on Broadway to get at a man’s $1,200 bike on Oct. 17. The victim told police he locked his bicycle to the scaffolding between Prince and Spring streets at 7:30 pm, and returned about 15 minutes later to find someone had unbolted a beam to nab his bike. — Colin Mixson

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November 1 – November 14, 2018


Thurs., Nov. 1–Wed., Nov.7

ALT. SIDE PARKING RULES SUSPENDED THURSDAY FOR ALL SAINTS DAY AND TUESDAY FOR DIWALI AND ELECTION DAY Immigration and abortion issues will bring protesters and counter-protesters to Lower Manhattan marches this week. Thursday afternoon, the New Sanctuary Coalition is expanding the length of its weekly afternoon protest, walking from Washington Square Park to the immigration court on Varick and Houston Sts. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The Holland Tunnel approach areas and Varick will be even more sluggish than usual for the afternoon rush. In the morning, the group will take its short, weekly 11 a.m. “Jericho Walk” at Foley Square in the Brooklyn Bridge area until 12. Saturday marchers on both sides of the abortion debate will be marching and likely arguing from outside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral on Mulberry St. near Prince St., across Houston St. to the Planned Parenthood clinic on Bleecker St. near Mott St. 7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. The NYC Marathon Sunday won’t directly affect Lower Manhattan, but there’ll be more West Side Highway traffic until about 3 p.m. as drivers avoid the First and Fifth Ave. closures Uptown. The Verrazano Bridge shutdown will send many Brooklyn drivers to the Holland Tunnel. There are lots of Lower Manhattan service changes this weekend. Because of “urgent signal repairs” Saturday only, the R train is not running to Brooklyn, and the N is only running every 12

PARKING Continued from page 2

into Rockefeller Park to walk their dog. “I feel fairly confident that if you create more parking it will absolutely be used for placard parking,” said a River House resident who identified himself only as Brian. Meltzer suggested the board ask DOT to conduct a study of how making River Terrace one way would affect surrounding traffic, noting that she wanted the board to take its time considering the city’s proposal. But fellow committee member Jeff Mihok shot the study DowntownExpress.com

minutes. On this track, there will be no Brooklyn-bound service at City Hall, Cortlandt, Rector, or Whitehall Sts. Nearby 4 stations are an alternative. The uptown A and C trains will run on the F track from Jay St. to W. Fourth St. 9:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, skipping Fulton, Chambers, Canal and Spring Sts. The Brooklyn-bound F will be on the A track from Canal to Jay, skipping Broadway-Lafayette, Second Ave., Delancey St. and E. Broadway. The Downtown C will skip Spring Saturday and Sunday. The clocks fall back Sunday so it’ll start getting dark earlier. Crashes rise the first week after Daylight Savings ends so be extra careful on the roads. Meter and other parking rules will be in effect on the alternate side parking suspension days, Thursday and Tuesday. Traffic will be down Tuesday with public schools closed for Election Day. Mailbag: Dear Transit Sam, If someone has a driver’s license from Singapore, can he drive with a N.Y. State learner permit, and out of state? Ginnie Dear Ginnie, Short-term visitors from other countries may drive in New York with a valid license from their country but a N.Y. resident, which is taken to mean someone living here for at least 90 days, must get a state license in 30 days. The rules for foreign driver licenses vary by state. Many require an International Driving Permit. Transit Sam

down, arguing successfully that the board shouldn’t endorse any policy that doesn’t begin with the NYPD following the law. “The three members of our community, who spoke about placard abuse and accessibility, I feel like, it’s not an urgent need, and until there’s placard enforcement, let’s not even get this rolling,” said Mihok. The committee ultimately decided to table the issue, and will consider a future resolution declining the traffic change and demanding better placardparking enforcement. November 1 – November 14, 2018


Amazon Go is coming to Brookfield Place BY COLIN MIXSON Online-retail juggernaut Amazon is reportedly coming to Brookfield Place in Battery Park City with the first New York outpost of its high-tech concept shop that gives a whole new meaning to the term “convenience store.” Amazon Go shops replace the humanity of a warm-blooded cashier with the cool efficiency of interconnected smart gadgets, according to a report by tech blog Recode. Shoppers check in with an app at the entrance, then grab what they need and just walk out. The store “knows” what you took, and charges you electronically. The new store offers the same type of groceries, snacks, and soft drinks you’d expect from a 7-Eleven, but swaps the pimply faced teen behind the register — along with the register itself — with a suite of all-seeing cameras and sensors, which track your purchases and automatically deduct charges from a pre-registered account. Thus far, the literally dehumanized retail chain has substituted technology for people at four locations across the country, including the market’s flagship on the ground floor of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, which had a wine

and beer selection that did require one human to check identification — an apparent design flaw that wasn’t repeated with subsequent location in Seattle and Chicago, where booze is not on offer, and mortal staffers are relegated to preparing sandwiches in the kitchen and restocking shelves, according to a report in Pymnts, a retail trade publication. The Brookfield store would be the first Amazon Go on the East Coast, at the vanguard of some 3,000 robot stores Amazon plans to open across the nation by 2021, according to a Bloomberg report, as CEO Jeff Bezos escalates his war against retail cashiers. The online retailer purchased upscale grocery store Whole Foods for $13.7 billion last year, but Amazon honchos claim they’re not looking to supplant those workers there with electronic doodads just yet. In order to shop at Amazon Go stores, prospective patrons must first download the Amazon Go application onto their phones, where they can register and provide payment information, after which the program produces a bar code on their phone’s display that customers then scan at the store’s entrance.

Associated Press / Elaine Thompson

At the Amazon Go shop coming to Brookfi eld Place, you can just grab what you want and walk out — the store “knows” what you took, and bills you accordingly.

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November 1 – November 14, 2018



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AIR HEAD ‘Baby Trump’ balloon shows up at pro-impeachment rally Downtown BY COLIN MIXSON Activists flew a gigantic, inflatable effigy of an orange baby with tiny hands above Battery Park on Oct. 28, marking the first New York City stop on Baby Trump’s national tour designed to drum up support for the 45th president’s impeachment. “Baby Trump balloons are being

sent all around the country, appearing at events intended to draw attention to the childlike person occupying the Oval Office,” said Jim Girvan, who organized the Baby Trump tour. “Mr. Trump is a threat to our democracy and the American values we hold so dear.” The 20-foot-tall orange baby, wearing a diaper and holding a cellphone Photo by Milo Hess

The Baby Trump balloon was the guest of honor at a so-called “impeachment parade” starting from Battery Park on Oct. 28.

Photo by Milo Hess

The event was meant to build support for impeaching Trump, but the 200 folks who showed up already seemed pretty fired up about the prospect.

with a petulant look on its face, was flown during a so-called “impeachment parade” at the Downtown park organized as part of a national campaign, called By the People, dedicated to ensuring Trump’s premature exit from the White House. Baby Trump drew nearly 200 wouldbe impeachers to the park near Castle Clinton, where they chanted, waved signs, and ogled what one activist described as a tasteful display of comedic symbolism. “It’s not just laughing at him, it’s more symbolic,” said Cesar Acosta, a Murray Hill resident who looks forward to casting his first ballot in the upcoming general election after becoming a US citizen. A much smaller group of MAGAhatted Trump supporters appeared at the rally to confront the president’s

detractors but a substantial police presence and some well placed barricades kept the two camps separated and relatively civil throughout the event. Before Sunday, Baby Trump balloons have made headlines after appearances near Donald Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, NJ, in Palm Beach near Mar-a-Lago (aka “The southern White House”), and over the Women’s March in Chicago. The baby blimp’s maiden voyage was over London’s Parliament Square last July. The original balloon was created through a crowd-funding campaign to protest President Trump’s visit to Britain. American activists then launched their own campaign, raising more than $24,000 — five times its original goal — to create multiple copies of the Baby Trump balloon for use at anti-Trump events across the country.

Photo by Milo Hess

Some might argue that this is an even more accurate portrayal of the president than the balloon when it is fully inflated.


November 1 – November 14, 2018


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November 1 – November 14, 2018


BY JANEL BL ADOW The River Lounge out on Pier 17 has closed for the season, and Halloween has come and gone. But there still are plenty of treats around the Seaport! DRINK & DINE… Over the last few months, several new spots have opened in the neighborhood. Everything from high end to happy hour fun. Playa Taco, 212 Front St., has been busy, busy, busy since it replaced the V Bar late in the summer. This colorful cantina hosts happy hour daily, 11 am–7 pm with $5 beers and $7 margaritas. Weekend brunch is a bargain too, starting at $12, and lively, fun music makes it feel as if you’re south of the border. And it’s a great spot to warm up on a chilly fall evening. Cobble & Company at 19 Fulton St., is a comfy, two-story gastropub, open daily at 11 am. Menu emphasizes comfort food — from custom burgers to delectable desserts. Executive Chef Edward Janda comes to the nabe from The Smith and Fig and Olive. Drinks — from the Stout & Stormy to The Golden Pineapple — are super tasty, thanks to the talents of Mixologist

Jeremy Strawn, who also created drinkable concoctions at the Standard Hotel, among other spots. The latest addition is 10 Corso Como Restaurant & Café, at Beekman and Front Streets. It’s also open for weekday lunch and weekend brunch, and intimate nightly dining. The menu is Italian-inspired — from pastas to “zuppa di pesce” and this new spot has an old-world elegance. While, there, pop into the boutique and gallery for some inspired, early holiday shopping. Coming soon is Lobster GoGo, a play on the traditional Maine seafood shack. The menu promises to marry “fine fare with quick service. Their signature Maine lobster roll joins more freshly made dishes brought to you straight from the “icy North Atlantic and regional boutique farms.” Besides the classic split butter-griddled bun stuffed with lobster, they’re also teasing salmon poke, bisques and chowders. Location and opening dates still in the works. A MAGICAL, MUSICAL NIGHT… What better way to celebrate a new restaurant than hosting a launch party




November 1 – November 14, 2018

Photo by Collins Nai

Swanky boutique 10 Corso Como has opened its even swankier restaurant and cafe.

for one of the world’s greatest voices? On Thursday, Oct. 25, guests of the Howard Hughes Corporation shared an intimate evening with Andrea Bocelli, to celebrate the worldwide debut of his latest album, “Si.” Violinist Anastasiya Petryshak entertained during the cocktail hour. Then guests — including Gayle King and Thom Felicia — dined on a five-course meal, including risotto al tartufo bianco and agnello scottadito (grilled baby lamb chops). After dinner, Bocelli performed songs from his new album in the iPic Theater. He sang a duet with Ilaria Della Bidia. He also performed “Fall on Me,” with his son Matteo. The evening continued back at 10 Corso Como for an elegant afterparty. FASHION NEWS… Roberto Cavalli opened a new boutique at 205 Front St. during NY Fashion Week in September. The Italian fashion house, known for exotic prints and vibrant colors, launched what it calls its “experimental laboratory” in the two-story space. Video walls greet guests for an immersive shopping experience. Customers will be able to buy unique, customized versions of their new V1PER sneaker exclusively at the shop. This month, they’ll host an event to debut the PreFall 2019 collection along with a photo shoot featuring the Seaport. Later, expect more events to revolve around the city’s fashion and art scene. SHOP ’TIL YOU… If you love shoes as much as I do, drop in at SJP, 93 South St., to be dazzled by brilliant colors, sparkling embellishments and oh-so stiletto heels. Handcrafted by

a third-generation Tuscan shoemaker, there’s a pump or a ballet shoe for every woman who ever watched “Sex and the City.” And don’t be surprised if Carrie Bradshaw… err, Sarah Jessica Parker is there with helpful advice. She’s been known to occasionally drop in on her namesake shop. MORE SHOPPING NEWS… And while you’re at it, pop into Scotch & Soda, 18 Fulton St., for a stylish classic jacket or explorer-worthy parka. All their outerwear and fall fashions are now on sale at 50-percent off. This includes women’s, men’s and children’s styles. The Amsterdam-based clothier is known for its fresh take on traditional funwear. WHARF RATS… From time to time I mention the massive numbers of these pesky vermin wandering without a care throughout our neighborhood. They are up and breeding heavily again. Sightings along Beekman, South, Front and Water streets are common, especially in the evenings or really early mornings. There’s been a lot of debate about what to do. Some cite the amount of garbage outside eateries as the problem. Others say residents don’t secure there plastic trash bags tightly enough. Jeremey’s Ale House on Front Street has turned to mint-scented plastic bags to repel the dirty critters. Or try not putting out garbage the afternoon before collection day, but in the early morning if you can, closer to the pick up time. Another suggestion is to call 311 and complain. The more complaints the city gets, the more likely something will be done about those little beasties! DowntownExpress.com

Six years later, Downtown no safer Lower Manhattan still waiting for protection over half a decade after Sandy deluge BY SYDNEY PEREIRA In the days following Superstorm Sandy six years ago, Tanya Acevedo, a mother of two, remembers that it “felt like we were living in the end of the world.” While waiting for the power to return, her apartment in the Lillian Wald houses on Avenue D was dark and cold. “It felt so surreal,” she said. She recalled that her son, 3-years-old at the time, would cry from how cold it was in those late-October, early-November days after the storm hit New York — killing 43, knocking out power for two million, and causing $19 billion in damage in the city alone. Parts of Downtown were submerged under more than 10 feet of water. Today, Acevedo stocks extra blankets, nonperishable food, and batteries in her apartment in the case of another storm. But just east of her apartment building, at East River Park, the city’s major resiliency infrastructure project intended to protect her and 110,000 others in her neighborhood from storm surge and sea level rise has been long-delayed and recently overhauled entirely. After years of plans to build a system of berms between the FDR Drive and East River Park, and a floodwall along the FDR Drive, city honchos announced in late September that some 70 percent of the plan would be re-designed into something entirely different from what the city presented to Community Board 3 in March. The new plan, which city officials shared CB3 in mid-October, will bury the East River Park under up to 10 feet of dirt to raise the elevation, and then add a floodwall at the river’s edge west of the esplanade. North of 13th St. and between Montgomery and Cherry streets, the east side plan will stay the same. The city says construction for the east side will begin in spring 2020 with flood protections in place by summer 2023 — sooner than under the previous plan, but more than a decade after Sandy. The East River Park will be closed for three years, according to mayoral spokesperson Phil Ortiz. Michael Claudio, a general contractor who has lived on Avenue D for 35 years, echoed the frustration felt by many in the Downtown community. “They’re still at a talking stage,” he said of the East River Park plans. DowntownExpress.com

“Nothing has started. Nothing has been done.” Claudio rode out the storm in 2012 and remembers having to go to Harlem to buy groceries and charge his phone at charging stations brought into the neighborhood. The city has allocated $760 million for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, which includes $338 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The new plan is expected to be $1.45 billion. Ortiz said the city will fund the additional cost. Members of CB3 were taken aback by the sudden, drastic revamp of the project. “We were taken completely by surprise,” said Trever Holland, the CB3 parks committee chairman and founder of Tenants United Fighting for the Lower East Side. Holland lives in the Two Bridges neighborhood — which the city plans to protect with a separate project called Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency — and now he’s worried the city will return to the community with an entirely new plan for his own neighborhood, just four months after a community engagement meeting about a plan for flip-up storm barriers along the FDR. But Holland’s neighborhood is still better than points south. Below Two Bridges, the “Manhattan Tip” portion of the city’s resiliency plan is woefully underfunded, with only $108 million allocated so far for a potentially multi-billion-dollar project that still has no preliminary design. Short-term protections for Downtown are in the works though — namely, long sandbag walls and deployable flood barriers that are expected to be in place next year. Downtown pols and community leaders blasted the lack of concrete action on the larger infrastructure plans last week at a press conference at a sign marking Pier 16’s high water mark — where Sandy flooded South Street Seaport. Six years after the storm, the city is “still talking about the same issues,” said Borough President Gale Brewer. “It’s the same discussion, right here, today in 2018.” The so-called “Big U” plan — 10-mile, conceptual design to protect much of the east and west sides of Manhattan — “is a line on the paper,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, former

CB1 chairwoman and a member of the Metropolitan NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group. “The ‘Big U’ at year six — I don’t see anything in the ground,” she said. “Nothing has changed at the waterfront.” Another major aspect of the larger plan to “save” the city — as chairman of the regional working group Malcolm Bowman put it — is the regional plan to protect over 2,100 miles of New York and New Jersey shorelines, but that project is even further out on the horizon. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently studying the feasibility of five different alternatives for offshore storm-surge barriers and shoreline protections for the region. By 2022, But the Corps isn’t expected to even make its recommendations to Congress for a plan to consider until 2022. And even then, the project will only be designed to protect against stormsurge risk, not necessarily sea level rise. The design that his working group supports — a five-mile storm-surge

barrier between Sandy Hook in New Jersey and Breezy Point in Queens — could protect the city from storm surge flooding for 100 years, according to Bowman. But additional shoreline protections would be needed to protect the city from the “slow, chronic, but sure sea level rise,” he said. Critics of the off-shore barrier plan say it will destroy the ecology of the Hudson River, but Bowman pushed back against that argument at last week’s press conference. “I’m as green as anybody,” said Bowman, a professor at SUNY Stonybrook’s marine and atmospheric sciences school. “I’m an avowed treehugger myself, and so I understand just as much as anybody that if we’re going to come up with some sort of engineering solution, that it must not impact the ecology of this marvelous area, of this treasure, of this mighty Hudson River. We have to find ways of working together to make sure that we can ensure that,” he said, adding that if he thought the five-mile barrier plan would destroy the Hudson, he wouldn’t endorse it.

November 1 – November 14, 2018




Gunshots in Squirrel Hill remind America of hate groups among us

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November 1 – November 14, 2018

BY GERALDO RIVERA Driving on Route 80 from New York through the lovely Poconos on my way home to Cleveland, I heard on the radio about the outrage at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Like hurricanes and all such unfolding disasters, mass murders take a while until the full extent of the trauma is realized. The body count is always worse than initially reported. In this case, it was profoundly worse from what I was hearing on the radio. From several dead, it soon became clear that what happened in the charming Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh was the worst massacre of Jews in America ever. Eleven elderly worshippers ranging in age from 54 to 97 were killed while gathered for Saturday Shabbat services. Six more were wounded, including four heroic Pittsburgh cops who confronted the mass murderer as he attempted to flee the scene of his carnage. Their speedy response probably saved lives. The alleged shooter was another of those aggrieved losers, like the schmuck who last week sent the poorly constructed mail bombs to Democratic leadership and CNN. As you probably know by now, this alleged temple murderer is Robert Bowers, a 46-year old anti-Semite who armed himself with an AR-15 and several powerful Glock handguns before beginning his slaughter of defenseless old timers praying in the temple that has served Jews in

Associated Press / Richard Drew

Geraldo Rivera

this community for 100 years. His motive, at least as gleaned from his perverse social-media posts, was his rage at efforts of Jewish humanitarian groups, principally the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, to assist refugees like those in the caravan currently making its way north from Central America through Mexico to the United States. Somehow, Bowers twisted the ancient compassion of Jews and the current plight of Latino refugees into a mortal threat to the white race. Whatever his motivation or sick excuse, Bowers’ alleged crimes were a grim reminder that however comfortable Jewish life is in America, our New World Colossus, there have always been intolerant haters. Spawned by jealousy, envy, and race hatred, these neo-Nazis are a

sub-culture that has existed for centuries, lurking just below the surface, and waiting for an excuse to savage Jewish businesses, houses of worship, and individuals because they represent some obscure threat. These days, antiSemitism is out of fashion, but as this slaughter of innocents reminds, some things never really change — they just go underground. Until the terrible news broke of the temple massacre, the weekend had a pleasant buzz. Despite awful weather that caused me to take this rare road trip rather than my usual commuter plane, I was motoring along while enjoying the fall colors across the Allegheny Mountains, looking for charming places to gas up and grab a bite. On Friday, I had spent the evening with some old friends from the Guild for Exceptional Children, a Brooklynbased community services charity founded, like Life’s WORC, by parents of developmentally disabled youngsters formerly who were warehoused in nowdefunct institutions like Willowbrook on Staten Island. We remembered the grim old days, and celebrated all that has changed for the better in the field, despite the many challenges that remain. I wish the weekend had ended with that positive affirmation that care, compassion, and good deeds define us. Sadly, harsh reality sometimes intrudes, as it did when gunshots pierced the peaceful Shabbat in the old Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

Letters CUOMO NEEDS METROCARD To the editor, Transit history repeats itself. In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo said “the MTA’s proposed $32 billion 2014–2019 Five-Year Capital Plan was bloated by billions,” but he never identified which capital projects should be canceled. The approved plan was reduced to $29 billion. Several years later, $3 billion was added to help fund the LIRR $2.6 billion Main Line Third Track and $6 billion for NYC Transit’s Second Avenue Subway Phase 2.

After being reelected in 2018, Cuomo will begin running around the nation positioning himself for a 2020 Presidential run. He will be too busy to worry about how the MTA will fund the next $32 billion 2020–2024 Five Year Capital Program and fi nd $38 billion more to fund NYC Transit president Andy Byford’s proposed recovery plan. Cuomo doesn’t own a Metro Card and use public transportation on a daily basis like millions of his constituents. This is why he has a poor under-

standing of what commuters really desire. Larry Penner

MAXED OUT To the editor, I can’t say that I am sorry for Max Burbank’s “Emptiness and Despair” (sob), and I did not read beyond the first paragraph, knowing pretty much what a full page of adolescent political diatribe sounds like. One would think that the Downtown LETTERS Continued on page 19



Community Boards need term limits BY BETSY GOTBAUM This November, in addition to races for federal and state offices, New Yorkers will find three proposals on the back of their ballots. At the heart of all three is the goal to strengthen the city’s democratic institutions and expand representation in government. However, some have flaws that voters should reject. The first proposal would change the city’s campaign finance rules, the second would create a Civic Engagement Commission, and the third would institute term limits on community boards and reform how community board members are appointed. New York City’s 59 Community Boards perform important, but often overlooked, functions in our city’s government. Each board consists of up to 50 volunteer members, appointed by the Borough President, with half of those members nominated by their district’s City Council member. They have a variety of responsibilities, including dealing with land-use and zoning issues, assessing the needs of their neighborhoods,

LETTERS Continued from page 18

Express might rise above partisan politics and choose not to wipe out its many potential readers of varying political persuasions. Certainly, to align with the Democrats at this moment in time, when their reprehensible game playing is displayed for the world to see, seems unwise — but then, back to that “adolescent” voice (and cartoon). I have never voted Republican in my life, but the gutter-level antics of the Kavanaugh Hearings has changed that. While I vote for the candidate and not for the party, the travesty which our current representatives in Washington very publicly aided and abetted, I know that it will be a very long time before I vote for a Democrat again, if ever. It is tragic, but also laughable, that the Downtown Express, which comes out politically on the side of the Party that wrings its hands and sheds croco-

Citizens Union

Betsy Gotbaum is the Executive Director of Citizens Union, and served as NYC Public Advocate from 2002 though 2009.

and addressing community concerns. Community boards represent government at the most grassroots level, and ensure that community voices are heard when it comes to policies that will impact them on the neighborhood

dile tears over every “victim” it can identify, lords it over fellow citizens who think differently. The Democratic ideology contains much more self-interested ego than the crocodile compassion its PR commonly promotes. Dirty politics and genuine compassion do not blend in the same political recipe. Dolores Dagostino

VOTE ‘NO’ ON TERM LIMITS To the editor, I have been on Community Board 1 for almost thirty years. At this point in my “community board life” I have gained the experience to help on the development of parks, the waterfront, traffic safety, and of course, schools and youth programs. Honesty, I really don’t have time or interest in land use, but many of my friends on the community board do. The imposition of term limits on longtime community board members would take away the institutional

level. If you have a question or concern about a quality-of-life issue or city services, more often than not, your local community board is where you will turn first. Given the important functions performed by community boards, it is crucial that they be representative of the neighborhoods they serve. Community boards would also benefit from an injection of new voices, ideas and perspectives. As with any government agency, it is important to have as much standardization and transparency as possible. Proposal three would impose term limits of a maximum of four consecutive two-year terms for community board members (with certain exceptions), require Borough Presidents to seek out persons of diverse backgrounds in making appointments to community boards, and add new application and reporting requirements related to these appointments. These reforms will ensure that representation on boards can keep pace with the changing demographics of communities. They will also provide a

healthy degree of turnover, which will allow boards to benefit from new perspectives and energy. This will lead to a more rigorous selection process for board appointments. The proposal will also standardize the appointment process across the boroughs and make it more transparent. A vote for proposal three is a vote to strengthen our Community Boards, which will strengthen our city government from the grassroots level on up. Since 1911, Citizens Union has offered New York voters a comprehensive review of ballot proposals and candidates running for city and state office through our Voters Directory. You can review our endorsements and recommendations for this November’s election here. As one of New York’s leading good government groups committed to fostering accountability, accessibility and transparency, Citizens Union encourages all New Yorkers to take a long, hard look at these proposals, and the candidates asking for their vote this November. Betsy Gotbaum is the Executive Director of Citizens Union.

knowledge we bring to the table. For example, with my other board members we have been instrumental in changing traffic turning lanes and increasing safely for school children. We organized after 9/11 and after Sandy. We have fought for affordable housing, more parks, and more schools. Community board term limits are not like those for elected officials. We don’t approve anything with power, do not control budgets, and have only our voices in an advisory capacity. We are not paid. I have spent many, many long evenings working for the community. Democracy is messy but it works. As a community organizer, I find it important to build warm relations with the people who run city services. They rely on us, as being knowledgeable. We can be a bit “curmudgeonly,” but we help people. Community board members are good activists. Right now, I am working on public safety and fighting the closing of a school — real

issues impacting real people. The more experience we have, the better we can protect our community. Why, you ask, does the mayor want to limit the amount of time we can serve our community? I think he made a mistake. I can’t really figure it, as he understands activism. The charter revision commission, with very little public input on this issue, says it is trying to bring more people into the process. However, we have significant turnover on the community board each year already. From my conversations, only 30 percent of the members have been there eight years. Believe it or not, for this action there is no historical data on community board membership or ethnicity. No research by the commission. I believe records are lost and no data exists! Initiative 2 will be a waste of tax payer funds. It will not help the community process. Vote no on 2 and 3. Bob Townley

For more news & events happening now visit www.DowntownExpress.com DowntownExpress.com

November 1 – November 14, 2018


My Grandfather’s Thanksgiving Prayer BY MAX BURBANK There’s so much this column ought to be about. A “caravan” of our fellow human beings, so terrified and desperate they’ve walked 3,000 miles looking for help and safety, and somehow we, the most powerful country on earth, feel threatened by them. A mass assassination attempt by a dude living in a van decopauged with “Tiger Beat”-style Trump and Pence pin-ups. The president responding to a mass shooting in a synagogue by saying that if they’d had armed guards, “... the results would have been far better.” So much news we’ve all but forgotten the bone saw incident. But I just got back from walking my dogs. The sunrise over the ocean I assume was just a few blocks away behind some buildings was beautiful. It made me feel okay, and I’d like to hold on to that for a half our or so before I open Twitter and start screaming. So I’m writing about Thanksgiving prayers. Not my own. My prayer is obvious and lukewarm comfort at best — that November 6, we get off this golden escalator descent into fascism we’ve been on since the day Trump announced his candidacy. I offer, instead, My Grandfather’s Thanksgiving Prayer. It’s cynical, mean-spirited, and entirely fictional, as mostly he avoided speaking to us, and certainly never hosted a dinner. It’s also a little funny, I hope, which is all I have to offer in answer to “where we’re at right now.” It has the added benefit of not being specifically about “where we’re at right now” — a thing I’ve had more of on my plate than I can stand lately. So here’s a breather, words of wisdom I’m pretending my grandfather said. I hope you can benefit from them, just as I pretend I have. “Family, friends, freeloaders one and all, welcome to my table. Before we begin the ritual consumption of more food in one evening than three-


Illustration by Max Burbank

fifths of the world’s children will see in two months, I think it fitting I lead you in prayer. How unfortunate for us all that not only do I not believe in God, in my opinion your belief is a manifestation of fears, ignorance, and prejudice on a level that makes you superior to apes only in that you are, most of you, less hairy. In place of prayer, then, I propose this toast, and if one of you so much as lays a finger on a roll before I’ve finished, I’ll cut it off. See if I’m kidding. The traditional American Thanksgiving rests upon two great lies: First, the handprint turkey. Trace your palm upon construction paper, and cut it out. Glue googly eyes upon it, cut feathers of red, yellow, and orange, affi x a clever wattle made from an uninflated red balloon if you like. The result?

November 1 – November 14, 2018

A cut-out of your hand with things glued on it, resembling a turkey given only the most liberal and compassionate interpretation. Though we all know this, still I’m expected to “ooh” and “ahh” over the multiple examples my grandchildren gift me with, just as if I won’t throw them out as soon as their little backs are turned. Stick a prom dress on a turd, it still will not dance with you. The second great lie of Thanksgiving? That the “First Thanksgiving” has anything to do with the holiday we celebrate tonight. One of the things I am most thankful for is that since my own children somehow graduated elementary school, I have not been required to sit through a Thanksgiving pageant. Our entire community should be thankful, since,

as the years have passed, my patience for the public display of folly has deteriorated to the point where the sight of small children aping Pilgrims and doomed indigenous peoples could not be born without unseemly shrieking. History does indeed record a harvest meal in 1621, shared between the Wampanoag and the 50-some odd surviving human flotsam clinging to life scant yards from where the Mayflower dumped them. Our Native American “guests” placed corn, squash, fish, and turkey upon the festive table. We supplied liquor, smallpox, and, for dessert, a foreshadowing of genocide. All that aside, the children at this table will PLEASE MAKE NOTE that Thanksgiving as we know it was not an annual tradition from that point on. Tying that one damn dinner

to our modern tradition is random, unwarranted, and infuriating. It was not until 1863, more than 200 years later, that a weary, drunken, arguably acromegalic, Abraham Lincoln created the modern Thanksgiving. Declared in the midst of a bloody civil war, it may well have been, like the suspension of Habeas Corpus, Lincoln’s idea of a good joke. It is well-known that tragedy, of which Lincoln endured more than his fair share, will turn your sense of humor black. This may have been Lincoln’s excuse. I have none I care to offer. Though I have now demonstrated that from hand turkeys to history, Thanksgiving is as much about lies as anything else, I insist we have much to be thankful for. At this table, we, all of us, enjoy the good fortune of being born Caucasian. Lucky us! If this weren’t enough, as Americans we own all the best weapons. Miserable as my life has been, it is entirely due to irritation caused in the main by all of you. It is in no way comparable to the misery experienced by almost everyone else on the planet, quivering in their wattle huts. I do not know what a wattle is, I will never need to know, and for this I am thankful. All empires fall, and ours will be no exception. All we hold dear will become dust and a fading memory — but through no agency of our own, chance has deposited us in this historic instant of American dominance, and so we are able to stuff ourselves until we are as gorged as ticks on the belly of a paralyzed dog! Lucky, lucky us. So raise a glass. I intend to keep refilling mine until I fall backward out of this chair in a dead drunk. Let my children and their children know I have emptied my pockets. There is nothing to be gained by rifling them. Pass the mashed potatoes.” DowntownExpress.com

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November 1 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; November 14, 2018


Don’t Let These Illusions Elude You Science museum meets funhouse, for Instagram-friendly fun

Photo by Kenroy Lumsden

Sure beats solitaire: The Clone Table features an arrangement of mirrors that replicate you such that you comprise all the players at a poker table.

BY TRAV S.D. If you have been wondering about those long lines outside the old Bank Building on the southwest corner of 14th St. and Eighth Ave., we have solved the mystery. As of Sept. 20, the historic structure (built 1907) has been home to an interactive permanent exhibition called the Museum of Illusions. If the name sounds ambiguous (is it an exhibit of famous magic tricks? Of dashed pipe dreams?), the recesses of this new emporium contain still trickier puzzles. It is a showcase for optical, photo, and holographic illusions — over 70 of them in several galleries spread out over two floors. New York’s Museum of Illusions is


the latest in a chain of 19 around the world founded by a Croatian marketing professional named Roko Zivkovic. He opened the first one in Zagreb in 2015; now there are locations in Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, Athens, and several countries of the Balkans and the Middle East, with plans for new ones in Toronto and Amsterdam. Croatian-American actor Renne Gjoni is the CEO of the New York branch, a hands-on guy who met me at the door and, on a recent and very busy Saturday, launched this correspondent into the museum’s world of wonders. The Museum of Illusions is equal parts science museum and funhouse, the sort of place that would be right at

November 1 – November 14, 2018

home in the revitalized Coney Island or Times Square. But a visit to “MOI” (as signs encourage us to call it) and the surrounding neighborhood is a rapid lesson in the interesting fact that Chelsea is now a tourist destination unto itself, with Chelsea Piers, Chelsea Market, the High Line, the Whitney Museum, the Rubin Museum, and lots of shops, art galleries, and restaurants all in the immediate vicinity. The neighborhood suits its latest addition, for the museum is less an educational institution (though it is full of genuine science) than a tourist attraction, as befits an institution founded by a marketing professional. It is aggressively being touted as an “Instagram-worthy” des-

tination. To that end, it seems a perfect place to bring children (even rowdy ones) or parties of high-spirited young adults, fresh from the local drinking establishments. While there is plenty of thought-provoking content on view to entertain the pensive and sedate and the old folks, they may find it hard to concentrate amidst the hustle and bustle of this already popular museum. Which is not to disparage the experience by any means. I for one was glad to battle the throngs in order to partake of its head-scratching novelties. Some of the highlights include the Ames Room, where forced-perspective causes people and objects to appear larger or smaller than they are, dependDowntownExpress.com

The Beuchet Chair illusion makes it seem as if a person sitting on a chair is small as a doll.

ing on where they are placed. There is a Beuchet Chair, an illusion invented by psychologist Jean Beuchet in the 1960s, where, if the viewer is standing in the right place, a person sitting on a chair looks as small as a doll. There is a room that is completely on its side so that in a photo, it will look like you are standing on the wall. And a tilted room, which simply made me feel dizzy and want to fall down. The Clone Table features an arrangement of mirrors that replicate you such that you comprise all the players at a poker table. The line was longest at the Infinity Room, and once you’re inside, you’ll learn why: You’ll find yourself in a Hall of Mirrors like the one in Orson Welles’ “The Lady from Shanghai.” Once you close the door behind you, you’ll find it difficult to find your way out again. Other fun things include a True Mirror (which shows us as we actually look to others rather than the reverse image we see in conventionallooking glasses), a room of colored shadows, and a wall that alternates window glass with strips of mirror so you can exchange noses with the person on the other side. Everywhere you turn there are holograms, kaleiDowntownExpress.com

Photos by Kenroy Lumsden

Take Rubin’s Vase for a spin, and discover how many faces it hides.

doscopes, stereograms, magic prisms, hypnotic spirals, still images that seem to move or vibrate, and hidden pictures that emerge when looked at in just the right way. As in all such places there is a certain amount of filler, such as wall text featuring angle illusions or Escherlike imagery that could easily be found online or in a book. All of the wall text

is excellent, but to spend much time reading it would block someone else’s way. As it happens, the Museum of Illusions opened at just the right time. It’s the perfect place to go when hosting friends and family for the holidays — or looking for a little bizarre diversion if you want to escape them.

The Museum of Illusions is located at 77 Eighth Ave. (at W. 14th St.). Hours: Daily, 9am-10pm. Adult ticket, $19; ages 6-13, $15; student, seniors, military, $17; Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children), $53; children under 6 admitted free. For more info, visit newyork. museumofillusions.us or call 212-6453230 and 212-645-3945.

November 1 – November 14, 2018


Another Small Business Turns a Page Community rallies so rent spike won’t write Drama Book Shop’s final act BY WINNIE McCROY After learning that rent hikes are likely to shutter their beloved Drama Book Shop in early 2019, longtime customers are rallying to support the 100year-old independent store, which stocks thousands of plays, serves as a go-to gathering place for passionate patrons of the arts, and even plays host to a black box theater in its basement — and has been doing so from its 5,000-squarefoot location since 2001 (250 W. 40th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves; visit dramabookshop.com). “Space is very expensive in New York right now. There are a lot of expensive vacant shops. Just on this stretch of 40th Street, three major businesses closed in the past few weeks: the wonderful falafel shop, Maoz; Elegant Fabrics, which has been there my whole life; and Guy & Gallard, a lunch place that had lines out the door all day long. Their leases came up, and they’re gone,” said vice-president Allen Hubby, who first began working at Drama Book Shop as a clerk/cashier in 1977. His aunt Rozanne Seelen has owned it since his uncle died; the uncle got a third ownership in 1957, when the previous owner retired. Since they’ve been on W. 40th St., said Hubby, the monthly rent on the Drama Book Shop rose from $4,000 to $18,500. And when their lease runs out on Jan. 31, 2019, the landlord’s proposed 50 percent rent hike will prohibit them from staying. But local elected officials have vowed to help. “Another drama is unfolding with our small business industry in the city. The script repeats itself. A thriving small shop forced to close its curtains or to relocate because of skyrocketing rent,” said NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “My office has spoken with Allen Hubby with the Drama Book Shop, an institution in the Theater District and for all theater and Broadway aficionados, and we have committed our help to keep their doors open in this community. When a small business shuts down, we lose a part of New York City, and this is why the City Council is currently working on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act in an effort to protect mom-and-pop shops across the five boroughs.” When this publication visited during their Save the Shop Event on Mon., Oct. 29, author David Finkle was at the counter, signing copies of his book, “Humpty Trumpty Hit a Brick Wall: Donald J. Trump’s First White House


Photos by Winnie McCroy

L to R: Book buyer Eleanore Speert, author David Finkle, and Drama Book Shop vice president Allen Hubby.

The Drama Book Shop, at 250 W. 40th St., will close shop at the end of January.

Year in Verse.” Finkle said it’s a collection of poems: one per day from Jan. 20, 2017 to Jan. 20, 2018, written as a way to deal with his despair. Finkle was

November 1 – November 14, 2018

there to help. “We are hoping to do panels or symposia with some prominent theatre people about how much this shop means to

them,” Finkle noted. When asked when these panels would happen, he said, “The sooner the better.” In the back, Hubby was welcoming playwrights — including Dan Goggin, Alex Dinelaris, Eric Ulloa and Eric Bogosian — to sign copies of their plays. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage was rumored to be planning a visit later that evening. Said Bogosian, “When you first moved to New York, this was the hangout where everyone went to find out what was up, who had dibs on what, and to look in the booklets to see what was coming up and what was cancelled. This was the only place that existed to buy some of these plays. That’s why we came then, and why we’re all out here today trying to save Drama Book Shop.” As the conversation moved to money, Goggin reminisced about his early days as a singer in the Broadway production of “Luther,” starring Albert Finney, saying, “Back in 1963, the tickets for that show were $10. And I remember when we had to move the show to the LuntFontaine because ‘Hello, Dolly!’ was promised our space, the director told us they’d be raising the price to $11, and we all said the show would close immediately. Then years later, when the tickets for ‘Nunsense’ were raised from $35 to $37, they all said the same thing. But people kept coming. I guess that’s just how things go.” In the wings, aspiring playwright Hayley St. James, a student at Marymount Manhattan College, waited patiently to speak to Bogosian and other idols. She told us, “I’ve been coming to Drama Book Shop since I started seeing shows here because there are no other stores like it. A world without Drama Book Shop just doesn’t seem right.” The event was planned to help loyal customers donate to the bookstore’s relocation fund — hopefully, to another location nearby that likely won’t offer nearly as much space. “We have some possibilities that are looking interesting, but it’s all about finding out if the finances will work and getting a deal,” Hubby said. “We’re looking at some interesting things, and we’ll probably know more by next week. There’s one possibility we’re looking at, but we might need to get an extension on our lease” to make it work. In addition, on Oct. 24, patron Nina Kauffman created a GoFundMe campaign, which has already reached more DowntownExpress.com

L to R: Playwrights Dan Goggin, Alex Dinelaris, Eric Ulloa, and Eric Bogosian signed their work and spoke with customers, at the Oct. 29 event.

than $6,899 of its $20,000 goal. The store, which celebrated its 100th birthday last October, has moved a half-dozen times before, but the 40th St. location has been its longest home. Said Hubby, “It’s amazing! The outpouring of support we’ve gotten from the theatre community is overwhelming. But we don’t like to have to ask for help, because we’re here to help others — it’s our reason for existing. So it feels awkward for things to be in the reverse.” In 2016, when a pipe burst and wiped out 30 percent of the store’s inventory, Lin-Manuel Miranda — who report-

edly wrote part of “In the Heights” in the bookstore’s downstairs offices — launched a fundraising effort to help. “And this is even more outpouring than for the flood,” added former general manager Nancy Reardon. “Back when the water main broke a few years ago, the store was closed for a few months. It was like hell froze over! I love this store, and my dream is to have my plays published and sold here,” said student St. James, who said she would spend her hours until curtain rose at “The Prom” hanging out at the shop. But patrons will not let the Drama

Photos by Winnie McCroy

Customers came out in droves to support the Drama Book Shop.

Book Shop go gentle into that good night. As arts writer David Noh said, “It was a haven for both book and theater lovers, where I never left without purchasing something… I got everything from an essential bio of Eva Le Gallienne there to a rare copy of the joint memoir by Cyd Charisse and Tony Martin, to Kohle Yohannan’s magnificent coffee table tome about that greatest of design-

ers, Valentina. All for a song.” “On top of which there was usually a box of freebies at the front, which contained the real kinds of goodies no one was supposed to want enough to buy,” he continued. “Hello?! ZaSu Pitts’ cookbook? Yes! And then there was that lovely dog to pet. New York is once more all the poorer for the passing of someplace special.”

Getting Old is for Great Stars Elaine May’s matriarch played with verve, class, powerful feeling BY ELIZABETH ZIMMER It’s been 57 years since Elaine May and her comedy partner, Mike Nichols, catapulted to stardom from the stage of Broadway’s John Golden Theatre. Since then, she’s become a showbiz legend: writing, directing, and starring in movies like “A New Leaf,” “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Ishtar,” and “The Birdcage,” while punching up the writing for dozens of others. Now, surrounded by powerhouse performers, May has returned to the Golden stage, in “The Waverly Gallery,” a 1999 play by Kenneth Lonergan. Young director Lila Neugebauer, who guides this revival, assembled an A-list cast that should buoy the production through its three-month run. The night I went, the audience jumped to its feet as the lights came down, celebrating May and her colleagues. Set in the late 1980s, the play tracks the decline of Gladys Green, the feisty, elegant woman played by May, as she succumbs to the ravages of Alzheimer’s. DowntownExpress.com

© Brigitte Lacombe

Lucas Hedges and Elaine May in “The Waverly Gallery.”

Once a lawyer, now the owner of a sleepy Greenwich Village art gallery, she lives alone in a nearby apartment, with her grandson Dan in the flat next door (Lucas Hedges, who carries the bulk of the narrative load). Uptown, her daughter Ellen (Joan Allen), a shrink, shares a mid-century modern apartment with her second husband, Howard, played with affable humor by the remarkable actor/director David Cromer. They all

talk at once, loudly, because Gladys is also losing her hearing. In the hubbub, Gladys tries to attend to the family dog, and seems to exist in a universe of emotion while all the others live mainly in their heads. Don, a clueless young painter from Massachusetts (Michael Cera), wanders into the gallery carrying a bunch of pictures, and Gladys, who’s beginning to lose it, offers to represent him and to let him sleep in the back; he soon becomes part of the family. His paintings are actually terrific (they look like the work of Philip Pearlstein), but they rarely sell. May is luminous as Gladys, keeping up conversations even as she loses the thread and repeats herself. She treasures her independence, and resents the aides hired to administer her medications. Ellen and Howard are exhausted, caught between the demands of their psychiatric practices and their fears for Gladys’ future. Dan finds her banging on his door at all hours, and he’s losing

sleep. None of the options for her future care appeal to any of them. This all sounds grim, and it is — yet the gifted artists keep our spirits up. David Zinn’s several sets provide functional ’80s interiors, and Tal Yarden bridges scene shifts with video of the city’s street life. At 86 (and playing older!), Elaine May is still a beauty, shapely in Ann Roth’s costumes, constantly losing her keys. We know that her fate may be in all our futures, which keeps us glued to the action. Lonergan’s writing never flags, and the narrative device of the youngest family member addressing us directly includes us in the conversation. Whether you’ve revered May for decades or have never heard of her, you owe yourself a visit with this American matriarch and her clan. Through Jan. 27, Tues. through Sun. At the John Golden Theatre (252 W. 45th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Visit thewaverlygalleryonbroadway. com for tickets ($48-$149), or call 212239-6200.

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