The local paper for the Upper er East Side “OF MICE AND MEN” ACTOR BREAKS THROUGH < Q&A, P. 21
WEEK OF MAY
AN ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE NEWS Upper East Siders opposed to Marine Transfer Station ratchet up pressure BY DANIEL FITZSIMMONS
YORKVILLE Eight Upper East Siders opposed to the city’s plan to build a waste transfer station at 91st Street and York Avenue were arrested last Friday protesting the Sanitation Department’s removal of trees at Asphalt Green, a popular athletics complex at the epicenter of the proposed construction. The department removed the trees because they were blocking access to a ramp that leads to the planned Marine Transfer Station. The city plans on demolishing the ramp, and the move was seen as proof that decisions about access to the transfer station had already been made without community input. Activists and elected officials characterized the move as a betrayal by the city, as a community task force had been set up and was involved in ongoing and regular meetings with the Sanitation Dept. on how best to proceed. “The city made a pledge to us to discuss and address our concerns and in the midst of those discussions, they all of the sudden move forward with removing these pear trees alongside the Asphalt Green ﬁelds,” said Sean Wood, a board member of Pledge 2 Protect, the biggest and most wellorganized of the opposition groups. “Part of the discussion focuses on potentially moving the ramp, so it’s absolutely nonsensical to proceed with this. We’re outraged that the city would choose to go ahead with removing the trees without ﬁrst completing the conversation with the community and addressing the concerns as promised.” P2P’s president, Kelly Nimmo-Guenther, was among those arrested. Also arrested were Carol Tweedy, executive director of Asphalt Green, NYCHA
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7
A CAUTIOUS VICTORY FOR YORKVILLE TENANTS NEWS Residents of the First Avenue Estates warily celebrate a win over the owner trying to tear down their building BY MEGAN BUNGEROTH & OMAR CRESPO
YORKVILLE The Landmarks Preservation Commission issued a resounding “no” to a landmarked building’s owner threatening the wrecking ball. Stahl Organization, which owns two buildings on York Avenue between East 64th and East 65th Streets, has been trying to get permission to demolish the properties from the LPC since 2010. The company had filed a hardship application, claiming that it could not get a reasonable return from renting the small apartments, and sought the LPC’s approval to bypass the landmark designation and destroy the buildings in order to erect new condo units on the property. Last week, the drawn-out battle between Stahl, on one side, and current tenants, housing rights advocates, preservationists, elected officials and community board members on the other, came to a conclusion when the LPC voted unanimously to protect the six-story buildings. While many of the units are currently empty, there are still people living in the First Avenue Estates, despite the Stahl Organization’s assertions that the apartments are uninhabitable. A recent visit to the complex conﬁrmed what many tenants have been saying - that the buildings have been neglected and left to deteriorate, regardless of the hardship that has imposed on current residents. Now that the LPC has given its ﬁnal CONTINUED ON PAGE 5
In Brief MEMORIAL DAY SERVICES IN N.Y.C. A Manhattan church marked Memorial Day weekend with a sermon from the U.S. Marine Corps chaplain and the tying of hundreds of memorial ribbons on the church’s fence. Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben preached Sunday at the Marble Collegiate Church on West 29th Street. Afterward, worshippers including sailors, marines and Coast Guard members visiting New York for Fleet Week also tied ribbons on the fence. There were gold ribbons for U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan, green ribbons representing prayers for peace and blue ribbons for the people of Afghanistan.
TRIAL OPENS IN CRANE COLLAPSE
A LONG FIGHT The First Avenue Estate buildings, at 429 E. 64th St., and 430 E. 65th St., were constructed in 1898 and 1915. They were designed for lower income New Yorkers as an alternative to dirty, crowded tenements, with courtyards that allow light and air into the apartments. There are 190 apartments, with
an average of 370 square feet. The buildings were originally landmarked in 1990, but the Board of Estimates - the precursor to the City Council - appealed the LPC’s decision in a late-night closed-door meeting, as one of its last acts before it was abolished. Preservationists had been fighting to re-establish the landmark status ever since, and achieved that in 2006.
A construction crane owner who was acquitted of manslaughter in a collapse that killed two workers is now facing a civil wrongful death trial over the accident, which helped spur new safety measures. The slain workers’ families are suing crane owner James Lomma, his company and others involved in a Manhattan high-rise construction site where a crane snapped apart in May 2008. In opening statements Friday, lawyers for the families lambasted Lomma, whose 2012 acquittal they saw as a blow. “Cranes are not supposed to fall from the sky,” said Bernadette Panzella, who represents crane operator Donald C. Leo’s family. “James F. Lomma didn’t do what he was supposed to do.” Defense openings are due Tuesday. Lomma’s lawyers have indicated they may suggest that Leo’s handling of the crane contributed to the collapse, echoing his defense at his criminal trial.
Our Town MAY 29, 2014
NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS CHECK HUNTER COLLEGE TO OPEN PARK TO PUBLIC DNAinfo.com reported that Hunter College has agreed to open Poses Park, located East 68th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, to the public on weekends. The small green space has been closed to the public since 2009, open only to students and staff of the school by swiping an ID card to gain entry at the gate. After discussions with Community Board and State Assemblyman Dan Quart, who represents the district, Hunter agreed to allow local residents to enjoy the park between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on
Saturdays and Sundays, beginning at the end of May. Based on usage and the impact on the Hunter community, the college said it may consider opening the park on additional days as well. The move marks a victory for CB 8’s parks committee, which has been working to provide more access to open space for Upper East Siders. DNAinfo.com
CITI BIKE TURNS ONE The bike share system Citi Bike reached its one-year anniversary on Tuesday, May 27. Metro US reported that the system, which started last year with 6,000 bikes and 322 Poses Park on East 68th Street will soon be open to the public on weekends. Photo via Google Maps
stations -- most in Manhattan, and some in Brooklyn and Queens -- has reached some impressive stats, despite questions over the future of its funding and expansion viability. According to Metro, there have been 8,759,138 trips taken on Citi Bikes for a total of 14.7 million miles traveled. The average number of daily trips during peak season, from June to October, was 33,038. The system has over 104,000 annual members, the majority of whom are male (68 percent) and between 30 and 39 years old (37 percent). There have been about 100 crash reports, a quarter of which resulted in trips to the emergency room, and 511 ﬂat tires ﬁxed in a popular month of ridership. The most popular station was found to be at West 20th Street and 11th Avenue. Metro US
COPS CRACKDOWN ON DRIVERS The NYPD announced that they had issued 4,814 speeding tickets in a twoday crackdown period last week, CBS New York reported. The police targeted speeding drivers between 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, May 20 and midnight on Thursday, May 22, as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to
eliminate pedestrian deaths from traffic accidents and reduce unsafe driving in the city. There were 1,175 tickets issued in Manhattan during the summons spree. Fines range from $90 to $600 and speeding tickets can also result in penalty points added to a person’s driver’s license. The citywide speed limit is 30 mph unless otherwise posted, and new slow zones have been established on arterial roads at 25 mph; school zones are an even-slower 20 mph. Studies frequently cited by the NYPD and safety advocates indicate that a person struck by a vehicle traveling 40 mph has an 80 percent chance of dying, while a person struck at 30 mph has only a 45 percent chance of dying. If hit at 20 mph, a person has only a 5 percent chance of dying. CBS New York
SILVER ENDS BID FOR NY TIMES CORRECTION State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office has dropped a request for a correction from The New York Times in connection to a decades-old development project. The Times said it had documents that showed Silver pushed city officials in the 1970s to allow a mall to be built on a large swath of land in his district on the Lower East Side instead of low-
income housing. The assemblyman’s office backed down from a request for a correction after seeing the documents, the Times said. But his spokesman, Michael Whyland, said Silver was never a lawyer for the nonproﬁt United Jewish Council that tried to block the low-income housing. The lawyer for the group, Whyland said, was a man with a similar name -- Sheldon E. Silver, a Minneapolis-born lawyer who moved to Brooklyn in the 1970s and died in 2001. Silver told a state Democratic Party convention breakfast Thursday that he “was forever confused” with Sheldon E. Silver, the newspaper said. Whyland told the Times it was not surprising that the assemblyman worked with the UJC, a “major community group in his district many times over 40 years in office.” “In fact, it would be more surprising if they had never worked together,” he added. The Times said Shoshana Silver, the other man’s widow, said her husband worked for the UJC only brieﬂy. He was let go in 1974 so any UJC material that had Silver’s name on it after that would have had nothing to do with her husband, she said. Silver’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. AP
The Board of Directors of the 60-86 Madison Avenue District Management Association, Inc. cordially invites you to attend the
2014 Annual Meeting of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District Thursday, June 5, 2014 at 8:30AM The Hôtel Plaza Athénée 37 East 64th Street Kindly RSVP by June 3 by contacting the BID at 212-861-2055 or email@example.com. To learn more about the Madison Avenue BID, visit our web site at www.madisonavenuebid.org
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
CRIME WATCH BY JERRY DANZIG
Graffiti complaints on the rise
Report covering the week 5/12/2014 through 5/18/2014 Week to Date
Year to Date
2014 2013 % Change
2014 2013 % Change
465 579 -19.7
Grand Larceny Auto
New York City residents are ďŹ ling more graffiti complaints this year. According to the New York Post, complaints are up about 5 percent overall from last year. The total is about 4,167 so far. NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis says taggers compete to have their graffiti seen. He says painting over is a deterrent.
Our Town MAY 29, 2014
Useful Contacts POLICE NYPD 19th Precinct
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211 E. 43rd St. #1205
Councilmember Ben Kallos
244 E. 93rd St.
Lynda Engstrom with a photo of what her living room used to look like before workers performed needlessly, she said - an electrical upgrade in her apartment. Photo by Daniel Fitzsimmons
STATE LEGISLATORS State Sen. Jose M. Serrano
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State Senator Liz Krueger
1850 2nd Ave.
Assembly Member Dan Quart
360 E. 57th St.
Assembly Member Micah Kellner
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LANDLORD VS. TENANT, THIS TIME ON THE U.W.S. PROPERTY Did Lynda Engstrom’s apartment really need an electrical upgrade? BY DANIEL FITZSIMMONS
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Lynda Engstrom is 73, a widowed daughter of Holocaust survivors who lives in a prewar building at 89th Street and West End Avenue. Right now, her rent-regulated apartment looks as if a hazmat team gave it the quarantine treatment. The living room furniture -- all of it -– is jumbled together in a hulking, shrink-wrapped mass in the middle of her living room; in her painting studio, plastic sheeting covers a wall of old photos and mementos. The guest bedroom in the back of her apartment is similarly shrouded in plastic sheeting. “I just got my own bedroom in order,” said Engstrom. Engstrom blames her plight on a campaign by her landlord to force her out -- and replace her with tenants paying higher rents. Such stories have become increasingly common throughout the city, as rents have continued to soar. “They’re waiting for us to die,” said Engstrom of rent-regulated tenants, eight of which she said have left her building since 2004 due to harassment. She believes once her apartment is vacated, and its rent-regulated status discontinued, it will be converted into a co-op and sold at a premium. The problems for her started in 2011, she said, when one morning she awoke to the
sound of incessant and loud banging on her apartment door. Peering through the eyehole, she saw six men who claimed to be from the building’s management company, who told her they needed to upgrade her unit’s electrical system. Instead of opening the door, she called the police, and later hired a lawyer to defend herself against what she is convinced are attempts by her landlord, Samson Management, to illegally evict her through intimidation. Lawsuits were ﬁled on both sides. “[They] decided to harass me through this electrical upgrade that I did not need,” said Engstrom. Last year, a State Supreme Court judge granted Samson Management access to the apartment, but said before any work could be done the two sides would have to come to a legally binding and detailed agreement on what work would be performed. It took another year to draw up those plans up, and on April 27, Engstrom vacated the apartment for a week so workers could get the job done, as per the agreement. Before she left, and also in accordance with the agreement, a moving company came in and shrink-wrapped everything to protect it from dust. Engstrom said she came back to ﬁnd both her apartment and her belongings damaged. A ceiling fan was removed and sitting on the ﬂoor, she said. Built in window-seats that look out onto West 89th Street had cracks in them. As for the work that was done, the only evidence that remained was some dust and a strip of wall in the foyer that had been patched and sanded, and just needed a coat of paint. Samson Management bought 317 West
89th Street in 2004, and began converting many of the building’s 20 units into co-op apartments. Since 2011, Engstrom alleges that Samson Management’s superintendent, Gregory Haye, directed service workers in the building to deny her services like trash removal. She said Haye has been in her apartment two dozen times without notifying her. Engstrom said building workers used to be friendly towards her, “and now they treat me like a pariah.” All of these tactics have been employed, she believes, in an effort to make her continued presence in the building not worth the hassle. But right now, she’s focused on getting her apartment back in order and resurrecting her stock-trading business, which she said was put on hold during her legal troubles. Engstrom said she lives on Social Security and what money she makes selling the odd painting, but needs to make more to cover rent, which she said is between $2,000 and $3,000 per month. Haye didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Samson Management, through a spokesperson, said the company is not at fault in the case. “The real travesty of this entire incident is that Ms. Engstrom effectively and selﬁshly delayed Samson for three years from making these legally necessary repairs and upgrades, to the detriment of the safety of the building’s residents,” Samson said. Engstrom said she’s open to a buyout but isn’t going down without a ﬁght. “The big fear is that people have the authority now to walk into an apartment and do whatever they want.”
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
BardGraduateCenterGallery Alberto Baraya and Abel Rodriquez, Installation view. Photo: Bruce White
Tenants in the First Avenue Estates say the complex has been allowed to deteriorate so its owner can claim it s units are unrentable. Photo by Omar Crespo
A CAUTIOUS VICTORY FOR TENANTS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 decision in rejecting the hardship application, some tenants are hoping that their conditions will improve. One resident, who did not want to give her name for fear of retaliation by management, said that she’s been living at the First Avenue Estates for 17 years, and that she’s seen ﬁrsthand how neglect has lead to problems. “They have not done anything except let the building deteriorate,” she said. “They do not take care of the walls and the marble ﬂoor; the scaffolding has been up for five years [and is now] used for pigeons coops.” The woman said she’s one of only seven tenants in her section of the building, which could house 24 people. Many have accused Stahl of “warehousing” empty apartments intead of trying to rent them, in order to lend more credence to its hardship claim. In a report given to the LPC, Stahl claimed that it could only get $600 a month in rent for the units, a claim that the LPC rejected. Several tenants conﬁrmed that they currently pay over $1,000 in rent. (Stahl has pledged to
appeal the LPC decision. “No one here is paying $600 bucks,” said another resident, Peter, who said he is subletting in the building. “It is not a lowincome housing building; some people are making upwards of $250,000 [a year].” Murat Kalipci, 55, has lived in his one-bedroom apartment in First Avenue Estates for 20 years. He pays $956 in rent, and said that on top of worries about losing his long-time home, he’s had to deal with untenable living conditions. “They are not doing any work and they are bringing pigeons and rats,” he said of the building’s management. “I have to keep my windows closed.” Another tenant, attorney Monica McLaughlin, has lived in her apartment for 24 years and has become the unofficial spokesperson for the other residents. McLaughlin said that while it’s a victory for tenants that the LPC denied the hardship claim, she is worried that Stahl still will not address the problems with the buildings’ living conditions. “I think their tactic was just to drag it out as along as possible, and possibly that they have enough political influence to change landmark law, I’m not sure,” she said of the hardship application. “It was almost four years that they dragged the process out with the landmark
application, and now they are putting in an appeal and they will drag that on as long as they can .” McLaughlin ticked off a list of problems, including the fact that the security guards who patrol the complex walk around with intimidating Rottweilers, which another tenant also complained about. “My concern now is that we, the tenants, are living in deplorable conditions,” she said. “The lighting ﬁxtures are out. The scaffolding has been on for years and it’s a pigeon coop. There are rats and dog urine, it’s just a ﬁlthy mess. The sidewalk underneath that scaffolding is all black and the sidewalk is all cracked. The scaffolding itself is all rusted and its just dangerous to look there. And the doors don’t lock to the entrance to our apartment buildings.” McLaughlin, as well as other tenants, said that they receive little communication from the building management about the fate of the building and the status of repairs. McLaughlin also said that while she applauds the LPC’s decision, she isn’t holding her breath for things to change. “I think now the tenants, we have to organize and we have to do more and we have to stop waiting,” she said.
WAT ER WE AV ER S
The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture CUR ATED BY JOSÉ ROCA Ceci Arango
Alvaro Catalán de Ocón
María Isabel Rueda
Olga de Amaral
Juan Fernando Herrán THROUGH AUGUST 10, 2014 | GOOGLE GLASS APP: BGC.BARD.EDU/GLASS June 5, 2014, 6 pm Bard Graduate Center Gallery Program Two Rivers: An Evening with Filmmaker Peter Hutton bgc.bard.edu/two-rivers-an.html
18 West 86th Street, New York City
Our Town MAY 29, 2014
Amealya Blake, left, with patient Ina Katcher, 87 years old. “I love her,” Katcher says of Blake, “she takes such good care of me.”
CARING FOR AN AGING CITY SENIORS On the front lines with New York’s visiting nurses STORY AND PHOTOS BY MARY NEWMAN
Aging in New York City has always been harder than in other cities: Consider walk-up apartments, trouble using public transportation, and pressure from aggressive landlords to free up rent-stabilized apartments. Amealya Blake has been working as a registered nurse for 11 years, covering a 20-block radius on the Upper West Side for the Visiting Nurse Services of New York, a non-proﬁt that helps approximately 163,500 New Yorkers stay in their homes. Many of her patients live in the Lincoln Towers apartment complex at 170 West End Ave. between 66th St. and 70th St. Growing up in the Bronx, she is familiar with both the positives and negatives that come with living in New York City. She applies this understanding and familiarity to helping her patients adjust to aging in New York comfortably. “The closeness and convenience of everything is what Manhattan really has to offer seniors,” she explained. “I’m able to really get to know my patients since I am assigned to one neighborhood, and we try to offer different ways of promoting different ways for seniors to socialize and stay healthy.” In partnership with VNSNY and Lincoln Towers, Blake helps with the community program Project Open, which offers a monthly blood pressure clinic. Visiting an average of 10 patients per day, Blake has seen a rapid increase in the number of seniors who need at-home care. In addition, there is a lack of space in nursing homes, and many families cannot even afford to send their loved ones to a home. Blake mentioned that although she once wanted to work in a hospital, she realized that working with her patients in their own home allows her to give each patient much more specialized and effective care. Most of the patients using VNSNY have been assigned case workers, nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists after they have been
discharged from the hospital, helping seniors through a variety of life changes. “It is a very sensitive and critical time for patients when they ﬁrst come home from the hospital,” Blake said. “It is my job to help someone comfortably transition back into their daily life.” Kathy Petrullo also started working for VNSNY 11 years ago, working as an occupational therapist assisting patients with activities in daily living. When someone has been referred to VNSNY, they are assigned a social worker who evaluates the necessary services needed, and the number of visits that will best beneﬁt the patient. “It really is a multi-team effort, we all have different perspectives and responsibilities so communication is very important,” Petrullo explained. Having worked in a hospital for four years, she has also seen the added beneﬁts of assisting seniors in their home. “I really thought I could be more effective working in their actual living environment. At the hospital I always had to make these blind assumptions based on the little information I had about their at home lives.” Describing at-home caretakers as the bridge between the hospital and home, Pertrullo pays very close attention to small dangers around apartments that can lead to dangerous falls, and other injuries. She starts her day by calling to conﬁrm appointments. By 11 a.m. she has started seeing her patients, averaging six visits a day. Pertrullo covers the Upper West Side neighborhood from 126th St. and Riverside Dr. to 148th St. “I don’t ever look at the clock when I am with one of my patients, because for me I just want to make sure that everything is taken care of before I leave,” Pertrullo explained. The end of her day is used to ﬁll out the necessary documentation, making doctor’s appointments, and ordering equipment like tub benches, railings, and supportive bedding. “People are getting released from hospitals and nursing homes a lot earlier than they used to,” explained Pertullo. “It is important to recognize that not only will there be more seniors living in New York, but people are living much longer lives. Improving their quality of life is the most important thing.”
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
AN ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE
JOHN KRTIL FUNERAL HOME; YORKVILLE FUNERAL SERVICE, INC.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 organizer Regine LaCourt, and local residents Dara Hunt, Gus Christensen, Carol Tichler, Joan Cavanaugh and Barbara Heyman. Christensen is running for Assembly in the 76th District on the Upper East Side. Pledge 2 Protect and their supporters received wind of the cityâ€™s plans the night before, and at 5 a.m., planted themselves in front of the gate at Asphalt Green that leads to the ramp and the transfer station. Police showed up around 6 a.m. and cordoned off the area. According to Wood, a police sergeant announced three times that those who did not want to get arrested must move out from in front of the gate. Eight people stayed. â€œI knew there was a possibility of getting arrested because I knew the plan was to block the gate,â€? said Tweedy. But as one of the leaders of the anti-transfer station movement, she felt she should stay out of jail and help direct those still demonstrating. â€œHowever, when I had the emotional experience of seeing them start to cut down the trees, and saw all of the supporters by the gate, and Kelly [Nimmo-Guenther] said to me, â€˜the leadership really has to be in this,â€™ I said, â€˜Iâ€™m in,â€™â€? said Tweedy. â€œBut when I left home this morning I did not tell my husband I thought I was going to get arrested today.â€? Tweedy said she doesnâ€™t regret the decision because she feels strongly about the issue. Local elected officials also attended the demonstration, and in the aftermath strongly expressed their displeasure with the cityâ€™s actions. â€œAfter being told that the Sanitation Dept. would study alternative locations for the ramp to the marine transfer station before starting construction, this community rightly feels betrayed that this action was taken before the study has been completed,â€? said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in a statement. In a separate interview, Maloney said, â€œThey had a meeting with us last week where they were saying they wanted to work with us, and they didnâ€™t do any of it. Then all of the sudden theyâ€™re jamming this thing in through a Memorial Day weekend. Iâ€™ve been in city government a long time, Iâ€™ve never seen peaceful demonstrators arrested like that. These are Upper East Side grandmoth-
Dignified, Affordable and Independently Owned Since 1885 WE SERVE ALL FAITHS AND COMMUNITIES 5)/'&1/'+$1)-,0$2250 -+.*'1'5)/'&12/)$*0$2850 54.'/1/'*$,,),(3$)*$%*'
1297 First Ave (69th & 70th &+#"$& )"$"$ ) *"#(&" $+)))$& '"$ #!#! Regine LaCourt, who lives in a nearby NYCHA housing development, was arrested at the protest on Friday. Photo courtesy of Pledge 2 Protect ers.â€? Councilman Ben Kallos condemned the arrests and the cityâ€™s actions. â€œWe as a community joined together in a grassroots action to exercise our First Amendment rights,â€? said Kallos. â€œItâ€™s a dark day for democracy when an administration is arresting seniors and NYCHA residents who are trying to protect a childrenâ€™s playground from a garbage dump.â€? State Senator Liz Krueger agreed the Sanitation Dept. acted in bad faith, but that the larger issue is the unsustainability of the cityâ€™s waste management plan. â€œOf course the far bigger issue is that the City of New York continues down a path of wasting a billion dollars on a project with negligible impact on the environment and zero impact on decreasing residential waste in the other boroughs,â€? said Krueger. â€œIf built, this [transfer station] will negatively impact more people, parks and schools than any other [transfer station] in New York City, and it will be built in one of the few remaining poor air quality hot spots in the city.â€? P2P, as laid out in a report attacking the cityâ€™s 2006 waste management plan, claim that at maximum capacity, the East 91st Street transfer station would process 1.6 percent of the cityâ€™s garbage. A Sanitation Dept. spokesper-
Iâ€™ve been in city government a long time, Iâ€™ve never seen peaceful demonstrators arrested like that. These are Upper East Side grandmothers.â€?
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CONGRESSWOMAN CAROLYN MALONEY son said the eight pear trees â€“ which were three decades old â€“ would have been removed even if the access road to the transfer station is ultimately built elsewhere. â€œ[The Dept. of Sanitation] is reviewing a new design possibility for the [transfer station] that would move the location of the access ramp to reduce public concern,â€? said the spokesperson. â€œBut engineers are still working on that. Regardless, trees would have needed to be removed.â€? The spokesperson said the trees will be replaced once construction has been completed, and provided a statement by the departmentâ€™s commissioner. As for continuing to work with the Sanitation Dept., Tweedy said sheâ€™s leery but willing. â€œI know that I and others who are working on this will do their darndest to make [those meetings] productive,â€? she said.
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Our Town MAY 29, 2014
< LOCAL KID: SAY NO TO BIKE LANES! BY NOA ZAPIN, AGE 8 1/2, WEST 76TH STREET
Take away the bike lanes. They are not safe and you could get seriously hurt by bikes if they use them. First, it is unsafe because we can’t get in and out of cabs because of the bike lane. Second,
Feedback AIR BNB STILL FLOUTING LAWS A comment on the web in in response to our story “Air BnB-ware,” by Daniel Fitzsimmons, May 15, 2014: Airbnb suddenly wants to pay its taxes. It makes out that that is only the thing it is doing which makes its business model illegal in NYC. Mr. Fitzsimmons is right that NYC residential leases restrict subletting. Condos and coops even more so. So there’s the NYS Multiple Dwelling Law that requires Class A apartments to be rented for thirty days or more. NYC zoning laws restrict hotel use to Commercial zones. The FDNY ﬁre code requires a higher level of ﬁre safety for transient accommodations. Besides the hotel tax, which Airbnb is now willing to pay, there is state and city sales tax. And the 800 pound gorilla that Airbnb does not mention at all is the insurance problem. Landlords and tenants who “share” their apartments with transients are not covered for ﬁre, ﬂood, or liability insurance. There are no policies that cover transient use in a residential building. Residential insurance and hotel insurance are two different dogs. With these facts in mind, what is it that Airbnb and its “host” are doing, by renting full apartments in NYC, that is legal? Tom Cayler, West Side Neighborhood Alliance
it cannot be plowed and it gets very snowy and icy. Last, the bikes can hit you when you are getting out of cars or walking across the street. The bikes do not have a light and they can hit you. Bike lanes are unsafe because people can get
hit because bikes often do not follow the lights. when they are supposed to stop. If we did not have the bike lines we would have more parking spots for drivers and it would be safer for pedestrians. unsafe because Take away the bike lanes or you could get hurt.
DERELICT LANDSCAPING AT GRACIE MANSION The hill behind Gracie Mansion, where grass has been worn down. Photo by Mary Newman
A reader says that sections of the historic mayoral residence’s lawn have been severely neglected BY DAVID B. MARTIN
Upper East Side Please advise
STRAUS MEDIA-MANHATTAN President, Jeanne Straus firstname.lastname@example.org
Group Publisher - Manhattan Vincent A. Gardino email@example.com
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what I could do to to bring attention to the terrible condition of the hill at the foot of 89th East End Avenue, Gracie Mansion’s backyard. It’s turned into a dog run with no grass. The mayor should be ad-
Associate Publishers, Seth L. Miller, Ceil Ainsworth, Kate Walsh Classified Account Executive, Susan Wynn
vised. The local volunteer gardeners are doing a great job with the flower bed, fortunately they are fenced off. But the rest of the hill is a mess. Help!
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Staff Reporters, Gabrielle Alfiero, Daniel Fitzsimmons Block Mayors, Ann Morris, Upper West Side
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MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
The economic engine of East Side growth
BY REP. CAROLYN B. MALONEY arlier this month, President Obama stood at the Tappan Zee Bridge and made the argument that infrastructure investment leads to more jobs and a stronger economy. He pointed out that America became an economic powerhouse as a result of our investment in infrastructure, but that our investment in transportation has shrunk by 50 pertcent in the last 50 years. Europe invests twice as much as we do; the Chinese invest four times as much as we do. And by some measures, America now ranks nineteenth in the world in terms of the quality of our infrastructure. While that speaks volumes about the need to put aside politics and work together to address the problem, I am proud to say that I have worked to keep New York City ahead of the curve in terms of investing in infrastructure. Over the last few years, we’ve accomplished quite a bit on the East Side, and in the district I represent,
when it comes to expanding our economy. We’ve done so by backing innovative and diverse approaches to economic development, by investing in mass transit, improving our bridges and expanding our parks. We’ve been strong supporters of business incubators. And we are focused intently on expanding education and jobs in the ﬁelds of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The East Side is home to the two biggest infrastructure projects in the country -- the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. Together, they represent a combined federal investment of roughly $7 billion, money I am proud to have helped secure. Furthermore, these projects have already created roughly 47,000 jobs and are generating over $17 billion in economic activity. These two projects are going to bring more people to the East Side and help them move around as they put more money back into the local economy. Phase 1 of the Second Avenue Subway is 65 percent complete and just two and a half years from its scheduled opening date. All tunneling and blasting has been completed, work is underway on all stations, entrances and ancillary buildings, and trackwork is being laid in the tunnels. My next challenge will be to make sure that we move seamlessly to the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway. If the East Side is going to continue its economic growth, we must also have our eye on the future. Diversity is key. Jobs in the FIRE (ﬁnance, insurance and real estate) sector have powered our economy for years, but we should not be putting all our eggs in one basket. That’s why I believe strongly in the importance of increasing the prevalence of STEM jobs. Between 2010 and 2020, employment oppor-
tunities related to STEM are expected to increase by 16.5 percent, nationally, or more than 8.5 million jobs over the next decade. Furthermore, STEM jobs pay on average 35 percent more than nonSTEM jobs. But if we want to attract and retain young people interested in this ﬁeld, we must provide strong support for STEM education. That’s why I worked so hard to ensure that the Bloomberg Administration would choose Roosevelt Island for its new high tech graduate campus. Graduates will help New York’s high tech industry grow and ﬂourish. But we must make sure that this industry becomes a viable career choice for young women, who currently hold a very small portion of STEM jobs. I will be holding my second forum at CUNY Graduate Center for high school girls, to help bolster their interest in pursuing STEM education and jobs. Another innovative way to fuel economic growth is through business incubators. Business incubators are public-private partnerships that encourage entrepreneurship by providing workplaces and support for tech start-ups, non-proﬁts and creative freelancers. Business incubators have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity in New York, and I have secured millions of dollars in federal funding for incubators in my district. There are many ways that we can grow the economy and create jobs; but, more often than not, political posturing doesn’t bring home the bacon. We need to come together and pass meaningful legislation to rebuild our roads and transportation systems, and support education and innovative industries, all of which will help the economy grow and put people to work. Carolyn Maloney represents New York’s 12 congressional district.
GREAT EAST MIDTOWN
2014 ARE YOU UP TO THE CHALLENGE? EASTMIDTOWN.ORG/CHALLENGE #RACETHRUEAST
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Our Town MAY 29, 2014
“THE PERFECT FATHER’S DAY GIFT” DRAW YOUR DAD FOR FATHER’S DAY JUNE 15, 2014 Draw a picture of Dad, scan it (or send it to us)
Out & About 31 SPANISH GUITAR RECITAL WITH DANIEL MORENO
and then order a mug or luggage tag with your child’s drawing on it. All kids drawings will appear on our website as they are received. Just go to ourtownny.com Click on Fun & Games
Then order Dad’s portrait on a mug, totebag etc. DO NOT USE PENCIL Use bold and bright colored pens, markers, crayons, etc. Light color and pencils will not reproduce on our website or newspapers.
PLEASE DO NOT FOLD YOUR DRAWING
The MET, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street) 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.; Free The inaugural exhibition of the newly renovated Costume Institute examines the career of legendary twentieth-century Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906–197 8It explores James’s design process, speciﬁcally his use of sculptural, scientiﬁc, and mathematical approaches to construct revolutionary ball gowns and innovative tailoring that continue to inﬂuence designers today. The retrospective features approximately sixty-ﬁve of the most notable designs James produced over the course of his career, from the 1920s until his death in 1978. metmuseum.org
St James’ Church, 865 Madison Ave. btwn 71 & 72nd streets 6 p.m.; Free Enjoy music by J.S. Bach, jazz composer Henry Martin, Olivier Messiaen, and more. stjames.org
Your Name & Age:
CHARLES JAMES: BEYOND FASHION
CHRISTOPHER JENNINGS ORGAN & PIANO CONCERT
96th Street Library, 112 East 96th Street 3 p.m.; Free A ﬂamenco guitar is a guitar similar to a classical guitar but with thinner tops and less internal bracing. It is used in toque, the guitar-playing part of the art of ﬂamenco. Flamenco is often associated with the Romani people of Spain (Gitanos) and a number of famous ﬂamenco artists are of this ethnicity. Flamenco was ﬁrst recorded in the late 18th century but the genre underwent a dramatic development in the late 19th century. nypl.org
1 90TH ANNIVERSARY NY MANDOLIN ORCHESTRA NY Blood Center, 310 East 67th St. (Bet. 1st and 2nd Ave) 2 p.m.; $15 Music includes Bach, Beatles and Bluegrass.This year’s concert includes alumni guests performing a wide range of classical and popular. nymandolin.org
F. PAUL WILSON, LINDA FAIRSTEIN, R.L. STINE AND HEATHER GRAHAM WITH MJ ROSE Barnes & Noble, 86th & Lexington Ave, 150 East 86th Street 2 p.m.; Free The writers of the best thriller series team up in this one-ofa-kind anthology that matches favorite characters of crime ﬁction: Alexandra Cooper vs. Paul Madriani, Michael Quinn vs. Repairman Jack. Let the sleuthing begin! barnesandnoble.com
LYRICS & LYRICISTS: HIT SONGS FROM FLOP SHOWS 92y, Lexington Avenue at 92nd St 2 p.m.; $60 Sometimes a truly great song ﬁnds itself in the midst of an unsuccessful show. The not-sohot Very Warm for May gave us the unforgettable “All the Things You Are”; the timeless “Here’s That Rainy Day” came out of the less-than-sunny Carnival in Flanders. Tony Award®–winning lyricist David Zippel (City of Angels, Disney’s Hercules) picks and polishes these hidden gems in a show that’s perfect for the Broadway buff. 92y.org
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
neighborhood real estate people arts news
SONGS AND STORIES IN ST. CATHERINE’S PARK St. Catherine’s Park is located on 1st Ave. between 67th and 68th Streets. 10:30 a.m.; Free Join your friends from the 67th Street Library as we enjoy songs and stories in St. Catherine’s Park. We’ll be
THOMAS BELLER AND EDMUND WHITE WITH PATRICIA BOSWORTH—ON J. D. SALINGER 92Y, Lexington Avenue at 92nd St 8:15 p.m.; $29 Thomas Beller has been getting over J. D. Salinger his entire life. For his new book, J. D. Salinger: The Escape Artist, he trailed his subject from Park Avenue to his ﬁnal refuge, barnstorming across New England to visit various Salinger shrines, interviewing just about everyone alive who ever knew Salinger. He’s joined by two eminent biographers, Edmund White, whose new memoir, Inside a Pearl, comes out this spring, and moderator Patricia Bosworth, author of acclaimed biographies of Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, Diane Arbus and Jane Fonda. 92y.org
arts real estatenews arts business
The Cosmopolitan Club, 122 East 66th Street 12 p.m.; Free The Paper Bag Players will be honoring Nancy Sipp for her long-time support and dedication. The Luncheon will beneﬁt The Paper Bag Players outreach program Theater For All, which allows the company to provide discounted or free tickets for school children to attend performances throughout New York City. The Luncheon will feature guest speaker Karen Elizaga, Executive Coach and author of Finding Your Sweet Spot: A Guide to the Personal and Professional Excellence, who will share how to be “You on Your Best Day, Everyday.” thepaperbagplayers.org
Park Avenue Armory, 643 Park Ave 7 p.m.; $350 Utilizing the Armory’s unique
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Time Warner Ch. 34/ RCN Ch. 82/ FiOS Ch. 33, CB8’s YouTube Channel David G. Liston and Stephen Grimaldi are the Guests. Host David Rosenstein It can be viewed now at CB8’s YouTube Channel using the url above or at our web-page. http://cb8m.com/cb8speaks
Barnes & Noble, 86th & Lexington Ave, 150 East 86th Street 7p.m.; Free Jack Devine is a 30-year veteran of the CIA who held several high-ranking positions including chief of the Latin America Division and head of the Counternarcotics center. Tonight he discusses his new book Good Hunting: An American Spymaster’s Story. barnesandnoble.com
THE PAPER BAG PLAYERS ANNUAL SUSAN NEWHOUSE “BAGS” LUNCHEON
COMMUNITY BOARD 8 SPEAKS
GOOD HUNTING: AN AMERICAN SPYMASTER’S STORY
people arts events real estate arts news food people news places business food places events business
19th Precinct, 153 East 67th Street 7 p.m.; Free The 19th Precinct has a population which is one of the densest in the nation, with residents estimated at 217,063. The southern part of the precinct has a large commercial area and the famous avenues of Madison, Lexington and 3rd, well known for their shopping. There are also many dignitaries and diplomats that reside or own real estate within the precinct. Every ﬁrst Monday of the month. nyc.gov
19TH PRECINCT COMMUNITY COUNCIL MEETING
singing our favorite songs, dancing our favorite dances, and reading our favorite picture books. For ages birth - 6 years. nypl.org
space and military history, this audacious staging brings to life one of Shakespeare’s most powerful tragedies in an intensely physical, fast-paced production that places the audience directly on the sidelines of battle. Blood, sweat, and the elements of nature can be directly felt as the action unfurls across a traverse stage, with heaven beckoning at one end and hell looming at the other armoryonpark.org
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Our Town MAY 29, 2014
A HOME FOR CONTROVERSIAL ART TEEN ART An exhibition of teenage artists includes previously censored work BY GABRIELLE ALFIERO
LOWER EAST SIDE When South Carolina teenager Gracie Holtzclaw created a black and red linocut print for her art class, the piece was selected for a recent county-wide art show. Two days before the opening, she found out her print was banned from the exhibit. Titled “Rape Culture,” Holtzclaw’s print of a nude woman with a black censor bar covering her breasts, is her response to the sexual assault she experienced two years ago. Through an email to her art instructor, she was told the title and visual content in the piece were inappropriate for the show. “All I really wanted to do was have this outlet,” said Holtzclaw, 18. “And I wasn’t able to do that anymore. I almost felt like something had been taken away from me.” Now, Holtzclaw’s art can speak for itself, as gallery-goers in New York City have the opportunity to view her print, along with work by other young artists, in the upcoming “Green Light” exhibition put on by Teen Art Gallery, a teen-run organization that provides a platform for young artists. T.A.G received over 800 submissions for the exhibit. “Green Light” features artists from 14 states and 40 pieces in different mediums, including photography, sculpture and creative writing. Charlotte Bravin Lee, the director of T.A.G and a senior at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, invited Holtzclaw to participate in the show. “I’m a female the same age and about to head off to college,” said Lee, 18, who will attend Kenyon College in Ohio come fall. “I’ll have to be independent and thinking about my own safety, and her title ‘Rape Culture’ is particularly relevant. It’s just a creative expression of anger and rage. And the
piece was also beautiful, and I felt the need to show those who assault that they can’t win.” Holtzclaw, who just completed her senior year at Blue Ridge High School in Greenville County, S.C., said she was afraid to tell anyone, even her parents, about the assault. When she did speak out, she was told she played a role in her own abuse. “Everyone told me it was my fault because I put myself in a bad situation,” said Holtzclaw, who was encouraged by her art teacher to create the piece. “I had never really coped with that all the way, and art was really a place where I could have an outlet and express myself.” Downtown artist Audrey Banks founded T.A.G in 2011, and when she ﬁrst looked for galleries to host the orion s exhibits, she said some ganization’s venues were turned off by the explicit content in some of the work. “They thought a lot of what we’d show would be pure and ely PG,” said relatively Banks, 20, who attended Bard High School Early College uston Street on Houston w studies art and now egie Melat Carnegie he whole lon. “The point of the ation organization [...]wass about g these treating young people ently to equivalently rtists.” other artists.” Amy Barth, founder of Camp CADI, a summerr camp rvivors for survivors d sexual of child abuse, said that you n g women w h o h ave b e e n abused often develop thy coping unhealthy ds, such as methods, nce abuse, substance
Girls shouldn’t have to censor themselves to prevent being raped or sexually assaulted.” TEEN ARTIST GRACIE HOLTZCLAW
GREEN LIGHT EXHIBIT Gracie Holtzclaw’s Holtzc linocut linocu print, ““Rape Cultur Culture,” which w was deemed too explicit for f her local art exhibitio exhibition. Holtzclaw with her art teacher, teac Kevin Clinto Clinton, who encouraged her to put her feeli feelings about her assault as into her artwork. artwo Photo by Grace Grac Hartley
eating disorders or cutting, and that expressive art should be encouraged, not censored. “Kids don’t always have the words, but through different mediums they can express what they need to,” said Barth. “It’s very important we stop shying away from this topic.” Holtzclaw is working on new pieces for a local Greenville show of work that addresses violence against women. “My message was almost, girls shouldn’t have to censor themselves and be responsible for covering up and monitoring their actions to prevent being raped or sexually assaulted,” Holtzclaw said.
What: Teen Art Gallery’s art exhibition, featuring work by teen artists from across the country and Canada, in assorted mediums, including sculpture, painting, printmaking, filmmaking and creative writing. When: June 6-June 17 OPENING RECEPTION: June 7, 6:00 p.m. Where: 59 East 4th St., 7th floor (courtesy of Creative Time) Hours: noon to 4:00 p.m. and by appointment (Not open June 8 through June 10, or June 16) Free admission
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
MARBLE COLLEGIATE CHURCH presents
The Marble Community Gospel Choir in Concert
FOR THE WEEK
SIR JOHN HERSCHEL’S CAMERA LUCIDA DRAWINGS English scientist and draughtsman Sir John Herschel used a 19th-century drawing device, called a camera lucida, to create accurate sketches of European landscapes and cities, a dozen of which will be on display at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs. The
BOOKS ROZ CHAST AT 92ND STREET Y Roz Chast, who frequently tackles the subjects of aging and family relationships in her New Yorker cartoons, discusses her ﬁrst memoir, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” Her newest book examines her relationships with her aging parents, through text, cartoons and family photographs. At 92Y, Chast will discuss how she was able to explore her own life and relationships through humor. 92nd Street Y Buttenwieser Hall Lexington Ave at 92nd Street Thursday, May 29 8:15 p.m. Tickets $32
BY GABRIELLE ALFIERO
camera lucida, which inspired the invention of photography, was developed as a way to create accurate geological representations. A 1816 sketch of the caves and cliffs of Devon and an 1865 drawing of Stonehenge are among the drawings on display. Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs 962 Park Avenue Now through July 31 Gallery Hours: Monday through Friday Noon to 6:00 p.m. FREE break the rest of the day, even at dinner, when he ﬁnds dreaded lima beans on his plate. Judith Viorst, author of the classic children’s book of the same name, wrote the words and lyrics for the play BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center 199 Chambers Street Sunday, June 1 1:30 p.m. Tickets $25 For tickets, call 212-220-1460
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY: THE MUSICAL Theatreworks USA’s musical, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” explores the travails of its title character, who wakes up with gum in his hair and can’t catch a
PR AISE Sunday, June 8 at 2:30pm Our Award-Winning Gospel Choir presents a Joy-Filled Musical Celebration! Under the Direction of Djoré Nance. Admission: $20 at door | $10, students/seniors Save $5 by ordering in advance online at MarbleChurch.org/worship/Music Dr. Michael B. Brown, Senior Minister 1 West 29th St. NYC, NY 10001 (212) 686-2770 www.MarbleChurch.org
– Hillary McAndrew Plate, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Beverly Taki d O Sole Trio
FOUR CHOIRS AND A CATHEDRAL: AN LGBTQ CHORAL CELEBRATION
“Our audiences and staff raved about [O Sole Trio’s] show...virtuosic...beautifully composed and performed...a show audiences would attend again and again.”
PRIDE For the ﬁrst time, the New York City Gay Men’s chorus will join with the city’s three other LGBTQ choirs, including The Stonewall Chorale, the country’s ﬁrst gay and lesbian ensemble. In celebration of the start of Pride Month, the more than 250 singers will present an eclectic program, from pop to gospel to blues, with pieces ranging from compositions by Stephen Sondheim to songs by American Idol winner Phillip Phillips. Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine 1047 Amsterdam Ave. Saturday, May 31 8:00 p.m. Tickets $29 to $49
MUSIC AMERICAN CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA PRESENTS “PRAGUE, GOLDEN CITY OF MUSIC” Many distinguished composers ﬂocked to Prague, the city where Beethoven premiered his ﬁrst concerto, and the American Classical Orchestra honors the music of the Czech capital with its ﬁnal performance of the season. The program includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1—which Dutch pianist Bart Van Oort will perform on a replica of Beethoven’s 1791 fortepiano—along with a waltz by Johann Strauss I and Symphony in D by Czech composer Josef Myslivecek. Lincoln Center Alice Tully Hall 1941 Broadway Thursday, June 5 8:00 p.m. Tickets $15 to $90 For tickets, call 212-671-4050
Zankel Hall at Carnegie HallzFriday, June 6, 2014 at 8:00 pm Backed by the 20-piece David Shenton Orchestra, dynamic singer BEVERLY TAKI performs an eclectic range of R&B, pop, and Great American Songbook favorites, from Elvis to the Beatles to Michel Legrand. Classical crossover ensemble O SOLE TRIO opens the evening with its Lincoln Center-commissioned show “From Prima Donna to Post-Madonna,” which illustrates how Italian Americans from Enrico Caruso to Frank Sinatra to Madonna OH]LPUÅ\LUJLK(TLYPJHU popular music.
TICKETS: $35–$55 Student and senior discounts H]HPSHISLH[[OLIV_VɉJL JHYULNPLOHSSVYN CarnegieCharge 212-247-7800 )V_6ɉJL![O:[ [O(]L
25% OFF PARTERRE SEATS Use discount code:
A portion of the concert proceeds will be donated to
Our Town MAY 29, 2014
A Scene from the 2012 production of Richard III. Photo by Susane Lee
THE OTHER SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK OUTDOOR THEATER Hudson Warehouse prepares for their 2014 summer season of free plays in Riverside Park BY GABRIELLE ALFIERO
UPPER WEST SIDE Nicholas Martin-Smith has a penchant for blood-soaked battles, graphic throat-slitting and slow, lingering deaths. Luckily, the founder and
IF YOU GO HUDSON WAREHOUSE What: Hudson Warehouse’s 11th summer season includes productions of “King John,”” The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Winter’s Tale.” When: King John: June 5 through June 29; The Importance of Being Earnest: July 3 through July 27; The Winter’s Tale: July 31-August 24 Where: North patio of Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument W. 89th Street and Riverside Drive Hours: Thursday through Sunday nights at 6:30 p.m. Recommended arrival time: 6:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Free admission
producing artistic director of Upper West Side theater company Hudson Warehouse has had ample opportunities to produce bloody death scenes. The company has staged more than 15 of Shakespeare’s plays. In some productions, the use of blood during battles and death scenes warrants a warning to the audience that they’re sitting in ‘splatter zones.’ “It’s so visceral and it reads so clearly,” said Martin-Smith about the on-stage blood. “It marks death. It’s not just enough to have someone go ‘Ahh!’ and die. There’s a reason for it. It’s character.” Since its inception in 2004, the theater company has operated almost entirely outdoors, at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park, where audience members sit on the monument’s stone steps, and its upcoming season is no different. The ﬁrst production of the summer, Shakespeare’s “King John,” kicks off on June 5, which, like every Hudson Warehouse show, is free to the public. “I saw a play here before I acted here,” said David Palmer Brown, who plays King John. “I thought, man this is a hard place to play. But when I got into playing it, I love it…It’s really a community. Our audience is local, and yet, though we’re doing Shakespeare, we fill up
Parents bring their children, who’ve never had any exposure [to Shakespeare] whatsoever. Families who can’t possibly afford tickets to see something on Broadway, let alone Kenneth Branagh.” NICHOLAS MARTIN-SMITH, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF HUDSON WAREHOUSE those stairs all the time.” Brown, like many of Hudson Warehouse’s company members, has years of professional training and acting experience, which is partly what lends the productions their legitimacy, along with the elaborate staging and direction. Among the company members is Jared Kirby, a ﬁght director who has staged elaborate battle scenes and realistic death sequences. “What I love is that people hear there’s going to be free theater in the park,” said Susane Lee, assistant artistic director, “So if they think it’s free, and they’re kind of dismissive, and they show up and they see all the wardrobes and the props and they see all our actors. Then they see we’re packed.” “Parents bring their children, who’ve never had any exposure [to Shakespeare] whatsoever,” said Martin-Smith. He thinks his company offers experiences that other professional companies in the city can’t, and the open-air environment allows that. The audience is encouraged to bring food—once, an audience member ordered a pizza to his seat—and the actors ﬁnd themselves improvising when a helicopter or an errant shoe go ﬂying. And of course, there’s the blood.
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
3 TIPS FOR CHOOSING AN ASSISTED-LIVING HOME SENIORS Expert advice on how to avoid the biggest mistakes when searching for retirement communities
Seventy percent of people age 65 and older will need long-term care at some point in their lives, according to a 2014 study by CareScout. “But that doesn’t mean they have to sacriﬁce their quality of life,” says Peder Johnsen, CEO of Concordis Senior Living, which owns, operates and develops senior housing communities. “A person who needs some assistance with day-to-day living will often ﬁnd he or she is much happier in a good assisted-living community with an atmosphere that reminds them of their former home.” It doesn’t have to be outrageously priced, notes Johnsen. The median price for a private, one-bed home in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) community is $42,000, according to the CareScout report. By contrast, a semi-private nursing home bed costs a median $77,000 a year. But it’s up to prospective residents and their families to ascertain the quality of the community and whether it’s a good match for the person who will be living there. “ALFs are not federally regulated and states vary widely on the breadth of oversight they provide, so you can’t necessarily rely on the law,”
Johnsen says. “And don’t rely on salespeople either – that’s the biggest mistake people make.” There are, however, a number of easy ways to see if a home has a truly caring atmosphere and well-trained staff.
• Ask to see the home’s state licensing survey, an assessment that usually includes inspections, audits, interviews with residents, etc. Every state has an ALF licensing agency and all have some form of survey system for ensuring that certain standards of quality are met, according to the Assisted Living Federation of America. “Requirements vary from state to state about how often the surveys are conducted and how the public can access the reports, but no matter what state you live in, you should be able to ask the ALF for its most recent report, or obtain it from the licensing agency,” Johnsen says. The surveys will tell you if problems were found – or not – and what the ALF did to address them.
• Visit the ALF during non-business hours. Go before breakfast or after dinner – times when the administrators aren’t around. What’s
the atmosphere? How do employees behave with the residents? “That’s a good time to talk to residents, too,” Johnsen says. Be a “mystery shopper,” he suggests. Pretend you’re just visiting the community – not scouting it out as a prospective customer.
• Ascertain how truly “homelike” the community is. In your own home, if you don’t feel like eating breakfast at 7:30 a.m., you don’t have to. You can have breakfast at 10. You can get snacks when you want them. “Depending on what’s important to your loved one, there are potentially many rules that can affect how ‘at home’ a person feels,” Johnsen says. “Some communities allow residents to have pets, others don’t. Some provide lots of activities. At some, residents can quickly and easily arrange for transportation or a service like hair styling.” Not every community can offer everything, he notes. That’s why it’s important to look for those features that are especially important to you or your loved one.
Celebrate Shavuot with Chabad at Beekman-Sutton
Honoring Brig. Gen. Jerome R. Richard with the reading of the Freedom Torah marking 70 years since his service on D-Day
Wednesday morning, June 4, 2014 Chabad House: 336 East 53rd Street Service Begins: 9:30 am led by Rabbi Shmuel A. Metzger Children's Service & Ice Cream Party*: 10:15 am Kiddush & Cheesecake Buffet: 11:30am
Second day of Shavout: Thursday, June 5th Service Begins: 9:30 am Yizkor Service: 11:15 am
For more info and to include your loved ones names in our Yizkor Booklet: www.ChabadSutton.org All Welcome
*KIDS! Special Shavuot Puppet Show, Story Hour and Ice Cream Salon For Kids, 10:15-11:15 am Meet at 320 East 53rd Street, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Town MAY 29, 2014
Food & Drink
< MAN STOLE BREAD TRUCK, MADE DELIVERIES A man stole a bread truck and began delivering loaves of savory baked goods to random businesses, the bakery’s owner said Thursday. David Bastar hopped into the Grimaldi’s Home of Bread truck on the Upper East Side early Monday while the real driver was mak-
ing a delivery at a pizzeria, according to police. Reportedly wearing only his underwear, Bastar then allegedly began dropping off baguettes, whole-wheat rolls and sourdough bread -- but not to the bakery’s customers, said Joe Grimaldi, the owner of the bakery.
FINALLY, THE FARMER’S MARKET THE COMMUNITY KITCHEN After suffering through a monotonous winter, it’s time to rejoice in the variety of local greenmarkets
YELP REVIEWS NOW A TOOL FOR D.O.H. The New York City Department of Health is using data culled from Yelp reviews to investigate kitchen violations and cases of food poisoning. Columbia University partnered with the social media site to test a computer algorithm that, over nine months in 2012 and 2013, analyzed 294,000 reviews to ﬁnd evidence of illness caused from dining at city restaurants. Though the system uncovered nearly 900 reviews that indicated violations, only half of the reviews ﬂagged actually offered evidence of food poisoning and the DOH ultimately found just three of those restaurants guilty of more than one violation. The DOH hopes to reﬁne the project further, according to a statement on the Center for Disease Control’s website, though it recommends that other health departments consider using social media as a means of tracking down origins of food illnesses.
GUEST CHEF DAVID KAYSEN LEAVES GUEST CHEF ROLE CARTER BURDEN CENTER Gavin Kaysen, executive chef at Café Boulud for the past seven years, also maintained a much less high-proﬁle gig: for six years, he served as the guest chef at the Carter Burden Center for the Aging and prepared an annual meal for diners at the senior center on First Avenue near 77th Street. Kaysen, who will leave Café Boulud next month to open his own restaurant, Merchant, in his hometown in Minneapolis, Minn., prepared his last meal for the center on Thursday, May 22. Café Boulud’s current chef de cuisine, Aaron Bludorn, who will take over executive chef duties following Kaysen’s departure, will also ﬁll his job as guest chef at the Carter Burden Center.
BY LIZ NEUMARK
If you are a loyal local food eater like me, you carried the flag all winter long. Carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and beets all share that glorious characteristic of being good storage veggies.
U.E.S. GREENMARKETS 82nd Street, St. Stephen’s at 1st Ave. Saturdays, year-round 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. 92nd Street at 1st Ave. Sundays, 6/22 - 11/23 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mount Sinai, Madison Ave. at E. 99th St. Wednesdays, 6/25 - 11/26 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.grownyc.org
They formed the foundation of many a winter meal, roasted or pureed, steamed or sautéed. Married with apples, leeks, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggs and the occasional greenhouse goodies, the market yielded many a delicious meal. Three weeks ago, I found my first ramps of the season in the Union Square Market; two weeks later, asparagus and spring onions; a week ago, rhubarb and spring garlic; Saturday, fiddleheads; and at my own Hudson Valley farm this weekend, ﬁeld head lettuce and other early greens are rapidly maturing. The season is on and it’s time for the market! Do homework before you go; most markets list the weekly vendors online, which is helpful in planning ahead. I try to get to the market early for the best selection and before specialty items run out (like the first fiddleheads or tomatoes of the season). Take the family – it is a perfect place to connect children to ingredients and new tastes. (It’s the precursor to getting them into the kitchen to cook.) Bring one or two large canvas or durable bags along with some smaller recycled plastic bags to help you feel virtuous. To lighten the load, consider a small wheel-able cart – there
“The bread was left somewhere. Where I don’t know,” he said. “He dropped a lot of bread.” Grimaldi said about $5,000 in bread was taken. Bastar, who was taken to a hospital for evaluation, was charged with criminal possession of stolen goods and driving without a license.
are some durable ones that are not pricey; some are even insulated. If it’s hot out, you might want to bring an insulated bag or frozen cold packs for meat or ﬁsh or delicate greens. Shoppers enjoy forming relationships – at the supermarket, dry cleaners or nail salon. It’s the same in the market. With a little consistency, you can get to know the farmer or his/her staff. I like to hear crop updates as well as snippets about life or family. Once you are a regular, they will readily engage with you. Feel free to put food photos on social media and reference the farm. Farmers work hard and many leave pre-dawn to get here. I often bring my friends a homemade snack – a selection of my pickles or a frittata or cake, with market bought ingredients, a good example of a closed loop. It can be interesting to compare prices within one market. I am curious about the varying cost of chicken eggs or differences between conventional and organic produce. I do taste comparisons on lettuce mixes and am always surprised by the wide range of ﬂavors. Everyone has opinions on which apples they prefer and from whom. If you go to different neighborhoods, the variations on price and selection are intriguing, reﬂecting ethnic preferences or simply what different farmers bring, a reason to shop around
and explore other parts of the city. The produce you buy in the market is typically much fresher than the supermarket, as it is harvested a day or two in advance. For many items, it means an extended shelf life once home. I find that staples like market onions, potatoes and carrots taste better. Beyond seasonal fruits and vegetables, there are fishermen, a wide range of meat purveyors, pickle makers, bakers, cheese makers, and vendors with honey, maple syrup, wines, beer, pasta, plants, ﬂowers and grains. Markets offer more than just shopping. You can get recipes from market managers who also arrange cooking demos (get the calendar). Greenmarket has several sites where you can compost your kitchen scraps or bring textiles for recycling. Most markets accept EBT (food stamps) but rarely credit cards. A word of advice: unlike markets in some other cities, Greenmarket offers little in the way of prepared food. But with a little imagination you can construct an al fresco meal (bread+apple+cheese). So don’t arrive hungry, otherwise you will have to hurry home and start cooking. Liz Neumark is chief executive of the catering company Great Performances.
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
RESTAURANT INSPECTION RATINGS MAY 14 - 21, 2014 The following listings were collected from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website and include the most recent inspection and grade reports listed. We have included every restaurant listed during this time within the zip codes of our neighborhoods. Some reports list numbers with their explanations; these are the number of violation points a restaurant has received. To see more information on restaurant grades, visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/restaurant-inspection.shtml. Cafe Evergreen
1367 1 Avenue
Grade Pending (25) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service. Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored. Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
343 East 85 Street
Grade Pending (27) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked ﬁsh and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Tobacco use, eating, or drinking from open container in food preparation, food storage or dishwashing area observed.
166 East 82 Street
Grade Pending (22) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked ﬁsh and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Food worker does not use proper utensil to eliminate bare hand contact with food that will not receive adequate additional heat treatment. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
1619 2 Avenue
Grade Pending (37) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked ﬁsh and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Food worker does not use proper utensil to eliminate bare hand contact with food that will not receive adequate additional heat treatment. Evidence of rats or live rats present in facility’s food and/ or non-food areas. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service. Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored. Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
Nancy Lee’s Pig Heaven
1540 2 Avenue
Grade Pending (26) Food worker does not wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, coughing, sneezing, smoking, eating, preparing raw foods or otherwise contaminating hands. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
1648 2 Avenue
1718 2 Avenue
Grade Pending (25) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/ or non-food areas. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
1580 3 Avenue
1332 Lexington Avenue
Grade Pending (23) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked ﬁsh and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
164 East 87 Street
1364 Lexington Avenue
1576 3 Avenue
Grade Pending (22) Food worker does not use proper utensil to eliminate bare hand contact with food that will not receive adequate additional heat treatment. Evidence of rats or live rats present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
Trattoria Pesce Pasta
1562 3 Avenue
203 East 85 Street
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Our Town MAY 29, 2014
A million dollar view. Now just $22. Ride LIRR to Long Beach for the greatest summer getaway deal around. With ocean swimming, upscale restaurants and bars, a brand new boardwalk and even a zip line in walking distance, Long Beach has all the ingredients for a truly unforgettable summer. It’s less than an hour away from Penn Station, Brooklyn or Jamaica. And it costs less than you’d think, too. Buy a discounted travel package from the Long Island Rail Road, and all this is yours for just $22: s 2OUND TRIP RAIL TICKET s 3HUTTLE BUS RIDE AROUND TOWN s !DMISSION TO THE BEACH s ,OCAL MERCHANT DISCOUNTS Book your summer getaway today at mta.info/lirr.
2014 Metropolitan Transportation Authority
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
HELPING TO EASE THE EMOTIONAL PAIN AT 9/11 MUSEUM NEWS The museum has tried to address the substantial emotional impact its exhibits will have on visitors BY JENNIFER PELTZ
A ďŹ rst responder views the damaged ďŹ retruck from Ladder 3 in the museum. Photo courtesy of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum via Facebook
DOWNTOWN There are prominent videos of the twin towers collapsing and photos of people falling from them. Portraits of nearly 3,000 victims and voice mail messages from people in hijacked planes. But behind the wrenching sights and sounds of the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum in Manhattan lies a quiet effort to help visitors handle its potentially traumatic impact, from silent spaces and built-in tissue boxes to a layout designed to let people bypass the most intense exhibits. Discreet oak-leaf symbols denote items connected to the dead, and the images of falling victims are in an alcove marked with a warning sign. Designers made sure rooms have ample exits, lest people feel claustrophobic in the underground space. And American Red Cross counsel-
ing volunteers were standing by as the museum opened to the public Wednesday. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of thought given to the psychological safety of visitors,â€? said Jake Barton, who helped create the exhibits. It didnâ€™t seem like enough to Lori Strelecki, who was among the ďŹ rst people to tour the museum Wednesday. She said she had seen a visitor crumpled over, crying. â€œIs that something you want to evoke?â€? asked Strelecki, who runs a historic house museum in Pennsylvania. â€œItâ€™s too much.â€? Steven Cennamo, a dentist, was impressed by the museumâ€™s blend of spaciousness and artifacts as intimate as a victimâ€™s wallet. Given the singularity of 9/11, â€œI donâ€™t think you can overdo it,â€? he said. More than 42,000 9/11 survivors, victimsâ€™ relatives, ďŹ rst responders and recovery workers had visited during the past six days, when it was open only to them, according to Executive Director Joe Daniels. Itâ€™s the latest in a series of memorials-as-museums that seek to honor the dead while presenting a full, fair history of the event that killed them. And the Sept. 11 museum strives to do that at ground zero while the attacks are still raw
IF YOU GO NATIONAL SEPT. 11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM: Liberty Street and Greenwich Street 212-266-5211 www.911memorial.org Open daily, 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. Adults: $24; U.S. veterans, college students and seniors, $18; children 7-17, $15; children under 6, free. Free for all visitors from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. Security screening required. memories for many. Museum planners realized early on the challenge of trying not to shatter people â€œwhile at the same time being true to the authenticity of the event,â€? said Tom Hennes, founder of exhibit designer Thinc Design. To allow visitors an emotional breather, silent spaces with few artifacts surround the densely packed historical exhibit that follows the timeline of 9/11, set off by a revolving door. Elsewhere, a room where visitors can call up recorded recollections about individual victims was designed as a quiet sanctum for feelings, with tissue dispensers embedded in the benches, Hennes said. The historical exhibit, crafted by another ďŹ rm, Layman Design, envelops visitors in images, information, objects and sounds, but designers sought to avoid emotional overload. Beyond content choices, the Sept. 11 museum hopes a human touch can help visitors grapple with their reactions. Retired social worker Georgine Gorra helped people find their way around the museum after Thursdayâ€™s dedication ceremony. They didnâ€™t seem traumatized, she said, just tearful. â€œWe all were, frankly.â€?
The only dedicated Assisted Living Facility in New York City specializing in Enhanced Memory Care.
Ensconced in the landmark neighborhood of the Upper East Side, Residents continue to enjoy the heart and soul of this incomparable city they have always loved. â€˘ Beautiful Upper East Side Environment â€˘ Each floor a â€œNeighborhoodâ€? with Family Style Dining & Living Room â€˘ 24-hour Licensed Nurses & Attendants specially trained in dementia care â€˘ Medication Management â€˘ Around the clock personal care, as needed â€˘ Housekeeping, Linen & Personal Laundry â€˘ Courtyard & Atrium Rooftop Garden â€˘ Chef prepared Meals Nationâ€™s first recipient of AFAâ€™s Excellence in Care distinction.
80th Street Residents in Central Park with the Essex House Hotel peeking from behind.
430 East 80th Street, New York, NY 10075 Tel. 212-717-8888 www.80thstreetresidence.com
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Our Town MAY 29, 2014
< DE BLASIO TO ANNOUNCE EAST MIDTOWN REZONING TIMELINE Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for economic development and housing, conﬁrmed at a forum hosted by the Citizens Budget Commission last week that the de Blasio administration will be announcing a new timeline for implementing the East Midtown Rezoning project, Crain’s New York Business reported.
In Brief SCHNEIDERMAN AND AIR BNB CUT DEAL The State Attorney General’s office and the apartmentsharing startup Air BnB reached a deal in which the website will turn over anonymized data to be examined by the AG’s office, after which time it will disclose the personal account details on users the AG’s office suspects of using the platform illegally. The deal comes after a state judge quashed the AG’s subpoena seeking full account details on thousands of users that was ﬁled after an investigation by his office revealed some users were listing multiple apartments, likely violating state law. The subpoena was quashed for being overly broad, though the judge did allow that some Air BnB users were likely breaking the law. Under the terms of the deal, the data turned over by Air BnB will be stripped of names, email addresses, apartment numbers and other personal details. The AG will have a year to identify those users who are likely using the platform illegally, and can require Air BnB to turn over the personal details of those accounts. State Senator Liz Krueger, who passed the 2010 illegal hotel law that was used as the basis for the subpoena, applauded the deal but said that, in general, Air BnB’s practices don’t conform to state law.
The project, under the purview of the Department of City Planning, will rezone a 73-block area of East Midtown surrounding Grand Central Terminal. It is designed to allow more development for office buildings and improve the infrastructure to support an increase in the business population in the area, in hopes
of better competing with other major cities around the world for international corporate offices. The plan had stalled under the Bloomberg administration, but Glen told Crain’s that de Blasio will release his timeline for the project within the next several weeks.
THREE DECADES IN BUSINESS, THEN GONE
Our Town’s East Midtown TRIVIA
As part of the Great East Midtown Challenge on June 11, Our Town will be holding a trivia contest! We’ll pose a question that can be answered by looking elsewhere in this week’s paper. Find all the answers and you’ll have a leg up on the other teams in next month’s challenge.
THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: The former executive chef at Cafe Boulud also worked as a guest chef at a well-known East side senior center. Name the center. Look in this space next week for answers. Answer to last week’s question: Huguette Clark
For more info on the challenge, go to http://eastmidtown.org/challenge
GREAT EAST MIDTOWN
SAVING SMALL BUSINESS Long-time West Side laundromat forced out of neighborhood BY DANIEL FITZSIMMONS
Rui Rong He says he can afford to keep the prices low at his wash and fold service on 88th Street and Columbus Avenue because his rent is low, only $880 a month. The space is small; you walk in and that’s it. A folding table sits behind a small counter, and along one
wall are shelves with paper bundles of neatly packaged clothes waiting to be picked up. In the back are washing machines and dry-cleaning equipment. Other laundry services in the area charge upwards of $13 to clean a suit-jacket, he said. He only charges $9.50. “I’ve got low rent, so I’ve got low prices,” said He. He’s good at his job, as evidenced by his 32 years in business at this location. Before moving here, He worked at his uncle’s wash and fold, which opened in 1945 further up on Columbus Avenue. In October of last year, his landlord approached him
with a ﬁve-year lease for about $1,200-a-month, with a five percent annual increase. He didn’t sign the lease for some months due to some confusion over terms. When he ﬁnally did, in March of this year, he was told it was too late. The landlord came back with a $2,500-ayear lease and a three percent annual increase, which He said he can’t afford, given his $9.50 suit jobs. Some weeks ago, He, who is 60 and ﬁve years away from retirement, received a notice informing him that he’d have to vacate at the end of May. There was little he could do, as he had always had a year-to-year lease.
He contacted local elected officials like Councilmember Helen Rosenthal and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, informing them of his plight, and started a petition to save his livelihood. “That’s terrible, very, very sad,” said customer Nora Tezanos, who’s been coming to He for over a year and stopped by to pick up some laundry. She signed the petition, along with over 150 others in the neighborhood, urging the landlord, Finger Management, to work out a way for He’s wash and fold to stay. Even customers in the co-op apartments living above him don’t want to see him go, he said. As for the future, he doesn’t really have a plan. “I can’t retire,” said He, who lives in Brooklyn. “At 60 years old, looking for a job is not easy.” He’s going to take his petition to the powers that be and hope for the best. “I really worry,” he said. Finger Management did not respond to a request for comment. When reached by phone, a lawyer representing the company declined to comment. While He joins a growing list of small businesses in Manhattan forced out by high rents, his story has an additional wrinkle. The building that He’s laundry service is located in is part of the Housing Development Finance Corp. program, whereby a building that was previously owned by the city is turned over to residents, who then form a co-op. It was the coop board that decided not to renew He’s lease, opting instead for a higher-paying tenant. Councilmember Helen Rosenthal lamented He’s plight, and said the city must do more to help him and other small businesses that face similar economic pressures. “With the loss of this laundromat, we lose another piece of the unique character of the Upper West Side,” said Rosenthal.
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
YOUR FIFTEEN MINUTES Ron Cephas Jones plays Crooks in the current Broadway production.
FROM SHAKESPEARE TO STEINBECK signiﬁcant. What does it mean to you?
Q&A Actor Ron Cephas Jones on his Upper West Side neighborhood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Richard III BY ANGELA BARBUTI
Although he has been on the New York theater scene for quite some time, Ron Cephas Jones never had a major role on Broadway until now. It was worth the wait. In “Of Mice and Men,” he brings the sharp-witted stable hand, Crooks, to life so poignantly on stage. And the actor realizes what a privilege it is to recite John Steinbeck’s powerful words every night. The play has a limited run at the Longacre Theatre and Cephas Jones has embraced his new Broadway family, which includes James Franco and Chris O’Dowd as George and Lennie. “I’m enjoying myself very much. We’re all blessed,” he said.
Crooks’ scene with Lennie is very
I think the scene is not so much about any type of race, although you may hear the N-word and it’s a segregated situation. They place horseshoes together and I would imagine he may eat when everybody else does. But the fact that he has a place to stay in the barn and can’t go into the bunkhouse is indicative of the segregation that was happening at the time. But what is so profoundly beautiful about the scene is that Steinbeck cuts through that with Crooks’ attitude. “Well if I can’t be in there, then you can’t come in here.” It works both ways, you know. He makes light of that very early in the scene and the human connection happens between him and Lennie.
What’s the atmosphere like backstage? Everybody’s cool. The way the theater is structured and the way the play is laid out, everybody’s kind of busy during the course of the play, moving in and out. But it’s a real mellow
place. Broadway’s like that, the staff and the people who work there help make it comfortable. And you’re always doing all kinds of family-type oriented things, like meals together on two-show days. Little things like that, so I ﬁnd that’s really beautiful about the theater. I mean, you have your little spats here and there, but, for the most part, it’s always great to go to the theater and hang out with theater family.
Had you read the book before you were cast? Yeah, I’m just another one of those students who read it in grammar school. I read it again during the course of doing the play, in rehearsals.
You’re part of the LAByrinth Theater Company. Explain what that is. It started with John Ortiz, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Gary Perez, a lot of Latino cats who wanted to come together to make work for themselves, and it blossomed into a major theater company. Philip Seymour Hoffman came in some years later and became the artistic
I got back into theater. I was doing a play there called “Don’t Explain” with Rome Neal. And Meg Simon happened to be in the audience, and some months later, called me in for an audition.
I read an article about you playing Richard III as part of a mobile unit.
director along with John Ortiz. We’ve done plays like “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train,” “Our Lady of 125th Street,” and “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.” It became a very popular, sort of vanguard theater. We were on 21st Street for a while at Center Stage in an office building that was developed into a theater. It was a small, with 70 seats, and we were drawing a lot of crowds to come see our work. Now we have a place down on Bank Street. That’s our home at the moment. And Philip Seymour Hoffman’s wife, Mimi, has been artistic director. We had a big blow recently with his passing, but she still remains artistic director, which is wonderful. It’s a place that’s been very dear to me; it’s been like a home. I made a lot of friends there that have become like family.
Earlier in your career, you read at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I started out there in 1988. I was hanging out there a lot, reading poetry. And that’s how
We took a pared-down rendition of “Richard III,” and took it to maybe ﬁve different prisons, as well as soup kitchens, homeless shelters and schools. Then we had a four-week run in the theater itself and got major reviews from the New York Times. I’m very proud of that. The mobile unit is the historical thing that Joseph Papp actually started at the Public Theater. They didn’t have a space originally. The Public started out in a truck where they would take Shakespeare to the people. Two years ago, Oskar Eustis [the artistic director] decided to bring that concept back to return to Joseph’s original idea of what the Public Theater is representing. He wanted to have different programs that reached out directly to the public, to bring people who wouldn’t normally get theater or couldn’t afford it, access. His philosophy is that theater belongs to everybody.
When did you come to the city? I’ve lived in New York off and on since 1974. I lived in Harlem, the East Village, the West. I lived all over this town. I’ve been on the Upper West Side
for maybe almost seven, eight years now.
What are your favorite places in your neighborhood? I like Riverside Park. I’m there a lot with our dog. I eat at lot on Amsterdam. They have a Peruvian chicken over there, at Flor De Mayo. Of course, French Roast. I’m always meeting people there for lunch and coffee.
Your daughter followed in your footsteps. Yeah, my daughter’s been in the business for maybe twoand-a-half years now. She’s 24. Her name is Jasmine. She took on my name too, Jasmine Cephas Jones. She grew up in the theater with me and her mother’s a singer also. She did her first off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater and booked a couple of television gigs already, so I’m very proud of her.
When is “Of Mice and Men” ending its run? And what are your plans after it’s over? July 27th is the date that we got. It’s a limited run, I would imagine, because of Mr. Franco’s schedule. He’s into so many different things, as you know. You know, I’m not sure at the moment. I’m still at that level where I’m getting offers, but I’m not that Hollywood elite sort of recognizable movie actor. So I’m hoping maybe some television stuff will come along. There’s a couple of things on the table, I just don’t know if anything’s gonna pan out yet. But I have faith that I’ll be involved in something good.
MAY 29, 2014 Our Town
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