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Annual Tour Touts Chelsea Garden Club’s Labor of Love (see page 12)

Photos by Diana R. Cabral


VOLUME 09, ISSUE 17 | JUNE 22-28, 2017

Train Hall Concourse Hurls Snowball of Hope at ‘Summer of Hell’ BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC In these dark transit times punctuated with canceled and delayed trains, there is a bright spot: Two new entrances opened last week at the corners of W. 31st and W. 33rd Sts. and Eighth Ave. across from Penn Station. The bookend entrances at the landmarked James A. Farley Post Office Building are part of a newly expanded West End concourse. The sleek white concourse accented with canary yellow and royal blue is the underground link between Penn Station and what will become the Moynihan Train Hall. Riders have access to 17 of the station’s 21 tracks for New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), as well as the A, C, and E subway lines. The opening of the concourse completes the first phase of transforming the Farley building into the 255,000square-foot Moynihan Train Hall, which will house ticketing and waiting areas for the LIRR and Amtrak, according to a Mon., June 19 press release on the website of Governor Andrew Cuomo (see the “Pressroom” section of This is part of the larger $1.6 billion redevelopment of what is being dubbed the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex. Jennifer Pynn, 35, commutes daily from Huntington, Long Island, and frequently uses the tracks in the concourse, calling the area before “dirty” and “disgusting.” She said it was under construction for a long time. “I think it’s nice — it’s wide open now,” she told Chelsea Now on June 19. “It’s bright, which is good. It’s very sweet and endearing to have all these murals up.” Throughout the concourse and at its entrances, there are murals depicting different parts and boroughs of the city, highlighting landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, 1 World Trade Center, the Roosevelt Island tram, the Bronx Zoo, and the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, among others. Huge, wall-length screens feature areas and attractions in New York City, such as Soho, Chinatown and the Statue of Liberty, and New York state, such as the Catskill Mountains. Pynn said it is clear effort was put into the color scheme and making the space lighter. “It’s pretty cool,” said Lisa Mayers, 50, who noted she would come into the area depending on whether or not she caught a C train, and liked the fact that track 12 was now easily accessible. At one point, she explained, one


June 22, 2017

Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic

The first phase of transforming the landmarked James A. Farley Post Office Building into Moynihan Train Hall is completed with the opening of two new entrances and a larger West End concourse.

New digital screens are part of recently opened entrances — this one at W. 33rd St. and Eighth Ave. — that go into the West End concourse.

The new expanded West End concourse is double the length and width of the original one.

used to have to go all the way around to get to it. Paul Schmick, 45, makes the daily commute from Merrick, NY to the city, and said the new entrances looked great while rushing to catch his train.

This is “the first chance I’ve had to look at it in all of its glory and it looks nice,” Jeffrey Katz, 51, told Chelsea Now on Fri., June 16. Katz, who works for the MTA, said he looked forward to exploring the new concourse and that

it should be “less crazy” to get home to Nassau county. For 10 years, Brittany Evans, 30, has been traveling between Amityville, NY and the city, and said she has endured delayed, canceled, and packed trains recently. “It’s really nice. But in my honest opinion it would be nicer if they put the money into new signals,” she said, given that she only spends a short amount of time in the concourse waiting, but rides the train for an hour and a half. Penn Station — the nation’s largest rail hub serving over 600,000 passengers a day — has been plagued with frequent track problems and two derailments, and will undergo repair work during the “Summer of Hell,” a much-repeated phrase popularized by none other than Cuomo, in reference to the necessary but disruptive project set to begin in July. The new West End concourse “increases passenger circulation and streamlines train operations” and takes “pressure off of the overcrowded Penn Station complex,” according to the release. It is double in length and width than the original concourse and has new stairways to connect with nine of Penn Station’s 11 platforms, according the release. The project cost $315 million, Amy Varghese, press secretary for Empire State Development, said in an email. (Empire State Development CONCOURSE continued on p. 20 NYC Community Media

Two Deaths in Under a Week — and Calls for Charter Bus Changes in Chelsea

Photo by Scott Stiffler

On June 17, Michael Mamoukakis was struck by a bus making a right from Seventh Ave. onto W. 29th St.

BY JACKSON CHEN Another cyclist died after being struck by a charter bus in Chelsea on Sat., June 17, less than a week following a similar incident a few streets south. At around 1:30 p.m., Michael Mamoukakis, an 80-year-old Chelsea resident, was traveling south on Seventh Ave. when he was struck by a charter bus making a right turn onto W. 29th St., according to police. Police added that responding offi cers found Mamoukakis on the ground with “severe body trauma” before he was transported to Bellevue Hospital and declared dead. According to police, the driver remained on the scene and the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad was handling the ongoing investigation. The death of Mamoukakis follows a Mon., June 12 incident where a Brooklyn resident riding a Citi Bike was also killed by a charter bus. Dan Hanegby, a 36-year-old investment banker from Brooklyn Heights, was swerving to avoid a parked van when he collided with a charter bus and was run over by the rear tires, according to police. Hanegby was Citi Bike’s fi rst fatality since its start four years ago. NYC Community Media

With similar cases happening just days apart, Councilmember Corey Johnson is rallying for more attention to the issues. On the same day as Mamoukakis’ death, the councilmember released a statement calling for an emergency meeting to include the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), the NYPD, elected offi cials, Community Board 4 (CB4), and representatives from charter bus companies operating in Chelsea and West Midtown. According to the councilmember’s chief of staff, Erik Bottcher, the meeting is tentatively scheduled for Mon., June 26. “I am angered and heartbroken to learn of a second cyclist fatality tonight in my district,” Johnson said in his statement. “Both fatalities were caused by charter buses and both incidents took place in the West 20s near Seventh Avenue.” Chr istine Berthet, CB 4 Transportation Planning Committee co-chair, pointed out that in both cases, buses should not have been on certain streets as they are not designated as truck routes. While the charter bus that struck Mamoukakis was

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Michael Mamoukakis, in a family photo.

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Illegal Demolition Rendered Residential Building Unsafe, Says CB4 BY JACKSON CHEN Community Board 4 (CB4) is again outraged at city agencies for allowing the destruction of another residential building at 253 10th Ave. The four-story building at the corner of 10th Ave. and W. 25th St. is currently wrapped in scaffolding and construction netting. According to a Department of Buildings (DOB) order on June 6, the building is expected to undergo emergency demolition work on its walls because they were in danger of collapse. But CB4 is claiming the building’s structural integrity was compromised due to earlier demolition permits that should have never been approved. According to DOB records, a full demolition permit was issued on April 24 for 253 10th Ave. that is zoned under the Special West Chelsea District. According to CB4 district manager Jesse Bodine, the board pointed out to the DOB that the demolition was illegal because they didn’t seek a Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) certificate that proves the building couldn’t be rehabilitated. Without that qualification, the DOB issued a Stop Work Order on May 10, but some demolition of the building’s roof, windows, and walls already occurred. In a letter sent on June 14 to the DOB, the HPD, and the City Planning Commission, CB4 is claiming the earlier illegal demolition work is actually what rendered the building unsafe. “The end result is that a series of errors on the part of the building owners and DOB led to the illegal partial demolition of the building,” their letter read, “And then,

Photo by Jackson Chen

CB4 and the DOB disagree on the cause of the compromised structural integrity of the four-story building at 253 10th Ave.

on the basis of those errors, to the condemnation of the now unsafe building.” Betty Mackintosh, the co-chair for CB4’s Chelsea Land Use Committee, called the compromised integrity

a “self-afflicted hardship.” “They didn’t get the proper review... to get a demolition permit so they went ahead and they took off the roof and some walls,” Mackintosh said. “Then guess what, the building is deemed unsafe and they have to demolish.” However, the DOB claims that the building was vacant and structurally compromised before any demolition permits were issued. The agency added that their engineers felt that an emergency demolition order would likely have been issued even if the demolition permits weren’t approved. But, CB4 members are not pleased with the DOB’s assessment. Mackintosh said that there’s no way of knowing the building’s integrity considering the earlier demolition work that was conducted improperly. The board’s letter added that the DOB’s involvement with 253 10th Ave. was “depressingly familiar” as it lists seven other nearby properties that have fallen to a similar selffulfilling prophecy. According to CB4, more than 100 residential units have been lost to this pattern of loose DOB approvals for demolitions. Their letter expressed the board’s outrage, and also requested the DOB to “redouble its efforts to protect buildings in our special districts from illegal demolition.” “Folks have found these little buildings, they know they can have more floor area,” Mackintosh said. “They tear them down, they build a new building. That’s the name of the game.” According to an HPD spokesperson, the agency received a hold order on the building and has not moved forward with the demolition.

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June 22, 2017

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45-Story Hotel Tells Tale of Budding Flower District Changes BY WINNIE McCROY Work has begun on Gene Kaufman Architect’s new 45-story, 522-key hotel at 140 W. 28th St., in the middle of Chelsea’s rapidly changing Flower District (which the project’s press touts as “the emerging ‘Silicon Alley’ â€? neighborhood). Sam Chang’s McSam Hotel Group is developing the 146,000squre-foot hotel, which will be one of the tallest buildings in Chelsea, providing middle-market accommodations. “The demand for hotel rooms in Chelsea continues to grow, with ever larger and taller hotels being constructed to accommodate the number of tourists wishing to stay in this vibrant neighborhood,â€? said founder and principal of Gene Kaufman Architect (GKA), Gene Kaufman, in a June 12 press release. “With its variety of restaurants, shops and easy access to other parts of Manhattan, Chelsea seems to show no sign of losing its attraction for visitors.â€? This is the fourth GKA-designed hotel on this stretch of W. 28th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves., and will offer more rooms than the other three combined (Cambria Suites, at 123, opened in 2015; Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites, at 116, opened in 2010; and Hilton Garden Inn, at 121, opened in 2007). Kaufman said that this new hotel and others on the block are tall because of the air rights that came with the property, citing similar examples of the Kimpton Hotel on Sixth Ave., and the project Jeffrey Lam is trying to develop on W. 25th St. “These hotels and many others have sprung up in Chelsea because developers recognize the area’s position as one of New York’s key destinations, and occupancy levels are extremely high,â€? Kaufman told Chelsea Now. Its façade will be a mix of brick and metal, with other materials subtly incorporated every two floors, as accent elements to what will be a highly visible building compared to other structures on the block. There will be about 2,300 square feet of restaurant and lounge space, as well as office and fitness centers. The move is part of the neighborNYC Community Media


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A rendering of 140 W. 28th St., set to join three other GKA-designed hotels between Sixth and Seventh Aves.

hood’s becoming a tourist destination, following the opening of the High Line in 2009. Gradually, the area’s roots as the Flower District are being eroded as wholesale plant and flower shops are priced out. What remains is being rebranded as “Silicon Alley.� Chelsea Now looked at this trend in an Aug. 10, 2016 article (“Perennial Neighborhood Florists Rooted in Tradition�), in which Steven Rosenberg of Superior Florist noted that, back when his family first opened the busiHOTEL continued on p. 23


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Musical Celebration Recalls Rick Carrier’s Conservation Legacy BY REBECCA FIORE The bald eagle’s origin story as America’s national bird can be traced to June 20, 1782, when the founding fathers chose it as a symbol of strength and freedom — but the bird’s history doesn’t end there. In the 1940s, while the bird’s face appeared on banks, official buildings and stamps, it wasn’t being protected. “Everybody forgot about the bald eagle, and the bald eagle became endangered,” recalled Lynn Ramsey, as she spoke at a June 20 ceremony at St. Peter’s (346 W. 20th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act in 1940 to try and save the rapidly disappearing species. Although National Bald Eagle Day was officially declared by President Ronald Reagan on June 20, 1982, it was celebrated six years before by a Chelsea resident who made it his mission to give the majestic bird proper recognition (and it worked; the bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list in 2007, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, but they are still being monitored). Fredrick “Rick” Carrier, a World War II veteran, author, filmmaker, and

Photo by Rebecca Fiore

Members of the MAC award-winning vocal group Those Girls were joined by singer Pamela Palmieri (in patriotic stripes) and Lynn Ramsey (in blue) at Chelsea’s National Bald Eagle Day celebration.

conservationist saw the beauty in the national bird while in Colorado in the ’70s. “He had a very unusual introduction to the bald eagle,” Ramsey, his partner of 41 years, said. She told the story of how Carrier had been hang gliding 14,000


feet above the Earth when he was surrounded by two bald eagles, above and below his own manufactured wings. “He could hear the actual wind fluttering through the feathers. He got totally in love with eagles. When he came back he focused on the eagle and created

the Bald Eagle Command,” Ramsey said in an interview, while wearing a turquoise Navajo-made bald eagle necklace Carrier had given to her years before. In 1976 at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan, Carrier held the first celebration for the national bird where the original painting of the Great Seal of the US was hung over George Washington’s pew. Carrier passed away last December at the age of 91, but his memory was honored at Chelsea’s first celebration of National Bald Eagle Day (organized by Chelsea Community Church, where Carrier was a longtime member of the congregation). Local musicians sang folk song classics while an audience of over 80 people clapped along, including a handful of children who waved small red, white, and blue flags. Billed as a “Musical Celebration of America and Encouragement for the Future,” the ceremony was attended by representatives from four local non-profits, each with a mission statement in line with Carrier’s passions and beliefs (NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYC Audubon, the Wild Bird Fund, and the Coalition BALD EAGLE continued on p. 14

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June 22, 2017

NYC Community Media

Courtesy the artist

Frances Roberts “Three Cups of Cats” (2017. Porcelain clay with hand-painted drawings with underglazes). On view at the PSSS exhibit.

Courtesy the artist

Susan De Castro’s “Kensaku” (2017. Charcoal on paper. 18 x 24 in.) was created during one of the PSSS Drawing Group’s 20-minute “quick poses.”

Courtesy the artist

Marianne Rosenfeld’s “Swing dancers on cruise ship” (2012. Oil on canvas. 18 x 24 in.). On view June 24-25 at Penn South.

Exhibit exemplifies the evolution of Penn South Social Services BY SCOTT STIFFLER Chelsea’s iconic beacon of affordable housing is breaking ground once again, but it’s not the type of brick and mortar project that gave rise to the 10 buildings that house 2,820 units. This new project’s construction materials are paint, graphite, charcoal, and clay — and though the works they’ve produced will endure, you’ll only have two days to see them all in one place. Open to the public and free of charge, Penn South’s fi rst-ever Multimedia NYC Community Media

Art Exhibit showcases creative output drawn from several art groups within the co-op as well as the Senior Center and the popular on-site Ceramics Studio. Organized and presented by members of Penn South Social Services (PSSS), the June 24-25 viewing is part of an ongoing effort to “broaden our base to include more members of the Penn South community,” said PSSS president Gary Schoichet. In recent months, that effort has translated into a number of recreation-

al initiatives independent of the PSSSfunded Senior Center, whose programming is restricted to the 55+ set (a robust percentage of the Penn South demographic, given the sprawling complex’s distinction as the nation’s first NORC; a naturally occurring retirement community formed as its first wave of residents aged into their senior years). So far, a kid-centric chess class initially offered every six weeks has turned into a regular Saturday gathering, a music group has begun, and a

garden group is in its early stages. In the fall, a memoir-writing class conducted in partnership with the National Writers Union and the AFL-CIO will yield a written collection of accounts from retirees who had a hand in creating New York’s infrastructure, skyscrapers, and public works projects. “We’re trying to meet the needs of what people want, rather than tell them what they want,” Schoichet said of the EXHIBIT continued on p. 18 June 22, 2017


Google Supports Stonewall National Monument With $1M BY PAUL SCHINDLER In an unmistakable sign of the role private philanthropy can — and may have to — play with federal funding threatened across a broad array of worthy social goals, Google has committed $1 million to support efforts at the LGBT Community Center to develop oral histories and other narratives related to the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 that can be preserved and disseminated in digital formats. The funding, announced at a press conference on Sun., June 18 — the beginning of Pride Week in Manhattan — will allow the Center to partner with the National Park Foundation (NPF), a nonprofit advocacy group that supports the mission and facilities of the US National Park Service, to enhance the experience visitors enjoy when they travel to the Stonewall National Monument. The national monument was created in Christopher Park, across the street from the Stonewall Inn, last June 24 in an executive proclamation by President Barack Obama. According to a written statement from the Center, the Google funding, which comes in the form of a two-year grant from its charitable arm, Google. org, will allow the W. 13th St. community facility and the NPF “to seek out and document robust, diverse narratives of the Stonewall Uprising and transform the reach of the national park beyond a physical place. The result will be a digital experience that broadly shares the story of LGBTQ civil rights, firmly establishing LGBTQ history in the fabric of American history.” That digital experience, speakers at the press conference emphasized, would be available to millions worldwide, whether or not they are able to visit the West Village national monument. The announcement of the Google grant was made at the Center by US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and West Side Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, and Schumer did not shrink from emphasizing the significance of the Silicon Valley giant stepping up in this political climate. “This announcement sends an unmistakable message to Washington: that the America we know celebrates and cherishes its diversity; it doesn’t hide from it or fear it,” Schumer said. “Google’s generous pledge could not come at a more vital time. With federal funding under assault, Google’s investment will be a shot in the arm for the Center and its work to better the LGBTQ community.”


June 22, 2017

Photos by Christian Miles

Eric Schmidt, executive chair of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, at June 18’s press conference.

Senator Chuck Schumer, right, chats with Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, who was 18 when he participated in the Stonewall Rebellion.

Schumer’s remarks went beyond the shift in funding priorities in the new administration. He also noted that there are “people in Washington who would see our country backslide on equality,” and pointed to more than 100 antiLGBTQ measures passed by state and local governments since Donald Trump became president. Perhaps most ominously, Schumer warned that an executive order from Trump has empowered the Secretary of the Interior to review all national park designations made through the Antiquities Act — on which authority Obama relied in creating the Stonewall

National Monument. Pledging to fight any effort to overturn the designation, the senator saluted those “brave New Yorkers who nearly 50 years ago taught this country the power of resistance.” When the national monument was dedicated last June, Obama’s secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and the director of the National Park Service, Jonathan Jarvis, were in attendance, as was Valerie Jarrett, a top White House advisor. At Sunday’s event, the federal government was represented by Joshua Laird, the commissioner of National Parks of New York Harbor. Nadler’s remarks emphasized the

sweat equity he has put into the project during the past several years. “Over the past two years since I and key partners started the effort to create the Stonewall National Monument, I have been overwhelmed with the response we have seen, locally, nationally, and even internationally,” he said. “I am deeply grateful to for providing the funding and expertise to ensure that future generations are able to access this vital part of the American story.” Glennda Testone, the Center’s executive director, emphasized the value of making the Stonewall National Monument a digital story available worldwide. “The inspirational funding that Google is providing to the LGBT Community Center will lift up LGBTQ history on a global platform, further magnifying the Stonewall Uprising’s place in the overall story of the LGBTQ civil rights movement,” she said. Will Shafroth, the NPF’s president, explained that the $1 million from Google represents half of the projected budget of “effectively launch[ing]” the national monument, which is expected to host a visitor’s kiosk on-site as well as the digital experience his group and the Center will help the National Park Service make available. STONEWALL continued on p. 21 NYC Community Media

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June 22, 2017


Putting Gender in its Place, as Performance BY GERALD BUSBY Gender is a cultural phenomenon, intrinsically subjective, and has no being except as performance: This is the presupposition of Brad Calcaterra’s acting workshop, ACTOUT, at the LGBT Center on W. 13th St. ( On a recent Monday, I visited the class and witnessed transgender men and women, straight and gay, come face to face with the amorphousness of their existence. It was exhilarating to see them, in a process of many exercises lasting several hours, free themselves from who they thought they were by realizing it was all their own creation. With the sensibility of a watercolorist and the precise instincts of a person totally present, Brad quietly and unwaveringly guided his actors through a process of letting go of fear. He had everyone in turn improvise a dance to the thump-thump-thump-thump of pop music as he gently, almost imperceptibly, pulled the rug of familiarity out from under them. He periodically called out over the music — “again with butter‌ add syrup.â€? The dancers responded, without shame, through their fear and generated a momentum that both energized them as individuals and connected them intimately with each other. It was mesmerizing. As owner and creative director of THE STUDIO in New York City (, Brad’s career as acting coach, actor, director, and producer is expansive. Besides guiding aspiring actors through the maze of self-discovery in his acting workshops, Brad advises them on the practical aspects of their careers. What he does is wake them up to their own power, especially those who are transgender and feel

Photo courtesy the artist

Brad Calcaterra’s class at the LGBT Center guides participants away from their fear and toward new creations.

Photo by Wesley Mann

Nicholas Gorham’s work in the Downtown scene sparked a desire to broaden gender exploration beyond the stage.

themselves adrift because of it. Sitting in that dark room during a session of ACTOUT, I was reminded of my experience in Erhard Seminars Training, or est, back in the ’70s. The goal of that forum was to experience oneself without ego. When that hap-

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June 22, 2017

pened you “got it.� It was a kind of boot camp training for enlightenment. Unlike Brad’s process, est relied entirely on words spoken by the seminar leader to a seated audience waiting to be enlightened. There were magical moments when someone got it, and words became irrelevant. In ACTOUT, there was the electricity of actualization in the room. Brad’s words tickled and poked more than they explained. I heard about Brad through Nicholas Gorham, a transgender actor who was enrolled in three of Brad’s acting workshops. Nicholas and I were already friends. In 2013, I set three of his poems to music: “The Mutes,� “At Night,� and “I’m an artist� (I’m an artist! / I think / I do what I can / I’m an artist, I think / But don’t know where I am). When I use “he� and “his� to refer to Nicholas, I mean to differentiate between the content of his being — his male genitalia — and the context of

his being — the gender he chooses to express himself. This is a point not easily taken by transgender people who, in their search for identity, wrestle with pronouns. Nicholas and I had lengthy conversations about his history as a beautiful boy whose birth mother had given him up for adoption, and about his submersion into female appurtenances. At 12, he created costumes that fit perfectly, and he could apply makeup with skill and taste. I remember feeling uneasy when he told me about going back home to Vancouver and hanging with his gay buddies, who called each other by intentionally self-denigrating names and catch phrases they had used when they were teenagers. It seemed to me that Nicholas was succumbing to the tyranny of demeaning words for the sake of identification. He seemed to be a prisoner of nomenclature. “I really wasn’t exploring gender until later on, when I started performing in the Downtown scene,� he said. Nicholas responded when I asked how he began expressing himself visually as a young gay male. His words reminded me that consciousness itself, outlined by perception, is the basis for gender identity. “I really started without adhering to gender expectations, but it wasn’t until a couple years later that I realized how I’d compartmentalized my female energy into just performance time.� Nicholas is attributing to energy itself the impulses to express himself dramatically with costumes and makeup. “That’s when I started imagining the female expression into the rest of my life,� he recalled. Nicholas’ imagination and theatrical talents gave him confidence to acknowledge himself as female, whereas before GENDER continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media

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Green Thumbs and Elbow Grease: Chels

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY DIANA R. CABRAL Gardeners are sprouting up like weeds in the west part of our neighborhood, but you won’t find any of those unsightly wild plants in the soil tilled by tirelessly toiling members of the all-volunteer Chelsea Garden Club. Lilies, evening primroses, and Russian sage were just a few of the colorful signs of spring on display when the club held its Tree Pit Tour on the sweltering Saturday morning of June 10. As annual tradition dictates, the group met at 10 a.m. sharp at W. 25th St. and Ninth Ave., in front of a pit on the north side of the intersection maintained by Luis Lujan. On the morning of the tour, Lujan was not able to attend — but his gorgeous blood-red lilies were in full bloom. They proceeded to cover ground down to W. 18th St. and all the way up to W. 29th St., along Eighth and Ninth Aves., stopping at various “tree pits” — patches of nature contained within concrete pedestrian islands. Gardening in Manhattan has its challenges, many in the group admitted. Yet, their reasons for planting and maintaining these tree pits range from getting to know their neighbors to feelings of well-being upon seeing their garden when they arrive home from work. “It is nice to be a part of a community,” said Lynn Weinstein, who gardens an “inherited” patch of soil on the north side of W. 22nd St. and Ninth Ave. That sentiment resonated with one of the group’s pioneers. “I decided that there is strength in numbers,” said Missy Adams, who planted the seeds for Chelsea Garden Club while doing her own gardening and noticing others who were flexing their green thumbs. Elbow grease alone, however, wasn’t enough. “You have no idea how many agencies are involved in these pits,” Adams


June 22, 2017

stated, recalling how former then-State Senator Tom Duane organized a meeting between volunteers and city agencies. Duane secured permits for the club, and the Parks Department gave them mulch and small plants during those first few early years. Over the years, when a prob-

lem arises (such as when a volunteer had his pit paved over by the city due to water main construction), gardener Phyllis Waisman has been quick to engage city contacts. These days, they are usually given notice as to when some work will be done in and around the pits.

For Hilda Regier, a club member from its very first days, the perils of city planting are worth it when she sees all her pansies blooming in her patch on the north side of Eighth Ave. and W. 22nd St. “The heat and dry weather can play havoc with our pits,” she said. Kent Wang gardens a pit on the south side of W. 23rd St. and Seventh Ave., where a high volume of pedestrian traffic requires particular vigilance, and constant upkeep. The rewards, he noted, outweigh the challenges. “Living in the city,” Wang observed, “it is an opportunity to be in touch with nature.” Most tree pits can be found on Seventh, Eighth, & Ninth Aves. from W. 17th to 30th Sts. Visit and follow Chelsea Garden Club on Facebook. NYC Community Media

sea Garden Club Highlights Its Pit Work


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June 22, 2017


BALD EAGLE continued from p. 6

for the Homeless). Reverends from local churches spoke about the importance of progression, hope for the future, and the accomplishments of Carrier. Reverend John Magisano of Metropolitan Community Church spoke highly of Carrier’s advocacy for the bald eagle. “It may not have been on everybody’s mind in the ’70s,” he said, “but [Carrier] pushed forward and organized. They are still endangered, yes. But I have seen them in upstate New York with my very own eyes.” Intertwined with moving speeches, including a reading from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Address, performers sang Bob Dylan songs as well as folk favorites including “This Land is Your Land” and “If I Had a Hammer.” Carrier’s own song, “Across the American Sky,” was performed by Ramsey’s nephew, Charles Ramsey, and his wife, Lesley Barth. Carrier wrote the song in 1975 about the symbolic bird. “Across the American Sky with and with the wind / the Eagle flies forever and ever,” echoed in the nave of the church as members followed along with the help of a booklet featuring Carrier’s artwork of a bald eagle. John Breitbart, the membership coor-

Photo (of photo) by Rebecca Fiore

Photo by Rebecca Fiore

A picture of Rick Carrier (right) in front of the original painting of the Great Seal in Philadelphia in 1982, the year President Ronald Reagan recognized National Bald Eagle Day.

Lynn Ramsey gives opening remarks on her late partner Rick Carrier’s dedication to the bald eagle.

ground Americans, warning them of the widespread presence of toxic chemicals in their environment. For some Americans, it was only when a bird they uniquely cherished was threatened that they were moved to action.” Ramsey said it is too soon to be planning next year’s Bald Eagle Day celebration, but expressed hope that people would take away a positive feeling from the ceremony. “We have been hammered with a lot

of very dark things that have happened in our world and abroad. I wanted us to come together. Our unity to share our joys, to sing out loud, and to consider some of the non-profits there,” she said. “I just wanted this to be a joyful time to recognize we have a great country and will continue to have a great country and to keep on singing.” For more information about Chelsea Community Church, visit

dinator and treasurer for NYC Friends of Clearwater, made a speech titled “The Bird That Saved America.” Invoking the expression “canary in the mine,” Breitbart noted, “Coal miners used to actually carry a canary in a small cage into the mine so that if the air below became too unhealthy, with carbon monoxide or methane, the bird would pass out and warn them that they needed to make a hasty exit.” “The bald eagle did this for above-

De Blasio Affordable Housing Myth #4 “Rent is the number one expense for New Yorkers. Unless we change the status quo… hardworking families will be pushed out of their homes.” –Mayor Bill de Blasio … “We need to keep rents affordable…”–Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (Source: City of New York Website)

The Facts: • The Hevesi-Klein “Home Stability Support” proposal would subsidize the rents of public assistance-eligible tenants facing homelessness or eviction. • The “Tenant Rent Increase Exemption” proposal would permanently freeze rents for all tenants (not just senior citizens and the disabled) with annual household incomes of less than $50,000 who pay half towards rent. • Why isn’t de Blasio and other politicians supporting these Albany proposals that would provide real rent relief and solutions to the homeless crisis, and keep families in their homes?

De Blasio’s Housing Policies: Politics & Hypocrisy 14

June 22, 2017

NYC Community Media


TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell

NYC Community Media

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.

June 22, 2017


‘Ain’t No More!’ Rooted in American Folklore Willi Carlisle’s folk operetta sings a song of our times BY TRAV S.D. In times of political tumult in America an interesting, possibly counterintuitive, thing seems to happen: a revival of interest in traditional American folk culture. During the Great Depression, musicians like Woody Guthrie and The Weavers revitalized American roots music while folklorists like Alan Lomax captured oceans of elusive human culture in notebooks, on film, and on audiotape. A similar burst of energy happened three decades later during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. And we are in the midst such an upswell now. One manifestation of the current Renaissance of Americana is Arkansas-based folksinger, poet, musician, theatre artist, scholar and square dance caller Willi Carlisle, whose new theatre piece “There Ain’t No More!” will be presented in NYC June 29 and June 30. That word “Renaissance” is not inappropriate to describe Carlisle’s work. He has an MFA in poetry, a BA in creative writing and performance studies (including theatre training), plays fiddle, banjo, and guitar, has done fieldwork in the collection of folklore, and several of his scholarly essays have been published. He looks and sounds like Larry the Cable Guy’s brother, yet in conversation refers to his immersion in Jerzy Grotowski and mask work. In “There Ain’t No More!” he is collaborating with director Joseph Fletcher, founding member and artistic producer of the Artist’s Laboratory Theatre in Fayetteville, Arkansas. To hear that there is such an organization in the Ozarks is to observe the eternal verity of Bob Dylan’s refrain: “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” “There Ain’t No More!” is a solo theatre piece mixing elements of storytelling, folk song, clown, and even puppetry to take the audience on a journey into the dark heart of what Greil Marcus called “the old, weird America.” Carlisle calls it a “folk operetta.” Interest in folk culture comes naturally to Carlisle, who is originally from Wichita, Kansas. “My father played in bluegrass bands but he didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps,” Carlisle said. “He found it to be a beer-soaked


June 22, 2017

Photo by Sabine Schmidt

Willi Carlisle uses folk songs, storytelling, clowning, and puppetry to tickle the underbelly of traditional American rural culture.

experience. But I heard many stories about the cowboy singers he played with. It became a kind of obsession for me because it was a secret world, closed off. Later, when I went to college [Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois] I learned that the poet Carl Sandburg, who was from the area and whom I was a fan of, sang and collected folk songs and this fed into it.” For the past six years, Carlisle has made Fayetteville his home base, playing music, collecting folklore, and immersing himself in the local culture, and occasionally working with the Artist’s

Laboratory Theatre, a “community-centric, site-specific” theatre company that specializes in devised pieces. “I was more editor than director when we started this process,” quipped Fletcher. According to both collaborators, they began the process with what Carlisle described as a “massive document” — 100 pages of text, including poems, academic essays, transcriptions of collected folk material, and song lyrics. Out of this emerged a narrative arc from the point of view of an elusive folk musician told through shifting formal strategies ranging from fiddle tunes

to puppetry. “We chose the strongest iteration of each form,” Carlisle said, “and that helped determine the shape of the piece.” While the identity of the singer is left ambiguous, he is also a very specific TYPE. And this is where the timelessness of the piece couldn’t be more timely. Said Fletcher, “This play is about a type of people who from a distance could be either Bernie or Trump supporters. American socialism originally came from farm country and rural communities. Positive and negative sides to it go hand in hand. Folk culture and tradition have beautiful aspects and qualities like community and sharing, but can also come with things like racism and sexism that make maintaining it problematic now. A lot of the oldtime culture is super-conservative in the modern context. This show talks about some of the problems with that.” Added Carlisle, “A reviewer wrote recently about how at the beginning of the show I turn around, and I’m this old man in a mask with this gravelly voice and the writer found the image terrifying. He was expecting ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ and was relieved when I turned out to be funny, looking like I look. There’s a way in which people in larger communities can look down on rural people. But there’s a value in vernacular culture. I’m looking for a way to work back to the positive elements of traditional culture, telling the story of these people compassionately, and hopefully exploding the impression that writer initially had. We can choose the culture we come from. We can choose to foster an inheritance that’s different from the one that’s pushed at us by corporate capitalism.” “There Ain’t No More” has two performances. Thurs., June 29, 8pm at UNDER St. Marks (no wheelchair access; 94 St. Marks Place, btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). For tickets ($20), visit Then, on Fri., June 30, 8pm at Ryan’s Daughter (350 E. 85th St. (btw. First & Second Aves.), presented as a double bill with “The Legend of White Woman Creek.” For tickets ($25), event/3002673. For artist information, visit NYC Community Media

Fearless and Funny Eddie Sarfaty mines all of life’s experiences in crafting big laughs BY GARY M. KRAMER Out gay comedian Eddie Sarfaty thinks everything is funny: family, relationships, politics, annoying people, really annoying people, pets, his own neuroses, other people’s neuroses, self-doubt. The list goes on and on. “If there is anything so horrible that you can’t make fun of it, I don’t ever want to know what that is,” he cracked over FaceTime recently. “Even the people in Auschwitz used laughter to help them get through it.” Sarfaty then deadpanned, “My show is not big on Holocaust jokes. I try to do political stuff, but Trump gets me so ranty, I just sound angry. I will be funnier when he’s no longer in office — and if the world is still here and we have the freedom to tell jokes.” Sarfaty doesn’t sit and write political humor, pointing out that such jokes have a short shelf life. But he can write forever about fighting with his mother. What attracted Sarfaty to comedy was the opportunity to be himself. “When I do stand up, it’s me that people will pay to see complain for an hour,” he explained. “Sometimes my humor is biting and silly, and selfdeprecating, and absurd.” That said, it took the comedian 10 years to fi nd his voice. “I was very paralyzed by fear,” he admitted. “I grew up with a lot of fear. But I’m fearless now on stage. As a comic, you want people to laugh. When I fi rst started, I wanted people to like me, and I remember some reporter or reviewer said I did ‘nice guy’ comedy. When I tried to do something edgy, people wouldn’t accept that from me. Now I’m not such a ‘nice’ Jewish boy. My material is smart and interesting and cutting.” It was a big breakthrough for Sarfaty to get over his anxiety about being liked, which, he acknowledged, is particularly hard for a comedian. “I thought the audience had power,” he said. “But the audience is happy and relieved for you to take charge. They want to sit back and go for the ride. Laughter is intimacy with strangers you can’t get any other way. It’s a non-threatening bond. Just having people escape for an hour — it took me a long time to appreciate how important that can be. For people to come and laugh and release is really NYC Community Media

Courtesy the artist

Eddie Sarfaty brings the laughs to the Metropolitan Room on June 27.

important.” Audiences have shown they do appreciate Sarfaty, who has been making people laugh with his appearances on TV, in comedy clubs, and in his hilarious memoir, “Mental,” which came out in 2009. He can fi nd a joke in any situation, from a conversation with a friend to something on the news to a random idea that pops into his head. His skill at being an observer, he explained, is critical. “The most productive thing is to do and see and listen to lots of things,” he said. “When you try to think of some-

thing funny… it’s excruciating to sit and try to make yourself laugh.” When Sarfaty’s humor strikes a funny bone it is generally because it is grounded in reality. “Most of the stuff I talk about isn’t gay,” he said. “I’ll talk about coming out to my family, and that’s a gay situation, but if I’m talking about how my husband doesn’t do the laundry, that’s not a gay joke, it’s a laundry joke. It’s so different now because the American audience is used to gay people and even coming out. To an audience that’s not gay, there are a lot are parents, so a coming out joke speaks

to them in that way.” But Sarfaty is by no means shy about doing gay material. “I do this joke about coming out that my father and my boyfriend have the same name: ‘Daddy,’ ” he said. “I did that joke on TV and thought a million people are going to see it, so I cut it out of my act for a while and people would see my show and say, ‘You didn’t do the “Daddy” joke!’ So there are always people who haven’t heard it.” Writing jokes is really what Sarfaty enjoys, and he likens that process to writing poetry. “Whether you’re Shakespeare or doing limericks, there’s a form. You select each syllable for the emotional content, and it has to be crafted. It doesn’t mean you won’t say things off the cuff, but writing is what you can control most. There’s no excuse to not writing a joke the best way it can be written.” The craft in shaping a joke is something Sarfaty clearly enjoys exploring. “The length of the set-up is inversely proportionate to the power with the punch line,” he explained. “It’s fun when your jokes can ricochet, but silence can make me panic. I can deliver this more slowly. I’m not adding words, but there are ways to enhance the set-up without making it much longer. A pause can nourish the joke, but not add dead space to it. There are a million ways to deliver a joke. If I do that ‘Daddy’ joke another million times, my cadence or my rhythm or the pitch of my voice can be different.” But for all the craft, Sarfaty acknowledged, the key ingredient is heart. “The reason for telling a joke is that it’s got to be because you’re excited, angry, or titillated, otherwise you’re not connecting with the audience, which is what comedy is about,” he said. Happily, audiences who see Sarfaty on stage have very little trouble feeling that connection. Tues., June 27, 7pm at the Metropolitan Room (34 W. 22nd St., btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.). Tickets are $20 plus $25 food/drink minimum. For reservations, call 212-206-0440 or visit Follow Eddie Sarfaty online at keeplaughing. com and on Twitter @eddiesarfaty. June 22, 2017


EXHIBIT continued from p. 7

nonprofit’s evolving interpretation of its mandate to improve quality of life. “People make a presentation to us, and that’s how these things happen.� The PSSS Drawing Group is one such success story. “I wanted to bring artists together and give something back to Penn South, because they gave me the chance to live here,� said lifelong artist Susan De Castro, a professor at Touro College who spent a decade on the waiting list before securing an apartment in 2006. “I wanted a convenient place to draw in the neighborhood that wouldn’t cost a lot of money,� De Castro recalled of her proposal. “I knew there were artists living here, some of whom are elderly, and they probably didn’t have access to drawing studios in New York.� Members of the group vary in age — as young as 18 all the way up to those in their 80s, some of whom arrive with walkers or in wheelchairs. The weekly gathering grounds its dozen-plus participants in the most elemental and essential of exercises: drawing a nude. “It’s not just about the anatomy,� De Castro noted. “It’s about capturing facial expressions, gesture, and movement. It really is one of the most challenging, and rewarding,

Courtesy the artist

Florence Cohen’s “Spanish Dancers� (2016. Acrylic on canvas. 9 x 12 in.) is featured in the Multimedia Art Exhibit.

things we do as artists.� The group conducts itself as an uninstructed drawing session, in which the models (many of whom come from the Art Students League of NY) strike poses for as long as 20 minutes and as little as five, with a short break in between. “You could do 30, 40 drawings within those two hours,� De Castro said of the session’s length. “And all of that time, you don’t hear any noise, just the drawing paper,

or when somebody sharpens a pencil.� Work from several of the group’s regulars will be featured at this weekend’s exhibit — but they’ll be doing their soul-baring sans sketches of those who posed in the buff. It just so happens, explained exhibit co-organizer Bridget Robinson, that the drawing group members who responded to an open call submitted paintings or ceramics. Proficiency in more than

one form of artistic expression is not uncommon among the Penn South arts community, Robinson said, when noting that the exhibit’s 50+ pieces from 26 participants is only the tip of the iceberg. “We had a [PSSS] retreat, and we were brainstorming about different projects,� recalled Robinson, of how she, Jeanette Himmel, and Bea Corbett came up with the short-term idea of the exhibit, as well as a vision of things to come. “There are so many fantastic artists here in Penn South,� Robinson noted, whether working on their own or within formal drawing, woodworking, ceramic, and art groups. “Our longterm goal is to bring all of the Penn South artists together, to share ideas and experiences. It’s been a dream of ours, the three of us, to organize this; lectures, exhibits, even an ongoing gallery. These are all just hopes now — but hopefully, they will come through.� First things first: The Penn South Social Services Multimedia Art Exhibit is free and open to the public. 1pm–5pm, Sat., June 24 and Sun., June 25. At Penn South’s Community Room 8A (343 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 26th & 27th Sts.). To learn more about Penn South Social Services, visit



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A ‘Classic’ Tale of Coming Into One’s Own BY LENORE SKENAZY This is for all the parents worried that their kids are cutting class, falling through the cracks, overeating, underachieving, or spending all day playing video games — and for all the kids doing just that. Dominick Vandenberge was raised in the Bronx — Pelham Bay — and no one would call him a star student. He was forced to repeat first grade, and already felt like a failure at the age of six. He became the oldest kid in the class. He hated everything to do with school. And then his weight started to balloon. By high school, Dominick weighed 220 pounds and he struggled to make friends. He started skipping class. And then, things got even worse. His dad died of a heart attack, at home. That same night, the family moved into his aunt’s basement in Queens. Dominick transferred to Francis Lewis High School and when he arrived that first day, his teacher mocked his weight in front of the whole class. She asked him if he was on drugs. Everyone laughed. Except Dominick. He’d played hooky before. Now he became a serious truant. Sometimes he didn’t show up for an entire month. The principal called him in and said if he missed one more day, he’d be

Rhymes with Crazy out. Out he was. “I can remember me wanting to change,” Dominick recalled. But how? He was fat, friendless, fatherless. “I had nothing to show for the past 17 years, other than that I had completed some video games.” He remembers lying down on his bed, “and, cliché as it was, I was looking up into the sky at night and I was just hoping that one day I could find someone, because I didn’t want to be alone, and I wanted to be successful.” He decided that the first thing he’d do was try to lose some weight. If he could do that… . Well, first things first. Dominick started watching exercise videos, and kind of “lying” to himself. He told himself he was just going to “stretch a little bit.” He didn’t want to aim for anything harder. He’d disappointed himself enough already. But instead of just stretching, he added a little more exercise each day — some push-ups, some squats. He started walking in the park, which turned into powerwalking, then jogging. At the same time, he changed his diet. Now he ate mostly oatmeal, apples, and carrots. In seven

months, Dominick lost 80 pounds. He applied to a GED program in Elmhurst, passed the test, and applied to his dream school, Hunter College. He didn’t get in. So he enrolled at Borough of Manhattan Community College — and promptly failed every class. But by now, Dominick knew all about starting over. So he did, and this time he took a course in “Classics.” He thought it was going to be about classical music. Instead, it was about the history of Western civilization, starting with the ancient Greeks and Romans, taught by the tough-but-fair Professor Gerard Clock. “He’d teach the class as if he was telling a story,” Dominick recalled. When Prof. Clock told the class about how the Athenians needed help fighting the Persians, so they sent their fastest runner to ask Sparta for help, Dominic was hooked. After all, he was a runner now, too. Clock took an interest in this motivated student, advising him in academic matters, and encouraging him, too. When he found out Dominick’s educational past, he was shocked. He thought Dominick

had always been an “A” student. For his part, Dominick started writing papers on things like the Code of Hammurabi. He liked Prof. Clock so much, he took his class on American history — but classics really turned Dominick on. Upon graduating, Dominick was finally accepted at Hunter. He studied Greek and Latin. He got a scholarship to study in Athens, a scholarship to study in Rome, and a scholarship to present his paper at Harvard University. Just a few weeks ago, along with dozens of other exceptional graduates, Dominick stood on the stage at Hunter commencement at Radio City Music Hall as the college president, Jennifer Raab, announced his grade point average: 3.96. Then she also announced a surprise guest. Onto the stage strode Prof. Clock. Wild applause. Dominick will return to Hunter this fall to earn his master’s in classical literature. His goal is to become a Latin teacher and inspire students like he had been. You know, the brilliant ones — who just don’t know it yet. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker, founder of the blog Free-Range Kids (, and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?”

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CONCOURSE continued from p. 2

is the “economic development arm for New York state,” according to its website, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak referred questions for this article to Empire State Development.) In a Dec. 4, 2014 article (“A Late Arrival, Yes, But Moynihan Station Construction Is On Track”), Chelsea Now reported that the concourse and entrances were slated to open in 2016. When asked about the delay, Varghese said the project was designed six years ago and since then the MTA “has undertaken several ambitious station redesigns to renew, modernize and expand our transit systems into the 21st century.” Enhancements — digital media screens for train information, wayfinding graphics to improve navigation for commuters and tourists, upgraded lighting and more energy-efficient LEDs — for the concourse “ensure that this project is consistent with those broader station improvement efforts,” she said. Financing for the $1.6 billion redevelopment of the Penn-Farley Complex was recently finalized, Cuomo announced in a June 16 press release. Empire State Development and private

Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic

Riders running to catch their trains have two new access points — and some art to look at while they do so.

partners Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA inked the final financial agreement, according to the release. The project “is being funded with


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$550 million from the state, $420 million from Amtrak, the MTA, the Port Authority and federal grants, and $630 million from the joint venture developers,” according to the release. The Moynihan Train Hall will increase Penn Station’s total concourse floor space by more than 50 percent, and will also house around 700,000 square feet of new commercial, retail, and dining space, according to the release. The train hall will feature a soaring “92-foot high skylight to be built above the building’s historic and architecturally-dramatic steel trusses,” according to the release. The hall will have access to nine platforms and 17 tracks, and also provide direct access to the train station from Ninth Ave. for the first time — a

nod to burgeoning Hudson Yards and the far West Side. With the financing in place, construction will begin and the Moynihan Train Hall is expected to be completed at the end of 2020. Meanwhile, back at the new concourse, old behaviors could be seen during our June 19 visit — people huddled around screens like a campfire for track assignments and some glued to their smaller screens, aka their smartphones, while they waited. Charlotte Parker, 49, has been taking the LIRR for 23 years to get to her home in Queens. Parker noted the new charging stations, which she called a huge plus. “I’m excited for it — to have the extra space is fantastic,” Parker said. “It’s been a long time coming.”







June 22, 2017

Murals, which highlight New York City landmarks, grace the walls at the new entrances and concourse. NYC Community Media

Photos by Scott Stiffler

Dan Hanegby was the first fatality with Citi Bike when he collided with a charter bus on W. 26th St., less than a week before Mamoukakis was similarly killed. CHARTER BUS continued from p. 3

traveling on Seventh Ave., which is a truck route, it attempted to turn onto W. 29th St., which isn’t. CB4 has brought the issue of charter buses skirting the truck restrictions with a letter addressed to the DOT in February, but only received a “boilerplate language” response, Berthet said. As pedestrian and cyclist safe-

ty remains a top priority, CB4’s Transportation Planning Committee planned to address improving the area’s safety at their monthly meeting (Wed., June 21, 6:30 p.m.; held as this paper went to press). One day prior to the Mamoukakis incident, an email alert from the committee noted its fi rst agenda item would be dedicated to “biking and pedestrian safety issues.” “Safety is our top priority,” Berthet

CB4’s Christine Berthet pointed out that in both recent cases of a bicyclist killed while riding in Chelsea, charter buses were traveling on roads that restricted trucks.

said. “In fact, every time there has been a proposal for a bike lane, we’ve been asking for more safety than proposed by the DOT.” In her other capacity as a member of the pedestrian safety advocacy group CHEKPEDS, she said the group is working on getting the DOT to install more protected crosstown bike lanes, strictly enforce offending buses, and have signals for mixing zones — where

STONEWALL continued from p. 8

“The national parks community is grateful for Google’s support to develop education programs for New York City students — and eventually students worldwide — that focus on the important issues of equality, human rights, civil rights, and more,” Shafroth said. According to a story in the New York Times, the idea for Google’s support of the national monument and the Center came from William Floyd, the company’s out gay head of external affairs for New York. Floyd was praised by several speakers at the press conference. Eric Schmidt, executive chair of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, said, “The Stonewall National Monument is a testament to the brave people whose actions that night sparked the beginning of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement. With our donation, my hope is we can capture and preserve their stories and, through technology, share them with the world to inspire all those who continue to strive for human rights.” The work that Google’s donation and additional fundraising by the NPF will allow is expected to be completed by June 2019, when World Pride will NYC Community Media

Photo by Donna Aceto

Officials and activists at the Stonewall National Monument dedication last June 27 included US Representative Carolyn Maloney, successful DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

celebrate the Stonewall Rebellion’s 50th anniversary in New York. Among others at the Sunday press conference were Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, West Side Assemblymember Dick Gottfried, and

out gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who shepherded the transfer of Christopher Park ownership from the city to the National Park Service. Among veterans of the Stonewall Rebellion present was Tommy LaniganSchmidt, who was 18 when police raid-

vehicles trying to make a left turn have to mix into a bike lane at intersections. When asked if the two recent deaths would draw attention for better protections, Berthet said she hoped so. “It’s depressing that you have to wait; that people are killed and you have to have martyrs and people pay attention,” Berthet added. “It’s horrible.”

ed the bar. At last year’s designation of the national monument, LaniganSchmidt recalled the Stonewall of that era as “a dingy non-descript building that was like a speakeasy, run by the Mafia” — but one, at least, where slow dancing, “a full embrace,” was allowed. In his proclamation last year designating the Stonewall National Monument, Obama acknowledged the role the rebellion and the location continue to play in the lives of LGBTQ New Yorkers. “The Stonewall Uprising is considered by many to be the catalyst that launched the modern LGBT civil rights movement,” the then-president wrote. “On June 26, 2015, within moments of the issuance of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, LGBT people headed to Christopher Park to celebrate the Court’s recognition of a constitutional right to samesex marriage… Within minutes of the recent news of the murders of 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida — one of the most deadly shootings in American history — LGBT people and their supporters in New York headed again to Christopher Park to mourn, heal, and stand together in unity for the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.” June 22, 2017



June 22, 2017

NYC Community Media

HOTEL continued from p. 5

ness in the 1930s, “It was all flowers. Where the hotel is now, all flowers. Where the McDonald’s is, all flowers. The Bank of America, all flowers.” Skyrocketing rents, hotel re-zoning, and increased online flower sales forced many florists to relocate to the suburbs. In addition, national floral brokers like FTD and Teleflora have cut into the business that wholesale florists once did. This has caused nearly 40 percent of America’s floral businesses to close shop since 2000. But some believe that the time for wholesale florists has come and gone; they feel that technology is the future of this area. “The area is an emerging tech hub, which means there’s a growing demand for places to stay by business people as well as tourists,” said Kaufman. “And just like tourists, business people are drawn to the incomparable public amenities, like Hudson River Park, the High Line, Chelsea Piers and Chelsea Market.” Community Board 4 (CB4) is keeping a close eye on this development, perhaps jaded by the radical changes that occurred in the Garment District after zoning changes there. “The zoning we hoped would keep the Garment District vibrant yielded a lot of hotels, and not the residential properties we wanted,” CB4 Chair Delores Rubin observed, adding, “We

GENDER continued from p. 10

his authenticity for “being a girl” came from his reactions to negative comments by other people. His female side was both natural and his own creation, and he perceived it as energy more than a specific identity. “I was always dressing creatively, since I can remember, but my authentic gender expression didn’t start living until much later,” he noted. Watching Nicholas perform in videos shot during Brad’s SCENE and be SEEN workshop, I became aware of his need to empty himself of the bitterness and resentment toward everyone who had ever dismissed him as

Photo by Scott Stiffler

This empty lot marks the location of what will be the fourth GKA-designed hotel on W. 28th St.

keep an eye on this sort of thing. But for every zoning change that is made, there is the ability for nimble, crafty developers to counteract or work around them — with no malice, per se — to find more economically viable ways to build. Hotels are yielding a much higher return on investment, so it doesn’t always matter that CB4 is lobbying for affordable residential housing.” Instead, developers find a way to exploit the unintended consequences of zoning changes like transfer development rights or the “Sliver Law” by

constructing tall, thin buildings on narrow streets without setbacks “as of right,” so they don’t have to appear before CB4 for a ULURP hearing. “We had good intentions with transfer development rights, but it ended up yielding much higher buildings than earlier mandates had allowed,” said Rubin. “Before, buildings could only build higher if they added affordable housing units or added a public amenity or MTA entrance in the building. So, in many ways we are getting uneven zoning.”

a fanciful faggot. “The Dark Matter Church of Christ:Mass,” a Christmas show Nicholas wrote, directed, and starred in at The Wild Project in the East Village, revealed to me his dramatic range. In the opening scene, Nicholas sat elevated on a block in the center of the stage with his back to the audience. He was dressed in dark flowing robes that seemed to expand mysteriously as he slowly extended his arms. It was vivid and powerful, and it had nothing to do with gender. Nicholas is a versatile performer. Gender, in all its dimensions, defines and enhances his presence in the world. Bravi, Nicholas!

Nicholas Gorham on the balcony of Gerald Busby’s Chelsea Hotel apartment.

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CB4 relies on the zoning mandates of the Special West Chelsea District to “protect the look and feel of Chelsea by keeping these buildings smaller.” But on the east side, zoning changes made way back in the ’70s quickly changed the neighborhood, signaling a death knell for cherished spaces like Billy’s Topless and The Antiques Garage Flea Market at Sixth and W. 25th St. “The bottom line is, you have to keep an eye on the changes in your neighborhood,” said Rubin. “If you look at the Hell’s Kitchen 11th Avenue corridor, it has traditionally been manufacturing, auto sales and auto repair. We recognize the opportunity to keep this diverse work force in Manhattan, so we work to keep building heights lower in that corridor.” “There are exceptions that fit into the landscape well, like the tall, skinny Ink48 Hotel, or the Silverstein building on the former Mercedes-Benz lot,” said Rubin. “But when you look at the broad scope of the neighborhood, you need to work with City Planning and your elected officials to come up with a compromise that preserves the industry, look, and feel of these neighborhoods. It’s a real concern when the street walls are broken and the buildings are real tall with setbacks. When you look up at them, they give a very different feel to the area, and soon there is no context to our neighborhoods anymore.”

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