VOLUME 30, NUMBER 06
MARCH 23 – APRIL 05, 2017
‘CUT!’ GUERRILLA CARFARE
Tribeca Film Festival nixes free family fair
BY DENNIS LYNCH For the first time in its 15-year history, the Tribeca Film Festival will not host its annual family-oriented street fair after the event, according to organizers. Festival organizers did not elaborate much on the decision, but said that the change was “part of our evolution.” “We are shifting our family programming to increase opportunities for the community to participate in activities rooted in film,” organizers said in a statement. Instead of the street fair, this year the festival will offer “more free films for families” — including a family film event in conjunction with ESPN with free screenings and sports activities at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College on the first weekend of the festival, and a screening of Disney’s “Alladin” during the second weekend to celebrate the animated film’s 25th anniversary. Locals can also check out free screenings through AT&T Free Film Friday on April 28, the statement said. The film festival itself runs from April 19–30. Community Board 1 Tribeca Committee chairwoman Alice Blank said that in its early years, the street fair was a “fun, community-based event for Downtowners where one went to see friends, listen to neighborhood bands, eat in neighborhood restaurants and learn about community based groups and events,” and said she was sorry to see it go.
‘Tactical urbanism’ aims for grassroots streetscape reform BY COLIN MIXSON The horse-and-buggy era may be long past, but bales of hay could still play a big role in solving Downtown’s traffic problems. Using hay bales and other props to temporarily redesign aspects of the streetscape is a key part of a novel approach to transit-reform advocacy called “tactical urban-
ism.” And earlier this month a band of Downtown residents met with reps from Transportation Alternatives to brainstorm ideas for using such techniques to demonstrate ways to improve the area’s Downtown’s twisted streetscape. The idea is to demonstrate to the people who actually use the streets what effects certain changes
Photo by Milo Hess
Don’t care for Trumpcare About 150 demonstrators gathered outside the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza to protest the GOP plan to replace Obamacare — especially the scheme to turn federal Medicaid funding into capped block grants, which healthcare advocates say would eventually starve the program that provides healthcare to the poor.
FAMILY FAIR Continued on page 14
AVAILABLE FOR 9/11 CANCER VICTIMS
could have, as a way to rally grassroots support for more permanent improvements, according to TransAlt’s tactical urbanism consultant and design guru Michael Lydon, who led the March 2 workshop. “If we’re able to engage residents and businesses and there’s a positive response then what we’re doing is building a larger coalition of people to create lasting change in the neighborhood,” said Lydon, a principal at the Street Plans design firm. Billed as a kind of guerrilla strategy for changing city infrastructure, tactical urbanism aims to turn the traditional model on its head. Whereas most changes to the streetscape involve a long, bureaucratic process of traffic studies by the city’s Department of Transportation, a methodical design phase, and extensive community consultation culminating in pouring concrete, so-called tactical urbanism uses short-term streetactivity permits to allow low-cost, temporary alterations to streetlevel infrastructure using, which offer locals a taste of how innovative traffic-calming measures and pedestrian amenities can improve neighborhoods. TACTICAL URBANISM Continued on page 4
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t Manhattan Charter School, located at 100 Attorney Street in the Lower East Side, students are not just taught; they are taught to learn, and to love doing it. Their mission is to cultivate curious minds and to develop a solid foundation on which to base wise choices and build meaningful futures. All Students, in grades K-5, are taught French along with art, technology, health, and physical education, in addition to regular classroom instruction. Every student receives daily music lessons and has the opportunity to join the band and chorus. Mobile technology labs in every classroom, as well as Chrome Books, iPads, and Promethean Boards are used for all subject areas. Classroom STEM lessons are complemented with a dedicated science lab. Formal and informal assessments take place throughout the year to help gauge students’ success and help them reach
their potential. Manhattan Charter School students have been accepted to many specialized middle school programs including Prep for Prep, The Mark Twain School, George Jackson School, Holy Child School, Blue Man Group, The Institute for Collaborative Education, and more. “I love Manhattan Charter School”, says proud parent, Liz Morales. “This was my daughter’s elementary school; the teachers were so good and she learned a lot”. Entering its 13th year, Manhattan Charter School is accepting applications for the 2017-2018 school year. Tours for prospective parents and students are given every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Students who reside in CSD 1 are given preference, but all are welcome to apply. For more information or to register for a tour, call (212) 533-2743, email: info@ manhattancharterschool.org or visit www.manhattancharterschool.org.
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March 23 - April 5, 2017
Associated Press / D. Pickoff
Banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, who died on March 20 at age 101, is regarded by many as one of the founding fathers of Downtown’s resurgence, dating from his push to keep the headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank in Lower in the late 1950s.
David Rockerfeller, champion of Lower Manhattan, dies at 101 BY COLIN MIXSON Billionaire philanthropist and tireless promoter of Lower Manhattan David Rockefeller died at his upstate home in Pocantico Hills on march 20. He was 101 years old. In his time, David carried the Rockefeller name — synonymous with wealth, charity, and power — further and wielded it with greater influence than perhaps any other heir of the legendary founder of the Standard Oil Company and America’s first billionaire, his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. As chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, Rockefeller played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Lower Manhattan in the decades following World War II, a conflict in which the tycoon heir served as an enlisted man doing intelligence work for the army in North Africa and France. As much in decline then as it is on the ups today, the Lower Manhattan of the 1950s was a place businesses were looking to escape, choosing instead to site their posh, stately headquarters in Midtown. But in the 1950s, Rockefeller began lobbying a skeptical Chase board to seek out Downtown accommoda-
tions rather than Midtown offices with a view of Central Park — and in 1960, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza on Liberty Street celebrated its grand opening. The decision to invest in Downtown was not without its risks, Rockefeller said later. “In retrospect, it was a risky decision, but we hedged our bets by trying to convince others that remaining Downtown was not only in their best interests but also in the best interests of the community as a whole,” Rockefeller told the Downtown Alliance in an interview. “Our commitment to both stay and build a new headquarters convinced a number of other banks, brokerage houses, and, indeed, the New York Stock Exchange, to remain Downtown and to upgrade their own facilities.” In the year’s proceeding the bank headquarters’ opening, Rockefeller looked to shore up the neighborhood’s waning prestige, and gathered support from other Downtown business leaders to create the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, which advocated for numerous high-profile develROCKERFELLER Continued on page 12
LANE CHANGE City to revamp and expand Downtownâ€™s bike lanes BY DENNIS LYNCH The Department of Transportation wants rejigger bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, and some parking in Lower Manhattan to improve safety for cyclists, representatives told Community Board 1â€™s Planning Committee. The bulk of the proposed changes concern the intersection of Centre Street, Park Row, and Spruce Street, near where the Brooklyn Bridge lets off scores of pedestrians and bikers, many of them out-of-towners unfamiliar with the often-hectic scene there. The DOT said more than 1,600 cyclists bike there on a typical day, and 28 percent of them bike against traffic, while nine percent illegally ride on the sidewalk. To keep bikes safely on the roadway, the DOT would paint a two-way bike lane along that stretch and protect it from traffic with a small sidewalk-height curb. The agency also wants to make the path to the bridge bike path entrance more obvious, so cyclists donâ€™t find themselves biking onto the bridge roadway. There would also be a new crossing across Park Row from the east side of Spruce Street and a better crossing on the west side of Spruce Street. Both would feature median extensions to shorten the trip for pedestrians across Park Row. The DOT would eliminate four placard parking spots on the north side of
Centre Street, but would create nine new ones along an expanded median along Park Row between Beekman and Spruce Streets. Outside of that intersection, the DOT wants to streamline the bike route between the Brooklyn Bridge and The Battery and Lower Manhattanâ€™s eastern waterfront. Instead of sending bridge-bound bikers on Maiden Lane to Church and then Warren Street, the new route would steer them mostly along Williams Street. The plan would send southbound bikers coming off the Bridge down Spruce Street to Gold Street and then Pearl Street. Parts of that route would have dedicated bike lanes, but most of it would feature shared lanes â€” painted bike markers on lanes that bikers would share with cars and buses â€” and painted lines to better formalize parking lanes. Where the DOT wants to create dedicated bike lanes, it would take five feet from the normally 12-foot-wide parking lanes on either side of the streets, leaving one nine-feet wide and the other ten-feet wide. Some streets would get their own unique schemes, however, including parts of Gold Street and Old Slip. All of the new routes would get new signage to help bikers find their way and stay out of trouble. BIKE LANES Continued on page 18
Image via NYC Department of Transportation
A new bike lane for access to the Brooklyn Bridge will be protected from traffi c by a curb-high barrier.
ATTENTION: Property Owners, Commercial Tenants and Residents of Lower Manhattan
2017 ANNUAL MEETING May 3, 2017 at 4 P.M.
LMHQ, 150 Broadway, 20 th Floor (Picture IDs are necessary to enter building)
The meeting is open to the public and all registered members are eligible to vote.
Image via NYC Department of Transportation
The city wants to reroute the bike lanes linking The Battery to the Brooklyn Bridge. DowntownExpress.com
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March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
TACTICAL URBANISM Continued from page 1
Most of Lydon’s examples of Street Plans’s previous urban operations boiled down to using paint, tape, planters, or simply traffic cones to take over driving lanes, beautifying them with art and plants, and turning them over for pedestrian use for a few days or weeks. Other examples included using hay bails to create choke points at intersections to slow traffic and narrow crosswalks, or laying down temporary bike lanes where none existed. But the most popular suggestion at the workshop involved ways to turn Downtown’s plague of long-standing sidewalk scaffolding into actual amenities. “The possibility of making parts of scaffolding into street seating was the most revolutionary idea,” said TransAlt’s Manhattan community organizer Chelsea Yamada. Manhattan “urban innovation” studio City Soft Walks has developed an array of detachable seats, counters, planters, and lights designed to latch onto street-level scaffolding to create something more akin to a sidewalk café than the unsavory blight most sidewalk sheds have become.
“It turns one of the worst facets of Downtown streets into something exciting and usable,” Yamada said. Financial District resident and Fidi Neighborhood Association board member Amanda Timchak suggested the nearly decade-old scaffolding at 15 Dutch St. as an ideal candidate for sprucing up. “In our neighborhood, there’s these sidewalk sheds that go up and seemingly don’t ever come down, so finding ways to make them more appealing was a very attractive idea,” she said. Trans-Alt plans on hosting several more workshops to solicit ideas for its tactical urbanism projects, before picking four of five that it hopes to implement — by securing street activity permits for the traffic alterations, or in the case of scaffolding transformations, establishing partnerships with property owners and construction contractors, Lydon said. And once the tactical urbanism operations are up and running, TransAlt will seek to generate as much public interest in them and get as much feedback as possible, flagging down passersby to get their take on the changes in real time, in the hope of rallying support to lobby the city to make some changes permanent.
Transportation Alternatives / Michael Lydon
(Above) So-called “tactical urbanism” makes temporary changes to the streetscape — like this crosswalkshortening “neckdown” — to show the public what effect permanent versions could have, with the aim of building grassroots support. (Right Manhattan “urban innovation” studio City Soft Walks has developed an array of detachable seats, counters, planters, and lights designed to latch onto sidewalk scaffolding to turn a blight into an amenity.
Police drill slated for WTC this weekend
Transportation Alternatives / Michael Lydon
One common theme of tactical urbanist modifi cations is putting pedestrians and public amenities before traffi c and parking.
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BY COLIN MIXSON Trigger warning! Don’t worry if you see lots of emergency vehicles and armed police officers running around the World Trade Center are in the next few days. It’s only a drill. The Port Authority Police will be conducting emergency training exercises around the World Trade Center on Wednesday and over the weekend, resulting in an increased police presence and slight commute changes for straphangers. The fi rst emergency exercise will be on Wednesday from 8 a.m. until noon. There will be an increased presence of emergency personnel around the World Trade Center campus before and during the exercise. The weekend training maneuvers conducted by the enforcement-arm of the Port Authority will begin at 11 p.m. Saturday and continue through 7 a.m. Sunday. The WTC PATH Station will
remain open throughout the exercise, although passengers will be shuffled from underground to the street via the West Concourse and One World Trade Center. The Oculus building will be closed to civilians for the duration the weekend maneuvers, and straphangers will be unable to access subway lines at the Fulton Transit Center through the Dey Street Concourse. The training maneuvers are necessary for Port Authority Police Department, the NYPD, FDNY, and other emergency agencies to develop and study practices for responding to potential threats, according to PAPD Superintendent Michael Fedorko. “These exercises are critical to allow us to prepare in advance for any emergency that may arise, and to interact with emergency responders from other agencies in advance of any incident that may occur,” Fedorko said.
Polishing Silver Judge hears appeal of disgraced former Assembly Speakerâ€™s corruption conviction BY DENNIS LYNCH Disgraced former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver was in court on Thursday to appeal his 2015 conviction on seven counts of corruption, and now the ultimate fate of a man who was once one of Albanyâ€™s most influential power brokers is in the hands of a federal judge. The hearing on March 16 took only about an hour, but the appeals court â€œcould take a day, or six months, or a year,â€? to decide on the appeal, according to Joel Cohen, one of Silverâ€™s lawyers with MoloLamken. Silver, now 72, is seeking an outright dismissal or another trial. Now-former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara charged Silver for two schemes. Silver directed half a million dollars in state research funds to a mesothelioma doctor who was referring his patients to Silverâ€™s law firm for potentially lucrative lawsuits. Silver also referred two major real estate firms to a law firm he did no lawyering for but from which he
received large fees. Silver netted roughly $4 million in total through the two arrangements. Silverâ€™s lawyers argued on Thursday that Silverâ€™s trial court judge wrongly told the jury that Silverâ€™s actions constituted an â€œofficial actâ€? and that the faulty instruction led to his conviction. They said he did not break the law because he never engaged in a quid pro quo action â€” a direct exchange of a political favor for money â€” in either situation. They based their argument on the outcome of a 2016 Supreme Court appeal that overturned the similar conviction handed down against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen. A jury had convicted McDonnell for accepting gifts and loans from the owner of a dietary supplement company in exchange for help getting the stateâ€™s public universities to study one of the companyâ€™s products. McDonnell set up meetings, events, and contacted other public officials to
Associated Press / Seth Wenig
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaves court on May 3 last year, after he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his 2015 conviction on seven counts of corruption, including extortion, honest-services fraud and money laundering. A judge heard his appeal on March 16.
do so, which federal prosecutors argued constituted an â€œofficial actâ€? within the official capacity of McDonnellâ€™s office. The Supreme Court said the judge in
that case did give the jury what ended up being an â€œerroneousâ€? definition of SILVER Continued on page 18
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Investigators working the Downtown beat recorded no less than five major thefts related to St. Patrickâ€™s Day frivolity on March 17, as crooks took advantage of the good-natured merry making of Irish-for-a-day bar hoppers to make off with their pots of gold â€” and iPhones. The dayâ€™s fi rst victim reported that she was at a South William Street watering hole near Mill Lane at 11:15 a.m., when a thief snatched her designer Coach purse off the back of her chair, along with the ritzy iPhone 7, wallet and $50 in cash it contained. At 3 p.m., a 29-year-old man told police he was partying it up on at a Stone Street pub between Coenties Alley and William Street, when he felt someone bump into him as the festivities were ramping up. When the man went to pay his bill, he discovered his wallet was gone, his bank later informed that the crook had taken his credit cards to a Prince Street Apple Store and purchased $12,306 worth of electronics. A few hours later, a 41-year-old woman told police she was inside a Water Street tavern near Broad Street at 5 p.m., when a thief made off with a bag sheâ€™d stuffed behind a bench containing cash, credit cards, and an monthly MTA pass worth $117. At a Battery Place oyster bar on Pier A at 9:30 p.m., a 27-year-old woman had hung her $400 Michael Kors purse on the back of a bar stoll when she stepped away for a moment, before returning a few minutes later to fi nd her designer purse and Samsung cellphone were missing, cops said. The final theft police recorded also occurred on Battery Place at 10:30 p.m., when some reprobate snuck into the back room of a bar and grabbed a workers bag, which contained more than $2,000 worth of laptops, clothes, cash, and iPhone accessories, according to police.
BOTTLE OPENER Cops are hunting the thug who cracked a bottle over a womanâ€™s head inside a subway station bathroom on Broadway on March 17. The victim told police she was inside the underground loo near John Street at 7:15 a.m., when she was engaged in an argument with her attacker. The disagreement reached its climax
with the goon took a glass bottle and broke it over the womanâ€™s head, the woman claimed. Curiously, investigators were unable to turn up an evidence of a bottle at the crime scene, and the victim had no injuries, despite complaining of substantial pain, cops said.
SHOE THING Cops busted two employees of a Vesey Street fashion retailer whose alleged scheming netted them more than $5,000 worth of ill-gotten merchandise since Jan. 17. A rep for the store told police that the suspects colluded to use the storeâ€™s Fed Ex pickups to ship thousands worth of store merchandise â€” including Lou Boutin and Fend shoes, along with a Balmain shirt â€” to multiple locations without permission.
SHARP KIDS Cops are hunting two knife-wielding teens who held up a boy on North End Avenue on March 11. The victim told police he was near Murray Street on his way home from a house party at 10:45 p.m. when the suspects pulled a knife on him and demanded his stuff, which included $1,200 pair of â€œBlack Yeezyâ€? sneakers and $600, cops said.
HOT PRODUCT A man stole a small fortune worth of makeup from a John Street drug store on March 7. Surveillance footage shows the crook waltzing into the pharmacy between Broadway and Nassau Street at 4:34 p.m., when he proceeded to clean out a shelf of makeup valued at $1,168, before waltzing past the register with his ill-gotten beauty products.
STICKY FINGERS A pickpocket snatched a wallet from a womanâ€™s handbag on Laight Street on Feb. 11. The victim told police that she was on her way into a building between Washington and Greenwich streets at 11 a.m. when, without thinking much of it, she felt another passerby bump into her. It was only later that the victim realized her handbag was open and her wallet missing, along with the $200 and credit cards it contained. â€” Colin Mixson DowntownExpress.com
CRAZY CAT PEOPLE
Cat Camp creates a ‘purr-fect storm’ of info, merch, fun BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Cat ears — whether on “pussy hats” or just plain, pipe-cleaner-style ears — have filled the air at the Women’s Marches against Donald Trump. But they were also out in force two weekends ago at the inaugural Cat Camp in Chelsea. People weren’t actually allowed to bring their own pets to the event, at the Metropolitan Pavilion on W. 19th St.: Instead, the cat ears were atop many of the attendees’ heads. Cat Camp, billed as New York’s “first feline-focused conference and adoption extravaganza,” follows on the heels — or, rather, the paws — of Catcon, an annual Los Angeles event that has been hugely successful in recent years. The organizer behind Cat Camp was Christina Ha, co-founder of Meow Parlour, a cat cafe at 46 Hester St. At cat cafes, people pay to pet cats or just work on their laptop computers while the cats nap next to them. Hopefully, nap, that is — since, of course, there’s nothing more enticing to a cat than parking itself in front of a laptop while someone is actually trying to use it. The Lower East Side cat cafe has also fostered more than 200 hard-to-adopt cats since opening in late 2014. The two-day cat confab on March 11-12 included talks by various celebrities, activists and cat-behavior consultants, ranging from the likes of Jackson Galaxy, host of “My Cat From Hell,” the Animal Planet reality-TV show — who signed photos for fans — to Kathleen O’Malley, of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative, and Hannah Shaw, a.k.a. The Kitten Lady. Galaxy was the weekend’s keynote speaker. Another of the event’s big stars was Lil Bub, the dwarf Indiana kitten, whose overly large eyes and lolling tongue forever hanging out of her mouth — she was born without a lower jaw — have endeared her to cat lovers. There were also at least two teams of documentary filmmakers who are currently doing projects on “community cats” a.k.a. feral cats, in Brooklyn and elsewhere. If attendees took away anything from the conference it was the concept of “TNR” — as in “trap, neuter, release.” As O’Malley and members of the team from “The Cat Rescuers” (the Brooklyn film) DowntownExpress.com
Photos by Lincoln Anderson
(Above) Steven Lawrence, from Bay Ridge, right, and Sassee Walker, from Canarsie, are volunteer grassroots cat rescuers in Brooklyn. Walker is featured in a documentary film by Lawrence and Rob Fruchtman, “The Cat Rescuers,” which is currently still in production. According to Lawrence, it’s estimated there are probably more than 1 million feral cats in New York City alone. (Above right) Kathleen O’Malley, of the New York City Feral Cat Initiative, was on a discussion panel with Steven Lawrence and Sassee Walker of “The Cat Rescuers” about “TNR,” or “trap, neuter, release” — the most effective way to keep “community cats” under control. (Right) Nancy Regula — aka “Lone Wolf” — is the director of the Guardian Angels’ Animal Protection arm.
explained, feral cats generally are hard to adopt; but people can have a terrific, sustainable “cat colony” in their backyard by trapping the animals in special cages, getting them fixed and then returning them to their stomping ground. In this way, the critters’ numbers won’t explode and — if “feeding stations” are kept properly filled — the animals won’t go wandering dangerously across streets in search of chow. Of course, in addition to new information, Cat Campgoers could also take away something physical, too, as in a plethora of products from the event’s dozens of vendors. For example, you could buy Pussweek magazine, an Australian parody of a style magazine. “It’s the GQ of cats,” noted publisher Bexy McFly, from Sydney. You could also buy coma-inducing catnip in an array of varieties, almost akin to the choices at a pot dispensary; and even catnip-spiked cat “wine.” (However, some “cat cabernet” pur-
chased by a friend of this writer was totally snubbed by her cats.) People could also get an actual cat from one of nine adoption groups at Cat Camp. Admission was $20 and up, with more for VIP events, such as Galaxy’s talk. In addition to O’Malley and others who are educating people on how to keep feral cat colonies contained and healthy, community cats are now receiving some serious protection — namely, from the Guardian Angels. Curtis Sliwa, the crime-fighting group’s founder, was strolling around checking out the vendors’ offerings at Cat Camp’s first day, along with Nancy Regula, director of the Guardian Angels’ Animal Protection wing. Regula — whose Angels handle is “Lone Wolf” — is an attorney from the Upper West Side. She got involved with the Angels about a year ago. She personally takes care of one feral cat colony in Sunset Park and
assists with nine others. (Based just on Cat Camp, it seems that Brooklyn may be one of the world’s leading locations for feral cat colonies.) Sliwa is a big proponent of community cats, and gave them his stamp of approval. However, he noted, his Italian mother had some Old World misconceptions about them — namely, that because they carry rats in their mouths, they have diseases. “They’re very good for rodent control,” he said. Tina Traster of the group Catnip Nation, who is also making a documentary on feral cats, and is seeking funding for it, said it’s estimated there are 90 million of them in the U.S. March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
Three decades of covering what’s up Downtown BY BILL EGBERT Downtown Express turns 30 this year, and like its neighborhood namesake, we have come a long way in the past three decades. This paper began in the newest part of the oldest neighborhood in the city, created by the Battery Park City Authority to help inform the nascent residential community moving into the still unfi nished development. The “Battery News” began publishing as a monthly newspaper in May of 1987 after then-BPCA president and CEO Meyer “Sandy” Frucher tapped Robert Trentlyon of Enlightenment Press to create an independent newspaper. In the inaugural issue, Frucher wrote: “It takes more than buildings, parks and trees to make a neighborhood into a community: it takes people. And a local newspaper is the heartbeat of a community.”
Trentlyon later said the authority rarely complained and never interfered with his coverage, but nonetheless, Frucher decided after the first year to sever ties with the paper and have
Enlightenment Press make it fully independent. Trentlyson soon made the paper a biweekly and expanded its coverage area to include the newly residentializing Financial District, and eventually the paper’s name changed to reflect that, becoming “Downtown Express” in early 1990. In those days, Downtown residents were in an exclusive club — whether homesteading on the fresh landfill of Batter Park City, or pioneering the residential-conversion boom in the corporate canyons around Wall Street, the people moving into Lower Manhattan shared a frontier spirit. Jere Hester, now a professor at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, started out here as an intern reporter back when it was still called the Battery News, before rising to editor and then moving on to become City Editor for the Daily News (and my boss during my own time as a Newser), and he recalled
sense of terra incognita in those early days. In our 2007 20th-anniversary edition, he remembered how residents wondered “where am I going to send my kids to school, where are the parks for my kids to play, where am I going to shop, where is a good deli?” In 1990, we reported on how inhospitable Downtown was for new families, with local restaurants even lacking booster chairs for kids. A lot has changed since then — but not everything. Now Downtown boasts several parks, from the rolling knolls of Wanger Park, to the ultra-modern, elevated Liberty Park, to the newly renovated Battery. Lower Manhattan has blossomed into one of the city’s premier shopping districts with the opening of the luxe Brookfield Place shopping center, the Oculus-anchored Westfield World Trade Center mall, and the many stores in the Fulton Center transit hub and
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March 23 - April 5, 2017
WONâ€™T YOU JOIN US? along the Broadway corridor. And itâ€™s difficult even to list all of the gourmet eateries transforming Downtown into a foodie fantasyland. But Downtowners are still wondering where theyâ€™ll send their kids to school. Thatâ€™s mostly due to the success of Lower Manhattanâ€™s residential boom, however. In March 2001, the Downtown Express reported census figures showing that the areaâ€™s residential population had grown 43 percent in preceding decade to a whopping 39,536. By the 2010 census, that figure had risen by nearly 65 percent to 60,978. And based on the number of residential units developed since then, Community Board 1 estimates that Downtownâ€™s residential population could hit almost 74,000 this year. As would be expected in the heart of American capitalism, the law of supply and demand caused housing prices to spiral upwards as the growing population competed for space in the narrow triangle of land at Manhattanâ€™s tip. In the very first issue of the Battery News, there was an ad for apartments in Liberty Court at 200 Rector Pl., which had just came on the market. A one-bedroom would run you $172,000, a two-bedroom place cost $306,000, and you could land a three-bedroom condo for $825,000. Since then, prices have roughly quadrupled. According to StreetEasy, comparable spaces at Liberty Court today would cost you $790,000, $1,770,000, and $3,225,000, respectively. Downtownâ€™s rise has not been without its setbacks, of course. A startling attack on the World Trade Center by an obscure terrorist group rocked Lower Manhattan and sent many businesses scurrying, leading to speculation about the end of the Downtown boom. It was 1993, and jihadists had just set off a massive bomb in the basement garage of one of the Twin Towers. Three months later, under the headline â€œDowntown Ghost Town,â€? we reported on the commercial exodus, but thankfully, reports of the neighborhoodâ€™s death were greatly exaggerated. The early Downtown homesteaders stuck with New Yorkâ€™s first neighborhood, and so did we, reporting on the defiant survivors the 1993 attack, and chronicling the continued development DowntownExpress.com
of what has become the cityâ€™s most dynamic area. The local reporting of the Downtown Express noted small developments that planted seeds whose full fruits would remain unseen until years later. In 1989, we reported on â€œThe DeNiro Plan,â€? an audacious scheme by actor and longtime Tribeca resident Robert DeNiro to transform the Martinson Coffee Exchange Building into a film center with a ground-floor restaurant. In the years since, his Tribeca Grill put the neighborhood on the map as a dining destination. And his Tribeca Film Center became the nexus of the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival, which now rivals Sundance as a venue for topnotch world premieres. In 1995, we reported on a letter of intent signed by the 45th President of the United States to buy a 70-story office building at 40 Wall Street, which has recently become a magnet for protests. But of the seeds planted in Lower Manhattan that would eventually grow to great and unexpected flower, none were more consequential than the smouldering ruins at Ground Zero. The 9/11 terrorist attacks brought down Downtownâ€™s most iconic landmarks, but would give rise to a defiant resurgence the likes of which no one could have foreseen. And the Downtown Express had a front-row seat. Our first scheduled issue after the attacks, on Sept.25, 2001, bore the headline â€œDowntown After the Twin 30 YEARS Continued on page 10
This yearâ€™s honorees include: Governor David Paterson
Ana MarĂa Archila & Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Eunic Ortiz Leo Preziosi, Jr.
Bryan John Ellicott
Ashley C. Ford Suzanne Goldberg
Christopher Tepper & Paul Kelterborn
Oriol R. Gutierrez
Jennifer Flynn Walker
Bishop Zachary Glenn Jones
Carmen Neely >`SaS\bSRPg(
List in formation
Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue proďŹ ling the honorees on March 30, 2017 A portion of proceeds will be donated to not for proďŹ t local LGBT and community organizations
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gaycitynews.nyc March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
30 YEARS Continued from page 9
Towers,” but the true sentiment was in the picture splashed across the cover: a hand-written sign declaring “We will survive” held aloft. The Downtown Express chronicled the neighborhood’s rebuilding and resurgence, and all the growing pains that entailed. From the cacophony
of construction, to the revelations of Ground Zero’s poisoned air. From the tragic Deutsche Bank Building fire to the belated opening of the $4-billion Oculus transit hub. Once solely a center of finance, Downtown has become a major media Mecca. Far from the after-hours ghost town it once was, the Financial District — pardon, Fidi — is growing a vibrant nightlife. And for a neighborhood once synonymous with stodgy corporate types, the Downtown Alliance reported a striking finding in its 2016 residential study — Lower Manhattan now boasts more young professionals than Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The Downtown Express has reported on this dramatic transformation every step of the way, and even looked at how the neighborhood has become a victim of its own success. Last year we reported how all the new residential developments in the pipeline are expected to dump 19 tons more garbage on Downtown sidewalks every day by 2019. Over the course of its three-decade
existence, the Downtown Express has seen a lot of changes of its own, of course. The paper has changed hands several times, for example, especially in the earlier years. About a year after Enlightenment Press assumed full control of the paper from the BPCA in 1988, Trentlyon sold the paper to New York Magazine founder Clay Felker, but Enlightenment Press bought the paper back in 1991. Two years later, in late 1993, the Downtown Express ceased publishing because of financial difficulties. But the neighborhood didn’t have to go with out its hometown paper for long — three months later Tom Butson, a former New York Times editor, bought the Downtown Express from Enlightenment Press and fired up the presses again. Five years after that, in 1999, John Sutter bought the paper from Butson and remained at the helm for the next 13 years. Sutter, who already owned The Villager newspaper, steered the Downtown Express through Lower Manhattan’s greatest crisis — the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the agonizing after-
math — publishing the biweekly paper on a weekly basis for a time, to give locals the most up-to-date information possible during that chaotic time. Sutter owned the longer than anyone else, and is still listed on our masthead as Publisher Emeritus, but he eventually sold the Downtown Express — and his other Lower Manhattan papers, The Villager and Chelsea Now — to Jennifer Goodstein in 2012, who is our publisher today.
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Will â€˜Fearless Girlâ€™ stand her ground? Calls grow to make the temporary statue premanent, while backlash brews BY COLIN MIXSON Downtown woke up to the latest socially conscious selfie phenomenon on International Womenâ€™s Day, in the form of a diminutive bronze girl, hands on her hips and chest puffed out, staring down Bowling Greenâ€™s Charging Bull. Where the tourists once posed fondling the bullâ€™s prodigious testicles, they now pose beside the â€œFearless Girlâ€? statue emulating her defiant posture for Twitter accounts nationwide in posts bookended by #FearlessGirl, #equalrightsamendment, #shemakesthedifference, and #girlpower. Fidi-based investment firm State Street arranged for the statueâ€™s placement to publicize a campaign to promote women in business leadership, vowing to use its position as a major institutional investor to pressure corporate boards to diversify. But Fearless Girl may not be around forever. State Street installed Fearless Girl through a temporary week-long event permit, although the buzz generated by the feminist effigy ensured the permit was extended by a month. Now, as with artist Arturo Di Modicaâ€™s iconic bull â€” which was installed in guerilla fashion in 1989 and later preserved by popular demand â€” the statueâ€™s fans are calling on the city allow Fearless Girl to remain permanently on Broadway opposite the furious cow and his big brass balls. An online petition to that effect currently has found 32,997 supporters. Locally, the effort to retain Fearless Girl is led by Downtown Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who organized a well-attended rally around the statue on March 17 and penned a letter to DeBlasio requesting the statue be maintained that was signed by 50 elected officials across the state, including members of the City Council, state Assembly and Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives. Fearless Girl is more than a selfiegenerating hunk of bronze, sheâ€™s a conversation starter, according to Niou, and dialogue is the most important part of change. â€œI feel like its so critical that as a city and a state we encourage the discussion that revolves around gender diversity, and we need to recognize that we need women in leadership roles,â€? Niou said. But the sudden appearance of Fearless Girls wasnâ€™t necessarily met DowntownExpress.com
with universal acclamation. Bowling Green booster Arthur Piccolo, founder of the Bowling Green Association, was livid that the installation was done without community consultation, calling the placement of the statue â€œa corporate advertising coup.â€? He wants a full review before the city rushes to give permanent sanction to what he sees as a cynical publicity stunt the â€œmocks equality.â€? Piccolo isnâ€™t alone in calling out State Street for apparent hypocrisy on gender equality. News of the photogenic statueâ€™s ostensible mission prompted a mini-backlash pointing out the would-be feminist-crusader corporation is, unlike Fearless Girl, a fairly poor role model when it comes to women in leadership. Of State Streetâ€™s 11 board members, only three are women, and of its 28 top executives, only five are women. The company acknowledges that is has work to do on the diversity front, and says its call to action went out to itself as much as other companies, according to State Street spokeswoman Anne McNally. â€œIn terms of practicing what weâ€™re preaching, we absolutely know what have further to go,â€? McNally said. For Niouâ€™s part, the freshman lawmaker has no problem separating the statue from the company, and said State Street must have known what was coming considering its own gender track record and the attention it anticipated from Fearless Girlâ€™s unveiling. â€œSome people think that because of where she came from it matters more that the organization that created her doesnâ€™t enough women on her board, but I think itâ€™s good that theyâ€™re self-reflecting,â€? Niou said. â€œItâ€™s about making sure to recognize the issue, and State Street is talking about the issue â€” they canâ€™t help but talk about their diversity. They must have seen that coming.â€? As it stands, it seems like Fearless Girl has a decent shot of finding a permanent home Downtown. The cityâ€™s public art gatekeeper, the Public Design Commission, is reviewing the statue, and the Department of Transportation is looking at any safety concerns related the statue and its considerable draw, according to Niou. â€œSheâ€™s so popular right now, so itâ€™s actually been kind of an issue,â€? the assemblywoman said.
Photo by Milo Hess
Kristen Visbalâ€™s sculpture â€œFearless Girlâ€? became instant selfi e-bait.
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March 23 - April 5, 2017
ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES IN EFFECT ALL WEEK Now that Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel tolls have gone up, we’re seeing more traffic divert to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, affecting Lower Manhattan. If you use the tunnel, you’ll see longer lines for cash payment. That’s because the transaction time for the new $8.50 toll is a lot longer than for the old $8 toll. Giving change, as opposed to bills, takes more time. Longer lines mean more people shift to untolled bridges. Even worse, tolls for trucks going from Brooklyn to NJ via the Verrazano Bridge are now $70 for a 4-axle truck and $92 for a 5 axle-truck, but still zero via the Manhattan Bridge (and Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho) Holland Tunnel or further up out the Lincoln Tunnel. This is crazy! Tell your legislators it’s time to end the one-way tolls at the Verrazano Bridge and to implement MOVE NY. To learn more, go to iheartmoveny.org. On Thursday, the tolled BrooklynBattery Tunnel will close one tube Brooklyn-bound, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be one lane in either direction in the remaining tube, causing slowdowns along West Street. On Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Commemoration will shut down a segment of the West Village, on Greene Street between W. 4th Street and Waverly Place, as well as Washington Place between Washington Square East and Green Street. The Gift of Life Walk, on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, will form at Foley Square taking over Lafayette
ROCKERFELLER Continued from page 2
JOSEPH LICHTER, D.D.S.
Dates: Thurs., Mar. 23–Wed., Mar. 29
opments, most notably the World Trade Center, and more recently, the post-9/11 rebuilding in the wake of the Twin Towers’ destruction, according to the Downtown Alliance. Rockefeller spent a large part of his tenure as Chase’s leader abroad, expanding the bank’s reach into unlikely places, such as the Soviet Union and Communist China. But as international dealings dominated Rockefeller’s time, trouble brewed at home. Chase invested heavily in New York City securities at
Street. Participants will walk on Reade Street to Broadway, Broadway to Whitehall, and end up on Stone Street. With Broadway and Lafayette shut down, expect impacts to and from the Brooklyn Bridge and the Civic Center area. From the mailbag: Dear Transit Sam, If you are stopped at a red light and an emergency vehicle is behind you, has its siren on, and is flashing its lights, is it legal for you to go through the red light to allow the emergency vehicle to pass? Robert Fernandez Brooklyn Dear Robert, In most situations, you must pull to the side to allow the emergency vehicle to pass, but if you’re at a red light, and there’s no room to pull aside, common sense says move into the crosswalk, or even intersection, to allow the emergency vehicle to pass; remain stopped until it is safe to proceed. A police officer will also use common sense and not issue a ticket under such circumstances. But what if you’re caught by a redlight camera? You may not get a summons, but if you do, you will also get two pictures of your car about to enter the intersection, then proceeding through. If you see the emergency vehicle in the photos you’ve got a great defense. If not, see if the second photo shows you pulled to the side and use that in your defense. Transit Sam
a time when the city flirted with bankruptcy, and the bank was embroiled in scandal following a 1974 audit the discovered the bank had underreported losses from bond trading, according to a New York Times report. Following the troubling audit, Chase’s earnings fell 36-percent as archrival Citibank gained ground, but Chase recovered in the later part of the decade before Rockefeller stepped down as CEO in 1981. Rockefeller is survived by his four daughters and two sons. Margaret, is wife of 55 years, died in 1996. DowntownExpress.com
EVENT SCHEDULE Saturday, March 25, 2017 READING OF NAMES OF THE FALLEN 9:00 â€“ 11:00am Church of Our Lady of the Rosary Seton Shrine â€˘ 7 State St â€˘ New York, NY Reading of the names of the 1,741 New Yorkers who lost their lives in the Vietnam War, as well as those who died in Iraq, Afghanistan and other post-9/11 operations.
WREATH LAYING 11:30am - 12:30pm Every year, veterans, family members, and friends gather at Vietnam Veterans Plaza to reflect and remember
Honoring and Remembering Our Vietnam Veterans Two landmarks in downtown Manhattan frame the story of New York Cityâ€™s Vietnam Veterans. 39 Whitehall Street, formerly an Army induction center, was the starting point for thousands of young men on their way to war. Just a few blocks away, under the shadow of 55 Water Street, Vietnam Veterans Plaza memorializes those who served â€“ and those who never made it home. This Saturday, March 25, Vi-
etnam veterans, family members, and supporters will gather downtown to observe Vietnam Veterans Day, hosted by the United War Veterans Council (UWVC). Throughout the day, attendees will look back and remember â€“ while looking forward in support of Americaâ€™s most recent generation of veterans. A name-reading and wreath-laying will feature prominent partici-
pation by men and women who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Post-9/11 deployments. Some of these younger veterans will be the children of men who served their country in Vietnam. A resource expo will offer services for veterans of all eras, from health screening for Vietnam veterans experiencing new war-related issues as they age, to job and education information
RESOURCE EXPO- FOR ALL VETERANS! 12pm â€“ 4pm Lobby Promenade â€˘ 55 Water Street â€˘ New York, NY Younger veterans will have access to groups providing help with benefits, educational opportunities, jobs, and other useful resources. Vietnam-era and older generations will learn about opportunities to upgrade their benefits (or to apply for new benefits) that reflect their changing needs as they age.
Continued on next page
For the Boys...
ABOUT VIETNAM VETERANS DAY The first Vietnam Veterans Day was declared by President Richard M. Nixon on March 29, 1974 to mark the one year anniversary of the withdrawal of combat troops from Vietnam. In recent years, numerous state legislatures have revived the observation, and there have been efforts to establish a national day of remembrance for our Vietnam veterans. The United War Veterans Council has hosted Vietnam Veterans Day events since 2010, drawing veterans of all eras from throughout the Greater New York area.
Learn more at uwvc.org/vietnam
Vietnam Veterans Plaza â€˘ 55 Water St â€˘ New York, NY Wreath laying at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, with tribute to Gold Star Families. Featuring NY City and State proclamations, speakers, musical performances, and salute from our Post 9-11 veterans.
Michelle Dellafave and Bob Hope in Vietnam with the U.S.O. (1969)
Fifty years ago, the young entertainer looked out from the helicopter at the endless expanse of green. She thinks about it whenever she performs for Vietnam Vets, as she will do Saturday, March 25, at the United War Veterans Councilâ€™s Vietnam Veterans Day. â€œMy gosh, weâ€™re going out to the jungle. All of a sudden, weâ€™d see all of those soldiers crowded into one space, waiting for us. It was hotter than
2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
hell. A giant rush of emotions and excitement. Wanting to do a good job. We opened up the world to them. The injured who could attend were in the front,â€? Michelle DellaFave, who still performs for veterans as a volunteer with the United War Veterans Council, Vietnam with Bob Hope in December, 1969. â€œI realized these boys are
Continued on next page
HONORING AND REMEMBERING continued
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for young men and women just beginning their civilian lives. This intergenerational focus is a Vietnam Veterans of America (the signature organization for veterans of the era) is: â€œNever again will one generation of Veterans abandon another.â€? The poor treatment of the Vietnam generation upon its return is a wellknown chapter of Americaâ€™s history. Less known is how Vietnam veterans worked to ensure that its descendants would never face the same challenges. Vietnam vets have been tireless advocates for Post-9/11 veterans. They have spoken out publicly in the halls of Congress and state capitols across the nation, and they have worked quietly behind the scenes to ensure that companies embrace the hiring and
FOR THE BOYS continued
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my age, my brothers, my boyfriends. They loved us just for being there. I changed. I learned a lot about pat so much. â€œI remember hugging a young man as he boarded a helicopter, thinking he may never come home.â€? A native New Yorker, Michelle learned her patriotism from her parents. Her father served in World War II and played in a Navy band, where he met Michelleâ€™s mother, Mae Mae was injured during a Japanese bombing raid on Guam. Michelle got her break as a Golddigger on the Dean Martin Show and went on to do two of the legendary Christmas tours with Bob Hope, performing on makeshift stages in the
The MTA encourages a diverse pool of qualified candidates, including military service members, to apply for employment.
support of those who serve. Each generation of veterans can be War I veterans brought America to
â€œGreatest Generationâ€? of World War II defeated the forces of darkness and then helped rebuild the world. Korean War veterans can point to a free and vibrant democracy in South Korea. Americaâ€™s Vietnam story is complicated. However, the great legacy of its Vietnam veterans will be how they stood by a nation that did not stand by them, through service to their fellow veterans and to their communities. Their example will help the latest gen Vietnam Veterans Day, we remember our fallen, we honor those who answered our nationâ€™s call, and we rededicate ourselves to their example of service.
Vietnamese jungle in 1969 and â€™70. Now, she volunteers for the UWVC, producer of the New York City Veterans Day Parade, the largest celebration of service in America. She frequently sings the Star Spangled Banner at events with veterans of WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq
UWVC will recognize her for her service to Vietnam veterans. â€œTodayâ€™s veterans are true warriors â€“ young men and women â€“ that our country needs. Iâ€™ve performed at Walter Reed and VA hospitals around the country. Theyâ€™re my sons, my boys. And the Vietnam veterans are taking such good care of them,â€? she says. â€œYou can serve the country in many ways, and I learned from Bob Hope that this was how I could serve.â€?
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2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
BUILDING ON A LEGACY OF SERVICE The United War Veterans Council serves our veterans community through advocacy, services and sustainability When Vietnam veterans returned home from the war, they often had to fend for themselves. Thanks in large part to their efforts, our latest generation of veterans receives far greater support. However, returning veterans often need assistance transitioning to civilian life. The United War Veterans Council (UWVC) was revived by Vietnam veterans in the 1980s, initially to revive the New York City Veterans Day Parade. Its members expanded the organizationâ€™s impact by assisting veterans in need and supporting veterans in launching new business endeavors. Todayâ€™s UWVC builds on this legacy, serving veterans and the community in innovative ways. Its Advocacy arm continues to expand the Veterans Day Parade as a platform for shining a light on veteransâ€™ issues and the groups that are work-
The United War Veterans Council brings together the veterans community to carry on the legacy of those who came before them ing to address them. In addition, it produces a yearlong slate of public events â€“ including Vietnam Veterans Day, on March 25 These efforts work in parallel with a renewed emphasis on veteran services, both for individuals and for
veterans organizations. Through its network of partners, the UWVC connects veterans with resources and will host a diverse range of veteran start-ups and service providers. The UWVC supports these ef-
forts through its sustainability arm: UWVC Recycling. This unique social business model raises funds for the organizationâ€™s work by converting recycled clothing and goods into revenue. It also incorporates â€œgreenâ€? opportunities into UWVCâ€™s advocacy and services programs, bene communities and the environment. These efforts are led by a new generation of veterans who are building on the work of those who veterans continued to serve their country and communities, even with all the challenges they faced coming home,â€? says UWVC President Dan McSweeney, an Iraq veteran. â€œThe best way we can honor them is to continue to take care of our veterans, and to help improve our neighborhoods and society.â€?
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We continue to remember those who helped establish Vietnam Veterans Day in New York City
HARRY BRIDGWOOD Founding Chairman, Friends of Vietnam Veterans Plaza
A genuine family man, who served our country in the United States Marine Corps and served our city with the New York City Police Department for 29 years. His exceptional commitment to a lifetime of service was exceeded only by his love for his family.
2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
PATRICK GUALTIERI Executive Director, United War Veterans Council & New York City Veterans Day Parade
A true patriot, who served our country with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and dedicated his life to bringing honor and respect to veterans of every era. Pat led the effort to build the struggling New York City Veterans Day Parade into the largest Veterans Day event in the nation, and also organized our cityâ€™s first event honoring Vietnam Veterans Day.
...Forever remembered by family, friends and their fellow veterans 2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
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Credit Card Number: Signature: __________________________ Exp. Date: ELIGIBILITY. Membership is open to U.S armed forces veterans who served on active duty (for other than training purposes) in the Republic of Vietnam between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975, or in any duty location between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975. Return to: Vietnam Veterans of America, VVA #126 One Center Street, 22nd floor, New York, NY 10007 Membership questions: Fred Gasior 516-769-6847 You must submit with membership application, payment, and a copy of your DD214. 2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
Drawing the roadmap for todayâ€™s veterans Some 2,750,000 servicemen and 7,500 servicewomen served in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, with another 250,000 or so stationed aboard vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin and the South China Sea. To date, more than 2,500,000 American servicemen and women have served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East. with the same severe wounds of war â€” both physical and mental â€” that have plagued Vietnam veterans. Many freshly minted veterans acknowledge, and appreciate, the treatment and compensation trails blazed for them by their Vietnam forebears. They are being wellserved by some of the painful lessons learned by Viet vets: Â? When a veteran in the late 1970s said, â€œI died in Vietnam and didnâ€™t even know it,â€? he pinpointed the then-unacknowledged effects of
and other defoliants, desiccants, and herbicides so liberally sprayed over wide swaths of the former South Vietnam. Led by Vietnam Veterans of America and the American Le age done by these exposures eventuated more than a decade later with
of 1991. Veterans exposed to the burn pits so liberally put in place in scores of sites across Iraq and Afghanistan
ciations made between exposures to toxic substances and a variety of debilitating maladies. Â? Although combat fatigue and soldierâ€™s heart are known to impact soldiers back to the days of the Greeks and Romans, â€œpost-Vietnam syndromeâ€? seemed to take Congress and the VA by surprise in the wake of the war in Vietnam. Todayâ€™s veterans whoâ€™ve experienced the chaos ! other battle here at home, trying to
convince the VA that they might be ! wound of war. Â? Despite the relative scantiness Vietnam veterans, we were in the " #$%%&'( akin, and in several ways superior, nal GI Bill of 1944.
2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
And just as our most recent vet ! vocacy of the Vietnam generation, so, too, should future generations ! ! of the current generation of veterans. like manna from heaven; they must be fought for and replenished again and again. BY BERNARD EDELMAN
HELP OUR VETERANS! RE CE IPT
Donate your usable clothing and goods... We’ll pick them up!
Our team will pick up your donation
You clear the clutter in your house and get a tax deduction...
...and help us mobilize support for veterans, provide services, and assist organizations that serve them.
PLUS, you help preserve ...and help your the environment by promoting community save on waste re-use and reducing waste... disposal costs and meet its sustainability goals!
We are grateful to the following supporters of our 2017 Vietnam Veterans Day commemoration:
St. Peter • Our Lady of the Rosary Roman Catholic Parish • New York City
Join us for America’s largest Veterans Day Parade! New York City, Saturday, November 11, 2017 2017 VIETNAM VETERANS DAY
Get your kicks at Route 66 Stone Street eatery hosting all-you-can-eat (and drink!) beer, bourbon & BBQ bonanza BY COLIN MIXSON The Route 66 Smokehouse over on Downtownâ€™s Stone Street is serving up a $60 all-you-can-eat barbecue, beer, and bourbon event for three rollicking hours on Saturday, giving locals a taste of the restaurantâ€™s home-made delicacies, a chance to hobnob with distillers and brewers, and a perfect opportunity to get smashed, according to the eateryâ€™s head chef. â€œThe first two hours will be nerding out, and the last hour will be getting drunk!â€? said gastronomic guru Billy Kooper. The event will feature items from Route 66â€™s traditional menu, including its excellent smoked chicken wings and pulled-pork sliders, along with a few food items the greasy grub purveyors only rollout for special events. Likewise, some of the more than 20 beers and 10 bourbons on offer will be culled from the smokehouseâ€™s bar, while other, seasonal, top-shelf brews and spirits will be on hand along with
their creators solely for the March 25 event, giving locals a chance to discover unique flavors of hooch they might otherwise miss, according to manager Sarah Barrows. â€œWeâ€™re hoping they can learn about beers they havenâ€™t tried before, that they can taste some higher-end bourbons they havenâ€™t had, and taste some stuff weâ€™ve poured or heart and soul into,â€? she said. To keep things from getting out of control, Route 66 will be serving modest half-ounce pours of whiskey and three-ounce pours of beer, in addition to dishing out the type of stick-to-yourgut, alehouse soul food that soaks up firewater like a sponge, Kooper said. â€œThis is not light fare,â€? the chef said. â€œIt will absorb the alcohol.â€? After patrons have had their fun, management at Route 66 hopes theyâ€™ll grab a beer and an outdoor seat at the smokehouseâ€™s cobblestone cafĂŠ along Stone Street, or head elsewhere along the pedestrian thoroughfare and explore one of the Downtown areaâ€™s hidden gems,
Community News Group / Dennis Lynch
On the menu: Route 66 Manager Sarah Barrows shows off some of the grilled delicacies awaiting diners at the Stone Street grill.
said a spokeswoman for the diner. â€œWeâ€™re all about Stone Street, and we want people to come experience and explore this unique part of the city,â€? said Amanda Brokaw. â€œWeâ€™re all kind of a family on Stone Street.â€? Eat barbecue and drink bourbon
at Route 66 (46 Stone St. between Coenties Alley and William Street in the Financial District, 212-9431602) March 25, 3 pm. $60. Tickets available at https://www.eventbrite. com/e/bourbon-brew-and-bbq-tickets31734163738?aff=es2
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SERVED SAT. & SUN. FROM 12âˆ’4PM
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March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
Pols: Get the lead (data) out! Electeds demand city make full test results public, DOE sez ‘check the website’ BY COLIN MIXSON The Department of Education began posting full lead-testing results for Downtown schools online only after lawmakers publicly condemned the agency for keeping information regarding the toxic chemical between the city and parents, according to a spokesman for state Sen. Daniel Squadron, though the DOE contends it has been making the data public in accordance with regulations. “We appreciate that DOE has put this information and copies of the backpack letters online subsequent to the letter,” said Zeeshan Ott. “Going forward, it’s our hope this will be done within a day of backpack letters going home, in addition to overall communication improvements.” Following a report in Downtown Express earlier this month that eight out of 10 public schools in Lower Manhattan have tested positive for dangerous levels of lead in their water, Squadron, along with Congressman Jerrold Nadler, assemblywomen Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin, all signed onto a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina demanding full disclosure of specific results for all affected schools. Previously, the DOE has listed on its website which schools citywide have tested above the actionable threshold for lead, but the specific results were not being made public except in letters sent home with students at affected schools, which give only the readings for their school, Squadron and the others
FAMILY FAIR Continued from page 1
“Though those days of Old Tribeca are over, I regret seeing steps of any kind that reduce what is left of the diverse life and color of the neighborhood,” she said. “I’d love to see the festival organizers reconsider and help to keep the neighborhood communitybased vibrancy it once had alive.” The free Family Fair was a huge event for the community since the festival’s earliest days, when it provided a large-scale, family-oriented activity at a time when few such events were available in Lower Manhattan. Its heart was along Greenwich Street, where vendors offered a variety of food, activities, and games for locals. There
March 23 - April 5, 2017
charged in their march 10 letter. “The letters state that ‘complete test results are posted on the DOE website,’ but, as of today, complete results for any of the schools tested in Lower Manhattan are not posted on the DOE website,” the pols’ letter to Farina reads. “The letters also fail to outline specific remediation plans.” The recent test results come in the wake of new testing protocols implemented by the DOE, which require faucets and water fountains to remain inactive for eight hours before testing. This more sensitive standard led to
revelations that water in many schools throughout the city contained lead at levels considered high enough — 15 parts per billion or more — to warrant immediate action by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. But lead levels varied widely between schools, and even between different sources within the same school. At some affected schools, the lead levels were only slightly higher than the EPA’s “action level,” but at 26 Broadway, for example, home to the Lower Manhattan Community Middle School and Richard R. Green High School of Teaching, lead was found at one kitchen faucet at 1,900-parts-per billion — more than 70 times the average amount found in homes at Flint Michigan. “That is very, very high,” Dr. Judith Zelikoff, a toxicologist and professor at the Department of Environmental Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center told the Downtown Express. Because the results vary so widely, Squadron and other elected officials argue that simply making public which schools exceeded the action level does not provide enough information to parents, the public, and policymakers to fully understand scope of the problem and address the situation. Squadron and the other Downtown electeds are asking the DOE to inform all elected officials and community boards about the full testing results for all schools in their purview, post full details of all test results on each school’s website along with specific remediation plans for each affected fixture, make
all future test results publicly available, and meet with any PTAs that request an informational meeting. “We understand that this is a sensitive subject,” the letter reads. “As such, the DOE should be fully transparent with all available information and communicate with all affected stakeholders.” But the DOE has responded that full test results are going up on schools’ websites and so are already being made public — as required by the state. State regulations require that all school districts post every backpack letter and the full lab report to each school’s website within six weeks of receiving the lab reports. DOE has been posting results online on an ongoing basis since December, months before the pols’ letter went out, in compliance with the regulations, according to agency spokeswoman Toya Holness. She pointed to the websites of a few Downtown schools, such as Battery Park School where results were already up, but Holness could not say which schools citywide already have their letters and results posted so far, or when any of those letters went up. That makes Squadron’s staff suspicious as to why test results suddenly popped up on websites of some Downtown schools a few days after they sent the letter. Ott provided a screenshot of Battery Park School’s website from March 13, which didn’t have the information for a letter sent on home with students on Jan. 31.
were also performances by acts such as Broadway’s Million Dollar Quartet and the Rockettes over the years. Many of the activities were geared towards children. Some locals considered the festivalcapping street fair as something of a payback to the community for hosting the days-long film festival that clogged the neighborhood’s normally streets with throngs of gawkers and paparazzi. Ann Benedetto, president of the small business group Tribeca Alliance, said she was “disappointed” to hear the fair wouldn’t go on. It was a boon for local business and a way for businesses and her group to meet the community. “It’s just a way for the commu-
nity to be more connected, that’s really what will be missing, because this is such a community that revolves around families, and this is an opportunity to connect with community families,” she said. Benedetto said that she was looking to start a family day through the Alliance itself, not as a response to the Film Festival’s decision, but just as another way to reach the community. The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by investor Craig Hatkoff, producer Jane Rosenthal, and actor Robert DeNiro in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks to attract people to and revitalize the neighborhood. Like the Family Fair, the festival has grown in size and prestige each
year. 2015 was its biggest year in terms of attendance in recent years — 467,000 people descended on Tribeca for the 12-day festival, over 30,000 more than attended the first festival, which ran only five days. Overall, 2007 saw the most attendees at over half a million, according to festival officials. “Alladin” isn’t the only classic screening this year — although the others are decidedly not suitable for kids. Quentin Tarantino will be in town for a screening of “Reservoir Dogs,” Michael Moore for “Bowling for Columbine,” and DeNiro will reunite with the cast of “The Godfather” to close out the festival with a screening of the Mafia classic and its sequel.
New York Public Library
Like many older buildings Downtown, 26 Broadway — built in the early 1920s — has aging lead pipes for its plumbing. Two public schools located in the former Standard Oil Building have tested positive for elevated levels of lead in the water.
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
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS 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.
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.
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.
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.
March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
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Peering into a genetic crystal ball PUBLISHER
Jennifer Goodstein EDITOR
Bill Egbert REPORTERS
Colin Mixon Dennis Lynch ARTS EDITOR
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Allison Greaker Jim Steele Julio Tumbaco ART DIRECTOR
Cristina Alcine PHOTOGRAPHERS
Milo Hess Tequila Minsky PUBLISHER EMERITUS
John W. Sutter
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March 23 - April 5, 2017
BY LENORE SKENAZY Congratulations, you’re going to have a baby! Would you like to know if, 50 years or so down the line, he or she might develop colon cancer? And by the way, the baby may also have a slightly increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Would you like to know about that, too? Oh, and how about the odds of acne? Aieee! These are not the questions any of us have ever had to answer — until now. Thanks to an ever-expanding arsenal of genetic testing, sometimes at birth, sometimes in utero, and sometimes even before the baby is conceived (that is, by testing the potential parents for genetic abnormalities), new dilemmas are headed to a pregnancy near you. The genetic tests being developed today are “revolutionizing what we can know about babies, and how we perceive and treat and prevent disease,” says Bonnie Rochman, the former health reporter at Time magazine and author of the new book, “The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids — and the Kids We Have.” Back in 1971, when Bonnie was an embryo, all her mom knew was that a baby was going to appear in about nine months. No one could even test for gender, much less any genetic anomalies. But today, I have two sons who were tested back when they were eight-cell embryos for a genetic mutation they had a 50 percent chance of inheriting: Marfan syndrome. It is a disease my husband has, which can cause things like blindness and heart trouble. Thanks to Yale geneticist Dr. Petros Tsipouras, who located the gene and then figured out how to test for it even while our kids were still in test tubes, we “engineered”
the Marfan syndrome out of them. This was not an easy or cheap process, but we are very grateful for the results — our Marfan-free sons. But today, 20 years later, genetic testing is even more widely available, for far more issues, and it is this expanding universe that Rochman dives into. “How much information do we want to know?” asks Rochman. That’s the heart of the matter. We already routinely test babies for certain diseases, “some of which may quickly prove fatal if not detected,” she says. Early detection leads to early intervention and “there’s little question that newborn screening has saved countless lives.” But now, if a new test shows that a baby has a slightly elevated chance of developing, say, schizophrenia, is that something parents would want to be aware of? Or would it simply make them worried? One mom Rochman interviewed in her book had a prenatal test where the doctor announced he’d found something abnormal, but added, “We don’t know what it’s going to mean.” So the woman had new information — something’s “off” — but no clue how seriously it would affect her child’s life. “This is going to happen more and more,” says Rochman, as science develops tests “so sensitive they can uncover information no one fully understands.” That is precisely the issue Dr. Tsipouras, our geneticist, is working on now, as the head of a new company called Plumcare. The company will be
sequencing newborns’ genomes, but he realizes a full-blown report is not something everyone is ready for. “My mother would say, ‘Don’t interfere with God’s plan.’ My wife would say, ‘What can I do with this information?’ ” says the doctor. But younger people, he believes, are more comfortable handling and assessing information. And frankly, they’re the ones doing the reproducing. So his company is developing a rubric of when and what information to share. The questions that must be answered before passing on any info are: • Is this information relevant to you, specifically? For instance, if a baby has a genetic variation, but it is one shared by his completely healthy dad, uncle, and grandpa, it probably won’t have any ill effects. • What are the odds? If seven out of 10 people with this genetic variation get seriously ill by age five, that’s quite different from nine out of 10 living to a ripe old age. The odds must be taken into account. • When and how will this change affect the child? Is it in 10 years — or 70? Will it pack a wallop or is it often mild? The idea is not to freak parents out. It is to alert them to problems before they occur, rather than reacting to them once they appear. Medically, it means we’re moving from curing diseases to prevention via prediction. “When we talk about the info tech revolution, this is the next stage,” says Rochman: Using deep data to understand and change our destiny. “And,” she adds, “we’re only at the beginning.” Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker, author of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, and a contributor at Reason.com.
Posted To POSE BEFORE BROS: TRIBECA GYM MAKES YOGA MACHO (MAR. 9)
PROMOTE WOMEN IN BUSINESS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY (MAR. 9)
The tone of this is ridiculous. A real man has feelings. Men can selfreflect. Real yoga instructors are certified by the Yoga alliance – this is a fitness class misleading by using the word yoga. From a man who does yoga and is more fit than most in your classes Christopher
I love these pictures so much of the Fearless Girl and the article was wonderful. I’m 75 years old and have never had anything touch me like these pictures and article did. Just want to say you guys did a wonderful job and should be very proud of your work. I believe a gentleman named Milo Hess and Colin Mixson plus others worked on this — beautifully done. Drema Sutton
‘FEARLESS GIRL’ FACES DOWN CHARGING BULL TO
NEW BIKE LANES IN LOWER MANHATTAN (MAR. 17) At last! Great to see that bike advocacy didn’t exit City Hall with Mike Bloomberg and Jeanette SadikKahn George A replacement for the bike lane that crosses City Hall Park from West to East is much needed. Pedestrians are oblivious and walk all over the place, while bike riders, thinking they have a designated path, go a bit too fast. Maryanne DowntownExpress.com
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Russian to Judgment Comey’s not covering for his comb-over commander-in-chief BY MAX BURBANK Everybody hates Mondays, but the first Monday after vacation is the worst. That’s pretty much every Monday for poor old Donald Trump, who couldn’t catch a break if it was chained to his ankle and dead. But this Monday? Yowza. It’s still got to be stinging like a shaving cut sluiced in Old Spice “Sea Salt ’n Vinegar” scent. In five and a half hours of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee (oxymoron), FBI Director James Comey upended the “Santa Sack of Crap” he seems to always have with him and directed it toward the Trump administration’s collective fan. In an extraordinary (yet by now signature) move, Comey revealed his agency is investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. If this doesn’t seem like an earthshattering development to you, I understand. It’s a little like the FBI investigating whether grass is green. It’s the official, under-oath testimony that makes the difference. It’s all a matter of degree. Sure, everyone already knew this was happening — but on-the-record testimony is like Comey threw the administration on the ground, put his knee on its neck, and ground its face into said grass until the administration looked like former Batgirl actress Yvonne Craig on that one “Stark Trek” episode where she played this sexy green homicidal maniac… ’cause in this metaphor, see, the grass stains would turn the administration all... green. Shut up, it’s an awesome analogy. Representative Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, sketched out a lengthy, suspicious, and deeply depressing timeline of contacts between Trump aides and the Russians, and then posed the rhetorical question, “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible.” He went on to conclude that it was also possible that he was about to grip a rose in his mouth and lead a conga line of pigs for a dance around the room, but that it was highly unlikely and pig dance fetishists should not be holding their breath. Those may not be Representative Schiff’s exact DowntownExpress.com
AP Photo by J. Scott Applewhite
“Funny story, remember 11 days before the election when I was all, ‘Hey, whoa, new Hillary emails?’ Turns out I was also investigating Trump’s ties to Russia!”
words, but I feel I’ve adequately conveyed their flavor. In a sure sign Trump’s handlers are either literally insane or have zero influence over him whatsoever, the president — you guessed it! — live tweeted the hearing, leading to a bizarre sequence of events. The leader of the free world tweeted, “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.” Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut, read the tweet aloud and took the opportunity to ask Comey if that was true. “It certainly wasn’t our intention to say that today.” Allow me to translate: “POTUS Dick, the Great Orange Whale, just sprayed a bilious cloud of lies out his inflamed blowhole.” As if to drive home the point that the president and tweeting mix like corn liquor and cotton candy, Comey also testified that there was absolutely no evidence that President Obama had “wires tapped” (sic) Trump Tower. This means it is now the official, on-record opinion of the FBI that our president is a liar, and that he would be well-advised to “stop, drop, and roll” before his golf trousers are reduced to smoldering ash, leaving him unpleasantly exposed from
the waist down. Republican House members fruitlessly toed the White House line, insisting the “real problem” was not the possibility that Trump & Co. had traded the American Presidency to Vladimir Putin for a handful of magic beans, but that unscrupulous Obama holdovers and despicable Deep State bureaucratic creeps were illegally leaking about the deal to the lügenpresse who happily regurgitated it as FAKE NEWS! If only someone had locked Deep Throat up, the Watergate break-in would retroactively never have happened! Check these concurrent headlines: Our nearly empty State Department announced that Trump’s human dry-erase board Rex Tillerson will not be attending the first meeting of NATO since Trump took office. He is going to be tied up hitting the links with Chinese president Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago and then jetting off for a quick trip… TO RUSSIA! And what’s-his-face, Michael Flynn? Former national security adviser? Yeah, turns out he was supposed to have registered as a foreign agent working for Turkey but he didn’t get around to it until last week. Oh, and Paul Manafort? The guy who ran Trump’s campaign between loose
cannon, New Hampshire backwoods redneck Corey Lewandowski and Stepford serial liar Kellyanne Conway? Less than 24 hours after the Comey hearing wrapped up, The Washington Post reported Manafort allegedly laundered payments from the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, well-known surrogate and stooge for, say it with me now, Russia. But the saddest American betrayal of all? This tweet, dated Mon., March 20, 2017: “I had said Friday was the worst day of Donald Trump’s presidency. I was wrong. It is today.” You know who wrote that? Charles Joseph “Joe” Scarborough. Co-host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC — once our president’s second-favorite show after “The Apprentice.” I remember when Joe used to look at Donald like a 14-year-old girl all hopped up on soda and PopTarts looking at a Zayn Malik vine. Now it’s all gone. One Direction. Vine. Joe and Don. We were all going to Make America Great Again! But it was never real. Donald’s tiny black heart has always belonged to a shirtless equestrian Russian dictator who shall remain nameless, but rhymes with “Pladimir Vutin.”
March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
BIKE LANES Continued from page 3
The proposal presented at the March 13 meeting does not require CB1 to take a formal position on the changes, but the Planning Committee was largely receptive of the plan — although some members did raise concerns, particularly about shared lanes, which some members said they thought could be dangerous for bikers. The DOT characterized many of the changes as formalizing the ways bikers already get around and that the new routes wouldn’t send bikers into dangerous conditions. Committee member Michael Ketring said he personally supported the plan and the shared lanes. “We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” he said. “Clearly Williams Street south of Wall Street has challenges — it’s narrow, it’s tight, but my experiences as a bike
SILVER Continued from page 5
an official act, and the Supreme Court overturned the conviction by clarifying the term as not applying to McDonnell’s actions. Now prosecutors have to prove that a public official pressured or advised on some payout or scheme in order to get a conviction. Silver’s lawyers argued that what he did also did not constitute an offi-
March 23 - April 5, 2017
rider when I’m on a shared lane, I do think traffic goes a little bit slower, drivers are a little more aware. Would I prefer a protected lane with a barrier? Sure I would, but we do what we can, so I do think [the DOT] has done a good job with it.” DOT representative Preston Johnson agreed about the subtle safety effects of shared lanes. “It seems from my observations that it gives some confidence to some cyclists who need confidence about where they should ride, that they do have this legitimate place on the street,” Johnson said. DOT representatives said that they planned to start work this summer. Concrete work could take “several weeks” and lane painting roughly a week, they said. The DOT does not plan to add any more Citibike stations as part of the changes.
cial act. Silver was not convicted on the same charges as McDonnell, however. The septuagenarian former pol faces 12 years in prison if the appeals court upholds his conviction, which if served in full would likely mean Silver would spend the rest of his life behind bars. Silver was Assembly Speaker from 1994 to his conviction in 2015, serving under five governors — including father
Photo by Milo Hess
Sign of a time Last year, Downtown history buffs successfully lobbied the City Council to co-name Bowling Green as “Evacuation Day Plaza,” commemorating the evacuation of the last British troops from America on Nov. 25, 1783, which marked the true end of the Revolutionary War. On March 20, the Downtown Alliance unveiled an illuminated version of the sign — one of 57 new illuminated street signs sponsored by the Alliance. One problem, according to Arthur Piccolo, head of the Bowling Green Association, it doesn’t light up at night! The Alliance says it’s just just a glitch, and will be fi xed soon.
and son Mario and Andrew Cuomo. He represented Lower Manhattan in the state body from 1977 until that same year. He offered an emotional post-conviction apology in a letter a month before he was sentenced, saying that he had “failed the people of New York” and that “because of me, the government has been ridiculed.” “I let my peers down, I let the people
of the state down, and I let down my constituents — the people of Lower Manhattan that I live among and fought for. They deserve better,” the letter said, according to the New York Times. The McDonnell ruling could have a wide-ranging impact on corruption cases around the country, as it raises the burden of proof that prosecutors must prove to secure a conviction, according to legal experts.
Away With Escapism The 2017 Whitney Biennial is a dark reﬂection of challenging times BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN Marking its first installment in the museum’s new home in the Meatpacking District, the Whitney Biennial is as comprehensive as it is eclectic. Curated by Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, who are both in their mid-30s, it reflects the result of several months’ worth of research and studio visits. There are 63 participants in total and many more works on display, spanning two entire floors and reaching into several others. Although the Whitney Biennials have always aimed to present a cross-section of current American art (and trends), this year’s 78th edition certainly counts among its darkest. You will find little art about art, or purely conceptual positions. We live in a world filled with explosive issues — and falling into a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and extreme politics, this Biennial was not conceived to divert our gaze or offer any sense of escapism. Instead, it aims to address vital issues at hand and, as a result, serves as a stunning reminder that visual art can count among the most poignant reflections of the pulse of our time. In fact, art thrives when times are challenging. A good way to tour the vast assemblage of objects, installations, and thoughts is from the top down. As soon as visitors step off the elevator on the sixth floor, they will be facing Henry Taylor’s almost mural-sized canvas “Ancestors of Genghis Khan with Black Man on horse” (2015-2017). Painting large comfortably, Los Angeles-based Taylor is known for his innovative exploration of portraiture. He is an avid chronicler of the world he observes, primarily his immediate surroundings. His figures, which are set against simplified backgrounds, point at increasingly visible racial tensions, especially between law enforcement and the communities they serve. They are both poetic and tothe-point. Nearby, several more of Taylor’s works can be viewed, counting among the best that this Biennial has to offer. Turning 180 degrees, one will find three small sculptural works by New Mexico-based artist Puppies Puppies. Upon closer inspection, one can recognize each as a gun trigger, albeit stripped of most of their context. These works belong to the artist’s “Triggers” series, which focuses on the mere mechanism that prompts the firing sequence of a gun. In this case, each piece marks the leftover remains of a Glock 22 that was destroyed at the artist’s request. While drawing attention to the ongoing misery of gun violence in the United States at large, these works also come from a personal place; a wall text informs the viewer that the artist’s mother was held at gunpoint in a school parking lot when the artist was 11 years old. Throughout the museum, sculptures by Jessi Reaves can be discovered. Merging found objects such as DowntownExpress.com
Courtesy the artists
Postcommodity, still from “A Very Long Line” (2016. Four-channel digital video, color, sound; looped).
Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin; photo by Gert Jan van Rooij
Jo Baer, “Dusk (Bands and End-Points)” (2012. Oil on canvas, 86 x 118 in.).
baskets, electrical wiring, or a vinyl purse with natural materials like driftwood, she creates unusual concoctions that hint at the former functionality of their various ingredients. Her sculptures range from complex to rather simplistic. An example of the latter is
“Herman’s Dress” (2017), for which she sheathed an Eames Herman Miller sofa in a translucent pink silk slipcover. As a result, the modernist piece of furniture 2017 WHITNEY BIENNIAL continued on p. 20 March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
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takes on an unexpected disguise, as well as an air of eroticism and kitsch. Also drawing on found objects, yet with an eye on abstraction, Kaari Upson turns stained paper towel rolls and upholstered furniture into lush sculptures. In the past, for example, she used a weathered sectional sofa that she left exposed in the driveway behind her Los Angeles studio for a year. It is through the reorientation of such objects and the painting of their soft surfaces that Upson succeeds in obscuring her source. In fact, her pigmentcovered sculptures faintly evoke the work of some artists not exhibited here, such as the Glasgow-based Karla Black and the American John Chamberlain. In fact, Chamberlain’s sculptures, which are made of compressed automobile parts, seem like hard-edged and highly saturated counterparts to Upson’s gentler biomorphic forms. Meanwhile, like Black, Upson finds a way to bestow an air of the extraordinary onto the ordinary. One of the largest installations by a single artist — or in this case, artist collective — comes in the form of KAYA’s “Serene” (2017). The sprawling display is made of 13 large works, which are both installed on walls and hanging freely from the ceiling. It is a number sparked by the artists’ muse, collaborator and name-giver Kaya Serene, a friend’s daughter, who was 13 when the collective started working together in 2010. As KAYA, Kerstin Brätsch and Debo Eilers explore the intersection between sculpture, painting, installation, and performance. Involving an array of components such as hardware, synthetic leather, translucent supports, suede, tiles, and cast resin fragments, the works are as faceted as they are theatrical. While there are plenty of paintings to discover, most of them are figurative and some even illustrative in nature. Among these are a group of six un-
Photograph by Matthew Carasella
Installation view: Rafa Esparza, “Figure Ground: Beyond the White Field” (2017).
stretched canvases by the formidable American artist Jo Baer, who has been based in Amsterdam for years. Born in 1929, Baer might be looking back at more than six decades of painting, and yet her work couldn’t look more timely. Begun in 2009, her series “In the Land of the Giants” is rooted in her research of the Hurlstone (Holed Stone), a prehistoric megalith in County Louth, Ireland. Baer’s imagery, which spans from human figures, references to paintings, and animals to landscapes, was sourced from the Internet and composed with the help of digital media. The results are strange amalgams of visual information that confuse our traditional perception of space and time. Despite their far-reaching content, Baer’s paintings are far from cluttered; they are sparse, soft in palette, and elegantly conceived.
SOU N D O F F! W R ITE A LETTE R TO TH E E D ITO R! E D ITO R@ D O W NTO W N EX P R ES S . C O M
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Collection of the artist; courtesy Company Gallery, NY; photo by Matthew Carasella
Installation view: Raúl De Nieves, “beginning & the end neither & the otherwise betwixt & between the end is the beginning & the end” (2016).
Other examples of resonant paintings are five large abstract canvases by Carrie Moyer and six compositions by Shara Hughes. Both of these individual positions mark a highlight on the overall disjointed fifth floor. Moyer’s compositions are abstract — and since the early 2000s, they have involved the use of small collages as a starting point. Meanwhile, Hughes’ exuberant landscapes stem from the imagination. In contrast to Moyer’s larger paintings, which envelop the viewer, Hughes’ works are of a medium scale and appear as windows or even portals into other-
worldly landscapes. Their almost hallucinatory quality evokes the late watercolor landscapes of Charles Burchfield, which the Whitney featured in their old Breuer building in 2010. Hughes frequently begins a composition by altering the canvas’ surface by covering it in a glue-like substance or spray-painting its back. These first steps serve as a self-imposed challenge, establishing a situation to which the artist then has to respond. Overall, Hughes’ scenes are far from harmonious. Underneath these WHITNEY BIENNIAL continued on p. 21 DowntownExpress.com
Collection of the artist; courtesy the artist & DC Moore Gallery, NY
Carrie Moyer, “Swiss Bramble” (2016. Acrylic and glitter on canvas, 84 x 78 in.).
WHITNEY BIENNIAL continued from p. 20
saturated colors remains the suggestion of something unhinged, if not postapocalyptic. Hughes’ landscapes in particular make for an interesting segue to “A Very Long Line” (2016), a four-channel digital video installation by Postcommodity. Filling an entire self-contained space, it focuses on the border between the United States and Mexico. It is a site that has been emotionally and politically charged for years, but even more so since the 2016 election. Filmed from a car window, the footage is projected along with an out-of-sync audio component. The result succeeds in disorienting the viewer, reflecting its premise that the border, which was predated by important Indigenous trade and migration routes, is not fully known or truly understood. One of the most brutal experiences is offered by Jordan Wolfson’s “Real Violence” (2017). Employing virtual reality headsets, his high-defi nition video lasts no more than two and a half minutes, and yet one will not leave quite the same. During that brief time period, we witness an act of unexplained and incredible violence as it unfolds on a sunny day in a Western city. A recording of Chanukah blessings, city traffic, and violence form the tangled soundtrack DowntownExpress.com
to the visuals. Due to the virtual reality headset, one can easily turn away from the scene and focus on trees or disengaged passersby instead. However, one can never escape the sound, which is as prominent as if one were to stand right in the middle of the event. In Wolfson’s film, we might be able to turn our back on the deadly assault of another human being, but we aren’t permitted to stop listening to it. It is a sickening experience, which leaves a lingering feeling that will get triggered (albeit less overtly) several more times. On the fifth floor, the intimate Dana Schutz painting “Open Casket” (2016) depicts Emmett Till in his coffin (her monumental work “Elevator” from 2017 faces the fifthfloor elevator). In 1955, the 14-year-old African American Till was accused of having flirted with a white woman and beaten to death. When Till’s mother decided to have an open casket at his funeral, traces of the brutal assault were made visible to all, helping to spark the Civil Rights movement. Schutz’s work captures Till in his casket, reinterpreting his mutilations through thick layers of paint and a deep gash. This is hardly a graphic depiction of the subject, and yet Schutz succeeds in finding a form for a layered feeling. Even without reading the title and wall text, we sense that there is something completely wrong,
Photo by Scott Rudd © 2016
Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, curators of the Whitney Biennial 2017.
dark, and senseless before us. In this context, the abstract, geometric enamels by Ulrike Müller serve as a reprieve. Müller’s work is concerned with contemporary feminist and genderqueer concerns. A member of the feminist genderqueer collective LTTR, she has used text, sculpture, weaving, video, performance, painting, and drawing in her work. Overall, Müller continuously explores the relationship between abstraction and the body. Employing geometrical figures and color surfaces, the compositions on display here exude an erotic and sexual quality. Certainly, the Biennial is filled with many more works to explore. Raúl De Nieves’ impressive site-specific installation on the fifth floor and John Divola’s photography series are among them. While De Nieves covered no fewer than six floor-to-ceiling windows with 18 “stained glass” panels, which he created with paper, wood, tape, beads, and acetate sheets, Divola captured discarded student paintings on the walls of abandoned buildings in Southern California. If there is a case to make, it is that this particular and most elaborate installment of the Whitney Biennial is impossible to take in during a single visit. Instead, one should plan to return several times. Meanwhile, the Whitney has given the online presentation of the
Biennial much thought. Perhaps, for the first time, its website serves as a valuable resource for both those who have and those who have not seen the works in person. Ultimately, the Whitney Biennial provides less of an overview of what is currently being made in American art than that it represents a compilation of excerpts of voices that deserve to be heard. It is clear that this year, there will be a less lively debate about the exhibition’s overall quality — usually a given fact that is as much anticipated as the event itself. Who will argue against a show that gives a forum to valuable criticisms? However, if you are looking for a feel-good distraction in a time of anguish, contain yourself to the permanent collection on the upper floors. The 2017 Whitney Biennial is on view through June 11 at the Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort St., btw. 10th Ave. & Washington St.). The sixth floor of the Biennial closes on July 16. Hours: Sun., Mon., Wed., Thurs., 10:30am– 6pm. Fri. & Sat., 10:30am–10pm. Admission: Online, $22 general, $17 for students/seniors. At the door: $25 general, $18 for students/senior. Free for members and those under 18. Call 212-570-3600 or visit whitney.org.
March 23 - A,pril 5, 2017
Buoyed by Drag, a Silenced Voice Soars Again Stage show spotlights the superhuman sounds of Yma Sumac BY GERALD BUSBY “The Legend of Yma Sumac,” which opened Wed, March 15 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, is as exotic and surprising as its subject. Born Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chávarri del Castillo, Yma Sumac (early 1920s– 2008) was a Peruvian woman with prodigious vocal gifts. Her pinpoint intonation that covered five octaves, along with her frighteningly real imitations of wild jungle animals — accompanied by samba rhythms — made her an international superstar. She was a major Capitol Records artist and made her Broadway debut in 1951 in the musical “Flahooley.” She toured the world and sang for Mikhail Gorbachev in Soviet Russia, and for Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Her fee in Las Vegas exceeded Frank Sinatra’s. Steve Willis, a 23-year resident of the Chelsea Hotel, is the director and producer of “The Legend of Yma Sumac,” which bears the marks of his varied career as a documentary filmmaker, photographer, and music video director for artists including Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stars Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles. As a young, aspiring performer in 1987, Willis met Sumac at her home in Los Angeles, and quickly became a devoted fan. He began videotaping conversations with her and became a confidant and biographer. She inspired him as no one had before, and telling her story to the world became one of his primary missions. With this current project, Willis has theatrically actualized his goal — and is also making a documentary film about her, which plays a major role in the stage production. Willis’ choice of drag artist Scarlet Envy to personify Yma Sumac ironically captures Sumac’s struggle to defi ne and claim her own identity. Drag performers have similar concerns, since their form of theater is historically based on impersonation. However, this art of becoming aesthetically the other sex is being transformed by gender performance artists who incorporate in their act subtle nuances as well as startling confrontations of being both male and female. They want to bend and reshape our very perception of the difference between men and women. Sumac’s obsession with being taken
March 23 - April 5, 2017
Photo by Steve Willis
Scarlet Envy as Yma Sumac.
Photo by Alan Eichler
Steve Willis befriended Yma Sumac in 1987.
seriously as a singer reflected the same existential anxiety. She was a Peruvian immigrant to the US whose promoters claimed she was a descendant of royalty — an Incan Princess who could make almost supernatural sounds with her voice. She studied singing with opera coaches in Los Angeles and could execute with technical finesse the most demanding coloratura arias, such as “The Queen of the Night” from Mozart’s opera, “The Magic Flute.” But that accomplishment was of less importance than her natural
ability to vocalize with clarity and precision within a five-octave range. She could pop out a perfectly intoned A above High-C in the middle of a sambainspired arrangement of a Peruvian folk tune. This niche made her famous, but didn’t satisfy her longing to be recognized as an opera singer. Steve Willis has fashioned cabaret tableaux with three riveting performers — Scarlet Envy as Yma Sumac, and Richard Cecilico and Juan Pablo Rahal as dancers and personal attendants.
Their various configurations on stage are juxtaposed with projected clips of live and studio performances from the ’50s and ’60s by Sumac. The high point of the show came when Scarlet, wearing a gown and hairdo that matched a photograph of Yma being projected on the screen, seemed to merge with the images. The audience’s response was spontaneously rousing. The male dancers, with ornate headdresses, loincloths, and leather moccasins, did a groovy mean-Indian-too number round and round the small stage. It was campy and sexy. Scarlet became more and more alive and engaging as the show progressed. She changed into numerous extravagant costumes, all modeled on originals worn by Sumac. Between film clips of Yma’s coloratura flourishes, Scarlet lipsynched Willis’ archival recorded interviews with Sumac. Sumac was world-renowned for making beautiful, superhuman vocal sounds; words were in every sense secondary. Willis’ way of introducing the audience to Yma skillfully combines images with language and without language. His choice of a lip-synching drag performer to depict a vocal virtuoso is perfect. In Scarlet’s performance, spoken words and vocal flourishes are at times reduced to sequences of muscular patterns on a soundless face. Sumac’s first album, 1950’s “Voice of the Xtabay,” captured the world’s attention mainly because of her stratospheric vocal gymnastics. Those astonishing extravagances of the human voice don’t include many words. What we mostly hear are glottal stops (the beginning and end of phrases) and “ah,” the vowel that most completely opens the throat — and the occasional starling cry from a jungle bird. “The Legend of Yma Sumac” could well be a new medium of wordless voices and images used intermittently to tell the story. Steve Willis’ work compellingly points in that direction. Wed., March 29, 9:30pm, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, inside the West Bank Cafe (407 W. 42nd St., at Ninth Ave). Tickets: $22 in advance ($25 at the door), plus a $20 food/drink minimum ($50 VIP ticket gets you preferred seating and backstage meet and greet). Reservations: 212-352-3101 or spincyclenyc.com. Find the show and Scarlet Envy on Instagram via @thelegendofyma and @scarletenvy. DowntownExpress.com
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March 23 - April 5, 2017
March 23, 2017