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VOLUME 6, NUMBER 10 FEBRUARY 12, 2014

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL'S KITCHEN

Hudsonview Terrace Tenants Paying the Price for Broken Promises BY SAM SPOKONY Low-income tenants at a Hell’s Kitchen building say the landlord is forcing them to pay unfair rents that are higher than what they agreed to under a city-subsidized housing program. Dozens of those residents at Hudsonview Terrace — a 38-story, 396-unit tower at 747 10th Avenue, between West 50th and 51st Streets — entered the Section 8 enhanced voucher program after their formerly Mitchell-Lama building was bought out by a private owner, Empire State Management, in 2003. At that time, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the landlord reportedly granted those tenants what they thought would be a good deal — keeping them in the building, even as a large number of market rate tenants moved in alongside them. “In 2003, we were told [by both the city and the landlord] that our rent would be 30 percent of our annual income,” said Kelly Ann Junior, one of Hudsonview’s Section 8 tenants. But Junior says that she’s now paying more than 50 percent of her annual income for her one-bedroom apartment, after HPD approved Empire’s numerous rent increases. Other Hudsonview tenants — some of them seniors living off Social Security checks — are suffering similar or worse

financial burdens, according to a lawsuit filed this past year in State Supreme Court by the Section 8 tenants against both Empire and HPD. One senior, who lives in a one-bedroom that now rents for just over $2,300 per month, said in the suit that she’s been ordered to pay 60 percent of her income. Another elderly resident said the rent on her two-bedroom apartment has, since 2011, been $3,300 per month, of which she is forced to pay nearly $1,350 per month — adding up to around 53 percent of her annual reported Social Security Disability income. Some market rate tenants at Hudsonview now allegedly pay rents that are actually lower than those of voucher tenants — with the suit claiming that the landlord is doing so in order to use the additional city subsidies to pad its own pockets. Aside from pulling away money from HPD’s already cash-strapped Section 8 program, that difference would violate another agreement from the 2003 Mitchell-Lama buyout, namely that rents charged to voucher tenants should not exceed those of their market rate counterparts. As evidence, the suit claims that in 2011, a market-rate tenant in a two-bedroom apartment was granted a major con-

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TALKING POINT, LETTERS PAGE 8

OTHELLO: THE PANTHER PAGE 14

Photo by David Wilkinson, courtesy of Friends of the High Line

Snow Problem At All: Volunteers Dig The High Line As a certain Staten Island-based groundhog with an annoying gift for prognostication continues to mock us, a group of volunteers are pitching in — by digging the High Line out. See page 2 for info on how to make the elevated park safe for strolling, after the next big storm (and the one after that, and the one after that).

CB4 Sees Presentation, Hears Frustrations BY EILEEN STUKANE Undeterred by snow, slush, ice and a last-minute change of venue, roughly 100 residents of Community Board 4 (CB4) braved the weather to voice various quality of life concerns — when CB4 held its monthly full board meeting on Wednesday, February 5 (at the Hudson Guild on West 26th Street). While storm winds blew outside, a conflict was brewing inside — over a new farmer’s market and a contentious liquor license application. First, though, the board discussed a special permit (later approved) for Crunch Gym to replace the David Barton gym in the old McBurney YMCA building

on West 23rd Street (near Seventh Avenue). Then, a presentation was given by representatives of Brookfield Properties’ Manhattan West development. Located near Hudson Yards, Manhattan West (on Ninth Avenue, from West 31st to 33rd Streets) is a massive, 5.4 million squarefoot office, residential and hotel development of five buildings. Two 60-story North and South glass towers are to be separated by an outdoor landscaped plaza. Brookfield has applied to the NYC Department of City Planning for what’s called a “text amendment” to change the zoning for the plaza, allowing it to expand from 1.3 to 2.02 acres over Dyer Avenue and

5 15 CANAL ST., U N IT 1C • MAN H ATTAN , N Y 10 013 • COPYRIG HT © 2014 N YC COM M U N ITY M ED IA , LLC

the rail yards. The application did not require a public hearing, but CB4 requested that Brookfield show the community its plans. Presenting on behalf of Brookfield, Keith O'Connor noted that a platform would be built over the full width of Dyer Avenue from West 31st to 33rd Streets, and that the streets would be connected by an open pedestrian walkway. Slides were projected of an Entry Plaza, Central Plaza, Event Space, Pavilion and Art Plaza on the proposed expanded public space. CB4 was invited to have a representative join the Brookfield team that manages the Event Space.

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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

High Line Seeks Volunteers, to Clean and Clear

Photo by Joan Garvin, courtesy of Friends of the High Line

With its densely planted landscape vulnerable to rock salt and chemical melting products, the High Line relies upon old school shovels and push-behind brooms to clear snow from its narrow walkways. That’s where you come in, on the morning after a large accumulation. Once the Operations staff rolls out the snow blowers, drop-in volunteers are paired with a High Line Staff member to clear snow for as long as their supply of elbow grease lasts. If braving the cold isn’t your thing, the Spring Cutback crew will be trimming back grasses

and perennials. After attending a training session, you’ll be asked to participate in two shifts, between March 3 and 28, Mon.Wed., from 8-10:30am or 12-2pm. Then, take a friend for a stroll along the elevated park, wait for them to “ooh” and “aah,” and proudly tell them that you helped make it happen. To sign up for snow removal, visit thehighline. org/about/park-information/snow-and-iceremoval.For Spring Cutback opportunities, go to bit.ly/springcutback2014.

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Splosh Liquor Application Gets Served Continued from page 1 Splosh, on Eighth Avenue near West 18th Street, describes itself as a “Bar & Lounge, Café and Sexy Boutique.” The 24-hour business opened its boutique portion (selling toys, lube and other adult items) in November 2013, with owner Dumesh Kankanamalage aspiring to create a multi-cuisine restaurant in the front of his first floor and on the second floor (where drinks would also be served). He applied to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for a liquor license. Kankanamalage, who identifies his target demographic as gay men, is also the owner of the nearby Rainbow Station, a 24-hour adult establishment — but he differentiates the two businesses by the fact that there are no viewing booths or DVD pornography at Splosh. Bill Borock, representing the Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA), along with several Chelsea residents, spoke out against approval of a liquor license for what they called a “sex shop.” “The neighborhood on Eighth Avenue between West 17th and 21st Streets is becoming a neighborhood of fun palaces with elements of prostitution that the police don’t seem to want to address,” said resident Frank Lowe (male prostitution in the neighborhood was brought up by other speakers as well). He also cited a number of safety hazards in the Splosh building, such as a demolished hallway wall and a lack of sprinklers. Another resident noted that the owner did not have a certificate of occupancy for a restaurant. CB4 had a letter of “denial” in bold type ready for the SLA. What the outraged residents did not know at the February 5 meeting was that Kankanamalage had already given up on the effort to get a liquor license. He told Chelsea Now, in an interview this week, that he had rejected the idea of a liquor license after going to CB4’s Business License and Permits Committee meeting in January where he was faced with strong opposition. “I didn’t expect this at all,” he said, “Other businesses, which I don’t want to name, made public opinion that my business was very bad. People are scared.” Kankanamalage intends to go forward with his plans, without serving liquor. He is applying to get a restaurant permit from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and says his architect is “working on” the necessary arrangements for a certificate of occupancy. “I’ll wait for a liquor license,” he vowed, promising to “show my operation, and people can see what I have. They’re coming to judgment without proper knowledge of what’s going to happen. I’m not going anywhere because a few people want to sabotage my business plan. I’m not going to be intimidated or lose my determination. I’ll make it work with the community.” Kankanamalage reports that at Splosh, he has one security camera outside and plans to install a second camera. There are 15 security cameras inside Splosh. (Rainbow Station has two outside security cameras and 32 inside). When asked about the possibility of encouraging male prostitution, Kankanamalage says he has no evidence of that. He says that he has gone to the 10th Precinct and told the police that his cameras are continuously monitored and he does not see prostitution. CB4 Chair Christine Berthet suggested that the community show up at the 10th Precinct Community

Photo by Scott Stiffler

Permit to dine, but no license to serve drinks? The owner of Splosh (temporarily?) changed his business model, after a frosty reception from CB4’s Business License and Permits Committee.

Council meetings (at 7pm on the last Wednesday of every month) to report their concerns. “I encourage all of you who came to talk about Splosh to go there and present your displeasure in the lack of enforcement. Go repeatedly. They are fully aware that there is prostitution. You need to put pressure to get what you want,” she advised.

FARMER’S MARKET FACE-OFF

The CB4 agenda included a letter (to be voted on later in the evening) to the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO), recommending approval for a Down to Earth Farmers Market to open on the north side of West 23rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm from June through November. Jon Zeltsman, president of Down to Earth, had appeared at a number of CB4 meetings, had done outreach to the community and was being sponsored by Church of the Holy Apostles — whose soup kitchen director Michael Ottley had written in a letter of support, reading: “Establishing a Down to Earth Farmer’s Market will enable ETB/SNAP, WIC and FMNP along with other citywide Food Coupons recipients to purchase fresh northeast grown food by reducing barriers and better linking local farms with local residents.” Down to Earth would also bring its unsold produce to Holy Apostles soup kitchen at the end of market days. However, in an eleventh hour move, Cathy Chambers of GrowNYC Farmers Market, which is in Union Square, and markets throughout the five boroughs, addressed the meeting and asked that the board table its vote on the Down to Earth market until GrowNYC had a chance to make its presentation to the Quality of Life Committee. She said that GrowNYC had been invited by a resident of Penn South to apply for a

permit for a Farmers Market in the same location. A petition on change.org had collected 300 signatures in favor of GrowNYC. Chambers was supported by Brian Hammerstein, the originator of the petition. Hammerstein spoke of the nonprofit appeal of GrowNYC and the familiarity of its vendors who come to Union Square — then asked the board to table its vote. “If you vote for Down to Earth today then they’ll get the permit without GrowNYC having a chance,” he said. Bill Borock spoke and reported that Down to Earth had done its community outreach while, “We never heard from GrowNYC and all of a sudden, at this moment, we hear there is a petition...I think one dis-

Continued on page 4

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CB4 Favors Down to Earth’s Market Bid Continued from page 3

Photo by Eileen Stukane

Keith O’Connor, presenting for Brookfield, discusses the Manhattan West development (to his left, CB4 Chair Christine Berthet).

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tinction is that some people are saying that Down to Earth is a for-profit certified B corporation versus GrowNYC which is not-for-profit. In a poll, six of our block associations covering 12 blocks want the Community Board not to delay a vote and to approve the vote for Down to Earth.” Pamela Wolff, who recently resigned as a full board member (but remains as a public member), noted that she has been working with Down to Earth on its community outreach since September 2013. “I find it disturbing,” said Wolff, “that GrowNYC should be so ready to steal the petition from Down to Earth after our months of interaction with Down to Earth and the Chelsea community.” Later in the evening, the board voted to recommend approval of Down to Earth’s street activity application. Chelsea Now attempted to contact Cathy Chambers by phone and email to learn whether GrowNYC would continue its pursuit of a Chelsea Farmers Market. No response was received. Meanwhile, Zeltsman is starting to line up vendors in anticipation of the hoped-for approval by SAPO: “We look to bring in vendors with a sufficient range of purchase prices to satisfy all residents of Chelsea, which has an economic mixture. Our objective is to provide food options for everyone.”

and owned by Port Authority, be secured for Stiles. In the evening’s agenda, CB4 also had a strong letter to Port Authority in support of that site for Stiles. The shifting nature of businesses from service establishments to bars and eateries is creating despair in the community. Richard Grander of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance spoke for the great need for relocation of Stiles and reminded everyone of the disappearance of a Key Food, Fine Fair and two Associated markets from the area. A Catch-22, he noted, is that people who hold onto their residences can’t afford to shop locally without affordable markets. Relocating Stiles, he said, “was a way of preserving the diversity of retail.” Many in attendance applauded. All were also aware of the flip side of their losses, now regarded as the “oversaturation” issue. “It’s the overabundance of bars that are open until 4am on Ninth Avenue,” said Diana Lawrence, a resident of West 43rd Street. “Nowadays on Friday and Saturday nights it’s like fraternity row. This is appalling, as is the intrusion of bars into the midblocks between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.” The approval of liquor licenses came into clear debate when Patrick Hughes and Dan McLaughlin, the popular owners of Lansdowne Road and Pony Bar spoke about their wish to apply for a liquor license for Kiabacca a pizza and beer establishment they hope to cre-

Richard Grander of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance spoke for the great need for relocation of Stiles and reminded everyone of the disappearance of a Key Food, Fine Fair and two Associated markets from the area.

MARKET GONE, BUT BARS & EATERIES THRIVE

On December 31, 2013 when developers closed Stiles Farmers Market at West 41st Street and Ninth Avenue, community residents sprung into action forming Save Our Stiles and alerting CB4. A Stiles Market remains at West 52nd Street serving the northern portion of the community — but there is a dearth of options in the southern end of Hell’s Kitchen. Councilmember Corey Johnson spoke about a letter that he, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried have sent to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey requesting that the property at 551 Ninth Avenue, former space of Project Find’s Senior Center

ate adjacent to their Pony Bar on Tenth Avenue between West 45th and 46th Streets. There was no doubt that they are good operators who create jobs, boost the local economy and work with the community. However, Tom Cayler, who is involved in the Neighborhood Task Force for Business Planning under the auspices of the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association, stepped forward to ask in strong terms, “What is the saturation level the community can take?” Cayler acknowledged Hughes and McLaughlin saying, “These guys are great, they’re terrific operators. Kiabacca will be the eleventh full liquor license within 500 feet on Tenth Avenue between West 44th and 47th Streets. How many

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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

Some Hudsonview Voucher Tenants Paying More Than Market Rate Neighbors

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Section 8 tenants at Hudsonview Terrace are at odds with the landlord, over rents that exceed half their annual income.

Continued from page 1 cession by the landlord and was allowed to pay only $1,266 per month in rent — even less than the aforementioned voucher tenant, who was reportedly paying around $100 more. “It’s a clear violation of the agreement, and it’s unconscionable,” said Junior. “It doesn’t just rip off the tenant; it rips off the government.” Empire State Management did not respond to a request for comment. Junior stressed the alleged government rip-off because, as all this is going on, HPD’s Section 8 program has faced deep budget cuts over the past year (as a result of the federal sequester), and in recent months the agency has said it may even have to start revoking vouchers if the federal government doesn’t grant it $400 million in new funding this year. Junior and her lawyer, Robert Katz —

who represents her and the other tenants in the aforementioned lawsuit — believe that better HPD oversight of landlords like Empire would cut down on waste and help keep more stable funding within the Section 8 program. “The landlord here is really just subsidizing the market-rate tenants at the expense of HPD,” said Katz. HPD declined to comment, instead deferring to the city’s Law Department, which responded by citing the result of a previous lawsuit filed by Katz on behalf of the Hudsonview tenants. That 2011 suit, which also named as a defendant the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — the federal agency that oversees and funds HPD — was dismissed by a federal judge. “Having prevailed in the federal district court, we believe the [State] Supreme Court will find HPD’s actions to be proper,” said Ilyse Sisolak, senior counsel for the city’s Administrative Law Division.

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Pete Seeger, Folk Singer, Activist Icon, Dies at 94 OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU Pete Seeger, a pioneer in the revival of American folk music whose performances and recordings were integral to his lifelong dedication to the civil rights, peace and environmental movements, died Monday. His death at the age of 94 at New York Presbyterian Hospital was confirmed to The New York Times by one of his grandsons, Kitama Cahill Jackson. His wife of 70 years, Toshi Ohta Seeger, who organized many of Pete’s concerts, died in July at the age of 91 at the Seegers’ home in Beacon, NY. Pete Seeger’s seven-decades-long career included singing for migrant workers in California with Woody Guthrie in 1940; reaching the top of the charts as one of the Weavers singing “Goodnight Irene” in 1950; a conviction (later overturned) in 1961, after several blacklist years, of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about his previous Communist Party membership; many antiwar concerts, and singing with Bruce Springsteen at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. While celebrated for his commitment to social change (“We Shall Overcome,” which he co-wrote, became an anthem of the struggle against racial segregation), Pete Seeger will also be linked forever with the restoration of the Hudson River. In 1966 he and his wife organized the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, to build a replica of the sloops that carried freight along the river in the 19th century, in order to promote Seeger’s campaign to clean up the badly polluted river. The 106-foot-long sloop, built in Maine, was launched in 1969 and a couple of years later was plying the Hudson. Public awareness of the pollution led to General Electric’s commitment in 2009 to cleaning up the toxic PCBs the company had been dumping for years near Schenectady. Pamela Wolff, a member of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association, which charters the Clearwater for an annual sail on the Hudson, recalled that Seeger would often visit the sloop in Manhattan in the early 1990s. Wolff, who volunteers as a Clearwater crew member for a week each year, also recalled a ferry trip about 10 years ago to Sandy Hook, NJ, the site that year of the annual Great Hudson River Revival concert, which Seeger and his wife organized. “I got on the ferry in Midtown and found Pete and his grandson Tao Rodriguez onboard,” Wolff said. “There were hardly any other passengers and we spent the trip talking. “I knew Pete before. I first met him when I was about 6 years old — he must have been around 20,” Wolff recalled. “My father, who was editor of the Nashville Tennessean, was giving a seminar one summer at the

Photo by Jefferson Siegel

Pete Seeger in fall 1968 performing at a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Paul O’Dwyer at Madison Square Garden.

Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn. It was a school that trained labor union organizers. There is a photo of me somewhere sitting on Zilphia Horton’s knee and Pete singing in the background.” It was at the Highlander school that “We Shall Overcome” was created, according to The New York Times. Horton, Highlander’s music director, had heard a version of an old gospel song, “I’ll Overcome,” from a striking tobacco worker. Horton taught a version, “We Will Overcome,” to Seeger, who changed it to “We Shall Overcome” and added verses. Seeger taught it to the singers Frank Hamilton and Guy Carawan, who later became Highlander’s music director. Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at its founding convention, according to the Times. Pete Seeger’s environmental commitment was recalled this week by Cy Adler, founder of Shorewalkers, a hiking and environmental organization. “Pete was a great shorewalker and a friend,” Adler said in an e-mail. “We started walking, talking and writing to each other in the 1960s. We explored areas of the Hudson together along the shore north of Peekskill and south of Poughkeepsie. Several times we walked legs of the Great Saunter [an annual 26-mile Shorewalkers hike around the perimeter of Manhattan] together. “He liked to take the train down to Spuyten Duyvil and join us at Inwood Hill Park,” Adler said. “Last year we wrote a song together against gun violence. To raise money for the NYC Friends of Clearwater, Pete once sang in my apartment at a party of

about 50 people — many musicians crowded in to perform. We have a recording of the event. Pete slept on my couch that night. “I never saw him in a suit,” Adler noted. “He told me he had trouble finding an old tuxedo when he was given a national award by President Clinton. Since he did not use a computer, we communicated mostly by phone and the U.S. mail. I have three thick folders of correspondence. Lots of postcards with his clear script and songs. Pete was a good, generous, creative, walking man. We will miss him,” Adler said. Pete Seeger was born May 3, 1919, in Chelsea’s French Hospital, on West 30th Street between Eighth and Ninth Aves. His father, Charles, was a musicologist and his mother, Constance de Clyver Edson, was a concert violinist. Pete began playing the ukulele while attending Avon Old Farms, a boarding school in Connecticut. By that time, his parents had divorced and Pete’s father and stepmother, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, were collecting folk songs with the likes of John and Alan Lomax. Pete first heard the five-string banjo, which later became his instrument of choice along with the 12-string guitar, when his father took him to a North Carolina country dance festival. Pete attended Harvard where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League. But he dropped out after two years, and came to New York. Alan Lomax helped Pete get a job at the Library of Congress in Washington transcribing folk music at the Archive of American Folk Song. Seeger returned to New York around

1940, then traveled west with Woody Guthrie, performing at union rallies and concerts, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains. He founded the Almanac Singers with Millard Lampell and Lee Hays, along with Guthrie, who joined later. Seeger was drafted into the Army in 1942 and married Toshi Ohta while in basic training in 1943. After the war he founded People’s Songs, which published political songs and organized concerts. Pete also began performing in clubs like the Village Vanguard, and in 1948 toured with the actor and singer Paul Robeson in Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign for president. In 1949, Pete, Toshi, their son, Daniel, and two daughters, Mika and Tinya, moved to their 17-acre plot in Beacon, living in a tent while they built their log-cabin house. Around the same time, Pete, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman began singing together as the Weavers. The group made hits in 1950-51 with songs like “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and Guthrie’s “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You” selling about four million singles and albums, according to the Times. But around the same time, the anti-Communist publication Red Channels named Seeger as being suspected of Communist Party membership. Investigations by the U.S. Senate and House subcommittees followed. Although the Weavers broke up, Seeger continued to give concerts, tour campuses and record for Folkways, an independent label. In 1959 he was among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival, and in 1961 he was signed to Columbia Records. Nevertheless, he was barred from network television until 1967 when he performed an antiwar song for a recording for the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” The song was dropped before the program was aired, but Seeger returned the following year to perform it for broadcast. Seeger was elected in 1972 to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the 1980s and ’90s he toured with Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son. Pete Seeger won a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1993, and the following year President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts. Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The previous year he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album, and in 2011 he won a Grammy in the Children’s Music category. On his 90th birthday in 2009, Seeger, along with Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez and dozens of other artists, performed at a Madison Square Garden concert to benefit the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. That August, Pete sang at the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival. In addition to his son, two daughters and his grandsons, Tao and Kitama, six other grandchildren, two half-sisters and four great-grandchildren also survive. Mike Seeger, a half-brother who founded the New Lost City Ramblers, died in 2009.


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Identity House: A Half-Century of Love BY SAM SPOKONY After they first met within the halls of Chelsea’s old French Hospital, 46 years went by before Lee Zevy and Lucy Ianniciello finally got married last October. And quite a lot happened during that time — much of which they spent making an indelible mark on New York City, by helping to found and sustain Identity House, its oldest continuously operating, all-volunteer LGBT organization. It was an unlikely match from the beginning, aside from the obvious struggles of the time. The year was 1967, and Zevy, a 25-year-old girl from the Bronx, had recently finished college and was working as a secretary at the West 30th Street hospital — a position she gained through her mother, who’d already been working there for some time. Queens-born Ianniciello, who was 37 at the time, had also already worked her way up the ranks to lead French Hospital’s nuclear medicine laboratory. And one day — for reasons perhaps unknown — Zevy’s mother introduced them to each other, quickly igniting a spark that has never gone out. “We still don’t know if my mother knew exactly what was going on,” said Zevy, now 72, with a laugh, sitting next to her wife, now 84, in their longtime home on West 17th Street. “But she definitely set us up, and my mother was a party girl from Brooklyn, so she probably had some idea.” One thing that was never in doubt was the connection between the two women, which cut through the forced secrecy, silence and pervasive prejudice of the day, as well as their dozen-year age gap. “I just started flirting, and she didn’t know what hit her,” said Zevy, flashing another smile. Ianniciello had a house upstate in Peekskill at that time, and within a year Zevy took the leap and moved in with her. They both continued commuting into the city — Ianniciello remaining at her hospital post, and Zevy beginning her career in earnest as a caseworker for the Department of Social Services. It was during her time at the city agency that, in 1971, Zevy and a male co-worker

Waiting to exhale: At a party celebrating their trip to the City Clerk’s office, Zevy realized, “A lot of people we knew were holding their breath, waiting for us to finally get married.”

decided to come out to each other. “Even that was dangerous back then,” said Ianniciello. But the experience had a deep effect on Zevy — who would soon go back to school to get a master’s degree in social work — and made her want to get involved in helping other closeted men and women who were in periods of personal crisis. She started learning more about how counseling, originally through phone hotlines, was truly helping struggling gays and lesbians, and she heard about some people working to create new walk-in counseling centers at which otherwise frightened people could share their feelings, and their stories, with trained peers. At that point, the psychotherapist Ralph Blair had already founded the Homosexual Community Counseling Center, New York’s first such organization, which, as opposed to the idea of peer-based counseling, was run in a clinical setting. Therapist and gay activist Charles Silverstein — Chuck, as

Zevy calls him — worked for Blair at that group, but later changed course, according to the women. “Ralph was kind of autocratic, so Chuck eventually split with him,” said Zevy. “And

then Chuck got together this group of humanistic and gestalt therapists, with the idea of setting up a new, different organization to counsel gays and lesbians.” Zevy got word of the development, and she was there for the first meeting, alongside Silverstein, to set up what would become the revolutionary organization called Identity House. Initial planning sessions took place late in 1971 and into 1972, at the West 16th Street office of gay therapist Patrick Kelley. A new group began to form that, although overseen by licensed therapists, would allow gays and lesbians to counsel their peers in a more intimate, non-medical setting. While continuing her own job, Zevy volunteered as one of the first counselors, and Ianniciello took some time away from her medical career to do much-needed administrative work for the group. By the end of 1972, in coordination with a gay-friendly pastor, Identity House began holding its first walk-in sessions in the basement of the Church of the Holy Apostles, at the corner of West 28th Street and Ninth Avenue. Due to scheduling and space constraints, the organization began its somewhat nomadic journey by moving back into Kelley’s office in 1973, where many troubled men and women traveled to speak with Zevy and

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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

Long Past Time for Obama Action on Jobs Protections TALKING POINT BY PAUL SCHINDLER Faced with nearly unremitting opposition from congressional Republicans, President Barack Obama has, in the past couple of years and even more so in recent days, spoken about moving his agenda forward through the issuance of executive orders and other administrative actions. In perhaps the most dramatic example of that approach, the president used his State of the Union Address last week to underscore his commitment to get around GOP roadblocks against a minimum wage increase by issuing an order that contractors doing business with the federal government must pay their employees at least $10.10 per hour. Currently, the federal minimum wage is only $7.25. In an economy that has experienced a steady widening of the gap between society’s richest and poorest, the president’s actions represent a commendable show of leadership. But his willingness to enforce a minimum wage on federal contractors makes his continued failure to enforce on that

very same class of companies requirements that they abide by nondiscrimination practices when it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity all the more difficult to understand. On repeated occasions, the administration’s response to questions about a nondiscrimination executive order has consisted of simply pointing to Obama’s support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In fact, in a recent exchange with the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson, who has done exemplary work in bringing this issue up at White House briefings, press secretary Jay Carney was more than a bit petulant, saying, “Chris, you know, we’ve talked about this a lot” — “this” being something Carney insisted on dismissing as “a hypothetical executive order for LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors.” But if that’s the wrong approach, it’s hard to discern the advantages of the administration’s approach — continuing to push for ENDA, which the Republican leadership in the House has made clear it has no intention of moving on. In fact, the Blade also reported, Speaker John Boehner recently told members of the House LGBT Equality Caucus that there

was “no way” the measure, approved for the first time by the Senate — after more than 20 years — in November, would get a floor vote in the House this year. Clearly, Republican intransigence on LGBT jobs protections is at least as great as their opposition to raising the minimum wage. And the president can address both issues in precisely the same way, by enforcing a mandate on those who wish to profit by doing business with the federal government. That group is far from all companies, of course, but the breadth of businesses that are federal contractors means that such executive action can have profound influence on what the overall environment is for LGBT employees nationwide. Increasingly, in order to be competitive in the labor market, even companies that don’t do business with the federal government will see the wisdom in adopting workplace fairness guidelines. Currently, 29 states offer no private sector employment protections for LGBT workers — and lest anyone think that New York has surmounted that hurdle, it should be remembered that the Empire State is among another six that offer protections based only on sexual orientation, not gender identity.

In 2012, Tico Almeida, who as founder of Freedom to Work is among the strongest proponents of a presidential executive order, pressed the administration hard on this issue as Obama campaigned for reelection. Many gay voters, however, largely focused on the president’s embrace that May of marriage equality. Even advocates working alongside Almeida to see an executive order become a reality thought that action was more likely in a second term and so were willing to give Obama time. The time for patience is over — in fact, it was a long time ago. With Democrats widely expected to fall short in their hopes of regaining the House this November, there is a very good chance that Obama will never have the opportunity to sign ENDA into law. But as with an executive order on the minimum wage, the president can achieve a lot with the stroke of the pen. In an interview with Bloomberg News, John Podesta, recently named a White House counselor, broke with the administration’s pattern of dodging the issue, saying a nondiscrimination executive order “is under consideration at the White House. We're looking at that." Let’s hope that on this one, it is Podesta and not Carney who speaks for the president.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Bayview not so beloved To The Editor: Re “Bayview’s Future Not Locked Down, but it Won’t Go Condo” (news, Jan. 29): “Beloved institution?” Women’s prison, tiny rooms for long dead seamen. From the photo, it may be historically significant — but it sure is grim-looking. Nobody made a big deal when they tore down the woman’s prison in the Village. I personally was sad to see it go. I enjoyed the ladies cat-calling the guys waiting at the bus stop across the street. That historic institution was replaced by a garden, closed to the public most of the time. Richard Kopperdahl

Drug-free labor, just fine To The Editor: Re “Midwife’s Memoir a Labor of Love” (profile, Jan. 29): “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard,” about a midwife in Maine in the 18th century, showed she had the same good stats as modern OB today. As a student nurse in the 60s, I saw strapped down, medicated childbirth. Decided wasn’t for me. Gave birth without drugs so I would recover, be awake and the baby wouldn’t be drugged. Worked just fine, thanks. Hope Conyers

Eighth Ave. article left out thriving newbies To The Editor: Re “Parting Ways with the Neighborhood They Helped Define” (news, Jan. 29): I am excited for the new stores and fresh perspective. A big part of why these other stores closed is they didn’t adapt. Camouflage closed, but Behavior opens two locations. Spruce florists opens and thrives. Foragers is a hit. Montmarte is packed. Westville packed. Grumpy’s, packed. There are a lot of new, independent businesses that are thriving. This article completely fails because it includes one perspective and there seems to be a rush to subsidize businesses that may not have a need or audience anymore. John Russo

Knock down, soul out To The Editor: Eighth Avenue has been changing for years. I remember when it was mostly bodegas, and Christopher Street, and later, Columbus Avenue, were NYC’s gay Main Streets. Short of creating a BID [Business Improvement District] that proscribes what kind of retail may go into real estate, one can’t get in the way of money. The problem is that this change is soulless. The sad loss of the Flea on Sixth Avenue and its replacement

with high-rises with large retail spaces was not what I call progress. I preferred the smaller individual businesses and the way that multiple small, funky buildings contrast with the newer bigger ones. Problem is, the bigger buildings are created with bigger spaces that are ideal for CVS and Duane Reade. I’m all for change, but I’ll call it on this — some change is much better and healthier than others. The city has to evolve or it will become useless and quaint. But this kind of change toward large soulless franchises will be much harder to change out of. Any individual store that underperforms can continue in place indefinitely, subsidized by its clones elsewhere. For a city, architecture and real estate do matter. Every developer should have learned this from Battery Park City and its “Stepford Wives” streetscape. It’s easy to knock things down. You can’t create soul. Robert Kole

CORRECTION In “Parting Ways with the Neighborhood They Helped Define” (news, Jan. 29), we indicated that The Dish has been open for 34 years. The correct number is 16 — still an achievement, and certainly enough to qualify it for membership in the list of “longtime remaining eateries” on Eighth Avenue.

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Community Contacts To be listed, email scott@chelseanow.com.

info

to

COMMUNITY BOARD 4 (CB4) CB4 serves Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods of Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen. Its boundaries are 14th St. on the south, 59/60th St. on the north, the Hudson River on the west, 6th Ave. on the east (south of 26th St.) and 8th Ave. on the east (north of 26th St.). The board meeting, open to the public, is normally the first Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is Wed., March 5, 6:30pm, at Fulton Auditorium (119 Ninth Ave., btw. 17th & 18th Sts.). Call 212-736-4536, visit nyc.gov/mcb4 or email them at info@ manhattancb4.org. COMMUNITY BOARD 5 (CB5) CB5 represents the central business district of New York City. It includes midtown Manhattan, the Fashion, Flower, Flatiron and Diamond districts, as well as Bryant Park and Union Square Park. The district is at the center of New York’s tourism industry. The Theatre District, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, the Empire State Building and two of the region’s transportation hubs (Grand Central Station and Penn Station) fall within CB5. The board meeting, open to the public, happens on the second Thursday of the month. The next meeting is Thurs., March 13th, 6pm, at Xavier High School (30 W. 16th St., btw. 5th & 6th Aves., 2nd fl.). Call 212-465-0907, visit cb5.org or email them at office@cb5.org. THE 300 WEST 23RD, 22ND & 21ST STREETS BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at 300wba@gmail. com. THE WEST 400 BLOCK ASSOCIATION Contact them at w400ba@gmail.com.

CHELSEA GARDEN CLUB Chelsea Garden Club cares for the bike lane tree pits in Chelsea. If you want to adopt a tree pit or join the group, please contact them at cgc.nyc@gmail.com or like them on Facebook. Also visit chelseagardenclub.blogspot.com. LOWER CHELSEA ALLIANCE (LoCal) This group is committed to protecting the residential blocks of Chelsea from overscale development. Contact them at LowerChelseaAlliance@gmail.com. THE GREENWICH VILLAGE-CHELSEA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Call 212-337-5912 or visit villagechelsea.com. THE MEATPACKING DISTRICT INITIATIVE Visit meatpacking-district.com or call 212-633-0185. PENN SOUTH The Penn South Program for Seniors provides recreation, education and social services — and welcomes volunteers. For info, call 212-2433670 or visit pennsouthlive.com. THE BOWERY RESIDENTS’ COMMITTEE: HOMELESS HELPLINE If you know of anyone who is in need of their services, call the Homeless Helpline at 212-533-5151, and the BRC will send someone to make contact. This number is staffed by outreach team leaders 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. For more info, visit brc.org. THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER At 208 W. 13th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Visit gaycenter.org or call 212620-7310. GAY MEN’S HEALTH CRISIS (GMHC) At 446 W. 33rd St. btw. 9th & 10th Aves. Visit gmhc.org. Call 212-367-1000.

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Member of the National Newspaper Association Chelsea Now is published biweekly by NYC Community Media LLC, 515 Canal St., Unit 1C, New York, NY 10013. (212) 229-1890. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $75. Single copy price at office and newsstands is 50 cents. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2010 NYC Community Media LLC, Postmaster: Send address changes to Chelsea Now, 145 Sixth Ave., First Fl., New York, N.Y. 10013.

PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

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

HUDSON GUILD Founded in 1895, Hudson Guild is a multi-service, multi-generational community serving approximately 14,000 people annually with daycare, hot meals for senior citizens, low-cost professional counseling, community arts programs and recreational programming for teens. Visit them at hudsonguild.org. Email them at info@ hudsonguild.org. For the John Lovejoy Elliott Center (441 W. 26th St.), call 212-760-9800. For the Children’s Center (459 W. 26th St.), call 212-7609830. For the Education Center (447 W. 25th St.), call 212-760-9843. For the Fulton Center for Adult Services (119 9th Ave.), call 212-924-6710. THE CARTER BURDEN CENTER FOR THE AGING This organization promotes the wellbeing of individuals 60 and older through direct social services and volunteer programs oriented to individual, family and community needs. Call 212-879-7400 or visit burdencenter.org. FULTON YOUTH OF THE FUTURE Email them at fultonyouth@gmail. com or contact Miguel Acevedo, 646-671-0310. WEST SIDE NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE Visit westsidenyc.org or call 212956-2573. Email them at wsna@ hcc-nyc.org. CHELSEA COALITION ON HOUSING Tenant assistance every Thursday night at 7pm, at Hudson Guild (119 9th Ave.). Email them at chelseacoalition.cch@gmail.com. FRIENDS OF HUDSON RIVER PARK Visit fohrp.org or call 212-757-0981. HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST Visit hudsonriverpark.org or call 212627-2020. SAVE CHELSEA Contact them at savechelseanyc@ gmail.com.

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein EDITOR Scott Stiffler REPORTERS Lincoln Anderson Sam Spokony EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS

Sean Egan Maeve Gately

PUBLISHER EMERITUS John W. Sutter

SR. V.P. OF SALES AND MARKETING Francesco Regini RETAIL AD MANAGER Colin Gregory ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Allison Greaker Michael O'Brien Andrew Regier Rebecca Rosenthal Julio Tumbaco

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DISTRICT 3 CITY COUNCILMEMBER COREY JOHNSON Call 212-564-7757 or visit council.nyc. gov/d3/html/members/home.shtml. STATE SENATOR BRAD HOYLMAN Call 212-633-8052 or visit bradhoylman.com. CHELSEA REFORM DEMOCRATIC CLUB The CRDC (the home club of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried) meets monthly to exchange political ideas on protecting the rights and improving the lives of those residing in Chelsea. Visit crdcnyc.org or email them at info@crdcnyc.org. THE SAGE CENTER New York City’s first LGBT senior center offers hot meals, counseling and a cyber-center — as well as programs on arts and culture, fitness, nutrition, health and wellness. At 305 Seventh Ave. (15th floor, btw. 27th & 28th Sts.). Call 646-576-8669 or visit sageusa.org/ thesagecenter for menus and a calendar of programs. At 147 W. 24th St. (btw. 6th & 7th Aves.) THE SYLVIA RIVERA LAW PROJECT works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. Visit srlp.org. FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment) builds the leadership and power of bisexual, transgender and queer youth of color in NYC. Visit fiercenyc.org. THE AUDRE LORDE PROJECT is a lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender non-conforming people of color center for community organizing. Visit alp.org.

ART / PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Troy Masters SENIOR DESIGNER Michael Shirey GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Andrew Goos Chris Ortiz CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. Marvin Rock

CONTRIBUTORS Jim Caruso Martin Denton Sean Egan Ophira Eisenberg Paul Schindler Trav S.D. Eileen Stukane

DISTRIBUTION & CIRCULATION Cheryl Williamson

VIDEO SEGMENT PRODUCER Don Mathisen


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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

POLICE BLOTTER

Photo by Scott Stiffler

Left to Right: Community Council President Larry O'Neill and Captain David Miller (10th Precinct Commander) honor Officer Eric Rivera for his exemplary Christmas Eve actions.

COP OF THE MONTH

The night was far from silent, but at least it wasn’t violent — thanks to Officer Eric Rivera’s quick response and calm demeanor. On Christmas Eve, Rivera was called to 264 Tenth Ave., to investigate a 911 call about a loud family dispute. Already in the area for a previous complaint of violence, Rivera arrived at the location in under 30 seconds. There, he encountered a mother and son in a heated verbal exchange, with the son punching a wall. When the son made a move for a bag placed near the doorway, the mother said, “No, he’s got a gun in the bag!” Rather than make a provocative move of his own, Rivera asked the mother to give him the bag, which she did. It contained a .44 Magnum (a particularly powerful weapon known as the “Dirty Harry gun”). The son made a run for it, and Rivera apprehended him after a brief pursuit — then took him into custody. For skillfully diffusing the situation, Rivera was awarded the 10th Precinct’s Cop of the Month award, at the January 29 Community Council meeting. Captain David Miller (precinct commander) and Larry O’Neill (president of the council) called Rivera to the podium, where he received a citation from the State Assembly, and recognition from the offices of State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and City Councilmember Corey Johnson.

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Petty Larceny: The Tao of theft

Petty Larceny: Sad song of Norway

In a room full of strangers, it only takes one. Upon leaving Tao Downtown (92 Ninth Ave., at 16th St.) in the early morning hours of Sat., Feb. 2, a 25-yearold woman realized that her cell phone (an iPhone 5s valued at $649) was missing from her bag. While having dinner at the popular restaurant (located inside the Maritime Hotel), the victim placed her pocketbook next to her — giving ample opportunity to what she described as an establishment that was “crowded” with “people around her she didn’t know.” At least she knew enough to insure the device, and arm it with a “Find My Phone” app. Unfortunately, the sticky-fingered thief knew enough to turn the phone off, which renders the app useless. Later, when the victim checked her Facebook account, she saw that it had been accessed from a number in the 718 area code. She called the number, and gave police the name, which came up on the user ID.

A 21-year-old Norwegian tourist’s illadvised one-night stand led to $1,050 worth of morning after regrets. At around 3am on Sat., Feb. 1, the victim and his new friend (whom he knew only as “Jasmin”) made their way from a nearby bar back to his room, at Hotel 309 (309 W. 14 St., btw. Eighth Ave. & Hudson St.). When he awoke around 9am, Jasmin was gone — along with a Swatch watch ($250), $300 in cash and an iPhone 5s ($500). The phone was purchased just over 12 months ago…but the scam he fell for was as old as the fjords.

Burglary: Broken door hammers home vulnerability He was clearing snow from the sidewalk, when he should have been getting his house in order. In the early evening of Tues., Feb. 4, a thief took advantage of a couple’s open door policy. While one man was upstairs, his partner was shoveling snow — then went back inside, closing the front door (which does not close properly in the cold). An hour or so later, the victim went into the basement and saw an open book, which aroused his suspicions. Upon further investigation, he saw that the entire area had been ransacked. Two items, both useful tools for things such as door repair projects, were taken: a hammer and a drill, both valued at $75.

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

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

Aggrevated Harrassment: From chatty cabbie to crazy Cupid A business card given to a cab driver led to an unwanted two-week courtship. In mid-January, a 27-year-old West Chelsea woman took a taxi home. During the ride, she struck up a conversation with the driver. After finding out her occupation, he represented himself as a potential client, and requested a business card. Since then, he contacted her multiple times (though phone calls and text messages), asking to meet up. She repeatedly told him to stop calling, but the romantic overtures continued — culminating in the filing of a criminal complaint.

—Scott Stiffler

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Commander: Captain David S. Miller. Main number: 212-741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-741-8226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-741-8210. Detective Squad: 212741-8245. The next Community Council meeting, open to the public, takes place at 7pm on Wed., March 29.

THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Ted Bernsted. Call 212-477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-477-7427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meeting takes place at 6:30pm on the third Tues. of the month.


Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

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CHELSEA: ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Buhmann on Art BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN stephaniebuhmann.com

THE AGE OF SMALL THINGS

Curated by Chuck Webster, this exhibition includes 53 works culled from studios and galleries, as well as private homes near and far. Conceived over the course of several months, the project started with a wish list — after which Webster gathered the works through traditional and unexpected sources (the latter including his dentist). This process of search and discovery mirrors the curator’s delight for things small that can easily be overlooked. Overall, it makes for a playful yet serious installation. Featuring Ellen Altfest, Donald Baechler, Balthus, Brian Belott, Jake Berthot, Katherine Bradford, Brice Brown, Charles Burchfield, Valerio Castello, Vija Celmins, Joseph Cornell, Carroll Dunham, James Franklin, Suzan Frecon, Ted Gahl, Robert Gober, Glenn Goldberg, Philip Guston, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Mary Heilmann, Alfred Jensen, Bill Jensen, Don Joint, John Lees, Brice Marden, Chris Martin, Joan Mitchell, Elie Nadelman, Francis Picabia, Sigmar Polke, Tal R, James Siena, Ross Simonini, Kiki Smith, Myron Stout, Richard Tuttle, Dan Walsh, Chuck Webster, John Wesley, Michael Williams and Terry Winters. Through Feb. 23, at DODGEgallery (15 Rivington St., btw. Chrystie & Bowery Sts.). Hours: Wed.-Sat. 11am-6pm and Sun., 12-6pm. Call 212-228-5122 or visit dodge-gallery.com.

Courtesy of the artist, Michael Werner & Dodgegallery (Photo by Martin Parsekian)

Francis Picabia: “Deux danseuses espagnoles” (1923: watercolor, ink, pencil on paper 8 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches). At DODGEgallery, through Feb. 23. Part of “The Age of Small Things.”

Courtesy of the artist, Cheim & Read and Dodgegallery (Photo by Martin Parsekian)

Tal R: “INN (20.08.06)” (Wax crayon and pastel on paper, 11.625 x 8.375 inches). At DODGEgallery, through Feb. 23. Part of “The Age of Small Things.”

ELANA HERZOG: PLUMB PULP

For the past ten years, Herzog has stapled found textiles onto walls. Bedspreads and carpets, for example, are mounted by using thousands of metal staples. Parts of the fabric and staples are then removed and sometimes reapplied, leaving a vivid aftermath of shredded material and perforated wall surface in some areas, as well as dense built-up areas elsewhere. Physically, these “sculptural drawings” reflect vigorous acts of penetrating, distressing and ornamenting the skin of the wall. As products of a chain of actions and reactions, they serve as a metaphor for the basic process involved in all human technology. Feb. 15 through March 30, at LMAKprojects (139 Eldridge St., btw. Broome & Delancey Sts.). Hours: Wed.Sat., 11-6pm, Sun., 12-6pm and by appointment. Call 212-255-9707 or visit lmakprojects.com.

Courtesy of Lmakprojects, NY

Courtesy of Lmakprojects, NY

Elana Herzog: Untitled (P81). 2013 (handmade paper, textile; 29 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches, 33 1/4 x 25 3/4 inches framed). From “Plumb Pulp,” on view at LMAKprojects from Feb 15-March 30.

Elana Herzog: Untitled (P83). 2013 (handmade paper, textile; 28 1/4 x 21 inches, 32 1/4 x 25 inches framed). From “Plumb Pulp,” on view at LMAKprojects from Feb 15-March 30.


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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

Comfortable, not Complacent Linda Oh heads to the Jazz Gallery with key collaborators

Hudson Guild Theatre Company presents

Edward Albee’s The Death of Bessie Smith Hudson Guild Theater 441 W. 26th Street, New York, NY

Photo by Vincent Soyez

Linda Oh is joined by Sam Harris, Kendrick Scott and Dayna Stephens, at her Feb. 22 Jazz Gallery gig.

Performances February 14, 2014 February 15, 2014 February 15, 2014 February 16, 2014

8PM 2PM 8PM 3PM

February 21, 2014 February 22, 2014 February 22, 2014 February 23, 2014

8PM 2PM 8PM 3PM

Edward Albee’s The Death of Bessie Smith a taut early work in one intense act by America’s greatest living playwright depicting the corrosive effects of repression and racism in this country

Suggested Donation: $10.00 For Reservations & More Information, Call 212-760-9817

MUSIC LINDA OH Linda Oh, bass; Dayna Stephens, saxophone; Sam Harris, piano; Kendrick Scott, drums Sat., Feb. 22 at 9pm & 11pm At The Jazz Gallery 1160 Broadway, 5th Floor (at W. 27th St.) Tickets: $20 ($10 for Jazz Gallery members) Advance purchase: jazzgallery.org Visit lindaohmusic.com for info on the artist

BY SAM SPOKONY Two years after winning a coveted “rising star” award from DownBeat Magazine, bassist/composer Linda Oh has certainly become much more than a vibrant young talent in the eyes and ears of jazz fans. With three albums under her name, she’s explored the depth of both acoustic and electric sounds, with a sense of open-mindedness that can push freely and intricately past idiomatic boundaries while often remaining solidly in touch

with the simple, sheer beauty of tradition. Now, Oh is months away from reaching a milestone that many of us, especially artists, are not so quick to celebrate: she’s almost 30. But the age-centric self-consciousness that can often be found amid the New York scene (possibly marked by some panic-laden, alcoholism-inducing checklist of musical achievements) is quite absent from her thinking. Oh isn’t artistically complacent, but she’s comfortable — and she carries a kind of lighthearted wisdom that matches the spirit of her playing. “Yeah, I guess I used to have some anxiety about turning 30,” she said, over a cup of hibiscus tea in the Village, just a few minutes before walking her bass to a gig at Christopher Street’s 55 Bar. “But then I just kind of let go of it. As you get older, I think you start to value the private victories more than the public ones.” An ongoing effort to reach some of those private victories — one that inspired her second album, 2012’s “Initial Here” — has been a powerful journey back through her cultural heritage. Oh, who now lives in Harlem, spent her formative years in Australia (and she still carries the accent) after being born to Chinese parents in Malaysia. “Initial Here” was rooted in that search

Continued on page 13


Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

13

Linda Oh, at The Jazz Gallery

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Sands of time: Linda Oh approaches 30 with a mature reverence for the past.

Continued from page 12 to capture some of the soul of traditional Eastern folk music and incorporate it into the harmonically complex language of jazz, and her passion was immediately recognized by listeners and critics alike. Talking about her upcoming February 22 gig at the Jazz Gallery, Oh said she’ll be revisiting some of the tunes from that album, as she continues telling — and learning — her story of cultural and musical identity. “I think there are so many beautiful parts of Chinese culture that people in the West aren’t exposed to,” she explained. “The tradition is so far removed from where we are here, and I just want to keep getting to know more about aspects of that culture.” It makes sense to delve back into those feelings for the upcoming show, because on that night Oh will be joined by a quartet featuring the immensely talented tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, who also backed her on “Initial Here” (pianist Sam Harris and drummer Kendrick Scott, two other key voices in the contemporary jazz sphere, will round out the group). One particularly important tune from that record, and one to listen for at the February 22 gig, is “Thicker Than Water,” a deeply personal tribute to Oh’s

grandmother, for which the bassist wrote lyrics that are half in English and half in Mandarin. It was originally recorded as a duo, with Oh emotionally bowing her instrument alongside the vocalist Jen Shyu. But, just as it’s been performed live ever since, audience members will this time hear an instrumental version that will undoubtedly bring an equally engaging vibrancy to the piece. The upcoming show won’t just be about reviving older tunes — she’ll also be introducing several new ones that haven’t yet been publicly performed. These, she noted, have been inspired by an impulse to bring more bass oriented melodies into the mix, and to reassert the inherent tonal strength of her instrument. “It’s not about just playing melodies all the time,” she said. “It’s really about wanting to take more responsibility with my own music, and to see in what other ways I can bring out my role a bit more.” And while she’ll never be called uptight, it becomes clear, once you sit down for chat with her, that Linda Oh’s sense of responsibility — and alongside it, her sense of self — is unshakable. Maybe it’s just part of turning 30, but maybe there's something much deeper and intellectually stimulating at work there — something that shows itself in every thinking pause she takes, and every note she touches.

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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

It’s a Love Revolution Black Panther Party-based ‘Othello’ has heart, soul and claws

Photo by Adam Mace

Come together, right now: A capable, 30+ cast gives “Othello: The Panther” its muscular kick.

THEATER OTHELLO: THE PANTHER Presented by Rebel Theater Company, Be. Do. Fly!, & The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Conceived, Written & Directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj Co-Written by Jonas Goslow Based on Shakespeare’s “Othello, the Moor of Venice” Through Feb. 23 Thurs. & Fri. at 7pm Sat. & Sun. at 6pm (except Feb. 23: 2pm) At Nuyorican Poets Cafe 236 East Third Street (btw. Aves. B & C) Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door To order, visit nuyorican.org

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Dressed in the common threads of the cause, fist raised and surrounded by an intense, engaged group of brothers and sisters, you feel like you’re an important part of something bigger than yourself. But beyond the surface of that determined call and response chant

(“Power to the people! All the people!”), somebody’s plotting your downfall — and if they get the power, chances are it won’t be used to elevate anyone other than themselves. It’s 1982, and we’re in Oakland, California. After sixteen years of smear campaigns, harassment, infiltration and the jailing of its leadership, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense is on the ropes. Now comes word that the Harlem chapter has been raided, along with talk that the feds are “making mighty preparation to descend on Oakland” for a similar action that will also target the group’s free clinics and breakfast programs for “heavy disruption.” In the midst of crisis, though, there’s opportunity: Honorable Minister Ray has interrupted the group’s political education and synchronized callisthenic session to announce that good soldier Othello has been anointed to lead a defense and retaliation movement. Ordered to report to his new safe house at 7am, Othello and his new bride, Desdemona, will have a very short honeymoon. So the two lovebirds (one black, one white) retreat for a few hours alone — she, cooing Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” and he, slow-jamming Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” But not everybody is singing a happy refrain. Desdemona’s would-be suitor, Rod Amigo, and her mother, Isabelle, are both locked into rage mode — and the leadership shakeup caused by Othello’s ascension puts Iago and Cassio at odds. With the movement forced underground, jealousy, ambition and love are about to do far more damage than the

Continued on page 15


Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

Power Plays Continued from page 14 best efforts of the media, the feds and local law enforcement. That’s the high-stakes plot of “Othello: The Panther” — an ambitious, charismatic and exceedingly well-done adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Othello: The Moor of Venice” that scatters its multicultural cast throughout the theater-in-the-round setting of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Mere feet from rubbing shoulders with them, the air crackles and the floor shakes with the coiled intensity of over two dozen Panthers ready to strike down outside aggressors or, more likely, turn on their own. Seen by this paper for review on the night before its official February 1 premiere, cowriter and director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj welcomed the audience with a few notes, and one disclaimer. His request to forgive common dress rehearsal gremlins such as blown lines, missed lighting cues and forced stops proved unnecessary. Every element of the production (a lean, muscular, two-plus hours) was ready for prime time — with its cast navigating the dense script (a 60/40 blend of new and old) with confidence, precision and ease (well, they made it look easy). Maharaj was similarly upfront about the production’s desire to shift hearts and minds from viewing the Panthers as violence-prone race baiters (a false image created by the media and government, he asserts). By setting his “Othello” in the movement’s waning days, all the better to emphasize their self-determination, community activism, racial inclusion and gender equality. Truth be told, the Panthers (in any stage of their existence) could do a lot better in that last department. That much is said, and more, in a frank discussion between Desdemona and Iago’s love, Emilia (Kubbi, in a particularly nuanced performance). It’s one of the play’s best scenes, with Emilia lashing out at the “childish jealousies” that are wreaking havoc with group cohesion and domestic tranquility. “Husbands must know,” she warns, that “their wives are human too: they see and smell and have all kinds of tastes for sweet and sour, as husbands have.” To their credit, Maharaj and his collaborators (co-writer Jonas Goslow, and assistant directors/associate producers Adam Mace and Arielle Gannon) don’t let the movement (or mankind in general) off the hook for these, and other, transgressions. Like any group of people who come together for a single purpose (whether it’s the office Secret Santa pool or a political party), interpersonal conflict is always in a land grab with the big picture goals. As for sussing out the true nature of the movement, there’s more than one play to be written about the Panther Party’s teachings and deeds. But this production, obligated as it is to follow the narrative of “Othello,” does very well by spending the lion’s share of its time exploring “the contemporary role that race plays in politics” and examining “conflicts in groups that advocate for progressive social change.” It’s a trip worth taking, as much for the performances as for the

political enlightenment. Initially written (and beautifully played) as a blissed-out hippie chick whose love revolution platitudes seem as empty as they are naive, Kaitlyn Schirard’s Desdemona quickly settles into her role as the production’s closest thing to a pure soul in possession of a solid moral core. That said, the writers (of the new stuff and the original) aren’t above taking a page from scheming Iago’s playbook, by planting seeds of doubt that grow into nagging suspicions. Doth the lady protest too much, when her forceful advocacy on behalf of Cassio is pegged for romantic interest? Hey, if she’ll lie about that, maybe she isn’t even pregnant. And what about the erudite, physically imposing, increasingly brooding Othello? He connects the dots of history, politics, race and class with surgical precision — yet remains blind to the fact that Iago (Jonas Goslow, calculating and brilliant throughout) is feeding him cues that paint his

Are we actually supposed to be rooting for this guy? For all but a few of his fellow Panthers, it’s an easy choice to follow the leader — thanks largely to the outward confidence that Kena Anae brings to his deeply conflicted Othello.

closest allies as sinister traitors. Are we actually supposed to be rooting for this guy? For all but a few of his fellow Panthers, it’s an easy choice to follow the leader — thanks largely to the outward confidence that Kena Anae brings to his deeply conflicted Othello. When he implores his followers to remember him as “one that loved, not wisely, but too much,” we feel it. So who’s the real villain? It’s difficult to tell — a phrase that would make a fitting epitaph for the multitude of gravestones somebody’s going to have to pay for by the end of the play. This being a Shakespearian tragedy, it’s no spoiler to note that most of the main characters, whether drawn as black, white or gray, end up meeting the business end of a dagger. Only falsely accused Cassio (Nathanial Ryan, poignant in wounded mode and even better once redeemed) lives to see another day — and instructs his Panthers to be brave, seize upon the triumphs of past deeds, and know that all who define themselves through love and sacrifice are true revolutionaries.

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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

Noise Complaints Aside, Theatre May Violate Zoning Laws

Photo by Scott Stiffler

BY SAM SPOKONY Chelsea’s cell theatre may be facing trouble that goes further than noise complaints from its neighbors, as the Department of Buildings (DOB) is now investigating possible zoning violations at the building. This newspaper previously reported that the theatre, at 338 West 23rd Street (between Eight and Ninth Avenues), has taken flak from some West 22nd Street residents whose windows open onto its outdoor, backyard space — an area that the theatre has, during the summer, used for rehearsals and performances of Shakespeare plays, as well as jazz concerts and various party rentals. And although no official action has yet been taken, it now looks as though the cell may not be legally able to use its backyard for any of those purposes. According to a February 5 email forwarded to Chelsea Now by Huck Hirsch, a West 22nd Street resident who has made numerous complaints about the cell, a DOB official stated that commercial activity is not allowed in that rear yard, since it is considered accessory only to residential use. It’s unclear how the Department is handling that discrepancy at this point, because a spokesperson for the agency, in response to questions about the legal use of the backyard, declined to comment on that particular issue. But the spokesperson did say, in a February

11 email, that the DOB is “investigating complaints about the use of this building as a theater.” And based on city zoning regulations, it would seem that the cell may not even be able to hold theatrical performances inside, regardless of the outdoor issue. According to the Certificate of Occupancy for 338 West 23rd Street (accessible on the DOB’s website), the building is zoned for commercial use group 6, which includes eating and drinking establishments. Theatres are considered a different category — use group 8. Online records show that on February 6, the DOB inspected the site for that very purpose, and found that “no violation was warranted.” But, apparently, the Department is still in the process of what could be a more detailed investigation — so enforcement may be forthcoming. For now, the cell can only wait with baited breath, regarding future city rulings on the use of its outdoor space, as well as the possibility of new investigations inside. And that’s exactly what Kira Simring, the theatre’s artistic director, said she was doing when reached for comment on the night of February 11. “As far as I know, we were never doing anything we weren’t allowed to do, and I’m not aware of any zoning problems,” she said. “I’m just hoping for the best, but it is what it is, and there’s obviously nothing I can do to control it at this point.”

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Digital Age Peer Counseling Feeds Need for Connectedness Continued from page 7 the other peer counselors as they agonized over whether or not to finally come out to their friends and families. “These people had never actually talked to anyone about being gay before, and they’d walk up and down the stairs, up and down, before getting the courage to come up to the office and talk,” said Zevy. “And after having the one-on-one counseling, we also started men’s and women’s groups, where they could talk to each other about what it meant to be gay, about going to the bar or dating, and really about any topics they wanted to discuss.” Those at the forefront of the sessions quickly realized the effect they were having on these people who had spent so much time with a burden that carried such emotional — and sometimes, as the result of attacks, physical — pain and scars. “People changed after their very first meeting,” said Zevy. “They gained selfesteem, optimism, hope. They learned about each other, and formed their own friendship groups. It was everything we wanted.” But by the end of 1973, Silverstein had set in motion another organizational schism — this time among his co-founders at Identity House. According to Zevy, he wanted the therapists to take charge, rather than maintaining the new walk-in, peer counseling model. And at that point, although Zevy was on her way to becoming a licensed psychotherapist (she would eventually start a private practice in 1976, alongside her volunteer work), she and others at the organization still strongly favored the less clinical approach. “It was a major split, a huge conflict,” she explained. “He basically wanted to exclude the peers from doing counseling, but there was this revolution in response, because those of us who were not yet therapists wanted to keep doing what we were doing, since it was so successful and the clients didn’t want it to change.” Silverstein ended up leaving, and put his ideas to work by founding the Institute for Human Identity, a non-profit psychotherapy

center that, to this day, remains based near the corner of West 26th Street and Eighth Avenue. Silverstein originally wanted to take the name Identity House with him, but was prevented from doing so by two quickthinking women who backed Zevy and her cohorts. It was Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love — feminist co-authors of the 1972 book “Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism” — who saved the day, as the story goes. “They were members of Identity House, and after the split, they drove right up to Albany to make sure we could reserve the name, before Chuck could take it,” Zevy recalled. So Identity House continued on its way, eventually moving its headquarters once again, this time to the second floor of a Sixth Avenue building, between West 14th and 15th Streets. The larger space allowed the organization to expand its programming to include workshops and conferences, as well as — until the early-‘90s — parties, which served more than a hedonistic purpose. “The value of those parties was that they weren’t the bars, which had really been the only places to meet other gay people at that point,” said Zevy. “We wanted to provide a more neutral, non-alcoholic setting for people.” And with the plague of HIV/AIDS emerging in the ‘80s, Identity House worked closely with groups like the newly formed Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the staff of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital to deal with new sources of fear — even as close comrades fell victim. One particularly deep blow to the organization was the death of Patrick Kelley, who became infected at a time before doctors could treat the disease. “It was a horrible death,” said Ianniciello. “Pat was so sick that the doctors could guess it was HIV, but nobody really knew what it was.” Identity House pushed onward — and, aside from its primary funding source of donations, it is still supported in part by large endowments left by some of those first

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victims of HIV/AIDS, who had worked with and recognized the importance of the city’s first peer counseling organization. In the late ‘90s, the group moved again to a different, but nearby space on West 14th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Around that time, Ianniciello — then in her late-60s — ended her medical career and retired from her administrative role at Identity House. The organization stayed in place until a massive rent increase in 2006, after which Identity House decided to cut down on costs by renting space at the LGBT Center on West 13th Street. It has remained there ever since, and in 2012 also began renting space at the Washington Square Institute, another nonprofit that’s based near the corner of East 11th Street and University Place. And with Zevy now serving as a supervising therapist — alongside her work in private practice, and as president of the New York Institute of Gestalt Therapy — Identity House is still thriving in the 21st century, with two nights of counseling per week at both the LGBT Center and Washington Square Institute, along with other related workshops and programming. But even though they had some more free time on their hands after New York passed marriage equality in 2011, Zevy and Ianniciello — together for nearly half a century — initially didn’t want to tie the knot. “We didn’t see any point in doing it,” said Zevy. “We’d never wanted to get married, since neither of us was particularly enamored with the whole idea of it.” However, practical concerns changed their minds when Ianniciello suffered a heart attack last July and was hospitalized for two months. That experience involved a lot of paperwork that was made much more difficult by the fact that their relationship wasn’t legally recognized — so, shortly afterwards, the decision was made. The women exchanged vows in decidedly austere fashion, with a ceremony at the city clerk’s office on October 23. But they ended up having a party anyway, in December, to celebrate. “What we never realized until the party

was that a lot of people we know were holding their breath, waiting for us to finally get married,” said Zevy, with a laugh. And now with decades of peer counseling behind her, she doesn’t mind frequently handing the conceptual reins of Identity House to younger counselors who bring fresh ideas with them — particularly involving the needs of a growing, yet stigmatized transsexual community, and the desire to more frequently bring gays, lesbians and trans people into the same group sessions. “The truth is that this isn’t our world anymore,” said Zevy, looking over at her wife. “Lucy and I are dinosaurs compared to where the kids are at, especially when it comes to using the new technology. “Things don’t matter to our community’s young people in the same ways they mattered to us back then,” she continued, “because they have access to information and connection in a way that’s totally foreign to us. So the young people are going to create things that are totally foreign to us, but as long as they still know the history, that’s okay.” But some things never really change, and Zevy pointed out that the direct connection of peer counseling — the in-person, conversational and deeply personal element that can sometimes be forgotten in a digital age — still has the same effect it did more than four decades ago. “A lot of these young people come to us and they want to be counselors, and they’re often very accomplished because they’ve been driving themselves to work hard in school, or to build their careers,” said Zevy. “But before an orientation, before we train them at all, we ask them how they feel. And it’s still a sort of revolutionary thing, because you see that the young people are starved for the connectedness, for the humanity. “This is what makes our organization function,” she noted. “At school, or at work, people are worried about completing tasks, but here, we’re worried about how you feel. So, yes, a lot of our peers have, and will, go on to become therapists, psychiatrists or lawyers — but now they really have a heart. We send them off with a heart.”

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New CB4 Group to Explore Balanced Business Options Continued from page 4 bars per 500 feet do we need on Tenth Avenue? Eleven? Twelve? Thirteen?” The State Liquor Authority’s 500Foot Law states that an applicant for a liquor selling business cannot be considered if there are three other premises selling liquor within a 500-foot radius. The Neighborhood Task Force is pushing to have the 500-Foot Law enforced. The board appears to be taking the law under advisement, but not strictly adhering to it in its recommendations for liquor licenses.

CB4 TO TAKE AGGRESSIVE STANCE, ON BALANCED BUSINESS

The awareness of “oversaturation” that the community is bringing to CB4, with the increased concentration of liquorserving businesses, along with the loss of services and long-time businesses, has motivated chair Christine Berthet to create a Balanced Business working group that will be chaired by Frank Holozubiec and comprised of members of the Business License & Permits Committee, Land Use Committee and Quality of Life Committee. “I just want to warn everyone that this is new territory,” said Berthet, “We cannot and will not guarantee that we will have short-term results or shortterm improvements. However, we feel it is necessary to tackle this issue because the community is asking for it. We may just turn and say we need new laws. Essentially this is an effort of faith.” Afterward, Berthet explained to Chelsea Now that a need for tackling the Balanced Business issue is being felt throughout the city.“CB3 has formed a study group and Borough President Gale Brewer has looked into how to preserve long-term businesses in the Upper West Side neighborhoods,” she said. When it came time to vote, the board voted to approve Kiabacca’s liquor license as long as promised soundproofing was installed.

Photo by Scott Stiffler

A late petition drive originating from Penn South, which favored GrowNYC, was not enough to sway CB4 from supporting Down to Earth’s bid to become the greenmarket vendor for 23rd St., btw. Eight & Ninth Aves.

REPORTS FROM ELECTEDS WHITTLED DOWN ON SITE, BEEFED UP ONLINE

The meeting included a visit from Jennifer Gerson, the new executive director of the High Line who assured everyone of her accessibility with “I want to make sure that the High Line feels like this neighborhood’s as much as it is an international attraction.” Abby Murray, operations associate at the Meatpacking District Improvement

Association, reported that progress is being made on the creation of a Meatpacking Business Improvement District (MBID) and plans will be presented to CB4’s Land Use Committee on February 25. In his district manager’s report, Bob Benfatto announced that CB5 would be holding a Town Hall meeting on February 19 at 6pm, at the Museum of Art and Design (2 Columbus Circle) to discuss

proposed skyscraper type buildings that would shadow Central Park. Berthet announced that newsletters and reports from elected officials would now be available online at nyc.gov/mcb4 (the website of CB4). Sign-up sheets were available for those who wanted the link sent to them directly. Also, elected officials would be taking turns, half at a time, reporting on alternate meeting dates to increase the efficient use of time at full board meetings. NY State Senator Brad Hoylman spoke about his support for co-terminality, a request to NYC Police Department Commissioner William Bratton to align the boundary between the 13th and 10th Precincts with the boundary between CB4 and CB5. This would unite the blocks from 14th Street to 29th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues with the rest of the Chelsea neighborhood in the jurisdiction of the 10th Precinct. Hoylman is also hosting Counting Down To “Vision Zero,” A Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Town Hall forum to discuss plans for the safe co-existence of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists on city streets. The event will take place on February 25, 6-8pm, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (524 West 59th Street, sixth floor). Representing Comptroller Scott Stringer, Dan Campanelli announced that Stringer has initiated a top to bottom audit of NYCHA and he is also looking into the how the city’s library systems are spending their money, from executive pay to the funding of capital projects. The meeting wound down with votes on letters of recommendation, approval and denial covering other issues, among them a ratification sent to Empire State Development for the future of Bayview Correctional Facility, a letter to Councilmember Corey Johnson in regard to finding a permanent location for an EMS facility now located under the High Line at 512 West 32rd Street and seven letters sent to the SLA regarding liquor licenses.


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Februar y 12 - 25, 2014

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from page 8

Big Brother is watching To The Editor: Did anyone really believe that Obama was actually going to do something about the National Security Agency’s spying on the American people? And what is a lackey “third party” going to do with these records anyway? Just as soon as a paid-for judge gives the goahead, they are going to turn the records back over to the NSA. But the government spying on its people shouldn’t come as a surprise; it dates back at least as far as Richard Nixon tapping the phone of his own brother. And what does the future hold? In the guise or preventing crime and stopping “terrorism,” we will have medium-size drones flying overhead, keeping tabs on the general population, and insect-size drones hovering outside of windows, spying on people at work and at home. Of course, we know every bit of this is unconstitutional; but when anything is said, they will just drag out another paid-for judge to declare it legal. Then we can all sit back and relax, knowing that Big Brother really is watching us. Jerry The Peddler

READER COMMENTS FROM CHELSEANOW.COM Re “Parting Ways with the Neighborhood They Helped Define” (news, Jan. 29):

‘Rainbows’ his go-to for gaythemed I am very sad to see the imminent departure of Rainbows & Triangles. It has been my favorite card and novelty shop for about two decades. It is one of the few remaining shops where you can still buy a gay-themed book, gay greeting cards, underwear and much more. Wayne

No love for ‘Rainbows’ …or yogurt One of the reasons the neighborhood is perceived as becoming “less gay” is that increasingly, there isn't a need for a segregated gay business community. I am gay, I’ve been in this neighborhood since 1997, and I have never identified with the merchandise at Rainbows & Triangles. I am out, but I wouldn’t be caught dead with a “Pitcher” or “Catcher” T-shirt on, nor

would I put a shirtless merman ornament on my Christmas tree. I couldn’t stand Splash. Gay people aren’t as commoditized or ghettoized as they were 20 years ago, and thank goodness for that. However, I have no patience for the increasing corporate presence on Eighth Avenue, the death of the small business makes me sad, and I still can't walk by a nail salon or yogurt place without wondering how they meet their rent legally. Jason

Thanks for being fabulous Rainbows & Triangles is an institution in this neighborhood and they provided great service and products. You will be missed guys but thanks for all the wonderful years of faaabulousness. Tony D

gay community first-hand and meeting so many wonderful people from all walks of life. Elliott

Bayview’s aesthetics hardly top Trump’s Website Reader Comment, Re “Bayview’s Future Not Locked Down, but it Won’t Go Condo” (news, Jan. 29): Having spent most of my life within two blocks of this building, I can confirm it is not much more attractive than the hideous condos Trump is building in the west 60s along the River. Maybe it’s beautiful inside, but hard to imagine. A community space (pool, etc.) would be great — but let’s not pretend that anyone is going to miss this depressing-looking facade. finkyp

The best part of his twenties I am very happy to have been a employee of Rainbows and Triangles from 19941999. Best part of my early twenties working for that store, experiencing the

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Dear Aunt Chelsea, I have met a man who is wonderful. He’s funny, intelligent, kind and good-looking...and we have become fast friends. Lately things have deepened between us. I’m starting to feel like one of these days, meeting for our usual dinner and drinks may lead to something more. Part of me would like to take things further, but there is something that holds me back: he smokes! He smokes, and it makes him stink — and I can’t imagine having to kiss him after he’s been outside, puffing away on a cancer stick. I don’t know if I am being shallow, if this is really a deal breaker. Is smoking reason enough to not get together with someone, or should I overlook it and concentrate on all the good things about him? No Nicotine Nancy

Dear No Nic Nan: Your love life might be a nightmare, but this doozy of a letter is an advice columnist’s dream! There are so many problems in play here, all with easy, tough-love solutions, that I hardly know where to begin. So for starters, let’s get rid of the elephant in the room by pulling the rug out from under it (or,

in your case, the doormat). As she reads your letter, Aunt Chelsea is simply fuming — and those whiffs of smoke coming from her ears are not generated from the righteous anger she feels towards your potential new “puff” daddy. No, dearie, my hackles have been raised by the thick air of timidity you bring to this, and I fear, every situation that’s even remotely confrontational. Please don’t interpret this as blaming the victim — but I must say, a great deal of your anxiety can be eliminated (or at least alleviated) by asserting yourself. If his cigarettes bother you, pipe up! It’s not fair to keep subjecting yourself to dinner and drinks with somebody who’ll ditch you for a little alfresco “me time” every time he’s jonesing for a nicotine fix. And what kind of friend hasn’t ever asked if his habit bothers you? Yes, Nancy, this inconsiderate behavior is a deal breaker, at least where romance is concerned. So clear the metaphorical smoke by telling that clueless Mr. Marlboro he’ll never be your man until his lungs are as clear as your motive: to take a chance on romance with a funny, intelligent, kind and good-looking gent whose kisses aren’t ashtrayflavored. Given that pitch, any man with even half a brain in his head would ditch the cancer sticks and use both of his free hands to sweep you off your feet. Good luck, hon — and if things don’t work out, I’d love to fix you up with my vice-free nephew, Scotty!

c o s r H o o pe s Aries Staten Island Chuck predicts six weeks of bad romance, should you fall for a suave player’s tempting pick-up line. Resist! Taurus Be on the lookout for the wearer of a raspberry beret, walking in through the out door. It is your one true soulmate!

Gemini A purely physical relationship is like Justin Bieber’s

monkey: fun at first, then too loud for the neighbors, then seized by customs and mocked on TMZ.

Cancer Their tone of voice tells you — when wondering whether it’s a polite exchange or a romantic overture.

Leo Those chalky candy hearts with the cute, two-word messages? Dole them out with wisdom and restraint — or run afoul of your company’s sexual harassment policy. Virgo Let a binge on deeply discounted Valentine’s candy be

your sweet reward, should Cupid’s arrow fly straight by your tush.

Libra A corny joke, told well but with bashful reserve, endears you to a stranger whose physical appearance is far from your usual thing.

Scorpio You will be flattered when two fiery suitors duel to settle their claim on your affections, but wracked with guilt when a musket ball hits its mark. Sagittarius Trying to mold a sloppy kisser into a sensitive

cuddler is as ill-advised as serving decaf to a cross-country trucker.

Capricorn A swirling sea of jealousy, stirred up by two love

triangles, casts a pall over your deep sea fishing expedition. Don’t take sides!

Aquarius Time travel to ensure your parents meet is risky — and impossible — and a drag on the DeLorean’s resale value.

Do you have a personal problem at work, the gym, the bar or the corner coffee shop? Is there a domestic dispute that needs the sage counsel of an uninvolved third party? Then Ask Aunt Chelsea! Contact her via askauntchelsea@chelseanow.com, and feel free to end your pensive missive with a clever, anonymous moniker (aka “Troubled on 23rd Street,” or “Ferklempt in the Fashion District”).

Pisces Those hurt one time too many by love should give lust a

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