MARCH 15, 2012 | WWW.OTDOWNTOWN.COM
VICE CITY Author Richard Zacks explains how Roosevelt tried—and failed—to clean up New York (P18)
THE FARES, THEY ARE A-RISIN’ MTA prices likely to increase by 7.5 percent next year (P6)
FAMILY CORNER Porgy and Bess’ Audra MacDonald on balancing theater and family
PHOTOS COURTESY OF RAAD STUDIO
INSIDE THE LOWLINE Organizers of the Lower East Side’s underground park project raise over $100, 000 on Kickstarter (P8)
ST. VINCENT’S FINAL HEARING DRAWS HUNDREDS Rudin project still faces stiff opposition from community (P6)
� C R I M E WATC H The UnlUcky ToUrisT A French man on vacation was going down the stairs to the subway at Broadway and Park Place when he felt someone approach him from behind. While the man was holding his son, say police, a thief snagged the tourist’s bag, which was on his shoulder. Stolen items included a $50 Nokia cell phone, a $600 Canon camera, a $700 Apple iPad and $350 in cash. if The shoe fiTs Last week, a shoe store on Fulton Street was the victim of a giant theft. An employee reported to police that a “customer” had asked to use the bathroom Friday morning, but on the way to the loo, he gained entry to the storage room. The thief piled 20 pairs of shoes, worth roughly $360, as well as 6 cans of shoe polish into a black plastic bag and took off. Fortunately for the store, the man, 52, was arrested by police. A GAnG of Three Usually, or at least we have always assumed, people are mugged under the cover of night. But a report of a daytime theft recently came out of a Downtown precinct. A 53-year-old man was walking out of the train station at Varick and Canal one recent afternoon when three unknown men, each around 6 feet tall,
hovered over him and reportedly said “give me your money.” The unlucky guy had only $5 on him and was subsequently punched and kicked to the ground by the group, though they did take his Lincoln bill. sTreeTwAy robbery At 4 a.m. on a recent Saturday, a 38-year-old man was sitting in his car, which was parked at Park Place and Church Street, when he was robbed at gunpoint by an unknown male suspect. According to police reports, a man approached the car and proceeded to show the handgun he was carrying. He demanded the guy in the car give him his wallet and other valuables. The victim reported to police that throughout the whole ordeal the man with the gun had a cigarette in his mouth. He eventually made off with a $5,000 gold necklace, $380 in cash and the victim’s $100 cell phone. one-hiT wonder A Soho clothing store recently reported a one-off theft to police. According to reports, a man was seen walking around the store during the day and an employee saw him touching a $1,100 leather roadster jacket. While unobserved, the man ran off with the jacket.
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
A Chambers Street electronics store was broken into on a recent Sunday morning by a group of enterprising thieves. According to police, the perps, who remain at large, successfully and carefully removed the glass from the front door of the shop and proceeded to steal around $25,000 worth of electronics. Their loot included four iPhones, two iPads, 20 Blackberry phones and 29 Samsung phones. They would have nabbed more as they attempted to break open the register, but unfortunately for them, they couldn’t pry it open. illustRAtion by evAn soARes
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Tribeca Toasts Hollywood’s Classic Cyclists
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ast week, author Steven Rea presented his latest book, Hollywood Rides a Bike (Angel City Press, $20), at Tribeca’s Adeline Adeline. The night attracted a very classy audience of cycling aficionados who sipped wine and watched, captivated, as Rea went through a collection of photographs from the book. Hollywood Rides a Bike is chock full of vintage images of tinseltown’s classic stars, including Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, Sean Connery, Bridget Bardot and Humphrey Bogart, taking to their velos.
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OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
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� N E I G H BO R H O O D C HAT TE R LOWER EAST SIDE HAZARDS AND HOPE AT DRY DOCK PLAYGROUND Last week, city Comptroller John C. Liu urged the city’s Parks Department to fix safety hazards in parks and playgrounds throughout the five boroughs. At the Dry Dock Playground, located at E. 10th St and Avenue D, park officials first noted in Dec. 2010, “protruding cobblestones caused safety mats to be lifted and created a tripping hazard.” When they returned for their routine inspection in July 2011, they noted that the problem had not only been ignored but had indeed gotten worse, said a press release distributed by Liu’s office. “Parents shouldn’t have to worry about their children playing on broken equipment or near rat holes,” Liu said in the release. The Parks Department, however, is about to begin a renovation of the site. Originally approved in April 2011, the $1.2 million budget for the new park (secured by Council Member Rosie Mendez in 2011) will include repaving the park’s surface, improved play equipment and the addition of lighting to the park area for security and evening use. CITY OFFICIALS OBJECT TO CHARTER SCHOOL’S EXPANSION In a March 7 plea to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Reps. Nydia Velàzquez and Carolyn Maloney, State Sen. Daniel Squad-
ron, Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and City Council Members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez wrote a petition outlining their objections to the DOE’s proposed co-location of Manhattan Charter School II, citing a lack of physical space in the Corlears 056 complex and concerns over mixing high school students with students as young as 5. In addition to the elected officials’ concerns, parents and current faculty at the Corlears school site at 220 Henry St. agree that the building is unable to effectively house more students. The building already houses the Henry Street School for International Studies, Castle Middle School and University Neighborhood Middle School, all of which share a single entrance that may pose safety hazards for younger students before and after school, according to city officials. CHINATOWN DISPLACED GRAND ST. RESIDENTS WIN BACK HOMES Almost two years after the fire that left the residents of 289 Grand St. in Chinatown displaced from their homes, a court ruling has finally granted tenants permission to return to their building by March of next year. Last week, Judge Timmie Elsner ordered the landlord of the building to fully renovate the apartments by March 1, 2013. The blaze in April 2010 took the life of
an 87-year-old man, injured 33 people and displaced an additional 200 residents. The landlords later explained that the building was in desperate need of repair and that it was impossible for the building to generate the amount of money needed for those efforts. While evidence they provided did substantiate those claims, Elsner ultimately ordered the landlord to completely restore all of the building’s apartments. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver concluded, “Today is a great victory for [the tenants] and for everyone who has consistently fought for the protection and preservation of affordable housing here in Chinatown and throughout our city.” PLEA TO HOLD CHEN TRIAL IN US Last week, Council Member Margaret Chin joined Private Danny Chen’s family, OCA-NY President Liz OuYang, Chinatown community leaders and supporters in response to the conclusion of Article 32 pre-trial hearings for eight soldiers charged in connection with Chen’s death. Chen is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while serving with the Army in Afghanistan in Oct. 2011. Supporters of the Chen family said they were “disappointed” that the investigating officer failed to recommend that the most serious charge of involuntary manslaughter
be forwarded to court-martial for four of the eight defendants in the case. A lesser charge of negligent homicide was maintained for four defendants in the case. Negligent homicide has a sentence of three years confinement, compared to a 10-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter. “The Army is saying that these individuals did not intend to kill or injure Danny,” Chin said. “The Army is saying these individuals are not culpable and that they cannot be blamed for Danny’s death. But we know that this isn’t true. The repeated injury and assaults perpetrated by these soldiers caused Danny’s death.” Of the eight soldiers charged in connection with Chen’s death, five were charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide. In all five cases, the Army has recommended that the charge of involuntary manslaughter be dropped. The brigade commander will now consider the charges and these recommendations in determining whether or not to refer the charges to courtmartial for final disposition. “As this process moves forward, the Army must respect the Chen family’s request to hold these trials in the United States,” Chin added. “There has been enough secrecy. Serious charges have been leveled and dropped with no explanation. The Army must ensure these trials are transparent and the only way to do that is by holding them in the United States.”
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� N EWS
Passing the Buck MTA claims fare hikes are unavoidable | By Mike VidAfAr wiTh AddiTionAl reporTing By Andrew rice
When representatives for the MTA were summoned to a New York City Council Transportation Committee hearing Tuesday, March 6, officials hoped to learn how the transit authority plans to spend its money over the next two years. And while some may have held out hope for improvements to the city’s subways and buses, members of the public were once again left disappointed. During the hearing, the MTA revealed that next year’s proposed 7.5 percent fare hike, which is estimated to bring in an additional $400 million in revenue, would be used to cover rising employee pensions and health care benefits, according to testimony by Hilary Ring, director of
the MTA’s government affairs department. “Essentially, the fare increase and the toll increase is almost dollar-for-dollar being eaten up by our increase in pension and retiree health care costs,” Ring said. This information came as a disappointment to many commuters (including committee members), who had hoped that some of the revenue would be used to service the MTA’s subway cars and buses or to reopen routes that had been closed in 2010. Council members such as Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca had difficulty digesting the news. “It’s hard for me to believe that we’re going to have that type of an increase and we’re going to have no restoration and no improvements in services,” he said. The MTA cannot address maintenance or service issues while remaining within its current financial constraints. To its credit, the authority has not been stagnant and has explored other revenue sources like leasing or selling real estate it owns.
The MTA is likely to raise fares by 7.5 percent in 2013.
Still, without drastic reductions to its costs, the MTA’s board is expected to vote in favor of the increases this December, according to Ring’s testimony. If that happens, and if the board votes to raise fares again in 2015, the MTA will bring in an additional $900 million—its budget currently sits at around $12 billion. Counteracting these gains, however, is the estimated $810 million in pension and health care costs over the same period. This leaves just one financial resource left to aid the MTA: the city. Speaking to
PHOTO BY PATRiCiA VOulgARis
reporters, Vacca seemed open to considering adding to the roughly $882 million the city is expected to contribute to the MTA’s New York City transit service, if the deal was reasonable. “I think that we’re in a little better financial situation than we have been in the past, but then of course we want assurance from the MTA that if we do it—what does that mean and what are they coming to the table with insomuch as their resources and their revenue?” Vacca said. Those questions, however, remain to be answered.
Final St. Vincent’s Hospital Rezoning Hearing Draws Hundreds
opponents, supporters of project testify as developer seeks upzoning previously reserved for hospital
| By AlAn krAwiTZ
Several hundred residents and community activists packed a City Council subcommittee hearing last Tuesday, March 6 in a final attempt to make their feelings known about Rudin Management Company’s plan to redevelop the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site in Greenwich Village into a residential complex and park that will also include a new health center and an elementary school. Though nearly 100 people waited several hours in the cold outside 250 Broadway, 75 ultimately managed to testify before the City Council’s Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee, chaired by Council Member Mark Weprin. With 200 public meetings, including 70 public hearings, behind it, one of the key issues surrounding the redevelopment of the now-abandoned St. Vincent’s Hospital, which closed in 2010 in an avalanche of nearly $1 billion in debt, is the granting of special zoning rights to a private, for-profit developer that were formerly made available to the hospital in light of its overarching public benefit. “Special zoning considerations granted for a facility that served such a necessary public service as a hospital should never be passed
along for a development that provides no such similar public service, as would essentially be done in this case,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told the subcommittee. Berman urged the Council to vote no on the proposed rezoning application, saying it could have dire consequences for future development in Greenwich Village and the city. Speaking on the development’s benefits, Bill Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management, said that more than 1,200 new construction jobs and 400 other permanent jobs would be created. In addition, he said, millions of dollars in new tax revenue would be generated for the city and state as a result of the project’s 450-unit condo complex, 16,500-square-foot public park, 563-seat elementary school and North Shore-LIJ-operated health center with an emergency department. When asked by Weprin why a full-service hospital was not included in the project, Rudin responded that a full-service hospital would have been too complicated to build and gain all the necessary Department of Health (DOH) approvals. “What we’re trying to create is a new hybrid medical facility,” said Jeff Kraut, a representative of North Shore-LIJ. Kraut maintained that the care center with emergency department would be able to provide the “same services as most community hospitals.” Kraut added that 90 percent of all emergency room patients are treated and immedi-
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
ately released. But former St. Vincent’s doctor David Kaufman was skeptical of the proposed emergency care center. He doubted the new facility would be able to treat the more than 61,000 patients that St. Vincent’s ER treated only a year before its close. “It’s an emergency care center on steroids. That’s what Rudin is offering,” he said during his testimony. Kaufman asked the Council to reject the proposal until a new hospital is built. Yetta Kurland, a member of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, said, “Public health laws should have stopped this tragedy.” She said she was not condemning the developer, but did ask for additional floors to be built onto the care center. The project also has its share of supporters, who were equally vocal. Among them were scores of union construction and other trades workers who attended the hearing to show their support for the project. “St. Vincent’s served the city valiantly for years,” said Cora Kahn, a longtime resident of Greenwich Village, who referred to the hospital’s service going back to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and, most recently, treating the victims of 9/11. “The Rudin plan will bring the area some much-needed jobs…the company has a long history of public concern,” she said to some boos from the audience. Local resident Mary Margaret Amato was
also in favor, saying that the area surrounding the hospital has become derelict. “We will once again have access to a 24/7 emergency care center. I urge the Council to approve this plan.” Another issue of concern for residents and politicians alike is the lack of an affordable housing component to the project. Rudin explained to Council Member Diana Reyna that as a result of downsizing the project from its original plan, mainly due to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, “an affordable component to the project wasn’t feasible.” As part of their joint testimony, aides to Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Sen. Tom Duane urged that the project include affordable housing. They stated that Rudin condos’ sale prices range from $1.4 million to $12.9 million, “out of reach, economically, for all but very high net worth individuals who far exceed the area’s median income,” said one aide. Both representatives called it “unacceptable for the applicant to avoid these essential components of affordable housing, especially in such a lucrative market.” The subcommittee did not vote following the meeting, although they are expected to vote shortly, followed by the Land Use Committee and then the full City Council. A spokesperson for the Council said that the city’s ULURP review process mandates that all voting on the project be completed by March 28.
Twitter, the Urban Front Porch Bringing neighbors together over potential and real dangers
aybe Twitter is turning New York City into a bunch of Small Town USAs. The thought popped into my head not long after my wife started looking out the window at the helicopter circling our Chelsea neighborhood Monday night. The chopper kept shining a light on a few buildings near 24th Street and Seventh Avenue. My wife works at a national news desk and saw nothing about it in her emails. We both figured it was a police helicopter, but naturally, our concern heightened as the circling persisted—it lasted about 45 minutes. I searched Twitter for “helicopter,” but this was complicated because a little while earlier, the last finalist on The Bachelor had just been dumped on national TV after flying in a helicopter to the man she hoped to marry. (Gee, I wish I could have used the word “apparently” in that last sentence, but even though I have no idea who was competing on the show, I admittedly saw the TV helicopter for myself because I was flipping channels. Might as well come clean fully: Some years ago, I did follow a few seasons of The Bachelor.) I also called 311, since it did not seem to be a 911 emergency. The service has some pluses, but I should have known this was not a smart call. The operator kept asking if I wanted to make a complaint. Since I assumed it was for legitimate police activity, I resisted. Finally I said, “if a chopper is just joyriding or doing something worse, yes I’d like to file a complaint, but if it’s for the police, no.” It was clear she was not going to endeavor to find out what the problem was, so I said I’d call 911. She didn’t encourage or discourage me. I left my name and number with 911, but thought that waiting by the phone or even flying to police headquarters like a hopeful Bachelorette would not get results—it didn’t work for her. I went back to Twitter for answers, but saw more questions about the “#ChelseaHelicopter” the hashtag I tried to spread as a way to organize neighbors I didn’t know. I then called my local precinct. The officer who answered said police were looking for a suspect but gave no other info. I tweeted away, letting concerned neighbors know the little I knew. Some thanked me. It was the least I could do for all of them—including singer Roseanne Cash, daughter of the Man in
Black, Johnny Cash, who continues to entertain me. Probably a few hundred thousand people, if not more, have read articles I’ve written over the years, but seldom have I felt more energized professionally than I did when communicating to a small handful of people. I thought of film actors who always say how exciting it is to perform on stage, where audience reactions are immediate.
My neighbors, whom I will probably never meet, came together for a brief moment around something in the community, the same way I imagine people talk to each other on their front porches in small towns. It’s a given that Facebook and Twitter have the ability to unite people around the world like left-handed Tiddlywinks players, but these forums can also bring neighbors together.
Police tell me the suspect was arrested. I’m still waiting to hear why. Next time, tweet me, officer. Josh Rogers, conjosh rogers tributing editor at Manhattan Media, is a lifelong New Yorker. Follow him @JoshRogersNYC.
To The PARENTS of New York CiTY:
Thank You FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Despite attacks by Mayor Bloomberg and his allies, tens of thousands of New York City public school teachers go to work every day to make their students’ lives better. Thank you for your continuing support for the work our teachers do.
Michael Mulgrew President United Federation of Teachers
MARCH 15, 2012 | otdowntown.com
The Delancey Underground While the West side has the High Line, the east side could get the LowLine
| By Marissa Maier ver 80 years ago, Dan Barasch’s grandparents on both sides ended up in the Lower East Side after emigrating from Italy and Russia. While his family eventually set up stakes in other neighborhoods and he settled in the East Village—which was at one point considered the Lower East Side—the area still holds special significance for Barasch. “My grandmother saw this neighborhood change to what it is today,” he said. “It’s an exciting neighborhood and it belongs to a lot of different people.” It most likely would have seemed improbable to Barasch’s ancestors that he and James Ramsey would set out on what promises to be a long journey to create New York City’s first underground park, which the duo hopes to construct in an abandoned trolley terminal underneath Delancey Street. The idea has been in development since last year, and they have presented their proposal throughout the neighborhood, from the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street to the public school Essex Street Academy, and to city officials. For Barasch and Ramsey, the proposal, officially called Delancey Underground but nicknamed The LowLine after the famous High Line park on the West Side, is chiefly about serving the Lower East Side and surrounding community. Ramsey, a NASA engineer turned architect, is the founder and owner of Raad Studio on Chrystie Street, while Barasch previously promoted social innovations with companies and organizations like Google and the 9/11 Survivors’ Fund. Both men pointed to a lack of green space in the neighborhood. “The more we looked into it, the more we saw how the Lower East Side has been historically underserved,” said Ramsey. “It just happened that this space was here. It works in a number of ways and struck us as very strong, from a community point of view.” Ramsey went on to point out that community reaction to the proposal has been overwhelmingly positive and it has drawn praise from both the Lower East Side BID and City Council Member Margaret Chin. Growing support for the project is evidenced by their recent Kickstarter campaign. Although the Internet drive, which kicked off in late February, was to raise $100,000 by April 6, 2,517 backers
Renderings of what the Delancey Underground might look like. PHotos CouRtesy of RAAd studio
have already pledged $134,040 (as of press time). As Barasch and Ramsey point out on their Kickstarter site, this initial round of funding will allow the pair to build a full-scale installation—a “mini LowLine”—at the Essex Street Market in September. The demo will not only help them perfect the solar technology that will be used to naturally illuminate the park, but convince potential funders, the city and the MTA, which owns the property, that the idea is feasible. For the first phase of the project, Ramsey and Barasch hope to raise $500,000, which would be used not only for the demonstration but for a feasibility
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
study. Barasch noted that they are often asked how much the project will cost, but without an initial study, it is difficult to arrive at a realistic number. “We haven’t done constructability reviews, we haven’t paid land use experts,” Barasch explained, adding that a study would require coordination with roughly a dozen city agencies. While the MTA has yet to sign off on the project, representatives from the authority have met with Barasch and Ramsey and escorted them on their first tour of the site last March. Ramsey points out that the space is slightly visible from the Brooklyn-bound side of the J/Z plat-
form at the Essex Street Subway station. “I am the kind of person, like a lot of New Yorkers, who loves to find secret spaces, abandoned lots and plots up for renewal…When we were underground, it was sort of like exploring a hidden gem,” Barasch recalled. “The sheer scale of it— we aren’t used to seeing that much unused real estate, and there were all of these architectural details, like cobblestones and crisscrossing rail lines. These exciting elements bring you back to a different era.” According to Barasch and Ramsey, the space is around 60,000 square feet, nearly the size of Gramercy Park. It was constructed as a trolley terminal in 1903,
CURRENT & PAST
the same year the Williamsburg Bridge was opened. At the time, streetcars were used to shuttle people back and forth from Williamsburg to the Lower East Side. Use of the trolleys and thus the terminal was discontinued in 1948. Ramsey and Barasch remain enamored of the unique historic aspects of the space, like the 20foot vaulted ceilings and steel columns, but plan to incorporate cutting-edge technology that rivals science fiction. “The space is so compelling from a historical and aesthetic standpoint, I very much would love to preserve, juxtapose and compliment it using technology,” Ramsey noted. As the pair explains on their Kickstarter page, the technology they hope to employ includes “a system of optics to gather sunlight, concentrate it and reflect it below ground, where it is dispersed by a solar distributor dish embedded in the ceiling. The light irrigated underground will carry the necessary wavelengths to support photosynthesis— meaning we can grow plants, trees and grasses underground.” In addition to planning the demo and study, Barasch said they hope to continue meeting with members of the community to learn what they would like for the site. “We want to talk to as many residents as we can,” he said. “We would like to build something beautiful that is inclusive of everyone.” To learn more about the Delancey Underground project, visit delanceyunderground.org.
The 60,000 square foot abandoned trolley terminal can be seen from the Brooklyn bound side of the J/Z line at the Essex Street subway station. PHotos CouRtesy of DelAnCey unDeRgRounD
WHAT ARE YOUR KIDS DOING THIS SUMMER?
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
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MANHATTAN MEDIA’S ANNUAL BIKE-TASTIC EVENT RETURNS!
SATURDAY & SUNDAY, APRIL 28 TH & 29 TH , 2012 SKYLIGHT SOHO, 275 HUDSON STREET, NYC 10AM-7PM SPONSORED BY: THE BEST OF ROADBIKES, DUTCHBIKES AND SWEET RIDES NYC RIDESTYLE FASHION SHOW • ACCESSORIES • BICYCLE GIVEAWAYS • FAB FOOD GUEST SPEAKERS & BLOGGERS @ BIKELANDIA • BEER GARDEN BY GROLSCH LAGER MARCH 15, 2012 | otdowntown.com
THE 7-DAY PLAN THURSDAY
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
FREE Shop the Night Away [3/15]
Various locations in Soho, oo.com/vip; 5-9 p.m. Daily Candy Deals has partnered with 22 stores in Soho, including Michael Kors, Solstice and Lacoste, to offer shoppers 20 to 30 percent off merchandise for four hours. Need more than a good deal to motivate you? Each store will give customers the full VIP treatment, including gifts with purchase, cocktails and more. Plan ahead, because you’ll need to RSVP to each store individually to take part.
Academy Award-Nominated Animated Short Films 2012 IFC Center, 323 6th Ave. (at W. 3rd St.), ifccenter.com; 4:30 p.m., $13. This may be your last opportunity to see the entire lineup of 2012’s Oscar-nominated animated shorts. The set includes Sunday/Dimanche, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (which took home the statue), La Luna, A Morning Stroll, Wildlife, Nullarbor, Amazonia, Skylight and Hybrid Union. See how far the animated genre has come.
Visit nypress.com for the latest updates on local events. Submissions can be sent to email@example.com.
FREE Fiction Magazine
Celebrates 40 Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby St. (betw. E. Houston & Prince Sts.), housingworks.org; 7 p.m. A staple for two generations, Fiction is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary and the release of its first issue of 2012 with contributing authors Sheila Kohler, Jerome Charyn, Brendan Kiely and Kesi Foster.
Body Slam 92YTribeca, 200 Hudson St. (betw. Vestry & Debrosses Sts.), 92Ytribeca. org; 7:30 p.m., $12. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see stunt legend and director Hal Needham in person. The film takes two of the biggest counterculture movements of the 1980s and fuses them together when a blacklisted wrestler is convinced to join a B-list band.
Grand Reopening: The Servant’s Quarters Merchant’s House Museum, 29 E. 4th St. (betw. Lafayette & Bowery Sts.), merchantshouse.org; 12 p.m., $10. Reopened just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the Merchant’s House Museum invites you to its fourth-floor living quarters, which once served as the home of the Tredwell family’s Irish servants. After you see the tight spaces and climb the miniature stairwell, you’ll understand why Time Out New York has said that the humble abode is “arguably the oldest intact site of Irish inhabitation in New York City.” Adding to the experience, the quarters have been completely restored to their authentic 1850s color scheme.
FREE Alice Levine: Cello &
Piano Recital Culture Fix, 9 Clinton St. (betw. E. Houston & Stanton Sts.), culturefixny.com; 7:30 p.m. After a festive St. Patrick’s Day, take Sunday night to unwind to the beautifully resonant chords of Alice Levine, who will take center stage at the intimate Culture Fix for a two-and-a-half-hour set.
Newsadoozies: A Man-Eating Musical UCB Theatre, 307 W. 26th St. (betw. 8th & 9th Aves.), ucbtheatre.com; 8 p.m., $5. Director Lauren Adams presents this lighthearted musical that focuses on the city’s two halves (uptown robber barons and downtown pimps) and offers the perfect recipe for redemption and adventure right in the middle: the newsies.
FREE Unconventional Tableaux
AFA, 54 Greene St. (at Broome St.), afanyc; 5 p.m. RSVP@afanyc.com. Lin Esser’s newest exhibition was born from his desire to reconstruct his childhood. As he focused on recreating the Dia de los Muertos box he lost as a kid, however, Esser infused his work with his adult influences of English symbolism, sinister figures of the Renaissance and Victorian tableaux. BOFFO: The Concept, The Projects Trespa Design Centre NY, 62 Green St. (betw. Spring & Broome Sts.), trespa-ny.com; 7 p.m., $5 suggested. You may not be familiar with BOFFO, the nonprofit New York-based arts and culture group, but you will be soon. Their art is the transformation of forgotten and unusual spaces into temporary installations. Their projects have been seen all around Manhattan, and they have an eye for fascinating architecture.
Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 91 Orchard St. (betw. Allen & Ludlow Sts.), tenement.org; 6:30 p.m. The ugly underside of the Big City is impossible to contain, but that doesn’t mean one man didn’t try. Before he became president, Teddy Roosevelt was New York City’s police commissioner. During that time, he tried to quell the city’s corruption by shutting down brothels, gambling joints and saloons. Roosevelt literally took on the city’s passion for vice; he lost. Presented by author Richard Zacks and introduced by Kevin Baker.
KJ Denhert BMCC Tribeca PAC, 199 Chambers St. (betw. West Side Highway & Greenwich St.), tribecapac.org; 8 p.m., $15. KJ Denhert has already met success to the tune of nine studio albums in her 15-year career. With her experience and ease, Denhert effortlessly strums the acoustic guitar with her urban folk tunes; vocally, she brings a soft and soulful voice to her music.
Transnationalism & Women Artists in the Diaspora BMCC Tribeca PAC, 199 Chambers St. (betw. West Side Highway & Greenwich St.). tribecapac.org; 7 p.m., $5. Ushering in the second portion of the Dialogues in the Visual Arts series, this panel discussion featuring moderators Judith K. Brodsky and Julie Lohnes will highlight the female artists living in New York who have together transcended borders to form an international feminist diaspora. Panelists Cui Fei, Ofri Cnaani, Negar Ahkami, Midori Yoshimoto and Tatiana Flores seek to uncover the roots behind the feminist perspective of New York City’s international artists, including the influences of oppression and culture.
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
FREE An Evening with Paul A. Volcker
Munch Gallery, 245 Broome St. (betw. Ludlow & Orchard Sts.), munchgallery.com; 12 p.m. A collaboration between five artists, NIGHT brings together the talents of Neke Carson, Erik Foss, David Hochbaum, Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen and Anton Perich, who together have spent their careers collaborating across various art media while cultivating their individual art careers. NIGHT began as “New York at Night,” and expanded when the artists explored the various images and emotions that the word evokes.
The Cooper Union, 7 E. 7th St. (betw. 3rd & 4th Aves.), cooper.edu; 6:30 p.m. Some believe that the economy is the issue that could decide the 2012 election. And while you may think you know the economy, odds are that financial legend Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, can teach you a thing or two. He will be lecturing at the Great Hall in a night that will certainly help to illuminate the state of our union.
� SE E Projections the return of terence davies | By Armond White Terence Davies is certainly an art filmmaker—England’s best since David Lean and Mike Leigh—but that doesn’t mean his movies are esoteric. They certainly are meticulous, though; painstaking recordings of social and emotional details of dailiness and desire that evoke Thornton Wilder’s uncanny line about observing existential life: “I can’t look at it hard enough,” from Our Town. For Davies, the soul is everyone’s town. And he’s not afraid to stare down at our common suffering. This month, Davies’ career of six remarkable features is being revived at BAM and Film Forum in time to prepare audiences for the U.S. premiere of his newest movie, The Deep Blue Sea. Will The Deep Blue Sea be his breakthrough? Only if the public has had its fill of chick-flick pabulum. Minimalist Davies deserves to be a popularly regarded film artist, even if not quite on the level of maximalist Lean, whose Dr. Zhivago may be the toniest love story ever filmed. In The Deep Blue Sea, Davies recreates playwright Terence Rattigan’s post-World War II stage drama about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
(Rachel Weisz takes a lover, war vet Tom Hiddleston, rejecting her jurist husband Simon Russell Beale’s devotion.) Davies uses the same template of guilt, temptation and class conflict as in Lean’s extraordinary 1945 breakthrough Brief Encounter. For decades, Brief Encounter had been cinema’s landmark illicit-romance melodrama, both high-toned and deeply emotional. Davies honors it by remaking/remodeling it. Although the world has changed since Brief Encounter (today it might be titled Booty Call), Davies epitomizes the change. Davies’ gay sensibility (ranking among great gay artists like Luchino Visconti and Tennessee Williams, whose projections of male desire were rich enough to empathize with the female experience) looks deeply into hope and despair. 1992’s The Long Day Closes remains the greatest film with a gay child protagonist ever made. But Davies’ films don’t wallow in mas-
Playing on the Edge ‘the darkness’ wages liberty and death | By Steve hASke The Darkness is often thought of as a game defined by a single moment. As mob hitman Jackie Estacado, the business of killing comes easily, and as the protagonist of a first-person shooter, this is hardly out of the ordinary. It isn’t surprising when Jackie is possessed early on by the eponymous Darkness, a centuries-old symbiotic sentience whose black tendrils thirst for violence; in fact, this is why at least 50 percent of us are playing it in the first place. But the scene that defines The Darkness has nothing to do with violence. Its marquee is quieter and more personal—a marked differed between the Call of Duty
mimicry of contemporary shooter design and when The Darkness was first released in 2007. After a routine job for Jackie’s mob boss uncle goes south, he arrives at his girlfriend Jenny’s new apartment determined to reveal the truth about his work. She doesn’t believe you (or you lie to her, if you’d prefer); she isn’t concerned. “Come watch TV with me for a while,” Jenny, tired from unpacking, says. The television softly plays To Kill A Mockingbird. In spite of the endless death that plagues Jackie’s existence, your time with Jenny is unhurried and she quickly falls asleep with Jackie’s arm still around her. No matter—you can watch the entire film on Jenny’s tiny television if you want. It’s a
A scene from Terence Davies’ Distant Voices, Still Lives.
ochism or flaunt queer identity politics; his art is distinguished by sensitivity to what’s personal yet universal. Every Davies film projects a political dimension to its protagonists’ suffering—not a dull Marxist analysis of inequality, but a more exacting examination of how cultural experience effects one’s social being. Each Davies movie contains a postmodern film or musical reference that pinpoints his story in time—the plangent refrain of “Tammy” in The Long Day Closes, “The People Who Live on the Hill” in Of Time and the City or the pub
sing chorus of “You Belong to Me” in The Deep Blue Sea. These are the politicalcultural connections Gus Van Sant omits from his depressive films—that’s why they’re stuck in the pathological gay hipster ghetto. Davies’ masterpieces transcend the ghetto by exploring the pain, pleasure and days of all our soulful yearnings. No contemporary filmmaker is more profound. The Long Day Closes is a must-see and when The Deep Blue Sea opens, it, too, will provide insight into the various difficulties of loving.
rare, oppositional experience that nearly compensates for the cavalier attitude The Darkness generally takes toward frequent, brutal bloodletting. I’m going to argue that this scene, long determined by game critics to be what gives The Darkness its overall value, is only half the story because of the choices presented to both Jackie and the player. For its part, the Darkness’ desire for death is absolute. It eats the hearts of your enemies; it wants you to kill. This is its raison d’être. Insensitivity to murder in shooters lets you easily paint in stark black-or-white tones where you should be aiming your reticule. Jackie isn’t obliged to any moral crises when pumping his uncle’s goons full of slugs, and it’s the player’s choice to pull the trigger (or indeed, to play at all). But when (spoiler) Jenny is kidnapped, we can fear the worst, and indeed it comes. Jackie finds Jenny, but the Darkness then takes control. “You are my puppet,” it hisses, pinning you against a window to a room where Jenny is being held at
gunpoint. Jackie’s uncle has taken your actions as betrayal and as retaliation he pushes Jenny’s head against the glass. Utterly powerless, the demonic power you’ve embraced as a player until now makes you bear witness as your girlfriend’s blood splatters across the pane. It almost feels like undue punishment for doing what’s expected in a FPS: killing. The fact that Jenny dies is less important than how it happens: with you, a merciless assassin, helplessly forced to watch. Suddenly, you’re unsure how to feel about this cruel symbiosis. The vengeance that follows is characteristically game-y, but lingering doubts over the alleged effortlessness of bloodshed are impossible to ignore. The Darkness is available now on PS3 and Xbox 360, though you may have to dig to find it. Steve Haske is a Portland, Ore.-based journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @afraidtomerge. MARCH 15, 2012 | otdowntown.com
� DI N I N G A Field Guide to Your Local CSA The vegetables aren’t the only foreign creatures you have to learn to love when you join a CSA
| By RegAn HofmAnn As the season starts to turn and the prospect of edible things growing from the ground begins to seem less like a crazy fantasy, CSA membership drives are gearing up. CSAs work with a particular farm and use member dues to fund their farmers up front so they’re covered for the expense of the start of the growing season, rather than starting out in debt and racing to catch up with produce sales later in the year. In return, members get a share of the farm’s bounty, typically weekly; a box of whatever’s ready that day starting May-June and stretching through October or so. Though the upfront commitment is heavy, membership is generally a great value compared to the cost of heading out to the farmers market every week. The only drawback is that you don’t get to choose the veg you take home, and you may end up with some things you’ve never seen before or something you’ve always hated—oh, and,
as with any community organization, you’re going to have to deal with people you’d think twice about giving directions to on the street, let alone giving them your time and money. The C in CSA doesn’t just mean the community you build with the farmers, it’s also the community of veggie-loving neighbors who are in this thing with you. Volunteers run the pickups, volunteers collect the money, volunteers argue with the farmers—and you’re expected to volunteer to earn your keep. But though they may be completely alien to you, fear not! Here’s a handy guide to the CSA types you’re most likely to encounter, their likes, dislikes and tricks for staying on their good side. the evangeLiCaL fOOD POLitiCian Will corner you for 20 minutes to force raw food recipes on you; may carry laminated magazine clippings or a dirty notebook just for this purpose. Brings the same plastic bag she’s been washing and reusing since 1998 to the pickup every week; says it’s carbon-negative, unlike those industrially made canvas tote bags you’re carrying. Likes composting. Hates people who drive to the pickup. Tip: Avoid even suggesting that you might eat some of these vegetables alongside meat.
the CLueLess Parent Only in it because Dr. Oz told him organic food was best for developing minds. Doesn’t know or like most vegetables. Will bring CSA supporters at a 2010 community garden rally. his kids to the pickup and let PHOTO BY MAgAli Regis | jusTfOOd.ORg them rampage, offering them pre-cut “convenience” veg. Tip: Express a “healthy snack” like a radish an interest in her canning techniques and when they throw a tantrum over candy. Will she’ll bring you jar after jar of surprisingly eventually give them candy. Likes carrots, anything familiar his kids will eat. Hates try- delicious homemade jam. The know-it-all. Will hang around the ing new things. Tip: Hang around the swap pickup on days the farm sends an unfamilbox when he goes through his weekly share, iar vegetable, hoping someone will wonder offer to trade him your potatoes for the aloud, “What do you do with this?” so he can precious scapes/broccoli rabe/rhubarb he casually toss off the cultural significance, wouldn’t dare bring home because “nobody genetic lineage and culinary properties of will eat it.” everything in the box that week. Will shake his head sadly when the swap box is full of the aDOrabLy Out-Of-tOuCh hiPPie kohlrabi. Likes explaining. Secretly hates Leans over the box every week and beets but would die before letting anyone takes a deep inhale before looking at what’s inside—she just loves being so close else know it. Tip: Mention that your Hungarto the earth! Has a great recipe that will use ian grandmother used to make a traditional lovage soup and watch his eyes light up. all of the vegetables from your box; it only takes three days to make and requires nutritional yeast, texturized vegetable protein Most New York City CSAs are now accepting applications for the 2012 season. To find the and Bragg’s amino acids. Likes anything that still has dirt on it. Hates pre-packaged, one closest to you, visit justfood.org/csa.
� DI G ITI ZE
Ca-razy Cool Kickstarter Picks
ook, I love Kickstarter. I think giving people the ability to choose what’s made and marketed will be the end of social ills like Beanie Babies, dog leashes with no built-in poo-bag dispensers and the entire contents of the Sharper Image catalogue. So I’ve rounded up a short list of awesome stuff that is trying to get made right now. The benefit for you is that donating on Kickstarter, which is based out of the Lower East Side, not only helps make dreams come true, also gets you cool new/unique products at a crazy discount. Here’s how this works. I tell you: 1. What it is, with a fun and witty description. 2. How much it costs to get something worthwhile. 3. When the Kickstarter ends—when no more donations can be made and the project either succeeds or fails. 4. If it’s been funded yet—Kickstarter projects that don’t reach their funding goals don’t get made and donors don’t get charged. It’s safe for everybody. And you donate!
Mainstreet MMO This is sort of like if Second Life was filled with cool stuff you actually cared about. Right now it’s just a model of Dubuque, Iowa—which, whatever, right? But the concept is great: You can look around the city at real businesses and landmarks. Sure, Google Earth does this to a degree, but in the long run, the Main Street MMO people would have each city constantly updated, as they change in the real world, by people who know and love their localities. Cost: Minimum is $5, but for $50 the programmers will name one of the fake people walking around virtual Dubuque after you. A $50 visit to Dubuque for cyber-eternity? What a deal! End Date: April 24. Funded? Nope! raMOs aLarM CLOCk Yes! A you-proof alarm clock! If you knew me, you’d know that I am notoriously bad at getting out of bed. At times I’ve set three alarm clocks, one minute apart, in different spots around my room so I’d have to move to turn them
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
off. But the human mind is a powerful thing, and my genius brain would simply make the rounds when the first alarm went off. The Ramos clock is a well-designed deal with tricks to curb even the most genius snoozers. There’s no button to stop the alarm on the actual clock, so you can keep it safely next to the bed. “But I’ll just unplug it,” you say? Nope. A backup battery keeps this beast alive for hours post-socket. The only way to kill it is by entering a code on a keypad you’ve hung in the bathroom, kitchen or wherever is most likely to get you out of bed. Cost: $160 for the LED Ramos clock, $350 for the wacky vintage Soviet-style Nixie tube version. Freakin’ awesome. End Date: April 1. Funded? Totally funded. Expect yours by September 2012—that’s when I expect mine. Dash: the sMart PhOne Car stereO It’s a smart phone car stereo, dudes. I support any move to consolidate our
digital peripherals. With the powerful potential of smart phone computing, there’s increasingly little reason to carib guerra collect other half-assed devices. Let bygones be gone, like the mp3 player, point-and-shoot digital cameras, bulky and confusing to operate printed books, board games and, finally, the car stereo. Dash lets you plug your iPhone 4 or 4S (more versions coming soon) into a specially designed faceplate for your car stereo. Bam. It even charges the damn thing. If somebody had told me 15 years ago that I’d be able to plug my phone into my car, I’d have said, “Why?” Behold: the future. Cost: For $250, you can get this solid deal. Awesome. It’s already fully funded, so fear not. End Date: March 21. Funded? Yes, sir.
� PETS Dog (and Cat) Breath Smells Like Bigger Problems Ahead | By RoBin BRennen Why do two-thirds of well-meaning pet owners often ignore their veterinarian’s recommendations for proper dental care? I suppose we all hate going to the dentist, so maybe there is a bit of anthropomorphizing going on. But the fact is the American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. That’s nothing to smile about. Fido’s and Fifi’s funky breath can be an early sign that something is afoul; halitosis is often a consequence of periodontal disease. Just as in humans, bacteria in the mouth helps form plaque. Left to accumulate, tartar forms and plaque and tartar can infect the gums and cause gingivitis. The gums appear red and swollen and can bleed easily. Once plaque takes hold below the gum line, the structure of the tooth can be affected. Infection can form around the root and spread into the surrounding bone. This can result in tooth and bone loss. Sound painful? It is. However, dogs and cats often suffer silently and will continue to eat despite considerable discomfort. Pain isn’t the only issue. Bacteria that overcolonize in the mouth can enter the blood stream through the diseased and bleeding gum tissue. The bacteria are then free to lodge in the heart, liver and kidneys, resulting in damage to those organs and serious health problems. Signs of oral disease can include bad breath, red gums, drooling, difficulty chewing, food bowl avoidance, dropping of food and facial swelling. In the wild, the canine and feline species rip and tear apart their prey, which actually helps keep their teeth and gums healthy. Domestication and manufactured diets have removed nature’s built-in dental care. Therefore, your pet needs human intervention to ensure proper oral
PHOTO BY RenneTT STOwe
health. Regular dental checkups should be part of your pet’s annual maintenance program. Routine dental cleanings may be suggested by your veterinarian as a prophylactic measure, or your pet may be in serious need of a deep cleaning that may include tooth extractions. Owner reluctance often stems from the fact that animals need to be put under anesthesia in order to perform the dentistry properly and safely. When I think about it, I wish I had that option! I would probably visit the dentist more often.
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ultrasonic scaler, as well as deep cleaning below the gum line. In addition, the teeth can be polished adequately and a thorough assessment of the oral cavity performed. Your veterinarian can take many steps to ensure that the anesthetic procedure is as safe as possible. A pre-anesthetic exam and blood work can help assess risk and allow for the proper choice of anesthetic agents tailored to the individual pet’s health status. Intra-operative patient monitoring and fluid administration enhance the safety and pain medications are often prescribe to make the recovery and post-dental period more comfortable. Dental care should begin at a young age. Home care is an important part of overall dental health. Daily brushing should be incorporated into your routine. There are many videos on YouTube on how to get your pet acclimated to brushing. Your veterinarian may also recommend a dental diet specially formulated to help remove plaque, if your pet is prone to periodontal disease. There are chew toys on the market that also help massage the gums and remove plaque. Nothing beats in-home monitoring. Flip up a lip and take a peek inside your pet’s mouth. If you see something, say something! Don’t brush aside your pet’s oral health. If you want to give your pet a dental health checkup, the animal hospitals at Bideawee have a variety of dental health care packages for dogs and cats.
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As we all know, tooth cleaning is not a pleasant experience. If the gums are inflamed, it can be downright uncomfortable. Fortunately for our pets, they are happily asleep during the procedure. This allows for all sides of the tooth to be cleaned properly with the use of an
Robin Brennen is chief of veterinary services & VP of operations at Bideawee.
Matty, a very handsome Russian Blue mix is friendly, but timid and sensitive. He’s ideally suited for an experienced, calm, and gentle family with cat-savvy children over age 5. This 6 year old sweetheart is sure to cozy up to you once he GRAPHICS feels safe and comfortable! COMMUNICATIONS STUDIO File Page: 1
Max is an adorable little 3 year old, 15-pound Job #: SONY-FT01-16_NYPR_EP_3.15 Chihuahua/Terrier mix. Max is very sweet and sensitive, and he is fearful around strangers. He Movie: FOOTNOTE should go home with a calm, gentle family with Date/Time: 3/12/12 PM up to you, Max kids over age 12. Once he2:30 warms Last Rev: DM becomes playful and affectionate and will cuddle Publication: NY PRESS up on your lap! We are sure that he will bond strongly MARCH 15, 2012 Date To Run: to THURSDAY, his new person. Type:
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� FAM I LY C O R N E R
Audra’s Song triumphant in her return to Broadway in Porgy and Bess, four-time tony winner audra McDonald would be the first to say her favorite role is being a mom piano lessons in the city, she’s seen every | By Kat Harrison Broadway show that’s appropriate for a
yellow-and-red friendship bracelet is twisted loosely around Audra McDonald’s wrist, a daily reminder of her daughter Zoe, now 11. On the same hand, her engagement ring—an opal-set family heirloom from her fiancé, Priscilla Queen of the Desert’s Will Swenson—sits proud. This is McDonald’s quiet. Now for her loud. McDonald, a fourtime Tony winner and two-time Grammy recipient, perhaps most well-known for her performances in Carousel, Master Class and four-season run as Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s Private Practice, is a woman of dynamics. Just close your eyes as she takes the stage in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. With operatic grace, even when she stands completely still, McDonald’s voice cuts the air. It’s this steadily swinging balance of crescendos and decrescendos that brings McDonald into focus—no matter if she’s singing or Tweeting about her daughter’s latest one-liner. Is it true that your daughter Zoe was born on Valentine’s Day? Yes—best Valentine’s present ever! Do you two have any special traditions? Usually, the night before her birthday, she likes to hear the story of her birth— [it] was crazy, I went into pre-term labor [when I was] five and a half months pregnant with her. [Before], I was on bed rest for three and a half months. I had to cancel everything and lay on my back or left side. It was during the presidential election, the year with George Bush and Al Gore. I watched a lot of TLC’s A Baby Story. I was starting to get so emotional that my husband at the time [orchestral bassist Peter Donovan] was like, “You can’t watch this anymore. It’s making you worse.” I [also] ordered her entire nursery online and had to meet her doctor on the phone. What’s it like raising Zoe in New York even though you had a Fresno, California, childhood? We moved out of the city [to Westchester] when she was not even a year. So she has been growing up in the woods. She has a backyard but also has the added luxury of an apartment in the city. She has her
child to see—and maybe some that are not. I want her to be a theater kid. Her dad plays in orchestras everywhere. She’s been to Carnegie Hall, The New York Philharmonic—she’s getting all this incredible culture. She’s seeing the diversity of the city but she’s also fortunate enough that she’s getting the woods, catching frogs and hearing coyotes howl at night. The best of both worlds. So she loves the arts. Yes! She plays so many damn instruments—piano, violin, mandolin, saxophone and she’s working on the guitar now. Since her dad’s a musician, she just wants to do everything her daddy does. She just got cast in her school musical as one of the orphans in Annie. I don’t force any of it on her. It’s all Zoe-generated. There will never be a time in [her] life again when [she] will have the luxury and the time to explore, because real life comes into play. Do you have any advice for parents who want to nurture creativity in their children? If dance or music lessons are a little difficult to afford because it’s a terrible economy right now, see what’s available within your community: check out community centers, the YMCA, your church and school activities. But follow the child and encourage it. Let it grow. Someone who studies music already has a different look on the world. Diversity and tolerance come along with pursuing the arts. Besides her artiness, what other qualities do you love in Zoe? She’s a really kind, sensitive soul. She’s very concerned about other people’s feelings and puts other people before herself— a bit too much. And then she’s got this fierce wit on top of it, which usually doesn’t go hand-in-hand, so the combo of the two is hysterical. We were at Disneyland and a couple of people were asking for my autograph. So she said to the person who was leading us around, “All I wanted to do was ride some rides and now my mom’s Mickey Mouse.” She’s got lots of great one-liners like that that come flying out of nowhere.
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
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What’s the most hilarious thing she said or did lately? She and my soon-to-be stepsons [Bridger and Sawyer] occupied the living room. It was time to go to bed and they decided that they didn’t want to. This was right when Occupy Wall Street was starting and they were studying the Constitution in school. So they established their own Civil Rights group and they wrote out a Declaration of Independence. They went into the living room, shut the doors and said they were occupying it. And I said, “This is not a democracy. Who’s your president?” And
they said Zoe. Then they marched into the den, where I was, and had a petition with six signatures on it—but I only had three kids in the house! What were the other signatures? They put Butler, who is our dog. It cracked me up! They went on and on until finally they passed out. The Occupation was over because they fell asleep. How do you balance such a hectic career with being a parent? I think that any working parent will tell you that any time spent away from your child is frustrating. We miss each other a lot when we’re not together. It’s hard if you’re a theater performer because your child is gone at school during the day and then you perform at night. So we cherish all the time that we have together.
You trained at Juilliard. Did you always think you would be doing what you’re doing now? Being on Broadway is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Juilliard felt like a little bit of a detour but it turned out that it was part of a higher plan—something I definitely needed. What drew you to the production of Porgy and Bess, besides the timelessness of it? [Bess] is a role that I always dreamed about doing someday. I figured I would do it somewhere even if I sang it with myself. I just wanted to come back to Broadway. I was tired of commuting back and forth from LA [for Private Practice]—twice, sometimes three times a week. It was horrible but I had to; my daughter was here, so I had no choice. Do you bring Zoe to the theater with you? Yes, she’ll hang out backstage—reading, playing on her iPod or with my make up. So [that way], at least I’m getting to be with her and she’s feeling like we’re together. [Plus], she can hear me. She’ll even say things like, “Mommy, you sounded like you were a little scared in that one scene.” Who do you admire most within and outside of the theater world? Zoe Caldwell, I named my child after her. Lena Horne, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday. Christine Quinn, I hope she’s
our next mayor. I think she’s as smart as a whip, passionate and she’s living her life fully and truly. Speaking of passion…you’re engaged! Congrats. Is there a good story behind that? We were having dinner the night when Will proposed and he just seemed really distressed and preoccupied. The Denver Broncos just had a game and he thought they lost their playoff spot. So I was getting a little annoyed because I thought he was really upset about the Broncos and I was like, “Dude, you’ve gotta let this go. They haven’t been able to go to the show for a while now.” It turns out he was a little stressed out because he was going to ask me to marry him after dinner and I didn’t know. When we got back to the place where we were staying, there were roses all over the bed, chocolate-covered strawberries, champagne and it was a moonlit night. And he proposed. I cried and cried and cried like a baby. And the ring? It’s a very unusual engagement ring in that it’s opal. His mom was born in October and Will and his sister were born on the same day three years apart so opal is all of their birthstones. His mom passed away from cancer almost six years ago, at 62—nine months before my dad passed away in a plane crash. He was 62 as well, so we always kind of felt like our parents met…somewhere. She for some
reason left this ring. Will didn’t even know me when she passed away—it was nine months before we met—and she left this ring to Will for some reason. He said it was always on her finger. I love it so much. Will has two boys of his own. How has it been joining the families? We’ve been hanging for a long time now. We kind of have a silly little name for the family—the Eggfartsons. It’s a name that his little boy Sawyer came up with. Three years ago, he was playing with Photobooth on the computer. We found all these videos and decided that would be the family crest and the motto was, “Always be an Eggfartson.” You played a mother on Private Practice while being a mother off-screen as well. Did that affect you at all? The whole arc with Maya getting pregnant and seeing how Naomi reacted to that—I got a lot of angry, angry mail. People were so furious that a mother would hit their child and then force them to have an abortion. For me, it was what Shonda Rhimes wrote. As far as Naomi saw it, her child’s life was now ruined and she wasn’t going to get to live a normal life. And in the heat of the moment, I totally understood that reaction. I was kind of glad that Shonda wrote that, because it was a real reaction. It was raw, but it was real. Some people just got really upset, but I understood it.
In terms of audience reaction, it must be so different being on stage versus on television. Do you feed off the energy of the live performance? The audience will let you know immediately how you are doing, by responding or not! How do you adapt? The only thing you can do is settle in, focus, listen to each other and make sure you are doing your job—which is telling the story. And if they don’t react, that’s not your concern. It can affect you, but at the same time, you have to stay focused. You can’t let it throw you. What lessons have you learned from motherhood—the good and the bad? Motherhood means never sleeping again. Because for some reason, even if you are not with your child, you are still thinking about them. It’s something you don’t know until you give birth. I also never knew how fiercely protective I could be. I would kill for my child. You don’t see that inside of you until you have [one]. And the level of love—it’s spiritual. Even on those days when you want to put them somewhere, find a mute button and say “STOP TALKING FOR 30 SECONDS!” Even on those days, the love is unbelievable. For a peek at more images from our photo shoot with Audra mcdonald, visit newyorkfamily.com.
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Richard Zacks Author of ‘IslAnd of VIce: theodore rooseVelt’s doomed Quest to cleAn up sIn-loVIng new York’
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hether he’s researching the strange methods of 19th-century scientists or on the trail of 17thcentury pirates, author, historian and journalist Richard Zacks has an eye for the juicy bits in history. Now, the bestselling author of The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd and three other books has a new tale about Theodore Roosevelt and the seedy world of 1890s New York. Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York (Doubleday) follows Roosevelt in his years as New York’s police commissioner and his struggle to change Lower Manhattan. What drew you to Roosevelt’s time as police commissioner of New York? I didn’t start out as a Roosevelt expert; I came to the story through the vice angle. I was researching the 1890s and New York and stumbled upon Roosevelt as police commissioner. I was stunned to discover that it really didn’t go according to the fairy tale version that came out later— you know, he came in as police commissioner and reformed the whole city and stopped crime and cleaned up the police department. It was a much more interesting story than that. In your mind, did Roosevelt’s time as police commissioner end in failure? I wouldn’t say outright failure. I would say it was kind of a noble effort. He never backed down. It’s extraordinary—the will and the nerve of the man to continue to keep trying right up until the last moment to rout out all kinds of corruption, to try to clean up the saloons and the brothels and the rest of it. But you know, the city was just overwhelmingly oriented towards vice. And the fact that he succeeded pretty well for around eight or 10 months is just extraordinary. Roosevelt started out well as police commissioner; he cleaned up the lazy and bribe-happy police. What do you think was the turning point? I think the turning point was the November election where the Republicans in New York lost to the Democrats and blamed it on Roosevelt’s tactics as police commis-
OU R TOWN DOWNTOWN | MARCH 15, 2012
sioner. He succeeded up until that point. He shut down the Sunday saloons—the fact that he did that was just astounding in New York City. It was the most entrenched custom. Saloons couldn’t legally be opened on Sundays, so everyone just went to the side door of the saloon on Sundays, the working man’s one day off a week. If the Republicans had wound up winning that election in November, Roosevelt could have proved to his own party and to the world that New York City indeed wanted to be reformed and they wanted Roosevelt’s principles. But they lost.
those riddles a lot of the time. What I like to do is research. New York in the 1890s had something like 20 very vigorous newspapers. The number is actually higher, but there are about 20 that you can get easily at the New York Public Library. It became addictive, because every newspaper had slightly different versions and slightly different quotes and different wise-guy phrasings. I got addicted to looking at seven versions of every event I was trying to research. It was a way to try to put off writing. I got the project in 2006 and it took about five years. I probably researched for four years and wrote for one.
Was Roosevelt’s decision to reform the city a product of ambition or morality? I think the morality motive was really strong. I think he really thought it would be a better life for everybody if Sundays were spent picnicking with the family instead of the husband and father going off to the saloon and getting drunk.
What will you be presenting at your talk at the Tenement Museum? I’m excited to give these talks, because it allows me to go and pull 50 photographs from the 1890s. I just love New York City scenes, like the streetcars with the horses pulling them and the men in hats and the women in the corseted dresses to the ground. It’s time travel—they’re just really great images. I also have some really great naughty and slightly risqué images that I just couldn’t resist putting in.
Can you talk about your writing process for this book? It was difficult figuring out how to structure it, because I wanted to create the city of vice before I brought Roosevelt in. So I had to create a narrative line that really moved forward and then introduce Roosevelt. I just had trouble figuring out
Richard Zacks will speak about Island of Vice at the Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard St. (betw. Delancey & Broome Sts.), www.tenement.org, March 20 at 6:30 p.m.
No Winners in Birth Control Debate Universal health care would ensure all women’s reproductive rights were covered
he birth control controversy of the past few weeks has focused our nation’s attention on an issue most of us would prefer to avoid. Not because birth control is an uncomfortable topic; for the vast majority of Americans, birth control is supremely uncontroversial. It’s the fact that birth control is so ubiquitous that makes the two-week kerfuffle that we’ve all been subject to even more surprising. It began when Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, issued a rule that required employers to cover the cost of contraception for their female employees. Catholic institutions promptly declared that their religious freedom was being trampled. President Barack Obama gave the religious right some time to work themselves into a frenzy—presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called it an “attack on the Catholic church” and Mitt Romney called it an “assault on religion.” Rick Santorum got into trouble when
one of his prominent backers commented, “back in my day, they used aspirin for contraception. Gals used to put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.” This led to closer scrutiny of Santorum’s statements on birth control, which include: “It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” In the second act of the drama, religious leaders got involved. Prominent members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that Obama was “waging a war on religion.” As the rhetoric escalated, liberals fought back. They insisted that Obama support Sebelius and not back down. Leftists who hadn’t thought about access to birth control for more than five minutes in the past five years were suddenly incensed, demanding that Obama throw himself under a bus for it. But of course, he didn’t. In the third act of this melodrama, Obama brokered a compromise: Catholic institutions will not have to pay for contraception, but women who work for those institutions won’t see an increase in co-pays either. (The solution: insurance companies are required to foot the bill. It’s so simple that you wonder if Obama and Sebelius may
have been fully aware of how this would play out from the start.) The result was that every Republican presidential candidate found himself on the wrong side of the issue. They went on record denigrating birth control, a product that has been used by 99 percent of American women. Another win for Obama, right? Possibly. But before the curtain comes down on this highly entertaining spectacle, we should take a moment to more seriously consider the question of access to birth control. Who needs birth control the most? Women who are young, unmarried or poor. Most of them are not planning on getting pregnant and are unable to support a child. What’s another characteristic of the young, unmarried, working poor? They are the group most likely to lack health insurance. There are currently 49.1 million uninsured people in the United States. Half of them are women, and nearly 75 percent are of reproductive age. That makes a grand total of 18.4 million women who couldn’t go to the doctor last year. And when you can’t see a doctor, you can’t get your Ortho-Tricyclen prescription. During the two-year period from
2007-2008, over 86 million Americans went without health insurance for some period of time. So we’re talking about 32 million women whose DR. CAMERON PAGE lack of insurance affected their access to birth control. I don’t know how many women work for Catholic institutions, but it’s a tiny fraction of 32 million. Yes, the Affordable Care Act has provisions that will lower the number of uninsured women starting in 2014. But even the most optimistic estimate still leaves more than a million women without insurance and therefore without access to birth control. During the birth control controversy, liberals fought for two weeks to protect access to birth control for a small number of women who work at Catholic institutions. Where is that rage when it comes to the millions of others? Let’s not cry over a drippy faucet while the water main is rupturing in the basement. If we truly care about reproductive rights, we should be fighting for universal primary care.
From top to bottom: the couple’s kitchen and bathroom reveal an affinity for black. The shower features black marble tiles. Shapiro’s primary space is the living room, where she houses her book collection and hosts workshops and literary receptions. PHOTOS BY PATRICIA VOULGARIS
Inside the literary leaning abode of writer Sue Shapiro | BY MARISSA MAIER
hen you’re the author of over nine books and an NYU/New School Journalism professor, and your husband is a successful television and film writer, your profession is bound to rub off on your home. Such is the case for Greenwich Village-based writer Sue Shapiro and her husband, Charles Rubin. Their fifthfloor apartment, located off Broadway a mere stone’s throw from their respective campuses—Rubin also teaches, at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts—is a dazzling collection of books and hallmarks from their careers. The arrangement of their abode, which was fashioned from two units, is a perfect compromise for the couple who have distinct preferenc-
es when it comes to working. As Shapiro leads a tour through her home, she notes that her open living room—a space that could easily contain most New Yorkers’ entire apartments—often serves as a literary salon for her many classes and workshops and as a reception space. It was here that she recently hosted a book party for her newest work, Unhooked: How to Quit Anything (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012), which she penned with her former therapist, Dr. Frederick Woolverton. While Shapiro enjoys the company, Rubin prefers the solitude of one of his two writing rooms, one of which the couple has dubbed “the murder room,” since it houses Rubin’s vast collection of mystery literature and his scripts from working on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The bookcases in the living room are decidedly Shapiro’s realm and include everything from offbeat sculptures and trinkets to a collection of her work, like the whimsical, cupcake-
inspired cover of the Italian version of her book Five Men Who Broke My Heart, which is currently being adapted into a film. “I’m a neat freak; he has his collections,” Shapiro said of their respective living styles. One thing the couple can agree on is that their apartment, at around 2,500 square feet, was a sound purchase as the abode would now fetch in the seven figures if put on the market. Shapiro and Rubin, though, have no plans to sell any time soon. “This is the dream home and office,” she said.
MARCH 15, 2012 | OTDOWNTOWN.COM
O U R TOW N : D OW N TOWN | MA R C H 1 5 , 2 0 1 2
Published on Mar 15, 2012
The March 15, 2012 issue of Our Town Downtown. Our Town Downtown (OTDownTown) is a newspaper for 25 to 40-year-old New Yorkers living, work...