Pets: A Dog-Meet-Dog Dating World May 19, 2011
Page 22 Since 1985
West Park Church’s Gay Rights Battle
‘Sign’ of Times At Riverside Park
P.6 andrew schwartz
‘War Horses’ at Lincoln Center
Stuyvesant’s Minority Admissions Under Attack Elected leaders and education experts question dropping minority enrollments and the Department of Education’s decision to eliminate Page 8 Discovery Program at Bronx Science and Stuyvesant
Part 2 of an Ongoing Investigation with The Amsterdam News
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of the Blessed Sacrament hosts Music Stars for Japan Relief, in collaboration with the Japan Society of New York, with 100 percent of ticket sales going to organizations in Japan to help victims recover from the March earthquake and tsunami. Featuring soprano soloist Hei-Kyung Hong and other musicians from the
Metropolitan Opera. Monday, May 23, 7:30 p.m., 152 W. 71st St. Tickets $35, $50, $75, $100 (includes reception with the artists). 800-595-4849. —MF FORUM—“A Forum on Fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, a process with the goal of recovering oil and natural gas. Speakers will talk about the effects of fracking on clean drinking water. Wednesday, May 25, 6–9 p.m., New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 W. 64th St., auditorium. Suggested donation $15. —Catharine Daddario
Upper West Side Recycling hosts an event to accept discarded computers and other electronics. Accepted items include all computers and peripherals (monitors, printers, cables, etc.), TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereo equipment, phones, compact fluorescent light bulbs, flashlighttype batteries (with ends taped) and textiles. They cannot accept other types of electronics, such as kitchen appliances and air conditioners, white goods or carpeting. Sunday, May 22, 12–5 p.m., south corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 110th Street, rain or shine, 212-666-9774. —Megan Finnegan
FREE DENTISTRY FOR KIDS—City Council Member Gale Brewer sponsors Smiling Faces, Going Places, the NYU College of Dentistry Mobile Dental Care Van on the Upper West Side on Wednesday, May 25, The life-sized horse puppets Topthorn and Joey from the play War Horse roam 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m., outside P.S. 84, 32 W. about the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Lawn at Lincoln Center to celebrate the 92nd St. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the van will seasonal opening of the space. see and treat P.S. 84 students, and from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the van will see and treat Dental treatment INSERTION ORDER - Email Art on the NYU Dental Van all children, ages 6 months to 15 years. is provided by an experienced pediatric dentist and other NYU health care providCeil Ainsworth ers using state-of-the-art equipment. The Manhattan Media dental services provided include: exami63 West 38th St. nations and necessary X-rays, preventive Monday, May 23 services that include cleanings, fluoride New York NY 10018 • Community District Education Council treatments, sealants and oral hygiene (212) 284-9724 Fax:instructions, (212) 268-0502 3 Town Hall Meeting with Schools and fillings and simple tooth email: firstname.lastname@example.org Chancellor Dennis Walcott, 6–8:30 p.m., extractions. Parent/guardian-signed perP.S. 165, 234 W. 109th St. cc: email@example.com mission slip required. Contact Brewer’s office with questions, 212-788-6975. Tuesday, May 24 —MF 4.917”W x 2.687”H, 1/8 page
AMPHIBIANS ABOUND—The frog exhibi-
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demand at the Museum of Natural History, opening Saturday, May 28. Frogs: A Chorus of Colors features an array of different species, all captive-bred, as well as interactive games and educational displays for kids to learn about the frogs and their natural habitats. 200 Central Park West. Must purchase Museum Plus One admission. 212-769-5100. —MF
• Community Board 7 Health & Human Services Committee Meeting, 7 p.m., Community Board office, 250 W. 87th St.
This schedule is current as of Tuesday, May 17. For more information, including full agendas, please contact the community boards directly. Community Education Council District 3: 212678-2782, cec3.org. Community Board 7 Parks & Environment Committee: 212-362-4008, cb7.org.
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May 19, 2011
www.AnimalLeague.org N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
14th Annual Meeting Wednesday, May 25, 2011 8:00 – 9:30 am W 71st St
W 71st St
Property Owners, Commercial Tenants, Businesses, Residents and Friends are invited to the 14th Annual Meeting of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District.
W 70th St
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W 66th St MLK Educational Campus
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W 65th St
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LaGuardia High School
W 64th St
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Time Warner Center
John Jay College
W 58th St
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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
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Join us as we review this year’s accomplishments, discuss new initiatives, adopt the FY 2012 budget, elect Directors and hear from our guest speakers: Cy Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York County Neal Shapiro, President & CEO, WNET Rose Kuo, Executive Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center
W 58th St
Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 8:00 – 9:30 am Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium (Broadway between 62nd & 63rd Streets)
Space is limited. RSVPs are required; please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212.581.3774 by Friday, May 20. For more information about registering to vote, please visit www.lincolnsquarebid.org/keep_informed.
May 19, 2011
W E S T S I D E S P I 5/16/11 R I T 4:43 • PM3
A good neighbor is a found treasure. Fordham Lincoln Center’s 2011 graduates thank our friends and neighbors on the Upper West Side for welcoming us into your community and helping us feel at home in the city. Fordham College at Lincoln Center • Fordham College of Liberal Studies • Graduate School of Business Administration Graduate School of Education • School of Law • Graduate School of Social Service
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N E W S Y O U5/12/11 L I V12:06 E B PMY
Battle for Gay Clergy Started at West Park entering the ministry. In order for a measure to pass the Presbyterian Church, it has to first be passed by the General Assembly, a national body, and then be ratified by a majority of the 173 U.S. presbyteries (geographically arranged councils). In 2010, the General Assembly passed the measure to approve LBGT clergy, and the tipping point came from the Twin Cities Presbytery in Minneapolis, which voted yes on May 10, making the rule official. “The West Park church was the first Presbyterian church to declare a different message, one of openness and acceptance,” said Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a group that began at West Park and now works nationally to promote moral, spiritual, ordination and marriage equality. “When West Park Presbyterian Church was looking to describe their church in a way that would be open and affirming, they found a 1620 blessing from Pastor John Robinson,” said Adee. “He was a minister in the Church of England, blessing pilgrims who were leaving the old world coming to the new, and it contained this phrase: ‘God hath yet more light and truth to break forth
By Megan Finnegan West Park Presbyterian Church is celebrating a victory 33 years in the making. Last week, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) passed a measure to officially accept gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clergy members. It was the culmination of a fight that began decades ago on the Upper West Side, when a minister and group of congregants sought to make their church more inclusive—and ended up spurring a national movement. In 1978, the Presbyterian Church adopted an ordinance denouncing homosexuality. West Park protested this immediately. The pastor at the time began welcoming gay people into the church, and it soon gained a reputation. “People would drive from 40 miles away because they knew they would be welcome,” said Reverend Bob Brashear, who’s been the pastor at West Park for the past 16 years. The old rule “really kept a generation of people from the ministry God had given them,” he said, citing a gay friend and classmate from Yale Divinity School who was to be ordained in 1977, but had to wait for the church’s decision in 1978 and was then prohibited from
Reverend Bob Brashear with the rainbow flag that has flown for 33 years at West Park Presbyterian Church. from His word.’ That’s perfectly in alignment with Presbyterian theology. We’re part of the reform tradition. Our minds and hearts are not to be closed.” Hope DeRogatis, a retired nurse, has been a member of West Park for over 30 years, and she credits the church’s atmosphere of openness with helping her realize her own identity as a lesbian. “By the time I got there in ’81, the AIDS epidemic had already gotten there,” said DeRogatis. “I worked as a nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital, and I became very con-
scious, working with families of whom people were afraid.” She said that doctors and nurses would sometimes refuse to enter the hospital rooms of AIDS patients. “I was very glad to have a church where everyone was present, where gay people were present, where everyone felt welcome to come and teach us their love. It helped me to be a better nurse.” Reverend Brashear points to the rainbow flag that has been draped over the balcony at West Park for 33 years, and shows off the stained glass Tiffany window that serves as the centerpiece of the 221-year-old sanctuary. In the 1980s, a man paid to have the window fully restored in honor of his partner, who had died of AIDS. “That beautiful restored Tiffany window is a symbol of the AIDS era,” Brashear said. Still, he’s happy to see now that gay church members aren’t forced out of necessity to spend their whole lives advocating for equal rights. “None of us anymore are ‘the gay church.’ We’re integrated, we celebrate people for being who they are,” he said. “They don’t have to be advocates anymore.”
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May 19, 2011
• W eS t S id e S p ir it
‘Sign’ of the Times
CB7 waits for Riverside sign switch, okays no cars in Central Park By Megan Finnegan How many people does it take to change five signs in Riverside Park? That was the question posed by Community Board 7’s Parks and Environment Committee at Monday night’s meeting. John Herald, Riverside Park administrator, joined the committee to discuss several issues, but the question
over when the signs along the bike path connecting the greenway with Riverside Drive will be switched proved the most difficult to answer. The current signs, five in total placed along the sides of the path, read “Cyclists must dismount.” Originally installed last summer, they were the park’s solution to the problem of bikers racing along an
often-crowded and narrow path shared with pedestrians and dog walkers. The problem was that renegade bikers causing unsafe conditions in the first place weren’t heeding the signs, and law-abiding cyclists complained that it was a cumbersome and unnecessary demand imposed on them. “The essence was that they were over-
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• we s t s i d e s pirit
May 19, 2011
NYC Neighborhood Papers - May 2011
kill,” said Klari Neuwelt, co-chair of the committee on Monday. Earlier this year, the park and Community Board 7 reached an agreement that seemed to advocate commonsense safety and protect everyone; they agreed to change the signs to read, “Ride at walking speed and yield to pedestrians.” The wording was debated and chosen precisely to be enforceable and fair—bikers could go a bit faster if there aren’t pedestrians present to match in speed, and officers could ticket bikers who did not yield to walkers in their path. It also was supposed to alleviate crowding that resulted from riders walking their bikes. But John Herald said, “The signs are still there because we’re trying to come up with wording.” When asked why they weren’t using the wording so meticulously hashed out by the Community Board, Herald explained that the Parks Department had directed him to work with Central Park, which is considering similar signs, to coordinate wording in order to save time and money when getting the signs made. The committee suggested simply reusing old signs that read “Slow,” which Herald said he would consider, until the new signs can be created and installed. “Our biggest priority was to take down the dismount signs,” Neuwelt said. The committee also discussed ways to make bikers slow down at pedestrian crosswalks. Tila Duhaime, a board member who also works with advocacy group Upper West Side Streets Renaissance, suggested the installation of speed tables with blinking LED lights, like those used on parts of the greenway downtown in Battery Park, to safely alert bikers and skaters to slow down. “A speed table is still a vertical diversion,” said Duhaime, in explaining why it would be better than a speed bump. “It’s just not something that will knock you off your socks if you mess up.” She noted that the gradual incline of a speed table is better for skaters and disabled people, and that the blinking lights at night increase visibility. Herald agreed to look into the possibility of utilizing speed tables in Riverside Park. Looking toward Central Park, the committee voted to approve a resolution for a car-free park during the summer months of July, August and September this year, and to ask the Department of Transportation to undertake a traffic impact study during that time. City Council Member Gale Brewer recently proposed a bill to keep cars out of Central Park permanently, but many expect the DOT to first impose a temporary measure. N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
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May 19, 2011
WEST SIDE SPIRIT
The GreaT GOP hOPe? Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton sounds like he wants to be mayor in 2014. He may be Republicans’ best candidate to keep their 20-year mayoral streak going
ill Bratton speaks with a distinctive Boston accent and recently ended a stint as the Los Angeles Chief of Police, but make no mistake—he considers himself a true New Yorker.
Bratton earned a reputation as the innovative, ambitious chief of the NYPD from 1994 to 1996, when he took control of the department under then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and instituted sweeping changes. Some, such as the CompStat system, fundamentally changed the way the department polices and interprets data, while others, like switching from light blue police uniforms to dark navy, sent the message that the police department was playing by new rules. Bratton also placed the authority to investigate cases with individual precinct captains instead of sending each case through One Police Plaza, easing bottlenecks of open investigations. Most famously, there was a precipitous drop in crime on his watch (felony complaints dropped by 44 percent and homicides by 60 percent, according to Mayor’s office reports)—a fact that precipitated both his rise in popularity and eventual falling-out with Giuliani, reportedly leading to pressure for his resignation. While the mayor was happy with Bratton’s results, he wasn’t happy with what he and others at the time felt was the credit that the police chief was receiving. He signed a reported $350,000 book deal while still chief, and was accused of accepting lavish trips from various industry representatives. He left the NYPD in 1996.
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ation. For a not-yet declared candidate, he speaks a lot about what he would do if he were mayor in 2014. West Side Spirit talked to Bratton about what kind of mayor he might be and what it would take to make that scenario a reality. Q: There aren’t a lot of prominent Republicans who have showed interest in the 2013 mayoral race. Are you interested in running? A: Actually, I’m registered as an Independent. I looked at running in the 2001 race. I actually did some polling, and then the deadline came when I would have had to file. I regained my sanity and stepped back from the precipice and have been happy ever since. I don’t regret that I stepped back because Bloomberg got into the race, and then we had 9/11. Nobody could have foreseen that.
May 19, 2011
In 2002, Bratton accepted the top job at LAPD, planning to stay for only five years but extending that until 2009. He and his wife Rikki returned to New York after seven years on the West Coast. Bratton now works for several private security companies and consults for the Department of Homeland Security on immigration issues. He and Rikki live in Manhattan, and they recently filmed a video declaring themselves New Yorkers who support marriage equality. By his own account, he’s happy in the private sector and being back in the city he loves. He’s also said he would be happy in his old job as police chief, should Ray Kelly vacate the post for a mayoral run in 2013. As for Bratton’s designs on the mayoralty, he remains non-committal, speaking in hypotheticals—making it clear, at least, that he’s giving it serious consider-
Bill Bratton: following Rudy Giuliani’s footsteps? Q: What would it take for you to consider running this time? A: Quite frankly, I’m very happy in my current environment. I’m having a great time, my companies pay me a lot of money and I’m able to work on lots of interesting issues. I spend a lot of time interacting with criminal justice issues. I’m vice-chair of Secretary Napolitano’s Homeland Security Advisory Committee. I’m involved in a host of homeland security issues ranging from immigration to drug trafficking. I have more to offer at some point in the future, but at this particular point in
time, 2011, my focus and energy is on the growth of my companies. Q: What are your personal political convictions? A: Politically, I’m fairly complex. People tend to think of law enforcement as being conservative and reactionary. American policing is probably one of the most progressive elements of government. There is no entity more integrated, with minorities, gays and women. I’m an opponent of three-strikes-andyou’re-out laws. I was a strong opponent of the old Rockefeller laws and spoke N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
out aggressively about changing that. On immigration issues in California, as the police chief, I was in favor of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, and challenged Governor Schwarzenegger for his stand on that issue, and the red herring that he raised about terrorism. I don’t fit neatly into any ideological pigeonhole.
Q: What do you think is going to be the biggest issue coming up in the next mayor’s race? A: Public safety will always be the front burner issue. If the reduction of the police department continues, and I think the budget this year is calling for further reductions, it reaches a point where the
further burnished during his time. I have no quarrels at all with his stewardship of the city. Q: Do you think the city, now that it’s had 20 years of Republican and unconventional mayors, will look for a leader that’s not a career politician?
“Ray Kelly or Bill
Bratton could run on a Republican line comfortably, in this city. I think most voters here don’t vote on ideology. They vote on the issues at hand.”
Q: Which could be an asset. Mathematically, you’d have to run as a Republican, right? A: Well, actually, you could be tempted to run as a Democrat because there’d be so many candidates running you could effectively get in the run-off with 15 percent of the vote. Possibly—just on name. This is the big head start Kelly would have. If I were to look at it, I think I would have similar name recognition. Early primary voters tend to be older. That’s the voter who remembers what New York looked like in 1994, versus what it looked like in 1996. And the name would attract much the same as Ray Kelly, if he gets into it. His name automatically supersedes every potential candidate in the race. It’s just the nature of it. He’s able to show significant accomplishments as police commissioner, that others would not be able to point to. It’s not just name recognition, but name recognition attached to accomplishment.
department’s ability to continue the successes of the ’90s will be stressed. And we might eventually see deterioration in quality of life issues. That would move policing center stage again. Right now, the city’s still being well served. Crime is a shared issue going back to the ’90s with Mayor Giuliani, and then beyond
that to Mayor Dinkins hiring the cops in the first place. Dinkins’ problem was he hired them too slowly, so we benefited. I think the budget’s also going to remain a significant issue. Nobody sees any significant relief on that going forward. Q: How would you assess Mayor Bloomberg so far? A: I think he has been an excellent mayor. From a crime perspective and a public safety perspective. Our tourism numbers look great. Racial tension is a lot less than it was in the 1970s and ’80s. The turnaround that began in the ’90s has been
A: Well, 20 years of Republican mayors who in some respects are Republican in name only. Outside of New York they would be basically Democrats. That’s the reality of it. That’s the idea of why a Ray Kelly or Bill Bratton could run on a Republican line comfortably, in this city. I think most voters here don’t vote on ideology. They vote on the issues at hand. When we talk about unconventional mayors, Bloomberg certainly comes from the business environment, and Giuliani comes out of the prosecutor’s environment. Neither were career politicians. Rudy’s first run was for may-
or. Bloomberg’s first run was for mayor. Versus the others—every other mayor came from a life of political leadership. And on balance, I think the two people who are not career politicians did well. Q: If Ray Kelly did run, would that preclude your running? A: We would end up neutralizing each other to some degree. He certainly has the more contemporary, well-known name and successes keeping the city safe post-9/11, as well as continuing reducing crime during that time. And anybody that would seek to get into the race would need to be mindful of that, if it were me or some other person associated with law and order. I’ll be frank though, the easiest way to go back into government is be appointed back, rather than suffering the slings and arrows of running for office. I could probably comfortably sit and look at the potential of being appointed police commissioner again. Q: Would that job interest you? A: I had a lot of fun my previous time. And one of the reasons I got back into policing was the inspiration of 9/11, but also I had not had my fill of being a police chief yet. L.A. provided that second opportunity. Q: Could you envision doing that again down the road? A: I fully envision getting back into government at some point in time. And I have to admit, I enjoy the speculation about possibly coming back, in some capacity, because it’s nice to be thought of as capable and qualified. CONTINUED ON PAGE 21
Will Bratton Ask Rudy to Run the NYPD? By Josh Rogers If Bill Bratton returns to the rough New York City political arena, he’ll no doubt take a renewed look at the scars he acquired during his last stint 15 years ago. The rift between Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his first police commissioner began soon after they took office in 1994, Bratton wrote in his memoir, Turnaround. Hints of the rivalry began surfacing in the press early in the Giuliani administration, and by the time Bratton left in 1996, the widely reported reason was that the mayor was incensed that his police commissioner was getting too much of the credit for drops in the crime rate. Perhaps the death knell for Bratton was the notorious 1996 Time magazine cover photo of him with a glow on a city street near the headline, “Finally, We’re Winning
We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
the War Against Crime. Here’s Why.” In his book, Bratton said he began looking for a new job soon after he saw the cover, and he was gone by the end
Hints of the rivalry began surfacing in the press early in the Giuliani administration, and by the time Bratton left in 1996, the widely reported reason was that the mayor was incensed that his police commissioner was getting too much of the credit for drops in the crime rate. of the year, after the city’s corporation counsel began an investigation into his book deal. (Giuliani and other com-
missioners subsequently signed similar deals before leaving office.) Bratton wrote that he and Giuliani never exchanged a cross word, but that the fights often involved their senior aides. At one point, Giuliani said the pair had no arguments and blamed the reports on other police officials trying to come between them. Bratton, in a 1996 Daily News article, said: “Interference no. Involvement definitely. And that involvement has existed from day one, not just in this department but in any department.” Indeed, Bratton wrote that Giuliani’s communications director, Cristyne Lategano, ordered him to cancel press
Bratton on Time cover in 1996, which led to his rupture with Giuliani. appearances soon after he took over One Police Plaza. Last week, Bratton confirmed that Giuliani and he met several times in 2007 and had a “rapprochement.” Giuliani was running for president, and if his campaign had taken off, Bratton potentially could have hurt it by questioning the mayor’s role in reducing the city’s crime rate. Bratton appears to have no ill will toward Giuliani or other past foes. Bratton wrote that he and his loyalists commonly referred to Lategano as “Dragon Lady.” Ironically, Bratton and Lategano, whose name is now Cristyne Nicholas, are now friends, and she sat in on last week’s West Side Spirit interview.
May 19, 2011
• W ES T S ID E S P IR IT
special report: part ii
Stuyvesant’s Minority Admissions Under Attack Elected officials and education experts question dropping minority enrollments and the Department of Education’s decision to eliminate Discovery Program at Bronx Science and Stuyvesant By Megan Finnegan and Stephon Johnson Last week, Our Town, West Side Spirit and The Amsterdam News reported on the lack of diversity at two of the city’s top specialized high schools, Stuyvesant and Bronx Science, and a program called Discovery, designed to help increase minority enrollment but which has fallen into disuse over the past decade at these schools. While he did not respond to repeated requests for comment before press time, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott responded to the article when questioned by NY1, stating the program is “not race-based” and that its reinstatement would do nothing to help increase the extremely low numbers of minority students at these schools. We asked elected officials and education experts to weigh in. Here’s what they had to say about the role of the Discovery Program in specialized high schools. Bronx City Council Member Oliver
Koppell, member of the State Assembly when the Hecht-Calandra bill, establishing the Discovery Program, passed in 1971:
“The problem at Stuyvesant runs deep; I know AfricanAmerican students who have been accepted to Stuy but turned it down to go elsewhere because the culture is uncomfortable with so few black and Latino students. The DOE must respond to the need to restart the Discovery Program.” —Gale Brewer “Certainly there was a sense that in these schools, the minority population was relatively low and that the Discovery Program would benefit the minority stu-
dents who didn’t on average do as well. It was worded as ‘culturally deprived’ and ‘educationally less experienced.’ “I was very surprised to learn that the Discovery Program was terminated. We have to do a better job in the lower grades to get all kids up to snuff. Given these numbers, we should be doing more to Oliver Koppell. encourage minority enrollment.” East Side City Council Member Jessica Lappin (Stuyvesant Alumnus): “While the huge range of racial disparity at the schools is pretty shocking, the underlying situation is sadly unsurprising. There is a racial achievement gap in this country and in our city. In New York, we see it among young kids when 4-year-olds take the gifted and talented test and we’re
seeing it at the high school level, as well. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. The Discovery Program is one proven way to start tackling the issue and it’s a tool that absolutely should be used. But Jessica Lappin. we also need to look deeper than that. We need to improve early childhood education, health care and nutrition in our city if we want to really get at the root of this problem.”
East Side City Council Member Dan Garodnick: “The makeup of our specialized high schools does not match the overall continued on page 17
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:00 am to 3:00 pm As an official host site Council House will collaborate with St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center to offer an extensive free program to the public from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm including free blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, PSA screenings and HIV testing in addition to having members of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt’s medical staff address the areas of dentistry, comprehensive care, and physical therapy. There will be workshops and classes on fall prevention and balance, sitting Tai Chi, creativity’s role in enhancing health in addition to free consultations with a chiropractor. The Center at 241 West 72nd Street will also host a health resource fair providing an extensive educational material on community resources and services. Please note that the screenings and counseling sessions with be provided until 1:00 pm. Estee Lauder Beauty Touches and free products, Rubin Museum’s Free Senior Day Information, The day will conclude with the special talents of Hospital Audiences, Inc. a raffle, and a silent auction with over
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N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
QUALITY TIME (with your little terror ; )
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May 19, 2011
WEST SIDE SPIRIT
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Practical Spirituality/Inclusive Community
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Sunday Services at 11:00 a.m. • Mediation & Lectures on Practical Spirituality Weekday classes on Meditation & Metaphysics Lecture, 11 am Sunday May 22:
Minister: Jim Gaither Columnist, author, philosopher & former professor of Metaphysics, History of Western Thought, & World Religions at Unity Institute – successor to Eric Butterworth
“God’s Disguises” Everything is God in Disguise...But some disguises are better than others.
This Week “The Dualism Disguise” If God is good, everywhere and all powerful, how can there be both good and evil?
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you with one who’s right for you. Whether near your home or office, doctors affiliated with Continuum Health Partners hospitals – Beth Israel Medical Center, Roosevelt Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital, Long Island College Hospital, New York Eye & Ear Infirmary – are conveniently located throughout
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Saturday, June 4, 2011 8:30am-5:00pm
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Ben Cheever Patty Marx Tony Hendra Sam Lipsyte Walter Mosley
And many other distinguished literary figures. Conference $185 | Conference & Intensives $530 | Intensives $395
Director, Lewis Burke Frumkes For more information, visit our website: www.hunter.cuny.edu/ce 212.772.4292 12•
WEST SIDE SPIRIT
May 19, 2011
NEWS YOU LIVE BY
City StorieS: StoopS to NutS
Yorkville Stickball Champion at 73
We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
NEWYORK-PRESBYTERIAN HOSPITAL & WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL COLLEGE SPRING SEMINAR SERIES
M A Y
CARDIAC HEALTH: Innovative Surgical Therapies for the Treatment of Heart Disease Charles A. Mack, M.D. Arash Salemi, M.D.
By Thomas Pryor “My life as a boy growing up in Yorkville was stickball,” said Ron Weiss, a 73-year-old baseball player, who knocked in the first RBI of the pre-season for his senior team this spring. I met Ron for a neighborhood walk, and he knew almost every person we passed along the crowded sidewalk. He grew up on 82nd Street between Second and Third avenues and still lives close to where his grandmother, Anuka, called him in for dinner. She lived two buildings up from Ron’s house and did much of the cooking for her extended family. “All my waking hours were spent on the street in front of my house. I reluctantly went in to eat, but came right back out and played until we either lost the ball or I was dragged away by our family,” he said. Ron’s father owned Weiss’s Candy Store at 1566 Second Ave., close to the Shamrock Tavern. “Many bar patrons would drop by the candy store for coffee and a sweet before they went home to their families,” he said. Dad owning a candy store had its perks. “I was in comic book heaven, read every one of them, made myself malted milkshakes, and sampled all the candy. I was also able to talk my father into giving us Spauldeens,” he said. From my own experience, I know this made Ron a local hero. Ron primarily plays hardball these days, but a Yorkville stickball game still pops up now and then. “A few years ago, I played stickball with a guy named ‘Fast Eddie,’ on the handball courts on 90th Street between Second and Third Avenue,” he said. “Baseball is my peace,” Ron told me. “The proving grounds for my life were developed on the asphalt streets of Yorkville. Baseball helped me develop a sense of belonging in my neighborhood.” Baseball also helped Ron navigate through personal tragedy when his son took his own life at 22 in 1998. Devastated by the loss, Ron sough solace in the passion he shared with his boy: baseball. That November, he returned to the redemptive repetition that is inherent in the game. Ron’s gift of gab helped him meet his wife in 1972. Walking along the promenade in Carl Schulz Park on a balmy Sunday, he approached a young woman reading The New York Times on a bench facing the East River and asked, “May I
Baseball is catharsis for Ron Weiss, 73, a baseball player and longtime undisputed Yorkville Stickball Champ. borrow your Sports Section?” She had it, he borrowed it and Patricia and Ron built their life off that newspaper. They have 16-year-old twin daughters, Serena and Vinica, and split time between Yorkville and an upstate home. Patricia and Ron still take romantic walks along the river in Carl Schurz Park. To keep in shape, Ron works out two days a week at the 92nd Street Y, where he’s been a member most of his life. Ron taught public school and coached in East Harlem for most of his 30-year teaching career. He retired in 1991. On his old block, Ron grabbed a broom and unscrewed the bottom, forming a perfect stickball bat. I took a couple of photos of Ron in the same spot he stood as a boy at home plate, the sewer cover in the street. While Ron talked during our Yorkville walkabout, I kept thinking of Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, whose catchphrase was “Let’s Play Two!” My impression of Ron: two games are never enough. He would press on for the rubber match, the third game, and so on, until his grandmother came out of the house and pulled him all the way home. Thomas Pryor’s work has been published in The New York Times, he has recently completed his first book and he curates a show at Cornelia Street Cafe. Read his blog at YorkvilleStoopstoNuts. blogspot.com.
SPRING IN CENTRAL PARK
Time: All seminars will begin at 6:30 pm. Place: All seminars held at: Uris Auditorium Weill Cornell Medical College 1300 York Avenue (at 69th St.) For more information:
Or if you require a disability-related accommodation, call: 212-821-0888 or visit our website at: www.weill.cornell.edu/seminars All seminars are FREE and open to the public. Seating is available for 250 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Weill Cornell Medical College
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May 19, 2011
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LAST DAY Sunday, May 22 n d 11am-5pm Amsterdam Avenue between 106 t h -110 t h Streets closed to traffic. CafŽ tables and chairs w ill be scattered along the avenue. Restaurants w ill have extra sidewalk seating available. Art Projects • Face Painting • Box City for Kids Live Music • Karate and Tai Chi Lessons Drumming Circle • Pottery Wheel Demonstration Dominoes • Pilates, Dance and Yoga Lessons Help Create Songlines for West Side Streets Ñ E-Waste Recycling
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PUBLIC NOTICE NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, PURSUANT TO LAW, that the NYC Dept. of Consumer affairs will hold a Public Hearing on Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 2:00 p.m., at 66 John Street, 11th floor, on a petition from West 62 Operating LLC to modify, maintain and operate an unenclosed sidewalk café at 61 Columbus Avenue, in the Borough of Manhattan, for a term of two years. REQUEST FOR COPIES OF THE PROPOSED REVOCABLE CONSENT AGREEMENT MAY BE ADDRESSED TO DEPT. OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, ATTN: FOIL OFFICER, 42 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10004
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C o m e O u t, E n jo y th e S p rin g , T ry N e w R e s ta u ra n ts , M e e t Y o u r N e ig h b o rs a n d C e le b ra te th e N e ig h b o rh o o d Part of NYCDOT Weekend Walks Program
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May 19, 2011
NEWS YOU LIVE BY
Name Dropping With a Thud
Director Justin Chadwick redeems himself with The First Grader; and more of Johnny Depp’s opportunistic piracy. By ArmoND WhiTe The FirsT GrADer
Directed by Justin Chadwick At Angelika Film Center & City Cinemas Beekman Theatre Runtime: 103 min.
t’s so rare to see a film with such a great subject that the flaws of The First Grader are totally forgivable. Based on Kenya’s 2003 resolution to offer free primary school education to all its citizens, this film makes an interpersonal story of Kimani Maruge’s (oliver Litondo) controversial enrollment and efforts by the young teacher, Jane obinchu (Naomie Harris), who fought for his generations-late right to an education. the upliftment theme brings back virtues that most contemporary cinema has abandoned. From How Green Was My Valley (1941) to The Corn Is Green (1945) to Sounder (1972) to Nightjohn (1996), the value of education was a moving reflection of what used to be shared cultural values. that they are no longer shared was made evident in last year’s charter schools documentaries The Lottery and Waiting for Superman, both resigned to the collapse of public, government-sponsored education. But The First Grader explores that forgotten principle through the intensity of Maruge’s struggle. south african screenwriter ann Peacock’s screenplay bypasses Maruge’s brief celebrity (he eventually addressed the United Nations, when his story gained renown) to include flashbacks of his political biography. It is the history of Kenyan political struggle—from the old man of the Mau Mau revolution to the schoolteacher’s new generation—that makes the studentpupil relationship more than sentimental. It uses politically progressive romanticism as an occasion to show how a nation’s forward movement requires some painful degree of forgetfulness. Maruge’s obsolescence is part of automatic cultural decline; he is seen limping toward the schoolhouse, past groups of older and younger men who have accepted their roles in the backwash of history. (In an odd detail updating the story to contemporary relevance, two old drunks argue over Michelle obama as a native south african.) The First Grader employs modern terms of government accountability and personal responsibility. as one of the few films to deal with British colonization of Kenya since the
We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
releases of White Mischief and the children’s story The Kitchen Toto in the 1980s, it reacts to the advent of obama to effect modern awareness of global history (the film is a National Geographic production). the manipulative habits of director Justin Chadwick are not all bad. the film’s flaws come from scenes that treat Maruge’s memories of violence and torture with first-hand terror, then contrasting— irresistible—scenes of schoolhouse innocence and expectation. But this complexity reflects a genuine ambivalence toward the way history proceeds: How authority contains aggression, oppression leads to revolution, conquest leads to liberation. (this totally makes up for Chadwick’s awful The Other Boleyn Girl.) Maruge and teacher Jane (as the kids call her) can’t avoid history’s claim on their conscience—a circumstance that most contemporary movies work hard to deny. Litondo and Harris represent two aspects of this dilemma. Litondo conveys grave experience, like american actor Joe seneca brought to oliver stone’s Crossroads (but then could only display on stage in august Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Harris is usually wasted in British zombie-movie trash like 28 Days Later, but here, showing the same intellectual radiance she had as Ian Dury’s lover in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, speaks in an accented english of africa’s tutored classes that makes her the hopeful globalization principle incarnate. The First Grader shows the difficulty of balancing history with progress. Maruge is a wily creature, slyly teaching his old Mau-Mau chant: “Uhuru!” (Freedom!) While forcing Kenyan officials to constantly reexamine their principles, he forces them to assess their future. When Maruge asks teacher Jane to teach him to read, it recalls a similar heartfelt moment between robert De Niro and Jane Fonda in Stanley and Iris that cynical reviewers ridiculed. together, Litondo and Harris link with the tradition of political struggle that is also artistic conviction—a spectacle as beautiful as it is scarce.
PirATes oF The CAriBBeAN: oN sTrANGer TiDes Directed by Rob Marshall Runtime: 137 min.
elizABeTh: The GolDeN AGe May 19, 2011
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May 19, 2011
At Film Society of Lincoln Center May 20–22
the great Brando distinguished himself even further in Reflections in a Golden Eye, his one pairing with elizabeth taylor, showing at Lincoln Center May 21. Reflections highlights this retrospective because it is the only one of the 10-film program that inspires a helpful reassessment of taylor’s filmography, the last great example of an artistic hollywood film career. taylor’s recent passing elicited cliché commentary in the mainstream media on her longevity, but those tributes missed the essential sexual and romantic power of her
his week the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean retread, On Stranger Tides, happens to premiere the same weekend as the Film society of Lincoln Center’s elizabeth taylor retrospective, elizabeth: the Golden Age (walter Reade theater May 20–22). You can choose between Depp and depth: both openings offer lessons in the meaning of movie stardom. it’s an easy guess that On Stranger Tides is the disposable offering. if it holds any interest at all, it’s not for storytelling since the series— which originated from a collaboration with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski—always distended the pirate-movie genre into tiresome chase-flick marathons mixing history carnival with occult hi-jinks. Part Four is no different: even with director Rob Marshall’s weaker hand, the only distinction lies in Johnny Depp’s tipsy, flamboyant Jack sparrow. Depp’s caricature is so far past its expiration date that it forces speculation about the actor’s own movie stardom. Can Depp still be considered hip, irreverent and inventive now that sparrow is as comfortably predictable as a Disney cartoon icon? through hints of a romantic past relationship with female roustabout Angelica (Penelope Cruz, who seems to have forgotten the english it took her forever to pronounce), sparrow is actually Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger further neutered and rendered Tides. innocuous. this confirms that Depp’s connection to hollywood’s tent pole screen acting. taylor turned movie stardom industry—the big money, the formulaic into a Pilgrim’s Progress of human sensual product—proves no greater artistic com- experience—her influence immortalized mitment than boring indie product like by the metaphysical/pop-cultural cameo 1995’s Dead Man. in Footprints. But a chronological career No torch of honor or originality was review that misses the sensual highpoints handed down to Depp from Marlon Brando of The Last Time I Saw Paris, Cat on a (his co-star in Don Juan DeMarco). Jack Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer, The sparrow’s always-inebriated, sexually eva- Sandpiper, The Comedians and X, Y and Zee sive, high-seas bandit is no more trans- fails to remind film culture that movie stars gressive than Dudley Moore’s Arthur, just matter because—like Brando and taylor— a domesticated rebel like keith Richards they can exhibit the spiritual essence of (whose continued appearances as alluring physical presence. Reflections beausparrow’s father are venal). On Stranger tifully illustrates that thesis through John Tides makes it clear that Depp has squan- huston’s adaptation of Carson McCullers’ dered his Brando lesson, trading a movie bold perceptions about human frailties. star’s valuable connection to eccentric per- taylor and Brando epitomized those percepsonality and sexual allure and human depth tions, but we lose them in the media celebrafor pirate booty, fool’s gold. tion of Johnny Depp’s opportunistic piracy. N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
Minority continued from page 10 population of public school students or the talent that we know is out there, and that’s a problem. But this problem doesn’t just start during the high school admissions season. The Department of Education needs to be more aggressive in preparing students of diverse backgrounds for our most rigorous curricula, starting when they first enter the school system.”
West Side City Council Member Gale Brewer: “The problem at Stuyvesant runs deep; I know African-American students who have been accepted to Stuy but turned it down to go elsewhere because the Gale Brewer. culture is uncomfortable with so few black and Latino students. The DOE must respond to the need to restart the Discovery Program.” State Senator Adriano Espaillat, excerpt from a letter sent to Chancellor Walcott and the DOE: “While I understand that specialized high schools are not mandated by law to participate in the Discovery Program, the alarming decrease in black and Latino student enrollment at these schools is reason enough to reconsider our approach to this issue. “In fact, the severe drop in minority enrollment at specialized schools isn’t simply an affront to communities of color; it deprives all students the opportuAdriano Espaillat. nity to be educated in a diverse environment. Furthermore, the disproportionately weak enrollment of minority students—only 5 percent of students at Stuyvesant and only 11 percent of students at Bronx Science are either black or Hispanic—represents a missed opportunity to expand access to quality education to as many students as possible.” West Side State Senator Tom Duane: “It’s sadly not surprising, but that doesn’t negate how truly disappointing it is, that these elite schools have opted out of a program that has a track record of increasing the diversity of the Tom Duane. We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
student population and at the same time maintains the high intellectual quality. “I believe it is accurate that there is a socioeconomic bias inherent in standardized tests, and so disadvantaged students who come close to achieving the lowest qualifying score may actually be more intelligent and motivated than students who have profited from more advantages to get higher scores.” Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith: “I think [Discovery] is a program that has merit for someone who is one or two points below [the cutoff score]. To go for six weeks to beef up their skills is fine. I think there’s nothing wrong with enhancing a person’s talents. “The real challenge for me is to figure out why they stopped the program at those two schools. I find that somewhat discriminatory. Maybe it’s not based on race or intellect, but I’m Malcolm Smith. going probably to talk to Dennis [Walcott] about it and find out why the Discovery Program is not being utilized by those two schools.” East Side State Senator Liz Krueger: “While I cannot say that just one program will serve as a silver bullet solution to our city’s educational shortfalls, particularly for minority students, I am led to wonder if the success that Brooklyn Latin has had with the Discovery Program cannot be duplicated elsewhere. However, the root of this problem, Liz Krueger. which we must address, is that there simply are not enough ‘good’ schools in communities throughout our city. ” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn: “We find it troubling that disadvantaged youth, including black and Latino students, are underrepresented at specialized high schools. In 2007, we created the Middle Schools Task Force, which convened a panel of experts who devel- Christine Quinn. oped recommendations to improve academic achievement in our city’s middle schools. In the past four years, the Council has worked with DOE to commit over $20
million to the Middle Schools Initiative, which seeks to level the playing field in the grade levels where students take the Specialized High School Admissions Test. It’s crucial that we give students a strong foundation, so that they have the skills necessary to succeed at these schools, not just the skills to pass the test.” West Side State Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell: “You have a very elite test that is given where people with resources probably pay some Columbia University undergrad a lot of money to tutor their kid to get them into those schools. So what happens if you come from a Daniel O’Donnell. family without the resources to hire a private tutor? “However they [score the test] has such a racially divisive impact that I think we ought to figure out a way to not have it be so. This is a failure on the part of DOE to realize the impact of what they do. I’m not
“I did not realize that someone made a decision to cancel a program that helped students who just missed the mark become qualified for admission. I hope you find out why that decision was taken. It was a mistake.” —Diane Ravitch going to say that they do it for racial reasons. When you look at this impact, you have to sit down and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. How do we do something different?’ It’s just wrong that only certain kinds of kids go into the elite high schools.” West Side Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, a graduate of Stuyvesant High School: “The student who falls only a few points short of the cutoff score required for admission to the specialized high schools likely would not have fallen short had she/ he been fortunate enough to attend a challenging middle Richard Gottfried. school. To make sure the student has the skill set necessary to make the transition, the Discovery Program requires the ‘disadvantaged’ student attend and pass a summer preparatory program administered by the
special high school. I think this is fair and appropriate given the value of diversity in the classroom to receiving a high-quality education.” Former City Comptroller and Mayoral Candidate Bill Thompson: “I think the attempt to create additional class time in earlier grades to start getting them up to speed in math and science has also fallen by the wayside. I think it’s a combination of attempts by [former NYC Schools Chancellor Rudy] Crew and Levy to Bill Thompson. provide additional time for certain subjects in earlier grades to give underserved kids an opportunity that has fallen off. Both efforts have appeared to have gone by the boards in the past seven years. I think it’s a lack of commitment at the top because that’s the only way anything is going to get done.” Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at NYU and education historian: “I was aware of the pathetically small numbers of black and Hispanic students in the city’s selective schools, but did not realize that someone made a decision to Diane Ravitch. cancel a program that helped students who just missed the mark become qualified for admission. I hope you find out why that decision was taken. It was a mistake.” Former NYC Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew: “I do remember the Discovery Program. There had been an issue raised by the NAACP and by the Urban League at that time having to do with access of poor and minority students to the high-prestige high schools in NYC. The Rudy Crew. missing link was their ability to compete on the entrance exams, and when you look at that further, it was math and science. “I think that it’s as much as Bronx Science and Stuyvesant having an obligation, it’s that the system has an obligation. “It starts at the top and my guess would be that this is no longer a priority to the higher ups. This seems like a case of ‘We already fixed that problem’ or ‘It isn’t a big issue for us to address.’”
May 19, 2011
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On Human Ground
The puppets in ‘War Horse’ ground Seth Numrich in reality By Mark Blankenship
too young, actually, and my directors got on me and said, ‘He’s not 10. He’s not 8. He’s an early teenager.’ So I had to keep that in mind.” He continued, “I have to remember that I’m playing the actions. I have to connect to Seth Numrich and the Joey puppet in War Horse. what Albert wants and what he needs as He noted, too, that when Albert goes a young man, rather than playing the age. to war, many of his scenes are “lower to It should be about playing intentions—I the ground,” meaning he has to crouch or need to save Joey, I need to confront my lie down so he can have a conversation father—instead of playing a caricature of without getting shot. “That affected the a young teenager.” physicality as we moved through that Albert changes, of course, when he part of the play.” runs away to fight and discovers the hellish Albert changes emotionally, too. “He reality of trenches, tanks and machine guns. is forced to grow up fast and figure out “We worked a lot on the sense of how to deal with life and death situations walking in mud because that was the and hold on to hope,” Numrich said. “I try reality of their lives throughout the war,” to give it a cumulative effect throughout Numrich said. “The fields of France that the play to show how Albert grows up.” were once green and full of flowers were just ripped apart, and walking in that Mark Blankenship is the editor of TDF landscape is different than walking down Stages, Theatre Development Fund’s the streets of New York City.” online performing arts magazine. Paul KolnicK
eth Numrich stars in War Horse, the theatrical fable now at Lincoln Center, as Albert Narracott, a young British boy whose life changes when his beloved horse Joey is sold as an officer’s mount in World War I. Albert joins the army to look for his animal friend, and we see both of them maneuver the horror of French battlefields. The play, which is based on a young adult novel by Michael Morpurgo, can’t work unless Joey and several other animals feel like flesh-and-blood characters. To bring them to life, the creative team has devised remarkable, life-size puppets. Operated by small teams of puppeteers, the creatures seem strikingly real. They don’t just walk around: They breathe and sigh and occasionally shake their heads, just like actual horses. Numrich loves those tiny gestures. “For us human actors in the play, breathing is not a conscious activity; it just happens,” he said. “But if you’re aware of your breathing, it can bring you
into the present moment, which is what we’re always striving to do. And because [the puppeteers] always have to be thinking about breathing and physically making that animal breathe, there’s a presence they attain in their performance that’s awe-inspiring. “There are times in the play when I see Joey breathing and I remember that I’m breathing, and it brings me right back into the moment. I thought it would take a lot of imagination to pretend these puppets are horses, and in fact, it takes none at all.” Instead, Numrich’s biggest acting challenge is totally human. Over the course of the show, Albert ages from his early teens to his early twenties, and it takes delicate work to crystallize the phases of his adolescence. For instance, Numrich doesn’t want young Albert to seem like a child, and that’s not always easy. “Once we started performing in front of an audience, I started to get self-conscious as a 24-yearold actor that people weren’t going to buy that I was 14 years old at the beginning of the play,” he recalled. “I started playing him
SPEND THE DAY WITH A MILLION GOOD FRIENDS
5K MINITHON Saturday, June 4, 2011 9:00 a.m. at Bridgehampton Militia Park, Ocean Road Register Online at
Proceeds to Benefit:
Sunday June 5, 11am - 4pm 57th - 74th Streets, 5th Ave, NYC Don’t miss the fabulous floats, marvelous marching bands, and special celebrity guests. Including performances by Beit Habubot, SOULFARM, Kosha Dillz and Diwon, Mama Doni and lots more! Please visit our website celebrateisraelparade.org for an up to date list of the parade attractions. Also on June 5: Take part in the Celebrate Israel Run in Central Park. Register @ www.nyrr.com. A special project of:
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May 12, 2011
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Sunday, May 21
FRIDAY, MAY 20 PhotograPhy
Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945— Haunting, once-classified images from United States army photographers documenting the destruction the atomic bomb at Hiroshima will be showcased in this exhibit at the International Center of Photography, May 20 through Aug. 28. 1133 6th Avenue, 212-857-0001; $12.
Streets of Dance
The 5th annual Dance Parade & DanceFest parade—in which over 10,000 dancers take to the streets and perform 73 different dance forms—kicks off at Broadway at East 21st Street and culminates in a festival of free classes and performances in Tompkins Square Park. Danceparade.org; 1, free.
SATURDAY, MAY 21 Dance
Nocturnes and Knees—The Rebecca Stenn Company performs “Fantasy, Lies, Hubris & Voyeurism,” to the music of Chopin, as part of the Soaking WET series. West End Theatre, 263 W. 86th St., 2nd Fl., rebeccastenncompany.com; $20.
SUNDAY, MAY 22 Music
Fantastical Life—Jessica Sibelman and The New York Chamber Virtuosi present “An Evening of Fantasy,” featuring the world premiere of Sibelman’s “Cinderella Suite,” a new version of Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty,” and Wieniawksi’s “Faust Fantasy.” Merkin Music Hall, 129 W. 67th St., 212-501-3300; 8, $25.
MONDAY, MAY 23
Domination and Desire—Tyrannical mother Bernarda Alba attempts to dominate her five unmarried daughters in Federico Garcia Lorca’s La Casa de Bernarda Alba, all of whom harbor a secret passion for the same man. Repertorio Español, 138 E. 27th St., 212-225-9999; 11, $25.
TUESDAY, MAY 24 art
Park as Palette—The Public Art Fund presents Sol LeWitt - Structures, 19652006, a free, outdoor career retrospective that kicks off today of LeWitt’s work, with 27 works spanning over 40 years. City Hall Park, publicartfund.org.
THURSDAY, MAY 26 Music
American Romantics—The New Amsterdam Singers present “With a Lily in Your Hand: American Works in the Romantic Style,” at The Church of the Holy Trinity, with works by Dominick Argento, Morten Lauridsen, Fenno Heath and others. 316 E. 88th St., 212568-5948; 8, $20+. We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
May 12, 2011
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new york family
Say It Don’t Scream It ‘ScreamFree’ parenting guru hal edward runkel urges parents to connect with their kids by keeping their cool
n his book, ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach To Raising Your Kids By Keeping Your Cool, marriage and family therapist Hal Edward Runkel encourages parents to stop trying to control their kids and start controlling their own emotional responses instead. We recently spoke with Runkel (who also authored the recently released title ScreamFree Marriage) about his book, the “scream free” approach and how parents can “calm themselves down and grow themselves up” in order to connect with their kids.
What is the “scream-free parenting” philosophy? It’s a shift of focus. Instead of trying to control your children, control yourself. We’ve all tried to control our children and none of us have been successful. The goal of this model is to control ourselves so that we can have a position of influence where our children can respect that mom and dad are adults and that they don’t lose their cool. ScreamFree is about creating a pause between children pushing our buttons and our response. In that pause, we can begin to think more clearly: “I am going to be an adult no matter how childishly my children behave.”
You claim that one of the best things we as parents can do for our children is to focus more on ourselves. Can you explain? If we don’t take care of ourselves, we end up needing our kids to take care of us by behaving and by making us look good. Then they are the leaders of the family, not us. What kids need most are parents that do not need them—I know this is a jarring statement, but it’s true. Focusing on yourself is one of
the best things you can do because you are communicating to your kids that you don’t need them to take care of you.
In your book, you talk about how parents have to be aware of their own “emotional reactivity” in order to control their responses to their children’s behavior. What exactly is emotional re- whines and complains, or is aggresactivity, and how should parents deal sive? What if my child does something with it? really naughty, like hits their sibling? “Emotional reactivity” is the term we use How do I stay calm, no matter what? for screaming, being passive-aggressive, shutting down or becoming resentful [in response to other people’s behavior]. The
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Parents have told us that conflicts often arise when they feel rushed, which in this city is much of the time! How can But shouldn’t we insist that our chilwe implement non-reactive parenting dren do what we, as parents, say? when we are feeling so stressed? So many parents think, “I should say it If you’re waiting until the heat of the moment to discover this scream-free muscle, that’s like not exercising and then trying to lift 200 pounds. This has to be something that you’re beginning to ingest on an ongoing basis, and it means that you start thinking strategically: What do I need to do to give my kids the best chance of succeeding in the morning? Perhaps it’s getting my kids up 15 minutes earlier. Mornings and bedtimes are not times to start ranting and raving; those are times that call us to a higher standard because our kids are looking to us in those stressful moments for leadership.
What if I have a difficult child who
Parents often describe scenarios like, “My child refuses to get dressed, get If there’s one piece of advice you hope in the stroller, leave for school, eat parents take away from reading your dinner, etc.” How can parents handle book, what would it be? these situations in a calm way? That your kids are going to act like kids.
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Absolutely! Say, “You don’t have the choice as to whether you go to school on time. You do have the choice as to how you go to school. You can go the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is you get dressed, you get in the stroller and we start walking. The hard way is I pick you up and put you in.” Don’t be angry about it, just respect that they are choosing the hard way. You always want to give your kids some choice in the matter because that’s the skill you want your kids to develop most: decision-making.
central enemy you face as a parent is not your kids, it’s not TV, it’s not drugs. Your enemy is your own emotional reactivity. When we get reactive, we don’t just make things worse, we actually create the outcome we were hoping to avoid in the first place. Staying calm grants you a sense of authority. Parents may not always have the perfect thing to say or the perfect consequence, but when we stay calm the message to our children is, “No matter what you do, I am still in charge of me; I’m not going to do you a disservice by giving you my remote control and then complaining about the fact that you push my buttons.”
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If you want to use it as an opportunity to lead them, don’t get louder. Get calmer. Get quieter. Go right up to them, be as still as you can, and whisper, “You are not going to behave this way. You are going into timeout,” or whatever you choose to be the consequence. The softer and calmer you get, the more serious you sound.
up and put them in the stroller?
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May 19, 2011
They are refusing because they are testing. Ask yourself, what are the natural and logical consequences for refusing? Instead of saying things like, “Don’t throw the toy” over and over, say, “If you throw the toy, the toy goes away for 10 minutes.” Don’t be angry about it.
Say they are refusing to get in the stroller and I have somewhere to be. At some point, shouldn’t I just pick them
and they should do it.” I always ask them, until when? How long do you want to be responsible for telling them what to do every step of the way? When do you want them to begin to think for themselves? It’s our job to let them know the choices they don’t have—kids don’t have the choice between going to school or playing in the street—but also the choices they do have. One of the best things we can do is get to a place where there is nothing our kids can do to embarrass us. When we allow them to embarrass us we’re taking too much responsibility for them. We are not responsible for our kids; we’re responsible to them.
The real question is, how old are you going to act? Someone once told me that this scream-free model is like moving away from the impossible—controlling your kids—and moving to the really, really difficult—controlling yourself. Laura Deutsch and Heather Ouida run the social and educational parent networks Babybites and Kiddybites. For more info, visit babybites.com. N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
Bratton Q&A CONTINUED FROM PAGE
Q: How does your wife feel about the possibility of your running for mayor? A: Rikki would be a phenomenal asset. She can work a room better than any person I’ve ever met. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her meet somebody that within 30 seconds, she hasn’t found a connection with, somebody they know or an issue that they talk about.
step in policing is going to be? A: The next era of policing, and indeed government, is predictive government. That with the algorithms you develop, and the information at hand, you can predict emerging problems and basically head them off. I’m more into it from a policing perspective, certainly. But much the same as CompStat spread from policing to the rest of government, predictive policing, predictive analysis, was spread from policing to the rest of government. You’ll see and hear more of that in the years ahead.
Q: You recently made a television commercial supporting marriage equality in the state. A: I’ve always been a strong supporter of gay rights and equal treatment for gays, going back as a young sergeant in the Boston police department. I was assigned as the first liaison to the gay community at that time. It was about the same time as Stonewall in New York, and was the first recognition that police needed to not be seen as acting upon that community, but rather working with them. And the issue of gay marriage—I have a sister who’s gay, who was married in Massachusetts when it was legalized there, so I’ve got a personal sensitivity to some of the discrimination and frustration. Q: How do you think it will play out? A: There’s certainly momentum with it. I was disappointed when California defeated it, because if ever there were a state you thought would support it... Ironically, what happened was a combination of Mormons and black church leaders rallied against it. For two groups who’ve been discriminated against so horrifically, to lead the charge discriminating another minority was absolutely amazing. Q: Was CompStat your idea? A: CompStat was a set of ideas and has a number of creators. I was doing a form of it in the 1970s, as a young sergeant on the Boston police department. My walls were covered with maps, and I had a student intern at night, they would take all the crime reports, put the dots in the map, and then that Sunday I’d direct the cops to those dots on the maps. In the ’90s, it got its name, there were so many of us who worked on it—what’s the expression? “Victory has many fathers, defeat is an orphan.” So CompStat originated in the police department, with many participants working in the perfecting of it. Q: What do you think the next big We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
Giuliani’s legacy. In my case, if I were to seek an office in the city, either elected or appointed, because of the contretemps we had, particularly in the ’90s, it’s a given that that’s going to come up. Much the same as when the mayor was running for president, I had no shortage of press—national, local—banging on my door, seeking comments about our contretemps in the ’90s. I would think the same thing would occur here. It makes good press.
“I’ve always been
a strong supporter of gay rights and equal treatment for gays. I have a sister who’s gay, who was married in Massachusetts when it was legalized there, so I’ve got a personal sensitivity to some of the discrimination and frustration.” —Bill Bratton
Q: What do you think of Andrew Cuomo and what he’s accomplished so far? A: I think he’s been masterful, in the sense that he’s been steady on achieving what he said he was going to do. I don’t think there’s been a misstep that I’ve noticed. Q: Why has he succeeded where Paterson, Spitzer and Pataki couldn’t succeed? A: He’s benefiting from the frustration of voters with the status quo, that they want a change. And I think he’s able to bring that leverage into Albany, and take on some very powerful, entrenched forces. And I certainly think Mayor Giuliani benefited from that during his time. Q: If you ran for mayor, would you seek Rudy Giuliani’s support, and do you think he would give you his support? A: I think anybody running for mayor has to be somewhat mindful of Mayor
Q: Do you still have a relationship with him? A: During the presidential race, we met several times in Los Angeles, and I guess you could describe it as a rapprochement. I’m not somebody that carries a grudge over time, and I’m pretty outspoken about what I think at a particular point in time. Life’s too short to harbor grudges. Q: Did you support him when he ran for president? A: I didn’t have to express support, because it never came to that, but at the same time, I don’t think I ever said anything publicly during his race. Q: Did you support anybody in the 2008 campaign? A: Obama. Q: What do you think of Obama so far? A: I think he’s done, under the circumstances, a very good job. On the issue I’m most closely associated with, criminal justice matters, he’s been very, very good. Whether it’s the economy or trying to
wrestle with terrorism, I think he’s been doing a great job. Q: How do you think the New York GOP, if you ran for the Republican nomination in 2013, would feel about you supporting the president? A: At this stage I have to beg off answering that question because I could not answer in a knowledgeable way. As to the political ins and outs, for example, on the Republican side of a potential mayoral race, I couldn’t tell you. Q: What do you miss most about being a police commissioner? What was your favorite part? A: I like to manage and create change. I enjoyed dealing with crises, because out of crises comes opportunity. During my time as police commissioner in New York, it was like being in a batting cage, with five balls coming at you all the time. L.A. would have been about three. The pace was a lot different. Q: Have race relations in New York changed? A: I think race relations in New York are much better than they were. I attribute that to a much safer city, because then, as now, unfortunately, the significant majority of serious crime is committed in the African-American community, by the African-American community, and that was the case back in the ’90s and still remains the case, even though crime is down 70 or 80 percent. The more you reduce crime in a city, the more you improve race relations, because the black and brown community, the bulk of crime occurs there, and is committed by that population. By reducing that crime problem in New York, it allows for the city to collectively take a big sigh. The city is a very different place than the city I visited in 1989 for the first time. And I think it continues to get better. Q: What do you think about the ticket fixing scandal? A: Unfortunately, I think that it’s going to get bigger. It is a widespread problem. This is of a magnitude the department has not seen for decades, in scale and manifestation. There are the actual corrupt activities, fixing criminal cases, and the administrative. In the ’70s, they had these expressions “grass eater” and “meat eater.” A meat eater was somebody who was a cop who was aggressively seeking payment to take care of something. A grass eater would be somebody who either just ignored it, or benignly would try to fix a ticket for a friend. This specter of the 1970s resonates again—it’s something that has not been seen in a while.
May 19, 2011
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A Dog-Meet-Dog Dating World Tired of the dog run scene, pooches take to the Internet By Alan Krawitz For years now, city dog owners have used their pooches to help sniff out potential dates and even mates. Must Love Dogs, a 2005 movie starring John Cusack, even centered on two people who borrowed dogs just so they could meet in a dog park. But a new social network for pet lov-
ers has turned this concept on its head by enabling pet owners to find suitable dates and playmates—not for themselves, but for their pets. “We’re not a dating site to help pet owners find dates,” said Robert Feynblut, who launched Petsdating.com in November of last year. Feynblut said that while the free social network helps to connect pets and
pet owners in different neighborhoods, the focus is really on finding pets suitable playmates. The site can also be used to find adoptable pets as well as help locate missing and lost pets by neighborhood and region. Feynblut says he got the idea for the social network after doing extensive research on the pet industry.
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In fact, Feynblut, 34, a dog lover who cares for his Bichon Frise, is so passionate about pets socializing that he is hosting an upcoming “Doggie Date Night” event in NYC for pets and their owners (but mainly pets) to “mix, mutt and mingle,” according to press materials for the event. “The event is really so pets can find other pets in their neighborhood, connect and possibly even arrange for some future pet ‘dates’ of their own,” Feynblut said. However, he added that pet owners have also been known to make some connections at these events. “The owners can connect too,” he said, “as long as it’s OK with the pet.” Stephanie Matteras, spokesperson for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of more than 150 animal rescue groups and shelters seeking to make the city a no-kill community by 2015, said that promoting responsible pet ownership doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. “Doggie Date Night is an opportunity for guests to learn more about the Alliance, help us raise funds, and a chance for animal loving New Yorkers to share the love,” she said. Roberto Negrin, 23, of Riverdale and the proud owner of four rescue dogs, has been sharing his love of animals for the past three years by designing all types of custom-made costumes and outfits for pets through his online store at Hec-lin. com. Negrin, who has designed pet clothing used at the Westminster Dog Show, said of the dating event: “It’s all about having fun with your pet and giving love and care to our babies.” Grace Forster of Gramercy Park stars, along with her two Yorkies Portia and Rosie, on the reality TV show Doggie Moms on NYC Life Television. The show centers on NYC women whose lives revolve—almost entirely—around their dogs, says Forster. As no stranger to dog-related social events, Forster is also looking forward to the Doggie Date event. “It sounds like it will be a great, fun event where people can post their pet’s profiles to the Petsdating site, grab a drink and meet some local pets for play dates,” she said. Petsdating.com’s Doggie Date Night Event will be held Friday, May 20, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St. For more information, call 212-260-4080 or visit petsdating.com. N ew s YO U Li V e B Y
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May 19, 2011
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Hungarian Wine Undergoes ‘Sweet’ Renaissance Noble Tokaji will leave your guests speechless
number, the higher the sugar content, which also means the later in the season the grapes were harvested. I was lucky enough to taste the current offerings from Royal Tokaji, a producer of Tokaji from many different regions of Hungary. While this is not a flat-out endorsement for their product alone, I think they make a Tokaji that is a great place to start. I encourage everyone to try as many different producers’ products as you can. The first offering I tried was the Royal Tokaji 2007 Red Label, 5 Puttonyos ($37.99 at Beacon Wines and Spirits, 2120 Broadway at W. 74th St., 212-877-0028). This gave me exactly what I expected from a typical, mid-level Tokaji. No surprises, but still extremely enjoyable. The pungent scents of Earl Grey tea and blood orange wafted from the glass. The flavor notes were a tad thin, but still presented a good amount of fresh orange, lychee nut and an orchid-laden finish. The second offering I tasted was possibly one of the most impressive dessert wines I have had in the By Josh Perilo last 10 years. It was, in fact, what inspired me to write the column this week. The Royal Tokaji 2000 Betsek First Growth, 6 Puttonyos ($88.95 at Sherry-Lehman Wine and Spirits, 505 Park Ave. at E. 59th St., 212-838-7500) left me speechless. There was butterscotch, hazelnut, honey roasted almonds and candied orange on the nose. A bright acidity underpinned the heady and rich notes of caramel, tea, blanched almond and cinnamon on the finish. A bargain at this price. At an even higher price tag, there is the Royal Tokaji 1999 Mezes Maly Great First Growth, 6 Puttonyos ($149.99 at Chelsea Wine Vault, 79 9th Ave., betw. W.
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Obama’s Favorite Spamwich? Shouldn’t the fact that one of President Obama’s favorite snacks is a “spam musubi” have proved definitively that he is Hawaiian born? No long-form birth certificates are necessary when the President shows a fondness for spam, a Hawaiian staple since it was introduced in World War II. I voted for President Obama, but I do have to quibble with his choice of lunch snack—or at least the way it’s presented at Hawaii Island Grill, a tiny, sterile takeout with a voluminous menu. In Hawaii, this item is prepared to pork ribs slathered in BBQ resemble a giant were tender, meaty * sauce piece of sushi; and accompanied—nice surinstead of raw fish, prise—by a mound of spicy 231 E. 53rd St. teriyaki-flavored kim-chee, a nice nod to (betw. 2nd & 3rd Aves.) Hawaii’s culinary influences. spam is strapped to a rectangle of According to the menu they 212-201-7603 sticky rice with nori range from Korea to Peru, (thin, dried seaweed). and let’s not forget Hormel™ My spam musubi ($3.75) consisted of two either, for the President’s sake! *Delivery and takeout only small wafers of flavored spam buried in —Nancy J. Brandwein rice and sandwiched between nori triangles—all of which fell apart in my hands. Got a snack attack to share? At least the quarter-size rack of ribs Contact NBrand@aol.com ($5.50) did not disappoint. Four huge
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DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN
taste so much wine from so many different countries in so many styles, that it often takes a retasting to remind me of a region that I love. This is the case with the little-known type of wine I’m writing about this week. Tokaji (pronounced Toe-Keye) is from Hungary and it has a 500-year-old tradition. For many reasons, this dessert wine has had a tough time making a name for itself, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall, production started again and, it could be argued, Tokaji is now experiencing a sort of renaissance. The wine itself is unlike anything else on the planet. The primary grape used in the blend that makes up these wines is the Furmint grape, native to Hungary. Harslevelu (another local grape) and Muscat de Lunel are also used in smaller amounts for blending. The grapes are harvested very late in the traditional harvesting season, which allows them to develop botrytis cinerea, or “noble rot,” a growth that shrivels the grapes and leaves a very concentrated, high-sugar fruit in its wake. This is the same growth that affects the grapes of Sauternes and helps produce the dessert wines of that region. Tokaji is nothing like Sauternes, however. These wines are allowed to oxidize as they ferment, which gives them qualities that you might find in a higher-end sherry. They also have an extremely long shelf life, due to the high sugar content, so once a bottle is opened, it can be served for months to come. Tokaji is also given a different designation than any other dessert wine. On every label, there is a reference to how many “Puttonyos” the wine has achieved. This refers to the amount of residual sugar present in the wine. The higher the
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By Gale Brewer with city agencies can sustain farmers: At the end of February, the Council • If each of the 860,000 children in met to discuss my food sourcing bill, Intro public schools were served 2 ounces of 452-2011, and other legislation stemming local beef just once a week, that would from Speaker Christine Quinn’s recent create demand for 10,000 local cattle, and FoodWorks report. Intro increase farm incomes. 452 amends the city • If 5 percent of code, encouraging agenSchoolFood beef was cies to use local food sourced locally, it would sources to the maximum increase the consumption extent possible. Food of local beef in NYC by advocates testified that roughly half. NYC procurement would NYC’s population and help small- and mediumeconomy are growing, and sized farmers. so too are the city’s proHannah Geller, a repcurement expenditures: resentative of American almost $17 billion worth Farmland Trust and a of supplies, services and young farmer, testified Council Member Gale Brewer. construction in 2010—a that direct rural-urban 27-percent increase from relationships are key to the long-term 2009. Procurement contracts for food viability of small farms like hers, and how services are coordinated through the difficult and expensive it is to work with Department of Citywide Administrative large distributors. They mix her apples Services (DCAS) and the Mayor’s Office with those of other producers, obscur- of Contracts (MOCS), with the exceping differences in quality. Hannah testi- tion of quasi-city agencies such as the fied that Intro 452 should encourage large Department of Education (DOE) and distributors to highlight the quality and the Health and Hospital Corporation. freshness of her apples and help consum- The DOE’s Office of SchoolFood alloers make more informed choices. cated $142.75 million for their FY We also heard from Ken Jaffe, who ’11 food budget and they estimate a raises grass-fed beef on Slope Farms in $34.75 million increase in FY ’12. DOE the Catskills. Nearly all of it is eaten in serves 860,000 meals per day, and is NYC, but local beef is only one-tenth of 1 second only to the U.S. military in percent of the market. Ken urged legisla- purchasing food. The Department of tion to support local food procurement, Homeless Services and the Department and he highlighted how relationships of Correction, which contract through
Council Member Gale A. Brewer represents District 6 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
LET T ER S
PrOduCtiOn Manager Mark T. Stinson editOriaL LayOut and design Monica Tang advertising design Heather Mulcahey assistant PrOduCtiOn Manager Jessica Balaschak firstname.lastname@example.org WEST SIDE SPIRIT is published weekly Copyright © 2011 Manhattan Media, LLC 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor New York, N.Y. 10016 Editorial (212) 284-9734 Fax (212) 268-2935 Advertising (212) 284-9715 General (212) 268-8600 E-mail: email@example.com Website: OurTownNY.com WeSt SiDe Spirit is a division of Manhattan Media, LLC, publisher of Our town, New York press, Chelsea Clinton News, the Westsider, City Hall, the Capitol,the Blackboard Awards, New York Family, and Avenue magazine. To subscribe for 1 year, please send $75 to WEST SIDE SPIRIT, 79 Madison Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10016 Recognized for excellence by the
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Time Is Now
To The Editor: Your editorial on marriage equality (“Civil Rights Issue of Our Time,” April 28) is right on point for a generation which knows that discrimination was once the law of the land but has no firsthand experience with such seemingly trivial but telling examples as the 10 percent quotas for Jewish and Catholic students at the Ivies and the Seven Sisters, or the moment when Petula Clark’s touching Harry Belafonte’s arm during a television special was enough to send the NBC brass into a tizzy. The colleges moved on. Clark and Belafonte’s show went on unedited. And you are quite right: This is the moment finally to put sexual orientation firmly in the past. Carol ann rinzler Upper West side
MOCS, project spending $5.74 million and $20.79 million respectively for food in FY ’12. As one of the largest contracting jurisdictions in the nation, NYC has used its power of the purse to leverage social goals such as increased worker protections and “green buildings.” But it has not yet acted to support the NYS food industry through the purchase of local products. NYC is a purchasing powerhouse. Intro 452 is meant to leverage that power, and to push DCAS, MOCS and DOE to support locally sourced food. The city has made progress. SchoolFood now has a Culinary Concepts department, headed by Chef Jorge Collazo, dedicated to making school food healthier and more appetizing. SchoolFood also coordinates “Garden to Café,” to connect students to agriculture at Harvest Day events, and with local group “Wellness in the Schools,” started by parents from my district, to bring scratch cooking and healthier foods into schools. We’re headed in the right direction. The next step is to make kids healthier, support farmers like Hannah and Ken and create farm jobs and a sustainable local food economy in NYS. Let’s start by leveraging the city’s large-scale purchases to aid local growers.
• w e s t s i d e spirit
May 12, 2011
Saluting Park Leaders
The Problem with Pop-up Cafes
collaborative effort of our community, especially Betty Cooper Wallerstein, president of the East 79th Alternative Healthy Manhattan: Street Neighborhood 40 Yoga Stretches Uptown Association, Terry Grace, chair of the The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time Friends of John Jay Why New York Must Pass ‘Marriage Equality’ Bill Now! 2 Park Association, W and Upper East Side City Council Member Jessica Lappin, chairperson of the Council’s aging committee, who allocated $250,000 to the Parks Department • • for the upcoming project for seniors. Go Call 212.772.DOCS (3627) Team! ANNIVE
April 28, 2011
To The Editor: Growing up on the Upper East P.4 Being an East Side Side, my siblings ‘Social Climber’ and I were so lucky to have had P.10 the time of our From the Renaissance lives at John Jay to the 21st Century Park (“Park for Seniors Faces Cuts P.20 or Delays,” April 28) and swimming pool. As a senior, now living in Peter Cooper Village and still a member of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, who frequents the neighborhood and park, I salute all the years of commitment to our beloved park, by the ANNIVE
hen we look back at America’s history, it is hard to believe there was a time when African-Americans were slaves and women did not have the right to vote. When private clubs excluded Jews. When public transportation made blacks sit in the back of the bus. When separate and unequal was the law of the land. One day very soon, we hope, our children will look back with the same disbelief and ask: “Why did your generation treat gay people as separate and unequal? Why was their love not recognized in the same legal way that we recognize heterosexual love?” e d i to r i a l
Hopefully, we will soon have a better answer for them. “All that is true,” we will have to admit, “but in 2011 in New York State everything changed. Finally, an enlightened legislature, led by a very smart governor named Andrew Cuomo, changed this shameful treatment of gay people and passed the ‘Marriage Equality Act.’”
Continued on Page 26
Gay Marriage Bill Nears Goal Line P.8 Will GOP-Controlled Senate Pass Bill? P.9
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Zero Hour for New York’s Middle-Class Tenants By Micah Z. Kellner lapsing into a Detroit-like decay. I, for As the end of the legislative session one, do not want to see this happen. We approaches, Albany has increasingly must take this opportunity to act and focused on renewing rent regulations, strengthen the hand of middle-class New but unfortunately the Republicans in the Yorkers. State Senate have consisOver the last 15 years, tently failed to concede the the regulations have been underlying issue—strong watered down to the point rent laws ensure a strong that it seems all they do middle class for New York now is benefit shady landCity. Rent-regulated tenlords. Nobody knows for ants come from every walk sure how many apartments of life; they are the people landlords have illegally who make our city go. The deregulated, but best estiSenate Republicans must mates show that hundreds recognize that our rent laws of thousands of apartments are vital to keeping middlehave been lost. The worst class New Yorkers in their Micah Kellner. part is, our current rent-reghomes, which is vital to the ulation system is entirely economic health of our city and state. complaint-driven and no enforcement Losing the middle class would mean can take place unless a tenant, who often splitting the city between the very rich doesn’t understand their rights, files a and very poor. As history has illustrat- complaint. ed, this will set us on a path of urban All too often, dishonest landlords take decline that will end with New York col- advantage of tenants who don’t know
their rights, using any means necessary to force hardworking families from their homes. I deal with this every day as East Siders stream into my free legal clinic in the hopes of evening the balance of power that has been so tilted in favor of landlords, who are using the court system to unscrupulously harass them. These folks have enough on their plate, and forcing them to defend their right to live in their home at every turn sends the message that they are not welcome or wanted in New York. Sadly, there are not enough resources to help the overwhelming number of people who need assistance. Reforming our rent regulations is the only way to keep people in their homes and, most importantly, keep them in New York. I, along with my colleagues in the State Assembly, am doing my best to ensure that our communities get the protections that they deserve. Earlier this month, we passed comprehensive legislation that not only renews the rent regulation laws,
but enhances them. Governor Cuomo has also recently said that he was aggressively pursuing the expansion and extension of our State’s rent laws, because he recognizes that when the middle class thrives so does the rest of the city. It’s not a moment too soon, either, with the existing regulations set to expire June 15. The Assembly and Governor are ready and willing to work together, but the dysfunctional State Senate Republicans have been dragging their feet. This should be a no-brainer; if there was ever a time to unite in support of our middle class, it is now. Micah Kellner represents the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Roosevelt Island in the New York State Assembly. For information on his Free Legal Clinic, please contact his office at 212-8604906. To sign the Assembly’s petition calling for stronger rent laws, go to assembly.state.ny.us/Rent/Sign.
Busybody Politics To intercede or not to intercede By Jeanne Martinet The other day my friend Henry was hurrying along 14th Street near Seventh Avenue when he overheard a woman asking a passerby how to get to Times Square by subway. “Just walk one block over to the A train, and then take it uptown to 42nd Street,” said the man, pointing west with cheerful confidence. Henry, of course, knew these were poor directions; not only was the woman currently only steps away from the entrance to the 1/2/3 train, but taking the A would necessitate her walking the long, crowded avenue block along 42nd, to get from Eighth Avenue back to Seventh. Henry slowed, considered turning back to correct the passerby, then thought better of it. He did not want to embarrass the man, and he figured the woman would get to her designation eventually. And after all, it was really none of his business. But five minutes later Henry found himself feeling slightly guilty. He knew he could have saved the woman about 20 minutes—not to mention a lot of walking. But wouldn’t it have been presumptuous for him to step in, unasked? Most of us We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m
are happy to stop and help when someone approaches us directly, but when you offer unsolicited help, are you being a Good Samaritan or just a Nosy Parker? Is it a New Yorker’s duty to butt in when it comes to matters of mass transit or urban geography? And if you don’t, are you complicit in sending the stranger in the wrong direction? The problem is that talking to strangers can be daunting enough, but interrupting someone else’s two-way conversation goes against our social instincts. When you are interrupting with the sole purpose of correcting someone, you are risking embarrassment all around. The person who is giving the wrong directions may be embarrassed because you have criticized his knowledge. (He may even argue with you.) The person who is doing the asking may be embarrassed to seem to need help from more than one person. And you may end up embarrassed, should the first two turn to you with annoyed, “Who asked you?” expressions. The question is, does being right justify being a busybody? One of the important factors in decid-
ing whether or not to intervene is the magnitude of the error. If you know the mistake is really going to cost someone (for example, if he is about to be sent to the Bronx instead of to Brooklyn), you are pretty much obligated to interfere—otherwise it is like seeing a crime being committed and doing nothing about it. But what if the directions you are overhearing are not wrong per se, but are just not great? If it is just a question of your route being a little more efficient—like the difference between two cross-town buses—you may want to keep your preferences to yourself. It is a different situation if you are on the subway, or standing in a line. In a group of standing-still strangers, it is a natural thing for anyone within earshot to jump in and say, “This train does not stop at Franklin Street.” On the other hand you can take helpfulness too far. Information is one thing, but unsought opinions are another. It might not be considered heroic to intrude into someone’s conversation with, “Wait, you’re trying to get to Bed Bath and Beyond? I know a better place!”
Certainly there is a good way and a bad way to go about contradicting an erroneous direction-giver. You definitely don’t want to leap in with, “That’s nuts! The 2/3 train is right here!” Be nonjudgmental and polite while correcting the mistake, and try to offer some kind of face-saver. (“Excuse me for interrupting, but actually the 2 or 3 train—right behind you?—goes directly there. Some find the A train can be more reliable/less crowded, but right now the 2/3 is running just fine. It’s really much more direct.”) Or you can wait until the person with the bad directions is gone, and then approach the direction-seeker with, “Sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing you talking to that other gentleman. That route he suggested will take you out of your way; the best way to get there is to take the 2 or 3 right over there.” New York City can often be hard to navigate, so I believe in erring on the side of interceding. But remember: When you decide to swoop in and second-guess someone else’s directions, better be sure you are armed with accurate information. There is nothing worse than a Know-itall who doesn’t know his Noho from his Nolita. Jeanne Martinet, aka Miss Mingle, is the author of seven books on social interaction. Read her blog at MissMingle. com.
May 12, 2011
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The May 19, 2011 issue of West Side Spirit. The West Side Spirit, published weekly, is chock full of information—from hard news to human int...