FEBRUARY 23, 2012 | WWW.OTDOWNTOWN.COM
THE U N DE RG ROU N D WORLD OF
SECRET POKER A card dealer tells his high stakes story (P8)
TALKING UP DOWNTOWN New School President David Van Zandt
TUNING UP FOR THE TUNE-IN MUSIC FESTIVAL Park Ave. Armory wishes Philip Glass a happy 75th (P12)
FAMILY CORNER The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee on breastfeeding, babies and balance (P14)
VENDORS UNITE Street merchants up in arms over $1,000 fines (P6)
DAVID VAN ZANDT PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NEW SCHOOL / POKER PHOTO BY PATRICIA VOULGARIS
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
WHAT ARE YOUR KIDS DOING THIS SUMMER?
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
O U R TOW N : D OW N TOWN | F E B R UA RY 2 3 , 2 0 1 2
SATURDAY, MAR 10, 2012 Downtown Grace Church School 86 4th Ave. 12PM - 3PM
SUNDAY, MAR 11, 2012 Park Slope Union Temple 17 Eastern Pkwy 12PM - 3PM
SATURDAY, MAR 31, 2012 Upper East Side St. Jean Baptiste School 173 E. 75th St. 12PM - 3PM
SUNDAY, APR 1, 2012 Upper West Side Congregation Rodeph Sholom 7 W. 83rd St. 12PM - 3PM
Snow in the City
inter 2012 has been particularly seasonable. While the temperate weather makes the season more palatable, other New Yorkers miss the snow. These snowflake buffs came out in full force recently at Union Square, where tons of the white stuff Patricia Voulgaris was dumped. The temporary snow park, dubbed Burton Riglet Park, was part of a special snowboarding program created by Burton Snowboards called Burton Learn to Ride. More than one New York City tot got to enjoy the fresh powder and a lesson in snowboarding.
Photos by Patricia Voulgaris text by Marissa Maier
FE B R UARY 23, 2012 | otdowntown.com
� N E I G H BO R H O O D C HAT TE R Lower Manhattan Tourism up by 800,000 According to the Downtown Alliance’s 2011 Year in Review, 9.8 million tourists flocked to Lower Manhattan’s major museums, events and attractions last year—800,000 people more than in 2010. “Tourism is thriving in Lower Manhattan like never before,” said Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance. “While business travelers remain a significant market element, the growth of leisure visitors and special events has had a significant impact on the industry. “The secret is out: Lower Manhattan is a destination of choice in the region, nationally and around the world, for leisure and business travelers alike.” The growth–an 8 percent increase over 2010–reflects growing interest in all that Lower Manhattan has to offer and comes in a citywide tourism boost. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, recently announced that New York City ended 2011 with a new record 50.5 million visitors, with visitor spending reaching an estimated $32 billion. “This past May, we launched the Get
More NYC: Lower Manhattan campaign to highlight the Downtown neighborhoods to visitors from around the world,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. “As a result of our efforts to attract visitors to New York City, we not only reached a record 50.5 million visitors in 2011 but helped create a significant, positive impact for Lower Manhattan,” he continued. “This area has seen an incredible resurgence in the last decade and will, no doubt, continue to be a focal point for visitors from around the world. We look forward to continuing to work with all our partners to ensure that visitors and New Yorkers take advantage of all Lower Manhattan has to offer.” The National September 11 Memorial Plaza, which opened in September 2011, has been a significant draw to the district, attracting 1 million visitors in its first three and a half months alone. “More than 1 million visitors have traveled to the National September 11 Memorial since its opening on the 10-year anniversary, honoring and remembering those we lost in the 9/11 attacks,” said 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels. “The Memorial is already an
important part of this historic neighborhood and its visitors are helping make Lower Manhattan thrive.” Other museums and attractions in Lower Manhattan include the River to River Festival, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the South Street Seaport Museum, among many other cultural institutions. According to Downtown Alliance research, the number of tourists visiting below Chambers Street was 7 million in 2008, grew to almost 8 million in 2009 and reached 9 million in 2010. tribeca miliTary Fams and arT insTiTuTe provide scholarships This week, aspiring artists received another glimmer of hope when The Arts Institute, which has a location on Beach Street, forged a partnership with Military Families United to offer spouses of Armed Forces members a $25,000 scholarship to study at any one of the Arts Institutes schools. Up to four scholarships will be given each year, and the spouses of those on active duty, active National Guard and
reserves, as well as the spouses of those killed on duty post-9/11, are eligible. The deadline for applications is March 15. citywide invesTigaTing nypd accidenT response On Feb. 15, Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, spoke at length to a City Council hearing focused on the NYPD’s accident response and enforcement of traffic rules relating to cars, bikes and trucks. White spoke of the dangers that motorists and cyclists pose to pedestrians and to themselves, as well as the potential for the NYPD to crack down on reckless driving. He called for the formation of a special task force within the department, stating, “Simple amendments to department policy won’t solve [department deficiencies relating to traffic protocol].” New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh have also proposed a bill to the State Legislature that would specifically authorize police officers to issue violations for accidents involving pedestrians and for careless driving, which is currently not department policy.
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� N EWS
New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron speaking at a press conference with other elected officials and 9/11 first responders. PHOTO BY cOURTEsY OF DAniEl sqUADROn’s OFFicE
Adding Cancer to the Zadroga Bill Politicians urge mayor’s office to release names of 9/11 first responders | By MiChael Vidafar Since 2009, Ray Pfeifer, a firefighter at Engine 40 in Manhattan and married father of two, has been battling a diagnosis of stage four kidney cancer that spread to his bones. Now, two years later, Pfeifer has undergone multiple surgeries, lost portions of his legs and hip and a kidney and is still fighting for his life. Pfeifer believes his cancer is linked to the seven months he spent helping with the recovery and clean-up efforts at ground zero, where he inhaled what he described as a “toxic soup.” Unfortunately, among his 9/11 recovery worker comrades, Pfeifer’s cancer diagnosis is seemingly not uncommon. On Wednesday, Feb. 15, dozens of firefighters and police officers who worked during and in the aftermath of 9/11 gathered in white jackets on the steps of City Hall in a show of solidarity. Pfeifer and the other first responders, along with local politicians State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Member Margaret Chin, were gathered to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg to release a list of the names of first responders on 9/11, which they hoped would help extend
medical aid under the Zadroga Act to those afflicted with cancer. The Zadroga Act, a bill that went into effect mid-2011, is meant to alleviate the burden of medical expenses incurred as a result of 9/11 related sicknesses. The bill is named after the now-deceased James Zadroga, a NYPD officer who died of respiratory disease attributed to his time spent at ground zero post-9/11. The act is meant to cover a variety of 9/11-related conditions, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, including aerodigestive disorders like chronic coughing and asthma, as well as mental health problems such as post traumatic stress disorder and depression, but does not yet include support for any form of cancer. Because of the complex nature of cancer, the World Trade Center Health Program, a committee headed by Dr. John Howard, was commissioned to study the link between the environment and cancer in people who lived, worked and went to school in Lower Manhattan on and postSept. 11, 2001. On July 26, 2011, the Center for Disease Control released those results. The committee’s initial findings, that “insufficient evidence exists at this time to propose a rule to add cancer” to the Zadroga Act, has many members of the city urging for greater transparency in future studies. “In light of all that we know, all that
we’ve seen and all of the heartbreaking stories that we’ve heard, I find it staggering that the city refuses to recognize that responders have been exposed to cancer-causing toxic dust,” said Chin. “The government has an obligation to cover cancer treatments because they told first responders that the air was safe when it was full of carcinogens. There was not enough testing, there were not enough precautions, there was not enough information available about the deadly toxic dust that consumed our neighborhood,” she continued. Chin and other politicians are asking for the disclosure of the names of first responders so they can be given to the WTC Health Program along with a new study, conducted by FDNY Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Prezant that was published in The Lancet medical journal. City Council members believe a conclusive link between cancer diagnosis and first responding on 9/11 can be made, especially in light of Prezant’s findings, which reveal “about 38 new cancers in the seven years that [they] studied [first responder firefighters],” and offers strong evidence that was not available to the WTC Health Program in July.
Squadron also urged for the disclosure of information from the mayor’s office, saying, “In the years immediately after 9/11, misinformation and bureaucracy caused delays that may have cost lives. Now, 10 years out, the misinformation and bureaucracy must end.” With the WTC Health Program’s second review of whether to add cancer to the covered conditions due for submission on March 2, officials hope to be able to provide Howard and his colleagues with enough information to add a cancer provision to the Zadroga Act, which is set to expire in 2015.
Vendors Push for Reduced Fines Call for an end to $1,000 tickets | By andrew riCe
They’re everywhere in the city. No, we’re not talking about cabs on the road or rats in the subway, but the street vendors who sell everything from hats, umbrellas, books and bags, to gyros, churros and ices. Many of these street business owners are veterans and/or immigrants. Shortly after noon on Thursday, Feb. 16, hundreds of members of the Street Vendor Project (SVP) marched and rallied in front of City Hall in protest of what they consider unfair fines and practices imposed by the city. The SVP, which represents 1,200 of the 10,000 vendors in the city, reported that over 40,000 tickets were issued to vendors by the NYPD for various violations last year. “We pursue these tickets in litigation and to fight for our members,” said Sean Basinski, director of the SVP at the Urban Justice Cen-
ter. “Doing some quick math, about 15,000 out of the 26,000 tickets our members got last year still resulted in fines. It’s just crazy, and it’s driving vendors out of business.” Basinski and the other elected officials present at the rally aren’t arguing for the city to throw the concept of fines out the window. Instead, they’re pushing the City Council to vote on two pieces of legislation that would lower the maximum fine and change the way fines are compounded. Currently, first-offense fines range from $25 to $50 but quickly rack up with subsequent offenses until they reach sums of $1,000. Offenses don’t have to be related to be compounded, making it common for many vendors to pay over $1,600 a year in tickets. Under the new legislation, fines would only go as high as $250 and would only increase for related violations. James Williams, an eight-year board member of the SVP and a vendor for nine years, paid $1,000 to renew his license last year. “I’ve been fined before with $1,000
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 23, 2012
tickets. Most of us have. Usually it’s for things like licenses not being properly displayed, problems with the tables, having stuff a few inches too far from the curb. We’ve been facing hard times from the police and the Department of Health, who seem to be against us as small business owners.” The harsh fines have hit many vendors very hard. For Azucena Vasquez, a 38-yearold mother of three, it was the hardest hit of all. After going to college, she was unable to find a job with her degree and turned to vending part-time to support her family. Unfortunately for the ice cream seller, she was written several tickets for different offenses and couldn’t pay the tickets that cost $1,000 each. “When I went to court, they insisted that I pay the fines. I couldn’t afford to because I have to support my children and they just didn’t care, and now I’ve lost my vending license,” she said. Many street vendors are also veterans, including the disabled Vietnam veteran
Street vendors rallied on Feb. 16. PHOTO BY KATHlEEn DUnn
Derrick Wilmot. He doesn’t understand the crackdown because vendors have helped fight crime in the past, including the attempted Times Square bombing in 2010. “We don’t rob, cheat or steal. We try to follow the rules and we’re just like everyone else. We want to earn enough to feed our families and at the end of the day go home, relax, watch some TV and spend time with our loved ones.”
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F E B R UARY 2 3 , 2 0 1 2 | ot d owntown. c o m
RAIDS, ROBBERIES, HIGH STAKES AND DRUNKEN PLAYERS Note: Individuals pictured are not the sources of these stories. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICIA VOULGARIS
Two types of poker are played in this world: tournaments and ring games, or cash games. 8
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 23, 2012
An inside look at a dealer’s life in the underground poker circuit | BY ANAM BAIG
ooshu, a smooth-talking native of the Lower East Side, decisively crushed his cigarette before disappearing through a rusty black gate and into an unassuming townhouse on St. Mark’s Place. On a Sunday night, he entered the basement door after descending a crumbling staircase and faced a camera attached to the door of the ground-floor apartment. A few seconds later, the door peeped open and a brawny man decked in leather greeted Mooshu with a fist pound. As he walked in, two felt-covered tables flanked his left, one of them full of men belonging to every creed, all eyeing the growing pot in the middle of the table. Farther down the corridor there was a makeshift wall with a hole carved in it. This served as a kitchen, where players exchanged chips for money through the window. “This is where I work,” said Mooshu. Mooshu, a nickname given him by his fellow poker dealers, has worked at illegal underground poker clubs for the last three years. Raids, robberies, high stakes and drunken players are all part of his job description, and his last place of employment—the digs on St. Marks—was shut down only
two weeks ago by police. He is a 19-year-old parttime college student and a full-time card dealer. And for the past year, he was a scheduled dealer for cash poker games at this ground-floor apartment in a grimy townhouse on St. Mark’s Place. Two types of poker are played in this world: tournaments and ring games, or cash games. Tournaments have anywhere from two to 1,000 people playing, and the winner is the person who ends up with all the chips. Others place bets based on the time they are eliminated. There is typically an entry fee, but the chips cannot be exchanged for money. In a cash game, like the ones on St. Mark’s, real funds are at stake and the session can go on indefinitely. On a typical weekend night, there could be up to $10,000 in the pot. Employees take rake, what is generally a five to 10 percent portion of the pot for each hand, and this is how the lights are kept on and the bouncers, dealers and cocktail waitresses continue to get paid. To enter this illicit establishment, patrons have to go through the basement apartment door and face a glowing red security camera posted on its frame. Regulars at the poker club are usually let right in, but newcomers have to present their IDs to the bouncer and get a brief pat-down for weapons before they are allowed to enter. According to a bouncer working the door at St.
Mark’s, stringency of security depends on where the poker is taking place and what type of game is going on. “Cash games in the LES usually have bouncers that pat you down for weapons— sometimes you can’t even have your cell phone. Some places have gun checks, where you have to give them your gun to put away while you play and then reclaim it before you leave,” described Julio, the leather-clad bouncer who greeted Mooshu at the door. “It’s all about the type of game going on, too,” he continued. “Tourneys are not too much cash, but the cash games get big and they need more security on deck.” Besides the security at the door, there is a screening process for every new player, all of whom are there on an invitationonly basis, usually extended by a frequent player. Another way poker clubs are promoted is through websites such as theactionfinder.com. The catch to some of these sites, however, is that they either require passwords or other security measures, and each player has to post his employment history to weed out any undercover cops. “The first place—that was on Avenue C— got robbed and then the cops showed up. Made that place too hot, so we moved here,” Mooshu explained of an earlier bust. Security cameras, background checks of players and burly, menacing-looking bouncers are necessary precautions used to prevent robberies or raids by undercover cops. New York gambling laws state that commercial lotteries and any type of gambling not sponsored by the city or state are illegal. Living in the city, the closest legal gambling fix is in places like Foxwoods or Atlantic City, but they requires a lot of travel. Compare that to the slot machines found in many grocery stores in Las Vegas, and New York City’s
gambling scene seems nonexistent. Back in 2005, during what poker players call the “dark days” of underground poker, the NYPD vice squad reportedly raided two popular clubs in New York City, Playstation and the New York Players Club, arresting 39 employees and snatching nearly $100,000 in cash in total. The Broadway Club, Ace Point Backgammon and Chest Studio were also among the clubs busted that year. (The office of the deputy commissioner of public information could not provide citywide statistics on the number of gambling related arrests in recent years.) Besides the police, the players themselves pose a threat. “There is really no good way to say it, but it happens. Games will get robbed and people will get shot. Sometimes it’s not even a robbery, just an irate player. As long as there is money in a room, someone is going to try and take it,” said Travis C., who frequents these underground clubs. But this tucked-away crevice in St. Mark’s is more laid back, giving it a casual, relaxed environment. Out of the two poker tables set up, one was full that night with 10 players plus the dealer. Salt-and-pepper-haired businessmen, beer-bellied middle-agers and lanky college students, plus enough ethnicities to satisfy a U.N. General Assembly meeting, all congregated in this one small room. “I meet all kinds of people; teachers, stockbrokers, rich Jewish widows, club promoters—everybody is here. Some of the chillest people I know are the people I’ve worked with and dealt for,” said Mooshu. College students also regularly play at these underground poker clubs. Jason C., an acneridden sophomore from Fordham University, used to spend two nights a week at St. Mark’s. “I have a legit job,” he said. “But usually I
spent my salary there, playing for six or seven hours every night I’m there. I make some money, enough to feed myself for the week and to cash in again, and sometimes I make more money from one flop than I do at work. But it’s not about how much money I win, though; it’s more about the thrill of playing. And it’s about the skill that goes into it.” While many at St. Mark’s enjoy the strategy and skill that go into playing a good game, some are there for the money and others are so hooked on the thrill of big bets they become addicted. “You get your gambling addicts here,” said Mooshu, over a smoke and a quick dice toss in the backyard. “A guy comes in here drunk, drops a stack [of money], stumbles out of here a few bills richer or not and comes back the next day still smelling like last night. Win or lose, they’re back.” A green tent covers the enclave where dealers and players took their breaks under plumes of smoke, discussing strategy and swapping stories. A middle-aged Chinese man sits despondently in a dark corner, taking heavy drags from his cigarette as the clack of dice continued on the pavement. “He tilted. He just lost a lot of money tonight,” Mooshu continued. “Yo, Jim!” he called out. But there is no response from this unhappy gambler, merely a look of utter loss. “Tilt is when a player loses a lot of his stack then does something really desperate, like go all in even if he has a bad hand. After that, they come out here looking like Jim,” explained Mooshu. Another story he shared was about a woman who took money from her husband’s hidden safe to play poker. The dealers realized this when she paid $700 for chips with old $20 notes. “The husband came and saw that she had the money. But
he didn’t say anything; he was drunk and just let her play. She comes in a lot and stays for hours and for the most part she doesn’t make money. She just bets with her husband’s bread and then they leave together and do it all over again some other night.” A resurgence of poker parlors in New York City has seen many open up all over the city. Of course, there are online poker websites that may sate the thirst of poker players, but the experience of playing a live-action game is, for the most part, incomparable for the patrons. “Yeah, you play online,” said one player who wished to remain anonymous. “But this is the real deal, you know? I don’t have to haul ass to Atlantic City or Vegas. And anyway, this is way better. The underground life of poker in New York City is better than any fancy table at the Bellagio.” This surge of poker parlors has also caused more raids by the cops, according to a floor manager working at St Mark’s. “But it’s a legitimate business,” he continued. “The rent is paid, the employees are paid, the players are kept happy and fire codes are followed.” At 9 p.m., Mooshu ended his Sunday shift and headed to another spot in Midtown, another part of the St. Mark’s rooms, where they hold tournament games. Exiting the spot, one has to be just as discreet when entering, if not more. “We’re gonna take the VIP exit,” he said, indicating a peeling white door across the card tables. It creaked open, revealing a dingy, badly lit staircase that leads to the front entrance of the building. One has to crouch low to get up the crooked stairs and exit through the front entrance of the townhouse, allowing patrons the utmost discretion. And for a poker dealer, that is their best bet.
On a typical weekend night, there could be up to $10,000 in the pot. Exiting the spot, one has to be just as discreet when entering, if not more. FE B R UARY 23, 2012 | otdowntown.com
THE 7-DAY PLAN THURSDAY
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Accomplice: The Village [2/25] Mystery location, accomplicetheshow.com; $65.
Part game, part theater and part tour, Accomplice productions are unlike anything found in a theater. The audience is sent on a journey through the streets of the Village, armed with a few initial bits of information and aided by clues and mysterious cast members strewn across locations such as street corners, bars, out-of-the-way shops and seedy alleys. Tours every half-hour. Starting point and map are provided when tickets are purchased.
Fuse Gallery, 93 2nd Ave., #A, (betw. 5th & 6th Sts.), fusegallerynyc.com; opening reception 7–10 p.m. Artist Joe Heaps Nelson produces paintings and drawings that bounce between social critique and satire, borrowing heavily from pop culture imagery. Nelson is a regular contributor to Whitehot magazine and is the producer of the Police Brutality Coloring Book.
A Black & White Party Theatre 80, 80 St. Marks Pl. (betw. 1st & 2nd Aves.), badassburlesque.com; 11 p.m.–3 a.m., $15. !BadAss! Burlesque brings two of their greatest tributes, to Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe, together in one explosive show to celebrate the most provocative brunette and blonde icons of the 1950s. The party is patterned after Truman Capote’s 1966 duotone-themed ball at the Plaza Hotel—tonight, the dress code will be strictly enforced.
isadoraNOW The Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance, 126 E. 13th St. (betw. 3rd & 4th Aves.), peridance.com; 7:30 p.m., $25, $15 students. On their mission to preserve Isadora Duncan’s legacy, this contemporary dance troupe will premiere Eurydice, a mix of new works and modern staging of Duncan’s masterpiece, Blue Danube. Modernizing some of Duncan’s choreography, the piece recounts a woman in love constantly pushed by others to go where they wish rather than able to follow her own desires.
Markets of Greenwich Village Hudson Park Branch Library, 66 Leroy St. (at 7th Ave.), gvshp.org; 6:30-8 p.m., RSVP to email@example.com. Karen Seiger, author of Markets of New York City: A Guide to the Best Artisan, Farmer, Food and Flea Markets, has documented the resurgence of markets in her book and blog. In this talk, she will discuss the treasures she has found in the Village and throughout the boroughs, the impact of markets on the economy and some of the reasons they are so popular. A group of local food companies who launched their ventures at local markets will answer questions and sell their tasty treats.
Live from Home with Josh Ritter Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St. (betw. Prince & Houston Sts.), housingworks.org; 7:30 p.m., $20. Josh Ritter has released five studio albums and was recently named one of the 100 greatest living songwriters by Paste magazine, alongside Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. Stephen King named one of Ritter’s albums the best of recent years. In short, Ritter has arrived; tonight he graces Housing Works with his presence in a benefit concert for the HIV/AIDS service organization.
FREE This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Moth StorySLAM Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St. (betw. Prince & Houston Sts.), housingworks.org; 7 p.m., $8 at door. From its humble beginnings on a Southern porch where friends would swap stories, The Moth has exploded into a storytelling phenomenon. The theme of tonight’s slam is something we think everyone can relate to: bosses. With 10 storytellers, three teams of judges and one winner, the stakes are high. Word of warning: arrive early as these events always sell out.
Visit otdowntown.com for the latest updates on local events.
Whiplash Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 307 W. 26th St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), newyork.ucbtheatre.com; 11 p.m. Hosted by Leo Allen, this gratis comedy program presents the hottest in alternative stand-up comics. While the lineup this evening is still to be determined, previous guests have included Jessi Klein and Neal Brennan.
FREE Canyon Candy
Clocktower Gallery, 108 Leonard St., 13th Fl. (betw. Broadway & Lafayette St.), artonair.org/clocktower-gallery; noon–5 p.m. Canyon Candy is a site-specific installation and immersive soundscape bringing to life a Western-themed music video collaboration between filmmaker Mike Anderson and the band Javelin. The exhibit is part of the Clocktower Gallery’s Music Video Program, launched in March 2011 with Collapse Into Now Film Project, organized by Michael Stipe of the band R.E.M. This Is Not a Film Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St. (betw. 6th & 7th Aves.), filmforum.org; $12.50. Filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s courageous dispatch from Iran premieres at Film Forum today. In 2010, renowned Iranian director Panahi received a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban from filmmaking due to his open support of the opposition party in Iran’s 2009 election. In this startling film, which was secretly shot on iPhone and digital camera by Panahi’s close friend, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, the director shares his story ideas for a new film, as well as his day-to-day life, as he waits for a decision on his appeal.
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 23, 2012
FREE Movement Research
Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Sq. S. (at Thompson St.), movementresearch.org; 8 p.m. A low-tech forum for performance experiments, rather than finished products, happening every Monday night from the fall through the spring. Performers are selected by a rotating committee of peer artists; tonight, expect to see work from Maximillian Balduzzi/Urban Research Theater, Katie Dean and Heather Bregam, Ana Isabel Keilson, Mustafa Kaplan and Filiz Sizanli.
SHINE IN THE 60’S IT BECAME ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that a gulf of misunderstanding and mistrust stood firmly between the police and the people that needed their services. Although the police department had seemingly gone through the motions of building bridges of trust and understanding in the ghettos, most of the city’s two million Black and Hispanics’ lived in conditions that were worse than ever. While there was no doubt that intolerable conditions existed due to white racism over the years, which was entangled with political and social greed, the power structure was as blind as ever to the true needs of the black community. Their civil rights were violated on a daily basis, at an all time high. Blacks were randomly stopped and asked for identification and often searched on an average of eight times more than whites. In 1969, it became overwhelmingly clear that the Black and Hispanics had completely lost all faith in the police department. Crime on all levels was rampant. The political powers held a meeting in City Hall. Included in this meeting was the Mayor, Police Commissioner and the then Congressman of Harlem. As a result of that unprecedented meeting, they reached out to the Black and Latino police officers in search of motivated, dedicated, committed, aggressive and fearless officers. These officers were aware that there was a high probability that some may be killed due to their all out approach to eliminating gun runners and street narcotics. What they didn’t know was that some of them might be killed by their fellow officers. Out of the 113 volunteers, only 20 were hand picked and were called the New York City police department PEP squad. Now retired police officer, and author of Where the Sun Didn’t Shine, Bennett Hinds was one of the members of this elite group. Although this group had one of the highest arrest rates in the city, he himself, while in civilian cloths was beaten by a group of white officers in a Midtown Precinct, WHILE ON DUTY. Their explanation was that he looked like a black perpetrator they were seeking. Taken from the author’s personal experiences, and verified by NYPD operational files and documented stories that appeared in the New York Amsterdam News, NY DAILY NEWS, and CHANNEL 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Hinds has created a book that ranks with the all time black epics The Tuskegee Airmen and Glory, the story of the all black WW II regiment. Like Frank Serpico, his contemporary, Where the Sun Didn’t Shine breaks through the “Wall of Blue” to expose a world of internal police conflict and abuse that led to the deaths of black officers in what was deemed as “friendly fire.”
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.
Success Academy Charter Schools is applying to open a new elementary public charter school in CSD 2.
When: August 2013 Where: Community School District (CSD) 2 Grades: K and 1st grade for the 2013-2014 school year and serving K-8th grade at full scale
The Success Academy network of public charter schools has a proven record of excellence, with our scholars consistently scoring in the top 5% of all 3,500 public schools in New York state for reading, science and math. To learn more about Success Academy’s proposed new schools please visit: SuccessAcademies.org/NewSchools We encourage your input: NewSchoolsD2@successacademies.org
F E B R UARY 2 3 , 2 0 1 2 | ot d owntown. c o m
� SE E Park Avenue’s Secret Downtown Venue The Park Ave. Armory turns out to be a welcoming home for Downtown artists like Philip Glass
| By ALLEN ROTH For an uptown venue, the Park Avenue Armory has plenty of downtown spirit. “Our sense is really contemporary and cutting edge, and in this historic building it seems to work really well,” said Rebecca Robertson, the president and executive producer of the space, located at 643 Park Ave., between 66th and 67th streets. She’s discussing the upcoming Tune-In Music Festival, which runs Feb. 23–26 and honors avant-garde composer Philip Glass. The four-day festival, which will feature a world premiere of an Armory commission, a version of Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish by Hal Wilner, Bill Frisell and Ralph Steadman, also includes Glass’ own Music in Twelve Parts, a concert featuring Glass and Patti Smith and a closing-day performance featuring composers Nico Muhly and Tania Leon, the jazz fusion group Tirtha and Glass’ son, the singer-songwriter Zack Glass. According to Robertson, the festival is a prime example of the Armory bringing inventive programming to its 250,000-square-foot space. “I think we are very Alphabet City,” she
said, referring to the eastern stretch of the East Village where artists have long congregated and alternative spaces abound. “Philip Glass’ roots are Downtown. This has a Downtown, slightly hippie and very loving and spiritual sense. That is what this is all about.” As far as Robertson’s concerned, it’s precisely what the 220-year-old space should be doing. “We took over the Armory to turn it into a cultural institution,” she explained. “The whole idea was to use the drill hall and the rooms for work in all the art forms—visual and performing—that needed a nontraditional space. New York has such a wealth of single-purpose halls, it really needs one very large, unusual space.” It’s not just talk. When the Armory hosted the first Tune-In Festival in 2011, it featured a commission by experimental immersive symphony Sympho, two concerts with new music impresarios eighth blackbird and the first-ever indoor performance of John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit, which involved more than 70 percussionists who moved throughout the Armory’s drill hall during the performance. “Our first few years of production were really many collaborations with other institutions, like Lincoln Center, the Art Production Fund and the Whitney Biennial, to find out how the art forms responded to this rather flee-floating platform,” Robertson said. “We didn’t
know how music would turn out; the Armory opened in 1881 with a huge concert of various philharmonics from the New York area. They obviously thought about music when they first built the drill hall, but you know, it’s a big space.” The space’s first big test as a performance venue came during its premiere collaboration, a 2008 performance of Stravinsky’s Sacred Masterpieces. Critics would be inside the building hearing live music for the first time in years and, according to Robertson, “we were on pins and needles, not knowing how it would sound.” Luckily, everything went well and the critics walked away pleased. It was an important acknowledgement for a venue that possesses both the good and bad aspects of not being your average concert hall. “We think that for music, it’s a really interesting place,” Robertson said. “It’s different to play here and it’s different to listen to music here. Of course, it feels like you’re outside—and we’ve done pieces that were written for the outside. There is a longer reverb time. There is a different sensation here, but I think it’s interesting.” She’s not the only one. Glass, along with consulting artistic director Kristy Edmunds, has played a major role in planning the festival in his honor. “It’s his 75th birthday and he and Kristy
� DI N I N G
Philip Glass in Park Avenue Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall. PHOTO BY jAmEs Ewing
cooked this up together because it was a festival that reflected his own sensibilities and the things he loves,” Robertson said. “Some of the pieces are by him, some are because of him. It’s more about a gestalt that suits the way he thinks, the people he’s mentored, the people who have inspired him and the things that have been important in his life.” The way Robertson sees it, there’s nothing anachronistic about having the poems of Ginsberg performed—with original projections and live music, of course—the same weekend that emerging artists take over the stage and a punk-rock icon gives a concert, all on the most exclusive avenue in the world. In fact, the mixture of exciting, emerging culture and a spacious, beautiful venue is just what she’s aiming for. “Our sense is really contemporary and cutting edge,” she said, “and in this historic building, it seems to work really well.”
Cauliflower. PHOTO BY PizzO disEvO
Winter is a Season, Too Unlikely seasonal foods to make the transition from winter to spring | By REGAN HOfmANN
It is still, technically, winter. Every 50-plus degree day makes it harder and harder to remember this—every time you run out of the office for lunch and debate whether you really need your coat, instead of wrapping yourself in every piece of clothing you own before braving the elements—but winter is sticking around until at least March 19; longer, if you believe that poser Punxsutawney Phil. And while we’re supposed to spend these months reveling in heavy stews and root vegetables, cheese-covered casseroles and fresh-baked everything in order to build up our natural insulation and soothe ourselves into a state of semi-hibernation, this year it just doesn’t seem right. After all, without that massive cable-knit sweater to hide under, it’s harder to ignore the fact that those comfort foods make regular clothing a lot less comfortable to fit into.
Luckily, though the root vegetable reigns supreme in anyone’s description of seasonal winter offerings, there are a number of ingredients only available in these dark months that are anything but heavy. Sweet Shrimp Though the Maine fishing season closed about 12 seconds ago, a last-ditch pilgrimage to your favorite locally sourced sushi restaurant may still grace you with this delicate, lingering morsel, all tender flesh and honeyed salt flavor, often with the fried head to remind you that this is no poached pink prawn like your usual ebi, long divorced from this mortal coil. The Sweet shrimp. PHOTO fried sweet shrimp BY clARA micHEllE head tells you he was alive and kicking (really—have you seen all those little legs?) but moments ago—and it’s a crunchy treat, to boot. For a step above, try Niko (170 Mercer St., betw. Prince & Houston Sts., helloniko. com), where the little guys are flash-fried in
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 23, 2012
their entirety and served with sriracha salt. CitruS In the Northeast, we’re so divorced from the climate that makes citrus groves possible that it seems impossible that the fruit is grown like any other. Oranges come bagged up and pre-stickered with that cute little Sunkist logo, don’t they? Well, no, and they have a season, too—we’re in the middle of it. Grapefruits taste extra sweet right now; oranges have a complexity of flavor and come in varieties other than “navel” and “juice.” Order some for yourself direct from the source from farmers like Cindy and Pete Spyke of Citra, Fla. (floridaorangeshop.com), lowimpact, sustainable family farmers who grow oranges you didn’t even know existed. Or try a Vietnamese classic, grapefruit (sometimes pomelo, a comically enormous, sweeter grapefruit-type fruit) and shrimp salad at Xe Lua (86 Mulberry St., betw. Bayard & Walker Sts., xeluanewyork.com). Cauliflower Yes, right now this crucifer often falls under the umbrella of cheese-coated comfort, but
that’s mostly because people don’t know they can’t just treat broccoli’s albino cousin the way they would its more vibrant kin. Cauliflower, when maligned, ends up tasting as pale as it looks, but it has a sweetness and nuttiness that will come out if you treat it right. Creative chefs are roasting or braising it to get that flavor; one mad genius, Amanda Cohen at Dirt Candy (430 E. 9th St., betw. 1st Ave. & Ave. A, dirtcandynyc.com) is deepfrying it and serving it with waffles in a nod to the soul-food classic chicken and waffles. Cut with winter-bright horseradish and dressed with maple, the dish is the epitome of the forced creativity of the lean indoor season. So don’t despair. Though there are still dark days of winter ahead of us—and that cold weather could still be lurking—Mother Nature hasn’t completely abandoned us. There’s better food in season right now than heavily discounted Valentine’s Day candy and bread; take advantage and you’ll be ready for spring when the real thing comes along.
� B USI N ESS lights on…in lower Manhattan
Downtown Alliance’s Kelly Rush lets us know what’s opening and closing It’s not spring yet, no matter how tightly I squeeze my eyes and pretend it is, so in this edition I’m focusing on treats to help you get through the last throes of winter. Soon enough, I’ll park my down jacket in the closet and wipe the filthy salt residue off my well-worn boots. In the meantime, February is a perfectly appropriate month to indulge in chocolate, comfort food and wine. As usual, if you see any new retailers or if you spot changes to a long-time fixture, please email me at tre@downtownny. com and I’ll check them out. openings: AromA EsprEsso BAr
100 Church St. (betw. Barclay St. & Park Pl.), www. aroma.us.
Coffee shops abound, but it’s hard to find a place that serves an outstanding cup o’ joe and fresh, made-to-order food. You won’t find pre-made sandwiches wilting in a cooler here. The coffee bar emulates the Middle Eastern concept of organizing the space around a u-shaped workstation where baristas make their caffeinated creations out in the open instead of behind a counter, said manager Gal Danay. “Customers feel like they’re part of the coffee-making experience,” he said. The bar is large and airy and has plenty
of seating for both groups and the individual who wants to settle in with a book and a hot chocolate. Speaking of the hot chocolate—try it. It comes with a large chunk of chocolate praline at the bottom and a spoon to stir it as it melts. Enjoy this treat because, eventually, you’ll have to go back to work. ChipotlE
281 Broadway (betw. Reade & Chambers Sts.), www.chipotle.com.
Chipotle is a place that does satisfying Mexican food fast the way you want it. They now have another location for us to enjoy in Lower Manhattan, which brings the count to four within a half-a mile of one another. The chicken is always juicy, the condiments are plentiful and if you’re looking for a a healthier version of the burrito, you can go for some tortilla soup or mix up a custom bowl. There’s something comforting in knowing you’ll always find a hot and fresh meal here and the portions are big enough to take the leftovers home for dinner. FinAnCiAl DistriCt WinEs & liquor
120 Nassau St. (betw. Nassau & William Sts.), 212933-1092.
Don’t let the construction, cranes and drills on Nassau Street stop you from hitting
ever seen. They held their grand opening the day before Valentine’s Day and entertained a packed house. I stopped by the store a few days before it opened and felt a bit of an expectant lull or pregnant pause, if you will, kind of like a delivery room at the hospital. Stop by and welcome J&R’s newest addition.
this new wine and spirit shop. FiDi Wines & Liquor is spacious and bright, features a diverse selection and what they describe as the lowest prices in Lower Manhattan. Customers are already dubbing the shop a favorite. One recent patron declared on Yelp: “If you live or work in the Financial District, FiDi Wines & Liquor really is a neighborhood gem.” They kicked off their grand opening with a party that included a DJ, free tastings and a stilt walker. Assistant manager Norman Bent says the stilt walker was the consummate professional and didn’t come close to knocking over any bottles. They know how to throw a party, so give them a call to see how they can help with your event.
Vintry FinE WinEs
230 Murray St. (at North End Ave.), www.vintryfinewines.com.
Vintry is so pretty it looks more like a work of art than a shop that sells wine. Their architect knew what he was doing. The space’s curvilinear lines are reminiscent of waves or straw-colored sand dunes softly stretching out to the water and beckoning you to stroll through the store’s vast selection. The shop has something for the wine connoisseur and the casual sampler who is just looking for a great bottle to go with dinner. Vintry is owned by Peter Poulakakos, whose father Harry is the restaurateur responsible for such establishments as Harry’s at Hanover Square, later reborn as Harry’s Café and Steak. Customers have come to expect a lot from this family and Vintry is sure to deliver.
23 Park Row, 2nd Fl. (at City Hall Park), www.jr.com.
Above the computers and the laptop cases and the office supplies of J&R Electronics lies a sweeter venture more concerned with nurturing our youth than expanding a business. Children’s store J&R Jr. opened on the second floor above the electronics retailer and is busily entertaining Lower Manhattan’s kids. The store sells everything from car seats and strollers to the tiniest grand piano you’ve
Closings: WAtErstonE Grill, 79 pEArl st.
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Sam, I Am
When she’s not reporting on fake news, The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee is just as funny talking about Star Wars, breastfeeding or bassoon-playing—and, of course, being a mom of three | By HeatHer CHaet
amantha Bee has made me laugh so hard I’ve hiccupped for 23 minutes straight as I watched her flex her funny bone on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She has made me cackle to the point where I’ve forgotten what time it was as I devour the essays in her book I Know I Am, But What Are You? And yes, I’ve snickered so fiercely reading her Eating Over the Sink blog on Babble.com that I have, as we say in our abode, tooted. Over a relaxed afternoon conversation at a chic hotel bar, Bee confessed, shared and confided about her life and experiences in parenthood with an equal measure of wit and honesty—from working with her husband and the one thing in this world that will make her “Tiger Mom out” to how her boobs will look after breastfeeding for 72 months straight. Find out how this smart and hilarious mom navigates New York City with three kids—and what makes her laugh. You’re the Most Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show, you guest star on tons of television shows and movies, you’ve written a book, you blog, you have three kids under the age of 6 [Piper, 6, Fletcher, 3, and Ripley, 17 months], you have good hair. How do you get it all done? Do you have a clone? Yes—and my clone technology is about to take the world by storm. I have a science lab in my apartment. I should, for the record, say I don’t live in a onebedroom apartment anymore. I live in a two-point-five-bedroom apartment. What is in the “point-five room”? The point-five room is what we use as a home office, but basically it’s just a different kind of playroom with important documents that the baby can get into. She knows our passports are in there and she should go for them, and we’re not smart enough to move our passports to higher ground.
PHotoS By tHaddeuS Harden | Styled By WHitney CaSSer
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 23, 2012
So how do you do it all? I really don’t think I do anything
unusual. Jason is one-half of our whole, so I have a completely 50 percent partner in this experience. Together, we are constantly doing teamwork at all points of the day. Our work environment is so supportive about our schedule. We are very fortunate. You and Jason Jones, a fellow Daily Show correspondent, raise a family and work together. Do you ever get sick of each other? I did notice last week, on many occasions, he did not listen to the details of what I was saying and then when he would ask me about those details later on and I repeated the details, he wasn’t even listening then. I think he has an effective way of tuning me out when he needs private mental . Everyone needs private mental space. You met doing children’s theater. Who told the first joke? Doing children’s theater is a free-forall for jokes, so I couldn’t even tell you. The first time we really noticed each other is so nerdy; somebody asked me what my favorite movie was of all time, I had to say that my sentimental favorite was Star Wars, and that was the first time he ever really looked at me. You write a Babble blog called Eating Over the Sink with fellow Canadian funny mom/actress Allana Harkin. What seems to be the parenting topic that really riles up the blogosphere? We didn’t realize that the topic of breastfeeding was the world’s most hotbutton issue. I wrote a post thinking about what shape my boobs will be once I stop breastfeeding. I’m still breastfeeding, and I was thinking about how my older daughter just turned 6, so I haven’t really seen [my boobs] au natural, with no other usage, in six years. I have no idea what they will look like. They could look the same. They could be 10 times better—though that’s not my
impulse. So what happened on the blog? I was just ruminating on that topic and it made people go ballistic. Basically, I got accused of sabotaging people who wanted to breastfeed, as the message I was putting out into the universe about breastfeeding wasn’t necessarily 100 percent positive. Our retort was, “Did you not read the part where I was breastfeeding for 72 months straight?” What I do support is choice in all matters concerning your own body. The reactions [to our blog] have been very positive; the negativity has been more interesting and slightly more amusing than horrifying, and it’s very infrequent.
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hard it was. We aren’t being malicious about it, but we end up spreading misinformation to new moms, who then think they are doing something wrong—and it terrifies them. What natural talent do you wish you were born with? I wish I was born with musical talent. Doesn’t everyone say that who isn’t a musician? I wish my parents had forced me to take piano lessons.
Both you and Jason are on TV and both of you have guest starred on Sesame Street. Do your kids think that’s cool? No. They don’t think we are cool or what we do is cool. They think everyone’s parents are on TV. They don’t have a frame of reference. We did take them to the set when I filmed my part as Mother Goose, and that was exciting.
What natural talent do you hope your kids were born with? I hope they have a confidence about them and that they aren’t fearful about saying “no” to people—and I don’t mean that in a creepy way. I mean that I hope they love themselves and that they have an inner fortitude to express themselves and get what they want out of life. Whatever it happens to be that they want, I hope they have the gusto to know they can have it.
Did they meet Elmo? They did. I know that some kids will go up and hug [the characters]—my kids were just so overwhelmed that they withdrew inward. You could tell they were excited and loved it, but were completely in shock. We have pictures. They look like a bomb just went off. How was the whole “getting the kids into school/preschool” process for you? It was incredibly intimidating and I don’t recommend it. [laughing] We are totally happy where we are—we love it—but by the end of the process, we were going into school interviews and saying, “I don’t care what you are teaching; just make her smarter than me and we’re good with that!” It’s such a hectic process.
I think the parents of New York should go on a school strike. I mean, if we all agreed [to] keep our children out of school until all of these organizations got their shit straight and didn’t make it such an incredibly overwhelming and horrendous experience, things would be better. They would, of course, have to fix the public schools. That’s kind of a little thing, but when I rule the world, I will fix this for everybody.
Best advice you give to others about parenthood? I gave Allana this advice without even being aware of it and it helped her immeasurably; I said that all mothers are liars. We don’t even know we are doing it. You forget the details [of those first days and months with a baby]. You end up telling lies about how it all went for you—“it wasn’t that bad”—because that is how you remember it, but you have forgotten how
What makes you laugh? My kids make me laugh, my husband makes me laugh, my “unit” makes me laugh harder than everything. It brings me joy. Look at me; I’m close to tears now. If you didn’t have kids, what would you be doing tonight? Trying to figure out a way to have kids, probably. Before we had kids, Jason and I would go on so many walks—we walked and walked and talked and talked. We still sort of do that, but now we do it sitting.
Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT, Witnesses the Birth of J&R Jr.
recently found myself witnessing a birth for the first time in over nine years. Not of a child, but of a new Lower Manhattan store J&R Jr. This new store for kids really began with the birth of Jason Friedman’s own kids. Jason, vice president of, J&R, and his wife, a pediatrician, had an “I think we can do better” conversation that created this fascinating store. It was after their second child was born 15 months ago that they began in earnest to make J&R Jr. happen. Going to J&R is always an experience because they sell so many different things in all of their different stores along Park Row, but from the moment we walked into the store at 1 Park Row, I knew something was different. Children’s footprints.
Since J&R Jr. is on the second floor, they have placed colored footprints on the floor to mark the path to the escalator. When I got to the top, I almost forgot I was in J&R. The fact is, Jr. has such a different feel to it. Friedman, the founder of the store, said they wanted to “design the dream kids store” and it is clear he and his team thought long and hard about the feeling they wanted to create. I can remember when my boy/girl twins were born and a big outing was going to a place like Buy Buy Baby or Babies “R”Us, which could take hours to walk through with our babies or even going there by ourselves for “time away.” (How did buying baby stuff seem like time away?) As a new dad, places like that overwhelmed me
because of the multitude of choices. But it was also a great place to focus on something small so I could learn and experiment with toys or baby stuff to see if my kids liked it, giving me a sense of control in a time when that felt severely lacking. This new store seems to prevent the sense of being overwhelmed and makes it so much easier to focus on something you can do to help connect and care for your kids. While introducing the store, Friedman spoke about how he and his wife would have conversations about all of the requirements for the store, including child-friendly bathrooms, a lactation area with a little private space, dedicated stroller entrance and parking area and even a children’s play area/event space. Obviously, they
had similar experiences as we had in the larger stores, but had the wherewithal to create their own store, exactly the way they wanted it. It’s hard to believe, but my own kids are now more than 9 years old and slightly too old for this new store, but I have to say I wish this shop had been around when they were young; I probably would’ve been walking over there a couple of times a week on my lunch break. Instead, I’ll be popping over to see what I can get my niece. Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT, is dad of twins, author, speaker and parenting columnist. Read more about Schneider at www.jgs.net or follow him on Twitter @JGS_Author.
FE B R UARY 23, 2012 | otdowntown.com
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David Van Zandt President of the new school
| By Megan Bungeroth
avid Van Zandt has completed his first full year as the president of The New School, and he’s just getting started with his ideas for how to transform the already innovative university. Van Zandt, a graduate of Princeton, the London School of Economics and Yale Law School, practiced international banking law in New York years ago before heading out West to teach at Northwestern University School of Law, where he then served as dean from 1995 to 2010. He was lured back East to become The New School’s eighth president, and we spoke to Van Zandt about his visions for the progressive school. There is a lot of emphasis being placed on the return on investment of higher education right now, with so many students in so much debt and still unemployed. Is that a good or bad thing? In principle, it’s a good thing. It can be done poorly. Higher education’s gotten so expensive, and you see the state schools now that are losing the state support, they’re creeping up in terms of tuition. We really have to be sure we’re doing the right thing by students in providing them something of value. It’s still a fact, if you have a bachelor’s degree, you’re much better off than if you just have a high school degree. Who is the typical student who should come here as opposed to a more traditional college? Our real goal is to prepare students for the creative economy, creative industry. At the undergraduate level, we have to prepare the students with an excellent broad liberal arts education. But for us it’s, in addition to that, focusing on the more creative side. How do you prepare people or pick people who are going to be contributors in a pretty complex world where they have to be very flexible about their careers? Your neighbor NYU has expanded dramatically in the past decade, not just in New York but globally. Do you find yourself bumping heads occasionally? So far, I have not seen that. There’s an element to which they provide us cover, in a sense. We’re building a big new building there [on 14th Street and Fifth Avenue],
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | FE B R UARY 23, 2012
and they’re so much more ambitious in terms of space that they get more public attention. Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council have been touting the importance of entrepreneurship, hailing tech startups and people who start their own small businesses. Will there be more focus on this from colleges? Our students already do that. A large number of our students end up having careers where they’re entrepreneurial. Parsons [part of New School] is a great example of that. Our goal is really to make that connection better. I’d like to have more permeable division, or connection, with that sort of the creative economy here in New York, a lot of which is going on in Chelsea, innovative design things. Your predecessor [former Nebraska governor and Senator Bob Kerrey] was a big personality out of the political world. What did he do well and what will you do differently? A great thing he did for this university was he began to pull it together. It was very much Balkanized, different types of activities. Bob did a great job of putting in some infrastructural elements that pulled everything together. The university grew tremendously—100 percent—during his time in terms of enrollment, and he got the university center, the new building, going. We’re very different people. I’ll probably focus more on the academic vision and trying to make those changes. The New School has always had a reputation of being progressive. How important is that reputation and how do you maintain it? You have to stay on the cutting edge. There’s a real danger, universities can be innovative at one point in time but they get locked into what they do. That’s the real trick, to remain nimble and on your toes. We have some advantages in that
photo courtesy of the new school
PResiDeNT/CeO Tom Allon firstname.lastname@example.org gROUP PUBLisHeR Alex Schweitzer email@example.com CFO/COO Joanne Harras firstname.lastname@example.org DiReCTOR OF iNTeRaCTive MaRkeTiNg aND DigiTaL sTRaTegy Jay Gissen email@example.com
our founders didn’t want a traditional university. They were very much against things like full-time faculty, endowments and having buildings. How did you handle the Occupy Wall Street movement, when one of your buildings was, for a brief time, occupied by protestors? We basically welcomed it, embraced it, not necessarily because the school was agreeing with any particular position but because it was a great educational experience. There’s a tradition here of people being publicly engaged, and I think you should encourage that. How do you want the average New Yorker to describe what the New School is? I would want them to view it as a beacon for innovation and creativity, and educating students to participate in the creative economy. I don’t think [the U.S.] is going to be a traditional manufacturing country anymore. It’s going to be a country where the value is going to be added by solving problems, design issues, making the world better for users in a whole variety of ways. It could be politics, it could be social organizations, it could be art, it could be physical design, environmental design. This will be the place you come to get innovative ideas to get educated with that sort of focus.
A Changing Village and a Call for Voices
n and around the Village, we’re seeing an extraordinary burst of development activity with far-reaching consequences. Trinity Realty will soon file an application to rezone Hudson Square and turn it into a 24-hour high-rise mixed-use community. Jamestown Properties is seeking to rezone Chelsea Market to enable the construction of a huge hotel and office complex atop its buildings. And in the East Village, developers are rushing to get building permits before the long-promised landmark protections are enacted by the city. But the two proposals currently under consideration with perhaps the most farreaching impact, both in terms of precedent and effect on their surroundings, are the New York University (NYU) 20-year expansion plan and the Rudin condo development of the former St. Vincent’s campus. NYU is seeking a raft of city approvals that would allow them to shoehorn 2.5 million square feet of space—the equivalent of the Empire State Building—into the blocks south of Washington Square. To do so, the city must overturn long-standing neighborhood zoning protections, gut open space preservation requirements, undo the terms by which public land was given to NYU years ago and hand over public green space to the university to build upon. If approved, the impact would be enormous—several huge buildings would be
erected south of the park; light, air and green space would diminish, while shadows and crowding would increase; and perhaps most importantly, more and more of the Village would feel overwhelmed by this single institutional entity. Suggestions that NYU consider alternative locations for their growth, such as the nearby Financial District, where community leaders have welcomed the idea, growth possibilities are limitless and NYU’s proposed development would be contextual and in line with long-term planning goals for the neighborhood, have been brushed aside by the university. Somehow, university officials say, though they are building campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, building one a five-minute subway ride from Washington Square is untenable. At the former St. Vincent’s east campus in the West Village, Rudin Management is seeking a rezoning to build several large new condo buildings to replace half the hospital’s former buildings (the remainder would be converted to condo use). One proposed structure, on Seventh Avenue, would be larger and taller than the mammoth St. Vincent’s Coleman Building currently on the site, while on 12th Street, an enormous new parking garage would be built underneath another new condo tower that would replace the contextually appropriate Reiss Building. The scale of the proposed new developments, the impact of the garage and the loss
of a historic building within the Greenwich Village Historic District are troubling to many and one reason for the widespread opposition to the plan. But there are more fundamental issues at stake with this proposal, as with NYU’s. The St. Vincent’s campus was rezoned in 1979 to allow larger than normally allowable new hospital buildings on the site because they served a public purpose. In its requested rezoning, Rudin is asking that the same privileges afforded St. Vincent’s be granted them; that the site be upzoned to allow larger than normally allowable condo buildings because larger hospital buildings were once located there. This is wrong on its face—market-rate luxury condos do not provide the same public benefit as a full-service hospital and thus do not deserve the same special zoning considerations. If this plan is approved by the City Council, it would not only have a huge impact on its surroundings but would fundamentally change the way development is regulated in New York. Special considerations given to facilities that provide a public service could be given or sold to private developers looking to make the maximum profit on their real estate, with little or no public benefit. Similar principles are at stake with the NYU proposal. Here, too, extra-large buildings were allowed in the past with the
understanding that they would remain surrounded by open space and low-rise buildings in perpetuity as compensation. The university not only ANDREW BERMAN wants to change the rules under which large-scale development was allowed on public land in the first place, they want more public land, currently used as playgrounds, gardens and dog runs, given over to them to build upon. The private entity wins, and the surrounding community loses. In spite of an air of inevitability these applicants have sought to convey, both projects are far from a done deal. While Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and the City Planning Commission have already approved the Rudin project, the City Council’s approval is still required. The NYU plan, just embarking upon this process, will be voted upon by the borough president, City Planning Commission and City Council in the coming months. Now is the time to make our voices heard on these enormously important development proposals. Andrew Berman is the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
Professional Childrenʼs School
Open House Tuesday, March 6 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. PCS provides a fully accredited, academic education to young people in grades 6-12 who are pursuing challenging goals that may sometimes require time spent away from school - to attend an athletic competition, for instance, or to prepare for a concert or shoot a film. PCS is a real school and values the importance of classroom learning, with regularly scheduled classes every school day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
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FE B R UARY 23, 2012 | otdowntown.com
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The February 23, 2012 issue of Our Town Downtown. Our Town Downtown (OTDownTown) is a newspaper for 25 to 40-year-old New Yorkers living, wo...