YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN
Photo by Yannic Rack
DOB Pledges Tough Action on Application Fraud BY EILEEN STUKANE In February 2015, NYC Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters arrested 50 people who were indicted on bribery and corruption charges related to the city’s construction industry. Among those indicted property managers, contractors, building owners and “expediters” were a reported 16 NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) inspectors who were accused of taking bribes. Continued on page 4
Ceremony Celebrates a Sure Sign of the Phyllis Gonzalez Legacy BY YANNIC RACK It took years of effort by family, friends, elected officials and thousands of locals who singed the petition — but on July 18, the late Phyllis Gonzalez finally got her “Way.” At the northwest corner of 25th St. and Ninth Ave. — on the same block where she lived for over 30 years — a street renaming ceremony paid tribute to one of Chelsea’s most dedicated housing activists, with the official unveiling of Phyllis Gonzalez Way. “Phyllis worked on behalf of our neighborhood until the day she passed away, and she will be remembered for her
© CHELSEA NOW 2015 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
unrelenting pursuit of better lives for people in the community that she loved,” said City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who led the ceremonial. Phyllis Gonzalez Way now runs past the Elliott-Chelsea Houses, from where Gonzalez set out — in a wheelchair in her later years — to tirelessly advocate on behalf of the residents of her community. A longtime tenant leader and affordable housing advocate, her career spanned four terms as the president of the
Continued on page 6 VOLUME 07, ISSUE 23 | JULY 23 - 29, 2015
Photo by Liz Ligon courtesy of Friends of the High Line
Pooh are you: Winnie’s go-to treat gets the artisanal treatment on July 29, at the High Line’s Honey Day.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
NYC HONEY DAY AT THE HIGH LINE Winnie the Pooh’s only known vice gets its own High Line theme day, when sections of the elevated park are transformed into an artisanal honey market dripping in sweet science. In addition to event co-sponsor Brooklyn Grange Farm, High Line food vendors including L’arte del Gelato, People’s Pops and Melt Bakery will sell unique concoctions based on the ingredient of honor. A glass-paned hive will afford clear views of the “waggle dance” bees use to spread the word about nectar hot spots, and beekeepers will be on hand to point out which High Line plants these winged pollinators (who get too much bad press about their defensive use of stingers) prefer to nosh on. Wed., July 29, 1–7 p.m. at the 14th Street Passage (on the High Line at 14th St. & 10th Ave.). For info on this and other activities, visit thehighline.org.
PERUVIAN FOOD SHOWCASE Timed to celebrate the country’s July 28 Independence Day, this week-long Peruvian pop-up market — at Chelsea Market — offers 4,800 square feet of Peruvian clothing, accessories, gifts, decorative items, jewelry, dance, folk music, art and food. Immerse yourself in the food, art and culture of the country that’s home to the Amazon rainforest and Andes Mountains (as
July 23 - 29, 2015
well as pima cotton, alpaca wool and Pisco cocktails. Mon., July 27–Sat., Aug. 2, from 10 a.m. (with evening events until midnight). At Chelsea Market (75 Ninth Ave. btw. 15th & 16th Sts.). More info at peruvianbusinesscouncil.org/Peru-Show-2015.
NYC COMMUNITY CHORUS CABARET FUNDRAISER Their skills are on display at every concert, but it turns out that members of the NYC Community Chorus have hidden talents as well. All will be revealed — for your entertainment and their enrichment — at this annual cabaret fundraiser for the non-sectarian, no-audition, not-forprofit warblers. Storyteller and chorus member Thelma Ruffin Thomas emcees, with J. David Williams (the group’s longtime accompanist) at the piano. The program includes jazz, pop and classical selections — with a silent auction, a raffle, and refreshment booty donated by Chelsea’s Fairway Market and Bow Tie Cinemas, Ottomanelli’s Restaurant and Haagen Dazs. Sun., Aug. 2, 6–8 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Apostles (296 Ninth Ave. at 28th St.). Suggested donation, $20 (in honor of the group’s 20th anniversary). Visit nycccha.org.
Photo courtesy Flatiron Partnership
Peoples Improv Theater performers strut their off-the-cuff stuff, as part of the Flatiron Partnership’s “Throwback Thursdays.”
26, “Wellness Wednesdays” (on the South Public Plaza at 6:30 p.m.) offers classes taught by instructors from Flatiron area fitness studios — including Zumba on July 29 and Shanti Flow yoga on Aug. 19. Through August on the North Plaza, “Throwback Thursdays” sets up a game station (board games and cornhole sets) from 1–7 p.m. Comedians from The PIT (Peoples Improv Theater) will perform musical improv sets at 6:00 p.m. on July 23 & Aug. 20. Free. At Broadway & Fifth Ave. at 23rd St. For a calendar of events, visit flatirondistrict.nyc. For Twitter & Instagram @FlatironNY. On
JOB SEARCH & COMPUTER CLASSS New York Cares is hosting courses through the end of the year. Mondays 6:30–8 p.m., Resume Writing also teaches online job search skills. Intro to Computers offers a choice of two Saturday sessions: 10 a.m.– noon and 1:30–3 p.m. Beginners, as well as those wishing to refresh their skills, are welcome. At the Chelsea Recreation Center (430 W. 25th St. btw. 9th & 10th Aves.). For more info, call 212-2553705 x313.
WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS & THORWBACK THURSDAYS The Flatiron Partnership presents this series of events designed to strengthen your muscles and set off your funny bone. Through Aug.
Photo by Zack Kron
Storytelling and songs you won’t find on the usual schedule give Aug. 2’s NYC Community Chorus fundraiser its kick. .com
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Department of Buildings: Tenant Harassment ‘Will Cont conversion work, as well as inspecting other properties the landlord in question may own. Each violation carries a different financial penalty [up to $45,000]. The schedule is different for each type of violation but there is a financial hardship. RC: Punishment can also include revocation of licensing — a professional’s license — which impacts the ability to work. We refer cases to local law enforcement for criminal action. We recently had a case in Brooklyn where an individual was indicted after falsely filing paperwork. TH: We’ve done two cases in Brooklyn in the last three months, and have a number of cases pending.
Continued from page 1 During the two-year investigation, launched by the DOB itself based on a tip, the department created a Risk Management Office (RMO) to oversee inspectors and enforce compliance proactively. The head officer of the RMO, since its inception in January of this year, is Reynaldo Cabrera. Chelsea Now recently spoke, via teleconference, with both Cabrera and Timothy Hogan, DOB’s Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement. The conversation centered on how the DOB is dealing with landlords who falsify their DOB applications for construction by stating that occupied buildings are unoccupied. An unoccupied building does not need a Tenant Protection Plan. Once illegal construction permits are in hand and posted, falsifying building owners are known to harass unaware residents with unlivable conditions in attempts to motivate them to move. Cabrera and Hogan spoke about how, within the DOB, they are working to transform procedures according the plan released in May by DOB Commissioner Richard Chandler (“Building One City: A Blueprint for Transformation at the NYC Department of Buildings”). They also addressed how the city’s historic Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, led by NY State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, is pulling together city agencies to crack down on bad landlords. Chelsea Now: What is being done in regard to building owners who falsify applications for construction? Reynaldo Cabrera: Let me start by saying that it is incumbent upon the applicants obviously to be truthful with us. Safe construction starts with responsible owners and professionals adhering to the construction codes. When applicants file, there is a statement where they have to attest that what they’re filing is accurate. We’re aware of the issue. It’s unacceptable. What the department now is doing is looking at these cases and taking them very seriously. We’re working closely with Deputy Commissioner of Enforcement Timothy Hogan, who is sitting next to me — and Alexandra Fisher, Deputy Commissioner of Legal and Regulatory Affairs. We’re looking at the range of penalties; whether it would be violations, whether we’re referring people to have their licenses revoked, referring them to the state licensing authority, or in certain circumstances, making referrals for criminal prosecution. Timothy Hogan: We actually have a couple of different processes in place. What we try to do, when we identify a landlord that we find is acting inappropriately, is research that landlord to identify his other properties and then proactively go out and inspect those properties. If we catch him working without a permit, he faces an extensive, pricey Environment Control Board (ECB) violation. There are different levels of (hazardous) violations. As an example, over the last 18 months, the DOB and the NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), recognizing the fact that certain landlords were carrying out inap-
July 23 - 29, 2015
Photo by Samantha Modell, courtesy DOB
Reynaldo Cabrera, Risk Management Officer.
CN: To stop falsification of applications, can there be electronic back and forth between the DOB, which does not have the occupancy status of buildings on file, and the DHRC, which has building occupancy information? RC: Within documentation of the Blueprint, we talk about what we’re doing on the technology side, how we can better upgrade our systems. We’re relying on legacy systems, so the first step that we’re working on internally is to have full electronic filing that will allow us to have more front end accountability. To that end, it will allow us to better coordinate data-sharing. For us to be effective in data-sharing, we first have to improve our system. Then we start the conversations with DHCR, look at what they have, and then make the two systems speak — because we’re not necessarily on the same systems. These conversations with agencies have already started. We’ve been working with the HPD on nuisance construction, illegal conversions — and more recently, we’ve started working with Con Ed [as a result of the gas explosion that leveled three buildings and damaged four others in the East Village this spring].
Photo by Samantha Modell, courtesy DOB
Timothy Hogan, Enforcement.
propriate actions in some of their buildings and making false statements, proactively went out to over 270 buildings. Inspections were conducted with the HPD and the NYC Fire Department. As a result, we have written close to 1,000 ECB violations for those landlords, as well as the other agencies writing violations. CN: Discuss the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force. TH: The way this new Task Force is working is that each individual city agency will write ECB violations for their particular code violations [Under the auspices of the NYState Attorney General, the Task Force brings together the NYState Division of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR), HPD, DOB, and NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.] We’ve issued close to 1,000. HPD has issued a significant number, and in some instances the Fire Department has issued violations. Additionally, we take action with a landlord for work without a permit, work beyond the scope of a permit, violation of a certificate of occupancy, illegal
CN: Can tenant harassment sometimes be hard to identify? TH: Construction goes on in a lot of buildings just as part of regular maintenance. There are times when a landlord will do construction purposely to force out a tenant — but there are other times when construction can be a nuisance to the tenants, but it’s not necessarily the intention of the landlord to force tenants to move. When we’ve been in these situations we have to make the determination: Is this a willful act on the part of the landlord to try and force a tenant out, or is it an inadvertent situation such as not using the proper amount of plastic covering in an area to keep dust from traveling when refurbishing an apartment? One of our cases last spring in Brooklyn, the landlord went in and did demolition of a kitchen and a bathroom in a person’s apartment and then walked out, didn’t do any additional work. That was a tenant harassment case. That landlord is now in criminal court with the Brooklyn DA’s office, and facing criminal charges. On the other hand, we’ve had tenants who have complained because a door was moved from one area to another in a hallway and created dust in the hallway. It should have been better controlled by those
Continued on page 5 .com
tinue to be a Priority for Us’
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
‘Toot Your Own Horn’ Networking Event
NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
On Feb. 19 of 2015, NY State and City leaders and agencies came together to announce the establishment of a Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force.
Continued from page 4 doing the construction, but it didn’t rise to the level of tenant harassment. CN Notes: Hogan recommends that New Yorkers who feel they are in tenant harassment situations call the city’s 311 phone number. TH: Calls to 311 are documented.
With documentation, we can start looking at data in a more proactive way to see whether there are patterns throughout the city. The best tool we have is the community, the extent that the community is reaching out to call 311. This [tenant harassment] is a very important issue for this administration. The DOB is devoting a significant amount of resources to look at this issue. It will continue to be a priority for us.
Shadow Boxers August 11th, 6-8 pm 215 W. 40th St.
On View May 29 – October 2, 2015
The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce LGBTQ Network is sponsoring a special networking event in partnership with Start-OUT. Enjoy food and drinks with other LGBT professionals at Shadow Boxers VIP Lounge.
The Nazi regime’s attempt to eradicate homosexuality left thousands dead and shattered the lives of many more. The exhibition explores the rationale, means, and impact of the Nazis’campaign. For related tours and programs, visit www.mjhnyc.org/npoh. Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933–1945 was produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose exhibitions program is supported in part by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund established in 1990. The New York presentation is made possible in part through the generous support of the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation.
Free for MCC & StartOut members $10 in Advance ($20 at the door) RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Solidarity, by RichaRd GRune, 1947. SchwuleS MuSeuM, Berlin.
Five business professionals will have the opportunity to present their business in a 5 minute ‘Toot Your Own Horn’ presentation, and compete for prizes. If you would like to be considered for one of the ‘Toots,’ please email us at Events@manhattancc.org.
212 473 7875 • manhattancc.org/lgbt July 23 - 29, 2015
Departed Activist Now a Permanent Part of the Landscape Continued from page 1 Elliott-Chelsea Tenants Association. She was also a member of Community Board 4 (CB4), served as a social worker at the Hudson Guild and was involved with the local PTA at nearby PS33. Before they were shuttered, she helped residents of the Allerton and Martinique welfare hotels move into the ElliottChelsea Houses. Most of all, however, she was remembered by those at the ceremony as someone who lent a helping hand to anyone in need — whether it meant accompanying them to housing court or opening her own home for a shower, meal or place to rest. “Ma was the one who helped you, no matter what,” said Marion Gonzalez, her daughter, who attended the renaming with several other family members. “It really didn’t matter what time of day or night, or if she was in the hospital or not,” Marion added. “People called her in the hospital, going ‘Phyllis, the elevators are busted!’ So she’d call the elevator guy while she’s got oxygen up her nose. Ma just wanted to help. She
Residents of the Elliott-Chelsea Houses, joined by Councilmember Corey Johnson (right), at the July 18 dedication of Phyllis Gonzalez Way. Photos by Yannic Rack
L to R: Rose Ruchinsky (a family friend), City Councilmember Corey Johnson, Marion Gonzalez, Eric Gonzalez, State Senator Brad Hoylman, State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and Krista Gonzalez.
wanted this neighborhood to be as great as she knew it was.” Johnson, who (like everyone present) knew Gonzalez personally, recounted how he met her when he became a member of CB4. “This means a lot to me personally,” said Johnson. “I knew Phyllis very well because of the work that we did together. I was a newcomer on the community board and she was incredibly welcoming and friendly,” he said. Other officials at the event included State Assemblymember Richard
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July 23 - 29, 2015
Gottfried, CB4 Chair Christine Berthet, District Leader and former President of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club (CRDC) Steven Skyles-Mulligan and State Senator Brad Hoylman. Quoting John F. Kennedy as well as the Bible, the speakers recounted anecdotes that showed Gonzalez’s dedication to causes like affordable housing and the fight against the over-gentrification of Chelsea. She would often attend community meetings just the day after being released from the hospital, and could regularly be seen buzzing up and down Ninth Ave. on her scooter until late at night. “I keep thinking as we’re standing here, that if Phyllis were with us, she’d be like, ‘Why are all those people gathered at the corner of 25th and Ninth?’ And we’d be getting calls about that,” Hoylman remarked, to laughter and agreeing nods from the audience. “She was a jack of all trades, an expert in so many issues that concerned the community,” he added. “She could have been the city councilmember, she could have been the state senator.” After over thirty minutes of similarly admirable testimonials, loud cheers greeted the unveiling of a new street sign, whose cover was released by Krista Gonzalez, the 20-year-old granddaughter of Phyllis. An identical sign was given to the family. “Today feels really weird, actually,” Krista said afterwards. “Every time I come by, it’ll be like, ‘What’s up, grandma?’ and then I’ll keep going,” she added. Gonzalez died of end-stage congestive heart failure at the age of 65 in 2012, the same year she received her second Doris Corrigan Award for community service from the CRDC. At the time, she was already aware of plans to rename a street after her. But the process ended up taking three years,
partly to make sure her family could attend in full. A rarely achieved honor, candidates for a street renaming must be deceased individuals who had a “significant connection to the local community,” according to the New York Historical Society. Seventy-five percent of local residents must sign a petition in favor of the renaming, which is then sent to the community board (CB4 in this case). If approved, the board sends their request to the Parks Committee of the City Council, then onto a vote in the full City Council (which considers such matters in January and July of each year). The last stop is the mayor’s office, for approval or veto. Johnson credited Lou Bertot, a fellow housing advocate and long-time friend of Gonzalez, for getting the project off the ground. “When I campaigned for the [city] council, Lou went door to door with me in every single building in ElliottChelsea,” he said. “At the end, he said to me, ‘I haven’t asked for anything for myself, but the one thing I’m asking for on behalf of the community is I want a street renamed after Phyllis Gonzalez.’ And Lou was the one, on the day that I was sworn in to the council, who called me up and said, ‘When are we getting the street renaming passed?’ ” On Saturday the sign was already proving its use as a reminder of a neighborhood fixture, as multiple people walking by loudly took notice of it. “I think there are countless people who live in this community, who were touched by Phyllis,” said Hoylman after the event. “We’ll always remember the impact she had, in little ways and in big ways.” His sentiment was echoed, and proved, by the late honoree’s son, Eric. “Mom was an inspiration to many, many people,” he recalled, “and she definitely has inspired us [the family]. I worked for Parks and the 10th Precinct, to serve this neighborhood — and that inspiration came from her.” .com
Garden Club Tour Highlights Pits BY ALICIA GREEN Held on Saturday, July 18 as a rain or shine event, this year’s edition of the annual Chelsea Garden Club Pit Tour had plenty of both — when local gardeners and their guests met at 9:30 a.m. to admire Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Avenue traffic lane tree pits that have been adopted and beautified by neighborhood volunteers. By the time they finished a few hours later, umbrellas deployed by the group as their tour began were eventually replaced with hands cupped over foreheads to block the sun. “It’s really about the gardening,” said Missy Adams, a Garden Club member who led the tour. “It seemed like a nice way for everybody to get together and look at each other’s work, encourage one another and talk about the flowers. You learn a lot, and the people are very nice,” Adams said, adding, “It’s a happy event.” As the tour began, five gardeners — Adams, Phyllis Waisman, Kent Wang, Michael Victor Ruggiero and Martha Seymour — met at W. 23rd
Photo by Alicia Green
Milt Verstandig (center) talks about the Ninth Ave. tree pit he maintains in partnership with Luis Lujan.
St. and Seventh Ave. to look at the first two tree pits. As the day went on, however, more people showed up, eventually bringing the total to about 20. Wang used to be responsible for both pits at the first location, until one of them was taken over by someone new.
“It’s a tough plot to reach,” Adams said, warning everyone to be careful of the traffic and noting that a tree was once there until a car hit it. Wang’s other tree pit has also had some problems, including homeless people sleeping near it and other damages, which is why he obtained a
permit from the city and took money out of his own pocket to purchase $1,000 worth of fencing to protect the area. “I started because I was gardening on my fire escape and my landlord found out and asked me to remove the plants immediately,” Wang told Chelsea Now. “So I was looking for a place for them to go.” He added, “It’s just too heartbreaking to see people step on your plants, so I decided to make the investment.” He said since putting up the fences, people have started to respect his pits. Seymour said Wang has made “quite a contribution” to the neighborhood with his pits. He also has two more on W. 23rd St. between Seventh and Eighth Aves. Seymour — who refers to herself as an “armchair gardener” because she enjoys reading about the topic, but doesn’t actually come out and dig in the dirt — noted of her first time attending the tour, “It’s great to learn more about the individuals
Continued on page 11
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July 23 - 29, 2015
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July 23 - 29, 2015
Real Students in a Mock Prison Fail the Humanity Test BY LENORE SKENAZY Looking for a great datenight movie? Run, do not walk, from “The Stanford Prison Experiment.” But if you want to see something that could change your whole view about good guys and bad guys, get a ticket. I attended a screening at the Fortune Academy in Harlem, a stately building housing about 100 men and women who have served time. The academy gives its residents a helping hand as they re-enter the world, sometimes decades ago. The movie recreates one of the most infamous psychological experiments in history. It was conducted by Philip Zimbardo a Bronx-born Stanford professor of psychology who, in 1971, recruited 24 young male college students to live in a mock prison for two weeks. The group was randomly divided into “guards” and “prisoners.” The “prisoners” were then arrested by real Palo Alto police (who’d agreed to play along) and taken to the jail — actually the basement of the Stanford psych department. There they were fingerprinted, blindfolded and sprayed with “de-lousing” compound (actually deodorant). They were then issued smocks that looked like dresses and serial numbers. For their part, the “guards” were given nightsticks and reflective aviator glasses. The idea was to dehumanize both groups. Boy, did it work. The movie, starring Billy Crudup as Zimbardo and based on videos and transcripts of the experiment, shows the guards experimenting with their power: “You will call us sir.” “Yes sir.” “No, call us ‘Mr. Correctional Officer, sir,’ ” insists one guard, twirling his nightstick menacingly. In very short order, the guards start insisting on more and more abasement: “I don’t like the way you said ‘Sir.’ Give me 20 pushups. Say it again. No, I still don’t
like it. Give me 40 push-ups and 40 jumping jacks. I don’t appreciate your attitude. I’m going to have the other prisoners sit on your back while you do your push-ups. What? You can’t do it? Into the hole.” “The Hole” — actually an unlit closet — served as solitary confinement. Again and again, the guards started locking “prisoners” there if they spoke back, or even didn’t finish their breakfast. And watching all this unfold, unseen behind a wall, Zimbardo did nothing to stop the budding tyrants. Not when they marched the prisoners around with bags over their heads. Not when they forced the prisoners to use a pail in the hallway as their toilet. Not when the guards were making the men bend over and simulate raping each other. And there he was at the Fortune Academy last week, at this strange special screening. When the lights went on, the audience was introduced to the surprisingly young-looking Zimbardo, now 82, and immedi-
ately, their hands went up: “I was in prison practically all my life and I never had any discussion with a guard,” said one man, disputing the film’s verisimilitude. “You can’t ‘create’ a prison.” Zimbardo agreed: This was not reality. His intent was to show how even good people can become heartless in a heartless system. “I read that your study has been criticized,” said another man. “That the guards were actually told to be cruel.” This criticism isn’t new to the doctor, who insists he told the guards only to “be” guards — leaving the interpretation up to them. Zimbardo actually ended up cutting the experiment short after his girlfriend showed up on day six and was appalled. It was only then, Zimbardo told the Fortune Academy crowd, that he realized he had gotten too into his own “role” as prison superintendent. “I thought it was a brilliant movie,” said Mauer Hernandez,
sitting quietly as the audience drifted out. Gray-haired and bi-focaled, he’d served 10 years for drug distribution. Not all the guards he encountered were cruel, he said, “But you have a lot of them that kind of grab that stick. It’s like they come from their house to ruin your day.” For instance, he recalled, if a prisoner being released after 30 years bequeaths to a fellow inmate something as simple as a pen, “The guards take it away from you. That pen — it’s the closest thing to being back on the outside, free. But they say, ‘You’re not supposed to have it.’ ” They take it — and hope — away. Watching the movie made Hernandez’s legs twitch. He had to force himself to stay. If we all do the same, maybe we, too, will be able to resist the urge to dehumanize if life randomly bequeaths us that power. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book & blog Free-Range Kids. Visit freerangekids.com.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Feedback from Facebook Re “Momentum Building to Confront Construction Permit Fraud (news, July 16, 2015): Thank you, Eileen, for your well-written and thorough reporting on this vital topic. It’s gratifying to know that a truly grassroots movement born in the heart of Chelsea has gotten so much traction, especially from our elected officials. The cure for this egregious abuse lies with DOB. Pamela Wolff
Re “Plan Would Heed Siren Calls to Relocate Ambulance Station” (news, July 16, 2015): Wow, what a bunch of whiny, spoiled,
self-entitled brats. Be thankful you have an EMS station in your neighborhood at all. Many communities would love to have a quarter of the resources that FDNY has. An EMS station bringing down property values? Could it be that giant, elevated train directly next to your building that is bringing values down? What a freaking joke. Exhaust fumes and noise bothering you? It’s freaking NEW YORK. Pretty sure the sirens are the least of the problems. Mike Ledgerwood EMT at American Medical Response E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to Scott@ChelseaNow.com or fax to 212229-2790 or mail to Chelsea Now, Letters to the Editor, NYC Community Media, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. Chelsea Now reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Chelsea Now does not publish anonymous letters. .com
POLICE BLOTTER CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Attack leaves driver with little reflection
Police say that an unknown assailant scratched, shattered and took down the driver side mirror of a 2008 Toyota Camry parked on the 300 block of W. 19th St. (btw Eighth & Ninth Aves.). The owner returned to her gray-colored sedan at about 3 p.m. on Wed., July 15. A police report did not state whether the incident shattered the 48-yearold Poughkeepsie woman’s hopes to drive home that day.
PETIT LARCENY: Kids practice suspect teamwork A foursome of teenagers teamed up to lift two olive Toma backpacks from the Brooklyn Industries shop at 161 Eighth Ave. (btw. W. 18th & 19th Sts.). Two boys distracted a 25-yearold employee while the girls took care of acquiring the $176 worth of loot, just after 6 p.m. on Thurs., July 16. Surveillance video commemorated the caper — though it has yet to contribute to apprehending the perpetrators, who fled by foot.
PUBLIC LEWDNESS: 10th Precinct protects home turf The front of the 10th Precinct was a seemingly unlikely choice for public relief, but a 29-year-old Michigan native just had to expose himself to additional risk on Thurs., July 16. Police say he urinated in the direction of an NYPD vehicle parked outside the station house (230 W. 20th St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). The West Village resident soon received the attention of nearby police, who arrested him at about 11:30 p.m. and slapped him with a misdemeanor.
GRAND LARCENY: Taking the medicine An 86-year-old resident of W. 28th St. had little defense against a $2,000 theft of her immunodeficiency prescription medicine on Thurs., July 16. Her 88-year-old husband noticed at about 2:15 p.m. that an unknown .com
person had taken the goods from a delivery box left outside their third-story apartment. There were no surveillance video cameras in the hallway nor an adjacent stairwell, according to a police report.
CRIMINAL POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA: Stop, drop and stomp
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An NYPD officer observed two marijuana enthusiasts just before 2:30 p.m. on Thurs., July 16, out back on the 400 block of W. 41st St. (btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). The 20-year-old man passed the “marijuana cigar” to his 19-year-old buddy. The officer then revealed himself as the face of the law, which states that although possession of marijuana in quantities less than an ounce is not a crime, smoking in public remains quite illegal. The teenager then attempted to make the evidence disappear by dropping the offending material on the ground and covering it with his foot. The police officer was not fooled by this strategy and opted to search the suspects following arrest. Lo and behold there was more dope on the person of the 19-year-old.
THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Deputy Inspector Michele Irizarry. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. The council is on summer break, to resume on Sept. 30.
CRIME STOPPERS If you have info regarding a crime committed or a wanted person, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577TIPS, text “TIPS577” (plus your message) to “CRIMES” (274637) or submit a tip online at nypdcrimestoppers.com.
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Tour Touts Tree Pit Beautification Continued from page 7 who do the gardening and the range of different people who live in the neighborhood who help.” As the tour moved to W. 23rd St. and Eighth Ave., more individuals showed up with umbrellas, ready to go. Ariana Arancibia from the NYC Compost Project, which is hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center, came to talk with the group about what the center does. “We do composting initiatives, which includes collecting compost, giving compost and mulch to community gardens and people who take care of the trees,” she said. Arancibia added that the Compost Project has a food scrap drop-off site on the southwest corner of Eight Ave. and W. 23rd St. every Tuesday and Thursday from 8–11 a.m. People can leave fruit and vegetable scraps, breads and grains, cut or dried flowers and other scraps to be turned into compost (for more info, visit lesecologycenter.org). By the time the group reached W. 24th St. and Eighth Ave., the sun had finally emerged from behind the clouds — and many of the gardeners became passionate about one tree pit that was filled with weeds. They began to pull them, but Adams stopped the group, telling them she would talk to the gardener responsible about it. At another pit, a woman examined the area, asking about whether or not it had weeds — to which Waisman replied, “Very much so.” This left the woman with the realization that her pit, too, had weeds. “They’ll stand around a weed and talk about it for a half an hour,” Adams said. “It’s enjoyable.” Although the group was critical of some pits, they also offered advice about each other’s work. They often praised pits, like the ones maintained by Luis Lujan, for the variety of flowers and plants. “Everybody has their own fans,” Adams noted. “Everybody has their favorites. It’s nice that they’re all different. It’s very interesting. It’s fun.” Altogether, Lujan takes care of four pits. In his pit at W. 25th St. and Ninth Ave., he plants sunflowers, safflowers, flowering tobacco, pur.com
Photos by Alicia Green
On Ninth Ave., Luis Lujan, left, poses with one of his many flowers (and gardener Paul Bodden).
ple hibiscuses and coneflowers, among other things. Then there is his pit at W. 27th St. and Ninth Ave., which he shares with newcomer Milt Verstandig, who moved to Chelsea two years ago. “I cleaned it up originally,” Lujan said. “Then [Milt] planted it. We kind of water together, weed together [and] clean it together. This is kind of our nursery where we incubate seedlings, and then we transplant them or give them to people.” While Adams says Lujan is taking over Ninth Ave., she wishes more people would adopt tree pits on Eighth Ave. She said she would be happy if the Chelsea Garden Club could get the rest of Eighth Ave. planted. “We get volunteers or people who volunteer and think of this image of gardening as gardening in the suburbs, which is really a very different thing,” she said. “And that it’s going to be not as hard as it is. There are some real challenges here. We’ll have a rush of volunteers and then people just walk away because they realize they’re standing in the middle of the road and people are stealing their stuff or throwing garbage in it, or living in it. That gets discouraging.” Ayla Daley expressed interest in adopting a pit at W. 28th St. and Eighth Ave. “I have a five-year-old daughter,”
Missy Adams points out the fragrant flowers at her tree pit on W. 19th St. and Ninth Ave.
she said. “We thought that would be so great.” Daley continued, “Having a little green patch in the city sounds kind of nice. And just to help beautify my neighborhood, to take ownership and responsibility.” Like many others, Daley thought the city was responsible for the beautification of the tree pits. She said, “I didn’t realize it was the Garden Club that handles them. People are making these things beautiful.” Tree pits can be found on Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Aves. from 17th to 30th Sts. Visit chelseagardenclub.blogspot. com for more info on how to adopt a tree pit.
Kent Wang with his W. 23rd St. and Seventh Ave. tree pit. July 23 - 29, 2015
The number of people participating in recent #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations have numbered in the hundreds, a notable decline from last fall.
Popularized by the 2006 film “V for Vende Gunpowder Plot of 1605 (and has also been
Signs of Progress Move #Black BY ZACH WILLIAMS A march from Columbus Circle in memory of Eric Garner brought hundreds of #BlackLivesMatter protesters to the West Side on July 17. One year after the Staten Island man’s death helped inspire a national movement against police brutality and institutionalized racism, activists acknowledged progress while pressing for more change. Speakers at the evening’s rally spoke to similar themes heard throughout the year of protests — which reached their highest volume last fall, when thousands of people swarmed local streets following the grand jury announcement that the NYPD officer who placed the fatal chokehold on Garner would not face criminal charges. Last Friday, there was evidence that their persistent efforts have had an impact. The Civilian Complaint Review
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Board argued in state supreme court on June 12 that they should receive the grand jury records of the Garner case from the Staten Island district attorney’s office. Governor Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, issued an executive order on July 8 mandating that the state attorney general investigate all deaths of unarmed civilians by police. If a grand jury declines to press charges against an accused police officer — as was the case in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO — a report must be made, publicly indicating why. Speakers at the July 17 rally demanded that the order become law. Legislation before the city council and the state legislature, though, did not receive much mention at the rally, which focused more on the examples of police violence following the deaths of Garner and Brown as well as the ways in which violence, predominately
against Black and Latino men, ultimately threatens society at large. The high percentage of incarcerated Black men received fresh scrutiny in the past year, culminating in last week’s first visit to a federal prison by a sitting U.S. president. But it took the experience of Kalief Browder to end solitary confinement this year for inmates 21-years-old and younger at Riker’s Island. Browder was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack and imprisoned at the notoriously violent jail for about three years before charges were dropped. He committed suicide earlier this year, haunted to the end, according to his brother Akeem Browder, who spoke at the rally. Police and court resources would have been better spent in pursuing more serious offenses than that allegedly committed by his brother, who maintained his innocence despite multiple
Several hundred people continued the practic tims of police violence. .com
etta,” this Guy Fawkes mask references the used by the hacker group Anonymous).
Photos by Zach Williams
A protester held a sign, as crowds gathered on July 17 to mark the one-year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death.
kLivesMatter Protests Forward
ce, on July 17, of using silence to honor vic-
offers of release in exchange for a plea bargain, Akeem Browder added. His solution to such a perceived injustice reflects an ongoing debate within city politics surrounding the NYPD emphasis on the “Broken Windows” method of policing championed by Commissioner Bill Bratton. And as Akeem Browder spoke, a recorded message from the NYPD began to vie for the crowd’s attention, informing them that people who obstructed vehicular traffic would be subject to arrest for disorderly conduct. “We should not be arrested for nonviolent crimes. [The NYPD] are here to protect and serve us against the violent offenders,” Akeem Browder said. There were also subtle suggestions that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is every bit as concerned with achieving a cultural shift as it is in transforming public policy.
Hertencia Petersen, the aunt of Akai Gurley, spoke of how rookie officer Peter Liang called his police union representative after fatally shooting Gurley when they crossed paths by sheer coincidence on Nov. 20, 2014 in a stairwell in Brooklyn — causing some in the crowd to reflect on the ingrained perceptions necessary to cause a police officer to pull the trigger upon simply seeing a Black man. Examples of police involvement in the deaths of unarmed people of color continued to accrue following Garner’s death. In recent months, a South Carolina policeman fatally shot a man after a traffic stop. The death of Freddie Gray in police custody sparked riots in a longtime restive neighborhood of Baltimore in April. #BlackLivesMatters and police reform once again loomed large in national discourse despite a cooling down peri-
od over the winter, when supporters of police rallied. Then last week, Sandra Bland died in police custody three days after being arrested in Waller County, Texas for a minor traffic faux pas. She was reportedly on her way to interview for a job as a college outreach worker. Such examples suggest that Black people cannot take safety for granted in public places. Two prominent examples concern a boy fatally shot for toting a toy gun and a man checking out a BB gun in an Ohio Walmart. “Tamir Rice…you can’t play in the park. John Crawford…you can’t go shopping, so where are you safe to be Black in this country?” Brooklyn resident Elsa Waithe asked rhetorically. After about an hour of talk, the crowd of activists mobilized for action, or at least chants including the long-
Continued on page 15 July 23 - 29, 2015
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#BlackLivesMatter, One Year After Eric Garner Continued from page 13 time favorite of American radicals: “Whose streets? Our streets!” They moved through Central Park to avoid the dozens of police officers determined to maintain public order in the face of potential civil disobedience. The march reached the southeast corner of the park before heading south on Fifth Ave. One person was arrested soon thereafter, as the march cascaded across the avenues before reaching the southern end of Times Square. Along the way, people watched from restaurant windows. Chinese tourists took snapshots with their cameras asking in their native language, “What is this?” An elderly couple waited patiently to cross the crowd after stepping out from an upscale restaurant. The costumed characters of Sesame Street, Disney and Marvel Comics shooed protesters away from photobombing tip opportunities with tourists. The protesters continued to Macy’s flagship store on W. 34th St. and held a one-minute silence there in memory
In recent months, NYPD officers have grown more assertive in confining protesters to city sidewalks.
Times Square has been a favorite place for activists to gain attention. Here, they photobomb “Toy Story” character Woody.
just about every demonstration, except the largest. By all outward appearances, it seemed that the streets were very much in the possession of the NYPD that night, despite protesters’ chants to the contrary.
Yet, the mass would willingly divide and the protesters would cheer as a lonely figure in the back of a passing vehicle acknowledged them from a large, metal box on a heavy-duty truck: an emergency medical technician cheering them on.
Photos by Zach Williams
of Garner — who uttered “I can’t breathe” 11 times before he died one year earlier, to the day. A short scuffle erupted when protesters challenged police for control of the street in front of the store. The result was the same as it has been for
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Lots to Like About Zero
BY FACEBOY In the mid-to-late 1970s, Andy Warhol and some of his superstars, along with “Wizard of Oz” star Margaret Hamilton, were all customers at the Chemical Bank branch at 17th St. and Park Ave. South. Your writer knows this because his mother was a teller there and tends not to lie about such things. Hamilton’s portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West helped cement her iconic status, but her type of witch would not be received well at Enchantments witchcrafts shop (“New York City’s oldest occult store”), Photo by Faceboy where we met Zero. A friendly (yet complex) cat, Zero may have once Ammo O’Day, who has been in a prison gang. worked on and off at the East Village shop for 10 years, is quite familiar with Zero and that they have a love affair.” Cats can be very territorial and the the two black rescue cats that also reside at Enchantments. Zero was a shop enforces a strict policy barring stray rescued from a shelter in Arizona dogs from the place. “We love dogs,” O’Day said. “We as a kitten, and is now about 15 years old, O’Day said. The shop adopted just don’t want anything to happen. It’s him four years ago when his rescuer for the safety of the cats and the dogs. became a flight attendant and could no Some people who have tried have been longer give him the love and attention not so nice about hearing they can’t stay.” he deserves. If you’re a Bad Witch, you can Named after the ghost dog in “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” this also take your business elsewhere. As regal cat is quite charming and very explained on their website, they do not engage in any type of black magic. friendly. Though acquitted, Ralph and Mary “He’s very sweet and cuddly,” O’Day said of his personality. “If you’re sitting Hall were tried on witchcraft charges in anywhere for long periods of time he New York State on Oct. 2, 1665. Back will sit on you. Especially if you’re wear- then, women could not own property, ing black, because he knows he’s pure enter into contracts or earn a salary, white and can cover you in fur. The and male homosexuals were subject to other two are younger by five years and the death penalty. Today a husband and more rambunctious, but if Zero finds a husband can visit this female-owned witchcraft shop and pet their gay cats lap he’ll definitely sit on it.” One of his favorite people is Cleo, with complete impunity. Cats communicate, and humans the UPS woman. “She comes in, and her nickname interpret their meaning. When Zero for him is Fatboy,” O’Day said. “They was asked what he would say if somespend some special loving time togeth- one did bring in a small Toto type of er, and when she leaves, he goes back to pooch, he squinted his eyes and said, his business of whoever he was bother- “I’ll get you, my pretty — and your little dog, too!” ing at the time. But it’s very cute.” Referring to the HBO prison series, Enchantments, at 424 E. Ninth St. she also noted that Zero is likely homo(btw. First Ave. & Ave. A), is open daily sexual. “He and Eros have a very ‘Oz’- from 1–9 p.m. except Tuesdays. For like personality,” she said. “We’re con- more info, visit enchantmentsinnyc. vinced that both of them are gay and com.
JACOBS vs. MORA
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ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT Diving Deep Into a Gesture of Dignity and Pride Meet the two minds behind ‘Five on the Black Hand Side’ BY ZACH WILLIAMS “Five on the Black Hand Side/ Dapline!” generates plenty of punch from the intricate handshakes most commonly associated with Black men. They called them DAP during the Vietnam War, when Black soldiers found that “dignity and pride” could maintain their social cohesion during times of trauma — whether looking for enemies in the jungle or battling racism within their own ranks. Visual artist LaMont Hamilton and choreographer André Zachery take their audience through action more abstract, but every bit as animated, as any recreated battlefield. Their collaboration directs its fire through the traumatic trajectory of the African American experience in the last half-century. There were the racial struggles of the late 1960s and the drug epidemics of the 1980s, and plenty of troubling times before and after. But it was in Vietnam where inner city Black draftees found a means to strengthen their ranks against White soldiers who ostensibly were on their side — but could sometimes loom as dangerous a threat as the Viet Cong. “There were a lot of soldiers killed where the cause wasn’t friendly fire. It was race wars, and the DAP came out of that,” Hamilton said in an interview. “DAP was a way to show that solidarity. DAP was a way to watch each others’ back.” Sometimes before or after a mission, a dozen or more Black soldiers would assemble and form a “dapline,” where they would perform the elaborate gesticulations in rituals lasting as long as 20 minutes, according to Hamilton. A fist bump could start a sequence of interactions — with symbolism as direct as two touching shoulders establishing a mutual commitment to watch each other’s back, or as subtle as the thousands of combinations observed by Hamilton. Unlike a secret handshake, the practice is visible for all to see, even if they are not themselves initiated .com
Photo by Zach Williams
Choreographer André Zachery (left) and visual artist LaMont Hamilton address the history and implications of DAP, without overt demonstrations of the gesture.
into the act. Perhaps no person has studied the topic as thoroughly as Hamilton, whose research took him to Los Angeles, Detroit, Omaha, New York City, Chicago and elsewhere during his time as a fellow at the Smithsonian Institute. What he found inspired him to give his fascination a fresh representation, by developing “Dapline!” — where a ritual of unity and recognition continues to evolve as Hamilton and Zachery throw new variations into their dancers’ movements throughout the performance. Where the meaning of words cannot venture, dance provides an opportunity to explore the full spectrum of race, gender, and society at large. “Dance is the physical manifestation of the space between words…where it comes together. It creates something, and then, it’s over,” said Zachery. Despite its inspiration, the per-
formance will not demonstrate DAP overtly, nor will audience members simply sit in their seats and watch dancers as ten-figured grips send them flipping over one another. The former will “be implicated,” as the performance reflects the history of DAP, while not explicitly portraying it. The comradery of war gives way to the struggles of Black liberations. The poetry of Amiri Baraka inspires the movement just as much as the greetings of recognition between gang members. The pedagogical intentions of Paulo Feire (author, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”) linger above the action, ready to open minds — just as eagerly as a dapline informs participants that they’ve found a safe space. There is not so much a plot as a “narrative,” said Hamilton — who, like Zachery, opted to speak more of artistic vision than the literal play-by-
play of this 40-minute performance. The origins of the work are less obscure. Hamilton confided that his fascination with DAP began following a conversation with a Black Vietnam veteran during an artistic residence in Omaha, Nebraska. He had dapped with his father, uncle, nephew and even complete strangers — but the more he researched the origins of DAP, the more universal its implications seemed, he said. He still continues to search for just how far the “connective tissues” extends among soldiers, Black liberation rebels and millions of Americans. Yet despite the ubiquity of DAP, its underlying power was left behind by its appropriation from the “dignity and pride” of Black culture under constant threat, according to Hamilton.
Continued on page 23 July 23 - 29, 2015
Outrageous Sophie Tucker, Praised and Preserved The Eckers’ obsession shared by Bette, Beatles and Bennett BY TRAV S.D. (travsd.wordpress.com) When the popular entertainer Sophie Tucker passed away in 1966 at the age of 79, she was an international institution. A contemporary of Al Jolson’s, her career had lasted 60 years, spanning three generations. Both the Marx Brothers and the Beatles made jokes about her in their acts; in both cases they were making topical (and local) humor (she was as popular in the UK as she was in the US). The cracks were about her voluminous girth, unusual in female performers in that or any time. (Kate Smith and Mama Cass were among the later ones with this attribute). Tony Bennett called her “one of the most underrated jazz singers who ever lived.” Michael Feingold called her “a pioneer of vocal syncopation.” Equally identified with big weepie numbers like “After You’ve Gone” and “Some of These Days,” and sexy, sassy double entendre songs like “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” and “The Angle Worm Wiggle,” Tucker was to become one of the highest paid, most sought after entertainers of her day: queen of vaudeville, night clubs, concert halls, radio and record albums. And an idol to Jews everywhere. Yet, not long after her passing, pop culture largely forgot her. But one important show business figure remembered. To Bette Midler, she always remained a major hero. In a 1973 concert at Ithaca College in upstate New York, Midler spoke in glowing terms about Tucker to the audience. This intrigued a young couple who attended the concert together on their first date, and soon became married: Susan and Lloyd Ecker. It is safe to say the Eckers became obsessed with Tucker and her legacy. So much so that when they made a fortune at an online business a couple of decades later, they retired early and decided to devote their lives and their treasure to raising the public’s awareness of Sophie Tucker. The first fruits of this project, launched last year, included a website (sophietucker.com) and a book, “I Am Sophie Tucker: A Fictional Memoir.” Since May, they have been touring the country with their new documentary film “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” — which opens at Cinema Village on July 24. And much like Richard Attenborough in “Jurassic Park,” they have “spared no expense.” The late record producer
July 23 - 29, 2015
Courtesy The Sophie Tucker Project
From the set of 1934’s “Gay Love,” shot in London, England. The pianist is Ted Shapiro, Tucker’s accompanist from 1922-1966.
Phil Ramone was executive producer on the project. To direct the picture, they hired William Gazecki, best known for the critically acclaimed and controversial “Waco: The Rules of Engagement” (1997). The result is anything but monstrous — in fact, it’s quite terrific. At the center are the Eckers themselves, who drew from Tucker’s 400 scrapbooks (which reside at NYU and Brandeis) to tell the story. The Eckers are talking heads in the film, alongside such luminaries as Tony Bennett, Barbara Walters, Carol Channing, Shecky Greene, Paul Anka, Connie Stevens, Tony Martin, Mickey Rooney, Brenda Lee, Kaye Ballard, Joe Franklin and (inexplicably) Mamie Van Doren. For some reason, Michael Feinstein is identified in the lower third as “music historian.” Well, sure, but that’s a bit like calling Houdini a “magic historian.” The man knows his applesauce, but don’t most of us regard him primarily as an entertainer? In addition, we get insight from several other scholars and historians, and family members (grand-nephews and nieces
mostly) and lots and lots of commentary from Ms. Tucker herself from countless interviews done with her in later years. She speaks to us a lot throughout the film. Those 400 scrapbooks we mentioned were of course created by Tucker herself, allowing the filmmakers thousands of photos, theatre programs and similar ephemera to supply the visual element. In addition, Gazecki has enlivened the presentation with many clever animations of still photos,and even some hand tinting of black and white imagery. The documentary features clips from her very few film appearances, as well as television guest shots on programs like “The Jimmy Durante Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” There’s stuff to touch the heart here, too. A U.S. soldier in World War II had a plan to play his record of “My Yiddishe Momme” in the streets of Berlin as the allies marched in. But he was killed in action, so his buddies carried out his dream for him. And there was Tucker’s courageous decision to appear at Miami’s Copa City nightclub alongside Josephine
Baker in 1951 to help her confront the climate of racist death threats. The heartbreak of three worthless husbands and one useless son. And yet the testimony of other relatives is heart-warming. Several in the film talk of playing cards with their famous “Aunt Sophie.” This must have been the early 1960s at the latest, and these relatives must have been children. Then it begins to dawn on you: this world famous woman loved her family so much that she spent time on her vacations playing games with her sister’s grandkids. I defy you not to fall in love with her. “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” is unrated, with a runtime of 96 minutes. Opens July 24 for a three-week run. Daily screenings at 12, 2:15, 4:30, 6:45 & 9 p.m. at Cinema Village (22 E. 12th St. btw. University Place & Fifth Ave.). The filmmakers will be doing a Q&A after every screening. More info at sophietucker.com, facebook.com/OutrageousSophieTucker, twitter.com/SophieTucker and sophietucker.tumblr.com. .com
Just Do Art
Photo by Giancarlo Osaben
Talent-challenged Lance won’t let that minor detail prevent him from entertaining you (July 23 & 30 at Triple Crown Underground).
Image by Laura Pardo
Bad people get what they deserve, in “Trigger Happy” tales spun by Dandy Darkly (at Dixon Place on July 25).
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
DANDY DARKLY’S “TRIGGER HAPPY” If Aesop and Rod Serling locked lips after hopping into a malfunctioning transporter pod filled with confetti bearing Rip Taylor’s DNA, the creature coming out on the other end might resemble something like Dandy Darkly. But then again no, because there is nothing in all of creation quite like this swishy storyteller with a taste for blood, a sick sense of justice and an affinity for alliteration. Part of Dixon Place’s queer-themed Hot! Festival, the contagiously dangerous Mr. Darkly’s “Trigger Happy” offers a batch of all-new tongue-twisting morality tales dispensed with macabre glee — performed in anticipation of a summertime stint at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and a late October run here in NYC (at UNDER St. Marks, site of past Darkly atrocities). Sex and death with an all-American focus is the theme this time around, featuring tales of guns, PTSD, hypersensitivity “and good ole American sodomy.” Free. Sat., July 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St. btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). Artist info at dandydarkly.com and venue info at dixonplace.org. .com
LATE WITH LANCE! Born with a superhuman belief in his capacity to enthrall — but gifted with very few skills other than the ability to access a bottomless well of optimism — “wannabe cruise ship entertainer, celebrity stalker and pathological musical theater fanatic” Lance is making what he honestly believes will be a triumphant return, after a 15-year absence from the cabaret stage. But when invited guests Liza Minnelli, Hugh Jackman and Miami Sound Machine don’t show (they’re just running late, right?), Lance forges ahead with an escalating series of ridiculous and increasingly desperate solo performances — including a five-minute version of “The Sound of Music” and a bittersweet homage to the film “Fame” (depicting kids from NYC’s High School of Performing Arts, which once rejected his application). This brief run of “Late With Lance,” a warm-up for its appearance in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is written and performed by Peter Michael Marino. A winning talent with a knack for playing losers, Marino earned MAC and Bistro award recognition in the mid-90s for “All About Me!,” then saw his musical based on “Desperately Seeking Susan” tank. Tapping his inner Lance, Marino toured the world for two years with a well-received solo show based on the
Photo by Emily Briggs
A sleepy Caribbean island gets a rude awakening, in “Welcome to Paradise” (at Hudson Guild Theater July 28–Aug. 1).
debacle, then created NYC’s SOLOCOM Festival to nurture NextGen one-personshow talent. Now the circle of life comes full circle, as Lance sails into our harbor (from his current gig on the cruise ship circuit) for one more shot at success in the Big Apple. Thurs., July 23 at 7 p.m. and Thurs., July 30 at 8 p.m. at Triple Crown Underground (330 Seventh Ave. near 28th St.). Admission is pay-what-youcan. Visit lanceshow.com and petermmarino.com.
WELCOME TO PARADISE The fictional Caribbean island of St. Sebastian — whose tourist industry caters to “bland suburban honey-
mooners and sedate folks whose wild party days are well behind them” gets an unexpected jolt, in “Welcome to Paradise.” Presented by Theater Now New York as part of the 2015 Thespis Theater Festival, playwright Julie Mario puts the character of Evelyn onto the tranquil, titular vacation spot — then presents her with a series of encounters that throw meddlesome family members for a loop while challenging Evelyn’s own notions of encroaching old age. Tues., July 28 at 9 p.m., Wed., July 29 at 6:15 p.m. & Sat., Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. At the Hudson Guild Theater (441 W. 26th St. btw. 9th & 10th Aves.). Tickets ($18) available at brownpapertickets. com. For artist info, visit tnny.org. July 23 - 29, 2015
July 23 - 29, 2015
Bisexual? Maybe. Trisexual? Deﬁnitely. “I would ‘tri’ anything!” – Soph
“FASCINATING” THE FORWARD
“AMAZING STORY” THE HUFFINGTON POST
Photo by Zach Williams
A diverse group of dancers interpret the Black experience, from the 1960s to the present day.
‘Dapline!’ Shows a Way to Connect in the Face of Oppression Continued from page 19 “When we see youth, athletes, or even President Obama giving a fist bump or DAP, we think of these gestures as mere greetings, and are not aware of the origins and historical significance of this language,” he said in a statement from University Settlement, where he and Zachery work as artists-in-residence. Upcoming performances of “Dapline!” are mere previews of the wider “Five Fingers on the Black Side” project, where Hamilton will continue to explore the topic through other artistic mediums including narrative, music and poetry.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
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The boundaries among artists, performers and audience will continue to dissolve as local youth continue to explore their artistic horizons under his tutelage, and local art enthusiasts can see just how far down the DAP wormhole they wish to travel. Hamilton and Zachery may fly high in the abstract, but the rewards could be lofty for adherents to authenticity who want history to (quite literally) jump in their face. At 8 p.m. on Thurs., July 30, Fri., July 31 and Sat., Aug. 1. At University Settlement’s Speyer Hall (184 Eldridge St. btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets ($15, $10 for students and seniors), visit brownpapertickets.com.
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