Page 1

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

CRP Pressing for Promised Building Fraud Action BY EILEEN STUKANE Optimism was in the air when Chelsea’s newly formed Community & Residents Protection Working Group (CRP) received correspondence from John Waldman, Government and Community Affairs liaison, NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) that the CRP’s exposé of falsified applications for building permits would be addressed at the DOB’s Build Safe Conference on April 27. Trying to pin down exactly what was discussed and what action may be undertaken, however, has not been not easy. Those Continued on page 6

Gloria Sukenick Awarded for Activism BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Gloria Sukenick remembers how her housing activism began — with Barneys. It was the '80s and Barneys was eyeing expansion on Seventh Ave. and W. 17th St. in order to open a women’s store. It had started as a discount store, but had transitioned to the high-end mecca that is known today. “However, there were families that had been living there for years — they were all rent stabilized or rent controlled,” Sukenick told Chelsea Now at her Penn South apartment. “They were all very affordable rents and Barneys was intent on getting them out of there.” Continued on page 7

Waging ‘Guerrilla’ War Against a World Gone Bananas See page 18.

Photo by Zach Williams

In Union Square, those gathering for the labor-oriented May Day march also used the annual event to protest the death of Freddie Gray. That same day, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed criminal charges against the police officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport.

At Multiple Marches, Search for Justice and Demand for Change BY ZACH WILLIAMS Activists were both emboldened and validated, when criminal charges were filed on May 1 against the six Baltimore police officers involved the death of Freddie Gray — a black man who later died from injuries sustained while in custody. Two days before the charges were announced, the NYPD moved quickly to answer challenges by those who took to the streets of Manhattan during an April 29 march in solidarity with their counterparts in Baltimore, where peaceful protests and looting alike overwhelmed law enforcement before the deployment of National Guard troops and the implementation of a curfew. Demonstrations which began in Baltimore following Gray’s death on April 19 returned #BlackLivesMatter to the national spotlight, once again sparking debate about

© CHELSEA NOW 2015 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

everything from racial profiling to the militarization of police departments to chronic unemployment and income inequality. “Baltimore has definitely re-awakened the movement that was in the streets every day last year in response to the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner,” said Larry Holmes, a neighborhood resident and organizer with the Chelsea-based Peoples Power Assemblies. “This could be a long hot summer,” he added. The resurgent movement, however, must contend in New York City with a police department which displayed little patience on April 29 for protesters who did not demonstrate under their terms. Police gave ample warning via loudspeaker and leaflets

Continued on page 12 VOLUME 07, ISSUE 13 | MAY 07 - 13, 2015


It’s Easy to ‘Stoop’ to Their Level

Photo by Dorothy Francoeur

Heaven knows what a great event this is, because it seldom rains on the parade of the 200, 300, 400 West Block Associations Community Stoop Sale. Truth be told, it’s more about schmoozing than shopping, more concerned with milling about than making a buck — but all of these things happen, when longtime residents and newbies alike set up tables or line their stoops with bargain-priced booty from their eclectic, functional and often collectable stock of books, toys, clothes and other small items. There will be no food or large furniture for sale — just good stuff, priced to move and easy to carry, sold by reasonable people who aren’t entirely opposed to a little friendly haggling. It takes place on Sat., May 16 from 11 a.m.–4 p.m., primarily on W.

2

May 07 - 13, 2015

22nd St. from Seventh to 10th Aves. Email 300wba@gmail.com for helpful hints on participating (residents of other blocks are welcome to join in). A table in front of 321 W. 22nd St. serves as headquarters, where generous merchants can donate some of their profits to the good work done by your 200W, 300W and 400W Block Associations. BONUS ACTIVITY: On the very same day as the Stoop Sale, 9 a.m.–12 p.m., the Chelsea Garden Club and the Lower East Side Ecology Center will be showing gardeners how to properly use compost in tree beds. Master composters will be there to help out. The meeting place is the southeast corner of 30th St. at Ninth Ave., at 9 a.m.

—SCOTT STIFFLER

.com


Facts Surface on Ninth Ave. Tunnel Project BY ZACH WILLIAMS It will take some time before a Hell’s Kitchen infrastructure project is water under the bridge — but at least residents are bursting with new information about Ninth Ave. tunnel construction that’s been disrupting the flow of daily life (and traffic). Workers have toiled for three years with the goal of joining the municipal water distribution network with a new tunnel 450 feet below the surface. The work has inconvenienced the surrounding neighborhood since then, with street closures and the conspicuous presence of equipment. The end is near, though, according to Mike Prigge of the city Department of Design and Construction. He charted the project’s progress and outlined its future in a May 4 presentation made at Fountain House (425 W. 47th St.). The meeting was sponsored by Community Board 4 (CB4) and the West 47/48 Streets Block Association. Once work with the new tunnel concludes, the city can rehabilitate two older ones in turn, he added. “The good news is we are somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 11 months ahead of schedule so we are hoping to wrap up spring to summer next year if everything goes the way we anticipate it,” he said. Most of the new municipal plumbing connections are in place, with all work completed on W. 48th St. (btw. Broadway & Ninth Ave.) as well as on W. 51st St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), he said.

.com

A new combined sewer still remains to be installed on W. 51 St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) as well a new trunk main. Workers also need to install 48-inch piping on 10th Ave. (btw. W. 48th & W. 49th Sts.), he added. The three different efforts should take six months to complete, according to the presentation. Roadway restoration, meanwhile, will commence on Ninth Ave. as soon as the 9th Avenue International Food Festival takes place on May 16 and 17 (see 9thave. org). Two lanes will be closed to traffic in block-byblock stages, from W. 47th to W. 52nd Sts. That work is expected to be finished by the end of the year. Work slated for 2016 will be on 10th Ave. (btw. W. 48th & W. 49th Sts.) and on W. 51st St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.), according to the presentation. Attendees at the May 4 meeting said they found it rather informative, but had questions and suggestions for planners as well. Eileen Spinner, a resident of W. 51st St., told Prigge that project managers should seek to quickly restore community use to areas commandeered for the project once they are no longer used. She cited the example of an area on W. 48th St., which was used for storage, then left fenced-in for a period of time until it was once again used to store equipment. CB4 member Jonathan Yoni Bokser said that residents such as himself would appreciate that work on Saturdays wait until 8 a.m. rather than beginning an hour before. CB4 Chair Christine Berthet told Chelsea Now

Photo by Zach Williams

Department of Design and Construction engineer Mike Prigge updates residents on the pace and scope of an ongoing infrastructure project.

in an interview that completion of the project will remove one of the top 10 sources of resident complaints to the community board. “It’s extremely disruptive to residents, to cars, to buses, to all traffic — and then there’s the dust and the uncertainty of when it’s going to be finished. It’s a very big, enormous project, once every hundred years,” she said. Residents with concerns or questions about the project should contact community construction liason Nadine Harris at 646-738-4887 or via email at W48thStreetCCl@gmail.com.

May 07 - 13, 2015

3


Suspect in Brutal Chelsea Beating of Two Gay Men at Large BY PAUL SCHINDLER A brutal May 5 attack on two gay men at the Dallas BBQ on Eighth Ave. just above 23rd St. — which included one of them being kicked in the face while he lay prone on the ground and moments later both having a chair bashed over their heads — was captured on video by a customer on the scene. Though the NYPD would only confirm that two assault complaints had been filed and an investigation was ongoing, Sharon Stapel, the executive director of the New York City AntiViolence Project, told our sister publication, Gay City News, that the incident — which occurred around 11 p.m. on a night when the city was celebrating Cinco de Mayo — was being investigated as bias-related by the department’s Hate Crimes Task Force. Jonathan Snipes, 32, and his boyfriend Ethan York-Adams, identified in press reports as 25, were leaving the restaurant when Snipes accidentally knocked over a drink. DNAinfo.com quoted Snipes as saying, “A table near us audibly started making pretty gross comments about the two of us like,

4

May 07 - 13, 2015

‘White faggots, spilling drinks.’” Snipes told the news website that despite the fact that he weighs only 140 pounds and that one of the men making the remarks looked to be six-foot four, he confronted them over the slurs. One of the men stood up, and the incident quickly escalated. A video shot by another customer, Isaam Sharef, who posted it to his YouTube page, captured the chaotic scene that ensued. A large bald and bearded man appeared to be kicking Snipes on two separate occasions while the victim was on the ground. Others in the restaurant broke up the melee on several occasions, with people holding the attacker back and York-Adams trying to steer Snipes away. Screams and cries of “stop, stop” from the crowd can be heard throughout the video. Almost a minute into the confrontation, the attacker broke free from those restraining him, picked up a chair, and bashed both Snipes and York-Adams over the head, with YorkAdams appearing to take the worst of it, falling to the ground. Snipes can be seen sitting down, apparently dazed by

the attack. The Daily News reported that YorkAdams “appeared” to have been unconscious on the ground for several minutes until an ambulance arrived. A DNAinfo.com photograph of Snipes after the attack shows bruising on the right side of Image by Isaam Sharef via YouTube.com, courtesy of Gay City News his head and face and a long cut running down Isaam Sharef’s video of a Dallas BBQ customer bashing a chair over Jonathan Snipes and Ethan from his ear. Snipes’ York-Adams’ heads. mother, Trish Snipes — who spoke to Gay City identified as its spokesperson for the News from her home in Alabama — said her greatest concern incident, did not immediately return an was whether her son would lose some email seeking comment on the attack of his front teeth, which she said were and the allegation an employee may loosened as he was kicked by his assail- have helped the attacker elude capture. Neither Snipes nor York-Adams ant. After an ambulance arrived, the two immediately returned Facebook messagmen declined to go to the emergency es and a phone call seeking comment. Out gay City Councilmember Corey room, Snipes’ mother explaining her son worried he could not afford to pay Johnson, who represents much of for treatment there, which would have Manhattan’s Lower West Side, said in largely involved monitoring for any a written statement, “I am appalled and angered by the senseless act of concussion. She also said her son told her that anti-LGBT hate violence that was pera waitress at Dallas BBQ, whom she petrated last night at a restaurant in my described as having a ponytail, urged district. The fact that this attack took the attacker to “hurry up and leave place in the neighborhood of Chelsea, a place known around the world for before the police arrive.” The video appears to show the its acceptance of all people, is parattacker running around a wall of win- ticularly outrageous. There must be dows and then exiting the restaurant zero tolerance of hate crimes, the most immediately after he smashed the chair insidious of crimes, as they target entire communities of people. I urge the perover York-Adams and Snipes’ heads. Trish Snipes said her son described petrators of this act to turn themselves his assailant as an African-American, in immediately.” Anyone with information about the but that is not clear from the video, nor has the NYPD released a description Dallas BBQ attack can call the NYPD’s of any suspect. Both Snipes and York- Crime Stoppers at 646-610-6806 or the AVP’s 24-hour hotline at 212-714Adams are white. Eric Levine, whom the restaurant 1141.

.com


.com

May 07 - 13, 2015

5


Buildings Spokesperson Says ‘Many Reforms on the Way’ Continued from page 1 in the know, such as Patrick Wehle, DOB’s Assistant Commissioner of the Office of External Affairs and Waldman’s superior, and Jeffrey Margolies Assistant Commissioner of Intergovernmental Affairs, NY State Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR), did not want to speak directly to conference discussions, referring Chelsea Now to their press offices instead. As noted in our article, “Report Exposes Lying Landlords, Devious Developers” (April 23, 2015), the CRP had discovered that owner/landlords were lying on DOB applications for construction by indicating that buildings were not occupied and not rent-regulated, when they most certainly were occupied and rent-regulated. Without a digital check between the DOB and the DHCR — the agency that holds every building’s occupancy and rent regulation status — there was no bounce-back on DOB’s online application when false information was entered. With no tenants in place, according to falsified applications, no Tenant Protection Plans were required for residents in the 80 buildings discovered

6

May 07 - 13, 2015

by CRP to have illegal permits. Tenants in these buildings were frequently subject to living without heat, water, and electricity, while their homes became construction sites with landlords who preferred that they move. Alex Schnell, DOB’s Press Secretary, emphasized that the issue of having a Tenant Protection Plan in place for buildings undergoing any type of construction was a focus at the conference. Chapter 33 of the Building Code was updated to emphasize that construction or demolition in all buildings with occupied dwelling units be performed in accordance with a tenant protection plan, as required by Chapter 1 of Title 28 of the Administrative Code. Although Schnell did not know whether the issue of falsified permits was directly addressed at the conference, he did say that, “As a licensee you’re signing off that everything in that permit is legal and if we find out that the application is not code compliant, we’ll revoke the permit, put in a Stop Work order.” The system under which the DOB has traditionally learned about a falsification is through its random audits, and by responding to complaints. “We are always encouraging people, if

they believe they’re being harassed, that they need to report it in a call to 311 so we can investigate it,” he said. Schnell went on to say that DOB inspectors have routes that are based upon complaints. In addition, inspectors visit sites that have their own safety inspectors and are heavily monitored. Basically, the DOB will respond to complaints from other agencies, from residents calling in, or from findings the DOB may uncover when a landlord is audited. However, now the groundbreaking CRP report also exists with its sense of urgency to get agencies working together to stop lying landlords. To encourage more communication between agencies, in February the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force was created to bring together the NY State Attorney General’s Office, the NYC Department of Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD), the DOB, the DHCR, and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “When an individual calls in a tenant harassment complaint, it gets routed to the proper agencies and we work on it as four separate agencies unified to address tenant harassment,” said Schnell.

This Task Force may ultimately be the organization that is able to bring action against landlords operating with illegally obtained building permits. However, when asked whether the State Attorney General’s Office, which is part of the Task Force, is looking into the issue of falsified permits, Elizabeth Debold, Deputy Press Secretary, replied, “Unfortunately we cannot comment on whether or not we are investigating this matter, however, it’s important to note that the Task Force’s work is ongoing.” Formed by members of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations and Save Chelsea, the CRP is continuing its push for action — and is also investigating the legality of DOB permits for building “alteration,” which has allowed landlord/ developers to construct an incongruous couple of stories atop an existing building which was not altered at all. Not to be completely lost, the optimism that existed before the DOB’s Build Safe Conference, exists in a remark from the DOB’s Waldman: “Under new leadership in the Buildings Department, there are many reforms on the way and there are great things ahead of us that we should expect from the undertakings.”

.com


Activist Honored for Words, Deeds and…Drumming? Continued from page 1 So Sukenick, famed housing activist Jane Wood and the Chelsea Coalition of Housing went to battle. “We fought it in the most astounding ways,” she said. Sukenick, who turned 90 in April, recalled how they would have one-minute street theater in the middle of Seventh Ave. The night of store’s opening, their performance art protest reached its apex. “We had decided that we were going to have this fashion show, so we rented a limousine and we all dressed up in wacky costumes,” she said. She wore a jumpsuit that she had pinned large one dollar bills on — with the words “Barneys Bill of Rights” emblazoned on them. Barneys got its space, but in the end the housing activists scored a victory: the displaced tenants were moved into Chelsea apartments with the same rents and protections. Sukenick’s dedicated championing of housing rights was honored with a Clara Lemlich Award on May 4 at the Museum of the City of New York. Marlena Vega, 9, and Lena Habtu, 10, introduced Sukenick. Both girls participate in a book club run by the museum, and became fascinated with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and ended up interviewing Sukenick for their speech. The award was started in 2011, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire near Washington Square where 146 workers — mostly female immigrants — lost their lives. Lemlich inspired and led others to protest the conditions many workers were subjected to — spurring the uprising of 20,000 in 1909. “We decided that in the spirit of Clara Lemlich, a very great woman activist, young immigrant girl, who fought for the

.com

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Gloria Sukenick, after the May 4 ceremony, with the flower that accompanied her Clara Lemlich Award.

rights of working women all her life — we were going to give an award every year to women activists in their 70s, 80s, 90s and 100s who are still fighting,” said Esther Cohen in a phone interview. People are nominated from all the boroughs, explained Cohen, who is a member of the advisory boards of the Puffin Activist Gallery, LaborArts and Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition — all hosts of the awards, which is sponsored by the Puffin Foundation. Judith Sokoloff, editor of the “Na’amat Woman Magazine,” said she nominated her good friend and role model Sukenick. “She is one of those amazing people who’s still active politically, socially. She’s just a die hard life-long activist with a long, interesting history,” said Sokoloff, who also lives in Penn South, in a phone interview. “And I felt that she should be recognized for things she did, like work for tenant rights.”

After the Barneys expansion, Sukenick continued to work on housing issues. She had lived all over the city — mostly Downtown — before settling in Chelsea around the late '70s, first on W. 21 St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. and then in Penn South, where she has resided in the same apartment for around 22 years. “I could see where rents were going and I could see already the squeeze on housing,” she said. In the late '70s, early '80s, buildings were being held empty, she explained, so that a landlord could co-op it. Landlords would let vicious dogs loose in the hallways or install noisy tenants, she said. The Chelsea Coalition of Housing, led by Wood, would take over empty buildings and move families in there, she said. “We had these enormous demonstrations and all of Chelsea would come out. One phone call and she would have a line

of people from Seventh to Eighth Ave.,” said Sukenick, referring to Wood, whom she described as a force. After several years at the coalition, the Brooklyn native became part of the Metropolitan Council on Housing, working the phones for their hotline and volunteering at their drop-in center for tenants. She is still on the council’s advisory board, she said, but prefers to fight with words now — and is seen frequently on Chelsea Now’s Letters to the Editor page. Sukenick tried her hand at many different jobs — waitressing, modeling and switchboard operator for the Museum of Modern Art — before she became a copywriter for Alexander’s, a department store chain, where she worked from her 30s until her retirement. “I kind of ambled my way through till I got to my activist years,” she recalled. “I retired as soon as I possibly could at 62.” When she first got out of Alexander’s, she said, there were many demonstrations, and she wanted to be a part of it. So she went to 47th St. and brought a drum, which she would take to protests. “There’s nothing better than a drum to get people’s attention and get them starting to move and do something,” she said. She also participated in the feminist movement, going to the Women’s Firehouse, where the New York Radical Feminists held their meetings, and to consciousness-raising groups. “This was a wonderful new experience of closeness with other women,” she said. “At that point in time, it was a powerful force.” While she still considers herself a feminist, she is more focused on housing issues and what is happening in Chelsea, which is “becoming a richer and richer community.” Her apartment in Penn South is filled

Continued on page 17

May 07 - 13, 2015

7


Rhymes With Crazy THEWESTSIDE’SCOMMUNITYNEWSPAPER

Publisher

Jennifer Goodstein

Editor

Scott Stiffler

Editorial Assistant Sean Egan

Art Director

Michael Shirey

Graphic Designers Andrew Gooss Chris Ortiz

Web Master

Troy Masters

Contributors

Stephanie Buhmann Sean Egan Michael Lydon Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Puma Perl Paul Schindler Trav S.D. Eileen Stukane Zach Williams

Account Executives Jack Agliata Allison Greaker Jennifer Holland Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco

Published by

NYC Community Media, LLC

One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (212) 229-1890 Fax: (212) 229-2790 www.chelseanow.com scott@chelseanow.com © 2015 NYC Community Media, LLC

Member of the New York Press Association Chelsea Now is published biweekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. The entire contents of newspaper,includingadvertising,arecopyrightedandnopart may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2015 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: SendaddresschangestoChelseaNow,OneMetrotechNorth, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR: The Publisher shall

not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement.The publisher’s liability for other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

8

May 07 - 13, 2015

Give Mom the Gift of Chill BY LENORE SKENAZY Mother’s Day is usually marked by burnt toast, dandelion bouquets, and crayon drawings of mommies and children with hearts all around them. It is a great day. This Mother’s Day, I’ll be giving a talk at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on how come mommies feel so worried all the time. Not that moms haven’t always been worried for their kids. Of course we have. Jewish moms (like me) are famous for it. In fact, the old joke is, “Did you hear about the Jewish telegram? ‘START WORRYING. DETAILS TO FOLLOW.’ ” But for the past 20 or 30 years, worries have come to almost define the job of parenting. We worry about what our kids are eating, watching, reading, wearing, learning, not learning, saying, thinking, texting, sexting (well, maybe that one’s valid), doing, and not doing. Not to mention what is in their goodie bag. We worry even under circumstances when most of our own mothers would have breathed a sigh of relief: “Ah, they’re outside for a few hours. Now I can get some work done.” Or, “Now he’s down for a nap. Phew.” What has made us so nervous? I boil it down to four big cultural shifts:

1.

  The Media. Of course it is easy to blame the media, because the media are

to blame. My mom could not have named 10 kidnapped children off the top of her head. Today’s moms usually can, and not because there are more “sickos” around, or even more crime. Crime is at a 50-year low. It is that we hear about everything from everywhere all the time now. When I was on Nancy Grace recently, she showed heart-stopping clips of Adam Walsh (murdered in Florida,1981), Etan Patz (disappeared in New York, 1979) and Elizabeth Smart (kidnapped in Salt Lake City in 2002), as if to say, “See! These things are happening. All. The. Time.” Even though we’re talking three cases separated by decades and thousands of miles. Not flashed on screen: The tens of millions of children not kidnapped when they walked to the bus stop. Pretty much whatever we see on television is there because it is the scariest of the scary and the rarest of the rare. If we publicized every time a child died in a car crash in this same hammering way, no one would ever put their kids in the car again.

2.

  We live in litigious times, and this outlook is catching. We, too, have started looking at life the way trial lawyers do: Is that playground absolutely safe? Well, no. Nothing is. But thanks to the litigious belief that if something isn’t 100 percent safe, it is dangerous, we get situations like the one in

seems like it is too dangerous to do without backup.

Richland, Washington, where the school district decided to remove the swings from all its playgrounds.

3.

  Thanks to the “expert culture” we live, in parents are constantly being told what they’re doing wrong. There are experts on everything now, including (I kid you not) how to write a non-upsetting letter to your kid at camp. As if there is one right way to keep kids safe and sound. Please! But hear enough warnings and you start to feel you are endangering your kid if you let him do anything on which you haven’t done Ph.D.-level research.

4.

 The marketplace knows there is no easier dollar to extract than the one from the wallet of a worried parent. And so we have a whole aisle of the baby store filled with pivoting, infrared monitors that sweep the nursery at night, as if checking for terrorists in the caves of Yemen (if there actually are caves in Yemen. You get the idea). Suddenly just putting your child to sleep in her room

So this Mother’s Day, the gift I would give all moms is the gift of chill. Our kids are not in constant danger, no matter what the media, the marketplace, and the experts (aside from me) are saying. If you can make it to the Museum for my lecture, great. If not — no hard feelings! And if you want to try something else that might help you relax, consider participating in “Take Our Children to the Park… and Let Them Walk Home By Themselves” day on Saturday, May 9. The idea is to bring your kids, ages 7 or 8 and up, to your local park and let them play and walk home unsupervised. This may sound nerve-wracking, but once you do it and see your happy kids bounding home, the fear gets replaced by pride and joy. At 10 that Saturday morning, I’ll be at the Ancient Playground at 85th and Fifth in Central Park, offering encouragement. Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids (freerangekids.com). She will give a talk at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Pl. by First Pl.) on Mother’s Day, May 10, at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. For info and reservations: 646-437-4202 or visit mjhnyc.org.

De-Calendaring Puts 95 Properties at Risk TALKING POINT By Co-Presidents Lesley Doyel and Michael Bhagwandin and the board of Save Chelsea Currently, and somewhat ironically, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has proposed de-calendaring 95 properties

in all five boroughs. If this proposal is implemented, all 95 sites would no longer be protected and would therefore be at serious risk. Save Chelsea joins many other organizations and individuals in urging the LPC to reconsider this drastic action. To begin with, each of these sites has significant historic, architectural or cultural value, or they would not have been considered eligible for landmark designation

and calendared to begin with. Especially in today’s climate of over-development, we greatly fear that removing these sites in a mass de-calendaring with no further examination opens them to hasty demolition or irrevocable alteration. Here in Chelsea we are experiencing the wholesale loss or drastic alteration of many currently unprotected

Continued on page 17 .com


a veteran remembers

Securing the Remagen Ludendorff Bridge BY SPECIALIST (T/5) CORPORAL FREDERICK (RICK) CARRIER Chelsea Now is proud to welcome Rick Carrier, who will be making regular contributions based on his experiences as a young American soldier during World War II (look for his column every other week). On March 7, 1945 as a Combat Engineer assigned to General Patton’s Third Army, I was dispatched on a mission to find and report German engineering supplies abandoned by defeated Nazis scattering from General Patton’s ruthless Eighth Army battle tanks, which were blasting all visible Nazis — who were rapidly disappearing fast from der Fuhrer’s order to blow-up all Rhine River Bridges. I was searching railroad tracks in the Ardennes for heavy wood ties, gravel, steel rails and concrete. We needed lots of engineering stuff to restore severe battle damage so occupying troops could get a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast as soon as possible. My missions were solitary. Searching dangerous battle zones by myself had its share of exciting and close call moments with lots of quiet thinking time. I was safe with wide views ahead and back — never a spot where a lone Nazi sniper could look and find targets. Shaking chills in my shoulders and shifting my Jeep into low gear, I drove up the side of the hill. Nosing out of the brush on top I saw a vacant Rhine River viewing bay. According to my map, the Remagen Ludendorff Bridge below was not destroyed. It was still standing, intact. Combat engineers crawled all over the bridge defusing explosives, estimating durability to hold armor crossings, welding damage and developing defense set-ups against possible counter attacks. Radioing HQ my colonel repeated Ike’s Rhine bridge comment: “The standing Remagen bridge capture was worth its weight in gold. This bridge should be held at all costs.” With elbows on my sleeping bag on the edge of a precipice, I could look down at the bridge site. Boiling water on my field alcohol stove, a complete C Ration hot meal with coffee spiked with whiskey was lunch. I settled down to steady watch on the Rhine. Suddenly I heard tires and crunching gravel behind me. Ducking down in .com

shrub, clutching my Thompson submachine gun and a 1911 45 pistol, three grenades were in easy reach. Jumpy and nervous, I took a quick pull of rye whiskey, swished it around till it burned and swallowed. BOOM! I caught my breath. I was calm. Super alert. Ready to blast any peeks into my den. Softly spreading leaves, I peeked through the foliage. A German Kubelwagen version of our Jeep had parked a hand’s length away. A loud, drunken Nazi soldier yanked the Kubelwagen’s ratchet break lever back — hard. I noticed the front tires dangerously touching the rocky edge of the cliff. The driver again yanked the ratchet brake tight. The brake cable triggered my whirling mind into a solution at high speed. The loud Nazi passed schnapps back and forth to his drunken partner. I kept looking at the Kubelwagen’s front tires, right on the edge of the cliff. Scanning the Kubelwagen’s undercarriage carefully, I saw a tight jerry-rigged brake cable. A workable idea popped. Slowly pulling wire-crimping pliers from my pistol belt’s holster, I snaked my hand with the pliers’ jaws wide open. I slid my hand under the Kubelwagen, careful not to bang metal as I guided the open jaws around the brake cable and slowly squeezed the jaws tight. There was a very loud twang as the taut cable whipped steel, announcing a disaster. Lurching forward, Kubelwagen’s two front tires rolled quietly off the stone edge of the cliff. Two drunk Nazis screamed “ACHTUNG. GOTT IM HIMMEL. WAS IST LOS?” Their voices dwindled with the Kubelwagon, spilling two howling drunks into the air. Waving arms and black-booted legs twisted in front of the Kubelwagen. Two

screaming Krauts and the Kubelwagen smashed into a pile of rocks below. The mighty Remagen Bridge still stood. I did not report the Kubelwagen’s crash to Headquarters. I relayed HQ the condition of the bridge. Colonel Caffee ordered me to continue relaying details until my backup team with my pal Sergeant Ragsdale arrived at the battle treasure. Ragsdale arrived and we toured the bridge, busy with engineer bees hell-bent on restoring and installing planks for tanks, artillery, supply trucks and infantry divisions. Bulldozers and grading equipment smoothed bridge approaches on both sides for easy access crossings. Checking the far side tunnel, Ragsdale briefed me on my new mission in Andernach. I was to set up a station to record river elevations for pontoon bridges over the Rhine. On my new mission in Andernach I would experience incredible danger, and beautiful romantic moments with a triple Nazi and US OSS undercover spy in Hitler’s inner circle. Code name: Rhine Maiden.

Among the first group of soldiers on Utah Beach, Normandy, U.S. Army Combat Engineer Rick Carrier marched through the European Theater of France, Belgium and Germany. While behind enemy lines in 1945 on a mission to obtain strategic supplies, he became the first allied soldier to discover Buchenwald concentration camp — then helped to liberate it, alongside Patton’s Third Army. After the war, Carrier studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He co-authored 1955’s “Dive, The Complete Book of Skin Diving,” then was hired personally by Howard Hughes to design underwater rigging for one of the tycoon’s Hollywood publicity stunts. This past summer, the 90-year-old (a longtime member of Chelsea Community Church) was back in Normandy for a ceremony marking the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. In October, the President of France awarded Carrier the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor — France’s highest honor.

May 07 - 13, 2015

9


POLICE BLOTTER HIGH FEMALES BRING MAN DOWN Two pot smokers were reportedly not so mellow when confronted by a 29-year-old man who asked that they not toke in front of his building on the 200 block of W. 16th St. The man was walking his dogs at about 6:20 p.m. on Wed., April 29, when he noticed the females of unknown age with Mary Jane (the thing, not the person), and made the request. They gave the man a hit of his own in response, striking and pulling him to the ground resulting in minor injuries. The man shook it off after refusing medical attention.

BEDROOM BURGLARY A woman came home to her apartment in the 500 block of W. 30th St. at about 7:30 a.m. on Tues., April 28 found that a $4,000 necklace was missing. Building management reportedly allowed employees from Tri-State Furniture access to her room so that they could change the furniture. The

32-year-old victim told police the apartment was provided by her job, even as remodeling continues across the building. Front desk personnel supposedly provided the key for the heist of the Hertz Jewelry item.

BAD TIME FOR WATCH COLLECTOR An unknown thief entered an apartment on the 300 block of W. 21st St. with ease on Wed., April 29. No damage was reported to the front door or windows of the residence but $16,000 worth of luxury watches were missing at about 8:45 a.m. The victim told police that the building superintendent has a key to the apartment. Thus far though, police have no suspects in the case, according to a report. A Jager Le Culture Reverso Duo watch worth $10,000 was the most valuable of the four watches taken. A pair of engraved cuff links and $200 in cash were also stolen.

DEAD ON ARRIVAL Police found Francis Duffy, 65,

dead in bed on Fri., May 1. A healthcare aid first came across the disabled man who was lying face up within his residence on the 200 block of W. 23rd St. She then dialed 911. Duffy was pronounced dead just before 4 p.m.

WALKING PARAPHERNALIA A crack pipe lent some extra support for a man caught trespassing in a NYCHA building at about noon on Fri., May 1. Police say a 56-year-old was roaming through the building located at 420 W. 26th St. despite posted signs stating that the facilities were only for tenants and their guests. When they took another look at his walking cane, they found the pipe protruding from within. The man was arrested and charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.

LUNCHTIME PUNCH Things got physical (and a little personal) for one public school student on Mon., April 27. The 17-yearold male student was in a second floor hallway when another boy of the same age reportedly hit him on the head and cursed him out at about noon that day. Police say no injuries were visible on the victim. The boy knew his assailant, who is a classmate at Manhattan Business Academy (at 351 W. 18th St.). His mother requested that he be transferred to another school to ensure his safety. There was no arrest for the attack.

—ZACH WILLIAMS

10

May 07 - 13, 2015

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th 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: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-7418210. Detective Squad: 212-7418245. 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 next meeting is May 27.

THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.). Deputy Inspector: David Ehrenberg. Call 212-4777411. Community Affairs: 212477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m. The next meeting is on May 19.

CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawedoff shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.

CRIME STOPPERS If you have info regarding a crime committed or a wanted person, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577TIPS, text “TIP577” (plus your message) to “CRIMES” (274637) or submit a tip online at nypdcrimestoppers.com.

.com


neighborhood artists

Chelsea Author Dreams Up New Book BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Longtime Chelsea resident David Finkle did not have a choice when it came to writing his new novel “The Man With the Overcoat” — the germ of the idea came to him in his sleep. “I didn’t decide to write a novel,” he said with a laugh. “I had a dream, which is now the first couple pages of the novel. When I woke up from the dream, I thought, ‘Hmm, there’s something there. I think I can do something with that.’ ” In the dream, he is standing in front of a bank of elevators in what seemed like a Fifth Avenue office building, but not necessarily to board one, Finkle explained. It is the end of the workday and the first man to get off the elevator is in a business suit and carrying a briefcase. As he exits he passes another man, dressed similarly, whose holds out an overcoat. The man passing takes the overcoat. The man who takes the proffered overcoat becomes the book’s protagonist, Skip Gerber, Finkle told Chelsea Now during a meeting at Brooklyn

.com

Bagel & Coffee Company (Eighth Ave. btw. 24th & 25th Sts.). Finkle started to write about Gerber to find out who he was and discovered that he was a real estate lawyer, who “kept following his nose and clues” to return the overcoat. He had written 20 pages when he realized that the story would all take place in 24 hours. During his overcoat odyssey, Gerber bumps into and meets many other characters. Finkle said the characters fascinated him — they just cropped up and spoke. While this may be Finkle’s first novel, he is no novice writer — he has written about the arts for several outlets for decades, including the Huffington Post and the Village Voice, and published a short story collection, “People Tell Me Things.” Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, Finkle loved books. He went to Andover and then studied literature at Yale. He took a writing course with Robert Penn Warren, who wrote the Pulitzer-winning “All the King’s Men,” and who encouraged Finkle to send his

Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

David Finkle discusses his life, new novel, during a recent conversation held at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company (Eighth Ave. btw. 24th & 25th Sts).

short story around to editors. He moved to New York City and got his first big break: a job for a trade magazine about the music business called “Music Vendor” in 1962. After going to the Army Reserves, his job was waiting

for him when he returned. But change was afoot at the magazine, which was bought by two men from another trade magazine called “Cashbox.” (“Cashbox”

Continued on page 20

May 07 - 13, 2015

11


New Yorkers March in Solidarity, Before and A

Police kept in close proximity to activists as night fell on April 29, and began making arrests as soon as they set foot in the street.

Erica Garner speaks at an April 29 rally in Union Square. Her father, Eric, died last summer in Staten Island during an attempted arrest for selling untaxed cigarettes.

Continued from page 1 that anyone marching in the street would be subject to arrest. But activists were vocal in their intention to test them. Barely two weeks after a South Carolina officer gunned down Walter Scott after a traffic stop, family members of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley — two unarmed black men killed by NYPD officers last year — led the way in saying the status quo should change. “The injustice that has been prominent against black and brown lives in urban communities must end. NYPD and all police departments worldwide have unjustified preconceived attitudes and opinions towards black and brown lives, and their work is unacceptable and they must be held accountable,” said Hertencia

12

May 07 - 13, 2015

Petersen, Gurley’s aunt. Many there also desired to challenge prominent media portrayals of looting and violence in Baltimore. Events there need to be considered in context, especially from the viewpoint of young people unsure as to how best to vent their anger, activists said. “Certain parts of the media just portray our African-American brothers and sisters as criminals and thugs and n—rs, and just looting and messing up the community. Yes, (rioting is) wrong but that’s one of our ways of expressing how we feel,” said Harlem resident Taven Gibson, 23, on April 29. But their enthusiasm only took them a few hundred feet in a march from the square along W. 17th St. before police moved in, arresting perhaps a dozen people and leaving the crowd of about 1,000 peo-

A scuffle between police and protesters in Times Square, following an April 29 were taken into custody.

ple segmented. Bands of protesters were nonetheless willing to try again. One group of about 100 marched through Chelsea with a heavy police accompaniment before meeting with several hundred remaining protesters in Times Square. Scuffles broke out as the combined group sought to take the southbound lanes of Seventh Ave. but each time the police pushed them back. Attempts were also made during the night to block the Holland Tunnel and West Side Highway, common targets for civic disruption by #BlackLivesMatter actions late last year. In all, about 140 people were arrested on the night of April 29, including this reporter, whom police nabbed near the intersection of W. 43rd St. and Seventh Ave. while crossing the street as he photographed the scene. At an April 30 press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the police response

and dismissed as irrelevant his own 2013 arrest at a protest in support of a Brooklyn hospital. “When the police give you an instruction, you follow the instruction. It’s not debatable,” he told reporters. “May Day for Freddie Gray,” read signs at a demonstration the following day, where the annual holiday for labor and leftists served as the latest forum for #BlackLivesMatter activities — only this time in conjunction with a wide array of social, political and economic causes. The stalwart graying socialists mixed with anarchists and groups such as the CUNY Internationalist Club. Family members of Mexican college students kidnapped by corrupt police in cahoots with drug traffickers were just one set of speakers extolling the need for a society more tilted towards working class men and women. .com


After Charges Brought in Death of Freddie Gray

Photos by Zach Williams

East Village resident Steven Shryock, at Union Square on May 1, said he directs this message toward his racial counterparts.

9 rally that begin in Union Square. By the end of the night, roughly 140 people

“Most often, exploited workers are black and brown people. So what you have here is people for different causes all coming together for one central purpose, so I think this year, the theme incorporates all the different causes. But I think we are all here because black lives matter and that’s been the thread for the last several months,” said Elsa Waitha of Brooklyn. This time they did not need to contend with police backlash while marching, as the event had secured a permit beforehand. A three-block-long procession began forming along E. 14th St. as they moved in-between an enormously long line of metal barricades set up for the occasion. Though such an arrangement was not as radical as two days before, tensions were also much lower between activists and the large police detachment, which chaperoned them to Foley Square downtown. .com

Their signs and slogans still demanded that the NYPD change its ways, including the perception (and reality to many) that enforcing the law in the city often means focusing on the activities of people of color. Just the day before, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton defended the “Broken Windows” style of policing through a 41-page report outlining its purported successes in lowering crime rates citywide. Low-level lawlessness represented by the metaphor of a broken window invite more crime, states the report. Serious criminals, meanwhile, can often be caught when they commit crimes such as turnstile jumping, the report adds before acknowledging that changes could be made to improve police practices. Bratton said in an April 30 speech at the Police Academy in Queens that there is room for compromise

A splinter group broke off from April 29’s Union Square rally (seen here marching down Seventh Ave. in Times Square).

with city council members who seek to decriminalize some petty offenses, according to media reports. Some activists, though, are more focused on supporting a social revolt against the powers that be by people of color in collaboration with Caucasian allies who agree that police violence is just one manifestation of white privilege. “They rarely shoot old white guys like me,” read the sign of East Village resident Steven Shryock at Union Square on May 1. He said in an interview he directs that message toward his racial counterparts. “A lot of people like the sign, but a lot of people, especially white people my age, say I’m full of s—t because ‘there is no such thing as white privilege’ and that kind of stuff…right now there is so much denial,” he said. The proclivity of police officers to

notice the transgressions of people of color while ignoring those of whites was in full display in Baltimore, according to Imani Henry — who, along with Holmes and about 17 other activists from the Peoples Power Assemblies, ventured to that city on May 2. They visited the site in a poor area of the city where police arrested Gray and participated in one of the demonstrations occurring that day. But as the 10 p.m. curfew in the city persisted its final night, activists found yet more opportunities to compare police treatment of white people and people of color. A photo went viral online of a black woman lying in pain on a sidewalk, supposedly after being caught by police after hours. White #BlackLivesMatter supporters, meanwhile, shared photos on social media of themselves walking the streets of Baltimore unscathed. May 07 - 13, 2015

13


14

May 07 - 13, 2015

.com


City Request for Health Services Bids Shows Shift to PrEP, TasP Funding BY DUNCAN OSBORNE City contracts that were recently put out for bids add further evidence that government HIV prevention dollars are favoring biomedical interventions that prevent HIV infections, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and moving away from behavioral interventions that seek to alter sexual behavior. “Increasingly, biomedical HIV prevention approaches have emerged as yet another key tool for primary HIV prevention and also as a way to reduce HIV-related stigma,” Public Health Solutions, the city health department’s master contractor for HIV prevention contracts, wrote in the document seeking bids. “This new mix of biomedical HIV prevention, when offered alongside behavioral, structural, and other prevention interventions, is often called ‘combination’ HIV prevention and has the advantage of being adaptable to each and every individual.” The bid document, which was released in late March, offered $10 million in contracts with $1.4 million dedicated to “Biomedical Prevention” and another $2.6 million clearly relying on biomedical interventions as a major component of the funded HIV prevention activity. The remaining $6 million funded needle exchange programs and outreach activities. The successful bidders will be announced in late May and the contracts begin on July 1. PrEP involves the use of antiHIV drugs by HIV-negative people to keep them uninfected. Like needle exchange, which provides clean needles to drug injectors to prevent HIV infection, PrEP is highly effective when used correctly. Government funders in public health have paid for behavioral interventions, such as counseling, in

.com

the past, but the evidence supporting their efficacy was always scant at best. Such funders prefer interventions that have a proven effectiveness. Federal and state HIV prevention dollars are also moving toward biomedical interventions. On March 31, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced $185 million in available grants for state and local health departments to fund PrEP and treatment as prevention (TasP) demonstration projects among men who have sex with men and transgender people. Just over $65 million of that is for projects targeting gay and bisexual men of color. TasP involves the use of anti-HIV drugs by HIVpositive people so they are no longer infectious. The state budget for the current fiscal year includes $5 million to pay for PrEP-related costs for an estimated 600 people, though that program may cover more people. Last year, the state health department funded modest PrEP demonstration projects at seven health clinics, including the CallenLorde Community Health Center, the APICHA Community Health Center, and the William F. Ryan Community Health Network. “We’re going to be looking at this as a high priority in our next budget cycle,” said Dan O’Connell, director of the AIDS Institute, which is part of the state health department, at a meeting on PrEP at a Ryan clinic in Hell’s Kitchen last year. When Governor Andrew Cuomo endorsed a plan to reduce new HIV infections in New York from the current roughly 3,000 annually to 750 a year by 2020, his first action was to negotiate lower prices for the anti-HIV drugs the state buys that will be used for PrEP and TasP. For PrEP to con-

tribute to that goal, tens of thousands of at-risk New Yorkers will have to be on the drug. “One of the things that the task force recommended was shifting funding toward interventions that prove most effective in achieving the goal of ending the epidemic,” said Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS group, and the co-chair of the 63-member task force that drafted the plan to get to 750 new HIV infections annually. “I think you’re going to see that in a lot of contracts.” The task force, which was co-chaired by Dr. Guthrie Birkhead, a deputy commissioner in the state health department, also recommended allowing that department to change the goals and interventions funded in longer contracts. “What you will see on a rolling basis is shifting contracts,” King said. These shifts in funding appear to favor larger organizations with onsite clinics that do a lot of HIV testing, which can identify people who are having unsafe sex and may be PrEP candidates. PrEP requires quarterly screening for sexually transmitted diseases and checks for side effects.

Larger groups that do thousands of HIV tests every year can also identify more previously undiagnosed HIVpositive people who are candidates for TasP. King said this change in funding did not necessarily mean that smaller organizations would lose dollars over time. “The whole regime in healthcare is integrated systems, integrated networks,” he said. “That’s already done in HIV…None of these organizations have to go out of business.” The Latino Commission on AIDS, for example, does not provide medical services, but it has linkages to medical providers. The commission performed 1,481 HIV tests in 2014 and identified 38 previously undiagnosed HIVpositive people. While that is not a lot of HIV tests, the two percent positivity rate, which is high, indicates that the organization is testing the right population. That could still be valuable to government funders. “We have been able to build strong access to social networks,” Guillermo Chacon, the commission’s president, told our sister publication, Gay City News. “Many organizations like ours are essential to making that bridge.”

May 07 - 13, 2015

15


16

May 07 - 13, 2015

.com


Save Chelsea to LPC: ‘Save Chelsea!’ Continued from page 8 buildings of historic merit. The LPC was created to protect New York’s heritage, not to dispose of it for reasons of time and economy! We agree with our fellow organizations that these sites should not be viewed as a burden, but rather as a part of our history in need of protection and worthy of preservation. We are gratified that the LPC is, at last, requesting public input. We also remind them that the public was

Housing Activist at Home in Penn South

extremely outspoken last December, when the threat of de-calendaring was first announced. If the new leadership of the LPC needs to make sweeping changes in order to more effectively move forward, a wholesale purge of the many worthy buildings and sites that have already been determined by the LPC as valid for serious consideration is surely not the answer. Instead of the new broom sweeping clean, creative alternatives (many good ones have been suggested) should be put on the table, and the process of dealing with the 95 threatened properties expedited. Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Gloria Sukenick, in her Chelsea apartment.

Continued from page 7 with fresh flowers and her artwork — mosaics and collages adorn the wall and bowls enhance tables. She is concerned about Penn South’s future and wishes she could see which way future votes about privatizing the complex

.com

would go. “I find it such a wonderful thing that this place has kept not-for-profit and you can’t make money on it, you just have to give it back to the corporation,” she said. “That has let you live at a modest price so that someone else can afford to live here. Sounds so wacky, doesn’t it, in this culture?”

May 07 - 13, 2015

17


ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT At 30, Guerrilla Girls Still on Same Masked Mission Activists engage at Abrons, on the street

Courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls

Little has changed since the '80s, when the Guerrilla Girls first challenged disproportionate gender representation in the art world.

BY PUMA PERL The Guerrilla Girls are not ready to make nice. In all likelihood, they never will be. Celebrating three decades of feminist art, activism and protest, they continue to expand their vision — and they ARE a vision, continuing the tradition of masked avengers by exposing the dirty underside of cultural and artistic inequalities. They are warriors who don gorilla masks (and, occasionally, miniskirts and heels) to educate the public through a blend of outrageous humor and action. There has been little change in the art world since an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art first kicked off their outrage in 1984. Presented as the “most significant contemporary art in the world,” it was comprised of 169 white men and 13 white women. Fact: In 1985, there was exactly one woman represented in single person exhibitions at four major New York City museums — the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan, the Modern and the Whitney. In 2015, there were a total of five women. In 1985, in 18 of the

18

May 07 - 13, 2015

Photo by Puma Perl

Anonymity keeps the focus on issues and avoids the external appointment of leaders.

major art galleries, no more than 10 percent of the shows included women. Some galleries showed none at all. In 2014, that number jumped all the way to a high of 20 percent; some galleries still showed none. I learned all of this and more

through a visit to the current exhibit at Abrons Arts Center, which is part of the Henry Street Settlement. Titled “Not Ready to Make Nice: Guerrilla Girls Birthday Party, 30 Years and Still Counting,” the retrospective will continue through May17.

This is the first New York City exhibit that displays all of the posters that have been used throughout the years. It includes guided tours of the timeline, videos, and a blowout birthday celebration on May 15. Additionally, New Yorkers can expect surprise visits all over town from the Girls — who, with the help of supporters, will be slapping up stickers around East Village and Chelsea art galleries and joining with other activist groups to expose corruption in the art world. On May 1, they participated in the May Day demonstrations that shut down the Guggenheim Museum. In collaboration with the activists who operate the Illuminator (a cargo van equipped with audio and video equipment), they have projected images bearing their message onto the Whitney and various art galleries. Guerrilla style, naturally. One of the most interesting aspects of the guided tour, primarily conducted by Guerrilla Girls founding members Frida Kahlo and Kathe Kollwitz

Continued on page 19 .com


Waging ‘Guerrilla’ War in World Gone Bananas Continued from page 18 (with an assist from newer member Zubeida Agha), is the ways in which the targets and vision have broadened over the years. Triggered by the inequalities of the art world, they have expanded into addressing sexism, racism, oppression and corruption in film, politics, health care, education and anywhere inequities exist — which, of course, is everywhere. Part of the 2015 mission is drawing attention to the poorly paid employees of museums and the ownership of art by the richest of the rich (a current hashtag is #poorlittlebillionaires). Studying the timeline, the visitor becomes aware of technical growth and the ways in which communication and the building of community have been impacted, especially for those increasingly few of us who remember mimeograph machines and heading out at night with a bunch of posters and a tub of glue, throwing them up on any available surface. Today, supporters are encouraged to post photos on Instagram showing the locations where they have placed the stickers distributed by the Guerrilla Girls, who are internationally recognized. The exhibit includes a wall of notes written to them, both supportive and enraged, as well as the opportunity for guests to post up their own messages. An 18-year-old girl writes of “urgent needs for guerilla action here in Pakistan!” A 14-year-old gay teenager tells of picking up the book “Bitches, Bimbos and Ballbreakers” at age 11, and finding the courage to come out. Naturally, there are fair amounts of letters demonizing them as “stupid, lesbian, feminazis” among other epithets and questioning them as to why they “hate men,” totally missing the point that this is about dismantling, redistributing, and redefining power, regardless of gender. Attempts at attacking the Guerrilla Girls personally are doomed to fail, due to the cloak of anonymity — not only in the form of the gorilla masks that are worn in public, but in the early choice that was made not to reveal individual identities. Although there were realistic concerns about the outcomes of targeting powerful individuals, the ways in which the anonymity resonates have more to do with keeping the focus on the issues and avoiding the external appointment of leaders, stars or, as is most often the case with groups of females, preoccupations with looks and personalities that result in overshadowing the message. What has evolved over the years is a group of women, some consistent, some shifting (there have been over 100 Guerrilla Girls to date) who have become the art. There is a shared sensibility, warmth and friendliness, and a sly humor happening behind those heavy masks, as well as a uniform possession of the history and the mission. The task is serious but the actions and educational techniques are great fun. When asked whether there was a goal to become obsolete, Kahlo replied, with a laugh, “Hope not.” So far, in 2015, there have been Guerrilla Girl gigs in Austria, Spain, California, Georgia and Texas, with more to come. In September of .com

Photo by Puma Perl

Wall of Misogyny: ignorant observations from Confucius and Pythagoras stand alongside modern idiocy from the likes of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.

2016, they will be back in the New York area, at Stonybrook University. They write no proposals, accept no grants, have no funding stream and are indebted to nobody. I asked Kahlo how they kept going and she stated that basically it is the kindness of strangers — people are moved by the message and offer support and requests for exhibitions and other types of gigs. She described its beginnings as a “mom and mom” store — selling materials, gradually expanding. “We do not care about becoming wealthy,” she added. The Guerrilla Girls initially began and added members through word of mouth in artistic circles. Since they are now appearing all over the world, I asked Kahlo and Kollwitz how one becomes a Guerrilla Girl. They smirked behind the gorilla teeth. “Hazing,” said Kathe. “A lot of bananas,” added Kahlo. Thinking back, I have to laugh at that question too, since the answer is so obvious. Guerrilla Girls share a spirit of rebellion with the world. Through the empowerment of education and hilarity, they encourage others to take a stand and to refuse to accept the unacceptable, to pay it forward and pass it on. Become a Guerrilla Girl of the mind and body — and who knows? You may someday be a Guerrilla Girl, too. The Guerrilla Girls will continue to appear on the streets of New York throughout their stay here. Catch up with their actions on Facebook or Twitter, and learn more about them at guerrillagirls.com. For a schedule of activities related to the current exhibit at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St. at Pitt St.), visit abronsartscenter.org/galleries/guerrillagirls-not-ready-to.html.

Courtesy of the Guerrilla Girls

They make outrage so fun, you’ll have trouble staying inside the lines — but this Activity Book helps connect the dots from early Guerrilla Girls actions to their current sticker campaign.

Puma Perl’s next Pandemonium production will partner with AH Presents and take place on Friday, May 22 at Sidewalk Cafe, 94 Ave. A (at Sixth St.). Bands and performers include The Pin-Ups, Red Gretchen, The Lord Calverts, Puma Perl and Friends and Danny’s Devil Blues. No admission, no cover, all ages, 7 p.m.–1 a.m. May 07 - 13, 2015

19


neighborhood artists

Nocturnal Visions of a Novel Continued from page 11 was second only to “Billboard” at the time, noted Finkle.) The magazine got a new name: “Record World.” Finkle said that the '60s were probably “the best, most exciting decade for music. I was in a position to cover music during a very important and exciting time. I went to everything and I met everybody.” Finkle was at Shea Stadium when the Beatles played, Carnegie Hall for the Rolling Stones, met Janis Joplin and reviewed every record that came out — except for country — for the next decade. Finkle had his own musical interests and ambitions as well. While at Andover, he met Bill Weeden and they would become writing partners and a nightclub act. They toured the country, but Finkle ultimately went back to journalism. Now focused mainly on theater, Finkle says that he goes to five or six performances a week and sees around 250 to 300 shows a year. He also reviews cabaret and books when he can. “It means I don’t get to movies as much as I’d like,” he said. “But that’s what I came to New York to do. I’m one of the lucky ones.” Finkle said he always knew he wanted to live in New York. He rented in several neighborhoods before deciding that he wanted to buy. After looking awhile, he said the nicest thing he saw was in Chelsea. “I don’t see myself leaving Chelsea,” said Finkle, who moved to the neighborhood in June 1985. He lives on W. 20th St., which he called wonderful, and recalled some of his famous neighbors like artist Louise Bourgeois, whom he would exchange pleasantries with in French. “I’m a big stoop sitter,” he explained. “I was brought up sitting on stoops on the wrong side of the tracks in Trenton, New Jersey. We had a wonderful stoop.” He is often on his stoop — people ask for directions to the High Line or stop and chat on their way to or from the Atlantic Theater. Finkle also loves that much of the art

20

May 07 - 13, 2015

Courtesy of Nth Position Press

world is in Chelsea and he often goes to galleries in between writing projects. When he comes back, his “gears have been changed.” He did, however, lament the adult bookstores on Eighth Ave. between 20th and 21st Sts. Art has informed some of his short stories. In “Rembrandt paints again,” the famous Dutch painter comes into the life of someone in New York City temporarily, he said. In turn, that story triggered another collection that Finkle recently sent his agent: a famous dead person comes back to help the narrator solve a problem. Titled “Great Dates with Some Late Greats,” Finkle explained that it has a unifying theme, and the first and last stories are told by the person who compiles the rest of the tales. It was daunting to start writing fiction, he said, because for a long time he felt he couldn’t be as good as his literary idols Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Philip Roth and John Cheever. Eventually, he found his voice and began writing short stories in the late '80s. “Stories just kept coming to me and I kept writing,” he said. David Finkle’s “The Man With the Overcoat” was released by Nth Position Press in April, 2015. For more info on the author, visit davidfinkle. com. .com


Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER

PEN PARENTIS LITERARY SALON

SVA’S 26TH DUSTY FILM & ANIMATION FESTIVAL

Image courtesy of the filmmaker

Meredith Nolan’s “Skeleton Key” was a 2014 Dusty Film & Animation Fest winner for Outstanding Achievement in Animation Production Design.

Photo by Michael Luppino

Amazon #1 Women’s Fiction pick author Amy Scheibe reads, signs books and answers your questions at May 12’s Pen Parentis Literary Salon.

Just leaving the house without a small fry or juice box would more than qualify for an evening of therapeutic relief — but a Pen Parentis Literary Salon gives parents who write the chance to meet like-minded authors and access resources to help them become prolific (or at least productive). Their May 12 gathering will be an especially swanky one, given that it takes place in an elegant private library on the top floor of the original home of the New York Times. The guests are best-selling author Sarah Pekkanen, Pulitzer Prize nominee Charles McNair, Amazon #1 Women’s Fiction pick author Amy Scheibe, and triple-threat writing phenomenon Liz Rosenberg. Wine-fueled schmoozing precedes the readings, after which there will be a Q&A moderated by Pen Parentis founder M. M. De Voe and its new Salons curator, novelist Christina Chiu. Purchase books to be signed (or at least read), and proceeds will go to Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. This is the Salon’s season-closer. It returns, monthly, beginning on Sept. 8 — with Ed Lin, Jack Miller and Tim O’Mara already booked for the night’s “Crime Fiction” theme. Tues., May 12, 7 p.m. on the 16th floor of 41 Park Row (btw. Spruce & Nassau Sts.). Free and open to the (21+) public. RSVP strongly suggested via penparentis.org. Twitter: @penparentis. Yeah, they’re on Facebook too (facebook.com/penparentis). .com

Some of our favorite film fests can be found at The School of Visual Arts’ wonderfully comfortable two-screen 23rd St. theatre (the pugilist-themed Shadow Box Film Festival, the Chelsea Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival). So it’s nice to see them rolling out the red carpet for some of their own. SVA’s Dusty Film & Animation Festival screens over 100 works: dramas, comedies, thrillers and documentaries, plus animated shorts and features — all created by students graduating this spring. Free. Sat., May 9 through Mon., May 11 at the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). For the schedule, visit dusty.sva.edu. Facebook: facebook.com/DustyFestival. Twitter: twitter.com/DustyFestival.

BENEFIT FOR THE WOODSTOCK COMEDY FESTIVAL An A-team of comics standing in front of a wall, holding a mic and telling one joke at a time adds up to a whole lot of help, when Gotham Comedy Club pitches in to ensure the success of its witty upstate brethren. Hosted by Vic Henley and featuring the talents of Tom Cotter, Myq Kaplan, Bonnie McFarlane and Liza Treyger, the show will benefit the Woodstock Comedy Festival. Subtitled “Comedy for a Cause,” this third annual edition of the fest happens Sept. 18–20 in, as a reasonable person would correctly deduce, Woodstock, NY. Its net profits go to charities that aid victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Back here at home, the Gotham benefit will also feature a live auction of tickets to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” Broadway’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” and other comedy television and Broadway-related items. Wed., May 13, 7 p.m. at Gotham Comedy Club (208 W. 23rd St. btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Tickets: $25 ($50, VIP). Info at gothamcomedyclub.com. May 07 - 13, 2015

21


22

May 07 - 13, 2015

.com


Still on Stage at 90

Doc captures independence in a fashion world demanding performance BY STEVE ERICKSON Women in the public eye face tremendous pressure to look beautiful and sexy. You’d think that by the time they reach their 80s, this demand would relent, but I just read a newspaper article critiquing 89-year-old Angela Lansbury’s appearance. If actresses turn to plastic surgery to look eternally youthful, they run the risk of having it backfire and being ridiculed. Iris Apfel, the subject of the late Albert Maysles’ documentary “Iris,” doesn’t play the beauty game at all. In fact, she frankly says, “I don’t like pretty.” The 90-year-old, who’s had a long career as an interior decorator and now exists as a freelance “rare bird of fashion,” may not be conventionally beautiful, but she has a remarkable sense of style. Iris and her husband Carl, whose 100th birthday is celebrated during the film, founded a company called Old World Weavers, which reproduced fabrics and designs from the 1600s through the 1800s. Although the company was successful, Iris didn’t become a minor celebrity until a 2005 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition launched by curator Harold Koda. Afterwards, she became an “octogenarian starlet,” as she puts it. Maysles is best known for three documentary features: “Salesman,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Grey Gardens.” That last, from 1975, recently revived by Film Forum and reissued on Criterion Blu-Ray, pioneered the “non-fiction melodrama.” Although its influence wouldn’t be felt immediately, it can be seen in recent films like Robert Greene’s “Actress.” “Iris” departs from Maysles’ classic trio in a number of ways — for one,

.com

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Iris Apfel in Albert Maysles’ documentary “Iris.”

it was directed by him alone, while his earlier films were collaborative productions with his late brother, David. The result is a thoughtful character study. In her own way, Iris is just as enthralling a person to watch as Big Edie and Little Edie of “Grey Gardens,” and she’s much more self-aware and in control of her own persona. No one is likely to accuse this film of being a freak show. “Feminist” is not a word ever used in “Iris.” Apfel talks about her

curiosity regarding politics and history and how these forces manifest themselves in a humble dress, but she doesn’t discuss her own political views. Nevertheless, “Iris” locates an unconventional woman following her own stylistic guidelines on the margins of the fashion industry, a field that many have written off as hopelessly exploitative and sexist. Iris is the exact opposite of a vacant, anorexic supermodel. While she’s reliant on

designers for her source material, she combines their clothes and accessories in a way that reflects her own creativity, rather than simply copying their dictates. Her sense of style has proven popular enough to get her museum shows, department store windows, and even a teaching position. “Iris” follows its subject around New York and Palm Bach as she shops and sorts through her collection. Maysles appears on camera a few times — he managed to complete another film, “In Transit,” before passing away in March — but a woman, who’s never identified, conducts most of the interviews with Iris. This isn’t the kind of documentary that introduces fictional elements or self-consciously breaks the fourth wall. The camera tends to efface its presence — no doubt, plenty of work went into creating that illusion — but one gets the sense that Iris, like many Maysles protagonists, is performing for it. She doesn’t seem to leave the house without a spiked necklace and African bracelets. “Iris” doesn’t dodge the question of the old age’s aches and pains or the inevitability of death, but it’s clear that Iris would rather go shopping in Harlem than think about her dwindling energy level. In some respects, “Iris” seems remarkably modern for the work of an 88-year-old filmmaker. It finds common ground with “Actress” in suggesting that we — especially the 51 percent of us who happen to be female — are constantly performing. Directed by Albert Maysles. Runtime: 74 minutes. Through May 12 at Film Forum (209 W. Houston St. btw. Varick St. & Sixth Ave.). Info: 212-727-8110 or filmforum.org.

May 07 - 13, 2015

23


24

May 07 - 13, 2015

.com

CHELSEA NOW, MAY 7, 2015  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you