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FEBRUARY 1 - 7, 2012

Council targets Dept. of Health in push to add cancer as 9/11 illness BY ALINE REYNOLDS Members of the New York City Council grilled city Department of Health officials on Monday, Jan. 30 concerning the omission of cancer as an illness covered under the James Zadroga 9/11 Healthcare Act and about the false assurances the government made in

the early days following the attacks that the air in and around Ground Zero was safe to breathe. Though it is known that identifying scientific evidence linking cancer to 9/11-related exposure takes several years, since the disease has a latency period, it remains a mystery as to how

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Downtown Express photo by Milo Hess

Red is a staple color for the Chinese Lunar Year, but it has added significance when it comes to hongbao, the tradition of dispersing red envelopes filled with cash to unmarried relatives.

Chinese tradition doesn’t fall victim to economic woes BY ZACH WILLIAMS Economic difficulties afflicting Chinatown hardly put a damper on a Lunar New Year tradition that provides young people with a bit of economic stimulus. According to tradition, the begin-

ning of the year is in part observed by giving cash-filled, red envelopes [hongbao] to unmarried relatives. While economic considerations play a role in determining the amount given to someone, cultural considerations make them an integral part of celebrating the holi-

day — one that the current economy can affect only to a certain degree, said some Chinatown residents. 2012 is the Year of the Dragon in the lunar calendar. The mythical crea-

Continued on page 20

B.P. gets a little help from his friends in fight against mayor BY JOHN BAYLES Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer received some added firepower in his battle against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to sell three city-owned Lower Manhattan buildings in a “one-shot-deal” to close a budget gap and shore-up needed funds.

After already sending one letter to the Mayor objecting to the plan, on Friday a second letter was sent to the City Economic Development Corporation, the sole agency that would be in charge of disposing the property. But the second letter had more than just Stringer’s signature. It also carried

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February 1 - 7, 2012


downtown express

Seaport Museum reopens with fanfare and flair BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER Around a thousand people packed the 16 galleries of the South Street Seaport Museum on Wednesday, Jan. 25 for the official reopening of the museum at 12 Fulton St. under its new management, the Museum of the City of New York. After closing for almost a year and nearly folding, the museum’s resuscitation was announced at the reopening with the word, “Yes� in bold, white letters on a cyan blue background. It appeared on signage in front of the museum and on the lapels of the staff and volunteers working the event. The sprightly blue color was also used on interior signs and doorways, as a cheerful nod to the South Street Seaport Museum’s watery theme. “I was amazed by the breadth and scale of what the Museum of the City of New York team accomplished in just a few months,� said Community Board 1 member George Calderaro. “I’ve seen logo development take more than three months, and they vivified a whole institution in that time — including a logo!� “I thought the presentation of exhibits was smart and stylish, and very engaging,� said artist Naima Rauam, who is known for her paintings of the Fulton Fish Market. “I also think the use of ‘yes’ is brilliant. When I first saw it, I immediately thought it a friendly, positive and forward-looking slogan. It also feels inclusive, inferring that

we are all part of this new and vigorous effort to relaunch the South Street Seaport Museum.� For the first time, all three floors of the museum are open to the public, displaying artifacts, videos and photographs drawn from the collections of the South Street Seaport Museum and the Museum of the City of New York. A collection of Occupy Wall Street photos is among several photography exhibits assembled for the opening. Clothing and furniture designers lent their work to illustrate “made in New York� industries that have been part of the city since the 19th century and are still flourishing, particularly, as the furnishings display notes, in Brooklyn. Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York and now also the president of the South Street Seaport Museum greeted guests at the opening. Afterward, she had more news on the museum’s future. “We have a commitment that Hamburg is going to take back the Peking,� she said, referring to the 100-year-old, four-masted barque now moored at Pier 16. “It happened right before Christmas. I haven’t signed the legal papers, but I have approval from the Maritime Museum at Hamburg. When the Peking goes, there will be a big party involving the Consul General of Germany because it is a gift from the City of New York to the

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Miniature ships in glass bottles delighted visitors at the South Street Seaport Museum’s opening night on Jan. 25.

City of Hamburg.� The Peking needs extensive repairs and is too large for the limited dock space now allocated to the South Street Seaport Museum. Jones said that the Hamburg museum has been told that the Peking has to be moved by

May 6. She said the ship will be transported across the ocean on another vessel. Several of the museum’s other ships are currently getting much-needed repairs, Jones

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LOWER MANHATTAN STORY A romantic dinner at a neighborhood restaurant. A walk along the promenade. A blind date that led to a lifetime of happiness.

What’s your story? Enter the Downtown Alliance’s “Lower Manhattan Love Storyâ€? contest to win a dinner date at Wall & Water Restaurant, a night at WKH$QGD]:DOO6WUHHWDQGDJLIWFHUWLĂ€FDWHWR*UHHQZLFK-HZHOHUV Scan here for details or visit

Downtown Express photo by Aline Reynolds

Tribeca resident Allan Tannenbaum standing next to his photo of a protester flanked by cops that were arresting him during one of the O.W.S. demonstrations.

Photo exhibit ‘occupies’ Seaport BY ALINE REYNOLDS Hoards of people gathered on the fifth floor of the South Street Seaport Museum last Wednesday, Jan. 25 to observe a piece of history in the making, one in which many of them were contributors. As part of the maritime museum’s multiexhibit show celebrating its grand reopening, the museum’s current operator, The

Museum of the City of New York, is showcasing 120 color and black-and-white photographs depicting poignant moments of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The collection is a modest sampling of approximately 4,000 submissions M.C.N.Y. curator Sean Corcoran pored over with a team of jurors

Continued on page 17

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February 1 - 7, 2012


NEWS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-9, 12-20


EDITORIAL PAGES . . . . . . . . . . 10-11


SQUADRON CREATES SLA WEBSITE On Tuesday, Jan. 31, a new State Liquor Authority (S.L.A.) interactive website was announced. The site, created with funding that Senator Daniel Squadron had secured in 2009, is intended to make liquor license applications more efficient and transparent for both community members and businesses. The new website will give New York residents and businesses the opportunity to view information about S.L.A. issues impacting their neighborhoods, according to Squadron. Violations of currently licensed bars along with pending applications for prospective bars will be viewable online once the site is up and running (it is unclear exactly when that will be). “This interactive map is a common-sense decision with major payoffs for communities and small businesses,” said Squadron. “This new website will bring much-needed transparency to the S.L.A. process and be a resource for communities, government and businesses.” In 2009, the existing S.L.A. budget dollars were repurposed for this technology upgrade. The funding was also set aside for other cost-saving upgrades to streamline the processing of applications, decrease the time required to approve a license, and help eliminate the S.L.A.’s backlog of applications.

NEW W.T.C. TENANT ON THE BLOCK? It is rumored that midtown-based law firm Chadbourne & Parke is on the verge of signing an 800,000-square-foot lease at One World Trade Center, which would fill two-thirds

YOUTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 ARTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 - 27

of the future tower with tenants. The New York Times first reported the news in an article published last Thursday, Jan. 26. The firm’s spokesperson, Andrew Blum, declined to comment when contacted by the Downtown Express. The tower’s primary leasing agent, Cushman & Wakefield, didn’t return a call for comment by press time.

CLASSIFIEDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25



L.M.C.C.C. TO LAY OFF STAFF? The Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center might be losing several members of its staff, according to a startling report that appeared in the Jan. 29 edition of the New York Post. The article alleges that five members of the agency’s staff were notified that they’d be laid off by late March, and that only two employees – David Frucher, director of capital planning and construction, and Robin Forst, director of community relations – would stay on. The news comes on the heels of Community Board 1’s resolution highlighting the need for the L.M.C.C.C., which monitors Downtown construction projects, to continue operations through the peak period of building in the area. Responding to the news, L.M.C.C.C. representative Robin Forst said, “I can’t confirm what was in the Post. What I can say is that there are ongoing discussions about L.M.C.C.C. as part of the annual budget process. We’re looking, as is everyone, to lower our cost structure.” The agency is confident, Forst added, that it will continue on through late 2013.

A schedule of this week’s upcoming Community Board 1 committee meetings is below. Unless otherwise noted, all committee meetings are held at the board office, located at 49-51 Chambers St., room 709 at 6 p.m.

ON WED., FEB. 1: The Financial District, Tribeca and Seaport-Civic Center Committees will host a combined meeting. ON THURS., FEB. 2: The Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee will meet. ON MON., FEB. 6: There is no scheduled meeting. ON TUES., FEB. 7: The Battery Park City committee will meet at the Battery Park City Authority (1 World Financial Center, 24th floor) at 6 p.m.

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February 1 - 7, 2012


POLICE BLOTTER Downtown rape charge

Pregnant teen shot

A woman, 24, told police on Sun. Jan. 22 that she was visiting a man in his apartment at 83 Baxter St. near White St. at around 6 a.m. when he held her down on the bed and raped her despite her repeated pleas to stop and her vain efforts to push him off. The suspect, Lambert Benichou, 24, was arrested and charged with first degree rape. He pleaded not guilty and was freed on bail pending and an April 25 court appearance.

A 16-year-old girl two months pregnant was shot in the elbow around 2 p.m. Mon., Jan. 30 in the hallway outside her family’s second floor apartment at 210 Stanton St. near Pitt St. The victim and her unborn baby were described as being out of danger after she was taken to Bellevue. The shot was believed fired during a scuffle with her boyfriend, according to reports that identified the victim as Kimberly Velasquez. Police on Monday night said an arrest was imminent.



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Seek burglary suspects Police are seeking suspects in a series of burglaries in Soho on Thompson, Prince, Spring and Wooster Sts between Dec. 28 and Jan. 23. The entries were made through windows on fire escapes. Two apartments on Prince St. were the targets, one on Dec. 28 and the other on Jan. 23. On Dec. 28 a burglar made off with a laptop computer and a necklace valued at $500 from one Prince St. apartment. The same day a laptop was taken from a Thompson St. apartment while the resident was out. On Jan. 23 another resident of Prince St. returned home from a vacation to find that jewelry with a total value of $23,000 had been taken while she was away.

Teen marauders A group of between 10 and 12 males between the ages if 18 and 20 walked into Angelina’s Clothing boutique, 448 Broome St. near Broadway around 7 p.m. Tues., Jan. 24 grabbed 22 women’s sheepskin coats from the racks and fled without paying for them, police said. The coats were valued from $950 to $1,150 each. There were no arrests.

Cell phone snatches A Soho resident was talking on her cellphone while walking home around 6:35 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 26 when a mugger came up behind her in front of 111 Sullivan St., snatched her phone and then grabbed her bag and fled, police said. A passerby chased the thief and was able to retrieve the victim’s cell phone, police said. Another woman was talking on her cell phone while at the northwest corner of Mercer and Prince Sts. around 6:30 p.m. the same day when a short young man wearing a

downtown express gray jacket, blue jeans and sneakers came up behind her grabbed the phone and fled north on Mercer St.

Subway phone snatches A transit cop saw a suspect picking a cellphone from the pocket of a sleeping passenger at the Whitehall St. subway station around 5 a.m. Sat. Jan. 28. The officer arrested Jimmy Davis, 29, and charged him with larceny. Police said Davis “is known to the department,” indicating previous similar arrests. A woman waiting for a C train on the Brooklyn-bound platform of the Fulton and Nassau St. platform was on her cell phone around 9:30 p.m. Wed., Jan.25 when a man about 18, snatched the phone from her hand and fled.

Photo shoot theft A photographer shooting an event at 7:30 p.m. Fri., Jan. 27 in an 11th floor studio in 250 Hudson St. near Dominic St. asked a man he thought was an employee where he could leave one of his cameras and a lens. He returned to the designated room two hours later and discovered the camera and lens, with a total value of $4,249, had been stolen.

Car break-in A Greenfield, N.J. woman, 20 parked her car at the corner of Vandam and Greenwich Sts. around 10:30p.m. Fri., Jan. 27, and went to a nearby club for three hours. She returned to find a rear window had been smashed with a brick and her bag, with her wallet, driver’s license, checkbook and credit cards, stolen.

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Last year was a strenuous one for the NYPD’s First Precinct, the precint’s commanding officer Edward Winsky told Downtown residents at the January first precinct council meeting last Thursday. Arrests processed through the first precinct in 2011 reached 4,351, up by approximately 18 percent from the year before, according to information provided by the Police Department. The majority of the crime, Winsky said, is theft of cell phones, iPods and other personal belongings. Several in attendance asked about the drumming and vending policies in and around Zuccotti Park, and stressed that the rules must be established and enforced upfront. Winsky agreed and said that he, too, is worried about an attempt on the part of the Occupy Wall Street protesters to infiltrate the park once again. “We’ve been 100 percent supportive in enforcing the rules of Brookfield Properties,” said Winsky. “Any time they have trouble with someone following the rules, that’s what we’re there for.” Tables, Winsky noted, are not permitted into the park. The police had to enforce this

rule when, last week, protestors tried to set up an information booth inside the park. “One person was arrested for obstructing governmental administration,” said Winsky. A total of more than 1,800 people associated with O.W.S. have been arrested since the movement began, he noted. “Drumming itself is not illegal, but as far as I know, there are no drums permitted in the park,” he added. “I’ve spent a lot of time down there and it has greatly, greatly decreased.” At the meeting, Winsky also gave an update on the Canal Street initiative, which he said has led to 2,796 arrests, more than 8,000 summonses, and the cops’ seizure of nearly 35,000 counterfeit handbags and $60,000 in cash made from black market sales. While there is less counterfeit activity along Canal Street than during the holiday season, Winsky said it’s an ongoing battle, particularly since the perpetrators often don’t incur major penalties. “We haven’t won the war,” said Winsky. “I was out there Friday walking around, and there were some conditions I wasn’t happy with.”

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February 1 - 7, 2012

Chen advocates continue to demand Army reforms BY ALINE REYNOLDS Despite numerous strides the U.S. Army has taken to promote cultural diversity among personnel, it still has a ways to go in properly training its troops and penalizing soldiers that mistreat their peers because of their ethnicity, according to testifiers at a New York City Council hearing on Friday, Jan. 27. The hearing was organized to discuss and vote on Councilmember Margaret Chin’s resolution in honor of the late Private, Chinatown native Danny Chen. The Civil Rights Committee unanimously passed the resolution, which was scheduled for a full City Council vote on Wednesday, Feb. 1. In light of Chen’s suicide last October, the resolution urges the federal Department of Defense to make reforms to the military’s diversity training policies in order to thwart discrimination and harassment of all soldiers, including minorities. “The recent and tragic circumstances surrounding [Chen’s] death highlights the need for greater initial scrutiny and periodic evaluations of those men and women who seek to serve and those who are already serving in the armed forces, to aid in the identification of those individuals who are more prone to behave in a reprehensible manner,” the resolution states. While the Army prides itself on its antidiscrimination guidelines, nearly two percent of U.S. military suicides in 2010, and

five percent of suicide attempts that year, were at least partly triggered by hazing, according to a report crafted by Chin and fellow councilmembers. Soldiers should be better educated about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and about the legal and administrative consequences of discrimination, according to the report. “At a minimum,” the report reads, “local training units must incorporate training on the anti-discrimination policy into the unit’s overall training, and [this training] must be conducted quarterly.” Responding to the resolution, the Department of Defense firmly stood by the military’s current behavioral codes. “All service members are expected to treat each other with dignity and respect, and each of the services has policies to reiterate and enforce this,” said Department spokesperson Eileen Lainez. “Tailored training is included throughout the learning continuum; each service reviews course content regularly and makes revisions as appropriate.” The Army is enhancing its cultural awareness training following the release of reports that identify loopholes in disciplinary action toward derelict soldiers, according to testifier Herb Ruben, project director of the Veterans’ Mental Health Coalition of NYC. “Commanders are now getting more troops into substance abuse programs, are kicking more out of service for misconduct, and are barring others with alcohol and drug

Downtown Express photo by Marshall James Kavanaugh

Demonstrators chose baseball, sporting uniforms embroidered with the phrase “Tax Dodgers,” as their metaphor at an Occupy Wall Street event in Washington Square Park last Sunday.

O.W.S. revived; 12 arrests during latest march BY MARSHALL JAMES KAVANAUGH Despite various media outlets predicting “fizzling” support for Occupy Wall Street, on Sunday, Jan. 29 the movement demonstrated it still has the capacity to mobilize. Responding to a national call for solidarity in reaction to the violent removal of activists and an estimated 400 arrests the previous day in Oakland, CA., O.W.S. organizers had a day to plan the three-hour

snake march that stretched through downtown on Sunday night. The march followed an event called Occupy Town Squares, a daytime occupation of Washington Square Park, announced earlier in the month. The occupation succeeded in recreating the fervor prevalent during O.W.S.’s two-month occupation of Zuccotti Park last fall.

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convictions from joining in the first place,” said Ruben. These comments, however, didn’t pass muster with family members of Chen and of other suicidal soldiers. Testifier Judy Chu’s nephew, Lance Corporal Harry Lew, fatally shot himself last April after being bullied by his peers. “The lack of diversity in military leadership and recent high-profile cases of racial discrimination and harassment at the lower levels of the services, raise serious concerns about whether the military is effectively providing the equal treatment and opportunity,” said Chu. It is crucial that the Army’s anti-hazing policies are transparent, since minorities, who are most often the victims, now comprise 35 percent of the Army’s active duty personnel, according to U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez. The number of Asian-American soldiers alone has spiked by nearly 40 percent since 2002. “We want to know whether the Army is tracking how many cases of hazing occur each year; when they last reviewed their hazing policies; and how anti-hazing training is emphasized in basic training,” said Velasquez. OCA-NY (Organization of Chinese Americans), the chief advocate in the Chen case, has offered to work with the Army to create an interactive video as part of its diversity training and is requesting greater

intervention at the recruitment stage to find out about prospective soldiers’ attitudes toward diversity. The organization is also demanding that the military’s commanding officers more successfully enforce a zero tolerance policy against hazing and that the officers be automatically punished if they fail to do so. Responding to a series of questions OCANY fired off to Army officials at a meeting in mid-December, Army representative Larry Stubblefield asserted that commanders are indeed responsible for investigating maltreatment allegations. Specifically, these officers undergo leadership training and must respond to “equal opportunity” — or harassment — complaints within two weeks’ time, he said. “Commanders are held accountable for investigating reported complaints and responsible for ensuring an environment free from reprisal,” said Stubblefield. Asked about the Army’s cultural awareness training, Stubblefield said it formally trains commanding officers and all other soldiers in its codes of conduct on a regular basis. “It is important to recognize that the Army is comprised of 1.1 million people of all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds,” said Stubblefield. “If the Army were a city, it would be the tenth largest in the U.S.; and just as any city that size wrestles with a host of societal issues, so, too, does our Army.”


February 1 - 7, 2012

downtown express

Downtown Express photo by Marshall James Kavanaugh

The fields at East River Park have come under scrutiny by youth sports leagues due to what some believe is a flawed permit process on the part of the NYC Parks Dept.

Parks Dept. tries to fix permit process for fields BY ALINE REYNOLDS Downtown youth sports leagues are not only competing with other city teams for wins. They’re also competing for muchneeded field space, both for games and practices, at East River Park on the Lower East Side. Lower Manhattan’s baseball, football and

other kids teams must apply to the city every year for hourly use of eight coveted ball fields at East River Park. While some of the leagues’ permits are grandfathered from years past, thereby enabling the leagues to hold onto allotted field time from season to season,

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Board 2 chimes in on busker ban BY ALBERT AMATEAU After being wowed by a brief piano interlude, Community Board 2 last week passed a resolution roundly condemning the Department of Parks’ recent policy of slapping summonses on musicians and other performers in Washington Square Park. The resolution passed without opposition at the Thurs., Jan. 20, full board meeting where Colin Huggins, a.k.a. “The Crazy Piano Guy,” was one of the performers who spoke about the summonses they received in September and October while busking in the same park where the likes of Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and Joan Baez held forth 50 years ago. “Play something,” shouted people in the Thursday audience at P.S. 41. Brad Hoylman, C.B. 2 chairperson, made the invitation official and Huggins sat at the auditorium piano and played some of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The audience gave him a standing ovation. After a public outcry at a December speakout hosted by C.B. 2, Parks officials told the community board members that the department was suspending and re-evaluating the Washington Square Park enforcement policy. Parks had adopted strict rules last year to regulate the sale of art and other First

Amendment-protected matter, saying the numbers of such vendors conflicted with public enjoyment in several Manhattan parks. The rules also prohibited performers within 5 feet of any bench and within 50 feet of a monument, in order to keep paths open and preserve views of park monuments, according to Parks. In Washington Square Park, with benchlined paths and an array of monuments — including the arch, fountain and statues of Giuseppe Garibaldi and Lyman Holley — the rules appear to preclude performers. The board resolution says that when the new rules were first presented to C.B. 2 there was no indication that they would target performers. Nevertheless, the board last year voted against the rules, saying they were unnecessary and overly restrictive. The Jan. 19 resolution expressed the board’s “consternation” regarding the issuance of summonses to performers and asked dismissal of summonses already issued. The board also wants a statement of the Parks Department’s future enforcement initiatives or other restrictions pertaining to performers or other expressive activities in parks in Community Board 2’s district (14th St. to Canal St. east of Fourth Ave./ Bowery).

downtown express


February 1 - 7, 2012

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Dr. Stephen C. Frantz, an expert on rats who has been a consultant to the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy since 1995, giving a lecture on rat control earlier this month.

Learning how to fight and how to live, with rats BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER A few weeks ago, at the request of the Battery Park City Authority and the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, Dr. Stephen C. Frantz came to Battery Park City to talk about rats. Frantz has spent much of his 50-year career working with rats for the New York State Department of Health, as a professor at SUNY Albany and as a consultant. Though some in his audience undoubtedly hoped he would talk about how to get rid of rats, it turned out that his topic was how to live with rats. “The fact of the matter is that where there are humans, there are rats,” said Frantz. They need food, water and shelter to survive, and cities are great sources of food. Rats are also champion breeders. They reach sexual maturity at three to four months and then begin having litters with up to 12 pups. The gestation period for Norway rats (the kind that live in New York City) is 21 days; a few days after giving birth, the female breeds again. “So rats are here to stay and are especially active when they are disturbed by construction,” said Frantz, “But that doesn’t mean that they have to be encouraged.” “In a lot of urban rodent control, the primary effort goes into throwing poisons down rat holes,” said Frantz, “but that doesn’t work. It just stimulates the population to grow.” “Any environment has a carrying capacity – meaning the absolute number of animals that an environment can sustain,” Frantz explained. “Usually the carrying capacity is higher than we would like. At some point as the population is growing, we start to notice. That’s called the ‘action level’ or the ‘tolerance level.’ It starts to bother us. When you remove individual animals from a population, the population drops in response to

‘Rats are here to stay and are especially active when they are disturbed by construction, but… that doesn’t mean that they have to be encouraged.’ — Dr. Stephen C. Frantz

that effort. When you stop doing that, the rats have more food, water and shelter than they had before because there are fewer of them! They mate more often and more young survive. So the population shoots right back up.” According to Frantz, “The ultimate intervention is education.” Depriving rats of food goes a long way to keeping the population under control. Don’t feed squirrels or birds, he advised, because what they don’t eat becomes rat food. Thoroughly clean up after dogs — rats eat feces. Wash recyclable food containers before putting them in the garbage. Be as careful with crumbs when eating in a park as you would be in your own home. Frantz has been a consultant to the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy since 1995. “When I first came here all the rubbish containers were mesh with plastic bags inside,” he said. “The rats can literally go

Continued on page 18

Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.

Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email

February 1 - 7, 2012


downtown express

Pols support Stringer’s bid to stop “one-shot” sale need for affordable housing. “As Lower Manhattan has grown we’ve had increasing need and shrinking availability of locations for the schools and affordable housing [the neighborhood needs],” said Senator Squadron. “Consolidation of city operations and reuse of these buildings provide a unique opportunity that must be realized.” Assemblymember Glick added, “City owned or state owned property is actually owned by the people and these properties must address the needs of the community.” The coalition of elected officials, in their letter last week to the E.D.C., requested a meeting to discuss the planned sale and the need for an “articulated public benefit” to the neighborhood. As of Tuesday the Borough President’s office had yet to receive a response from either the E.D.C. or the Mayor’s office.

Continued from page 1 the signatures of U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, State Assemblymember Deborah Glick and City Councilmember Margaret Chin. The Mayor first announced the plan during his State of the City address on Jan. 12 when discussing ways to finance government initiatives in the coming year. “For instance, this year we’ll put three cityowned office buildings in Lower Manhattan up for sale,” said Bloomberg. “We expect it will bring more than $100 million next year for our capital budget, $100 million in private sector tax revenue and cost savings over the next 20 years by converting public buildings to private buildings and it will bring new jobs and housing for the downtown community.” At a press conference held the following day in front of 49-51 Chambers, one of the three buildings up for sale, Stringer was joined by members of Community Board 1 and other Downtown stakeholders, to announce his own plan to block the deal. “I applaud the mayor for finding new ways to consolidate and streamline government operations,” said the Borough President. “But there must be a smarter approach than a one-shot deal – which is a hasty and imprudent way of solving budget shortfalls.”


Downtown Express photo s by Aline Reynolds

Lower Manhattan buildings at 22 Reade (left) and 346 Broadway (right) are part of a “one-shot” real estate deal that Mayor Bloomberg announced in his State of the City address and that has come under increasing scrutiny by local elected officials.

Stringer pointed to the City Charter, specifically to a section that states that the approval of the Borough Board, which Stringer chairs, is required for the plan to

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go through and the buildings to be sold. Stringer vowed to use the charter as means to block the sale of the buildings and, moreover, to ensure a public comment period. “We need to consider what public benefit these properties can provide,” said Stringer. “City land is valuable and is an increasingly spare resource.” The three buildings, 22 Reade, 49-51 Chambers and 346 Broadway, total 669,000 square feet and include city agency offices such as the Board of Corrections, City Planning, the Dept. of Education as well as the office of Community Board 1. The elected officials’ major concern is the possible loss of public property that could be reused to accommodate the growing residential population in Lower Manhattan. The neighborhood has remained the fastest growing residential neighborhood in the city for three years and every year the need for additional schools seats to accompany the boom has been a major issue. Another issue resulting from the population increase is a

Eric Greenleaf, a business professor at New York University and a member of Speaker Silver’s School Overcrowding Task Force, has long been a source of information in the argument for more schools in Lower Manhattan. He joined Stringer at the press conference and voiced his opinion on the Mayor’s proposed plan. “We need to be thinking about the long term,” said Greenleaf. “Once you’ve sold off a building it’s gone and it’s so hard to find a good building site Downtown for a school.” Greenleaf noted that it took over a year to find a suitable site for Downtown’s newest school, Peck Slip Elementary and that fate also played a role in that, noting it was the United States Post Office’s decision to sell the building that made the new school a reality. For Greenleaf and many other education advocates in Lower Manhattan, the selling the three buildings could mean a lost opportunity in possibly identifying another site for a new school. “I think we have to take a closer look to see if they would be good sites,” said Greenleaf. One of the buildings, 49-51 Chambers, in Greenleaf’s mind, is a definite contender. “It has a high ceiling on the bottom floor that might be appropriate as a gym space or for an auditorium,” said Greenleaf. “Those are the two big spaces you need at any school.”

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Stringer asks for traffic control in Soho, but bridge issue lingers BY TERENCE CONFINO On Monday afternoon a small crowd assembled on a corner of Mercer and Broome Sts. to watch Borough President Scott Stringer share a podium with Sean Sweeney of the Soho Alliance. The news conference was meant to call on the city’s Department of Transportation to address the long-running congestion problems plaguing Downtown Manhattan. According to Sweeney, the Soho Alliance’s director, this fight has been going on 25 years, and is filled with the kind of political backstabbing that only hurts the community. Stringer’s response comes on the heels of a number of complaints regarding westbound traffic toward the Holland Tunnel, including vehicles blocking intersections accompanied by floods of horn honking. “This neighborhood, which is so vibrant and so exciting, is also being victimized by a traffic situation that is now out of control,” Stringer said. “We need to have traffic mitigation in this neighborhood and we need it now.” He described a typical day during rush hour, and even during weekends, when the tunnel becomes so backed up that cars wind up blocking intersections, “creating noise pollution and dangerous situations for blocks and blocks at a time.” When traffic congestion occurs and cars “block the box,” they basically slow down an entire community, Stringer said.

He called for the implementation of a threepoint plan. First, he is asking for installation of additional cameras to aid enforcement of “Don’t Block the Box.” In addition, he wants improved signage to raise awareness of the “Don’t Block the Box” regulation. Finally, he’s demanding the immediate repair of deteriorating crosswalks along Mercer St. that endanger pedestrians. “If you have more cameras, you’re able to give more tickets and you’re able to make it clear to people that blocking the box is not an acceptable way to travel around Manhattan,” Stringer said in defense of installing more cameras in the city. With regard to improved signage, he called on D.O.T. to put up a new set of markers around the community instructing drivers that it’s not O.K. to block intersections and break traffic laws. “When you hurt one community, you hurt all communities,” Stringer stated. Finally, the B.P. explained the need to mitigate the deteriorating condition of the community’s streets. He briefly mentioned the crosswalks at Mercer and Greene Sts. by way of example. Stringer is no stranger to the ongoing problem of congestion. In 2006, his office released a survey that documented more than 3,000 blocking-thebox violations at 10 different Manhattan locations, all occurring during a nine-hour period. Not one driver received a ticket for these

infractions. Later, in 2008, in recognition of the ongoing problem, state legislation was passed upgrading blocking the box from a moving violation to a traffic violation and fines for such an infraction were raised from $50 to $115. But at Monday’s conference it wasn’t just the seasoned politician who connected with the small assembly. When Stringer handed over the podium to Sweeney, the crowd got a more sobering version of the story. “I just don’t understand how the D.O.T. thinks,” Sweeney began. “They remove the lane of traffic on Broadway without telling us and now we have congestion on Broadway. Then when we ask them to stripe the crosswalks and they won’t do that,” Sweeney said heatedly. He also recalled D.O.T.’s proposal to put a pedestrian mall on Prince St. a few years ago, which he had strongly opposed. Sweeney said the Soho Alliance told D.O.T. to take its pedestrianization plans to Times Square and the tourists rather than intrude on Downtown residents’ lives. Meanwhile, Sweeney continued, “They won’t give us a sign to warn the drivers not to block the box and they won’t fix the very crosswalks that people have to walk on.” He mentioned a pedestrian who had even broken her shoulder blade at the intersection on Mercer St. while trying to cross the street. Speaking later, Sweeney said the cause of Soho’s congestion dates to 1986 when

former Governor Mario Cuomo reversed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge’s toll. This was done at Staten Islanders’ request, the logic being it would decrease car pollution and backups at the Staten Island toll plazas. “Within a week traffic tripled on Broome St.,” Sweeney said. Nowadays, commuters would rather wait it out in gridlock and use the free Holland Tunnel than pay the nearly $15 toll to cross the bridge. “As a result, the Port Authority is losing money and it hurts everybody,” Sweeney said. When asked whether the congestion was indeed rooted in the Verrazano toll reversal, Josh Getlin, Stringer’s communications director, replied: “We don’t have a specific answer as to what’s causing backup. The point of the press conference was to urge an immediate exploration of all possible factors creating this problem and then take appropriate action.” Sweeney noted that when U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was elected in 1998, he said one of the first things he’d tackle was the Verrazano toll situation. Within two weeks, Schumer allegedly reneged, according to Sweeney. And when Sweeney later approached Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, he wouldn’t give a straight answer, either, according to the longtime Soho activist. “We’ve been getting the runaround for 25 years,” Sweeney said. “If we can’t solve the problem, then what can we do to mitigate it?”

February 1 - 7, 2012


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New hope for Pier 40

It’s more than handbags

From just a dream a couple of decades ago, the Hudson River Park is now 70 percent complete. But the park still faces steep obstacles. Building the rest of the park will cost $250 million. The cost of maintaining the growing park, which stretches five miles along the Lower West Side waterfront, continues to grow while government support continues to shrink. One of the park’s most pressing issues remains Pier 40. Under the Hudson River Park Act, the park is supposed to be financially self-sustaining. Pier 40, at W. Houston St., is intended to be one of the park’s main “commercial nodes” that generates income for the park. It currently nets $5 million annually, nearly half the park’s annual operating budget. However, this much-loved, mammoth, 14-acre former shipping pier continues to deteriorate. The Hudson River Park Trust has twice before tried to find a private group to redevelop the pier. Each time, the Trust issued a request for proposals (R.F.P.) from developers. Each time, the resulting projects would have caused too great an impact on both the pier and the surrounding community, and were sunk by strident opposition from the community and from elected officials. Madelyn Wils, the organization’s new president, last week reported that 40 percent of the pier’s rooftop deck is in poor condition. The Trust authorized using $6 million from its reserve fund to repair part of the roof to preserve its parking revenue stream. Tapping into this $25 million reserve to partially fix the roof is a smart use of these monies. However, the pier needs $110 million in overall repairs. In an encouraging new development, three local youth sports groups — P3, Downtown United Soccer Club and Greenwich Village Little League — are paying for HR & A real estate and economic consulting firm to study Pier 40. HR & A has been tasked with two key goals: first, to make sure the pier’s heavily used athletic sports fields are preserved; and second, to find ways that the pier can be redeveloped to increase revenue for both repairing Pier 40 and maintaining the entire park, without adversely impacting the park and surrounding community. According to Wils, HR & A’s study will be completed in about a month from now. Its findings will be given to a new community task force that is studying the whole park, including Pier 40. The task force should finish its work by late spring, when it will offer its recommendations for Pier 40. The task force is also looking at the park act itself, now 14 years old, which may need modifications. For example, should the state Legislature extend Pier 40’s lease from 30 years to 49 years? Perhaps — but only if there is a plan that the community and local leaders support. Also, could residential or hotel uses work on the pier? These would surely be more palatable than a huge oceanarium or “Vegas on the Hudson” — and would likely involve far fewer car trips and people coming to the pier. Again, should the legislation be changed to allow this? It’s worth studying. While many local residents, understandably, want to keep Pier 40 as is — to safeguard “the donut,” i.e. the courtyard sports field — and do nothing else, this isn’t realistic. With a rapidly deteriorating pier, maintaining the status quo is not an option. While at the city Economic Development Corporation, Wils helped forge a community consensus on development guidelines for the long-paralyzed Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. We feel hopeful that Wils, the Trust and the task force are up to the test at Pier 40, but all parties must “think outside the box.” After reaching a consensus on SPURA, anything is possible.

To The editor: Re “Canal remains hot for tourists seeking knock-off goods” (news article, Jan. 18): It is common knowledge that many bootleg items are sold on city sidewalks with what seems like near impunity. This includes bootleg fine art. That is why it is most irksome that only some merchandise, such as handbags, is being considered for enforcement action. The illegal copying and selling of fine art is an even bigger part of the illegal vending industry and it is causing serious harm to the entire ecology of art. It is as if an ongoing oil spill is polluting the public art scene in New York City, only no one is trying to stop it or clean it up. Literally, thousands of sidewalk displays selling illegally copied artwork clog our city streets every day. What is even worse is that these illegal stands displace the very few actual fine artists who have a sanctioned First Amendment right to display their artwork in public. It is as if a pirate fleet has displaced legal U.S. fishermen by force, but the authorities do nothing. Until Councilmember Margaret Chin and others in a position of authority see the entire illegal vending situation as the problem (including bootleg artwork) and finally enforce the laws on the books now, the phenomenon of illegal vending will continue to grow and the damage to artists and our neighborhoods will only get worse. Lawrence White

Crossing times too short To The Editor: Re “Girl is killed crossing Delancey Street (news article, Jan. 19): Why do we have to wait for a 12-year-old girl to get killed before anyone recognizes that the time for crossing Delancey Street allowed by traffic lights is woefully too short and dangerous? Oh, I get it. It’s just “collateral damage.” It’s the minor price we pay in order to promote motorists, driving cars, motorized traffic. And it’s not just that one intersection at Delancey and Clinton Streets. Many other intersections along Delancey Street, Houston Street, Allen Street and others are very dangerous, too. Crossing time is only one issue. What about motorists who drive recklessly fast and seemingly act like they wouldn’t mind mowing down the vulnerable pedestrian? Michael Gottlieb

N.Y.U. a threat to East Village, too To The Editor: Preventing N.Y.U. from building on its

own campus may be a solution for Greenwich Village but leaves the East Village N.Y.U.’s nearest option to build. Although the 2008 E.V. / L.E.S. rezoning prevents huge-scale development here, there are several large lots that may now become attractive to N.Y.U. Off the top of my head, these include the vacant former Loews theater on Avenue A, the former Charles Theater on Avenue B, Mary Help of Christians Church on Avenue A, the Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on Avenue B and the old CHARAS / El Bohio, near Avenue B. And then there are the community gardens when their leases come due. The weakness of “Not in My Back Yard” activism is shortsightedness. Setting a cat at every mouse hole is the least effective solution. Word has it that Community Board 1 would welcome N.Y.U., but until someone brokers a deal with N.Y.U. to build in the Financial District, N.Y.U. remains a threat to the East Village. East Village leadership should focus on the long-term solution in the Financial District, unless the East Village has changed so much demographically and commercially that Community Board 3 also welcomes N.Y.U. Rob Hollander

Fight them all the way To The Editor: Re “N.Y.U. takes heat on school and open space at hearings” (news article, Jan. 25): N.Y.U. should be ashamed of itself. The “public elementary school,” which is now a kindergarten-to-eighth grade school, would certainly cause traffic congestion on Bleecker Street and endanger the children by its location on such a busy street. And the University’s obfuscation of many issues of importance to the community being presented by N.Y.U.’s team of nonresident-hired help, made its plan much less palpable to our close-knit Village community. N.Y.U. seeks to take over our public open spaces on Mercer Street and on Laguardia Place for the next 19 years while they construct a new city on two blocks of the Village. The N.Y.U. 2031 plan is a realtor / construction company nightmare that seeks to destroy the historic, landmarked nature of the Village. We shall fight them all the way. Sylvia Rackow

Letters policy Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be e-mailed to or can be mailed to 511 Canal St., N.Y., N.Y. 10013.

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February 1 - 7, 2012

OP-ED Fixing the economic ladder is next step in rebuilding BY SHELDON SILVER In Lower Manhattan, where the cost of living is very high, it is essential that we provide our residents with all the tools they need to succeed and thrive. I am proud of the great strides we have made in rebuilding and improving our Downtown community. Now, we must fix the economic ladder that has enabled generations of New Yorkers, including the many immigrants who make Lower Manhattan their home, to climb into the middle class. Our community will reach its greatest potential when all of our neighbors have the opportunity not only to work but also to provide for their families and save for their future. As we continue to look for ways to improve the economy for all New Yorkers

and ensure that our path back to prosperity is one that includes all people – not just the wealthy – I have made raising our state’s minimum wage my top legislative priority this year. This week, the Assembly introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and index it to inflation. We must begin to rekindle the spirit of shared prosperity and restore the dignity of work by raising the minimum wage. At $7.25 per hour, our current minimum wage ranks among the nation’s lowest. Working men and women in the District of Columbia and 18 states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, receive a higher minimum wage than do New Yorkers. Ten states index their minimum wages to inflation in order to

ensure that their real values do not erode as the cost of living rises. Nowhere is that more important than here in Lower Manhattan, where the cost of living continues to go up. It is absurd to expect a working person or family to afford rent, groceries, clothing, phone, transportation, and day care – and be able to save for the future – on $290 per week for a 40-hour week. Unfortunately for working New Yorkers, our minimum wage has increased by only ten cents in the last five years. Raising the minimum wage will put much-needed cash in the pockets of more than 1.2 million New Yorkers. It will provide direct relief to those working families who most need it. Equally important, raising the minimum wage will provide an immediate boost to

our Lower Manhattan economy. Research shows that minimum-wage earners spend those extra dollars immediately in local businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants, spurring economic recovery and creating local jobs. Economic theory aside, raising the minimum wage is absolutely a matter of dignity. No one who works hard and follows the rules should be poor and bereft of hope. Elevating the value of hard work is essential to the survival of the American Dream and a critical rung on the ladder to financial security. Sheldon Silver is Speaker of the New York State Assembly and represents Lower Manhattan.

TALKING POINT N.Y.U. promised an elementary school — back in 1960! BY CAROL GREITZER Villagers should feel absolutely no reticence in asserting their opposition to New York University’s monstrous, grandiose 2031 plan. In view of the past shady actions of the old Board of Estimate, the community has a strong moral claim to demanding that current city officials take steps to right these wrongs — or at the very least, stop the former policy of opposing the public good. We cannot allow this infill infamy to take place. The obvious solution is for Community Board 2 to support the Community Board 1 proposal that N.Y.U. expand into Lower Manhattan — a move that would benefit both communities. I wrote the following talking point, “Greitzer’s View on Gym: Is N.Y.U. Playing Fair?” which ran in The Villager’s April 17, 1975, issue. At that time, C.B. 2 was about to deliberate on the issue of “the proposed N.Y.U. sports complex,” i.e. the future Coles gym. ***** Currently the chief remaining controversy over the Washington Square Southeast Title I project involves the southeasternmost part — at Mercer and Houston Sts. — where N.Y.U. proposes to build a gymnasium. Originally, N.Y.U. controlled only the northernmost section, where the library now stands. But in 1960 Tishman-Wolfe, developer of Washington Square Village, decided it wanted out, and negotiated for N.Y.U. to take over not only that project, but also the undeveloped three square blocks to the south. When the deal became public, the community exploded. Among those speaking out against the N.Y.U. takeover were the local congressman, assemblyman and presidents of both the Greenwich Village Association and the Village Independent Democrats. The congressman was John Lindsay; the assemblyman, Bill Passannante; the president of G.V.A., Tony Dapolito, and the president of V.I.D. — the writer of this history. Several people pointed out that under the Title I Slum Clearance Law, when a sponsor defaulted, the site was to revert back to the city for subsequent public bidding as happened with the Amsterdam Houses uptown. But the city seemed eager to expedite the N.Y.U. purchase. At this point, the university’s own building efforts were confined to razing a fine 17-story apartment building, despite the serious housing shortage. It would be a decade before the library would be built on that site. (N.Y.U. also

Carol Greitzer, a city councilmember, in the 1970s, flanked by Tony Dapolito, Community Board 2 chairperson, left, and Edgar Tafel, the architect of the First Presbyterian Church House.

demolished some nearby tennis courts that had been used by its own people and Villagers. The university apparently was not so concerned about recreational needs in those days!) Because Washington Square Village apartments were renting for far more than the middle-income levels the community had been led to expect, Villagers demanded true moderate-priced housing for the vacant southern parcel. Still determined to accommodate N.Y.U., the city realized it had to make some concessions. A compromise solution involved housing for N.Y.U. staff plus a middle-income cooperative for the public. In addition, N.Y.U. was to create an experimental elementary school open to Village youngsters. Still wanting more housing, the community felt this was the best it could get. Put in historical context, this was 1960 and the Village was less sophisticated about how to fight City Hall. Within a few years, N.Y.U. began making noises about replacing the school with some sort of athletic facility and a plan was revealed recently. When confronted with the theory that they could not revise the provisions of the 9/15/60 Board of Estimate resolution which called for the experimental school, N.Y.U. cited a Board of Estimate resolution of 12/20/62 and an agreement entered into between the city and the university on 1/15/63 as

authorization for substituting a gymnasium. But this 1962 resolution continues to allude to the experimental school. The mayor was authorized to execute an agreement in accordance with the substance of the resolution, providing the agreement was “approved as to form” by the Corporation Counsel. The actual agreement, however, made what seemed to be a substantive change by stating “such land use may include appurtenant recreational, educational (including but not limited to a private elementary school), social and service facilities.” [A “private school” meant a free-tuition, neighborhood, experimental school operated by N.Y.U.] Such a substantive change was really not legal, and it would be interesting to discover how the language crept into the January 1963 agreement signed by Deputy Mayor Edward F. Cavanagh. Was this phrase some clever maneuvering by N.Y.U., or perhaps a plot to circumvent a public hearing? We may never know. We do know that this 1963 agreement was not revealed to the public till a few months ago and was never the subject of a public hearing. From both a legal and moral standpoint, since the community had been party to the original agreement, the community would clearly have to be consulted as to any subsequent change. Nor has N.Y.U. any right to act unilaterally in determining the future of this property, for back in 1960 the community would have taken legal action against the N.Y.U. takeover had the city not sweetened the pot with the school. Without this essential ingredient the community would not have withdrawn its opposition to the N.Y.U. deal. I want to make it clear that no one today wants an elementary school. But when N.Y.U. decided it no longer wanted to build a school, they were legally in default and the matter should have been brought up once again for public bidding. In fact, they were doubly in default because they were supposed to have completed the building within three years. However, as was shown before, the city was reluctant to declare a default on this project. Because of zoning considerations which transferred additional bulk to the adjacent residential buildings, only a low-rise structure is now possible on this site, thus limiting the choices available. It may be that a recreational facility is now an appropriate solution, but if it is to be built at all, it must be done with the full consultation of the community, and it must be a shared facility. We all sympathize with the needs of N.Y.U. students for recreational facilities, but the residents of Greenwich Village also have serious recreational needs. We hope that a solution can be found that will be satisfactory to all.


BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER B.P.C.A. ADOPTS SEVERANCE POLICY: At its Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 31, the Battery Park City Authority formally ratified a severance policy that will apply to the 19 people who were summarily fired on Nov. 9, 2011. It will also apply going forward should workforce reductions be necessary from time to time, however, the Authority reserves the right to change its policies in the future if employees are notified. When the Battery Park City 19, as they called themselves, were let go, there was no formal severance policy in place. They were paid for unused vacation and sick time and received three weeks’ salary. Some of the terminated employees had worked for the Authority for 20 years or more and were within a few months of being able to retire with full benefits. The new policy provides for one week of severance pay for every year of service, not to exceed 12 years. Employees with two years or less of service are not eligible for severance pay, under the policy. Accrued and unused leave time would be paid in accordance with the terms in the Authority’s Employee Personnel Handbook. To be eligible, an employee must have worked for the Authority full time and be in good standing and must be willing to sign a waiver releasing the B.P.C.A. from any further claims related to termination. PIER A CHANGE ORDERS: Another item that came up at the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 31 had to do with cost overruns at Pier A, the 19th-century pier just south of Battery Park City that the Authority is rehabilitating. The board learned that there were significant structural problems with Pier A that had not yet been addressed and it was asked to approve change orders to the contract for Stalco, the general contractor. “We continue to find timber rot,” said Gayle Horwitz, B.P.C.A. president, “and at the end of December we found several other areas of timber rot.” She said the Authority had sent divers into the Hudson River to investigate. “That was on Jan. 13, 2012,” she said. “There was a recommendation that we replace three additional columns, one beam and 21 arches along with the repair of one column, one beam and one arch. The change

February 1 - 7, 2012

order requests $624,325. The second item is something we had discussed previously, the Head House remediation foundation. A piece of the plaza abutting the pier was actually pulled away exposing a piece at the southeast corner of the Head House. There is absolutely no foundation. The change order is $305,065. The contract with Stalco would be increased by $929,390 for the two change orders. This money would come from the contingency.” Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management and the manager of the Pier A project, said that the Authority had anticipated the Head House foundation problem but that the additional timber rot was something that “we did not anticipate.” She said that a couple of the columns that had to be dealt with recently had been installed in a prior attempt at renovation. “They have split,” she said. Previous renovation attempts “did a lot of damage to the actual structure,” Horwitz added. Board member Robert Mueller was not satisfied with the explanation for the overruns. He said that when the Authority first got involved with Pier A around three and a half years ago, board members had raised the question of the pier’s condition “five or six times, and I’m really surprised that all of a sudden we’re discovering more timber rot. Everybody knows that there’s a possibility of timber rot under there, and I’m a little disappointed, frankly. I think it’s something we should have anticipated. Also, it’s my understanding that we’re over budget on this project.” “We discussed this at great length,” Horwitz responded. “I think there were a couple of meetings that you unfortunately were not a part of. This project is over budget and we were very clear about that. We told the City of New York that we thought it was a $35 million or $36 million budget. They funded $30 million. I agree with you. It’s extremely disappointing that many of these things were not uncovered earlier.” “Why did we get into this in the first place?” Mueller wondered. Board member Frank Branchini replied, “It’s a major enhancement to Battery Park. Would you want to leave it there, the way it was before?” “The exciting news,” said Horwitz, “is that this building will end up being an incredible asset for the community that will pay returns

downtown express

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

At its Jan. 31 Board of Directors meeting, the B.P.C.A. amended its contract with Stalco, the general contractor on Pier A, to cover the repair of timber rot that was recently discovered and to repair the foundation to the plaza.

for many, many years to come and for the city over all.” The change orders were approved. B.P.C. PARKS CONSERVANCY ART EXHIBIT : The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s art classes are so well regarded that even people who have been trained as artists and who have had careers in the arts find them worthwhile. Every winter around this time, the Conservancy mounts an exhibit of drawings from the summer classes. This year’s exhibit opened at 75 Battery Place on Jan. 29 and will close on March 9. It is viewable Monday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. One student, Mary Nettleton, a retired bookkeeper who has been taking classes at the Conservancy for around 10 years, said that she lives on Staten Island and that it takes her around an hour and a half each way to get to Battery Park City. “In the summer, I usually come in the morning and stay

all day,” she said. She mentioned her high regard for her figure drawing teacher, Enid Braun, but added, “There are a lot of talented people in the classes. You learn from other people.” She has a landscape and a figure drawing in the show. Another student, Effie Serlis, who graduated from the School of Visual Arts, said that she comes to the classes because they combine two things she loves — art and being outdoors. “Enid is a great drawing teacher,” she said. Summer drawing classes are free. The winter session of figure drawing with Braun runs on Wednesdays from Feb. 1 to March 28 and costs $230. The fee includes materials. Classes are held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 6 River Terrace (off North End Avenue). To register, call (212) 267-9700, ext. 366 or 348. To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@

On Jan. 29, Mary Nettleton, Linda Lewensohn and Nancy Rosing, students in the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy’s drawing programs, attended the opening reception of an exhibit at 75 Battery Place that displayed work created over the summer.

downtown express


February 1 - 7, 2012

Big Blue fans have myriad of options for Super Bowl COMPILED BY MARSHALL JAMES KAVANAUGH For some New Yorkers, it’s an occasion more celebrated than New Years. “Probably, the biggest night out around town for bars and restaurants is the night that the Super Bowl is going on,” said Jeff Simmons from the Downtown Alliance. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the New York Giants have made it all the way and the whole city is going to be watching and hoping for a big win. The only question that remains is where to watch the game. Look no further. Downtown boasts a plethora of parties geared toward Big Blue fans. For those just wanting to watch the game:

DARK HORSE (17 Murray St. New York, NY 10007) Opened just last year, the bar offers 18 flat screen televisions, usually playing various sporting events, but on Sunday night all televisions will be turned to the Super Bowl. Dark Horse will have both floors open to the public including their downstairs private events room. There’s no door charge and along with drink specials during the game they’ll have a complimentary buffet at half-time. You’ll want to get there early though. The bar owner, Gavin, tells us, “We’ve been packed for the last few games. [Two Sundays ago] we even had to turn a few larger groups away”.

M1-5 (52 Walker St. New York, NY 10013) M1-5 was open during the 2007-2008 season the last time the Giants won the Super Bowl. The owner Serge Zborovsky said, “It was a blast”. Another bar you won’t have to pay to get into on game day, M1-5 offers 8 large HD televisions as well as a projector screen. There is plenty of room if you end up being turned

away from some of your other favorite bars. They’ll have a special treat for patrons with their happy hour special with half priced well drinks, wine, and beer continuing throughout game time. For those with a hankering for Mexican food:

MAD DOG & BEANS (83 Pearl St. New York, NY 10004) At Mad Dog & Beans $50 will get you a Bucket of 6 Mexican beers and unlimited Mexican nachos & hot wings. At half time they’ll hold a taco-eating contest, with the biggest eater going home with a $100 gift card. It’s guaranteed to be quite a fiesta. For those with a taste for history:

THE PORTERHOUSE AT FRAUNCES TAVERN (58 Pearl St. New York, NY 10004) Since 1762, Fraunces Tavern has catered to the flavors of Ireland. The beer hall is full of history including the presence of notable figures such as George Washington who have dined within. For $50 you can see and feel this historic game on an 80-inch projector screen with surround sound while enjoying the food and drink specials as well as a complimentary buffet. There will also be prize giveaways at the end of each quarter. For those who want to be wined and dined:

CITY WINERY (155 Varick St. New York, NY 10013) Reservations are a must for this event, but City Winery has what looks to be the most extravagant Super Bowl party in the

Photo by Marshall James Kavanaugh

City Winery in Hudson Square has a Super Bowl party geared toward wine-lovers.

Downtown area. For $35 guests can participate in a Giants influenced wine tasting with wines all made onsite. At kick off guests will be served a glass of the Varick & Vine Chardonnay. As the game progresses a glass of the Downtown Roussanne ’09 will be placed your way. After half-time is the CW Spring Street Pinot Noir and to finish off the game a final white wine the New York City Cab. Each person to participate in the wine pairing will be entered into a drawing to win a mixed case of all four of the City Winery made wines. Also at half time there will be a drawing for a pair of seats for an upcoming City Winery concert valued at $150. Oh, and then there’s the game too, right? Well, City Winery has three 150-inch projector screens with surround sound, so every hit can be experienced in full detail. This is City Winery’s third-year hosting a Super Bowl party and with the Giants placed to win, it’s sure to be a fine dining evening.

Transit Sam

The Answer man

Ongoing construction projects means Downtown drivers are going to have to stay on their toes: Work zones on the Brooklyn Bridge have shifted for the next month, so Brooklyn-bound drivers won’t have to follow contraflow routing during nightly construction but can cross the East River using the normal route. In addition, Water Street between Beekman and Peck Slip is now closed to traffic for water main work, which will continue in phases through late 2012. For late-breaking construction traffic impacts and updates, follow me on Twitter at Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actress Scarlett Johansson will host a celebrityfilled fundraiser for President Obama in the Meatpacking District at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, snarling traffic around Gansevoort and Greenwich Streets. The Gowanus Expressway’s southbound exit to Prospect Expressway will be closed from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. through Friday. Drivers should use the Hamilton Avenue exit and follow posted detours.

One lane of the Holland Tunnel in each direction will be closed nightly from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. through Friday morning. DISCOUNT! My 2012 Gridlock Sam Parking Calendar is now on sale at www. Now, you can buy one for $4, two for $8, five for $15 or 10 for $25 (plus $2 shipping and handling on all orders). Please send payment to Gridlock Sam, 611 Broadway, Suite 415, NY, NY 10012. From the Mailbag: Dear Transit Sam, My six-year-old son really likes the old ‘C’ subway cars because he thinks that they run faster than the new ones. His hypothesis is that since the old cars make more noise when they run, they must be running faster. He has a few questions: Do the old ‘C’ trains run faster than the new cars? Where do the they end up after they are retired? And are there any events where he could ride them? Thanks for your indulgence, Balaji

Dear Balaji, While I like your son’s theory, the old ‘C’ trains aren’t actually any speedier than the new cars. The ‘C’ line’s older R-32 cars have five years of service left in them, but there’s no telling where they’ll end up upon retirement: Some of the 1960s Redbird cars became manmade reefs at the bottom of the Delaware River! During the holiday season, NYC Transit surprises straphangers with popup vintage railcar service along regular routes. The Transit Museum also periodically offers day-long “Nostalgia Rides” in vintage cars to destinations like Coney Island. For details about both options,

sign up for Transit Museum newsletters ( PatronSetup?oid=807). Transit Sam Confused about ever-changing traffic regulations and transit operations? Need winter driving tips or help navigating around Lower Manhattan? Want to know when the President next comes to town, or which line is next for the M.T.A.’s new FASTRACK program? If so, please send me an e-mail at or write to Transit Sam, 611 Broadway, Suite 415, New York, NY 10012.

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February 1 - 7, 2012

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2012 is the Year of the Dragon; optimism reigns supreme DOWNTOWN EXPRESS PHOTOS BY MILO HESS Sunday was the annual Chinese Lunar Year Parade and like every year, it weaved throughout the streets of Chinatown and brought thousands of revelers out to witness and take part in the festivities. One difference this year though, was a palpable sense of optimism and hope and a promise of good fortune over the next 12 months, all of which are associated with and symbolic of the dragon in Chinese culture. On hand as always were local officials including NY State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Leticia James.

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February 1 - 7, 2012


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CAN SUCCESS BE TAUGHT? By Dr. Edward Hallowell Member, School Culture Team, Avenues Author, Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness

Most of us were raised to believe that “getting a good education” is the best preparation for success in life. But is “success” something that can actually be taught? Like many leading educators, I passionately believe the answer is yes. This involves creating a school environment in which children experience the fulfillment that comes with the essential ingredients of success: connecting, imagining, working and being recognized for their accomplishments. Continue the conversation with Dr. Hallowell at You’ll find articles, video interviews and details on parent information events hosted by the leadership team of Avenues: The World School. Edward Hallowell, M.D. is a child and adult psychiatrist and renowned author of 18 books. He is a senior advisor to Avenues on school culture. Avenues is opening fall 2012 in Chelsea. It will be the first of 20 campuses in major cities, educating children ages three to 18 with a global perspective.

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Fabiola Arias, 24, wearing one of her own dresses at the reopening of the South Street Seaport Museum on Jan. 25, and talking to visitors about her work. Arias’s dresses were exhibited along with clothing by four other New York City designers.

Seaport Museum reopens with array of exhibits Continued from page 2 WWW.AVENUES.ORG

said. The lightship Ambrose is at Caddell Dry Dock on Staten Island getting a new hull and a new coat of paint. The Lettie G. Howard is in Mystic, Conn., for repairs, and a grant of $2,750,000 from New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Design and Construction has been reopened to care for the iron-hulled Wavertree, built in 1885 and a national landmark. “We did that right before Christmas,” said Jones. “That’s a slow grant. It works through D.D.C. so we’re not going to have work begin on that for about a year.” The museum’s beloved 1885 schooner, Pioneer, will be back in the harbor in April, carrying school children and the public. Maritime author, historian and lecturer Ted Scull gave the museum a $65,000 grant to pay for new sails and a new transmission. “We need more people like Ted to help us,” Jones said. A replica of the Pioneer was among an armada of model ships on display at the museum on opening night. The South Street Seaport Museum owns around 2,500 ship models, built to be blessed, to show what new ships would look like and as a way for sailors to pass the time on long voyages. The sailors also often entertained themselves by making miniature model ships and placing them in bottles. Some of their handiwork, dramatically displayed in Plexiglas tubes suspended from the ceiling, delighted visitors to the South Street Seaport Museum’s new galleries at the opening reception. Another eye-catching exhibit was an array of 19th and early 20th century hand tools stretching from one end of a long gallery to the other. They were used for woodworking, ice carving, whaling and shipbuilding. Among the most intriguing displays in the reopened museum are the walls of the six

buildings in which it is housed and the “old hotel” embedded within it. The buildings of Schermerhorn Row date from 1810-1812 and originally served as offices for the port and its businesses. “So much has happened within these walls,” said Sarah Henry, deputy director and chief curator of the Museum of the City of New York. “It’s an authentic historical site.” Graffiti on some of the walls from the late 19th century to the 1920s record the names of men who worked in these buildings or nearby: J.T. Flynn, Slim Jim, John Mangin, E. Ryan. A man known as “Handsome Jim” Bennett had a coffee roasting business on the first floor. Even more evocative, however, are the remains of an old hotel that opened on the site in 1850 and was used until the 1920s — one of several cheap hotels on the block. Sailors, longshoremen and salesmen slept in its windowless cubicles, some of which survive, with scraps of faded wallpaper clinging to the lath. A cutout in the floor of one of the museum’s upper galleries shows the hotel’s now decrepit staircase. At the top of the stairs is a drawing of a hand, its fingers pointing downward and the words, “Use in case of fire.” Another cutout shows the shaft for a 19thcentury, pully-operated elevator used in 1952 by the writer Joseph Mitchell and Louis Morino, owner of Sloppy Louie’s Restaurant, to enter the boarded-up third floor of what had been the Fulton Ferry Hotel from 1874 to 1935. There, they discovered old iron bedsteads, bureaus, seltzer bottles and signs reading “All Gambling… Strictly Prohibited” and “The Wages of Sin is Death.” Mitchell immortalized their expedition in his essay, “Up in the Old Hotel. The South Street Seaport Museum is open Wednesdays to Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $5, with kids nine and under, free. “This is a great place for kids,” said Jones, “and it’s one of the best bargains in the city.”

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O.W.S. exhibit rekindles dialogue over movement Continued from page 2 late last year. “It was a lot of work just to make people aware we were doing this,” said Corcoran. “But the work really began when the submissions started pouring in.” In sifting through the entries of the 200 participating photographers, noted Corcoran, the panel looked out for images that illustrated the hallmarks of the O.W.S movement. “We wanted to capture the broad scope of the movement in the exhibition, and show the diversity and the range of emotion over what happened over those couple of months,” said Corcoran. “Being that [the encampment] was just a few blocks from here, this seems like the right place to think about it.” Nostalgia overcame patron Alex Toutant, a senior at Oberlin College as he gazed at a photograph of the mass demonstration at Times Square on Oct.15, 2011. “I was there,” said Toutant. “It’s kind of striking to see it as history now.” The image of a young, blond-haired girl carrying a sign saying, “Look, Mom, No Future” captivated several patrons including Seaport Museum member and O.W.S. supporter Marcy Brownson, who formerly worked on Wall Street. “If America is to be who we were and who we say we are,” said Brownson, “we need to be inclusive and we need that little girl to one day

look back at that picture and say, ‘You know what, my holding that [sign] made a difference. The world is better now.’” Williamsburg resident Rebekah Krieger found the exhibit’s famous photograph of bloody-headed 20-year-old demonstrator Brandon Watts to be heart wrenching. While she didn’t personally witness the movement, Krieger, who is jobless, sympathizes with those of the protesters that are unemployed. “It was one thing to hear [about the protests] on the radio and another thing to see the images,” said Krieger. “The pictures are all hung cheek by jowl, so you really get overwhelmed by the imagery.” Several of the exhibit’s photographers were present, such as Daily News photojournalist Julia Xanthos. Xanthos, who had daily shifts at Zuccotti Park during the occupation, snapped a photo displayed in the exhibit of Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez rallying with other protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge to celebrate the movement’s two-month anniversary. “To watch the park transform into this village was incredible,” she said, “and to be able to be there day-to-day and document the changes was really special.” The large turnout Wednesday evening was gratifying to Xanthos and the other photographers. “Normally people these days sit at their computer and click through pictures. It’s beautiful to see people looking, pointing and having conversations about their pieces,” said Xanthos.

Downtown Express photo by Aline Reynolds

Protester Julio Rolon next to a tent that photographer Brendon Stuart set up in front of the Seaport Museum to promote the Occupy Wall Street photo exhibit.

Local photographers were on hand as well, such as Community Board 1 member Allan Tannenbaum and Downtown Express’s contributing photographer, Milo Hess. “It’s all wonderful,” said Tannenbaum of the show. “I hope it puts the Seaport Museum on the map.” “I’m honored, because I’m in the company of such renowned photographers,” chimed in Hess. In his photo, freelance photographer Andrew

Kelly, a resident of the Lower East Side, captured a touching moment of two young O.W.S. protestors embracing as cops conversed behind them. “I thought, for me, that would be the hardest thing to do — to always be watched by the police,” said Kelly. “Because sometimes they’d just make random arrests, and you’d just feel like you were constantly scrutinized.” In the spirit of O.W.S., photographer Brendon Stuart, who had two photos in the exhibit, set up a makeshift tent in front of the museum during Wednesday’s opening. The tent’s cover comprised a collage of some of the approximately 12,000 photographs Stuart took during the Zuccotti Park occupation. The tent’s outer design resembled the pattern of the Illuminati pyramid found on the U.S. Great Seal. “It’s a scheme where the bottom of the pyramid represents the 99 percent, the mass of people that don’t have as much power or money; and where the top has all the control and money and power,” explained Stuart. O.W.S. protester Julio Rolon, a professor in Puerto Rico who was arrested several times in New York and Washington during the fall demonstrations, appreciated the tent. The exhibit, he said, can help spread the word of the movement and enrich people’s understanding of its ideals. “If we actually get the word out there and the people get united,” Rolon said, “we’ll be able to actually stop this greed and this unfairness and injustice in our world.” That night, all was quiet at Zuccotti Park — quiet enough to hear a pin drop.

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Trying to give youth leagues first dibs on fields Continued from page 6 local coaches and league officials contend they still struggle to schedule games and scrimmages due to an inefficient permitting system and a hogging of the fields by adult leagues. The L.E.S. Warriors, a youth football league, is forced to trek to Randall’s Island for its home games, since the group lacks turf time in East River Park. “It’s not fair,” said Trenton Turner, president of the Lower East Side Athletic Corp., the league’s mother company. Gone are the days, Turner said, when a group of children could pick up a game of tag football in the eastside park, as he did with his friends growing up. “Those parks are [supposed to be] for the kids in their community, and the corporations are eating up the time,” said Turner. The NYC Parks Department, which manages the permitting system for use of the East River Park ball fields, is vowing to rectify the situation. Come next fall, all youth league permit requests will be fulfilled first, according to Parks Department Spokesperson Phil Abramson. Last year 60 percent of East River Park permits went to adult programs. “We’re formalizing the longstanding practice that all youth league applications receive permits before the adult leagues, since there has been a high demand for those fields,” said Abramson. The Department’s new plan will be finalized in late February, which gives Department officials time to make revisions to its current proposal after reviewing testimonies from a citywide hearing held last Thursday, Jan. 26 in Chelsea. Downtown Little League, a youth baseball league, had

permits for only one day a week during its 15-week season last spring, according to the league’s president, Bill Martino. As a result, practices weren’t long enough, he said, and the league was forced to cut back on games. “Last year, we had way too many practices on weeknights. It probably in retrospect was an unsafe situation,” said Martino, who testified at the hearing. “[The adult leagues] shouldn’t be allowed to be there,” said Martino. “They’re taking the fields away from the children.” NYC Financial Services Softball league and a few other adult leagues couldn’t be reached for comment by press time. Warren Street resident Jed Weissberg, whose two children belong to Downtown Little League, said practice at the Battery Park City ball fields runs late in the evenings because the fields are overcrowded with teams. “My ten-year-old son was practicing up until 8 or 9 o’clock on a weeknight,” said Weissberg. “That’s pretty late when you want to get him in bed by 8:30.” Nearly half of the East River Park field permitted to the Downtown Giants is used up by an adult flag football league on three weekends in the heart of the Giant’s fall season, according to Carl Frye, the league’s executive director. “This is our only home game field, and we use every minute of daylight while playing up to five full games per day,” Frye said. Participation in the Downtown Giants is an integral part of the lives of many local youths such as Liz Halbert’s elevenand nine-year old sons.

B.P.C.’s lesson on living with rats Continued from page 7

The Downtown Little School 15 Dutch Street (2 blocks east of B’way, off Fulton)

Serving children ages 2 - 5 years. For tours and information call (212)791-1300 or visit

“It increases their confidence, their physical activity, and makes them more focused on their school work, because there’s so much structure related to the team,” said Halbert. “But I think everybody would like to feel a little less crowded, especially on the east side. The spaces are too cramped.” The Giants often shuffle between four different ball fields around Manhattan in a given week during their fall season, and even then, they don’t get enough practice time in, according to President Julian Swearengin. “It’s stressful,” Swearengin said. “Sometimes kids forget where to go.” Another problem is that some leagues often don’t show up during their allotted times. “I live across the street from East River Park,” Swearengin said, “and I see huge fields going unused in the fall.” To solve this problem, NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who supports the proposed changes, suggested that the Parks Department launch a hotline for park users to report vacant fields and that it reevaluate permits based on how frequently the permit holders use the fields. Abramson said the Department already has an internal monitoring system in place to keep tabs on field usage. “The borough permit offices often do spot checks throughout the season to make sure the fields are being used properly and by the permitted groups,” Abramson said. “But we will work with fields staff and parks enforcement officers to further check on permits and ask groups to present permits while they are using our fields.”

through the mesh, eat the garbage and come back out. The first thing I said to Tessa [Huxley, executive director of the Parks Conservancy] was, ‘All of these gotta go.’ That in itself made a tremendous difference.” The mesh containers were replaced with solid metal garbage cans with domed lids and a hinged chute that rats can’t enter. Frantz also urged that Battery Park City get trash compactors so that garbage wouldn’t be sitting out on the street overnight. “We were able to convince the Battery Park City Authority to fund this experimental compactor program with the sanitation department,” said Huxley. “We have a compactor on Warren Street and one at 75 Battery Place in our building. Every day between 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., the custodial staff lines up, pushing big, plastic bins on wheels.” Commercial tenants must use private carters, but 17 out of 31 Battery Park City residential buildings participate in

the compactor program. “Those that don’t participate do so because of the distance to the compactors,” Huxley said. “You have to transport the trash to the compactors. All the buildings in the north participate and so do those in the south. Gateway Plaza does not participate. Neither do the buildings on the north side of Rector Park.” Rats are primarily nocturnal, said Frantz, so it is important that no garbage be left out on the street overnight. Trash pick-up occurs in the mornings. “If scheduling is that much of an issue, then use some of the space in the building to make refrigerated, pest-proof storage,” Frantz advised. “Tenants in the buildings could put a little pressure on their building managers,” Huxley suggested. In addition to addressing the availability of food, the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy attempts to deprive neighborhood rats of shelter. “Our staff fills rat burrows with gravel. We do everything we can to make [B.P.C.] inhospitable to pests,” Huxley said.

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February 1 - 7, 2012

Council puts D.O.H. on hot seat Continued from page 1 many studies need to be published to reach a conclusion. That was the message conveyed by Carolyn Greene, deputy commissioner for epidemiology at the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a member of the World Trade Center Medical Working group, which publishes an annual report on all of the research concerning the link between cancer and 9/11. “As a physician and as a human being, I think the diagnosis for cancer is horrendous,� said Greene. “But this is a case where early studies wouldn’t have shown us anything. It is still very early – we don’t have a lot of deaths to look at, and we need to acknowledge that.� At one point, Greene said, “I cannot give you a definitive answer on how many studies it would require. Sometimes, science can’t give us the answer quick enough.� Greene noted that people with health insurance can receive cancer screening and treatment at the city’s public hospitals and health clinics, even though the disease is not handled by the W.T.C. Centers of Excellence. Councilmembers were nevertheless frustrated with this answer, and are urging the federal government to add cancer to the federally subsidized 9/11 health program. The first few cancer studies published late last year prove that the illness found in many first responders, Downtown residents, area workers and others, is attributable to 9/11, they said. “If we know that asbestos alone causes cancer and that there are a certain amount of carcinogens in the air, it is common sense for us to say that a lot of the people would have developed cancer,� said Queens Councilmember Ruben Wills. “On the one hand, there are the studies, and on the other hand, people are dying,� said Councilmember Margaret Chin. “People need

treatment and resources.� Cancer is the second leading cause of death among all New Yorkers, Greene replied, and only now has enough time elapsed for the appropriate research to even begin to emerge. “Additional studies are needed,� Greene continued, “to determine if the early findings from these initial cancer and mortality analyses are replicated in different populations with different exposure levels, and if they change over time.� City health officials, Greene noted, do not have the authority to make cancer screenings and treatment available to 9/11 health patients at the W.T.C. Centers of Excellence. “I have to emphasize this decision lies completely with the W.T.C. health administrator, Dr. John Howard,� said Greene. That fact didn’t stop Brooklyn Council Member Stephen Levin from probing further. “I understand it’s not the city’s decision, but the city could at least make an informal recommendation [in support of] a preliminary determination,� said Levin. “It’s something we could look into,� replied Greene. Councilmembers also interrogated Greene about why government officials publicly announced that inhaling the air didn’t pose a health hazard to Ground Zero workers and others following 9/11. “I don’t buy into the claim that it was an unprecedented event,� said Councilmember Oliver Koppell, chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and Disability Services, which coled the hearing. “You were using instruments to check what we were breathing at the time. I can tell you, it tasted like sand.� “You make an excellent point,� replied Greene. “I can only say that we didn’t know enough in the early days.� “It is critical that we learn from [9/11],� Greene continued, “and what we learn now will inform us for future disasters.�

O.W.S. march: 12 arrests Continued from page 5 Thousands of participants frequented Washington Square throughout the day. The park was surrounded with info-tables. At one end a think-tank led a discussion on “What it means to be politically active.� Nearby there was a teach-in on the history of popular union songs. By 6 p.m. the occupiers had packed up their tables and hundreds waited around for the Oakland Solidarity march to begin. On the outskirts, members of the Direct Action working group debated whether the more aggressive tactics used by their brethren in Oakland were appropriate for the movement in NYC. The previous night had seen activists in Oakland attempt to occupy an abandoned building in hopes of turning it into an active community center and when they were deterred by tear-gas and flash grenade bearing police officers, they turned their sights on City Hall, which they occupied and defaced

with graffiti. One activist, who chose not to share his name, said, “I believe in allowing differing degrees of non-violent tactics, but this movement won’t support acts of aggression. Nothing can be accomplished by that kind of rage.� The march started with about 500 activists and police marched side by side separated only by the curb, with some journalists and photographers following along on the opposite sidewalk. The first arrest happened around 8 p.m. A young woman was dragged out of the crowd, resisting, by two police officers. The crowd attempted to take to the street multiple times but was pushed back by the police. The march finished at Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. Twelve occupiers had been arrested. Some marchers rested on benches while others lay on the ground using their backpacks as pillows. Most of the participants eventually took their leave and only about a dozen police officers remained in the surrounding perimeter.


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Red envelope tradition as strong as ever Continued from page 1 ture is exalted for its symbolic auspiciousness, which many city politicians said was a good omen for efforts aimed at revitalizing the local economy. The neighborhood was hit hard by the economic fallout following the Sept. 11 attacks and continues to face challenges stemming from its large foreign-born population and poverty among residents. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly one in five self-identified Asians in Manhattan live below the poverty line. “Chinatown is not immune to the struggles other Manhattan neighborhoods face. It is expensive to live here, and the cost of living is going up,� said City Councilmember Margaret Chin, who represents Chinatown. “Businesses have a hard time getting loans, and it is nearly impossible to find affordable commercial space. The cost of doing business is also rising. Rents are higher, it’s more expensive to park, fines are higher.� Chin added that the “lunar new year is a time for giving.� Good or bad economy, everyone in Chinatown hands out red envelopes to kids and young people,� said Chin. While the exact origin of the Chinese hongbao tradition is unknown, the intent is well established. The red envelopes have

been doled out for centuries, as gestures of good fortune with typical cash amounts ranging from a few dollars to several hundred. Amounts usually decrease according to increasing age and distance in relations with most residents interviewed receiving about 10-20 hongbao per year, each usually with $10 to $20 inside. They may not provide the financial boost enjoyed by young people in China — but they do make a difference, said local residents. The holiday also does not come with the long vacation time many workers in China enjoy. According to Egin Zheng, a native of Fujian Province who works in a restaurant near Columbus Park, cutting back on hongbao is not an option. Social tact and the need to appear economically prosperous despite economic difficulties also ensure that people give hongbao lest they lose face among peers, said Zheng. He added the holiday is an important respite from the hard work that defines his daily life. “You cannot care about the economy now,� Zheng said. “Last week I gave my niece $100. I never say, ‘ah because of the economy, I’ll just cut it in half to $50.’ No, no, we don’t do that.� In China hongbao often have a significant economic impact on young people, many of whom use the money to cover significant expenses in later months such as rent and

food costs. Roy Zhu, 21, said in his native Shanghai he received the equivalent of about $700 per year as a teenager, enough to buy a new computer, among other expenses. This year living in New York City he received about $200.

‘Good or bad economy, everyone in Chinatown hands out red envelopes to kids and young people.’ Margeret Chin City Councilmember

But in the U.S., hongbao are ultimately given more for the cultural rather than economic value inside them. “Giving out a hongbao is tradition. It doesn’t really matter how much it is. It’s supposed to bring you good luck and good fortune--the money in the red envelope. That’s the whole idea of it,� said Antley Chu, 24, of Brooklyn, who added the current state

of the economy however “definitely affects� the amounts given in hongbao. Jessica Ng, 24, a Chinatown resident, said she had received about $150 this year from hongbao, an amount that only goes so far in New York City. “It’s just like a free dinner because everything is expensive here,� said Ng. Community partners are needed to ensure that city services can reach across cultural and linguistic boundaries, help local businesses reach their full potential and boost the overall economy of the neighborhood, according to Chin, who said that “there are strong signs of growth�. “The Chinatown Business Improvement District is forming and the Chamber of Commerce has grown in terms of members. Small businesses owners are becoming more organized,� Chin added. Academic studies of the hongbao tradition are few, but a 2006 report from the University of California, Irvine examined the role of the practice in Southern California. While the role of money is an important element in the practice, a larger cultural richness looms. “The envelopes serve as a means to demonstrate to the giver and receiver a shared cultural existence and common bond, and it is through the continued evolution of this timeless tradition that money itself will serve as means to unite a culture,� states the report.


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THE BULLY This musical from Vital Children’s Theatre (part of their touring repertoire since 2005) returns to NYC for an extended run. “The Bully” tells the story of a bus mix-up stranding Lenny (the nerd) and Steve (the bully) at the wrong school — where they both get picked on for being “the new kids.” When the boys are forced to work together to get back to their school, they begin to learn that they might not be so different after all. Appropriate for ages 4-12. Through Feb. 26; Sat. & Sun. at 11am & 1pm. Weekday 11am & 1pm school holiday performances on Jan. 27 and Feb. 20, 21, 22, 23. At Vital Theatre (2162 Broadway, 4th Floor, on the North East Corner of 76th St. and Broadway). Tickets are $25 (seating in the first three rows, $30). For reservations, call 212-579-0528 or visit JIM HENSON’S FANTASTIC WORLD If you grew up on “Sesame Street” and have seen the new Muppet reboot currently in theaters (“The Muppets”), then a visit to this exhibit is a must. “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” has much more to offer than just the chance to see Miss Piggy and Kermit under glass. There are also drawings, storyboards, props and a reel of witty commercials from the black and white era of television. “Fantastic World” can be seen through March 4. At the Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave., Astoria). Museum hours: Tues.-Thurs., 10:30am5pm. Fri., 10:30am-8pm. Sat. & Sun., 10:30am-7pm. Admission: $10 for adults; $7.50 for college students and seniors; $5 for children under 18 (free for members and children under three). Free admission every Fri., from 4-8pm. For info and a full schedule of


TEATRO SEA PRESENTS “CENICIENTA/ CINDERELLA” Latino children’s theatre Teatro SEA is putting a bilingual, tango-infused musical spin on the Cinderella tale. All the classic characters are here: Cinderella still falls in love with the Prince, and she’s still overworked by an evil stepmother and a few jealous stepsisters — but “Cenicienta.” Teatro SEA parts ways with tradition, though, when it comes to the Fairy Godmother. In this version, she’s sick and a surprise character replaces her. Sat., Feb. 4, 11, 18 & 25—at 3pm. At Teatro SEA, New York’s Latino Children’s Theatre (Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St.). For tickets ($18; $15 for children), call 212-529-1545. For info, visit events, visit — or call 718-777-6888. THE FROG PRINCE The Galli Theater’s season continues with “Aladdin” (through Feb. 26). These productions are appropriate

for all ages. All shows take place at 347 W. 36th St. (btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). For tickets ($20 for adults, $15 for children), call 212352-3101 or visit Also visit gallitheaterny. com.

POETS HOUSE The Poets House Children’s Room gives children and their parents a gateway to enter the world of rhyme — through readings, group activities and interactive performances. For children ages 1-3, the Children’s Room offers “Tiny Poets Time” readings on Thursdays at 10am; for those ages 4-10, “Weekly Poetry Readings” on Saturdays at 11am. Filled with poetry books, old-fashioned typewriters and a card catalogue packed with poetic objects to trigger inspiration, the Children’s Room is open Thurs.-Sat., 11am-5pm. Free admission. At 10 River Terrace. Call 212-431-7920 or visit CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE ARTS Explore painting, collage and sculpture through self-guided arts projects at this museum dedicated to inspiring the artist within. Open art stations are ongoing throughout the afternoon — giving children the opportunity to experiment with materials such as paint, clay, fabric, paper and found objects. The CMA’s Multicultural Festival Series continues, with Sun., Feb. 19’s “Arty Gras Festival & Parade.” Celebrate Mardi Gras — and the 25th anniversary of New York’s legendary Two Boots Pizzeria — with masks, noisemakers and floats. A 4pm parade will be led by the Raya Brass Band. The day will also feature a special pizza snack from Two Boots! Regular museum hours: Mon. & Wed., 12-5pm; Thurs.-Fri., 12-6pm; Sat.-Sun., 10am-6pm. Admission: $10; free for seniors and infants (0-12 months). Pay as you wish on Thurs., 4-6pm. At 103 Charlton St. (btw. Hudson and Greenwich Sts.). Call 212-274-0986 or visit For group tours, call 212-274-0986, ext. 31. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR EVENT LISTED IN THE DOWNTOWN EXPRESS? Send information to Please provide the date, time, location, price and a description of the event. Information may also be mailed to 515 Canal Street, Unit 1C, New York City, NY 10013. Requests must be received at least three weeks before the event. Questions? Call 646-452-2497.

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February 1 - 7, 2012

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‘Stopped Bridge’ books you on a flight that might not be real BY SCOTT STIFFLER Like the uncertain fate of a traveler on standby, the takeaway from John Jesurun’s first production at La MaMa in a decade varies largely according to what they’ve got to offer on the particular night you decide to show up. Best, then, not to be tethered to the notion that somebody’s out to get you just because you came expecting a direct flight and ended up in a holding pattern. Based loosely on Japanese writer Saikaku Ihara’s “floating world” tales, “Stopped Bridge of Dreams” features a revolving nightly series of playlets whose characters are caught between the past and the present, life and death, earth and sky and freedom and servitude. The only thing they seem to have in common is a stubborn refusal to achieve bliss by accepting their fate. “We’re made up. We’re only pictures on a scroll. We’re not even born yet,” complains son Yoshi (Preston Martin) to his maybe mother Mrs. X (Black-Eyed Susan). Depending upon whom you believe, and what time period it is, mom either owns a 17th century Japanese teahouse built for pleasure or an anonymous, haunted jetliner

that serves as a whorehouse and way for the CIA to jettison enemies of the state into the ocean. To further complicate the narrative, Mrs. X might be dead (or maybe it’s Yoshi who’s the ghost). “Stopped Bridge” is thoroughly obsessed with matters of destiny, obligation, identity and regret — but thankfully free of the angst and empathy a lesser playwright would ask us to feel for the damaged searchers who negotiate terms of profit and surrender as the plane circles the globe providing kicks and kinks for those who can afford it. Morally ambiguous storytelling’s not enough for Jesurun, though. Told through text, video, music and a live internet feed, “Bridge” lets the audience eavesdrop on affairs of the heart, flesh and soul through multimedia done the right way. When son confronts mother on the stage, the scene also plays out in real time on video screens. Dangling from above, they offer all manner of artfully framed long shots and close-ups. The result is sort of like watching members of your family have an argument in the living room while a compelling soap opera on TV also demands your attention.

Photo by Darien Bates

Preston Martin and Black-Eyed Susan, in “Stopped Bridge of Dreams.”

Through February 5, Wed.-Sat., at 7:30pm; Sun., at 2:30pm. At La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St, btw. Bowery & 2nd

Ave.).) For tickets ($25; $20 for students/ seniors), call 212-475-7710 or at lamama. org. Visit

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February 1 - 7, 2012

Orchestra of St. Luke’s new home is an instant classic At DiMenna Center, musicians rehearse, record, recharge MUSIC THE DIMENNA CENTER FOR CLASSICAL MUSIC 450 W. 37th St. (btw. 9th & 10th Aves.) For info, call 212-594-6100 or visit

THE ORCHESTRA OF ST. LUKE’S Sun., Feb. 5, 3pm: The “Carmina Burana” Choral Project Sun., Feb. 16, 8pm: The Orchestra Series: Norrington & Denk At Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage 154 W. 57th St. (at Seventh Ave.) Tickets: $15-$35 for “Carmina” / 14.50-$83 for “Orchestra Series” To order, call 212-247-7800 or visit

Photo by Eric Weiss

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, in Mary Flagler Cary Hall.

Also visit BY SCOTT STIFFLER Selective forgetfulness, it seems, is often the cost of applying a laser-like focus to one particular skill. How else do you account for musicians who possess the mental acuity to get a receipt, yet manage to exit the cab without bothering to take along their priceless violin or cello? Such incidents — which have supplied countless media outlets with colorful human interest segments — seem to be dwindling. That’s probably because a relatively new hub for the city’s classical musicians has significantly reduced the need to dart around Manhattan from rehearsal to performance to lesson to audition. In March of 2011, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (now in its 37th year) achieved a longstanding goal by opening the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Located at 450 West 37th Street (in a building that’s also home to the Baryshnikov Arts Center), the 20,000+ square foot facility is New York City’s first space dedicated to classical music rehearsal, recording and education. Not just a home for the OSL, the sprawling complex provides local and touring musicians with low-cost, high-quality performance facilities. It also has a library, a café/lounge, offices, and an instrument storage room. “It was designed to be a home for the city’s freelance and part time musicians. We wanted to help alleviate what is often a brutal life,” explains OSL President and Executive Director Katy Clark. “If you play with a number of groups and maintain a teaching career and perform as well, in one day you might have to carry your instrument all around the city. Day in and day out, that can be exhausting.”

‘We’ve never had a home where we could actually let people know who we are and allow them to see how we do things.’ — Katy Clark, Orchestra of St. Lukes President & Executive Director

In just under a year, thousands of chamber groups, orchestras, opera companies, choruses and solo musicians have used the facility — including Iván Fischer, Renée Fleming, Emanuel Ax, Sarah Chang, the New York Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, New York Youth Symphony, American Ballet Theater, San Francisco Opera and the American Brass Quintet. Film scores and Broadway cast recordings have also been made there. While rehearsals typically take place in the 1,649 square foot Benazacon Hall, most of the recordings are done in Mary Flagler Cary Hall. At 3,395 square feet, Clark describes the “extremely large orchestra room” as a unique facility among the ever-shrinking list of Manhattan recording facilities. “Sound isolation is a huge part of this project. Even though we’re practically on top of the Lincoln Tunnel, it’s completely quiet in the room.” It also delivPhoto by Francis Dzikowski/Esto, courtesy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture

Continued on page 24

No place like home: The DiMenna Center for Classical Music.

February 1 - 7, 2012


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Bring on the thunder Annual TNC Pow Wow gathers the tribes BY SCOTT STIFFLER In 1963, a small group of like-minded Native American men and women from the Mohawk, Hopi, Winnebago and San Blas tribes came together to form what would become the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers. They were all “first generation� — meaning their parents had been born on reservations. Founded as a way to keep the songs, dances, music and traditions of their predecessors alive, their annual Dance Concert and Pow Wow at Theater for the New City has become a tradition of its own (this is their 37th year at TNC). Nearly two dozen members from over ten tribes will be on hand — with storytelling by the Coatlique Theatre (from the Chichimec tribe), a Hoop Dance by Marie McKinney (Cherokee), a Caribou Dance (from the Inuit people of Alaska), a Buffalo Dance (from the Hopi people), a Grass Dance and Jingle Dress Dance (from the Northern Plains people), a Stomp Dance (from the Southeastern tribes) and a Shawl Dance (from the Oklahoma tribes). The audience is invited to join in the Round Dance (a friendship dance) at the end of the program. The origin, meaning and significance of each performance will be explained through introductions by Thunderbird Dancers director and emcee, Louis Mofsie (Hopi/Winnebago). The matinees, which are shorter in length (90 min-

Photo by Lee Wexler/Images for Innovation

L to R: Carlos Ponce/Eagle Feather (Mayan) and Alan Browne/Shooting Star (Delaware/Dutch).

utes), have been designed for younger audiences. After the performance, the cast will be available to meet, greet and have their photos taken.

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Through Sun. Feb. 5. Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 3pm & 8pm; Sun. at 3pm. $10 general admission to all evening shows (running time, 2 hours). At matinees, children under

12 accompanied by a ticket-bearing adult are admitted for $1. Native American craft items will be displayed in the TNC lobby. All box office proceeds go to the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers Scholarship Fund. For tickets and info, call 212-254-1109 or visit Access blog entries and video clips at

Orchestra’s new home Continued from page 23 ers an aesthetically pleasing experience during those marathon recording sessions. “We have skylights for a little bit of natural light, which is great,� says Clark. “It’s a beautiful room. The floors and ceilings are made of Pennsylvania oak.� Wood in general is, she notes, good for acoustics. “But this type of wood is a nod to environmental sustainability.� Cary Hall, as they’ve come to refer to it, was named for the foundation that gave OSL the money to build the room. “They were huge supporters of the arts in New York City,� says Clark of the charitable trust that no longer exists. “They spent all their money and went out of business,� she notes. As for the risk taken by opening the DiMenna Center, Clark explains that the OSL’s decision to pursue its own self-contained rehearsal, recording and performance space began almost a decade ago. “We always knew there was going to be a market for this,� she says of the consistently booked rooms. At one point, “Exploring the Metropolis did a feasibility study involving a dozen orchestras in the city, and they all said, ‘We need a recording facility.’ So the Center was built to provide affordable space for non-profit organizations.� The high volume of rentals (all at below market rates) accounts for a significant amount of DiMenna’s annual revenue. The gap is made

up by contributed income and an endowment, which the OSL is seeking to increase. With its presence on West 37th Street firmly established, the OSL is now able to expand existing community outreach efforts and involve the public in its creative process. “We’ve never had a home where we could actually let people know who we are and allow them to see how we do things,� says Clark. Peeling back the curtain is what inspired “OSL@DMC� — a series of free concerts, arts education programs and radio broadcasts designed to help audiences understand how a concert is put together. In the coming year, “OSL@DMC� will expand its efforts by offering a musician coaching program, lectures and open rehearsals. By the time 2012 draws to a close, OSL will have played approximately 70 concerts throughout NYC and beyond. The upcoming Orchestra Series, at Carnegie Hall, features two concerts. On February 5 (at 3pm), the “Carmina Burana� Choral Project features Orff’s “Carmina� performed by 400 NYC students, along with three new studentcomposed works by Anthony Constantino, Thomas Reeves and Gabriel Smallwood. David Robertson conducts. On February 16 (at 8pm), Conductor Sir Roger Norrington and pianist Jeremy Denk present a concert of Classical symphonic works (the second installment of OSL’s 2011/2012 Orchestra Series). For more information, visit and

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February 1 - 7, 2012


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INADMISSIBLE Last week, a computer glitch erroneously led 72 early decision applicants to believe Vassar gave them the green light to join the class of 2016. If those crestfallen hopefuls attend the dark comedy “Inadmissible,” it will come as no surprise to learn that collegiate cyber incompetence is just the tip of the iceberg. Playwright D.B. Gilles makes a compelling case for the argument that it’s not just the best and brightest who get into our elite universities. This fly on the wall tale looks at the backroom deals and Machiavellian schemes conducted by an admissions committee at a university striving to make it into the Top 10. Through Feb. 18. Wed.-Sat., 7:30pm. At Canal Park Playhouse (515 Canal St., btw. Greenwich & West Sts.). For tickets (18), call 866-811-4111 or visit

THE LOSERS LOUNGE: BATTLE OF THE BANDS Like comedians who only lampoon the stuff they love, singer Nick Danger and session keyboardist Joe McGinty’s “Loser’s Lounge” pays tribute to “guilty pleasure” songs that — for the most part — deserve respect but are often ridiculed. Now an iconic piece of pop culture in its own right, “Lounge” has logged over 300 shows since its 1993 debut. Famous warblers often stop by to sing — and recipients of the semi-satirical wrath have been known to attend their own tribute nights (Lee Hazlewood, Paul Williams and Denny Doherty of the Mamas and Papas all showed up to revel in their own brilliance and absurdity). This time around, the Losers stage a Battle of The Bands. So who’s better, Steely Dan or The Doobie Brothers? When the dust settles and the best of the Dan/Doobie cannon has been, well, canonized, an audience vote will determine the winner. If it’s not Steely Dan, and we’re in attendance, they’d better have the riot police on speed dial. Thurs., Feb. 2 at 6pm; Fri., Feb. 3 at 7pm & 9:30pm; Sat., Feb. 4 at 6:30pm & 9pm. At Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St., btw. Astor Place & E. 4th St.). For info, visit loserslounge. com.

Photo by Jim Baldassare

Richard Hoehler and Kathryn Kates navigate the troubled waters of the college admission process, in “Inadmissible.”

BROWN RICE FAMILY, UNDERGROUND HORNS AND PITCHBLAK BRASS BAND Brass, funk and hip-hop are the common threads weaving their way through this ambitious triple bill of musical groups. The Brooklyn-based Underground Horns — who’ve made good on their “music for the people” mission statement with unannounced concerts in subway stations and parks throughout the city — assure us they’re cooking up an audio gumbo of New Orleansinfused Afro Funk peppered with jazz, hiphop and brass band traditions. Brown Rice Family’s jamming “straddles ancient and con-

Continued on page 27

Photo courtesy of the artists

Brown Rice Family, one-third of a funky, brass-infused bill.

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February 1 - 7, 2012


Just Do Art! Continued from page 26 temporary global sounds” with a vibe that recalls (but doesn’t necessarily resemble) the output of Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and Antonio Carlos. Reggae, hip-hop, dancehall, afro beat, jazz stylings, rock, Brazilian, Latin and funk all figure into the organic flow of BRF’s take on World Roots Music. PitchBlak Brass Band’s “hip-hop driven music” also incorporates intense raps, grooving rhythms, funk, jazz, rock and classical music. Sat., Feb. 11, at 9pm (doors open at 8pm). At 92YTribeca (200 Hudson St., at the corner of Canal St.). For tickets ($10), visit Also visit, and

BOTANICA Writer and director Jim Findlay has spent the better part of the last 15 years collaborating with innovators such as The Wooster Group, Bang on a Can, DJ Spooky and Collapsable Giraffe. With “Botanica,” he and co-writer Jeff Jackson have crafted a thematically ambitious, visually compelling futuristic black comedy that questions social norms, the limits of science and the complicated relationships between people and plants (as well as people and, well, other people). Inside the sealed walls of a terrarium, love begins to bloom between two maverick botanists who’ve hit a wall in their quest to reveal the hidden world of plant consciousness. Maybe a new research colleague will shake things up. Enter a janitor who’s been reading erotic literature and his own dirty poetry to the plants. Before long, the experiment begins to produce results — and unforeseen consequences. Not for the shy or prudish, the source material for “Botanica” includes the French surrealist erotic literature of Louis Aragon, George Bataille and Colette Peignot/Laure (with a nod to Peter Tompkins’ 1973 best-selling book, “The Secret Life of Plants”). Feb. 1, 3, 4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25 at 8pm; Feb. 19 at 7pm. At 3LD Art & Technology Center (80 Greenwich St., btw. Rector & Edgar St.). Tickets begin at $20. To order, call 800-838-3006 or visit

Photo by Ilan Bachrach

Plant life: “Bontanica” contemplates consciousness.

Photo by Anya Garrett

WHAT’S YOUR STORY There’s at least one good book in every human being — but it’s the rare individual who has the time or inclination to write that book. Storytelling is another matter. Who among us hasn’t unleashed a monologue (or a manifesto) in response to a kindhearted question about how our day is going? Your host, Kambri Crews, isn’t shy about asking that question or listening to the answer. “What’s Your Story?” is a monthly show where comedians, authors and other fun folks (including a person plucked from the audience) tells tall, but true, stories. Plus, Crews teaches you the Deaf party game “Elephant” — which she possibly learned while growing up in a tin shack with her deaf family. Ask her to tell that story, or just read her book (“Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir”). The February installment of “What’s Your Story?” fea-

Kambri Crews, inquiring host of “What’s Your Story?”

tures naughty balloon twister Kenywn Dapo, Used New York writer Jennifer Glick, Dan Wilbur (of the Luca Lounge show, “Lasers in the Jungle”), Huffington Post Comedy Editor Katla McGlynn and Eric Vetter (of the very funny about-town comedy showcase, “No Name and a Bag O’ Chips”). Oh, did we mention Kambri’s “Southern Fried Friend” Justin Gray will be there? He will! Thurs., Feb. 9, 7pm. At Luca Lounge (222 Ave. B, btw. E. 13th & 14th Sts.). Free admission, no drink minimum. For info, visit

PSYCHO THERAPY Frank Strausser’s new comedy mines the power of three — as in, three on a couch.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Angelica Page and Jeffrey Carlson take on the talking cure, in “Psycho Therapy.”

When Phillip (who’s engaged to Lily) shrugs off their couples therapy appointment, Lily jumps into the capable, familiar arms of Dorian — her old boyfriend. Before long, the complicated trio ends up in the capable hands of therapist Nancy Winston. Angelica Page (daughter of Geraldine Page and Rip Torn, and a Helen Hayes Award winner for “Sideman”) stars, alongside Jeffrey Carlson (not seen on the NYC stage for nearly four

years), Obie winner Jan Leslie Harding and TV soap veteran Laurence Lau. Through Feb. 25. On Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 3pm/8pm; Sun. at 3pm/7pm. At The Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce St., off Seventh Ave.). For tickets ($66), call 212-352-3101 or visit ($20 student rush tickets available at the theatre, prior to each performance).


February 1 - 7, 2012

downtown express


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