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NEWS: Opponents bash landlord’s hardship claims January 12, 2012

Page 7 Since 1970


Liz Krueger


Micah Kellner

Breathing Life into a Ghost Town Cornell’s mega-project will bring new retail and jobs to Roosevelt Island P. 4 NOW OPEN! + Upper

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Notes from the Neighborhood Compiled by Sean Creamer

IT’S A GIRL! Congratulations to Upper East Side Assembly Member Dan Quart and his wife Miriam, who just gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Gabriella Rose, this week. They also have a son, Samuel.



meeting Calendar Wednesday, Jan.18 • Community Board 8 Full Board Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Ramaz School, 125 E. 85th St., between Park and Lexington Aves., Auditorium.

crime watch Compiled by Megan Finnegan Bungeroth

Grand Larceny by Fake Grandson

An Upper East Side woman fell prey to a heartless fraudster last week when he called pretending to be her grandson in trouble. The perpetrator said he was in jail in Mexico and needed $2,700 to get out. The panicked woman wired $2,500 (the transaction limit) through American Express to the specified account, and the swindler had the nerve to call back and request an additional $1,700, which did not go through after American Express flagged it as possibly fraudulent. When the woman called her grandson two days later, she discovered that he had been in bed with the



January 12, 2012

BABY BOOMER RETIREMENT PLANNING State Sen. Liz Krueger is hosting a Senior Round Table forum from 8-10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, 331 E. 70th St. These discussions are part of a series called “Planning Ahead: Senior Living in the 21st Century,” a five-part series for boomers and seniors. This week’s topice will address how baby boomers and seniors can plan ahead so that they can live comfortably as they age. A light breakfast will be served. To attend this event, RSVP to Dore Mann at 212-490-9535 or

FAITH AND BUSINESS ETHICS The Jewish Learning Insitute is offering a class to combat the amoral attitudes that led to the recent economic collapse called “Money Matters: Jewish Business Ethics.” The class will be taught by Rabbi Elie Weinstock of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 and will continue for six consecutive sessions. Classes will take place at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun,125 E. 85 St. The classes will be taught with the idea that “business should be a force for good…that’s why we’ll be presenting students with timeless Talmudic insights into real-world ethical dilemmas,” Weinstock said in a statement.

flu, nowhere near Mexico or the missing money.

Thief Strikes Where God Watches

A woman left her $300 Android phone in the back pew of The Church of St. Monica on East 79th Street while she was coordinating a wedding there, only to find it had been swiped when she went to retrieve it.

Cash is Still King for Robbers

A pair of guests at The Surrey Hotel left $1,900 and 700 euro, all in cash, in their room safe, but forgot to lock it. They returned to their room to find it missing.

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Do you know a police officer or firefighter going above and beyond on the Upper East Side? A member of the clergy who is making a difference in the neighborhood? Someone who is helping build a better neighborhood community? A block association leader who is doing something extra? Nominate your Upper East Side hero or heroes for an OTTY—Our Town Thanks You— Award by sending their name along with some info about why they deserve an OTTY to


Fourteen-foot-tall papier-mâché versions of Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar, the three kings, tower over the crowd Jan. 6 at the 35th annual Three Kings Parade on 106th Street. “Money Matters” will delve into the ethics of bankruptcy along with when one should pay back debts and the social ethics of living wages, insider trading, CEO compensation and collective bargaining. This program is designed to appeal to

Local Crime Sprees

Police caution residents to be aware of a crime pattern that began on the Upper East Side and was just recently classified as citywide after an identical incident occured downtown. A man and woman approach victims on the street; the man grabs the target in a chokehold while the woman sprays the victim in the face with pepper spray or Mace before the duo makes off with the blinded victim’s belongings. The iPhone nabbers are also still at large, robbing Apple lovers at gunpoint on the street.

Beware the ATM

Federal investigators have recently identified three ATM locations on the Upper East Side that have been hit by

followers of the Jewish faith at all levels and does not require membership within any one temple, synagogue or other house of worship. To enroll or for more information, call 212-774-5678 or email

card-skimming devices. The devices look identical to the normal ATM card intake and keypad and are placed over the original parts, making them difficult to detect. The devices read the card’s information and take video of the corresponding PIN as it’s punched into the keypad, allowing the perpetrators to create replica cards and empty victims’ bank accounts. Police recommend shielding ATM keypads with one hand while entering PINs to thwart this scam.

Community Council Meetings

The 19th Precinct Community Council meets the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at the precinct house, 153 E. 67th St. All are welcome. N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

An Open Letter to New York City Parents New York City is losing its teachers.

More than 66,000 have either resigned or retired since Mayor Bloomberg took control of the schools. Teachers leave one of the toughest jobs in New York City for a variety of personal and professional reasons, but the most common single reason is a lack of support from supervisors and the Department of Education. Teaching is a craft that is acquired over time, and teachers desperately want to improve their skills. That is why the United Federation of Teachers led the campaign to create a better teacher evaluation system, one that put a priority on helping all teachers do their job better. The UFT’s role was critical in creating the new system, and in going to Washington, D.C. to help get federal funds for it through the Race to the Top program. Starting last spring, many of our members with expertise in evaluation worked for months on the state subcommittees designing the new system. We have been trying to work with the Bloomberg administration to iron out the final details of the new system, but the administration has refused to engage in meaningful talks about teacher and principal improvement. Instead it has focused on ensuring that administrators have unlimited power over their employees. If we agree, it will mean that supervisors’ decisions can never be properly reviewed, much less overturned. This would be true even if their negative rating of a teacher or a principal can be proven to be the result of their refusal to inappropriately change a student’s grade or to give students credit for courses they have not properly completed. Make no mistake about it. The administration has put tremendous pressure on principals to make their schools appear to be successful. But any claims of success ring hollow in the light of national tests that show very limited student progress for the system as a whole, and state measures that show that while the high school graduation rate is increasing, the number of graduates ready for college is only about one in five.

The sad truth is that Mayor Bloomberg’s “reform” agenda — raising class size across the system; closing schools and “warehousing” the neediest students; pushing art and music out of the schools to make room for more test prep; turning a deaf ear to parents’ concerns; and appointing a completely unqualified publishing executive to be Chancellor — hasn’t made our schools better. A real teacher evaluation system that helps all teachers improve while providing checks and balances is a critical step toward stopping the hemorrhaging of our teaching force and making our schools more effective. At the same time it would help ensure that teachers who cannot succeed in the classroom leave the profession. We have an open offer to the administration to continue our negotiations on this issue, or even to take it to binding arbitration. It’s time the administration sat down with teachers and principals to come up with an agenda that will actually help our children learn. Sincerely, Michael Mulgrew President United Federation of Teachers O u r T o w n N Y. c o m

January 12, 2012




Town’ Welcoming Cornell’s Gown to Roosevelt Island By Megan Finnegan Bungeroth


ow that the winner of the high-powered competition among top universities to institute a new state-of-the-art tech campus has been named, Upper East Siders can begin to gauge the implications of hosting the future Cornell/Technion campus on Roosevelt Island. The city had offered several potential sites, all to be given for free to the winning institution along with $100 million in supporting infrastructure improvements. The search was for a university or partnership of schools that could best design and implement a new school to churn out technically focused graduates and boost the city’s economy as well as its credentials as a destination for tech companies and talent. After months of vying between big-name schools like Stanford, Columbia, NYU and Carnegie Mellon, the Cornell University/Technion-Israel Institute of Technology won the bid to build on Roosevelt Island on the site of the current Goldwater Hospital, which is scheduled to be vacated within the next several years. Cornell plans to break ground on the new facility by 2017, but in the meantime, as they start classes elsewhere in the city for the fledgling institution, residents and local elected officials will be working behind the scenes to ensure that the campus becomes the asset to the community it has been promised it will be. “We are deeply committed to becoming a part of the fabric of the Roosevelt Island community,” said Tommy Bruce, vice president of university communications at Cornell. “This project is about connecting our campus to the city around it—and that starts with our neighbors here on Roosevelt Island.” So far, the university appears to be living up to that standard. “The one thing that Cornell and Technion have made very clear is that they’re not looking to be a separate campus at the south end of the Island,” said Assembly Member Micah Kellner. “It’s a community that’s constantly using technology to try to improve their lives,” he said, citing Roosevelt Island’s development of a smart phone app to show when red buses are coming and the use of smart parking systems.

Cornell/Technion is expected to bring a wide variety of jobs and retail to Roosevelt Island. Residents are eager to make sure that the sense of partnership continues as the project develops. “We’re putting together a community benefit association with not just RIRA [Roosevelt Island Residents Association] but all of the island’s organizations,” said Matthew Katz, RIRA president. “Senior associations, disability associations, merchants, religious groups, the Roosevelt Island historical society. We would like to have an amalgam of interests so that we don’t forget anything.” Katz said that while he can’t speak for every resident of the island, he has heard only support for the Cornell/Technion proposal. He said that most residents were crossing their fingers in the hopes that the country’s newest tech sector would be close to home. While some universities in the city have battled their surrounding communities when seeking to expand—NYU downtown, Columbia in Morningside Heights—Katz said Roosevelt Island residents knew that if a new school

“I do think the excitement and the energy surrounding this is a positive thing for Roosevelt Island,” said City Council Member Jessica Lappin. “Even if there isn’t a real tangible impact [yet], I think it does help with the overall perception of the island.”



January 12, 2012

wasn’t constructed, something else, perhaps more housing that would overload the Island’s infrastructure, would have gone up when Goldwater Hospital closed. Roosevelt Island could also use a boost in its reputation. While the Island is governed as part of Manhattan (it is part of Community Board 8 and the Fifth City Council district), it is technically leased to the city and controlled by a state-appointed operating board. Home to approximately 13,000 residents, it is sometimes overlooked as not part of any borough, and locals hope that the new campus will bring a boost in prominence as well as in the local economy. “I do think the excitement and the energy surrounding this is a positive thing for Roosevelt Island,” said City Council Member Jessica Lappin. “Even if there isn’t a real tangible impact [yet], I think it does help with the overall perception of the island.” Lappin said that there will be a town hall meeting in March with Cornell President David Skorton to kickstart discussions with the community and give them a firsthand view of how the project will unfold. “This is going to be years in progress,” said Katz. “We in RIRA at this point simply want to make as good a start as we can.” Residents are hoping that Cornell’s presence will attract more local merchants and investment from the city. continued on page 9 N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

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The State of the Upper East Side East Side pols react to Cuomo’s State of the State address By Megan Finnegan Bungeroth Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his annual State of the State address in Albany, laying out the agenda for his sophomore year in office. While some have said that it will be difficult for the governor to follow his ambitious and productive first year, bringing together the notoriously antagonistic Legislature to achieve marriage equality and delivering an on-time budget, local legislators were impressed with the contents of the address and echoed many of Cuomo’s priorities as their own for the current legislative session. “The governor hit all the right notes,” said Assembly Member Micah Kellner, whose district covers the eastern part of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island. “What stood out to me was his focus on priming the economy and jump-starting job creation, as well as the much-needed focus on replacing New York State’s infrastructure. When you’re talking abut spending $25 billion to replace New York State’s aging infrastructure, it’s long past needed and it’s going to create good

jobs—middle-class jobs. That’s what we need right now.” One of the more surprising announcements in the address was the plan to build a privately funded mega-convention cen-

“What stood out to me was his focus on priming the economy and jump-starting job creation, as well as the muchneeded focus on replacing New York State’s infrastructure,” Assembly Member Micah Kellner said. ter in Queens—to be the largest in the country—at the Aqueduct Racetrack site, hopefully bringing a ple thora of jobs and economic stimulation. Conversely, the governor called for a complete redevelopment of the Jacob Javits Center, on the far west side of 34th Street, into a mixed use facility to complement a correspond-

ing redevelopment of the surrounding 18 acres into a Battery Park City-like community. Assembly Member Dan Quart, who represents the western portion of the Upper East Side bordering Central Park and is beginning his first session in the Assembly, praised the governor’s move to extend tenant protections by instating a Tenant Protection Unit as part of the New York State Homes and Community Renewal agency. “Currently, many tenants are forced to engage in expensive and time-consuming litigation in order to secure their rights,” Quart said in an email. “By actively pursuing landlords who are violating the law, the Tenant Protection Unit will ensure that all tenants are protected, not just those who have the resources to access the court system.” Quart also expressed his support for passing the Reproductive Health Act, as did State Sen. Liz Krueger, whose district covers most of the neighborhood, who called it an important piece of legislation for New York women.

“It is controversial, because by definition it seems we live in a world where reproductive health and choice are unfortunately controversial issues,” Krueger said. “The bill is very technical and extensive, but it’s shifting the laws governing reproductive rights from the criminal law. Right now, New York State law simply decriminalizes abortion. Decisions about medical procedures, ending a pregnancy, family planning, should all be in our health code; they shouldn’t have anything to do with our criminal code.” Krueger also expressed support for the governor’s call to update the state’s energy delivery system. “Right now we have an unbelievably antiquated energy grid cutting off our ability to get energy from upstate and Canada,” she said. “We need to be able to move electricity here from lower-cost, less populous areas.” While many legislators—Republicans and Democrats alike—have roundly praised the governor’s plan, even his biggest fans point out a few key issues that continued on page 9

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Opponents Bash Landlord’s Hardship Claims 100 protest de-landmarking effort by Stahl York Avenue housing to the working poor. In recent years, Stahl has declined to rent vacant apartments and make repairs to the buildings, and is now claiming hardship in achieving the 6 percent rate of return that LPC sets as the threshold of a fair amount an owner should make. Paul Selver, an attorney with Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, outlined Stahl’s case. He said that, according to two studies commissioned by Stahl, maintaining the buildings, either by simply bringing them up to code or performing large-scale renovations, is not economically feasible and that the properties lost money last year. One study, conducted by Cushman and Wakefield, determined that the average achievable market rent for the modest apartments, many of which are 400 square feet or smaller, is $600$888, a figure that was roundly disputed at the meeting. “It is well known that over 50 percent of the apartments in these complexes are now vacant. Suffice it to say that if the owner made even minor repairs to these apartments and rented them rather than

warehoused them, they would make the 6 percent return they say they cannot make,” said Jane Swanson, reading a letter from City Council Member Jessica Lappin. Tara Kelly, executive director of Friends of the Upper East Side Historic District, pointed out a footnote in the Cushman and Wakefield report stating that “the information contained in the report […] has been gathered from sources the appraiser assumes to be reliable and accurate; the owner of the property may have provided some such information.” She explained that the appraiser is not responsible for the correctness or completeness of the information. She also noted that in 2009, the average rent for a walk-up studio with no doorman on the Upper East Side was $1,432, alleging that Stahl’s estimates are severely deflated. One current resident, Jay Kusnetz, said that he had listed his apartment, with photos, on Craiglist for $1,300 a month and held up a sheaf of printed email responses eager for more details. Jerry Bunting, a 16-year resident of 429 E. 64th

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By Megan Finnegan Bungeroth About 100 people crowded into an overheated room at Marymount Manhattan College this week to express solidarity and outrage against an application before Community Board 8’s Landmarks Committee. The application is from Stahl York Avenue Company, a division of Stahl Real Estate that owns and manages the City and Suburban First Avenue Estate buildings at 429 E. 64th St. and 450 E. 65th St. Stahl is attempting a feat that has only been attempted 18 times in the past 47 years—they want to strip the buildings of their landmark status in order to demolish them and build a residential high-rise in their place. The buildings were originally landmarked in 1990, but that designation was soon withdrawn as part of a shady political deal. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) reinstated their landmark status in 2006, recognizing the buildings not only for their unique architecture but for their cultural significance as the first light-court tenements in the city, offering safe, healthy, well-designed

Stahl York Avenue is trying to have historic landmark status taken away from City and Suburban First Avenue Estate buildings on 64th Street and York Avenue. continued on page


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Ramaz Names New Head of School

Our Town: You’ve been involved in education most of your life. What

drew you to that field? Paul Shaviv: The first two degrees that I had were in architecture, but I’d always been active as a student and a teenager in the Jewish community, particularly in educational affairs. I love

ing that I’d done most of what I wanted to and this was a challenge that was so special that it was irresistible. Also, my first wife passed away some years ago and a year ago I got remarried to a lovely lady who lives on the Upper East Side, and that was a powerful incentive.

“They’re very excited to come visit. They’re already thinking about shopping in New York,” Paul Shaviv laughed. “Probably at their dad’s expense.”

What is your vision for Ramaz? All private schools, and private Jewish schools in particular, are going to be facing a lot of different challenges in the next few years. The cost of education is going up. The ability of families to afford private schooling is under huge pressure. We are in the middle of a huge cultural revolution as well. Education is going to change from paper to digital platforms. I think literacy and culture are changing as a result of the digital world. So every school has to be positioned to face those challenges, and I think many schools will probably be unrecognizable in 10 years’ time. My vision at Ramaz is to make sure that the school is positioned and ready to deal with those pressures and changes. Also, the Jewish community is changing and the school has to be ready for those changes.

teaching other people and I decided that I should follow what my heart wanted— I went off and did further training and studies, Jewish History in particular, and then I went into education. You were at Tanenbaum for 14 years. How did you come to the Ramaz School? Well, the Jewish school world is in a world all its own. There’s a lot of contact between the schools—I’d been at Tanenbaum for 14 years and I had a feel-

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By Vatisha Smith Paul Shaviv, the newly appointed Head of School of the Ramaz School on the Upper East Side, is a longtime educator who was born in the U.K. and studied at Oxford University. He recently left a 14-year stint as Head of School at the Tanenbaum Community Hebrew School N ORDER - Email Art of Toronto, Canada, to replace Judith rth Fagin, who was headmaster at Ramaz for Media seven years. Fagin was honored at the h St. Ramaz annual awards dinner, which also Y 10018celebrated the school’s 75th anniversary Jan. 268-0502 8. 724 Fax:on (212) Shaviv has three married children and eight grandchildren living abroad in Israel and Europe. He laughed about his family’s enthusiasm about his move to the East Side. “They’re very excited .687”H,Upper 1/8 page to come They’re already thinking Ad on Thursday, visit. 1.12.12 about shopping in New York,” he said. “Probably at their dad’s expense.” Over coffee, Shaviv talked with Our Town about everything from his passion for education to his vision for the Ramaz School.

Paul Shaviv is the new Head of School at the Ramaz School. You’ve been here a few months now. What do you like most about New York? I love the buzz of the people. And the little...what do they call them, “shops” on the Upper East Side. There is so much culture from shop to shop. I just love it.



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were left out of his address. “He did not talk about hydrofracking—that is a critical issue in my district because everyone is opposed, based on the science,” said Krueger, referring to the controversial and potentially dangerous process of extracting natural gas from the earth using a highly pressurized chemical mixture known as hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking. “It clearly hasn’t been proven to be done in a safe and environmentally conscious way,” said Kellner. “The idea of contaminating water for 19 million New Yorkers is a very scary thing.” All of the local politicians said that they’ll be watching the governor closely to see how he implements his grand strategies, but there are high hopes for the state of the state in 2012.


continued from page


“We’ve got the opportunity to use the finances and clout of Cornell and the city to try to enhance the transportation capabilities for the Island,” Katz said. “We’ve had little success with the MTA and even in the work I’ve done with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. [There will be] ferry service up to 34th Street; we’d like to be included in that. It’s not rapid transit, but it’s a step in the right direction.” RIRA is also hoping that one of the

subway lines that run under the island, either the N/R or the V/M, will be built out to bring another transit option—currently, only the F train stops on the Island. But one of the biggest hopes for the new development is for local jobs. “It’s not just research and academic positions,” Katz said of the openings the university will create. “It’s administrative positions, support positions, financial positions. There’s a real opportunity to hire within the community.” Cornell is planning to partner with Roosevelt Island schools to enhance their science curricula and bring technology to after-school programming, said

Bruce. The campus is planned as a “net zero-energy” facility, meaning that it will supposedly harness as much geothermal renewable energy as it consumes. It also promises to participate in community programming and bring thousands of new residents, both permanent faculty and staff and temporary students, to Roosevelt Island in addition to the $100 million in investments pledged by the city. People on the Island will be following developments closely over the next several years, and while the school won’t be breaking ground until 2017, they hope to see the momentum get going long before that.

Newly Constructed Apartments for Rent West 53/54 Street Apartments Phase 2 is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for 96 affordable rental apartments under construction on West 54th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, in the Clinton section of Manhattan. This building is being constructed through the Inclusionary Housing Program of New York CityÕ s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the 80/20 Housing Program of New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The size, rent, and income requirements of the 96 apartments are as follows: # APTS AVAILABLE









$24,891 - $29,050



1 Bedroom


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$26,674 - $29,050 $26,674 - $33,200

St., compared some of the costs estimated in one of Stahl’s reports, conducted by Project Consult, of renovation to the apartments, saying that their application was based on unreliable math. “Maybe some people on the Upper East Side pay $2,700 for a bathtub, but at Home Depot a bathtub can be had for $400,” Bunting said. “New doors, interior doors are going to cost $1,500—if they’re plated with gold, that’s an option. I’ve renovated places. You can get a new door for $120.” Others came forward to praise the buildings themselves as worthy of preservation, regardless of the numbers. “I’ve lived all my life in light-court tenements,” said Kaitlin Griffin, who worked to organize many of the objectors. “I would sooner move to Kansas than trade it for a modern box with a view of who knows what.” Committee members echoed what the public voiced with barely any debate. “I think we’ve got another applicant here who needs help with his business problems,” said member Elizabeth Ashby dryly. “He pays six times as much as he should for supplies, he charges one-10th what he should in rent; no wonder he’s facing financial hardship.” The committee unanimously voted to reject the application and will bring their disapproval before the full board Wednesday, Jan. 18. The LPC will review the hardship application Tuesday, Jan. 24.


2 Bedroom


2 3 4

$31,988 - $33,200 $31,988 - $37,350 $31,988 - $41,500


3 Bedroom


4 5 6

$36,994 - $41,500 $36,994 - $44,850 $36,994 - $48,150










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2 3 4

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3 Bedroom


4 5 6

$29,588 - $33,320 $29,588 - $35,880 $29,588 - $38,520

Hardship continued from page

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Minimum - Maximum

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To request an application, mail a POSTCARD, including your name and full address, to: West 53/54 Street Apartments Phase 2; 1357 Broadway, Box 410; New York, NY 10018. Or DOWNLOAD an application from Completed applications must be returned by regular mail only (no priority, certified, registered, express or overnight mail will be accepted) to a post office box that will be listed on the application, and must be postmarked by February 20, 2012. Applications postmarked after February 20, 2012 will be set aside for possible future consideration. Applications will be selected by lottery. Applicants who submit more than one application will be disqualified. Photocopied applications will not be accepted. Preference will be given to: Manhattan Community Board #4 residents for 48 units; mobility-impaired persons for 5 units; visual and/or hearing impaired persons for 2 units; and City of New York municipal employees for 5 units. Preference for all units will go to New York City residents. No brokerÕ s or application fee should be paid to anyone regarding these applications. ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, Mayor NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development MATHEW M. WAMBUA, Commissioner New York State Homes and Community Renewal DARRYL TOWNS, Commissioner/CEO

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Impress the Sommelier Ignore the barolos and go for a Valpolicella By Josh Perilo I had been sorely missing my good, angry friend Jesse since he and his wife moved to Los Angeles. I knew that I could always rely on him for a good fight or two about everything from the meaningless to the epic. Now, my sparring partner was gone. Then I received a text last week: “Val and I have reservations at one of L.A.’s best Italian joints. I’ve emailed you the wine list. Pick me something sick but not obvious. Don’t disappoint.” I immediately dropped what I was doing and took up the case at hand. By God, I was going to find him the greatest, least expected, most diamond-in-therough bottle of wine on the list. The kind of wine list pick that makes the sommelier smile and think, “Ah, they’ve found it. I buried it beneath all of the obvious choices, but these two get it.” It was an exhaustive list. It took me

40 minutes to just skim through it once. There were the obvious contenders that I had to knock from the list right away. No barolos. No brunellos. I had to surprise them. Recommending a barolo is like telling a cook, “Hey, butter might work well in that dish.” I had to dig deep. Then it called to me. From page 42, it sang out, “How could you forget us?”; the wonBy Josh Perilo derful, underrated, and always reliable Valpolicella. Valpolicella comes from the northeastern area of Italy known as the Veneto. Some oenophiles look at Valpolicella as the younger, less accomplished brother of amarone (which hails from the same area), but I think it has a distinction all its own. While amarone is made from dried grapes in order to add a port-like quality to the wine, Valpolicella is made naturally. And if you can find a Valpolicella ripasso, you can get the best of both worlds. In these,

the unused skins from amarone production are added to the Valpolicella fermentation process. This adds tannin and gives the alcohol content a slight kick, which also helps bolster the body of the wine. I recommended several Valpolicellas to Jesse and Val, and he sent back his sign of approval: “Niiiice! Good call on the V-Po. I’ll return with a full report.” So today, I will recommend a few Valpolicellas that are available locally so you can experience the delicious northern Italian superstar yourselves. The Michele Castellani Valpolicella Classico Superiore I Castei Costamaran Ripasso 2009 ($19.99 at Morrell and Company, 1 Rockefeller Plz. betw. 48th & 49th Sts., 212-688-9370) is a great example of a Valpolicella that gives the drinker exactly what they should expect from a solid, mid-priced ripasso. The body is visibly more viscous and the coloring is a deep, plummy purple. On the nose there is a massive amount of roasted spice and pipe smoke. The palate has big, attention-grabbing notes of anise

and clove up front but mellows to a baked blackberry finish. For something a little lighter on the palate (and even on the pocketbook) try the Tedeschi Valpolicella Classico Lucchine 2009 ($15.99 at 67 Wine and Spirits, 179 Columbus Ave. at 68th St., 212-724-6767). This one is not a ripasso, so it doesn’t have the unctuousness of its more expensive brethren, but for the price this is absolutely the best bang for your buck. There are lots of red berry scents accompanied by hints of cedar right out of the bottle. The palate is simple but bold. There’s more red berry fruit up front, with baked raspberry. A good, hearty, tannic middle gives way to a long finish of coffee and cocoa dust. For a Valpolicella that fires on all cylinders, however, look no further than the Musella Valpolicella Superiore Vigne Nuove 2009 ($20 at Yorkshire Wines and Spirits, 1646 1st Ave. at 85th St., 212-7175100). “Superiore” indicates that this is a ripasso as well, and it sure behaves like one. Wet earth and burning leaves are the main events in the olfactory department. While there is some baked cherry fruit up front, this is a monster that rips through, front to back, leaving notes of Earl Grey tea, licorice and tar in its wake. A powerhouse wine.

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They Want to Break Free

‘Dedalus Lounge’ draws big talent to the intimate Interart Theater Duggan explained. Not that Dedalus—making its American bow after a run at Ireland’s Pageant Wagon Theatre Company—is an outright drama. Amid the debauchery and despondence, there is also plenty of humor, which proved to be a winning tone in last year’s acclaimed Trans-Euro Express, also performed at Interart. This production also features new music and choreography not found in the Dublin iteration. Dedalus reunites Duggan with TransEuro director Chris Henry. The Dublinbased writer first met Henry over Skype, where, he avowed, “We developed a quick and easy rapport during the rehearsal period. I was very pleased with Chris’ inventive production, and after that we decided pretty quickly that we’d like to collaborate again. The themes and characters of Dedalus and Trans-Euro have a fair bit in common so I thought that would be a natural follow-up.” According to Henry, the affection is mutual. “I am drawn to a script with heart and edge, a script where I can give

an audience a visceral experience,” she said. In fact, the director and writer are so simpatico by now that the only topic on which they seem to disagree is their favorite Queen song. Henry was also attracted to the musical elements of Dedalus. She said that while she and the rest of the production were initially disappointed they were not able to acquire the rights to any Queen songs, that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The “Queen-inspired songs” penned by co-stars Anthony Rapp and Daniel A. Weiss, she said, “are lively, fun, campy and wild to watch.” The re-teaming of the creative forces may have been a no-brainer, but Dedalus has also attracted a top-notch cast that includes original Rent star Rapp, Wicked alum Dee Roscioli and James Kautz, best known as a founding member of the estimable downtown theater company The Amoralists. That’s an impressive roster for Interart, given that the Off-Off venue has very limited seating. Why the actorly vote of confidence in Dedalus? “The play is quite a crazy mash-up of

Russ Rowland

By Doug Strassler Certain universal questions arise in every generation: What is the meaning of life? What lies in the Great Beyond? And perhaps most important of all: Are you gonna take me home tonight? That last question might be the most pertinent of the three to the denizens of Dedalus Lounge, Gary Duggan’s new music-infused play embarking on a run at Midtown West’s Interart Theater Annex, at 500 W. 52nd St., through Jan. 30. This trio of lost souls—Danny, Daragh and Delphine—connects at the titular Dublin drink joint during the holiday season, a time that would be happy if only these people weren’t so at sea. Delphine is dealing with a sick grandparent and a complicated love affair; Danny, meanwhile, is a devoted Freddie Mercury fan who struggles to mount a successful new Queen tribute band. According to the playwright, his inspiration comes not so much from what he knows but who he knows. “A lot of Irish theater has traditionally dealt with families and parent/child relationships,”

James Kautz, Anthony Rapp and Dee Roscioli in Dedalus Lounge. tones, themes and emotions,” Duggan said. “I think that’s appealing to great performers—they get to play with a dynamic range of colors in one piece.” The playwright added, “I think good people like to work intensively with other good people, and there’s a lot of opportunity to do that in this. Plus, the way Chris directs is very dynamic and imaginative, which makes it a very satisfying show to be a part of.” It’s shows like this that make the rockin’ world go round. For information, please visit www.

Wheeldon and Dealin’

New York City Ballet returns with Balanchine and Wheeldon works

O u r To w n NY. c o m

72 arrayed in kilt-clad regiments choreographed with thrilling precision and dramatic vigor, it is unlike anything else in the repertory. The military-style discipline gives way to an all-too-human music hall couple whose urge to entertain is sometimes greater than their actual finesse. The large cast then return in sailor suits to dance the go-for-broke Royal Navy section, which mocks every possible cliché and is a rambunctious delight. When NYCB’s autumn season began in mid-September, considerable advance hype was focused on Ocean’s Kingdom, a new Martins ballet set to a score (and based on a concept) by Paul McCartney, which became a hot ticket. If you couldn’t get in and the largely negative reviews haven’t scared you off, there will be five more performances beginning Jan. 19. This season’s major premiere sounds a lot more promising. Christopher Wheeldon, while no longer the company’s resident choreographer, remains a regular contributor to the repertory and continues to be one of the ballet world’s most signifi-

cant and in-demand choreographers. During a Monday event that is part of City Center’s intimate Studio 5 series, Wheeldon offered a brief advance look at a trio from the ballet that showed him working with refined musicality and fluency. The new work will be part of an allWheeldon program (Jan. 28 and Feb. 4) that includes his 2001 Polyphonia and the company’s premiere of DGV (Danse à Grand Vitesse), which he created for the Royal Ballet in 2006. Polyphonia has been in exceptionally fine shape as danced by its current casts last fall, and this brilliant, intricate work for four couples has already staked its claim as a classic of 21st-century ballet. DGV, set to a score by Michael Nyman, is a surging, propulsive work for a cast of 26, which had its New York premiere when Corella Ballet Castilla y Leon performed it at City Center two years ago. On Monday, Wheeldon remarked that he had created the still-untitled premiere provide the ideal contrast with the two earlier works on the program. “I wanted

Paul KolniK

By Susan Reiter Following a brief winter hibernation after its five-week Nutcracker onslaught, New York City Ballet returns to its primary business Tuesday, Jan. 17, when it opens its six-week winter repertory season. While the company’s repertory has been opened up to an increasing variety of choreographers in recent decades, the vast archive of George Balanchine’s exceptional ballets remains its mainstay. The season’s first week culminates with a day celebrating Balanchine’s Jan. 22 birthday (happy 108th, George!). Its centerpiece is the 3 p.m. performance of two of the master’s most expansive and appealing works. Who Cares, a 1970 ballet set to a delectable array of Gershwin songs, celebrates the brash energy and romance of New York and alludes to Balanchine’s brief heyday as a major Broadway choreographer. The second half of the birthday program offers Union Jack, Balanchine’s majestic—and sometimes cheeky—1976 tribute to all thing British. With its cast of

Sara Mearns and Chase Finlay in Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. to make something gentler, more romantic and classical to balance out the Ligeti and the driving, athletic world of DGV,” he said. He also noted that he was still toying with the program order, contemplating having the new ballet open the program. Arrive late on Jan. 28 at your own risk! New York City Ballet: Jan. 17–Feb. 26, David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center (63rd St. & Columbus Ave.),; $29+. Ja n u a r y 1 2 , 2 0 1 2



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Hands-Off Parenting

Bryan Caplan’s new book might have parents thinking: The more the merrier!


would show to a spouse or a friend, parents take a step toward creating more fulfilling family relationships. The dominance of nature over nurture also means that parents can relax when it comes to pushing extracurricular activities that children are not good at or do not enjoy. Parents shouldn’t feel like they are putting their children at a disadvantage by not signing them up for every class or sport available across the city. “I was pushed to play sports and never really liked it, and I didn’t want to do that to my kids,” Caplan recalled. He does not dictate what his boys should do with their time, although he does impose a 90-minute daily limit on computer and sign by al yssa step

indicates that parental unhappiness is an unnecessary consequence of expending extra energy on raising kids and, better yet, may be avoidable. Rather than try to change our children, “we should think about raising kids in a very similar way as we would look at a marriage or a friendship,” Caplan insisted. Most people enter into those relationships because they appreciate future spouses and friends for who they already are, not because they hope to drastically reshape their personalities. Instead, parents persist in trying to mold the perfect children, even though experimental evidence shows that they have little long-term ability to influence their kids’ personalities. By accepting their children with the same respect they

Jacket de

By Veronica Torok Frazzled parents of young children, breathe easy. According to economist and parenting author Bryan Caplan, the benefits of having kids are greater than they seem. This year, take his advice and resolve to stop working so hard at parenting the “right” way. Caplan, a professor of economics at George Mason University and father of three boys—a 2-year-old and 8-year-old twins—wrote his first parenting book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids (Basic Books, 2011), while pulling the night shift during the infancy of his youngest son. In the book, Caplan explains that parents today make painful sacrifices for their children’s well-being in vain. “The big problem,” he said, “is people focusing too much on changing their kids and not enough on enjoying them.” By examining a multitude of twin and adoption studies, Caplan found that the effects of child-rearing are mostly short-term; it’s really nature that dictates the lion’s share of how a person will turn out. This news

TV usage. Caplan’s advice on discipline comes from his economics background; he advocates establishing credibility by being clear and consistent. “There’s some very good experimental evidence [that] clear, consistent, mild punishment is very effective,” he says. A child will respond to kindness and respect just like anyone else, Caplan said, and “often the child does end up becoming just like you; you just have to wait. Your child, when he’s 40, is going to be a lot like you now, when you’re 40. When he’s 10, he’s going to act like a kid—what do you expect?” After determining that parental nurturing has little to no effect on most of the things we want for our children, such as happiness, success and character, Caplan found that the area in which parents have the most significant long-term effect on their kids is in their relationships—how kids perceive and remember their parents. “What’s sad to me about someone like [“Tiger Mom”] Amy Chua is [that] she’s pushing her kids so hard to make them succeed when the science says parents really don’t have much effect there,” Caplan noted. “She’s…messing up the area where she really does make a difference.” For more great parenting stories, visit


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After almost 20 years, West Memphis Three chroniclers close the book By Marissa Maier When done well, documentary film has the rare ability to transcend the confines of the silver screen to effect real change in the lives of its subjects. Like Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy about the West Memphis Three helped free three wrongly convicted men. With their third installment in the series, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, which premieres on HBO Jan. 12, the duo has closed the book on a story they have chronicled for almost 20 years—one that has left an indelible mark on them as filmmakers. The story entered their lives by chance. In 1993, Sinofsky said, he and Berlinger were working on a film about the funeral industry when Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films, sent them a small piece from the New York Times’ wire service. The brief described how three teens— Damien Echols, 18, Jason Baldwin, 16, and Jessie Misskelley, 17—were alleged to have killed three 8-year-old boys in a creek in West Memphis, Ark. The article, which was

biased against the teens, inspired Berlinger and Sinofsky to travel to the South, pursuing a story about children killing children. “[We started filming] right as the guys were arrested. The trials were a long way off...Our original impulse was to tell the bad-guy story, which makes for good cinema,” Berlinger recalled. “But halfway through, we realized they were innocent. I wouldn’t say a lightbulb went off, but we started to seriously doubt the state’s version of events.” Over the course of the trials, state prosecutors posited that the teenage trio killed the young boys in a satanic ritual. With the trial kicking up a media frenzy, Berlinger said those involved stopped asking basic questions surrounding the teenagers’ assumed guilt, like about the lack of physical evidence at the crime scene or DNA evidence linking the teens to the site. Misskelley and Baldwin were eventually sentenced to life imprisonment, while Echols was put on death row. After the first film, Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,

which documented the trials and those involved in the case, was released in 1996, both Berlinger and Sinofsky thought the film would lead to outrage and the reopening of the case. While it was met with critical acclaim and sparked a grassroots campaign to free the teens, dubbed the West Memphis Three, it did little to speed up the cogs of justice. Almost 10 years later, in the midst of preparing to release the third documentary on Aug. 19, 2011, it was announced that Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley had accepted the rarely used Alford plea, in which they were freed while the state maintained their guilt. Backed by a cadre of celebrity supporters, like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines, and a team of experts, the trio were preparing an appeal when the plea was negotiated. While Berlinger described the plea as a bittersweet conclusion, he and Sinofsky were faced with a different challenge: creating an alternative ending for their film, which was set to premiere at the

Jonathan Silberberg/courteSy of hbo

The Final Chapter

Joe Berlinger, Jason Baldwin and Bruce Sinofsky in Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. Toronto Film Festival in September. With Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Berlinger and Sinofsky sought to make two films: one that appealed to those who had avidly watched the story and one for those unfamiliar with the case. The film has been shortlisted for an Academy Award. While it appears the story has reached its conclusion and the men are moving on with their lives—Baldwin reported receiving his driver’s license and getting his first job—the experience of documenting this extraordinary story has stayed with Berlinger and Sinofsky. While watching days upon days’ worth of footage for Paradise Lost 3, Sinofsky was struck by the feeling that “after 18 years, it was still fresh in our minds. The experience was so acute it was as if it had never really disappeared.”

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Healthy Manhattan a monthly advertising supplement

Best Time to Stop Smoking is Now By Dr. Cynthia Paulis The great thing about a new year is starting with a clean slate and looking at the next 12 months with a new set of goals. If you are a smoker, now is a great time to stop. Let’s face it: Being a smoker in New York isn’t as easy as it used to be. Along with the difficulty of finding a place to smoke, huddling outside in an alley in the rain, snow and freezing temperatures, there is also the cost factor. Cigarettes can now cost more than $10 a pack. Smoking a pack a day costs $3,650 a year—a nice vacation you are blowing away in smoke. The most obvious reason to quit smoking is for your health. Smoking affects every organ in your body and is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, leading to 393,000 deaths annually. Tobacco smoke is harmful to smokers and nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking causes many types of cancer, including in the lungs, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. It also causes heart disease, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, cataracts, macular degeneration and hip fractures. A pregnant smoker is at higher risk of premature delivery and abnormally low birth weight. In addition, a woman

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who smokes during or after pregnancy increases her infant’s risk of death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children and even pets, who can develop cancer and lymphomas from inhaling smoke. Cats can develop oral cancer from licking the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur and have a higher risk of developing malignant lymphoma. Dogs have an increased incidence of cancer in the nose and sinus area. If someone gave you a cocktail at a New Years Eve party and said, “Here’s a great drink; it’s addictive and is made from arsenic, benzene, cadmium, vinyl chloride, formaldehyde and toluene,” would you drink it? Hopefully, you would have the good sense to refuse it. Those chemicals are just a few of those packed into every cigarette. So why is it so hard to quit smoking? Two reasons. The first is nicotine, a drug found naturally in tobacco that accounts for the physiological problems of smokers. Nicotine is absorbed into your

• R OUR TOW N • January 2012 OU TOWN DOWNTOWN | JAN12, UARY 12, 2012

bloodstream and is carried throughout your body, where it can stay three to four days after stopping. The second component is the psychological aspect of smoking, or the excuses you make for smoking. “I’m bored,” “It helps me relax,” “I’m stressed and “I only smoke when I go to a bar with my friend” are all excuses I have heard from smokers. Several ex-smokers who were twoand three-pack-aday smokers who were able to quit cold turkey without any help seemed to have something in common; they had an illness that scared them. “I quit when my doctor refused to operate on me for triple bypass surgery unless I quit smoking,” said Mike, a cab driver and former three-pack-a-day smoker. “It was tough, but I did it and I feel so much better. I chewed gum, ate carrots and drank coffee. That was 20 years ago.” Jim P. a 58-year-old stockbroker, used to smoke two packs a day. He quit when he got pleurisy and thought he was having a heart attack. He shared this thought: “If you believe enough in yourself, you can do anything

Patches, acupuncture and medical scares have all helped ex-smokers quit.

and you will beat any addiction. You have to believe you have the power to change and that it will be real and permanent.” For those who can’t do cold turkey, there is help. First, write down the day that you plan to quit and do it. Tell your family and friends, so they can help you keep your commitment. Nicotine replacement therapy in the form of gum and patches are now available over the counter and will provide the nicotine without the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. Prescription medication from your doctor, like Zyban and Chantix, may help you—but remember, there are always side effects to these medications. Give your mouth something to fight the tobacco craving, like sugarless gum, nuts, sunflower seeds or green tea, which is great for weight loss. Go online and join a stop smoking program. Get more exercise and stay away from places where you used to smoke or people who smoke so you won’t be tempted. Some people have had good success with acupuncture, in which a staple is placed in the ear. Others have had success with hypnosis. Whatever works for you to accomplish you goal, now is the time to do it. Remember, no one dies from cigarette cravings, and the benefits you reap from stopping smoking will add years to your life.


Following the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital, many physicians came to New York Downtown Hospital so they could continue to servetheir patients on the West SideWith the opening of anew Center on 40 Worth Street, we are pleased to welcome two exceptional physicians back to the community. They will be working in collaboration with physicians from Weill Cornell Medical Associates.



Dr. Zhanna Fridel and Dr. Vanessa Pena are board certified obstetricians and gynecologists utilizing leading diagnostic and treatment methodologies across a broad spectrum of women's health issues.

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January 12, 2012



Healthy Manhattan

Working Out a Way to Really Take Pounds Off in 2012 By Linnea Covington It’s the same story every year: After weeks of indulging in cookies, cake, giant meals and more drinks than you can remember, the holidays have ended and you feel like a beached whale. Hence, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions: Get in shape. But just because you start the year strong doesn’t mean it stays that way. Work, family, money and life in general tend to get in the way as the cycle repeats itself. Just as it is the most common resolution, the “get in shape” mantra is usually broken. This year, instead of falling prey to the usual routine, we asked some expert fitness trainers to share their tips and thoughts on how to first, get back to the gym, and second, stay there once you do. The experts all said three basic things: If you haven’t been working out, start slow and build up; bring a like-minded buddy to help motivate you; and, if you can, get a trainer. They also said that part of getting fit is taking care of yourself. “It’s not just what you do in the gym, you have to sleep, eat well and cut out stress,” said Matthew Cole, director of Sculpt New York. “You need to maintain the health of all your faculties.” What to do When you get there There are a few approaches to getting in shape. The first is to take classes. Antonio Sini, owner of Nimble Fitness, recommends starting with Pilates, a dance class like salsa or tango and low impact yoga. “Learning some basic yoga moves is a great way to also take some exercise home,” he said. For David Barton, owner of David Barton Gym, the key for newbies is to start weight lifting slowly. “Strength training gives you the most results whether you have a little or a lot of time,” he said. “If time is limited, concentrate on the major muscle groups and do as many big compound movements as you can.” He added that 20 to 30 minutes of proper movement can be highly effective. Just make sure to not overtax yourself; just because you can manage to lift the heavy weights doesn’t mean you should. trainers The first step in choosing a trainer is making sure they are right for you, your workout speed and your goals. “Most people don’t see the results they want and that’s why they quit,” said Barton. “A

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trainer will vary your workout at just the right time to outsmart your body’s natural flab-harboring tendencies so you can achieve your dream body.” Cole said that if you can’t afford a personal trainer, make sure to bring a friend to help motivate you to go to the gym and to work harder.

One tip from trainers: Don’t tell friends who don’t work out about your plans to make your resolution stick in 2012.

eating “Food is a huge part of exercise and how it can benefit you,” said Sini. “It’s super important that people understand nutrition.” The first thing to understand is your body—are you trying to lose fat, gain muscle, tone or just feel more in shape? “You don’t want to work out on a completely empty stomach, so have an apple or breakfast bar an hour before,” said Sini. “But you don’t want to

• R OUR TOW N • January 2012 OU TOWN DOWNTOWN | JAN12, UARY 12, 2012

eat within 45 minutes of exercise, since the blood leaves your stomach and goes to your muscles.” The best approach: munch on a piece of fruit or plain yogurt an hour before working out, drink water during and have a light meal 45 minutes afterward. “After you work out, your body wants to absorb nutrients and it’s one of the best times to eat,” said Sini. But, he added, “It has to be the best food, like something high in protein light in carbs and low in fat.” staying motivated One piece of advice the experts agreed on appears odd, but makes sense when you think about it. Don’t tell your out-ofshape couch potato friends your goal. “Surround yourself with like-minded

people,” said Sini. Often, he said, someone who is unmotivated will bash your goal, making it hard to push yourself. Another way to motivate yourself, he said, is to figure out what will make you happy. “First, look at yourself in the mirror and decide if your goal is to look and feel better physically—if that is going to make you happy, then do it.” He also said it’s easier to keep a more general goal, like fitting into a pair of pants, rather than losing 20 pounds. Cole also added, “Don’t think about supermodels or what you consider normal; think about you and your own body.” He suggests writing down your life for a day to see what you actually do and how you can incorporate more exercise into a daily routine. And for those who think of exercise as real work, try Barton’s theory on going to the gym: “For that one hour of my day, that time is all mine. The gym, it’s like my sanctuary.” N EW S YO U LIV E B Y


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January 12, 2012



Healthy Manhattan

City Weighs in on Staying Fit and Losing Weight New York City’s Department of Mental Health & Hygiene has launched many efforts to combat obesity. The agency’s website, which can be found by visiting gov is a treasure trove of information about healthy eating and free fitness programs. Here is a sample: Unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity increase the risk of obesity and associated chronic health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. In New York City, 57 percent of adults and 39 percent of children are overweight or obese, and one in three adult New Yorkers has either diabetes or pre-diabetes. Obesity has increased significantly in the city in recent years—from 2002-2004, New Yorkers collectively gained 10 million pounds, and this trend continued through 2007. Obesity-related health problems account for almost 20 percent of Medicaid and Medicare expenditures. When asked in a 2004 survey, 14 percent of New Yorkers reported eating no fruits or vegetables at all on the previous day. The majority of U.S. adults eat more than two times their recommended daily amount of salt and consume too much saturated fat.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is one way to protect against many chronic conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Reducing the amount of high-sodium and high-fat foods consumed can help prevent high blood pressure and heart disease. Americans consume about 250 more calories per day than 30 years ago: about half of these extra calories come from increased consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. Only one-quarter of New Yorkers report engaging in physical activity 30 minutes per day, four days per week. Being physically active is important for weight management— creating a healthy balance between calories consumed and burned—and for preventing a variety of chronic conditions and diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Free Fitness Programs Shape Up New York is a free family fitness program offered at parks sites, community centers and housing sites around New York City. Fitness classes are open to adults and children. Classes cover activities such as step aerobics, fitness walking, light weights, stretching and toning exercises.

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Recreation Center 54 348 E. 54th St. 212-754-5411 Hamilton Fish Recreation 128 Pitt St. (212-387-7687 Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center 2180 1st Ave. 212-860-1383 HealtHy scHool ideas With over 40 percent of New York City’s youth overweight or obese, it is important

that schools promote healthy eating and regular exercise. Student success depends on a blend of academic skills, good health and physical and mental fitness. Unfortunately, foods and beverages sold for fundraisers are often high in fat, sugar, salt and calories. Unhealthy food or beverage fundraisers send confusing and contradictory health messages, increase the availability of junk food in schools and teach kids to compromise their health for a profit. Conversely, healthy food and non-food fundraisers send clear health messages and help change the school environment; increase the health of the students, school staff and parents; and help everyone make a profit. HealtHy Fundraiser ideas • Sell produce (e.g., holiday baskets, Parent-Teacher Conference sale, concession stand, etc.) • Hold a student vs. faculty or student vs. alumni sporting event • Have an -athon (e.g., walk, dance, bike, hula hoop) • Offer evening parent classes (e.g., aerobics, dance)


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open forum President/CeO

Tom Allon CFO/COO Joanne Harras grOuP PuBLisHer Alex Schweitzer direCtOr OF interaCtive Marketing and digitaL strategy Jay Gissen


exeCutive editOr Allen Houston sPeCiaL seCtiOns editOr Josh Rogers staFF rePOrter Megan Finnegan Bungeroth PHOtO editOr/editOriaL assistant Andrew Schwartz Featured COntriButOrs Alan S. Chartock, Bette Dewing, Jeanne Martinet, Malachy McCourt, Lorraine Duffy Merkl, Josh Perilo, Thomas Pryor

advertising PuBLisHer Gerry Gavin direCtOr OF new Business deveLOPMent Dan Newman assOCiate PuBLisHers Seth L. Miller, Ceil Ainsworth advertising Manager Marty Strongin sPeCiaL PrOjeCts direCtOr Jim Katocin seniOr aCCOunt exeCutives Verne Vergara, Mike Suscavage direCtOr OF events & Marketing Joanna Virello Marketing Manager Liza Connor exeCutive assistant OF saLes Jennie Valenti

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OUR TOWN is published weekly Copyright © 2012 Manhattan Media, LLC 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor New York, N.Y. 10016 Editorial (212) 284-9734 Fax (212) 268-2935 Advertising (212) 284-9715 General (212) 268-8600 E-mail: Website: OUR TOWN is a division of Manhattan Media, LLC, publisher of West Side Spirit, Our Town Downtown, Chelsea Clinton News, The Westsider, City Hall, The Capitol, The Blackboard Awards, New York Family and Avenue magazine. To subscribe for 1 year, please send $75 to OUR TOWN, 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016 Recognized for excellence by the

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January 12, 2012

With PCBs, Kids Can’t Wait 10 Years By Linda Rosenthal The city adminstration is aware that nearly 800 public schools in all five boroughs contain lighting ballasts that leak polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which pose serious threats to the health and safety of our children, teachers and staff. Despite the magnitude of the threat and the simple solution available, however, the best response the city can muster is a 10-year plan focusing on meeting legally mandated energy efficiency upgrades, with the peripheral effect of gradually replacing these toxic lighting ballasts. Under the city’s plan, a child entering kindergarten today would be continually exposed to toxic PCBs throughout the school day every year for 10 years. PCBs are chemicals that were manufactured in the United States from the late 1920s through the 1970s and were commonly used as electrical insulators in buildings because of their high tolerance to heat, low burn rate and nonexplosive properties. Many New York City school buildings built during that time range still have their original lighting ballasts. Back then, the dangers of PCBs were not known. Today, however, the dangers of PCB exposure are well-documented. PCBs are known neurotoxins and have been linked to cancer, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Prenatal PCB exposure has been linked to lowered IQ scores, behavioral and thyroid disorders, growth deficits and reduced immune function. Even short-term exposure has been shown to be detrimental. Women of child-bearing age are at increased risk, as PCBs have been shown to be detri-

mental to reproductive and endocrine systems. Recognizing these risks, Congress banned their manufacture in 1977, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned their use in 1979. The city knows full well of these risks, yet still lacks the will to act to protect our kids. What gives? At a hearing of the Assembly Education Committee about PCBs in New York City school buildings, I questioned representatives from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) regarding the reasons for the delay. While most of their answers were unsatisfactory, the answer to my question about the DOE’s timeline was downright unsettling. “Why can’t you do it faster?” I inquired. “Because we just can’t,” stammered the DOE’s representative. The city’s failure to provide any grounds for this 10-year timeline should outrage each and every parent with a child in or about to enter school over the next 10 years. While this is a time of extreme financial hardship, money should not be an obstacle when it comes to the health and safety of this city’s schoolchildren and those who teach them. Energy service companies and the New York Power Authority will cover the up-front remediation costs, taking payments from the future energy savings to be realized from installing new, energy efficient lighting. In addition, replacing the old energyguzzling fixtures with newer, efficient models, which is required by the Green Building Codes, will pay for itself in as little as three years.

The city must make PCB removal the urgent priority that it is, which is why I have introduced legislation, A 5374, to require the DOE to replace 100 percent of the toxic lighting ballasts in school buildings constructed or substantially renovated between 1950 and 1978 over the course of two to three years. I will also be introducing legislation to require the city to publish a list of the order in which each school will be remediated. Using the DOE’s arbitrary standards, students, their parents and teachers have no idea whether their school has been prioritized for remediation. The DOE currently prioritizes schools for cleanup if they have confirmed ballast leaks. Since the city refuses to test any school building for the presence of PCBs, the only way to confirm the presence of PCBs is to identify a visible leak, which is next to impossible given that leaking PCBs can be colorless and odorless. If we were simply talking about creating an energy efficiency retrofit program, 10 years might seem like a short time. But we’re not. We’re talking about lighting ballasts that are leaking toxic substances into our schools and potentially making children, their teachers and other school staff sick. When you think about it that way, 10 years is a luxury these kids just don’t have. I will continue to demand immediate action until the city responds with the appropriate level of urgency. But I need all of you to join me. If we speak with one voice, the city will have no choice but to act. Linda Rosenthal is an assembly member for the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

TweeT SPeak @christinalweber Watched 8 packed 6 Trains pass me this morning on 68th St. Finally got on the 9th. Come on 2nd Ave. Subway system! Too many people in NYC.

@CentralParkBuzz “Where do the ducks go in #CentralPark?” Holden Caulfield, we have your answer. #literature #goodquestion

@92Y “The rich get richer and the poor get children.” Tix still available for Makin’ Whoopee today at 2 & 8 p.m.

@auceau OK, that last TNT blast for the 2nd Ave. Subway was a little too close to home. #SCARY #nycgirlproblems

@GridlockSam Pres. Obama visits next week, Thurs., Jan. 19! He’ll visit Upper East Side and Harlem that evening, attending event at The Apollo.

@mackdrama1017 I heard @beyonce had her baby! Congrats—also the same hospital I had 2 of my 16 kids in! Lenox Hill Hospital Upper East Side NYC! #salute #1

@jcohen808 What the world needs now, is a 2nd Ave. Subway line, sweet subway line #hurryupMTA

@CollinLiz 60 degrees in NYC today. Took a walk in the sun and played chess with my husband in Carl Schurz park. Delicious.

@rebeccamacatee UES is swarming w. news crews. Everyone please give beloved baby Blue a bit of room!!!!! N EW S YO U LIV E B Y


Getting Giddy About Our Grid The city’s original design team nets positive response—two centuries later By Christopher Moore Now that we can go back to ignoring Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire for another three-plus years, let’s concentrate again on city life. Especially since the hottest thing in cold New York this January is the grid. Yes, the grid, as in the way the streets were laid out in this city. It’s the toast of the town—and it only took 200 years. Through April 15, Tax Day, The Museum of the City of New York is presenting a new exhibition, The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011. This amounts to one of the city’s treasures, the museum itself, paying tribute to another, our urban design scheme. The Greatest Grid has a book, too, as so many exhibitions threaten to, and the oh-so-smart chair of the City Planning Commission, Amanda Burden, is an exhibition chairperson. All of this attention is part of a 200th birthday party for the grid, otherwise known as our way of life. Is that an overstatement? Probably not.

Just visit those city streets and see the dynamism inspired at least in part by smart design. The grid, like so many valuable things about this crazy place, is easy to take for granted. At least one published writer has admitted a certain dislike for downtown streets sans numbers. The commenter insisted years ago that he likes “living on the grid” and pretty much nowhere else. Small-minded? Probably. But so many of us, when we stop and think about it, might agree. The grid looks especially good to a New Yorker after he makes the dire mistake of traveling somewhere else. Go to Washington, D.C., and get lost in the excessive diagonal nonsense. Bond with Boston, yes, but get ready to navigate around the Big Dig. Head to Los Angeles and engage in the old debate about whether there’s a there there. Or just stay in town and enjoy an afternoon in Greenwich Village. The streets keep bumping into each other down there. Charm and confusion combine. Right in the Village the numbered streets start, as does the delightful sense of know-

ing where you are. Say one thing about the whole of Manhattan: We’ve got a there. And the there goes on and on and on, with one neighborhood seeping into another. A thoughtful front-page New York Times piece last week by Michael Kimmelman, headlined “The Grid at 200: Lines that Shaped Manhattan,” championed how our city forefathers thought ahead. While admitting that our borough “lacks the elegant squares, axial boulevards and civic monuments around which other cities designed their public space,” Kimmelman smartly points to the advantages: easy navigation, endless street life and an easy way to speedily assess distances. The challenge Kimmelman makes us think about is clear: Can we “live up to the grid?” It’s a wow of a question in a wow of a column. It’s a political question too. Still, the grid is experienced personally, one pedestrian at a time. People here remain passionate about the streets they walk.

In this big city, neighbors talk with a potent mix of enthusiasm and criticism about the changing streetscape. The comings and going of local businesses. Whether and where we can fit in another needed school. How the parks are being maintained, managed and utilized. Those of us in studio apartments think of everything outside the door as our backyard. Like Americans with picket fences, we urban dwellers care about what happens in our backyard. The grid deserves its birthday attention. Compared to so many European cultural capitals, our scheme is young. The layout we call home seems like it must have been around forever, especially since it is so entrenched in our collective consciousness, but in the grand sweep of time, the grid is in its early years. The mark, though, has been made. To celebrate this birthday, take to the streets. There’s always some sort of party happening out there. Christopher Moore is a writer who lives in Manhattan. He is available by email at and on Twitter (@cmoorenyc).


What’s Your Sign?

How to Attract Your Peers Among the Masses By Jeanne Martinet I don’t usually travel on the subway with a white plastic Venetian face mask, but that’s what I was doing last Monday night. I wasn’t wearing the mask, I was merely holding it in my lap. And yet, almost immediately after the train left the station at 23rd Street, a cute guy with super-chic eyeglasses got up from where he was sitting across from me and approached. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you,” he smiled, “but didn’t you just LOVE it?” He wiggled his eyebrows in a conspiratorial fashion, nodding at the mask. The “it” he was referring to was Sleep No More, the experimental piece from London theater group Punchdrunk, which I had just had the good fortune to experience—hence the mask (every audience member must wear one during the show.) Avant-garde and utterly unique, Sleep No More is part theater, part haunted house and part art installation held in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Chelsea. It’s hard to get tickets. After you have seen O u r To w n NY. c o m

it, you definitely feel as though you have been initiated into a special, elite club. It was not premeditated on my part, but by carrying the mask, I was advertising the fact that I had just come from this play. The mask would mean nothing to those who were not in the know. But for anyone who had “checked in” to the McKittrick Hotel on 27th Street (the setting for Sleep No More), it was like having a secret banner, a sign that read: “I’ve just been to the coolest thing in New York.” I proceeded to have a truly fun chat with the cute guy about the show. This kind of recognition and subsequent bonding frequently happens when you are carrying theater programs. After I saw The Normal Heart, I sought out other people who were holding the program after I got on the subway at 42nd Street; I had been so moved by the performance that I was looking for people to talk to who were in the same emotional place I was. (They were not hard to find; besides

the programs, they had the same stricken looks on their faces as me.) Whether it’s a public television tote bag, an admission sticker from the race track or an ink mark on your hand from the hottest New York nightclub, this kind of visible “prop” can identify you and attract like-minded people. It’s a sign that tells someone he probably has more in common with you than he might normally have with a stranger. That the two of you have shared an experience, whether it be an art exhibit, a concert or a political demonstration. He has found someone who is in his “club.” Even a Mets cap, to another Mets fan, can provide an opening for conversation, though that’s not exactly a small club. A souvenir from the World Series would be better. Like the Sleep No More mask, a souvenir from the World Series illustrates that you are in an exclusive club. It’s the exclusivity, as well as the shared experience, that engenders a great conversation. There’s nothing like that “We’ve got a secret” feeling you get when you run into a stranger who is carrying something that only a few people have or would recognize. The smaller the club, the more excited you are to run into someone who is a member.

New York is one of those places where, on any given subway car or street corner, there are probably people with your sensibility or life experiences hidden among the crowd. You can’t tell much by clothing, though if someone is wearing a nun’s habit, you might surmise they are religious, but if someone is draped with a New York City Marathon warming blanket on the day of the race, you know they have just completed a 26.2-mile run. And if you yourself have ever run a marathon, both you and the runner are going to be more than delighted to engage in conversation. You are practically meeting up with a soul mate. For me, in the case of my Sleep No More compadre, it was like discovering a stranger who had had the same vivid, beautiful, disturbing dream I had. When my fellow theatergoer got off before me, at 50th Street, I felt almost sad. Some other people who got on to the train cast odds looks my way, as if they were expecting me to subject them all to some kind of unwelcome dramatic presentation. But I just smiled and held proudly onto the mask, my secret emblem of the evening. Jeanne Martinet, aka Miss Mingle, is the author of seven books on social interaction. Read her blog at Ja n u a r y 1 2 , 2 0 1 2



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Equal Housing Opportunity


Our Town January 12, 2012  
Our Town January 12, 2012  

The January 12, 2012 issue of Our Town. Founded more than three decades ago, Our Town serves the East Side of Manhattan from Turtle Bay to C...