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APRIL 20-28, 2013


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The city may ban polystyrene - more commonly known by its trademark name Styrofoam - which would affect local restaurants By Joanna Fantozzi


ew Yorkers may soon have to wave goodbye to plastic foam coffee cups and take-out boxes. Last month, during his final State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg announced that he wanted to ban the non-biodegradable plastic foam substance known as polystyrene, a move that would follow the likes of west coast cities like Seattle, San Francisco and Portland. Environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) applaud the mayor’s effort, saying that banning these substances could have a real impact on everyday urban living. “Bloomberg has a sensible proposal to keep our streets clean and dispose of our household waste as well as phasing out a petroleum based product that has a short, useful life but stays around for many decades,” said Eric Goldstein, the environment director for the NRDC. But it’s not easy being green, especially for businesses in New York concerned that alternatives to polystyrene could be expensive and really cut into small business’ pockets, as well as cost jobs of polystyrene manufacturers. Even big businesses like Dunkin Donuts could be hurt by the ban. The corporation released a statement of disapproval of the proposed ban: “A polystyrene ban will not eliminate waste or increase recycling, it will simply replace one type of trash with another.” “This is yet another mandate that government is imposing on a business when they’re already struggling to survive,” said Mike Durant, the New York director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “This will threaten jobs like any other mandate you see that comes from government.” In fact, a study released by the American Chemistry Council found that the proposed ban would actually cost the city $100 million annually. A Styrofoam cup, according to the New York Restaurant Association, costs seven cents, cardboard cups cost 15 cents, and a plastic cup could cost 45 cents per container. This may sound like only a matter of pennies, but according to the study, New York City restaurants could see a $57 million increase in costs. In addition, as many as 1,200 polystyrene manufacturing jobs could be lost with the enactment of a ban. But despite the alleged costs, the ban is backed by multiple legislators like the Upper East Side’s Senator Liz Krueger, who wants the substance banned statewide. “This would be a great step forward for our city, both for the environment and public health – but we shouldn’t just stop at the city limits,” said Krueger last month after the State of the City Continued on page 4

TAPPED IN By Joanna Fantozzi & Jessica Mastronardi

Maloney Gets Death Threats Over Gun Bill Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney knew that pushing gun legislation would be a touchy subject, but she never thought it would come to death threats. Maloney has been pushing for legislation that would require gun owners to have insurance, and last week her office fielded several threatening phone calls, warning the Congresswoman that she would come to harm if she pushed her bill through. Maloney’s office released a statement about the death threats that were fielded by her interns. “Given all the acts of gun violence we have seen in the past two years, the shootings in Aurora and Newtown, the attack on my friend and colleague Gabby Gifford, I take the threat of more gun violence very seriously,” said


Maloney. “But it is not something that I will allow to stop me from doing my work.” The proposed bill would require all New York gun owners to have liability insurance. According to Brice Peyre, Maloney’s chief of staff, the bill would be market-based, so an elderly woman would pay a different rate than a young man in his 20s. He also said that liability insurance is already promote and encouraged by the NRA, so the law would not be a huge shift. Peyre also said that despite having pushed controversial legislation in the past, the Congresswoman has never received death threats before. Maloney’s office received dozens of angry calls, four of which “crossed the line” into death threats. Police are investigating the situation. “The bill would help shift tremendous costs of victims of gun violence in part back on to those who are the gun users, and to people who buy the guns, rather than society as a whole,” said Peyre.


The End of an Era? As the pizza capital of the world, you would think the closing of one Manhattan pizzeria would go unnoticed, but that’s not the case on the Upper East Side. Residents are deeply saddened by the closing of The Original Zesty’s located at 1693 Third Avenue. After 32 years of providing hungry New Yorkers with a fast, easy, and delicious slice, The Original Zesty’s will not be renewing its newly expired lease. “Dear loyal and valued customers,” reads a sign outside the restaurant. “Thank you very much for a wonderful 32 years. It’s been great being your favorite pizza shop and it’s been a pleasure serving you over the years.” Fortunately for these “loyal customers,” the owner does plan on re-opening in a different location. While the new location has not been determined, the owner of Zesty’s appears to be optimistic. “Please stay tuned…” urges the owner on the sign, “… as I will update everyone once a new contract has been signed.”

Here Comes the New Bridal Store… Soon to be brides on the Upper East Side should be aware of a new store opening. Bridal jewelry brand Tejani has opened on Third Avenue, and is accepting requests for appointments. Their showroom style boutique houses the accessories most brides need, including earrings, bracelets, necklaces, hairpieces. Divided into sections, the front of the shop is where one will find the exclusive “capsule collection” by the designer Urvi Tejani and the back of the shop is where one will find the jewelry. Whether you are making an appointment with the regular employees or Urvi herself, the doors are (officially) opened.

Community Board 8 Meetings Community Board 8 Landmarks Committee meeting, Apr 15, 6:30 p.m., Marymount Manhattan College, 221 East 71st Street, Regina Peruggi Room. Community Board 8 Health, Seniors, and Social Services Committee meeting, Apr 16, 6:30 p.m., Chapel of the Good Shepherd, 543 Main Street. Community Board 8 Full Board meeting, Apr 17, 6:30 p.m., Manhattan Park Theatre Club, 8 River Road Roosevelt Island.


CRIME WATCH Your company insurance changed again? PURSE GOES MISSING IN THE NIGHT

Another reason to call.

Keep your friends close and your valuables closer. A 24-year-old woman learned this valuable lesson last Saturday, March 30 as she hung her purse on a hook at a popular bar on Second Ave. around 11:30 p.m. She reported to police that after she returned from talking with a few friends, her purse was gone. She spoke to the club’s manager to see if anyone saw the purse, but had no luck. There was no video showing the purse or who swiped it. Missing, along with the purse, was a white iPhone, valued at about $100 along with assorted credit cards and identification.

By Alan Krawitz

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Smile, You’re on Camera Last Monday, April 1, a store security agent at a ritzy, Madison Ave. clothing store was watching camera footage of a man as he took a jacket off a rack, put it on top of his personal jacket and then proceeded to walk around the store. Police said the agent continued to follow the man around the store and alerted another agent to stop the man before he could leave the store’s 60th Street exit without paying for the merchandise he was wearing. Apparently, the man had good taste. The jacket was a Junya Wanatabe, valued at $1,015 and the security agents also recovered a blue, Azzuro belt, valued at $310. Police later arrested the suspect, a white man, age 78, and charged him with grand larceny.

No Free Rides, Please On Monday, April 1, a yellow cab driver, a 48-year-old man, reported to police he dropped off a passenger at Lexington Ave. near 83rd street around 10 p.m. But, the passenger, a white woman about 5’8’’ and 150 pounds, refused to pay the fare and ran into a nearby building. The superintendent of the building identified the woman from cellphone pictures taken by the cab driver before the woman ran into the building. Just then, the woman ran out of the building and fled eastbound on 83rd Street towards Third Ave. Police later confirmed that the woman shares an apartment with her boyfriend in the building she ran into. The woman, who police said had a heavy Russian accent, was last seen wearing a gray overcoat and black pants. Police are looking for the woman on a theft of services charge.

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The whole idea behind using a lock on a locker is to keep valuables safe from thieves. But one woman’s experience at an Upper East Side fitness club seems to contradict that logic. The woman, who lives in the Bronx, told police that on Wednesday, April 3, around 10:30 p.m., she placed her wallet, iPad and Verizon Thunderbolt cellphone in her locker and used a lock to secure the items. She said that when she was done with her workout, her iPad, cell phone and two credit cards were missing yet her lock showed no signs of being tampered with. Also, the other items in her locker didn’t look as though they were disturbed. She reported the total cost of the missing items was $800.




Continued from page 1

address. So what is polystyrene? Usually called Styrofoam, polystyrene is a petroleum-based expanded foam plastic. The substance is often preferred by restaurants because it insulates hot beverages better than paper or cardboard. According to the American Chemsitry Council, most polystyrene nowadays is actually made from a combination of petroleum and natural gas. Those on the side of small businesses say that New York City should implement a recycling program for polystyrene. But according to, polystyrene is not recyclable because it is “very difficult to keep clean and separate from other types of plastic.� Because it is difficult to clean and extremely lightweight, polystyrene would be costly to ship to a recycling plant, according to, and would cost the city money. Alex Dmitriew, the commercial zero waste coordinator for San Francisco said that for similar reasons, the city of San Francisco also could not have a polystyrene recycling

program, so the substance ended up as trash, and more often, litter. “Typically polystyrene never really goes away. It breaks down but never deteriorates, it can end up in our sewer system and on our streets,� said Dmitriew. San Francisco has had a polystyrene ban in place since 2007, and has been encouraging the usage of sugar cane and plant-based containers, known as PLA or bagasse products. According to the compostable container and utensil distributor, these organic products biodegrade in 60 days. Whereas, according to the NRDC, most polystyrene and plastic products are non-biodegradable, and stick around in the environment for thousands of years. An organic PLA hot beverage 8-ounce cup costs less than 10 cents on the worldcentric. org website, only three cents more than the American Chemistry Council’s listed cost of polystyrene containers. But a 2006 study done by the Plastic Food Service Packaging Corporation found that despite being a petroleum-based substance, polystyrene actually uses less energy than organic substances, because the foam material is 90 percent air.

Eric Goldstein called foul on the results of this study. “The restaurant industry knows that for environmental safety reasons the city is moving in this direction of phasing out their policy, so they string together some arguments and throw around some numbers,� said Goldstein. San Francisco has actually found that the city is much cleaner since the implementation of the ban six years ago. According to Dmitriew, within two years of the ban, the city saw a 41 percent decrease in polystyrene litter. “Polystyrene is far from a perfect substance but it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t seriously impact people who are having trouble making ends meet,� said Andrew Mozsel, a representative for the New York Restaurant Association. He mentions that smaller mom and pop restaurants as well as ethnic restaurants would most likely be affected. Dmitriew said that San Francisco’s government was concerned about the impact on businesses, and admitted that polystyrene is the cheapest substance around. He said that the city issued an ordinance, saying that any restaurant can apply for a waiver if they

feel that they will face economic hardship. In reality, he said, only two restaurants asked for a waiver, out of more than 4,500 food establishments citywide, and the city was more than happy to help the establishments out. Most restaurants and diners on the Upper East Side that we spoke with, like Three Star Diner on East 76th and 1st Avenue, and Gracie’s Corner Diner on East 86th and 1st Avenue, said that they do not use polystyrene cups or plates, and so the ban would not affect them much. “We haven’t used Styrofoam in over 15 years. It’s flimsy and doesn’t hold up well. Hot food starts to melt the Styrofoam. We like to use hard, clear plastic,� said Gus Klimis, the owner of East Side Eatery on 1st Avenue and 91st Street. “Most of our prepared foods have to be heated up, so Styrofoam wouldn’t work. So we don’t use Styrofoam,� said Garman Calle, the manager of E.A.T. on 3rd Avenue and 81st Street.






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Queensboro Bridge Bike Lanes Prove Controversial The Department of Transportation’s proposed Queensboro Bridge bike lanes have cyclists relieved and local residents on edge By Alissa Fleck


pper East Side residents, community members and longtime cyclists convened at a Community Board 8 committee meeting to discuss new bike lanes proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Alan Ma of the DOT, who outlined the proposed expansion, explained it is intended to fill in a gap in the bike lanes left by past construction in the Queensboro Bridge area. Ma described biking there as a “harrowing experience.� According to DOT research, over 2,700 cyclists traverse the zone in question for their daily commute and are left to awkwardly and dangerously circumvent the unmarked areas.

The bike lane extension would create a smoother connection for existing bike lanes and be tailored to meet current traffic demands. The proposed route would also make the biking connection much shorter than what currently exists and skip a circuitous uphill path on E. 61st Street. The proposed plan involves installing enhanced shared lanes as well as some twoway bicycle paths below the bridge. Ma said there has been some concern over the beautification of the Jersey barriers which separate bike lanes from traffic lanes and explained in the past local artists have tailored designs to the area on these dividers, a practice which could be used going forward. “This allows us to incorporate land use with barrier design,� noted Ma. Above the bridge, the proposed plan includes a mixing zone and pedestrian island from E. 60th to 61st Streets. Currently there are no bike lane markings heading Eastbound on E. 59th; the plan would add shared lane markings in both directions while retaining curbside access. This would increase safety for roadway users, shorten pedestrian crossings and lead to greener streets, explained Ma. One community member and resident

of the area noted some concern about the impact the bike lanes would have on 1st and 2nd Avenue, pointing out that further studies — including empirical data — are needed to support the safety of adding to the bike lanes in these areas. Taking away traffic lanes coming off the Queensboro Bridge, she added, would have an environmental impact by squeezing more trucks into smaller spaces. She said, as a current resident of the area, traffic is already a “nightmare� in a space known as a major hospital zone. The resident questioned why cyclists cannot use the bike lanes instead. DOT representatives responded not only do bike lanes improve the safety of the street, they also lead to an increase in overall cycling. Josh Benson of the DOT indicated NYPD crash data comparisons done by the department to show how successful bike lane expansions had been in the past in reducing the number of crashes and injured people. Eunice Foreman, another area resident, said she stands at E. 60th and 1st Ave every morning and watches the cyclist come off the bridge with “little regard for pedestrians,� including riding on the sidewalk. “It’s a hazard, I think enforcement has to

go along with [the expansion],� she said. Cyclists who regularly bike the zone in question pointed out cyclists are seen to be dangerous simply because they do not have their own infrastructure in which to be safe. “They go where they feel comfortable in a city designed for motor vehicles,� said Albert Ahronheim. “You put in bike lanes and injuries go down for everyone, even motorists,� he added. “Drivers drive slower and are more aware of their surroundings. This may not be the final way but cyclists need safety amenities.� Another longtime cyclist, Detta, pointed out “pedestrians have sidewalks no matter how they behave,� and perceived behavior by cyclists should not be a deterrent to adding bike lane extensions. Philip, a Queens resident of 13 years who regularly commutes over the Queensboro Bridge by bicycle, said there are many more cyclists than there used to be because people already feel safer. He said cyclists should not be vilified any more than motor vehicle drivers who often fail to follow the rules themselves. “Do we want 1st Avenue to stay a nightmare,� he asked, “or see how we can help?�

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Beautification of Central Park Features To Go Forward Select parts of Central Park suffering from deterioration will see improvements by the end of the year By Alissa Fleck


ommunity Board 8’s parks committee unanimously passed two motions last week to maintain and upgrade distinct portions of Central Park which have suffered in recent years. The Central Park Conservancy brought forth a proposal to conserve and beautify Grand Army Plaza, a popular tourist attraction at 5th Ave and 59th Street. Grand Army Plaza houses the Sherman monument which, according to Conservancy members, is currently in rough shape. The proposal, in place to move forward this spring, will include several components. The Sherman monument will be conserved and re-gilded. Missing trees in the area will be replanted — a double tree line formation is to replace a single row — and Bradford Pear trees will be replaced by London planetrees, which are more sustainable and have looser canopies for easier pruning and improved view. The new tree formation is intended to create a better sculptural


backdrop to the monument. The rooting zone will also be ameliorated. Pavement in the plaza will also be fixed to allow for improved appearance and greater accessibility, including leveling out of uneven gradation. Conservancy representatives and Community Board 8 members agreed that better attentiveness is needed to keeping the plaza looking cleaner in the future. One Conservancy member noted horse-drawn carriages in the area allow for a self-perpetuating ecosystem where pigeon


and rat populations flourish because of dropped horse feed. This has been an ongoing issue, he explained. The unique area’s overall maintenance is also affected by drainage and the subway which runs underneath it. The Conservancy said it plans to replicate what was historically done with the plaza but using improved technology. The committee also passed a motion to reconstruct the East 79th Street playground, geared toward young children, just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Conservancy plans to build on the playground’s current layout, which allows it to be integrated into the local landscape. They pointed out the play equipment currently in use is mismatched to the age range — two to five years old — which uses the park. In recent years, new regulations have denoted what play equipment is appropriate for what age range, measures which were not in place when the play area was built. New plans for the playground going forward will maximize user accessibility and provide sustainable structures and landscape. Additionally, all equipment will be accessible to users with mobility problems. All play implements will meet American Disability Association (ADA) standards. The fence currently surrounding the play area, which creates a harsh contrast between the playground and surrounding vegetation, will be moved back and modulated for better integration into the landscape, while complete security will be maintained within the playground.




The Brecht Forum, 451 West St.,, April 12th, 8 p.m., $35-$75.


In honor of Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble turning 15, there will be an exciting event filled with performances, prizes, and food. The French Tour Soundpainting Orchestra and the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble will wow you! Proceeds from the event will be put toward their educational programs and the production of SAME RIVER which focuses on an anti-fracking message.


12 13 14 15 16 17 18

15 Years to Strike Anywhere

Visit for the latest updates on local events. Submissions can be sent to

Drawing Surrealism ◄ FREE: The Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue,, 7 p.m. This is the first major exhibition on one of the most important movements in twentiethcentury art, including works by Salvatore Dali. Also check out the free live music and the Friday night dinner special in the Morgan Café.


FREE: The Saga of Luring Treats Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th St., event/79646, 7 p.m. Michael Moss of The New York Times invites you to join him for a conversation on the rise of processed food and how it directly affects the rising epidemic of obesity. Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us is a cautionary tale of how such foods have lured us in, but on a hopeful note, also offers tips for resistance. Things to Remember: space opens at 5 p.m., limited seating, first-come, first-served.

Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical

You Can’t Resist Hot Peas N’ Butter

The Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, jekyllandhydemusical. com, 8 p.m., $58-$151. Your favorite thrilling musical has returned to Broadway for a 13-week run! It stars Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox, and is directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun, who is also behind the hit, Newsies. Get tickets for the revamp on this timeless story before it’s gone again.

Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway,, 11 a.m., $15-$23. Hot Peas N’ Butter has been causing a stir since the year 2000. Winning the Parent’s Choice Awards in 2006, 2008, and 2009, the children’s musical group is in a class of its own. Don’t miss out on the incredible chance to hear their effortless blend of Latin, AfroCaribbean, jazz, folk, and rock sounds that greatly inspires to both children and adults! How often to do hear that?







FREE: New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles

FREE: Downtown Literary Festival Housing Works Bookstore Café, 126 Crosby Street, & McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street,, 10:00 a.m. Spend an entire day celebrating the literary culture of NYC. The festival allows you to take a tour of downtown through poetry and essays, and then enjoy a four course feast of stories from New York’s hottest chefs. Top off the day with happy hour and an after-party featuring Russian literature-themed cocktails.

Manny’s on Second, 1770 2nd Avenue,, 8:05 p.m. Finally, baseball season is back in action! Come watch the New York Yankees take on the Baltimore Orioles for the 3rd consecutive day at Manny’s on Second. LET’S GO YANKEES!

◄ Spa Week

The Decision of a Lifetime New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St.,, 1 p.m., $5. The issue of suicide is never an easy topic to cover, but the legality of it in Oregon is certainly easy to debate. How to Die in Oregon is an award winning documentary that allows to you meet terminally ill women and men that are debating whether or not to partake in physician-assisted suicide, a procedure made legal in Oregon after the state’s Death with Dignity Act was passed in 1994.

Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers

Multiple Locations,, $50 Want to reverse all of the damage that winter has inflicted on your skin? Spas, salons, and fitness centers all over the city will be offering $50 spa packages to help revitalize you and prepare you for.

Ballet Hispanico

Museum of the City of New York, 1220 5th Avenue,, 10 a.m., free-$10. Do you ever worry about the diminishing amount of space this city has? Well, you should- because by 2030 you’re going to have 1 million new neighbors. Learn all of the tips to help you maximize space, and trick everyone (including yourself ) into believing your studio is actually a one-bedroom.

The Joyce Theater, 175 8th Avenue, ballethispanico. org, 212-242-0800, 7:30 p.m., $10-$59. Hailed as the nation’s principal Latino dance organization since 1970, Ballet Hispanico is back at The Joyce Theater and ready to celebrate their 25th annual New York Season there. It promises to be as breathtaking as ever, if not more so!

FREE: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman

Everybody Do Your Share

Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd St.,, 10 a.m. Are you a fan of MAD magazine? Check out original art and rare comics from the man who created it. Harvey Kurtzman has influenced generations of comic artists and was thought of as one of the most important figures in postwar America.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St.,, 11:15 a.m., free-$11. Cleaning may not be the most desired chore, but with a little creativity it could be! Clean-Up Together is an activity that enables children 4 years of age and younger to help CMOM Educators clean up the PlayWorks Lab with sponges, brooms, and tunes! In my day it was the Barney clean-up song echoing the halls, I wonder what songs they will play…

NYC Young Professionals 2013 Red Ball

Making the Invisible Visible

Crimson, 915 Broadway,, 7:30 p.m., $150-$275. The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association Young Professionals are excited that their annual Red Ball fundraiser is rapidly approaching! With their mission being to raise awareness and prevention of heart disease and stroke, they would love all the support they can get. So grab that dress or suit and tie and head on down to Crimson for a night of dancing mixed with a cocktail reception and silent auction.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue,, 9:30 a.m., free-$25. One of the many fascinating things about art is the chance of always finding something new, different, or undiscovered. Conservators and conservation scientists did just that during their re-examining of the Museum’s Islamic art collection before re-opening its New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia in November of 2011. This exhibit serves to highlight not only what they found, but how they found it.




Edited by Armond White

New York’s Review of Culture .

Built to Last Jackie Robinson and Hollywood make history again By Armond White


e are fortunate to have been spared Spike Lee’s take on the Jackie Robinson story, which surely would have been spiteful; emphatic about race grievance and loaded with other Spikey tangents. But Brian Helgeland has made a superb tale about Robinson’s groundbreaking desegregation of baseball through the machinations of Branch Rickey--and about American spiritual history and destiny. The issues and emotions have a beautiful clarity. 42, titled after Robinson’s player number (retired for all teams by the Major League Baseball association yet worn by players every April 15th--Jackie Robinson Day), commemorates Robinson breaking the game’s color bar in 1947 as the first Negro playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Helgeland depicts this world-changing risk as a cultural story--not simply one man’s life story. Instead of biographical depth, 42 sustains the same benevolence as the MLB’s memorial; its lively and vivid narrative goes through the arduous steps of a social and moral revolution. More than a baseball movie, 42 is a folktale touching on the spirituality evidenced in Robinson (played by Chadwick Boseman) and Dodgers’ General Manager Rickey (played by Harrison Ford). Seeing baseball as the medium of social change; its practice and rituals are understood as basic to America’s sense of capability despite prevailing social divisions. That explains Helgeland’s elastic sense of class. Robinson steps into the roughneck world of sport possessing higher personal principles. He and wife Rachel (Nicole Beharie) are already upwardly mobile; they need only the income and recognition that white Americans take for granted.


Now let’s get rid of the narrow-minded complaint about Hollywood race stories always unequally pairing history’s black sacrificial figures with white cohorts. Helgeland’s even-handed vision of the Rickey-Robinson revolution enlarges it, taking in different aspects of America’s racial reality. Not merely the Jackie Robinson story, 42 relates tandem efforts and transformations by Rickey, Negro sports writer Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), assorted teammates (many brief, perfectly etched characterizations from Max Gail’s captivated retired manager, Chris Meloni’s virile Leo Durocher to Lucas Black’s affable Pee Wee Reese) and the crowds who fill the stands. All profiles in courage. The back office functioning behind America’s public face rarely gets shown but 42’s story fortunately reveals that it appropriate significance and appeal, primarily through Harrison Ford. Projecting established magnanimous decency, Ford puts Rickey’s risk-taking and persistent urging in perfect balance to newcomer Boseman who


portrays Robinson’s circumspect heroism. This isn’t a timed, harmless Black man; he’s self-assured yet resentful of those who want to make him humble. (Jeffrey Wright has played this Poitier complex but Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington never has). Boseman’s wary intelligence conveys deep pride, a forgotten aspect of black America’s gradual civil rights evolution. 42 revives it. The way Helgeland balances Ford/Rickey’s courage represents the modern audience’s guileless ignorance of history and the period era’s attitudes. The young black actors--all ebullient, optimistic, determined--represent Blacks’ hopes while the familiar Whites personify fears. When 42 explicates these details, it surpasses Steven Spielberg’s morally compromised Lincoln. Cinematographer Don Burgess makes 42 the most beautiful movie of 2013 so far. He photographs sunlight and water (when Robinson finally showers with his white teammates) with radiance. Nothing in Lincoln’s political contrivance is as resonant as Rickey confessing “Something was wrong at the heart of the game I loved and I had ignored it.” Kushner-Spielberg’s Lincoln never admitted such sorrowful complex. Lincoln pretended that political opposition was the essence of America’s moral progress when in fact it was only a power struggle; 42

is deeper and more honest in its display of how Americans changed through accepting skill, humanity, sympathy. This is a better approach to history than George Lucas’ lame Tuskegee Airman tribute Red Tails. Helgeland has made a film totally without cynicism. Cynicism is what ruined Lincoln; cynicism was at the core of Kushner and Spielberg’s self-congratulatory arrogance--which was why liberals overrated it. Will Obama-era audiences appreciate 42’s richness with its deep understanding of how hard-won compassion has greater everyday effectiveness than the rule of law? The splendor of ball field effort? Or a silhouetted fatherly embrace? These images test fairness within the glory of nature without the falsity of The Natural or Field of Dreams like no movie since Robert Aldrich’s The Big Leaguer. I’d like to describe more of 42’s wonderful scenes such as the shots of Robinson rounding the bases, focused on his “42” uniform imprint like an existential Bressonian icon, but viewers should discover such beauty for themselves. Rickey and Robinson unite over the idea of being “built to last” by doing the right thing. Whether or not 42 conquers the box-office, it is built to last.







PRELUDES Sun, Apr 21, 2013 at 4 PM From a vision of the Holy Grail to the longing for and redemption of love, Leon Botstein and the orchestra examine the themes behind some of Wagner’s most famous operatic works, in celebration of his 200th birthday. RICHARD WAGNER “Lohengrin” Preludes, Acts I and III RICHARD WAGNER “Tristan und Isolde” Prelude & Liebestod at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 95th St & Broadway


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New take on Shakespearean politics at BAM By Valerie Gladstone “Julius Caesar” doesn’t usually get ranked as one of Shakespeare’s most exciting plays but last year theatergoers in England were given reason to change their minds after seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s revival, reset in modern Africa, with an all black cast. In its new incarnation, directed by Gregory Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, the political drama, concerning the conspiracy against the Roman dictator, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators in battle, unexpectedly took on surprising relevancy. Such dramatic events are not uncommon in politically volatile Africa today or in the North African countries that were part of the Arab Spring. It comes to the Brooklyn Academy of Music April 10-28. Doran decided to move “Julius Caesar” from ancient Rome to modern-day Africa chiefly because he learned that it is the Shakespeare play most performed in Africa and that it is a particular favorite of Nelson Mandela’s. When Mandela and other inmates were imprisoned in South Africa during the apartheid years, they read what became dubbed the Robben Island Bible, a copy of Shakespeare’s complete works, which was smuggled into their jail. Now on display at the British Museum, it is signed with his name next to the lines from the play: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard. It seems to me most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.” In recent calls to London, members of the cast talked about their new Shakespearean experience. “People find it hard to believe that we are speaking Shakespeare’s lines and that none of the action has been changed,” says Ray Fearon, who has the role of Caesar’s ally and defender, Mark Antony. “The plot has taken on a very different feel; young people get it immediately.” For some of them, long

associated with the RSC and hailing from the UK, US, Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica and Trinidad, the situation portrayed in the drama echoes those they or their families experienced at home. “I grew up in Nigeria during the Biafran War in the late ‘60s,” says Cyril Nri, who plays Cassius. “I saw first hand what happens when there’s a power grab that leaves a vacuum.” Adjoa Andoh, who plays Portia, remembers reading the play in school and finding it “dull as dish water but then, she says, “when I saw what happened in my father’s country of Ghana, I suddenly looked at it differently. The characters talk of gods and ancestors, which seems quaint to us in the West but is truthful and current in Africa. African ceremonial dress is not unlike Roman togas. In such a male heavy production, I feel it’s important to show Portia as a strong woman for whom politics is a part of her DNA. I’m now so keen on the play that I visit schools and encourage kids to read it.” To further the African atmosphere, Doran added a musical score by Akintayo Akinbode that mixes African music with touches of jazz and the Caribbean. “There’s so much life in the drums and sax, flutes and bass,” Nri says. “It not only affects the mood but gives a sense of the African landscape and the beauty and danger of Africa. The rhythms make certain moments incredibly passionate and moving. We always include a chorus from the community. In New York, the chorus will be local volunteers. The stage gets so full. It’s a joy every night.” In the Times of London, Libby Purves wrote that this production, “shakes the heart.”



Operatic Women Violeta and Sylvia on screen and barge By Judy Gelman Myers


hen Salvador Allende first addressed his citizenry after winning Chile’s 1970 presidential election, he did so under a sign that read, “No Hay Revolución sin Cancion”: There is no revolution without songs. In this case, those songs would have been nueva canción, or “new song,” a quasipolitical artistic movement spearheaded by the explosive, self-destructive, magnificent Violeta Parra. Chilean director Andrés Wood’s examines Parra’s politics, art, and interior life in his new, lyrical biopic, Violeta Went to Heaven. As a child, Parra supported her mother and nine siblings by singing folk tunes in the plazas of small towns; as an adult, she crisscrossed Chile meticulously collecting and cataloguing indigenous folk material. When she moved to Santiago, Parra turned her musical talents to traditionally-based but highly innovative songwriting protesting North American cultural imperialism while

celebrating Chilean identity and the rights of workers and native populations. Like Searching for Sugar Man’s Sixto Rodriguez, whose idiosyncratic songs became a symbol of resistance for the white anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, Parra became an icon of social resistance in Chile and beyond. At heart, however, Parra was not a political revolutionary but an artist, and it’s this heart that Wood explores in Violeta. His two major challenges were capturing Parra’s music and private pain. By eschewing traditional linear narrative in favor of episodic storytelling that shifts back and forth in time, as interior worlds are wont to do, Wood created an elusive effect that fits his enigmatic subject. When it came to delivering Parra’s songs, Wood discovered that most of her original recordings were in such bad shape that they couldn’t be used for the film. Moreover, he wanted to create a soundtrack that had its own identity rather than being a copy. After casting the captivating Francisco Gavilan as Violeta, Wood held a casting call for voices. Gavilan showed up for the casting call, and Wood decided to let her sing, a move that proved decisive for both the actress and the film. Wood admits to feeling intimated by the idea of portraying the interior life of a

woman deemed Chile’s national cultural treasure, but he forged on nonetheless. “I didn’t think about my personal responsibility to the subject, because if I had, I wouldn’t have done the film,” he says. Violeta Went to Heaven is playing at the Quad and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. For fifty-two weeks a year, four days a week, New Yorkers can find chamber music in all its forms—early, canonical, and contemporary—right under the Brooklyn Bridge. There, Bargemusic offers 220 concerts annually, even tendering weekly free tickets to groups and one free concert monthly in order to reach as many music lovers as possible. Normally Bargemusic presents chamber music, recitals, and quartets in their coffee-barge-turned-intimate-concert-hall, but on March 21 and 22, as part of their contemporary composers series, they took the unusual step of mounting an opera: Sylvia, a chamber opera in one act, for four voices and three instrumentalists. Based on the true story of a 13-year-old girl who is coerced by a friend of her parents’ into having an affair with him, the opera depicts the psychotherapy that ultimately brings Sylvia to psychic and emotional health. Mounted in concert form, Sylvia was one year in production before making its world premiere at Bargemusic. Simple but striking staging enhanced the inherent drama of a young girl on the verge of womanhood who is grappling not only with her own sexuality

but also with the psychological responsibility of being a second-generation Holocaust survivor: her seducer, like her parents, was born to parents who had survived the camps. Sylvia understands his pain; with the empathetic tenderness of youth, she wants to ease his suffering. With great clarity, composer and librettist Julia Adolphe encapsulates Sylvia’s dilemma in a plaintive cry: “What was it you needed? What did you think a thirteen-year-old girl would know?” Much of Sylvia’s seduction was played out at a Passover seder, so Adolphe incorporates a creepy Hebrew rendition of the first of the four questions, Why is this night different from all other nights? In one of the opera’s highlights, Sylvia sings her own response over the traditional, albeit altered, chant: “On this night I am different. I am disgusting. I thought I could give him freedom, so I became his slave. Oh God, pass over this house: There’s blood on the door.” With a degree in literary theory as well as multiple degrees in music composition, Adolphe shapes her musical phrases to emphasize the linguistic, rather than musical, content of words. Concomitantly, she employs the timbre of her instruments— clarinet, sax, cello, and piano—to bring out the interiority of Sylvia’s torment and ultimate redemption.

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Girlfeminist in a Coma Blancanieves uses radicalism to ruin Snow White By Armond White


lancanieves is the most hilariously misunderstood movie since people took Hanekeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Amour to be a sweet love story. Is this peculiarity as simple as illiteracy or is it another case of cinematically illiterate critics who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know how to read what they see on screen? Spanish director Pablo Berger modernizes the Grimm Brothersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a feminist parable. It counters patriarchal custom by turning

Show White into a female toreador who survives the murderous plotting of her evil stepmother, travels from corrida to corrida with a troupe of gay male dwarf clowns (including one tranny). Codes and transgressions are all over the screen yet reviewers have praised the film as a charming fairy tale and an innocuous parody of a silent movie like the inane French film The Artist of two years ago. Although I recognize the wishfulness of those who prefer to see Blancanieves as an enlightened divertissement, I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get past Bergerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grim solemnity. He has an obsession with fatality: Blancanieveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father, a famous matador, paralyzed by a bull endures his wifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s death from childbirth; Blancaneive witnesses her grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s grotesque Flamenco demise only to suffer her

rapacious capitalist stepmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s abuse. These are not Grimm facts of life but textbook radical feminist theoryâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;from Snow Whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sexual ambiguity and her rejection of social indoctrination to her violation of bullfightingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s male tradition yet refusing to eat meat as confirmation of her asexual vegetarian diet. A male villainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s phallic fountain pin slowly rises to ensare Snow White. These ideas are less covert than the quasi feminism of last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pixar movie Brave (which cartooned a more Grimmlike fear of Family and Matriarchy). Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not right-wing paranoia to recognize these filmsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; political meanings but to deny them signifies real gullible ignorance. Beguiled by the preteen Snow Whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (Sofia Oria) pluck and cuteness and accepting adult Snow Whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (Macarena Garcia) butch passivity, critics approve a new product rather than analyze what perversions are actually being sold. (This means indulging the least beginning onscreen maturation since gorgeous teenage Jean Simmons turned into stuffy ladylike Valerie Hobson in David Leanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Great Expectations.) Even the formerly radical Village Voice review failed to appreciate Blancanievesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; clumsy fanaticism. Blancanieves cannot be appreciated on its own bizarre terms. Imagine a Snow White without a happy ending: This Snow White falls victim to patriarchy, the impotent gay dwarf who loves her embodies pity for what the old ways make impossible. When Berger canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t figure out how to improve on the Grimmsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; original he simply debases it. His mangled version feminism dictates that the old Disney chestnut â&#x20AC;&#x153;Someday My Prince Will Comeâ&#x20AC;&#x153; wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be sung in a movie thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

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adverse to heterosexualityâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not even as a joke. A radical feminist desecration of Snow White without a Prince Charming but a Snow White who ends up in a coma? Yeah, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right I â&#x20AC;&#x153;spoiledâ&#x20AC;? it. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the same nonsense as Andrea Arnoldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recent unwatchable Wuthering Heights which saw fit to make Heathcliff Black so that he could be called â&#x20AC;&#x153;niggerâ&#x20AC;? just to congratulate Arnoldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;smartness.â&#x20AC;? Problem is, Blancanieves is rather dumb; it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make the most of young Snow Whiteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cuteness, innocence, filial devotion, not even on a female bullfighterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s aptitude that might change peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perceptions. This half-assed feminism proves Berger hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t studied his own revisionist film history. Blancanieves lacks the creativity of Neil Jordanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1985 A Company of Wolves, an adaptation of Angela Carterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feminist fairytale revision. Instead, Berger emulates silent movie burlesque. His poor technique uses rushed TV-style montages without the complex meanings of Dmitri Kirsanoff â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s silent movie experimental editing principles in Menilmontant. The black and white photography is not lush or dimensional like Sternberg, Dreyer, Murnau, but flat digital imagery. Critics who call this film beautiful must never have seen a black and white silent movie. Whatever â&#x20AC;&#x153;progressâ&#x20AC;? we have made sociologically, Blancanieves does not make artistically. Bergerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lack of political and artistic cred turns Blancanieves into yellow snow.


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The Final Frontier On Avenue C, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still possible to watch Alphabet City reinvent itself By Regan Hofmann


s the old saying once went, â&#x20AC;&#x153;A youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re alright, B youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re brave, C youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re crazy, D youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re dead.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not news that Alphabet City is no longer the minefield of socioeconomic misfortune it once was, but even today, when the focal point for gentrification outrage has migrated to Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bushwick and Crown Heights, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still a surprising amount of upheaval happening on the east side of Manhattan. Avenue A is as established as Central Park West (hell, even the rhyme couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find anything negative to say about it). Avenue B, for its part, was once a pleasingly lawless strip â&#x20AC;&#x201C; close enough to the safety of A for a quick escape but darker, studded with rowdier bars, velvet-curtained second-floor hideouts, and those mystery loft/storefront/ abandoned tenement spaces that drew band practices and parties. Now, that velvet-lined den is a well-marked, bowties-and-armgarters cocktail lounge and Tompkins Square Park is home to hipster hockey leagues. But even three short years ago, Avenue C was another story, a country unto itself where brand-name pharmacies and supermarkets still feared to tread. Between the Laundromats and bodegas were long stretches of rusting fire escapes, graffiti murals featuring neighborhood heroes, not rock idols, and families picnicking on their stoops. Since then, a smaller, more interesting kind of takeover has happened, one not led by kids looking for the next cheap buzz but by food and drink pioneers looking for a quiet space to do their own thing. At Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter (94 Ave. C;, that thing is a concept that, by all rights, should be old news. All fried chicken, all the time? Hold on a second, Dirty Bird, Hill Country Chicken, all five locations of BonChon and Charlesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Pan-Fried just called to invite you to 2008. But what Bobwhite has done is subtler, more exciting than simply lodging another vote in the brine-or-no-brine debate. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve built an old-fashioned lunch counter straight out of small-town Virginia in an elegant, modern space â&#x20AC;&#x201C; no tired red plastic baskets and gingham to be found. Fried chicken





World-Class F dinners come with a buttermilk biscuit, honey, hot sauce or the mustardy relish called chow chow for customization; sides include Brunswick stew, a homely regional favorite that includes tomatoes, corn and pork. Edi & the Wolf (102 Ave. C; is another unexpected space, this one tying the nouveau industrial aesthetic of dark wood and iron to bright, big windows and bunches of side-of-theroad greenery dotting the communal table. Perhaps because Austrian cuisineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s reputation is still tied to hearty schnitzels and sausages, Ediâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s food manages to be both authentic and innovative, depending on who you ask. The schnitzel is there, but so is a farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cheese and pumpkin seed spread to share, and wild mushroom ravioli with grilled chard. And while cocktail atavism is big business on the LES and across Manhattan, with â&#x20AC;&#x153;original formulationâ&#x20AC;? spirits and ungarnished Old-Fashioneds the only way to go, nobody is going as far, and having as much fun, as Evelyn Drinkery (171 Ave. C; Skip way over Prohibition, past the Roaring Twenties and back into the late 19th century and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find the phosphate, the soda fountain standby that added an acid tang to everything from cola to claret. Evelyn plays with these in a number of cocktails dispensed through a CO2 tank for light, fizzy refreshers that belie the complex combinations of bitters, spirits and house-processed juices underneath. For the New Yorkerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s take on the soda fountain, there are also egg creams, made with infused milks and flavored syrups to take on not just the old classic (in which they rightly use Foxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s U-Bet rather than making their own), but Earl Grey tea, an Orange Julius, and the root beer float. Avenue C still feels like home for the families and the Laundromats, and in these heady days itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to believe that the neighborhood will find its own balance, keeping out the cheap beer holes and encouraging the pioneers looking for a little room to express themselves. If not, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always Avenue D.


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Century 21 Yields Surprisingly Delicious Finds The giant discount store offers up more than just inexpensive designer duds By Laura Shanahan


t looks like a very pretty, if extremely compact, version of a hatbox. But nestled within this sherbet-colorstriped box wrapped up with a satin grosgrain ribbon is – a drum-roll, please, to heighten the shock of the big reveal – 12 luscious Godiva Ice Cream Parlor Truffles. Included for your delectation is the Pistachio model, which combines (gird yourself for another shock) pistachio and white chocolate ganache enrobed in pistachio-bit-topped white chocolate. The Lemon Sorbet weds white chocolate ganache with lemon in a white chocolate shell. Pecan Caramel Sundae and Neapolitan are among the other tempting truffle concoctions in the selection. What would you expect to pay for all this ganache-y goodness? Its sticker says its value is $30, but since today we are at the vaunted discount department store Century 21, you need only pay “our price” of $17.97. (And I didn’t buy a box of this because why? Oh, right – once more – I am an idiot.) Truth be told, I’ve barely given C21 a thought since we discussed its debut on the corner of Broadway and 66th Street in 2011. The reasons are manifold: First, I think I harbored a resentment that it took over our beloved Barnes & Noble. Whoever thought we’d think of a chain store as


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beloved? But that particular location was, being not just another bookstore with a café, but a favorite meeting place for friends en route to Lincoln Center events. And also – let’s face it – a convenient, pleasant and hassle-free place to duck in from the cold. Too, perhaps like some of you, I’m not wedded to designer labels (not only that, I’m totally and blindly in love with the giganto H&M in the nearby Time Warner Center. Have you bought the $12.95 ballet flats I told you about yet? Most comfortable shoes ever – $12.95 per pair – I’ve got ‘em in 7 colors!). In fact, I was on my way to H&M, but as I passed C21, I decided to let bygones be bygones (though I’m heartily unhappy that C21 was reported to be among the many stores caught up in the faux furreal fur labeling controversy. I’m hoping you also read the excellent Q & A in this newspaper with Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who is introducing legislation to increase fines for violating the properlabeling law she passed in 2007. Bless you, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal!) Sooooo….in NON-fur news, here’s what I found notable in-store. Well, first the Godiva chocolates, available in various boxes and bars and packaging scattered throughout. A nice little pick-me-up for just $2.97 (“value $5”) is the 3.5-oz. package of the brand’s chocolate-covered caramel Gems. Speaking of gems, lower-case this time, among the charmingly whimsical, but always ladylike, Kate Spade handbags and carryalls, is the black-patent skinny-strapped big tote imprinted with a sprinkling of faceted gemstones – a real show-stopper for $79.97 (“value $148”). Standouts for men include Polo Jeans Company’s soft-like-“buttah” cotton-blend two-button-placket polos, complete with the RL “flag” embroidered logo, in a rainbow of hues, including the unexpected pumpkin; $21.97 (“value $44.50”). And speaking of jeans, popular kid-size Joe’s Jeans in a choice of washes, in skinny and relaxed fits, are $32.97 (“value $59”). And for parents shopping with their kids, may I paraphrase that famous quote by saying while liquor is quicker, candy is still dandy (no wonder the Godiva is strategically places throughout the store).

W W W. N O AT TA C K S . O R G





City Loses More of Its Soul And on Easter Sunday yet - how, long, dear Lord, how long? By Bette Dewing


es, the city lost more of its soul on Easter Sunday and it happened almost next door to St. Monicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Church on East 79th Street. And if not for a call from neighborhood preservationist, Ellie Sanky, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d not have known the East River Diner on 79th and York was closing for good that evening. Correction: â&#x20AC;&#x153;closing for bad!â&#x20AC;? Reportedly, the dinerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entrepreneurs took a generous buy-out offer, and a bank will take over the premises, which for nearly 30 years housed an invaluable part of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s soul â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a congenial and affordable place to break bread. Although the greatest loss was felt after its original owners, John and Peter, most reluctantly closed what was then called the East 79th Street CafĂŠ/Restaurant, after 22 years. Word had it that a satisfactory lease could not be negotiated because, the landlord wanted them out. It was the last thing the community wanted â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to lose this most compatible place with all-booth seating and a staff who were really like, well, good neighbors. Oh, yes - the food was right fine, and so was the lighting. Naturally, the community rejoiced when another restaurant came in, even though much of its all-booth seating was replaced with tables and chairs which you

canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t slide in and out of. To quote Russell Baker, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Progress strikes again!â&#x20AC;? But, of course, the community-at-large, including the St. Monicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s church congregation and the A.A. group housed in its lower level, were grateful to have this place next door to share a meal together after services and meetings. Its 24 hour service also made it a reassuring safe haven zone. But, as you know all too well, these losses are the rule, not the exception, and not only in Manhattan. When I called the papers and NY1 to ask for coverage, the Times news desk reporter ruefully recounted numerous recently lost places in all five boroughs. So then a closing is not news? But where are the editorials and columns protesting this loss of everyday places which make ours a city of neighborhoods that meet everyday needs? Above all, where are the elected officials and wannabees? Of course, losing small businesses, in general, is an incalculable loss, and the ongoing installation of protected bike lanes limits delivery access, which, incidentally, is also a concern of San Francisco merchants. (Los Angeles Times 3/26/13) Luxury high-rise apartment houses keep replacing all manner of other â&#x20AC;&#x153;people places,â&#x20AC;? including those for worship, learning, healing, civic discussion, amusements and recreations like movie houses and bowling alleys and on and on.

And doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t all that relate to the Biblical warning, â&#x20AC;&#x153;What does it profit a man (a city) if he (it) gains the whole world (bottom-line dollars) if he (it) loses its soul (self sustaining neighborhoods)? Related as well is the solemn reminder Senator Liz Kruegerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chief aide, Alice Fisher, gave at the end of this yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; forums on Boomer and Senior concerns. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The greatest threats to older people are falling and isolation!â&#x20AC;? How true, but to stay with the isolation, losing these neighborhood places breeds a climate for isolation, and not only for older age people. How long, dear Lord, how long?

Vanderbilt YMCA Keeps Kidsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Minds and Bodies Active Healthy Kids Day is April 27th %XV\VFKHGXOHVDQGOLIHÂśVGDLO\GHPDQGVFDQPDNHLWGLIÂżFXOWIRUSDUHQWVWRHQVXUHWKDWWKHLUFKLOGUHQDUHSUDFticing healthy habits on a regular basis. According to the YMCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Family Health Snapshot â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a survey of parents that gauges their childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s activity levels during the school year â&#x20AC;&#x201C; less than 20 percent of the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s children get 60 minutes of physical activity, read books for fun, and eat at least eight fruits and vegetables every day. On Saturday, April 27, the Vanderbilt YMCA is celebrating YMCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Healthy Kids DayÂŽ with a free community event to get more families moving, learning and living healthier. Healthy Kids Day, a national initiative of the Y, takes place at 1,900 Ys and features fun, educational activities such as Family Zumba, Bilingual Birdies children concert, Soccer, Hockey, Arts and Crafts and much more. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At YMCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Healthy Kids Day, we are focusing on health and education to ensure fewer children are at an increased risk for childhood obesity and more children succeed in school,â&#x20AC;? said Mary S. Park, Director of Fund Development and Communications of the Vanderbilt YMCA. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just a single day of fun, active play and learning â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a kick off to helping parents get a jump on creating a healthier summer.â&#x20AC;? During summer, many children lose exposure to out-of-school activities that keep their minds and bodies active, leaving them at risk of falling behind academically and gaining weight twice as fast as they would during WKHVFKRRO\HDU)ROORZLQJDUHÂżYHLGHDVIRUDFWLYLWLHVIDPLOLHVFDQEHJLQGRLQJQRZDQGWKURXJKRXWVXPPHUWR stay healthy. Â&#x2021;%HJLQSODQQLQJQRZIRUVXPPHUDFWLYLWLHV&KHFNZLWKWKH<RUWKHORFDOSDUNVDQGUHFUHation for opportunities with day or resident camp, swimming, arts and crafts, or sports. Â&#x2021;6WDUWDERRNVHULHVDQGUHDGWRJHWKHUHDFKQLJKWDVDIDPLO\5HDGLQJDWQLJKWNHHSVWKHbrain buzzing and young minds active! Â&#x2021;'ULQNZDWHU+DYHIXQZLWKĂ&#x20AC;DYRUJLYHLWVRPHSL]]D]]ZLWKDVOLFHRIOHPRQOLPHRUDQJHor even cucumber. Â&#x2021;7DNHDZDONLQJVWD\FDWLRQ0DSRXWDQHZQHLJKERUKRRGRUKLNLQJWUDLOLQ\RXUDUHDDQGJHWyour family to explore on foot. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great way to make Saturday a healthy, active start to the weekend. Â&#x2021;1H[WWLPH\RXJHWÂł,ÂśPERUHG´JLYH\RXUNLGVDMXPSURSH,WÂśVDQDZHVRPHZD\WRKDYHfun and keep moving. They can go solo, or get others in on the fun. Â&#x2021;6WDUWDÂł:RUGV,:DQWWR.QRZ´QRWHERRNIRUWKHHQWLUHIDPLO\:KHQWKHUHLVDQXQIDPLOLDUword, write it down, look it up, and add it to the familyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vocabulary. You can even keep track of these on the refrigerator. The Vanderbilt YMCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Healthy Kids Day event takes place at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza from 10 AM to 4:00 PM. For more information, contact the Vanderbilt YMCA at (212) 912-2500 or visit




Tax Incentive for Sustainable UES A new bill would give building owners a tax credit for converting their concrete backyards into green space By Joanna Fantozzi


uring major storms like hurricane Sandy, New York City is an easy target for flooding, because the area of impermeable surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, outweigh permeable surfaces, like grass, throughout the city. As a result, after a large storm, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, raw sewage runs off into the Hudson River. To prevent that, a bill, authored by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, is currently in the New York Senate for a green space tax abatement for building owners. In the agreement, the owners will receive $4.50 per square foot of concrete that is converted into green space. The new bill, currently in the New York Senate, was started on the Upper West Side, and was approved by Upper West Side community members like City Council candidate Mel Wymore and the West End Preservation Society. On the Upper West Side, old brownstones are known for their “doughnut” backyards. According to Rosenthal, this bill would be an incentive for building owners to stop paving over backyards. In fact the bill was unanimously supported

by Community Board 7. “If I walk around the back of my building, everyting is concrete. It would smell nicer and be more aesthetically pleasing, at the very least if it were green,” said Linda Rosenthal. But this issue would not just be helpful for the Upper East Side, according to the bill’s supporters. “One of the interesting things about New York is that these rowhouse backyards are all over the place in different areas in the city,” said Evan Mason of Sustainable Yards NYC, an initiative trying to claim back urban green spaces. “If people were to remove these concrete spaces, there could be real change.” According to Mason, there are 53,000 acres of open space in New York City. There are multiple ways that more greenery could affect the city. One, she said would be the immediate impact on sewage runoff during major storms. Mason said that this would save the city money by burdening the water treatment center less. During a large storm with mostly rain like Tropical Storm Irene, rain can seep into the permeable ground causing less runoff. However, storms like Hurricane Sandy with more flooding from storm surge than rain, would probably not affect the storm run-off. But in addition to helping the city out during a rainstorm, Sustainable Yards argues that more green space can also improve quality of life. Evan Mason explained that it is a nobrainer: when more trees and vegetation are planted, the air

becomes cleaner, and an urban setting becomes more livable. “People like the idea of turning the hands of time and reducing the ‘concrete creep’ and this isn’t as difficult to manage as other sustainability measures,” said Mason. This tax abatement is also very similar to the fairly new tax abatement which offers incentive for green roofs. “It seems like there’s not a lot of emphasis on trying to greenify backyards. We are trying to encourage people to plant trees, and use small flagstones as their concrete space,” said Jay Adolf, a Community Board 7 member. Linda Rosenthal said that the bill has to go through a committee first, before it can go to the floor, and it will hopefully be passed later this year.

ESNA Advocates for Green Space at the Grassroots The East Sixties Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting emphasized a need for local green space By Adam Janos


t started, in 1991, with the idea of preventing a neighborhood eyesore. Barry and Judy Schneider, along with two other married couples, saw in the city record that the transportation authority would be converting a spot on East 63rd Street and 2nd Avenue into an MTA parking lot. So the team took their first baby steps into citizen action, and after six months of attending meetings, writing letters, and participation at the grassroots level, the city’s plan was defeated. Instead of a parking lot the property was turned into the Elizabeth Street Sculpture Garden, a beautiful space that stood for six years. The Schneiders, meanwhile, were so inspired they founded the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA) to continue advocacy efforts for themselves and their neighbors; that organization has held on for 22 years


and counting. Today, the membership of the group has grown from three couples to 635 annually paying members, including many of the area’s hospitals, commercial businesses and entire residential buildings, on top of individual Upper East Siders looking to have their voices heard. Sunday, the organization held their annual meeting for members at the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum Auditorium on East 61st Street to discuss the past year’s success and to honor those in the community who had helped push their agenda forward. Elected officials in attendance included State Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymen Dan Quart and Micah Kellner, and Council Members Jessica Lappin and Daniel Garodnick. Now in her eighth and final year on the city council, Lappin got emotional in receiving the organization’s Community Spirit award. She was later effusive in her praise for ESNA’s efforts, stating, “They do so much of the work that makes the neighborhood stronger. These are the people planting the treebeds, taking care of litter, and working on a day-to-day basis to improve the quality of life,” she said. Krueger, who also spoke at the event, noted that “what makes a community strong


and vibrant are active civic associations. ESNA has been active and innovative. They work with the Community Board and they work with elected officials. They come up with creative solutions, and by holding elected officials accountable, it’s really a winwin situation.” ESNA’s goals and projects are wide and varied, but whether they’re providing free pruning lessons to community volunteers or eliminating graffiti from mail collection boxes and fire hydrants, the focus is always on improving the community one step at a time and making the East 60s a more liveable place. Securing funding for Andrew Haswell Green Park, a strip of green space on the East River between East 59th and East 63rd Street, is currently at the top of the group’s agenda. The park’s underwater wood pilings have been eaten away by underwater marine borers (i.e. microorganisms); within a few years, the esplanade will be structurally unstable. An engineer’s inspection recommended that the wood piles be replaced with concrete to neutralize the effect of the borers. The cost estimate is currently underway, but Schneider expects the bill to be “in the seven figures,” and as of yet there is no funding secured to make the

necessary renovations. Memorial Sloan-Kettering has offered to donate that renovation money to the city as a form of mea culpa for a building proposal they’ve put in of a new outpatient cancer hospital that would go beyond zoning limits on East 73rd Street. MSK’s offer has drawn the ire of some residents in the East 70s, who feel that a park in the low East 60s doesn’t adequately compensate those who will be losing light and sightlines in the vicinity of the new high rise. For ESNA, which has been advocating for the Andrew Haswell Green’s renovation since 2002, this funding would be a dream come true. Schneider urged all ESNA members to attend a Community Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. this Wednesday at MSK, 430 East 67th Street, to make their voices heard. “You always have to look outward,” Schneider told attendees. “If you have a problem, talking to your neighbor in the elevator won’t fix it. You’ll commiserate, sure… but you have to contact ESNA, contact the community board, contact the city council. Write letters, write an email, make phone calls. Unless they know we’re out there, we’ll get drowned out by louder voices.”



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The Truth About Vein Care... Its Really Not About Being Vain Those bulging, inflamed and unsightly veins on your legs may be more then simply a cosmetic issue. In fact, veins that protrude from your skin like small sections of rope are really unhealthy veins that no longer function properly. Instead of acting as one-way valve that keeps blood moving toward the heart and lungs, varicose veins allow the blood to leak back down, away from the heart and lungs, and pool in the leg. This often results in fatigue, swelling, throbbing, heaviness, and aching in the leg. But there is good news...veins that are cosmetically unappealing or cause, pain or other symptoms are prime candidates for newly developed treatments. Minimally invasive techniques are now used by vascular

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The basics of good posture

4 ways to turn good posture into less back pain


ost of us get back pain at some point in our lives. It may be due to a sports-related injury, an accident, or a congenital condition such as scoliosis. But most of the time, upper or lower back pain develops during the course of day-to-day life. Repetitive activities at work or home, such as sitting at a computer or lifting and carrying, may produce tension and muscle tightness that result in a backache. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do to prevent this sort of problem. General physical fitness and a healthy weight are important. But one surprisingly simple strategy can go a long way: Paying attention to your posture.

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Posture is the way you hold your body while standing, sitting, or performing tasks like lifting, bending, pulling, or reaching. If your posture is good, the bones of the spine — the vertebrae — are correctly aligned. You can improve your posture — and head off back pain — by practicing some imagery and a few easy exercises: Imagery. Think of a straight line passing through your body from ceiling to floor (your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be even and line up vertically). Now imagine that a strong cord attached to your breastbone is pulling your chest and rib cage upward, making you taller. Try to hold your pelvis level — don’t allow the lower back to sway. Think of stretching your head toward the ceiling, increasing the space between

your rib cage and pelvis. Picture yourself as a ballerina or ice skater rather than a soldier at attention. Shoulder blade squeeze. Sit up straight in a chair with your hands resting on your thighs. Keep your shoulders down and your chin level. Slowly draw your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for a count of five; relax. Repeat three or four times. Upper-body stretch. Stand facing a corner with your arms raised, hands flat against the walls, elbows at shoulder height. Place one foot ahead of the other. Bending your forward knee, exhale as you lean your body toward the corner. Keep your back straight and your chest and head up. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Hold this position for 20–30 seconds. Relax. Arm-across-chest stretch. Raise your right arm to shoulder level in front of you and bend the arm at the elbow, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor. Grasp the right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it across your chest so that you feel a stretch in the upper arm and shoulder on the right side. Hold for 20 seconds; relax both arms. Repeat to the other side. Repeat three times on each side.

•Practice these imagery and posture exercises throughout the day. You might try to find a good trigger to help you remember, such as doing one or more of them when you get up from your desk, or right before scheduled breaks and lunch. Soon it will become a habit. Source: Harvard Medical School


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CELEBRITY PROFILE if I look at a donut I put on 10 pounds. I try to do other things. I do travel writing and other kinds of writing.

Tour de France Writer David Downie regales New York City with tales of the French countryside By Angela Barbuti


avid Downie embarked on a journey most would only dream about — he walked across France, and wrote a book about it. Downie and his wife, photographer Alison Harris, took the 750-mile walk together, Downie armed with a notebook and Harris, a camera. What resulted is the memoir Paris to the Pyreenes: A Skeptic Pilgrim Walks the Way of Saint James, which will be released on April 15th. Although the route the couple followed is usually associated with a desire for spiritual awakening, Downie attributes it to a possible midlife crisis. Later this month, Downie and Harris will leave their home in France to begin their New York City book tour, with stops at McNally Jackson and La Boite en Bois restaurant.

You were born and raised in San Francisco, but you’ve lived in Paris for 27 years. Why did you relocate? I had the typical romantic notions that a young, aspiring writer has about living in Paris. I quit my day job and rented a maid’s room on the seventh floor. I moved in there and wrote a novel. Luckily it was not published. I think it’s a good thing for a young writer to have two or three novels

rejected. I was very fortunate; I had all my early work rejected.

You make it clear that this pilgrimage across France was not a religious journey. How would you describe your religious beliefs? I’m a skeptical skeptic.

And your wife’s? She’s an agnostic. Her father was a Catholic; her mother’s a Protestant. She’s not an atheist.

Explain why you took this journey. There were so many reasons. I think something happens at a certain point in your life and you have this irrepressible need to walk or do whatever it is that you do. In my case, I’m a walk-aholic. I had this crazy drive to walk across France. I’m not sure where it came from. I’m still not sure, but I suspect that I just needed to think, unplug, regenerate, and feel better. I had some serious health issues. I was very fat and had liver failure. I also really needed to think about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. When you approach 50, this kind of thing can happen. I suppose you would call it a midlife crisis.

Did you feel fulfilled after it? I realized that your whole life is a pilgrimage. It’s not any different from getting up, getting ready, and commuting to work, or studying, or whatever it is that you happen to do. It is different in that you’re not working, you’re walking, thinking, and meditating. It’s really like walking meditation. When I finished my pilgrimage, I realized it was just life and that it was going to go on until I died. I feel, in many ways, I’m still on the pilgrimage. Writing the book was part of it, and now going on book tours. Talking to you is part of it.

What food memory stayed with you from your trip across France? During this pilgrimage, I think I had the best meal I ever had in France at Ferme la Chassagne. It was not at a fancy restaurant, but a farmhouse bed and breakfast — a place where you spend the night and have breakfast and dinner. Everything was grown or raised on the farm. Totally authentic, classic French country cooking. We had veal cooked in milk with mushrooms.

Before living in Paris, you lived in Milan. Now, you and your wife divide your time between France and Italy. We spend two-thirds of the year in France and one-third in Italy at this point.

You also just created an app on Paris.

What are the similarities and differences between France and Italy?

It’s a timeline of Paris. It’s the history of Paris from 8,000 B.C. to the present. All the key dates, people, places, and events.

Well they both have good food, good wine, beautiful landscapes, and wonderful cities. My favorite foreign cities are Rome, Genoa, and Paris. The difference is what Sophia Loren said, which may be apocryphal, “The French are Italians in a bad mood.”

You and Alison give walking tours in Europe. How long have you been hosting these? This will be the eighth year. Paris, Rome, Burgundy, and the Italian Riviera.

What are plans for your future? I’m working on another book about Paris — about romanticism and Paris today being the world’s most romantic city. It appears that most people believe it is. Whether they’re right or not, I’m not sure. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. In terms of walking, we’re still trying to figure out where we’re going to walk next. We might walk to Rome. To learn more about David’s work and New York book tour, visit

What was the hardest part of this experience? Finding time to do it and breaking away from all the usual obligations — work, family, and friends. I think that was the biggest challenge.

Did you keep a journal along the way? I’m a pathological note taker. I have a notebook with me at all times and am always jotting things down.

You’re also a food writer. I wrote about food for many years. I wrote cookbooks, food and wine articles, and guidebooks. I do it a lot less now, in part because




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EAVENLY MAIDENS, brave warriors, mischievous monks and, yes, even a flying pig! China’s 5,000 years of civilization have yielded an endless treasure trove of legends, myths and literary classics. Through the aweinspiring pageantry of classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun brings these stories to life in vivid detail. It’s a performance that not only entertains, but also, more broadly, educates and inspires. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL ... SO INSPIRING!”


SHEN YUN’S AERIAL MASTERS Throughout the 5,000 years of Chinese civilization, martial arts techniques—tempered on the field of battle—were incorporated into classical Chinese dance in what has become a vast repertoire of jumps, twists, spins and tumbling techniques. With Shen Yun’s aerial masters of classical Chinese dance, experience what dance can be.

EXQUISITE COSTUMES, STUNNING ANIMATED BACKDROPS Hundreds of gorgeous costumes inspired by China’s diverse dynasties and ethnic groups, along with dramatic animated backdrops, transport the audience to another time and place.

A UNIQUE EAST-WEST ORCHESTRA The Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra, with its unforgettable melodies by ancient Chinese instruments on top of a full Western symphony orchestra, is a one-of-a-kind musical experience.



TICKETS & INFO: 800-818-2393 |

In Recalling the Great Qin dance from 2011, Terracota Warriors came to life.


FTER enchanting royals in London, performing for packed houses across Asia and wowing soldout audiences throughout North America, Shen Yun is returning to Lincoln Center with an entirely new show for 2013. Eleven performances only!

“It was an extraordinary experience. The level of skill ... and the narratives were startling. It was exquisitely beautiful.” —Cate Blanchett, Academy Award-winning actress


“It’s superb. I am going to mention it on the news, because I think it is a great performance and people should see it.”

Shen Yun cannot be seen in China today, where traditional culture has been mostly destroyed under communist rule. Yet, based in New York, Shen Yun has become a global cultural sensation, bringing the virtues and wisdom of traditional Chinese culture to millions of people across five continents.

—Ernie Anastos, Emmy Award-winning news anchor

APRIL 20–28



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April 20 April 21 April 24 April 25 April 26 April 27 April 28

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Our Town April 11th, 2013  

The April 11th, 2013 issue of Our Town. Founded more than three decades ago, Our Town serves the East Side of Manhattan from Turtle Bay to C...

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