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FEBRUARY 9, 2012 | WWW.OTDOWNTOWN.COM

HISTORY OR PROGRESS? Owners and community members battle over historic LES building (P6) TALKING UP DOWNTOWN The men of the Meatball Shop (P2 2)

HOLD THE

ROSES

A V-Day you won’t find in a Hallmark card (P8)

PHOTO BY PATRICIA VOULGARIS

LAST DAY OF CBGB’S

Photo exhibit focuses on the love of the venue (P12)


� C R I M E WATC H

Store Hit for Second Time

$2K STOLEN FROM WALLET Last Wednesday, Feb. 1, a 55-year-old New Jersey woman took out $2,000 in cash from a Brooklyn ATM before getting on the subway at Court Street. When she got off at City Hall she realized her wallet—and all her cash—was missing. The woman told police that she had only opened the bag once, to put her scarf away. Other missing items included a YMCA membership card and a NYC Public Library card. MAN IN SUBWAY CONCEALS BOXCUTTERS Sometimes when a petty item is stolen, it’s better to step down than engage with the thief. Early in the morning, around 4:15 a.m., last Saturday, a 29-year-old man was arrested for not only stealing a $25 baseball cap but for carrying three boxcutters on him. Earlier, a 28-year-old man had reported to police that his Champion baseball cap was stolen clean off his head while waiting for the uptown 2 train. When he tried to reach for it, the thief said he had a boxcutter on him and then walked to an upper level of the station, where police shortly arrested him. iTHEFTS CONTINUE “If you see something, say some-

A pricey Prince Street clothing store was hit again by a band of thieves. According to police, the group snagged $2,274 in merchandise from racks at the back of the store and fled the shop on foot. An employee saw the group getting into a white Ford van with Florida license plates. The stolen loot included $1,586 in jeans, $342 in sweatpants and $319 in shirts. The store had already been robbed in the last few weeks. illUstRAtion BY EvAn soAREs

thing” has become the motto of New York City in recent years, and the phrase was given new vigor last Saturday at 5 a.m. A subway passenger reported to police that he saw a 29-year-old man steal a $250 iPhone from the jacket of a sleeping passenger. Police eventually arrested the man near Whitehall Street; according to police reports, he is known to the precinct.

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A few days before, a 25-year-old woman was waiting on the C train platform around 9:30 p.m., killing time on her iPhone, when an 18-year-old man snatched it from her hands and ran off. A RUDE AWAKENING IN ZUCCOTTI PARK While we thought the eviction of Zuccotti Park—and the implementation

of new rules by owner Brookfield Properties—had put the kibosh on sleeping in the park, it seems at least one napper went undetected. A 21-year-old woman visited the park on New Year’s Eve, set her bag down and fell asleep, only to wake up and find her backpack missing. The stolen items included a $10 USB drive, $60 in books, $15 in notebooks and a Bank of America card. The woman only reported the crime to police recently. CRIME STOPPERS: $2K REWARD TO NAB BUILDING THIEF Police are on the hunt for a thief whose M.O. is using fire escapes and rooftop patio doors to enter people’s apartments Downtown. Starting in late September of last year, the thief has used this method to steal property, which he then hides in shopping bags as he leaves the building. The perp has been caught on tape at several locations; police describe him as a Hispanic male in his late twenties to mid-thirties, with close-cut hair and a stocky build. NYPD Crime Stoppers will pay up to $2,000 in cash for information leading to his arrest. If you have any information about this case, call 1-800-577-TIPS.

OPEN THINKING | ON A NEW SCHOOL OF THOUGHT NO. 3 IN A SERIES

TIME TO REINVENT THE CLASS SCHEDULE? By Ty Tingley Co-Head of School, Avenues The school day has traditionally been divided into equal periods. But is that really the most effective way for students to learn? Certain classes — such as science or literature — might benefit from longer periods, while others are better taught in shorter, more frequent sessions. A flexible schedule can play a critical role in a student’s education. Read more about Ty Tingley’s thoughts on education at www.avenues.org/wty. You’ll find articles, video, interviews and details on parent information events hosted by the leadership team of Avenues: The World School. Ty Tingley is the Co-Head of School at Avenues and oversees the development of the school’s curriculum. Avenues is opening this fall in Chelsea. It will be the first of 20 campuses in major cities, educating children ages three to 18 with a global perspective.

WWW.AVENUES.ORG

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OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

—CompilEd BY mARissA mAiER


downtown social

Finding Love Downtown

F

or New Yorkers, Valentine’s Day is regarded as either one of the most romantic days of the season or one of the most commercially fueled—generally determined by your relationship status at the time. Whether or not you have a Valentine this year, it is no mystery that love is indeed in the air, as seen in all the redveronica hoglund and-pink-themed store windows and enthusiastic couples exploring the city streets. As the big day approaches, this excitement will only become more noticeable. For all you folks in relationships, embrace it! And for everyone else, look forward to the chocolate discounts the following day.

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FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | otdowntown.com

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Celebrate Black History Month

“Freedom Summer” A play about Mississippi in the Summer of 1964. Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, corner of Bank Street, Greenwich Village Fri. Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. Sat. Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m. Sun. Feb. 19, 2 p.m. Suggested donation: $6/$10/$15. For ticket information, call 212-242-4201

Carlos Emilio Gomez 21 Linden St. Morristown, NJ 07960 201-323-4788 Carlos Emilio Gomez, Plaintiff VS Yahaira Diaz, Defendant

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY CHANCERY DIVISION, FAMILY PART MORRIS COUNTY (FORM A) DOCKET NO: FM14-118811 CIVIL ACTION COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE Irreconciliable Differences

Plaintiff Carlos Emilio Gomez residing at 21 Linden St. in the town of Morristown, NJ, County of Morris, and State of New Jersey, by way of Complaint says: 1. He was lawfully married to Yahaira Diaz on December 20, 2009, in a civil ceremony in Dover, NJ. 2. Plaintiff was a bona fide resident of the State of New Jersey when this cause of action arose and has ever since and for more than one year next proceeding the commencement of this action continued to be such a bona fide resident. 3. The Defendant now resides at 5553 Torresdale Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19124. 4. The parties have experienced irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. 5. This separation has continued to the present and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation exists and was a resident there at the time the cause of action for divorce arose. 6. There were 0 children born of this marriage. 7. There was No real property acquired during the course of this marriage. 8. There has not been any previous proceeding between the Plaintiff and the Defendant respecting the marriage or its dissolution. WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff demands judgment: a) Dissolving the marriage between the parties b) For such other relief as the Court may deem equitable and just. Date: ______________

Signature: __________________________ Name: Carlos Emilio Gomez, Plaintiff Pro Se

O U R TOW N : D OW N TOWN | F E B R UA RY 9 , 2 0 1 2


� N E I G H BO R H O O D C HAT TE R WEST VILLAGE FAMOUS ARTISTS’ BUILDING GAINS LANDMARK STATUS The Westbeth Artists Community, located in the West Village, has had its historic landmark status approved by the City Council, saving the 19th-century building complex from having its historic status stripped by City Council members and being sold to commercial developers. Westbeth was the headquarters of Bell Telephone Laboratories before being converted into low-cost living space for artists in 1970. It was one of the first examples of adaptive reuse of industrial buildings. Famous former residents include actors Vin Diesel and Robert De Niro and musician Gil Evans. CHINATOWN COUNCIL APPROVES DANNY CHEN RESOLUTION Five months after Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, of Chinatown was found dead in Afghanistan of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, the City Council voted in favor of a new resolution calling upon the Department of Defense (DOD) to prevent similar future deaths. Chen, who was bullied and abused by his fellow servicemen for six weeks, was found dead in his guard tower in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Resolution 1188, which was proposed in honor of the former private,

asks the DOD to closer examine its policies on cultural diversity and sensitivity and to impose more effective training regimens for military personnel to prevent discrimination and harassment of servicemen and women of all ranks. “We need to know that our sons and daughters will not be victimized by their fellow soldiers at home or at war,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, a primary sponsor of the resolution. BATTERY PARK STATE-OF-THE-ART MARKET OPEN On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the new Battery Place Market opened at 200 West St. to serve some of the best grab-and-go food in New York City. The state-of-the-art space, located on the Hudson River side of the Goldman Sachs Building at 240 Murray St., offers sandwiches made with the best ingredients possible on bread from some of the best bakeries in the city. Also available will be custom coffee blends and artisan pastries. Robert Sckalor, the executive chef, has been given carte blanche to source the best local organic fruits and vegetables from farms local and exotic to populate a diverse and everchanging menu. “We have sourced from the best bakers, meat and fish purveyors to obtain the best

ingredients in the marketplace so that every one of our customers can eat healthy, but tasty, food that they can get quickly, hot and fresh,” said Sckalor. LOWER MANHATTAN J&R JR. GRAND OPENING There’s a baby boom in Lower Manhattan and downtown retail icon J&R Music and Computer World is giving birth to a new store just to serve this growing population: J&R Jr. According to New York City Department of Health statistics, there were more births in 2010 within the boundaries of Lower Manhattan’s Community Board 1 than any other district in Manhattan. With a grand opening scheduled for Feb. 11-13, J&R Jr. will be a 15,000-square-foot, one-stop shopping and social destination for the community at 1 Park Row, co-located with the other J&R stores. The brick-and-mortar location will feature more than just baby goods. Jason Friedman, founder of J&R Jr., says, “As long standingmembers of this community, we wanted to create an inviting space for residents to gather, share experiences and gain valuable parenting and consumer information.” Catering to an initial age range of 0-9 years old, J&R Jr. will carry hundreds of items including strollers, high chairs, car seats, activity centers, bags and educational toys.

CITYWIDE REPORT SHOWS DECLINE IN COMMUTER EXPERIENCE SINCE 2009 Straphangers are speaking out against a decline in service by the MTA. Transportation Alternatives surveyed subway and bus riders about the quality of their commutes, and an astounding 61 percent reported that their commutes have gotten worse since 2009. A missive released by the nonprofit highlights the effects of the loss of two subway lines, 36 bus routes and 570 bus stops since Albany cut funding for the cash-strapped transportation giant. “After years of declining transit funding from Albany and the resulting service cuts, our commutes have gotten worse. From higher fares to longer wait times to overcrowded trains, transit riders have seen the quality of their commutes drop precipitously over the last three years,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. In the three consecutive budget eliminated since 2009, state officials have eliminated $260 million in dedicated transit funding, which resulted in the service cuts and ever-increasing fares, despite New York City already having the highest fare burden nationally. White urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stick to funding the struggling public transit system in coming years.

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FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | otdowntown.com

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� N EWS Buyer for Bialystoker Home Rumored Close Preservationists, residents scramble to secure landmark designation | By AlAn KrAwitz Built in 1929, the historic Bialystoker Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing served residents of the Lower East Side for 80 years before it was put up for sale and ultimately shuttered late last year. The center’s nonprofit owners, Bialystoker Center and Bikur Cholim Inc., claim that mounting debt brought on by a combination of factors has forced them to sell the site in order to cover their financial obligations. But now, local residents and preservationists are racing against time to get the 10-story structure, located at 228 Broadway, designated as a landmark to protect the site against development into residential housing. “We got a tip that the sale of the Center may happen as early as this week,” said Joyce Mendelsohn, a founding member of the group Friends of the Bialystoker Home, a preservation group formed last year when the home’s closure was revealed. “We’re trying very hard to get the Center on the calendar of the Landmarks

Making It Work

lGBt organizations discuss future with help of local Chamber of Commerce

| By Andrew riCe “Why isn’t this working for us? How’d you do that?” were a couple of the questions posed by the nearly two dozen board members of different nonprofit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups as they sat down to discuss the future of the nonprofit LGBT movement at large. The event, held Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Standard Hotel in the West Village, marked the inaugural meeting of the local chapter of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s (NGLCCNY) Non-Profit Industry Council. Representatives from differing organizations sought to meet up in the first-ever think tank. Through events, workshops and outreach, the NGLCCNY provides

6

Preservation Commission [LPC],” Mendelsohn said by phone this week. Getting a spot on the LPC calendar is the first step in the landmark designation process. If successful, it would freeze any work being done on the building for 40 days. This past Sunday, Mendelsohn hosted a panel discussion at the nearby Seward Park Cooperative on the past, present and future of the Bialystoker Home that was attended by more than 75 local residents, as well as preservationists and historians alike. Support for preservation of the Bialystoker Home is substantial. So far, 14 LES organizations, including the Historic Districts Council, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative and the Art Deco Society of New York, have joined the Friends of the Bialystoker Home. Panel speakers discussed both the unique architectural elements of the building, such as its Art Deco style with an emphasis on verticality and use of setbacks and medallions representing the 12 tribes of Israel, as well as the structure’s important role in the settling and assimilation of Jews into the area from Bialystok, Poland. Suzanne Wasserman, a filmmaker and director of the Gotham Center for NYC History/CUNY Graduate Center, business development opportunities, financial access and educational resources to LGBT and allied businesses in the New York metro area. Jennifer Brown, who owns her own consulting firm, facilitated the event at which participants highlighted the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of groups in specific categories such as the arts, culture, health care and business development. “Just because we’re not for profit doesn’t mean we’re not trying make money and get things done. We have to be nimble and able to pivot as the market changes so we don’t get left behind,” she said. One of the largest issues of the day was the overlap of various organizations. While each has a particular focus, they compete for the same valuable ad space, funding and grants. Zachary Barnett, founder and director of the Abzyme Research Foundation, recalled a time when four different organizations had four concurrent campaigns warning of the dangers of crystal meth use in the gay community. “A big part of the problem was that there were all these different groups and no one was talking to each other. There was a lot of mistrust and a lot of overlap between everyone,”

OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

described the LES as an unforgiving place in the 1930s, when the Bialystoker Home first opened. “One in three New Yorkers were unemployed and there were long bread lines no matter where you went,” Wasserman said. Wasserman showed a photo of an unemployed LES man wearing a bread board that read, “I want work now!!” “The majority of Bialystokers were poor immigrants,” said Elissa Sampson, a longtime LES resident and Ph.D. candidate in urban geography at the University of North Carolina. She called the lettering at the entrance to the home, English letters written out as Yiddish script, an “amazing statement on immigration and assimilation.” The Yiddish became English and the immigrants became Americans, Sampson explained. Daniel White, a spokesperson for the Bialystoker Center, said that landmark designation would only hurt the site’s chances for redevelopment sufficient to cover the center’s financial obligations. Those obligations include payment of pensions and benefits to members of 1199SEIU as well as back taxes owed on the property. “The goal here is to redevelop the site so the center can pay off its debts,” White said. However, as of this moment, local residents and the center seem to have different agendas.

Elissa Sampson, longtime LES resident, speaking before a meeting on the LES building for sale. photo BY AlAn KRAwitz

“They want maximum profit and we want to save the building,” Mendelsohn said. She added that as of Monday, supporters of the Bialystoker Home had delivered 57 postcards and 12 letters to the LPC favoring landmark designation for the site. And while Mendelsohn acknowledges that the building will be less valuable once it’s landmarked, she believes the Center can still recoup its money. “There are still other developers out there that are interested in the property,” she said.

NGLCCNY President Richard Oceguera gives his opening remarks at the inaugural board retreat. photo BY ps.jEFFREYholmEs.com

he said. For many of those present, the event offered a welcome chance to sit together amicably and discuss possible collaborations that will help their organizations better serve the community with their limited resources. Steed Taylor of Visual AIDS was one of the many present who believe that the LGBT movement should work toward common aims. Equally important to those present was the face of the LGBT movement, which

many stereotype as white gay males. “It’s not very accurate and it handicaps us because people don’t see their reflection, especially among minority populations,” said Carlene Jadusingh, who heads her own law firm in Lower Manhattan. She feels that the lack of diversity isn’t reflective of the community at large and that through social media and reaching out to younger people, eventually everyone will be able to see their own face when looking at LGBT material.


� B USI N ESS lights on…in lower Manhattan

Downtown Alliance’s Kelly Rush lets us know what’s opening and closing Without vision, a people perish. Or, in my version of this proverb for the column: Without glasses from the right eyewear shop, one might not be able to find one’s way to the spa…or to the restaurant for ribs. In this week’s edition, pamper yourself with a facial, indulge in barbecue and get lost in art while you wait for your new custom frames. As usual, if you see any new retailers or spot changes to a longtime friend, please email me at tre@ downtownny.com and I’ll check them out. openings Maxwell Medical 99 Wall St., 10th Fl. (at Front St.), 212-952-9355. Curated art shows meet fashion frames at this eyewear shop across from the Shake Shack in the Goldman Sachs building’s restaurant alley. The current exhibition, David L. Nicholas’ Night Vision II, features large-scale and panoramic color photographs on the walls. The artwork accentuates the shop’s selection of eyeglass frames and both work in tandem to create a unique shopping experience. General manager Carlos Venegas said the exhibit space is currently booked up; it’s easy to see why artists would want to showcase

their work here. Frames sit atop pedestals and under glass domes that receive just the right amount of light from the fixtures above. Come for the eyewear, stay for the artwork. affina Beauty & Spa 125 Church St. (betw. Murray & Warren Sts.), 212-233-8822. It’s appropriate that Affina Beauty & Spa is located on Church Street, because a trip here could be a heavenly experience. The interior looks like your ultra-hip friend’s loft with warming influences from grandma. Manager Shine Guo said the spa’s employees designed the space themselves. It features a relaxing pale gray, blue and white color palette, dangling lights in whimsical shapes and floral artwork. Think of the manicures and pedicures offered here as an introduction—an opportunity to get your feet wet. The spa offers Swedish, deep tissue and hot stone massage and several different facials, su ch as the derma acne facial, which clears up skin and prevents future breakouts from occurring. Check back because the spa will soon be offering laser hair removal—because no one wants to pluck for the rest of her life. Receive 20 percent off services until April 1.

Blue SMoke 255 Vesey St. (at North End Ave.), 212-8892005. Danny Meyer’s eatery has been getting a lot of press, so diners will be pleased to hear that Blue Smoke is finally serving its full menu full-time. The restaurant features many barbecue favorites, such as Texas salt and pepper beef ribs, pulled pork and Kansas City spareribs, and some unexpected treats, including chicken gumbo and bourbon pecan pie. Vegetarian and gluten-free menus round out the options for people with allergies or restricted diets. Just because Blue Smoke is a barbecue place doesn’t mean you have to indulge, but I would.

tizers include Louisiana shrimp with fennel and radish or a torchon of foie gras with quince paste and grilled brioche. Entrees include Nova Scotia halibut, diver sea scallops, a Berkshire pork chop or duck breast and leg with leeks and tangerines.

north end Grill 104 North End Ave. (at Vesey St.), 646-7471600. North End Grill, the other new offering in Battery Park City from Danny Meyer’s restaurant group, is also operating at full capacity. Chef Floyd Cardoz, formerly of Tabla and a competitor on Top Chef Masters, is bringing his spin on high-end American cuisine to a lovely space overlooking the Hudson. Appe-

oBao 38 Water St. (at Pearl St.), 212-361-6313 This second Obao outpost, on Water Street, calls itself the “casual extension” of the flagship location in Midtown, which earned Michelin Bib Gourmand recognition in 2011 and 2012. The Water Street location, like its predecessor, specializes in blending Thai and Vietnamese cuisine but at a pace fast enough for its Financial District patrons. Start with the caramelized pork belly, move on to the massamun chicken or pho, add a side of sautéed bean sprouts or Chinese broccoli and end with a green tea panna cotta. Closings Bolton’s, 95 Wall St. Syms, 42 Trinity Pl. Café Doppio, 55 Broad St. Hidden Treasures, 32 Warren St. Twin Café, 275 Greenwich St.

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FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | otdowntown.com

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Love Blooms Downtown | BY MARISSA MAIER

A Wedding of Hope

The Beat of a New York Heart Every good love story deserves a soundtrack; here’s one tailor-made for New York City with blissful beginnings and happy endings.

PJ HARVEY, “GOOD FORTUNE”

Taken from her New York-inspired album, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, Harvey practically gushes while namechecking Chinatown and Little Italy as unanticipated places of romantic discovery.

MAXWELL, “GOTTA GET: CLOSER”

Taking several lyrical liberties, Brooklyn’s neo-soul demigod transforms Nine Inch Nails’ dark vulgarity into a hyper-sexual, gospel-tinged explosion.

THE CRYSTALS, “THERE’S NO OTHER LIKE MY BABY”

Phil Spector played fast and loose with The Crystals’ lineup, but the original New York quintet recorded this declaration of unwavering affection long before any such meddling.

THE STROKES, “TWO KINDS OF HAPPINESS” Not exactly known for love songs, these local-gone-global rockers’ message here is clear: “Don’t waste your heart.”

LOU REED, “THINK IT OVER”

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal approached the twilight of his thirties with this breathless marriage proposal—set to twinkling piano and spare guitar—to his second wife. —GARY SUAREZ

When Diamond Jones and Michael Thomas were married on Sept. 9, 2011, one might say that their wedding was a little unorthodox. They did get married in a 19th-century chapel, and hundreds of guests bedecked in their finest watched as Diamond, in her wedding gown, glided down the aisle. The chapel, however, was located in the Bowery Mission, a two-building complex on the Bowery that houses the organization of the same name that supports homeless and poor New Yorkers. The guests were a collection of homeless men and women from the Mission and other shelters throughout the city, some of whom Michael and Diamond knew through their volunteer work, while others were complete strangers. The dress and the guests’ attire was “practically donated,” said Diamond, who paid a little over $100 for a $10,000 gown. Almost everything surrounding the big day, dubbed the “Wedding of Hope,” was donated, from the food at the reception to the flowers and makeup. For Diamond, her volunteer and advocacy work for the homeless was inspired by her own experience as a young woman living on the streets of Manhattan. A few months after arriving in New York City from Virginia in her early twenties, Diamond found herself sleeping in hotel lobbies and doorways while working a minimum-wage day job. Her lifeline came in

ON THE STREET

ISAMAR AVERY BATISTAS asked guys in Union Square about their most memorable Valentine’s Day experiences. 8

“I bought a girl a teddy bear and a gift for Valentine’s Day and she didn’t accept it and rejected me.” AYUSH, 17

OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

Diamond Jones and Michael Thomas. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH CHEONG & RICHARD PARK FOR ELIZABETH AND RICH PHOTOGRAPHY

the form of a good-paying position with a nationwide bank. And of the wedding day, Diamond said, “It was magical—a lot of work, but it was such a relief that our dream wedding came true.”

Blue Valentine

The first time Jennifer Stanton (née Lambert) saw her husband, Phil, his hands and head from the neck up were covered in blue paint. Phil, a co-founder of the Blue Man Group, was performing at a theater in Astor Place in the early ’90s just as the group was gaining

enough popularity to make a living. During the show, the time came for Phil and his two fellow performers to weave their way through the audience. Jennifer found him hovering over her. “He looked me in the eyes and—this is so corny, but I thought, ‘His eyes are so amazing,’” she recalled. “I watched him for the rest of the show.” A few months CONTINUES >

“My best Valentine’s Day will be the one coming up. My roommates and I are going to watch horror films all day. If budget or time weren’t an issue, I’d probably like to have a nice dinner at home for my Valentine, cook her dinner and then maybe go out after. Something simple and intimate.” BRET, 24


later, in 1993, Jennifer and Phil finally met face to face—and this time he was in drag. As part of a Broadway Cares event, the Blue Man Group was set to perform En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind.” “He came gliding across the aisle in patent leather high heel boots, short shorts and a long opera cape and, I swear to God, I thought I was going to pass out. I thought he was stunning looking, confident and uninhibited. He came up to me and said, ‘Hi, I’m Phil. I’ll be your date for the evening,’” she said. “From that first day, there was never a question of ‘Are we together?’ It was just, ‘This is it.’” The bridge in time from that first sighting to their first meeting almost reads like an old-fashioned courtship. After the Blue Man Group performance, Jennifer, at the time a cast member of a Guys and Dolls revival on Broadway, admitted to her fellow cast members that she “had a crush on a Blue Man.” Months later, at an event at Gracie Mansion, a publicist connected to both shows egged Jennifer to write Phil a note. On a Gracie Mansion cocktail napkin, Jennifer wrote “some smart things about the show,” said Phil, and left her name and the address of the theater where she was working. “I was intrigued. I wrote a letter and dropped it off at the theater,” Phil continued. “She called me on April 1, 1993, and we talked for three hours.” The pair set themselves up on a “blind date”; Jennifer would meet him at his rehearsal space and help with the choreography for the Broadway Cares event. On that first date, they traversed Downtown Manhattan, from a sushi restaurant on East 9th Street—Hasaki, still there—to a bar in Nolita and then around Tribeca, where Phil lived at the time. Over 15 years later, the Stanton duo has become a quartet with sons Cove and Scout and they continue to live Downtown. Through several other costume changes— and new projects like The Blue School, which Phil and Jennifer co-founded— they have stayed by each other’s side.

“My girlfriend of three months dumped me on Valentine’s Day because her roommate didn’t like me.” DANIEL, 22

Valentine’s Gift Guide (That Won’t Break the Bank) The best easy-on-the-wallet gifts

T

here is no doubt that Valentine’s Day is met with anxiety and trepidation by New Yorkers hoping to do the night justice. For those budget-conscious romantics or for those of us who need a bit of inspiration, below is a list of some of the best Valentine’s Day buys, promotions and things to do Downtown.

A LAUGH FOR HALF

Psycho Therapy, Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St. (at Bedford St.), cherrylanetheatre.org; $36. For any couple looking for a night full of laughter, the Cherry Lane Theatre is offering tickets to its current show, Psycho Therapy, at nearly half-price—they have reduced ticket prices from $66 to $36 through Valentine’s Day for anyone using the promo code GMPT35. Go and enjoy this humorous three-way love triangle!

FOR THE SHOE LOVER’S SOUL

Camper, 125 Prince St. (at Wooster St.), camper.com. If you’re searching for the perfect gift to accompany the chocolate on Valentine’s Day, why not buy your significant other a pair of fashionable heels or sneakers at Camper? They are offering sales ranging from 10 percent to as much as 40 percent off, which means you’ll make her—or him—happy without compromising your dinner reservations.

BUILD TRUST FOR 23 BUCKS

Dialogue in the Dark, South Street Seaport (at Pier 17), dialognyc.com; $23.50. Every good relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust, so take your loved one on an exciting “blind” date. Patrons are guided through some of New York City’s most famous landmarks without their primary sense: sight! Your guide will be visually impaired and you’ll have a perfect excuse to cuddle up close as you try to navigate the Big Apple with touch, sound, smell and taste.

A ROMANTIC “SUMMER“ GETAWAY IN FEBRUARY

FASHIONABLE HEART FINDS

Openhouse Gallery Park, 201 Mulberry St. (betw. Kenmare & Spring Sts.), openhousegallery.org. Anyone who has been waiting to marvel at the charm of this chic indoor park needn’t wait any longer. Adorned with fake grass and splendid backdrops, the Openhouse Gallery Park provides a warm atmosphere for a summer’s day picnic without the potential for discomfort that winter in New York may force upon your outdoor dining plans. Cuddle up with magazines, lunch, candles and some one-on-one time and see what’s new to do at the pop-up park.

BARGAIN V-DAY EATS

Greenwich Grill & Sushi Azabu, 428 Greenwich St. (betw. Lincoln Hwy. & Vestry St.), greenwichgrill.com; $55. Nebraska Steakhouse, 15 Stone St. (betw. Broadway & Broad St.), nebraskasteakhousenyc.com; $65. If you haven’t already, now is the time to sample the delicious Italian-Sushi spot that earned Best New Sushi Restaurant from the New York Times in 2009. The northern Tribeca restaurant is offering a special Valentine’s Day prix fixe—a four-course meal plus coffee or tea for $55. If, however, you are looking for a different sort of cuisine, Nebraska Steakhouse is offering a similar prix fixe with a three-course offering and a bottle of wine. Nebraska offers an intimate atmosphere perfect for Valentine’s Day.

bit+piece, 246 Mott St. (betw. Prince & Houston Sts.), bit-piece.com. Smart Valentine’s Day buys aren’t just found at candy stores and restaurants. Take advantage of the convenient overlap between this romantic holiday and the change in fashion seasons at bit+piece, which is offering as much as 80 percent off select items. You’ll be sure to find some great designer clothes for your partner, though much of their selection will cost you over $100.

AN EXCESSIVELY DECADENT DATE

Trump SoHo, 264 Spring St. (at Varick St.), trumpsohohotel.com; $6,740. Sometimes money is no obstacle. For those of you looking to put an exclamation point on your shock-and-awe campaign this Valentine’s Day, the Trump SoHo has your interests in mind. Their Valentine’s Day package includes a private skating lesson at Wollman Rink, couple’s spa therapy, a penthouse stay and more guaranteed perfection for the small price of $6,740 per night.

“The worst Valentine’s Day I ever had was in college. I went to a candlelit Valentine’s Day dinner…with my friends… at my school cafeteria.”

“In high school, a girl asked me for my address randomly. She sent balloons to my house as a surprise. I was really touched, because usually it’s the guy that’s supposed to go all out.”

MICHAEL, 29

NEILSON, 21

FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | OTDOWNTOWN.COM

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THE 7-DAY PLAN

The Women of Twin Peaks

BEST PICK [2/11] 92Y Tribeca, 200 Hudson St. (at Vestry St.), 92ytribeca.org; 8 p.m., $12. In a newly added, special installment of his Meet the Lady series, host Tim Blunt celebrates the ladies of Twin Peaks. Billed as an obsession with the lives and careers of the actresses whose paths intersected in this sleepy town, The Women of Twin Peaks promises to provide entertainment, free coffee and an after-film reception at Café 92Y Tribeca.

THURSDAY

09 10 11 12 13 14 15

Talking Carriage House: A Restoration Case Study Salmagundi Club, 47 5th Ave. (betw. 11th & 12th St.), salmagundi.org; 6:30 p.m. Architects Anne Fairfax and Richard Sammons discuss the restoration process of a Greenwich Village carriage house, discussing personal design approaches and the ways in which one’s personality and experience can affect the finished home.

Chico & Rita Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston St. (betw. Mercer St. & Broadway), angelikafilmcenter.com; $13. The Angelika hosts an exclusive screening of this film set in the jazz worlds of Havana, New York and Europe, which has won a European Film Award and Goya Award for Best Animated Feature. It opens nationally Feb. 25.

Rally Against NYU Mega Development Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Sq. S. (betw. Sullivan & Thompson Sts.), didnyc.org; 12 p.m. Sponsored by CAAN, a coalition of over 30 community groups, and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Downtown residents have banded together to halt New York University’s plan to build several new buildings in Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park.

Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher St., Ste. 1e (betw. W. 10th & Barrow Sts.), sohothinktank.org; 8:30 p.m., $25. The critically acclaimed winner of three 2010 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Sound Design, Samuel & Alasdair returns to the New Ohio Theatre to tell of an alternate global history decided by a massive robotic invasion.

MONDAY

FREE Eyes on the Stimulus: Money Well Spent?

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 91 Orchard St. (betw. Allen & Ludlow Sts.), tenement.org; 6:30 p.m. Focusing on President Barack Obama’s highly criticized stimulus plan, a panel consisting of ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell, Michael Cooper of the New York Times and Jared Bernstein, former advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, discuss whether the recovery act helped save the economy or showcased poor spending.

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A Map of Virtue 4th Street Theatre, 83 E. 4th Sq. (btw. 2nd Ave. & Cooper St.), nytw.org; 8 p.m., $18. Written by Erin Courtney and directed by Ken Rus Schmoll, A Map of Virtue focuses on small acts of violence and the limits at our virtue while providing a glimpse of the impact of our actions.

FREE Reflections on 14th St.

Jadite Galleries, 413 W. 50th St. (betw. 9th & 10th Aves.), jadite.com; noon–6 p.m. Ellen Fisch illustrates the influences of the Gilded Age and the Art Deco period on Wall Street architecture. Fisch documents all the intricate stone carvings, metalwork and manner of structural additions that cover many of Manhattan’s most artistic and historic buildings.

OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

Wellman Film Festival: Wings Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. (betw. Downing & King Sts.) filmforum.org; 7 p.m., $12.50. This inaugural screening, which kicks off a three-week, 42-film festival showcasing the work of Hollywood director William Wellman, will feature a special introduction by Wellman himself and present a restoration of his World War I aerial classic Wings (1927), which won the first Academy Award for Best Picture.

Ping Pong at the Park Openhouse Gallery, 201 Mulberry St. (betw. Kenmare & Spring Sts.), openhousegallery.org; 1 p.m., $10. For a small price, enter this all-day tournament at Openhouse Gallery. Your entry fee will get you a seed in the tournament bracket, a day at the park, free Sambazon beverages and prizes. For casual players, there will be an open table available.

FREE Wall Street

WEDNESDAY

Stripped Stories Fifth Anniversary Show UCB Theatre, 307 West 26th St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), ucbtheatre.com; 9:30 p.m., $5. This sex-themed story show for adults invites comedians, musicians and guests to reveal humorous and honest stories about their sex lives. Celebrating its five-year anniversary with an after-party, Stripped Stories promises to be an enjoyable affair.

In Memoriam: George Kuchar 1942-2011 Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave. (betw. 1st & 2nd Sts.), anthologyfilmarchives.org; 9 p.m., $9. Remembering the life and films of George Kuchar, a signature 8mm and 16mm filmmaker, members of Anthology and the Harvard and Pacific Film archives have joined together to provide some of Kuchar’s greatest works so that fans may continue to enjoy his work and first-time viewers may gain a glimpse into his career.

SUNDAY

TUESDAY

Submissions can be sent to otdowntown@manhattanmedia.com.

❮ FREE

FRIDAY

SATURDAY

Visit otdowntown.com for the latest updates on local events.

Gallery 307, 307 7th Ave. (betw. 27th & 28th Sts.), burdencenter.org/gallery-307. Showcasing the work of Sheila Schwid, a 79-yearold artist who lives in the Westbeth Artists Housing in Greenwich Village, Gallery 307 presents six new paintings inspired by a series of photographs she took while traveling across 14th Street on the bus. The exhibit will run through Feb. 24.

Demetri Martin: Telling Jokes in Cold Places NYU Skirball Center, 145 6th Ave. (betw. Dominick & Spring Sts.), skirballcenter.nyu.edu; 7:30 p.m., $39.75. A native New Yorker now residing in California, comedian Demetri Martin returns home to try out brand-new jokes and dabble in some comical guitar strumming.

Stranger than Fiction: Unfinished Spaces IFC Center, 323 6th Ave. (at W. 3rd St.), ifccenter.com; 8 p.m., $16. Thom Powers and Raphaela Neihausen of DOC NYC reprise their week at the IFC Center for its 19th season. Zelig, directed by Woody Allen, is the perfect faux-documentary romance to showcase for Valentine’s Day. Sway Machinery with Piano Music and Song Trio Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl. (near 1st Pl.), www.mjhnyc.org; 7 p.m., $15. Experience Sway Machinery, who have released two albums to critical acclaim and mix a contemporary musical experience (including guitars and bass) with both cultural and classical elements. Playing along with them are Piano Music and Song Trio, an experimental chamber group that combines classical composers and neoclassical sounds.


� SE E Valentine’s day events

From readings in the buff to a cocoa-themed Shabbat dinner, we present the best in V-Day happenings for you and your loved one. —CoMpILED bY STAFF

chocolate Shabbat 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St. (betw. Vestry & Desbrosses Sts.), 92Ytribeca.org; 7 p.m., $35 at door. Celebrate the day of rest, whether you’re looking for a sweet for a sweetheart or you need some comfort for being single. Enjoy tastings, torrid tales and more with a special Shabbat meal created to enhance the unique flavor notes of chocolate and a not-to-bemissed chocolate dessert tasting of four different kinds of chocolate paired with four unique drinks.

The BiG Day Tuesday, Feb. 14

Eco-friendly cruise (Saturday, Feb. 11 and tuesday, Feb. 14) Pier 40, 75 9th Ave. (at W. Houston St.), hornblower.com; boarding begins 6 p.m., $99. Take your sweetheart on a three-hour dinner cruise around New York Harbor. Each cruise features a four-course seated dinner with gourmet cuisine, entertainment and dancing next to oversized windows with panoramic views. And just because your heart might get broken doesn’t mean you’ll break the environment—the cruise liner, The Hornblower Hybrid, is America’s most eco-friendly luxury vessel. Relighting old Flame with new matches 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St., 92Ytribeca.org, 7 p.m., $12 at door. “Following his blog instead of him.” “Arranged marriage now sounding pretty good.” “I blame it all on Mad Men.” These succinct tales are a little taste of what is in store at this SixWord Story show on love and heartbreak. Each performer, including Rachel Shukert and Deborah Copagan Kogan, will begin with six words and tell the true tale behind their mini-memoir. A happy hour that starts at 6 p.m. is sure to help the audience when it’s their turn to share.

never Sleep Alone Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette St. (at Astor Pl.), joespub.com; 9:30 p.m., $30 and up. Sexual psychologist and music therapist Dr. Alex Schiller brings the hot, the single and the curious together for a night of delirious laughter, awesome music and sociosensual interaction. The provocative and irreverent doctor will dispense sex advice from her new book, Get Laid or Die Trying, sing reimagined pop songs and brilliant originals and lead her audience through a wildly entertaining evening. Willing singles are invited to join Schiller on stage for free champagne and an assisted speed dating session. The night continues with an afterparty, with the secret location being announced at curtain call. A Love Supreme Middle Collegiate Church, 50 E. 2nd St. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.), middlechurch.org; 8 p.m., $15 suggested donation. Middle Collegiate Church presents John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, long considered some of his greatest work and one of the greatest jazz albums of all time. The music is broadly based on a poem that was printed in the liner notes for the album and will be read at the performance by Jacqueline Lewis. Love Hurts Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St. (betw. E. Houston & Prince Sts.), housingworks. org; 7 p.m., $8. Get your pens ready and keep sharpening your memories of heartbreak as the Moth StorySLAM, where true stories are told live, hosts an evening of storytelling about the sadder side of Valentine’s Day. With 10 stories, three teams of judges and one winner, this event always sells out, so arrive early.

ToP Pick Wednesday, Feb. 15

FREE we’ve Got mail

Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St. (betw. E. Houston & Prince Sts.); housingworks. org; 7 p.m., $5. An evening like never before for fans of the romantic comedy, including door prizes from Upper West Side landmarks seen in the film, signed children’s books straight out of Kathleen Kelly’s Shop Around the Corner and, of course, an interactive screening of the movie, which will include Mail trivia, ’90s internet nostalgia and even a few dial-up modem screech-alongs. The $5 suggested donation includes a copy of Hanxzine and a raffle ticket.

PosT-celeBraTion Wednesday, Feb. 15

Valentine’s Hangover Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Pl. (betw. 1st Ave. & Ave. A), horsetrade.info; $20. Nurse that saccharine hangover with Naked Girls Reading NYC and some of New York’s best storytellers, featuring in-the-buff readings of tales of love and lust without the hearts and flowers. It’s the perfect treat for the Valentine who’s still there once the chocolates and champagne are all gone.

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� SE E High Art The High Line adds public art to its neighborhood offerings

| By Lonnie FiresTone A great city is often marked by its confluence of architecture and nature. A century and a half ago in Manhattan, that combination created Central Park; today’s incarnation is The High Line, running from Gansevoort to West 34th Street near the West Side Highway. The ratio of beams to botany may be skewed toward to the urban end, but The High Line nonetheless offers city dwellers a bit of nature, earth and plant life, even high above ground. And like Central Park, which has been a vast backdrop for the visual arts (perhaps most memorably with Christo and JeanneClaude’s The Gates in 2005), The High Line offers its own canvas of sorts: a 25-by-75-foot billboard positioned at 18th Street and 10th Avenue. High Line Billboard is the latest initiative from High Line Art, which commissions public art projects and installations from local and international artists for the park. On display from Feb. 1–29 is “Developing Tray #2” by New York artist Anne Collier, a

Anne Collier, “Developing Tray #2,” 2009, courtesy of the artist and Anton Kern Gallery, New York, N.Y.; Corvi Mora, London, U.K.; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles, Calif.

massive-scale photograph depicting a print of an open eye inside a developing tray. The image is at once a finished work of art and a depiction of art in progress. The effect of an open eye (the artist’s own) staring at the viewer is particularly arresting given its immense proportions. “It is confrontational, sensual and voyeuristic at the same time,” said Cecilia Alemani, the Donald R. Mullen Jr. curator and director of High Line Art. For the artist, displaying her work on a New York City billboard is a milestone in itself. “The street in New York is full of distractions— it’s chaotic,” Collier said. “I hope that [my work] might interrupt someone’s expectation of what might typically be seen on a billboard.” If the High Line is the convergence of architecture and nature in Manhattan, the High Line Billboard is the convergence of street art and gallery space. For painters, photographers and mixed media artists, the opportunity to display their work on such a grand canvas amidst the steel of the rail lines and the city streets offers wider visibility than an exhibition at The Whitney—and perhaps comparable recognition. High Line Art, jointly presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, was founded in 2009 with the goal of enabling artists “to think of creative ways to engage with the uniqueness of the architecture and design

of the High Line.” High Line founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond had aspirations early on for the historic rail line to become an arena for artists, and the breadth of High Line Art today (which now also oversees a projection screen for silent films) has become a draw to the landmark site. High Line Art has presented sound installations, sculptures, experimental films, paintings—even dance performances. The previous commission for the High Line Billboard

was a gigantic representation of a $100,000 bill, created by John Baldessari, entitled, “The First $100,000 I Ever Made.” Art in the public sphere lends itself to a different kind of reception and a different viewer relationship than art in galleries or museums; the environment of buildings, bridges, cars and crowds contributes to the viewer’s experience. “I’m interested to see how the image operates against the visual backdrop of the city,” said Collier.

Hello and Goodbye, CBGB A new exhibit pays homage to the patrons of CBGB

| By LinneA CovinGTon When you first walk into the Bye Bye CBGB exhibit at Soho’s Clic Gallery, the faces of disheveled punk rockers greet you. Pierced lips, funky hair and leather dominate the style, and though it appears they were shot in 1973, the images are from 2006, when the notorious venue finally shuttered its doors. Showing up at iconic CBGB OMFUG (Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers) for its final 48 hours, Parisian visual artist Bruno Hadjadj shot the faces of those new and old punk rockers who had gathered to say adieu. On Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006, Blondie’s Debbie Harry belted out “Heart of Glass.” The next night, Patti Smith played some tunes with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and ended her set with a rendition of “Gloria” that interlaced lines and melodies from various Ramones songs. I was there and, despite the cliché, it was a night to remember. What most people don’t talk about is what happened outside the doors. While

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only a fraction managed to get tickets, on that warm October night hundreds of fans remained outside. People from all over the world had come to see the club for the last time, touch its graffiti-covered walls, smoke cigarettes and sneak sips of cheap whiskey from a flask under its dirty 315 Bowery awning in hopes of catching a glimpse of one of the famous faces from CBGB’s rich past. Though many left disappointed, Hadjadj captured them there as they paid homage to an era that, despite the decades, hadn’t changed much since the early 1970s. “The energy was so intense with all these people trying to get in, some in line for 24 hours,” said Hadjadj from his home in Paris. “My purpose was to shoot the people, not the stars.” Though he made a book from the images, the exhibit at Clic Gallery displays only 14 pictures of a few people that struck a chord in him; like Flow, a girl in a short skirt, boots and cowboy hat that he showed as a gel print then blew up and decorated with blinking lights. Another portrait presents a rockabillystyled man with a prominent belt buckle and piercings, which Hadjadj also shows two ways (including the blinking lights). On one wall, he deviates from the

OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

portraits and instead displays sketches of winged cans of beer, gin bottles and a calendar, a seemingly poignant remark on the death of the club. Hadjadj’s admiration for CBGB was almost happenstance. For years, he lived off and on in New York, and in the 1980s he resided near the venue on Bowery and Houston. “During all those years, it was the place I was always passing by. I saw so many concerts there,” he said. “Even if you didn’t know who was performing, it was a place to go and spend some time.” Hadjadj likened the club to such historical places as the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, and said that many tourists would make seeing a show at CBGB part of their journey. Even if you didn’t subscribe to the punk rock fashion, the place remained a catalyst for culture long after this style of music gave way to hardcore, rock and the experimental bands that took over the stage in the early 1990s. Either way, a few things could always be counted on: a night of many bands, cheap, disgusting bathrooms and the feeling that you were mingling with history. While Hadjadj’s exhibit at the gallery doesn’t capture the feeling of actually being in CBGB, it does seize on the emotions of

Bruno Hadjadj, “Teenager at CBGB,” 2008. PHOTO COURTEsY CliC GAllERY.

the people who really knew about the club, would miss the venue and longed to keep a piece of it near. For this reason, he chose to add those LCD lights to some images to give them an iconic sparkle—to him, the real stars were the people that came out that night, not for fame or glory, but for love. Bye Bye CBGB, through Feb. 28, Clic Gallery, 255 Centre St. (at Broome St.), 212-966-2766.


� EAT

Ippudo’s dark, mod interior sets a surprisingly romantic mood for a ramen spot. PHOTO BY Ed Kwon

Romance… and Ramen? Skip the flowers and oysters in favor of an original Valentine’s Day | By Regan Hofmann It’s as reliable as the tides: Come Valentine’s Day, creativity goes out the window. Husbands feel they have to bring home long-stemmed red roses, the gift that is dying before it even gets to the recipient. Girlfriends feel they have to buy out the nearest Victoria’s Secret, even if their boyfriends have never found ruffles sexy and can’t stand the color pink. And restaurants have it twice as bad. Not only do they have to cater to the thousands of couples who feel they’re legally bound to going out for a “special dinner” on Feb. 14, they have their own clichés to contend with. Champagne and oysters to start, filet mignon or lobster as a main and chocolate to finish. Somehow, the Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu turns otherwise creative, relevant chefs into hacks. But does anyone actually want them to? Much like those roses and angel wings, people have been told this is what they’re supposed to like so often they’ve stopped trying to figure out what they actually want. To really prove your love, ditch the truffles and Barefoot Bubbly and give your

sweetheart a meal that means something—one they’ll actually enjoy. Most of the standard V-Day foods have some allegedly aphrodisiac properties, be they chemical, cultural or physical. Chocolate gives you a serotonin high, making you feel good about the person sitting across the table. Champagne flutes signal luxury, making you feel like a movie star while getting drunk enough to act like one. And oysters are slurped out of their shells, held in the hand—a sensual exercise tailor-made for a Cinemax late-night original. Now consider ramen. Japanese noodleeating tradition demands slurping—anything less is an insult to the chef—and manipulating chopsticks and spoon around the rich broth and tangle of supple, resilient strands found in any reputable ramen-ya is enough to leave any lover feeling handsy. At Ippudo (65 4th Ave., betw. 9th & 10th Sts., ippudony. com), the dimly lit dark-wood and mirrored interior elevates this homey, sometimes rough-hewn tradition to an elegant evening out. Yes, the wait here is legendary, but you can blow your date’s mind by making a sameday, in-person reservation (the only way they’ll accept them) and breezing past the crowds later that night. For a chemical lift, skip over the same molten chocolate cake chefs have been peddling since Jean-Georges Vongerichten

ruled the ’80s and take the spice road instead. Capsaicin, the compound that gives chile peppers their kick, increases blood circulation, provides an endorphin rush and makes nerve endings extra-sensitive—uncannily mimicking the effects of, as the old Newlywed Game so delicately put it, making whoopee. Café Asean (117 W. 10th St., betw. Greenwich & 6th Aves., cafeasean.com) is the rarest of rare: a pan-Asian restaurant whose eclecticism doesn’t feel contrived or tackedon, like the many really-thai-but-we-offersushi joints in this town. Asean takes you on a deftly orchestrated tour of the part of the world most intimately familiar with the chile and its many guises, from Singaporean slow-braised short ribs to Vietnamese lemongrass shrimp and nasi goreng, Indonesian fried rice. All are guaranteed to raise your temperature in a candle-lit den of weatherbeaten wood and colonial artifacts. Or, indulge your shared misanthropy—

it’s what brought you together in the first place!—and stay home. Swing through the Essex Street Market (120 Essex St., betw. Rivington & Delancey Sts., essexstreetmarket. com) for a couple of deliciously dirty, funky cheeses from Saxelby Cheesemongers and a rough French loaf from Pain d’Avignon, stop at Russ & Daughters (179 E. Houston St., betw. Allen & Orchard Sts., russanddaughters.com) to pick up some caviar and pre-made blini for that touch of class and ask the staff of September Wines & Spirits (100 Stanton St. #4, at Ludlow St., septemberwines.com) to recommend a bottle to pull it all together (don’t worry, they can). Set it all out in the living room and snack to your heart’s content, safe from the rhinestones-and-roses crowd with the only person you really want to spend time with. Besides, you’ll be closer to the bedroom when the mood strikes—a Valentine’s Day cliché we can all endorse.

Wine Consumers’ Grape Expectations | By DAVID WHITE Imagine if your state legislature, in a bid to protect mom-and-pop bookstores, barred Amazon.com from shipping into your state. Or if a local town council, worried about local dairy farmers, prohibited grocers from selling milk. Or if lawmakers banned the sale of potato chips and candy bars on Sundays in an effort to shrink our waistlines. Such moves would be infuriating. But wine consumers face such restrictions daily. A whopping 36 states prohibit consumers from ordering wine from out-of-state retailers. Eleven states forbid residents from ordering wine from out-of-state producers. Seventeen ban the sale of wine at grocery stores. Many prohibit Sunday wine sales. Like virtually all of America’s liquor laws, these prohibitions trace their origins to the temperance movement. Today, these laws harm consumers and serve no purpose beyond enriching special interests. Fortunately, the tide appears to be turning in the fight for wine consumers’ rights.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, states were given the authority to regulate the “transportation or importation” of liquor within their borders. At the insistence of a motley crew of interest groups, states proceeded to impose all sorts of rules. A top priority was weakening producers. Before Prohibition, many bars were owned by brewers or distillers. Temperance advocates blamed these bars for many ills associated with drunkenness and believed that keeping producers away from direct sales would help keep people sober. Law enforcement, too, pushed to weaken producers, as during Prohibition, organized crime controlled much of America’s liquor supply. Lawmakers answered these calls in one of two ways; they either assumed complete control over the sale and/or distribution of alcohol or they created a wholesale tier— essentially, an artificial middleman—to sit between producers and retailers. Studies indicate that state wine monopolies—especially at the retail level— result in fewer choices and higher prices. Such monopolies should disappear soon. In November, Washington citizens voted to

privatize liquor sales. And in Pennsylvania, calls to privatize the state monopoly are getting louder. Requiring alcohol to pass through wholesalers also results in fewer choices and higher prices. The wholesaling industry, naturally, profits from this system; to protect its profits, it’s friendly to politicians—from 2006 to 2010, wholesalers spent more than $82 million on state and federal campaign contributions and lobbying. This makes sense. Without a regulatory structure that literally forces producers to utilize wholesalers, many producers would cut out the middleman. Fortunately, consumer support for this system has been waning since the 1990s, when Americans started developing a taste for boutique wines and became able to find them online. In January, New Jersey became one of the last states to legalize direct-to-consumer wine sales. Most states continue to prohibit shipments from out-of-state retailers, but this could soon change. In late 2010, the Specialty Wine Retailers Association asked the Supreme Court to chime in on a Texas law blocking out-of-state retailers from shipping into the state. The Court refused

to hear the case—thus cementing the Texas prohibition—but the effort generated enormous interest and support. Efforts to legalize supermarket wine sales also are gaining steam. These laws are kept in place thanks to lobbying from existing wine retailers, who like being shielded from competition. In New York, Tennessee, Colorado and elsewhere, consumers are banding together to fight for the right to pick up wine with dinner. Bans on Sunday sales are yet another relic of the temperance movement—they were promoted to keep the Sabbath holy and protect churchgoing business owners from competition. But they don’t make sense. Consumers should be able to purchase wine and beer every day of the week. The United States is the world’s largest wine-consuming nation, but many of our liquor laws are antiquated and only supported by the special interests that profit from their continuation. Consumers deserve a free market in wine. David White, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of www.terroirist.com. His columns are housed at www.wines.com, the fastest growing wine portal on the Internet.

FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | otdowntown.com

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“Ever hear of Plato’s allegory of the Publication: NY PRESS cave?” one teenager asks another in Date To Run: Chronicle. This philosophy quiz was THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2012 unexpected in the midst of a thrill ride Type: Specs: Line Screen: 85 movie, but Chronicle is so surprisingly Size [s]: interesting I wondered if its makers ever saw The Conformist where Bernar1/3(1970), PAGE VERT do Bertolucci visualized Plato’s allegory. 4.917” x 7.443” When it’s good, Chronicle is less a thrill ride than a deliberation on movie thrills and contemporary youth market tastes. In Chronicle, debut director Josh Trank A scene from Chronicle. PHOTO BY AlAn mARkFiEld uses all of the high school adolescent clichés polished into queer angst, Obama in QuarkXPress 8.1 stargazing and hunk Made sensitivity. Version: Advertisement prepared by It’s commercial formula with a brash Cardinal Communications 295 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10017 • 212.997.3200 spin; Andrew’s (Dane DeHaan) snooping LG attempt TR CC BL JB JS JP TE camera represents a poor kid’s Spell Chk. at both the self-consciousness of the Grammar When the camera appears to follow Ansocial media ageArtwork and Hollywood’s latest drew’s P.O.V. or capture his different advencheap trend: using realism as a Titlesubjective Treat. tures and humiliations—from spelunking Req premise for the Work horror and supernatural to flying to sex—Trank seems to be exercisF. Times genres. This goes back to The Blair Witch Theatres ing cinematic form. Project and Cloverfield, trite exploitaAd Size The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and tions of the hand-held, real-time camera Bugs the Paranormal Activity movies have degimmick, but Trank distances himself from Reader graded cinematic form, but when the handWebsites both with state-of-the-art panache. held, real-time stunt isn’t trite, the matter of # VideographyRes by Matthew Jensen makes AT 100% THIS BOX IS aesthetic 3 INCHES WIDE purpose and artistic responsibility spectacle the movie’s real subject. Chronmust be pondered, as here. icle’s sharp, ultra-clear, subtle imagery is Masterpieces like Peckinpah’s The more compelling than what happens to Wild Bunch, Bertolucci’s The Conformist, Andrew, Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and DePalma’s The Fury and Spielberg’s War cousin Matt’s (Alex Russell) friendship after Horse and The Adventures of Tintin make they develop telekinetic superpowers upon aesthetic issues part of their stories—the encountering a meteorite. Blair Witch hoaxes don’t. Trank’s fumbling Chronicle alludes to the metaphoric hormonal urges of DePalma’s classics Carrie allegory questions responsibility: The boys realize that their ability to move things and and The Fury—in fact, it’s loaded with pop do damage carries an onus (their noses references. Screenwriter Max Landis throws bleed) and cousin Matt comes up with rules in plot concepts and gimmicks without that Andrew defies when enraged. Lacking ever achieving the concentration on moral quandary and mythology that distinguished consistent follow-through, Chronicle deteriorates into a destruction-of-Seattle finale, last year’s TrollHunter, the Scandinavian eventually trashing Trank’s subtle references upgrade of the witness-to-horror stunt to Nirvana’s cheerleaders-in-hell music premise. video “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Landis and Trank only play around with That Plato question is smart-assed. that potential. But when the three friends Chronicle superficially touches on philosodiscover an ability to fly and play football phy as it superficially questions violence in the sky, the metaphor for prowess and while exploiting Hollywood’s violent trends. transcendence blends digital video effects Chronicle’s frustrating misuse of dazzling and genuine cinematic spectacle into the damnedest thing since the skydiving scenes cinematic technique raises the question of the era: Do youth audiences know what in Point Break. cinematic form is for? Beyond its gimmicky premise, Chronicle’s visual excitement raises the important Follow Armond White on Twitter @3xchair. issue of how we use and respond to media.

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Healthy Manhattan a monthly advertising supplement

The Heartbeat Goes On Robotics and old-fashioned patient care on the new frontier of cardiology treatments By Alexander Tucciarone In New York City, about 20,000 people die from heart disease every year. Hospitals across Manhattan have tackled cardiovascular disease in recent years by combining new and minimally invasive procedures with a focus on community outreach. “Fixing heart valves using catheters is the new frontier,” said Dr. Gregory Fontana, chief of cardiac surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. “That’s where all the action is right now.” Repairing the heart’s valves with procedures that are less invasive than open-heart surgery is possible because of advances in surgical robotics; surgeons can now operate on the heart through a very small incision between the patient’s ribs. An advantage of this new approach is that it doesn’t require surgeons to split open the patient’s chest with a 10- to 12-inch incision. By removing that step from the process, doctors greatly reduce the amount of strain placed on the body during surgery. Lenox Hill is not the only hospital currently pioneering the use of microrobotics in the treatment of cardiac patients. Dr. Didier Loulmet, a cardiac surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center, is also increasingly reliant on this new type of surgery and its reduced invasiveness. “This is now my technique of choice for patients with degenerative mitral valve disease,” Loulmet said. “When I see patients three months after they’ve undergone a robotic mitral valve

repair, it’s hard to tell they’ve had heart surgery.” And advances in technology are not limited to using surgical microrobots for valve repair. Dr. Vivek Reddy at Mt. Sinai Hospital is a leader in the use of renal sympathetic denervation, a surgery for patients suffering from hypertension. Surgeons performing renal sympathetic denervation insert a catheter through the patient’s leg that cauterizes the tissue inside the arteries around the kidney. During this half-hour-long procedure, surgeons never touch the heart itself. Reddy began performing this procedure at Mt. Sinai a year ago and in that time, 20 patients have undergone the surgery. Results at Mt. Sinai have matched those for the procedure worldwide, with 80 percent of patients experiencing significantly reduced hypertension. “At this point, the procedure is still in the clinical trial phase,” Reddy said. “But the potential for patient benefit is

enormous.” Advances in cardiac imaging have also contributed to the reduced invasiveness of the latest surgeries. Using ultrasound technology, physicians can now generate a 3-D sonogram of the heart. Dennis Finkielstein, director of ambulatory cardiology at Beth Israel Medical Center, is a proponent of this cutting-edge technology. “Echocardiography and 3-D imaging have provided an unprecedented level of perspective from a noninvasive look at the body,” Dr. Finkielstein said. Another new technique for treating heart patients called cardiac cooling has been pioneered by Bellevue Hospital. This treatment involves lowering a patient’s body temperature to between 89.6 and 93.2 degrees following a typically fatal cardiac arrest. About 50 people have undergone cardiac cooling at Bellevue in recent years, and more than half of these patients’ hearts have recovered from the cardiac arrest. “Cardiac cooling is a major advance in patient care,” said Dr. Norma Keller,

chief of cardiology at Bellevue Hospital. “It has become part of the Bellevue tradition of providing progressive, cutting-edge care at the forefront of cardiovascular procedures.” Improvement in the treatment of cardiac patients has gone beyond technological innovation and into fresh ways of approaching those suffering from heart disease. The Coach Program at Mt. Sinai is typical of this new level of engagement with patients. The program runs for 18 months and focuses on patients identified as suffering from hypertension. Patients receive a call from a Mt. Sinai nurse once a week inquiring about their health and reminding them to take their medications. About 85 percent of participants have controlled their blood pressure within three months of beginning this routine. Mary Ann McLaughlin, medical director of the cardiac health program at Mt. Sinai, is a leading advocate of this program. “The sense of concern from these phone calls is a major part of the program’s success,” Dr. McLaughlin said. “We are empowering patients to take care of their own health.” This new emphasis on engagement has also taken Mt. Sinai administrators out into the community. Mt. Sinai’s proximity to Central and East Harlem, neighborhoods with the city’s highest rates of heart disease, has made this mission all the more crucial. Dr. Icilma Fergus, director of cardiovascular disparities at Mt. Sinai, now leads the Harlem Healthy Eating Services, which meets on the third Wednesday of every month and is focused on improving the diet of New York’s underserved communities as a way to fight heart disease. “The highest rate of heart disease and diabetes in New York City are in Central and East Harlem,” Fergus said. “The mission is to champion cardiovascular health across all communities—using a grassroots approach, we affect people at their own level, developing their sense of management over their daily lives.”

FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | otdowntown.com




Healthy Manhattan

Getting to the Root of Heart Disease Dentists & cardiologists work together on links to gum and heart problems By Ashley Welch Brushing, flossing and biannual dental checkups may be advice you start hearing from other doctors in addition to your dentist. That’s because good oral hygiene can do more for you than a healthy smile—it may actually help prevent other health problems, including heart disease, according to researchers. For years, studies have established a link between periodontal disease, a serious type of gum disease, and illnesses, including diabetes, stroke and low birth weight. Recent research has also found evidence of a connection between periodontal disease and coronary artery disease, the narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. “There’s definitely an association there,” said Dr. Ronald G. Craig, associate professor of basic science & craniofacial biology and of periodontology & implant dentistry at the NYU College of Dentistry. “With all of these conditions, there’s one common denominator and that’s periodontal disease.” Research shows that people with gum disease, symptoms of which include swollen, receding and bleeding gums, bad breath and loose teeth, are twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States according to the Center for Disease and Control. Though researchers are still trying to get a better understanding of the link between periodontal and coronary artery disease, several theories exist to explain the connection. One theory suggests that bacteria present in periodontal disease can enter the blood stream, increasing the hardening of the arteries throughout the body and infecting the heart valves. However, more recent research suggests that it may be inflammation that links periodontal disease to other chronic

conditions like heart disease. “What we are finding as clinicians and researchers is that the chemicals that are present during periods of inflammation are the same in our mouths as they are in our hearts,” said Dr. Philip D. Ragno, director of cardiovascular health and wellness at the Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. An inflammatory response is an overreaction of the immune system where inflammation mediators, chemicals, are released and cause damage to tissues in the body. Patients with periodontal disease have elevated levels of these chemicals, which may cause damage elsewhere in the body, including the heart. “In the mouth, these chemicals may damage the roots of our teeth and cause

People with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems.

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OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

tooth loss and bleeding gums,” Ragno explained. “In the heart and elsewhere in our bodies, they can cause inflammation and weakness in the arterial walls. This will allow for the accumulation of cholesterol, initially as soft plaque and later as hard plaque. If this process progresses to a dangerous level, it can ultimately lead to heart attack or sudden death.” As a result of the connection between the two diseases, physicians and dentists alike are pushing to work together in a team approach to address the issue. “By having cardiologists screen for periodontal disease and having dentists screen for coronary artery disease risk factors, a bidirectional referral process will allow patients to get proper care,” Ragno said. Patients can also take steps to decrease their risk of periodontal disease, thus decreasing the risk of other health complications. “Unfortunately, most patients do not exhibit signs of periodontal disease until the more advanced stages,” said Dr. Laura Torrado, a cosmetic and restorative dentist practicing on Central Park South. “So what we really push is for prevention rather than treatment when

problems arise.” Torrado notes that certain risk factors are out of patients’ control. Older adults, as well as people with a genetic predisposition, are more likely to develop periodontal disease. In addition, hormone changes in females as a result of pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause may increase the risk of periodontal disease. However, not partaking in other risk factors, including smoking and poor eating habits, can greatly reduce the risk of developing gum disease. Another important factor is maintaining good oral hygiene. “The first line of defense is brushing twice a day, flossing and using an antibacterial mouthwash,” Torrado said. “The second line of defense would be to come in at least twice a year for dental cleanings and a checkup.” Craig noted that more research needs to be done “in order to see if treating patients with periodontal disease will effectively decrease the risk of heart disease.” For now, he said, it is important that patients do all they can to prevent periodontal disease and get treatment if they notice any symptoms.


The Moody’s Foundation Center For Cardiovascular Health At New York Downtown Hospital

Through the generosity of the Moody’s Foundation, New York Downtown Hospital created a comprehensive, state-of-the-art center that focuses on the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cardiovascular disease through a holistic, integrative approach. Our team of physicians works with you to assess your cardiovascular risk and design individualized treatment plans that allow you to live a healthier, more active life. Our cardiovascular specialists can also perform procedures at NewYorkPresbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center, allowing our patients access to innovative treatment options. Our Cardiac Rehabilitation Center has been recognized for its high level of service, and we offer Cardiovascular Wellness Evaluations designed to attain a multi-faceted approach to achieving your best health. We are committed to providing a superior level of care and patient service, and invite you to learn more about the services we offer. Consultations and testing services are easily scheduled with a single phone call, and in most cases can be arranged and performed within 24 to 48 hours. Most major insurance plans are accepted, and convenient appointments are available, including early morning and late afternoon visits.

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F E B R UARY 9 , 2 0 1 2 | ot d owntown. c o m

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Healthy Manhattan

Macular Degeneration is up as Boomers Age Early prevention is key with leading cause of vision loss By Dr. Cynthia Paulis Jim G. was an engineer who traveled the world after he retired, going to China, Africa, Madagascar, Europe, North and South America. Now 84, he is afraid to cross the street because of his macular degeneration. About 1.75 million Americans have advanced age-related macular degeneration with vision loss, and that number is expected to grow to almost 3 million by 2020. The disease is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans who are age 55 and older. It occurs when the small, central portion of the retina known as the macula deteriorates. The retina is the light-sensing nerve tissue at the back of the eye. The disease develops as a person ages and can cause significant visual disability. Dr. Roland Smith, professor of opthalmology at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the aging population is one reason for the increase. “We also have much better ocular and diagnostic examinations being performed, so before, patients were being dismissed and told that their eyes were getting old and their vision was failing,” he added. “Now they are being identified as having macular degeneration.” Macular degeneration comes in two forms: dry and wet. In the dry form, “cells actually die, and the patches of dead cells known as drusen shown by the appearance of yellow deposits can coalesce in the area of central vision,” Smith said. A few drusen may not cause changes in vision but, as they grow in size and as their numbers increase, a person may have a dimming or distortion of vision when they read. In its advanced stages, patients will have blind spots and eventually lose their central vision but many times will retain their peripheral vision. The dry form can develop to the wet, “where new blood vessels grow under the macula and bleed, causing a sudden catastrophic visual loss,” Smith said. When blood vessels leak blood and fluid into the retina, the vision is distorted, making

straight lines look wavy. Fortunately, only 10 percent of people with macular degeneration go on to develop the wet form. Some of the first signs and symptoms of macular degeneration may go unnoticed until it starts to affect both eyes. The first sign is usually a distortion of straight lines, which progresses to a gradual loss of central vision. Dark blurry areas or white-outs appears in the center of vision with diminished or changed color perception. There is an increasing need for bright light when reading or doing close work. Soon, words on a page become blurry and

Some of the first signs and symptoms of macular degeneration may go unnoticed until it starts to affect both eyes.

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OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012 

there is difficulty in recognizing faces. A risk factor for macular degeneration is heredity. Jim’s mother had macular degeneration; both of them were also smokers, a big risk factor because it alters the vessels in your eyes. Jim, who quit smoking more than 20 years ago, said, “I can see large objects, especially those that are well lit, but at a distance, not so much. It makes me fearful when crossing a street because I can’t see a car 30 or 40 feet away. On depth perception, one of the irritating things is that I have difficulty putting toothpaste on my toothbrush. I no longer write because I can’t see what I write and I no longer drive.” In the past, he was treated with lasers but now Jim receives injections in his eye to treat his disease. Dr. Shantan Reddy, a vitreoretinal surgeon at NYU Langone, explained the procedure. “We inject an antibody into the eye to combat a molecule that is respon-

sible for the wet form of macular degeneration. This has revolutionized care…It is not a cure for the wet form, but it does slow it down dramatically.” He said the injections are done once a month and are not painful. Along with the injections, the treatment places patients on a high-dose formulation of antioxidants, which seem to help reduce the progression of the disease. The formula includes vitamins C, E and A, zinc and copper. Reddy stressed the importance of getting eye exams before there is a noticeable problem because vitamins can prevent macular degeneration from worsening. He recommends eating green leafy vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as fish, cereal and milk. High cholesterol and hypertension can also exacerbate the disease. He also suggested wearing sunglasses for ultraviolet protection for the eyes.


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PResiDeNT/CeO Tom Allon tallon@manhattanmedia.com gROUP PUBLisHeR Alex Schweitzer aschweitzer@manhattanmedia.com CFO/COO Joanne Harras jharras@manhattanmedia.com DiReCTOR OF iNTeRaCTive MaRkeTiNg aND DigiTaL sTRaTegy Jay Gissen jgissen@manhattanmedia.com

editorial

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PRODUCTiON & CReaTive DiReCTOR Ed Johnson ejohnson@manhattanmedia.com eDiTORiaL DesigNeR Sahar Vahidi svahidi@manhattanmedia.com aDveRTisiNg DesigN Quran Corley OUR TOWN DOWNTOWN is published weekly Copyright © 2012 Manhattan Media, LLC 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor New York, N.Y. 10016 Editorial (212) 284-9734 Fax (212) 268-2935 Advertising (212) 284-9715 General (212) 268-8600 E-mail: otdowntown@manhattanmedia.com Website: OTDowntown.com OUR TOWN DOWNTOWN is a division of Manhattan Media, LLC, publisher of West Side Spirit, Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider, City Hall, The Capitol, The Blackboard Awards, New York Family, and Avenue magazine. To subscribe for 1 year, please send $75 to OUR TOWN DOWNTOWN, 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016 Recognized for excellence by the New York Press Association

22

Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman owners of The MeaTball shop

| By Linnea Covington

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ichael Chernow and Daniel Holzman opened the first Meatball Shop in the Lower East Side in February of last year. Almost a year later, the popular joint has expanded to Williamsburg and the West Village, and Chernow and Holzman have released a cookbook sharing how to make their delectable, um, well, balls. Including Shop staples like the classic beef, spicy pork, veggie and chicken, The Meatball Shop Cookbook breaks it down for your cooking pleasure. Not only do they share tips for making the perfect meatball, they also include recipes for their market green salads, roasted vegetable combinations, savory sauces and a variety of cookies and ice creams so you can recreate their famous dessert sandwiches. We got them on the phone to talk about the book, the shop, their ball technique and what’s in store for the future. Did you ever think meatballs would be this popular? Michael Chernow: At first I thought the concept was brilliant, but as we got closer to the opening, I was a little nervous about meatballs being the focus of the menu. But I think everyone loves meatballs. Rarely do I run into someone who doesn’t like them. That’s what I was banking on and, sure enough, it worked out. How does running The Meatball Shop compare to other restaurants you have worked in? MC: I have been working in restaurants since I was 13 years old—that makes it about 18 years. I have taken bits of what I learned in each restaurant and incorporated my own theories. I feel we have been able to create a really special place that I would like to work in and that I would want my friends to hang out in. I think the key is to create a special environment for the staff and make them my first priority. I have taken Danny Meyer’s lead in that. Why did you pick the location for the businesses? MC: For our first shop we knew we wanted to be in the Lower East Side. I worked in that area for 10 years; I knew the demographic would eat us up, literally and figuratively. The density of bars in the LES was the deciding factor for us. We wanted to attract younger bargoers to stop in before going out, and on their way home after drinking. The positioning of the first shop was strategically planned to categorize The

OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 9, 2012

Meatball Shop as a young, hip place to eat. It worked. We had the same motivation when looking for the Brooklyn store, so we secured a location on Bedford Avenue, right in the heart of Williamsburg. Once we felt comfortable in our targeted demographic, we took a swing in a more family-oriented market, the West Village. We were a bit nervous, but the concept proved to be viable there as well. Any reason two are downtown rather than uptown? MC: The food scene downtown is thriving. As I mentioned before, we wanted to be considered as a restaurant that would not only be known for its food, but for its atmosphere. The Meatball Shop as a unique system of ordering. Why did you format the menu in that way? Daniel Holzman: There is a burger joint in Los Angeles called The Counter, and they have a check-box system where you choose your bun, patty, sauce and topping. Mike and I loved it, and we liked the idea of doing something that was kind of kitschy. At first, The Meatball Shop was going to be counter service only, but it was too busy so we started full service. The immediate feedback was that people loved filling out the menu—eventually, we started using dry erase markers because we got sick of wasting the original paper menus. Now, I when I go to a restaurant, I want to write on their menu, too. How long did the book take? MC: The book took around a year from start to finish, from writing to taking photos. We wanted to make sure it was consistent with the restaurant, from the music to the

food to the energy. I think we were able to portray that when you open up the book. How did you pick the recipes for the book? MC: For the original recipes, Dan and I spent a lot of time honing in on the flavors we love. We would look at the flavors and say, “Hey, let’s make that into a meatball.” Usually, I come up with the name and Dan comes up with the recipe. DH: We wanted to document the restaurant using all the recipes we liked. We had to pare down quite a bit and now, the book is almost completely made up of recipes we make at The Meatball Shop. How far do you want to take the Meatball Shop concept? MC: Dan and I are very excited with where we are right now, though we always have our ear to the ground and are constantly looking for ways to make the concept more efficient. DH: We have been talking about it a lot. Mike and I said we would wait until we opened these two restaurants to get some hindsight. We weren’t sure what it would be like to open them, but people are responding well and I would like to open more. Any new concepts in the works? MC: I think meatballs have really taken over our lives, and stepping into a different concept isn’t something we are looking into right now. Also, the demographics of meatballs are so wide and vast, I don’t see us opening another concept outside the meatball shop. DH: I would be really surprised if at some point in our lives we don’t do something else. But right now, meatballs are fun and I love it.


on topIc

Youth-Targeted Tobacco Marketing Must Stop How cigarette companies are marketing to children in downtown neighborhoods

I

took my first puff of a cigarette at 8 years old. I wanted to be cool and macho and fit in with the neighborhood kids. Access to cigarettes was easy; I looked no further than my local corner market. In those days, the cigarettes were right next to the candy bars. I would tell store clerks I was buying them for an adult. It was easy and I was hooked in no time. I kept smoking until I was 40 years old. Luckily, I found the strength to quit through nicotine replacement therapy and the support of friends who had successfully quit themselves. Now I spend my days helping others quit, running the SmokeFree Project at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in the West Village. In addition to helping people develop a quit plan, build a support system and effectively handle relapse pressure once they have quit smoking, the Center also works with the Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership as part of the New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. I, along with our Youth Organizers Against Tobacco Advertisement interns, advocate against tobacco marketing that targets young people. New York City is home to 11,500 licensed tobacco retailers, 75 percent of which are located within 1,000 feet of a school. The Partnership conducted surveys on the Lower East Side of Man-

hattan between 14th and Delancey streets and 90 percent of regular smokers start before the age of 18. and found a higher prevalence of tobacco The reason so many kids start smoking marketing near schools. today are the same as when I took up the The Center and the Partnership are working to decrease tobacco marketing to addiction when I was young; studies show that the more tobacco marketing kids see, youth in stores and window displays near the more likely they are to smoke. schools. We are bringing attention to this As the Coalition noted: “Kids see growing problem by speaking to commutobacco whenever they go into a store nity boards and participating in awareto buy water, gum or candy. They see it ness events throughout Manhattan. on the store’s We parwindows and ticipated in the directly behind American Lung Kids see tobacco whenever they the cash register Association’s go into a store to buy water, gum when they make “Take a Walk in or candy. They see it on the store’s their purchase. Our Shoes” camwindows and directly behind the This is not by paign. Center cash register when they make their accident. The youth took comtobacco industry munity leaders purchase. This is not by accident. knows youth on walking tours The tobacco industry knows spend a lot of of Manhattan, youth spend a lot of time in stores, time in stores, including the so this is the place where they so this is the Lower East Side spend their money. place where and Chinatown, they spend their to spotlight the money. huge presence “In New York State alone, the tobacco of youth-targeted tobacco advertising. industry spends $1.1 million every day The youth pointed out the hundreds of marketing its deadly products. This is more storefronts loaded with tobacco advertisthan the amount spent on junk food, soda ing designed to appeal to young people and alcohol marketing combined.” and encourage them to smoke. Our goal It will take a multi-pronged approach is to prompt further dialogue about the immense need to limit tobacco marketing to counter this destructive advertising blitz. We must decrease the visibility of to youth. tobacco marketing in stores, limit the sale The stakes could not be higher. Acof tobacco products around schools and cording to the Coalition, approximately 17,000 New York City high school students prohibit the sale of tobacco products in smoke and a third of them will die prema- pharmacies. We also need citizens who care about this issue to speak out, write turely. Tobacco use is the leading cause their local officials, pen letters to the of preventable death in the United States

� STR E ET S C E N E

on topIc

The American President Show

I

t’s close! It’s so close! Romney’s ahead! No, Gingrich is ahead! Oh, here comes Santorum! But can any of them beat Obama? It’s so exciting, I can’t stand it. The sporting style of American mainstream media coverage of political “races” may be fun for some people. But it’s also irresponsibly dumb because of the difference between elections and horse races. In a real horse race, you watch the competitors do what they were only ever meant to do: just run. When the race is over, the bettors collect their winnings and everyone goes home. But political races are only preliminary events to what the winners are really expected to do: govern, their primary purpose. In these races, you are not watching the competitors do what you really want them to do (again, govern), you are listening to them vaguely promise what they will try to do if and

after they win. Imagine an American Idol where instead of actually performing, the contestants took turns promising the audience to sing and dance really well if and after they won and the celebrity judges just speculated on the home audience’s vote. Would you watch that show? Well, we’re all watching that show right now, except it’s called American President. And it’s just plain civically nutrition-free sensationalism. I’d like to see another kind of election show. It would look beyond nail-biting, ratings-grabbing, finishline scenarios and, instead, objectively and responsibly assess the realistic consequences of the political platforms presented by the most articulate candidates. In other words, I want a show that would give us not useless, racy poll projections but information to help us decide which candidate’s agenda would

editors and testify at community board meetings. According to a 2011 public opinion survey, 65 percent of New Yorkers support ADAm Steiner limiting tobacco retailers near schools. On Jan. 10, Community Board 1’s Youth Committee passed a resolution regarding youth exposure to tobacco marketing. On Jan. 24, the full board vote was tabled until the Quality of Life Committee weighs in on the resolution, at a date to be determined. I don’t want one more young person to walk the same decades-long smoking path that I took. Thankfully, I was able to quit as an adult, but had I not been targeted at such an impressionable age, I would have avoided years of unhealthy living and increased risk for serious illness or death. The only way to stop youth tobacco use in our city is by stamping out the level of direct advertising access tobacco companies have to our children. We all have a responsibility to shield our most vulnerable from the irresponsible and manipulative messages that make it seem hip or fashionable to smoke or chew. Tobacco use is neither hip nor fashionable. It is a one-way ticket to ill health and a potentially shortened life span. Adam Steiner is the SmokeFree Project counselor at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in the West Village.

best serve our civic needs after the balloons drop on election day. Today’s American President show only Steven Doloff benefits those few who actually bet money on the election and can collect their winnings right after the vote. For the vast majority of us non-bettors watching the thrilling “downto-the-wire” coverage in the mainstream media, we won’t really know if we are winners or losers for years to come—no matter who moves into the White House. Steven Doloff is a professor of humanities and media studies at Pratt Institute. His essays and op-ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Chicago Sun-Times.

By Alec on Gansevoort St. at Greenwich St. FE B R UARY 9, 2012 | otdowntown.com

23


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O U R TOW N : D OW N TOWN | F E B R UA RY 9 , 2 0 1 2

Our Town Downtown February 9, 2012  

The February 9, 2012 issue of Our Town Downtown. Our Town Downtown (OTDownTown) is a newspaper for 25 to 40-year-old New Yorkers living, wor...

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