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Seniors: Where to beat the heat July 28, 2011

Page 18 Since 1985

Does Co-Locating Charter Schools Work?


Mining Humor from Presidential Politics

Big and Bold at

Lincoln Center Fest P.8

Finding the Perfect UWS Parking Spot


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GASLAND SCREENING—The West 45th Street Block Association and West Side Neighborhood Alliance are presenting a free outdoor screening of the award-winning documentary Gasland, directed by Josh Fox, on Monday, August 1. The 2010 documentary explores hydrofracking, the process of extracting natural gas from deep wells drilled in rock formations that opponents say has the potential to contaminate drinking water and contribute heavily to greenhouse gas emissions. The screening will be held in

Mathews Palmer Playground, at 45th/46th streets between 9th and 10th avenues, at 8:30 p.m. Viewers are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets, food and friends. —KZ TEEN DRUG USE ON THE RISE—The

National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University recently released a nation-wide study that found that teen smoking, drinking, misuse of prescription drugs and use of illegal drugs is a public health problem of epidemic proportions. The report states that almost half of high school students use addictive substances and 90 percent of Americans who meet the medical criteria for addiction started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18, which is one of the reasons advocates and researchers say it’s imperative to curb underage drug and alcohol use. The report singles out “American culture” as a major factor in teenage drinking and substance abuse. “While parents, school- or communitybased prevention programs and national media campaigns may instruct teens not to smoke, drink or use other drugs, these messages too often are diluted or drowned out entirely by what teens see and hear in the media, in their communities, in their own homes and among their peers—messages that glorify relaxing with a cigarette, getting drunk or high to socialize or have fun or relying on a drug to cure any sense

Broadway gets vocal in Bryant Park

Alexis Rodriguez Duarte and Tico Torres share an emotional moment while being wed at the Manhattan City Clerk’s office on the first day that the new marriage equality law took effect in the state.

of physical or emotional discomfort,” said Susan Foster, director of CASA. The report also lays out the public costs of teen drug abuse: $68 billion in healthcare and $14 billion in juvenile justice costs. “These costs largely are the result of crimes, diseases, accidents, child neglect and abuse, unplanned pregnancies, homelessness, unemployment and other outcomes of our failure to prevent substance use and treat the health condition of addiction,” said Foster. CASA plans to continue its work educating the public in the hopes of convincing people to see teen drug abuse as a public health problem. “Simply helping parents, doctors, policymakers and other adults understand that adolescent substance use is a preventable public health problem and that addiction is a treatable disease can shift our thinking about these issues and our responses to them,” Foster said. —Megan Finnegan

andrew schwartz


Members of the Broadway show “The Voca People” serenade a member of the audience during the Broadway in Bryant Park performance.


Marriage equality Finally arrives

andrew schwartz

Upper West Side seniors now have access to more free computers and support services. Last Tuesday, Council Member Gale Brewer joined the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Macquarie Group and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) in cutting the ribbon for the launch of the senior technology center at NYCHA’s Amsterdam Houses at 218 West 64th Street. The computer lab was made possible by a partnership between the three agencies—NYCHA provided the building space, the Macquarie Group donated the computers and OATS will supply instructional classes. Brewer, who has served as chair of the Council Committee on Technology, has an ongoing goal of bridging the digital gap across generations and economic levels. —Karen Zheng

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July 28, 2011

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is investigating the case of the vanishing pothole complaints. Earlier this year, his staff began submitting pothole complaints via the online 311 system. Upon following up by phone, they discovered that 311 had no record of the complaints. Overall, the staff has noted 134

missing complaints that the Department of Transportation has no way to address. “It would appear that online 311 pothole complaints are, in fact, falling into a black hole,” said Stringer in a statement. “The fact that these complaints are being lost raises questions about what other types of calls may be falling through the cracks.” Stringer is calling on the Department of Information and Telecommunications to fix the problem and reveal information about what contractors are responsible for integrating the online 311 system. Meanwhile Council Member Gale Brewer’s staff has been scouring the streets of the Upper West Side to find potholes and other street damage and their study has found that while a majority of reported damage spots get repaired in a timely fashion, 20 percent of those reported are still awaiting fix-ups and 111 spots that the team found had not been reported at all. “My office receives complaints about potholes from pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. NYC DOT and DEP are doing a good job but there are more potholes on our streets than ever before,” said Brewer in a statement. “They start small and don’t get attention until they grow into big problems that cost the city significant resources to repair.” Brewer hopes that the proactive approach to identifying problems will nudge the Upper West Side off the list of neighborhoods with the highest numbers of potholes in the city. —MF N ew s YO U Li V e B Y

Bertolt Brecht. Lincoln Center. Free. An Evening with Brecht Thursday, 4 August | 8:30 p.m. David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center Broadway at 62nd Street, New York City Free Admission Spend an evening with Bertolt Brecht. Join the Fordham Alumni Theatre Company’s cast of Life of Galileo as they perform live music with selections from the play and from Brecht’s collected poetry. Presented as part of the Target Free Thursdays Series, limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, contact the David Rubenstein Atrium at (212) 875-5350.


July 28, 2011

W E S T S I D E S P I 7/20/11 R I T 4:51 • PM3



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Learning to Co-exist Public advocate unveils plan to get public schools and charters to play nice By Megan Finnegan Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is calling out the Department of Education for not sharing well. As many Upper West Side parents are acutely aware, the DOE routinely places different schools in the same buildings, a process called co-location. De Blasio has been studying the way the DOE handles co-locations, and a report, “Consensus for Reform: A Plan for Collaborative School Co-Locations,” released by his office last week, details the ways that the DOE can do a better job with this tricky but necessary process. The report calls for the DOE to standardize the site selection process, clarify communications and bring parents more fully into the decision-making process for co-locations. It suggests changes at the city and state level to allow for more conscientious and publicly informed planning before a co-location is finalized. “I support mayoral control but I don’t see the kind of democracy and due pro-

cess and checks and balances that mayoral control was supposed to guarantee,” said de Blasio at a recent press conference. “People go to a panel on education policy in the hundreds and the thousands and it makes no difference whatsoever— that is not mayoral control as many of us hoped it would be.” De Blasio emphasized one of the parents’ main gripes: they feel left out of the process and can’t contribute opinions until it comes time for angry protests. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the sites of co-located charter schools. On the Upper West Side, parents, elected officials and other education advocates have been lobbying against the co-location of Upper West Success, a new charter school, in the Brandeis High School complex. Opponents of the DOE’s plan have sued to stop the impending co-location, citing the inappropriateness of inserting kindergarten and 1st grade students into a high school facility. The battle has been contentious.

news “The DOE has a system that pits parents against parents,” said Regina Castro, a member of the advocacy group New York Communities for Change and parent of a son with special needs who she says has been shunted by the DOE’s colocation policies. “The biggest losers of the co-location process are the students,” she said. “Students are doing speech therapy in hallways and stairwells [because they have run out of classroom space].” Sonya Hampton, a parent of elementary school-aged kids who attend P.S. 149 in Harlem, is adamant that her children get the short end of the stick in their public school’s co-location with two separate charter schools, Harlem Success Academy 1 and a Harlem Children’s Zone pre-kindergarten program, as well as with two other public schools in the building. “My main thing was look, let me get on the PTA because right now, something’s happening in my community and they’re not involving the people,” said Hampton. Now her children are feeling the squeeze as Harlem Success grows. The DOE submitted a proposal at the end of last year to allow Harlem Success to add three additional grades to the building. With space already at a premium and

public school kids having to walk out of their way to use bathrooms and entrances, parents like Hampton wonder when the DOE is going revise their co-location strategy—or if they have one at all. “So far it seems like we have been ignored by the DOE. This whole idea of putting an elementary school in a building with high school students does not make any sense,” said Lisa Steglich, a parent of a student at Frank McCourt High School, one of the schools co-located at the Brandeis complex. “We have to do everything we can to make our voices heard, to let the DOE know that the way they went about this entire process did not comport with education law and that fundamentally it’s not a good idea. It’s a waste of taxpayer money.” The public advocate pointed out that the battle should be between all parents and the DOE, not parents fighting against other parents. “If anyone tries to stereotype this as charter schools versus traditional public schools, they’re missing the point,” said de Blasio. “The DOE’s policies are actually fostering division and conflict, largely between charter parents and traditional public school parents. Those are divisions we don’t need to have.”

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Big and Bold at Lincoln Center Out of Doors By Valerie Gladstone phers because a part of their Retrospective Bill Bragin, the indefatigable director Project is on exhibit through Oct. 31 at the of public programming at Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library makes sure that unexpected and inge- near the North Plaza pool. nious collaborations are Lincoln Center “Water is an important motif in our Out of Doors’ stock in trade. works,” Eiko said, explaining that they “I want to bring different artistic and performed River in various sites in 1995. social communities together,” he said. “After what happened to Japan’s tsunami“It’s important for arts organizations affected areas, we also learned the power to be risk takers and move the culture of water as a moving force.” forward.” Mirabal, who lives in Taos Pueblo, A man of his word, he brings a great N.M., leapt at the opportunity to be with mixture of disciplines and performers his old friends again. He calls Water “a to this year’s free festival, which runs collaboration of the heart.” At the start through Aug. 14. The lineup includes of the project, the choreographers asked rousing English folk singer Billy Bragg, him to compose something that reflected jazz masters Barry Harris, Eric Reed and timelessness. Don Byron, singers Mavis Staples, Buika, “I tried different things,” he said, “like Lesley Gore and Steve Cropper, com- floating a log down a river with a microposers/musicians Laurie Anderson, Tan phone to hear the reverberations. Water Dun, Todd Reynolds and Malkit Singh, is time and can’t be held, only experichoreographers Eiko & Koma, Trey enced. They want a percussive sound but McIntyre and David Dorfman and the not a drum, and I’m still looking for ways great Preservation Hall Jazz Band, among to achieve that. They force me into a nonmany others. linear place. Bragg and the Big Busk kicked off the It took a couple of years of talking festivities on July 27 at Damrosch Park with Gabri Christa (who directs Burnt Bandshell with rollicking music in a sing- Sugar/Danz with Greg Tate and Germaul and play-along, open to anyone with a Barnes) and Don Byron and his New voice and/or guitar. Later that night and Gospel Quintet for Bragin to see how they through July 31, Eiko & Koma climb into the North Plaza reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Center Theater to perform Water, a collaboration with Native American composer and flutist Richard Mirabel. “I like the contrast between populist Billy Bragg and quiet and contemplative Eiko, Koma and Robert,” Bragin said. “Also, part of my mission is to get people off the stage onto the Lincoln Center campus.”(To ensure that theatergoers leaving War Horse don’t interrupt the performance, Water will take place during the play’s second act.) Bragin didn’t suggest that Eiko & Koma and Mirabal collaborate— they worked together on Tan Dun will perform at the Lincoln Center Festival. Land in 1991, and Mirabal rearranged the score for their piece Raven might fit together. in 2010—but he is responsible for bringing A former dancer with Bill T. Jones/ them to Lincoln Center for the first time. Arnie Zane Dance Company and Danza It’s especially gratifying for the choreogra- Contemporanea de Cuba, Christa brings


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July 28, 2011

Malkit Singh brings his smooth sounds to Lincoln Center Out of Doors. a varied background to her choreography as well as the influence of avant-garde musician and composer Butch Morris, the originator of conduction, a type of structure-free improvisation. Her troupe moves among many styles, eras and genres to create interesting hybrids. But only when she told Bragin that she hoped to do a piece inspired by Alvin Ailey’s great Revelations did he see the connection with Byron. “Who better than Don for her to collaborate with?” he said. “Gospel is the organizing principal.” Christa added. “Don understood what I was trying to do and I understood what he wanted. This won’t be a version of Revelations—I wouldn’t dream of that— it’s a deconstruction.” On July 29, besides Revelations Glitch, her company will also perform Dance Conduction #6: The Trojan Rumba Suite and The Fata Morgana Suite, each work a combination of spontaneously composed music and choreography. When Bragin saw Sweeter End last February in New Orleans, the second collaboration between the Trey McIntyre

Project and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, their sequel to Ma Maison, he knew he wanted both pieces at Lincoln Center. Not only because they were marvelous, he said, but to keep attention on New Orleans after Katrina. In fact, that’s what brought McIntyre, who established his company in 2008 in Boise, Idaho, back to the city. On every visit thereafter he found himself drawn to Preservation Hall. Finally, he asked Ben Jaffe, the band’s creative director and bassist, if they could work together. “I like taking the Preservation Hall Band in directions we’ve never explored artistically,” Jaffe said. “My job was to make Trey aware of the different aspects of our music and what we are capable of achieving.” Months of discussion, listening and observing followed. The band came to the conclusion that the musical centerpiece of Sweeter End should be an extended version of the classic, “St. James Infirmary,” and incorporate ideas developed with another collaborator, the hip-hop DJ King Britt. The arrangement evolves from a dirge to a festive dance piece in the manner of a traditional jazz funeral. The two works will be performed on Aug. 3. “Among my band there was a lot of curiosity about the collaboration,” he said. “None of us had ever done a dance project on this scale before. It’s been amazing for me to watch the reaction of the older members. They are in as much awe of the dancers as we’ve come to find out they are of us.” For a complete list of events, visit N ew s YO U Li V e B Y



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Tingle Mines the Humor in Politics By Ashley Welch Though the presidential election is over a year away, one man has his eyes on the prize this summer. His name is Jimmy Tingle and he is a comedian who has taken his one-man show, Jimmy Tingle for President: The Funniest Campaign in History, to the Triad this July. Though the show was created in 2008, Tingle has updated it to reflect the current national zeitgeist. Whether describing his idea to save energy by placing a small windmill on every traffic light in America or the components of the Tingle Tax Plan, he approaches the day’s pressing issues with a sense of humor. A comic for over 30 years, Tingle has appeared on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brien, been a commentator on 60 Minutes II in the Andy Rooney spot and starred in his own HBO comedy special. Our Town recently spoke with him about his latest show, his start as a comedian and getting his M.A. from Harvard University. Tell me about Jimmy Tingle for President: The Funniest Campaign in History. It’s a comedy wrapped in the theme of presidential campaign. I’ve put together comedic solutions for the serious issues of the day,

such as healthcare, taxes, national defense, immigration and alternative energy. How is the show different now from in 2008? It is different now because, as a country, we’re in a much different place. With the debt ceiling and the meltdown on Wall Street, the economy and unemployment are much more important.

How do audience members typically react to the show? They want me to seriously run. They often ask me who is running as my vice president, and I say I don’t need one. I’ve made a recording of the show and if anything happens to me, the American people can watch it and they’ll know what to do. How did you get your start as a come-

dian and what has the ride been like? I started the same way most comics start: going to open mic nights. I also performed on the streets and basically wherever a crowd gathered. The comedy scene was on an incline in early 1980s, which is when I worked up in the Boston circuit and also did some college shows. Then I moved to New York in 1987 and made it on to the Tonight Show and on [Late Night with] Conan O’Brien and did my HBO special in the early ’90s. You were a commentator for 60 Minutes II for two years. How is being on television different from performing live? Well, you have a much shorter time slot— you only get two minutes. The editing process to get material on the air is also very different. For example, if I want to try a joke tonight, I just try it. That’s the freedom of a comic. But on national television, there’s a serious editing component to the whole thing. It makes you a better writer and editor. You received your M.A. in public policy from Harvard in 2010. Why did you decide to go back to school and what was the experience like? With my comedy, I follow the issues of the day and take them very seriously. So I fig-

ured, why not go back to school and see if there was a way to learn more and participate in a greater capacity? I was very inspired by the faculty and students and it was great to be in the audience listening rather than being the one talking. What’s your favorite thing about performing? Conversely, what’s the most difficult part? My favorite part is when you distill a complicated issue down to something really understandable and funny that says what you want it to say and makes people laugh at the same time. The biggest difficulty is constantly staying on top of what’s going on and being able to comment at the same level as your earlier work. What is your goal for the show and what do you hope people take out of it? I hope the audience feels optimistic when they leave. I hope they feel relieved of some of the tension and anxiety and that they feel more hopeful about the country and world. The next performance of Jimmy Tingle for President: The Funniest Campaign in History will take place on July 30, followed by a show Aug. 27. Check for updates and possible additional showtimes in August.

Cutting the Pain Out of Parking


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of looking and the expense of a garage. Rapid Park, a company that owns dozens of garages around the city, averages almost $16 for just one hour of parking at their Upper West Side locations; Icon Parking averages the same. While the hourly rate goes down slightly at most garages the longer a car is parked, a three-hour stint could set you back $30, and overnight parking rates go as high as $45.By comparison, bidding six or seven dollars for street parking information could seem cheap. Users can sign up at ParkingAuction. com and set up an account linked to PayPal, Amazon or a credit card. If you’re about to move your car and want to sell your spot, you log on and offer it up. Other users bid on it and you decide to whom you sell. Parking Auction will take a yet-to-befinalized percentage from each of these transactions; Rosetti said it will likely be less than 10 percent. They expect most transactions to be in the five-to-ten-dollar range, so turning a profit will depend on

July 28, 2011

building a high volume of users. One of their most frequently asked questions has been: Is this legal? Rosetti says yes, completely. “Technically, you’re not actually selling your spot, you’re selling information,” he explained. “A logistics company telling you the fastest route to take—they’re not sell- Brian Rosetti is part owner of Parking Auction, a startup that allows drivers to find free parking spots on the street. ing the road.” And because all the program can sell encourage honesty and that the occasional is information, sometimes a bid will have lost bid or spot won’t deter users overall. to be cancelled if a regular parker comes The hope, Rosetti said, is to not only along. make parking a faster and more con“We can’t avoid that instance when venient task but to cut down on polsomeone just happens to be in the right lution and wasted gas. He pointed to spot at the right time,” Rosetti said. But a Transportation Alternatives study he thinks that the market incentive will continued on next page andrew schwartz

By Megan Finnegan Any Upper West Side resident who owns a car is familiar with the anguish of circling blocks, scouring the streets for available parking. A new startup called Parking Auction is betting that those drivers would shell out a few bucks to end the cycle of frustration. “The idea is we’re creating a mobile web service that helps you find street parking,” said Brian Rosetti, part owner of the new venture. “Our approach is to introduce a market solution to this problem. We’re trying to connect people leaving a spot with people looking for a spot.” The brainchild of local resident Nick Oliva, who came up with the idea but is taking the back seat on running the company, Parking Auction aims to be a virtual marketplace for parking on the Upper West Side. The company launches its mobile app on Aug. 1. Rosetti is betting that motorists will pay to find out precisely where a free spot on the street will open up to avoid the hassle

N ew s YO U Li V e B Y


No Room in the Garage

W. 83rd residents say overflowing car lot presents safety concerns By Daniel Fabiani Residents on West 83rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues are quarreling again with a local parking garage that they claim steals parking spots and endangers public safety. Last year, some residents of the block brought their concerns about the garage, owned by Central Parking System, to the attention of City Council Member Gale Brewer. Together they hosted a meeting at the 20th Precinct about the garage’s management of their vehicles. The event included a member of the Department of Consumer Affairs (who licenses city garages), a garage representative and a resident of the block. It ended on a good note, but now the issue has arisen again. “In actuality, the parking garage tried to be better the first two weeks after the community meeting while everyone from the police to the City Council was watching them, but then it was back to business as usual,” said Douglas Jabbour, a resident of the block. Some of the concerns that residents brought up include worries over the safety of seniors because garage attendants park vehicles on the sidewalks in front of their buildings. They also believe traffic coming in and out of the garage blocks access to nearby Engine Co. 74. Reps from the fire station wouldn’t comment for the story. Several parents interviewed said they

have to steer their strollers away from the garage’s unmanaged vehicles, forcing them inches from oncoming traffic. “It’s pretty inconsiderate and dangerous how I have to push my stroller into the street because cars are parked on the sidewalk. This block has a lot of kids on it,” said a mother and resident of the block who didn’t want to give her name. “Even my nanny is complaining.” West 83rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues is a zoned commercial block and holds small businesses including restaurants, a post office, a daycare center, Engine Company 74 and more—including the CPS garage. Residents have noted the same pattern as was brought up last year, with the garage and its plethora of vehicles stealing the limited number of residents’ parking spots and parking unmanned cars along sidewalks, leaving little room to pass. “83rd Street is a block that needs particular attention,” said Brewer. “This block has heavy pedestrian traffic of all kinds, including residential and commercial traffic.” The council member said that she has received community complaints not only about the garage on West 83rd but about another garage on West 77th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway as well. It’s an ongoing city issue that she is trying to fix.


and that up to 45 percent of traffic in the neighborhood is created by people cruising for parking. There are other applications designed to help users find parking. A company called Roadify that operates mainly in Park Slope, Brooklyn, shares parking and public transit information for free; it’s based largely on community information sharing.

continued from previous page

from June 2008 that found that motorists drive a total of 366,000 miles a year looking for open street spaces just within a 15-block area on Columbus Avenue,


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Some residents on 83rd Street claim that a nearby parking garage poses safety concerns. The congestion in question can be linked to some fairly recent development on the block. Central Parking System used to have two garages across the street from one another but about two years ago, the owner of the building that leased one of the CPS garages sold it to Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This compressed all of the CPS business into one garage on the already traffic-smothered block. CPS leases space to Avis, Thrifty and Enterprise car rental agencies and utilizes

vacant space for pedestrian parking. The West Side Spirit asked the general manager of CPS, Jose Alvarez, to comment but he never returned phone calls made to his office. The DCA said they urge anyone who feels that parking garages are not conducting their business safely to file a formal complaint or to request an inspection through 311. “It’s not about how many people complain, it’s that no one knows to complain to the DCA,” added Jabbour.

Rosetti said that he thinks his dollar-based program will go further, however. “No one else is allowing users to buy

and sell spots based on real currency,” he said. “We think there has to be a true incentive.”

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Healthy Manhattan a monthly advertising supplement

It’s Not You (the Animals), It’s Me Vegan diets are attracting more people for health, rather than moral, reasons BY LISA ELAINE HELD ET’S FACE IT—it’s going to be a long time before New Yorkers abandon their search for the best burger, their love for Peter Luger or their yen for Mister Softee on a hot summer day. But lately, less meaty (and creamy) food options have been showing up all over town. In the past six months, a vegan pop-up restaurant, Wildflower, opened for three days on the Lower East Side, and a vegan pop-up shop debuted in Williamsburg. Candle 79, the Upper East Side vegan mecca, launched a line of frozen foods to be sold at Whole Foods, and the Soft Serve Fruit Co. opened a Union Square location to peddle their vegan version of frozen yogurt. And while vegans in New York are not a new phenomenon, this newest trend towards plant-based diets seems to be focused less on stopping the slaughter of animals and more on starting to pay attention to a major American issue— our health. “It’s a concept whose time has come, and it feels like some big changes have been made in the past year,” said Brian Wendel, the creator of Forks Over Knives, a feature documentary on the benefits of a plant-based diet, which played at Landmark Sunshine Cinemas on the Lower East Side this past May. “I foresee more coming in the near future.” Wendel said that he had been aware of the general benefits of a plant-based diet for years, but that after reading The China Study, he was shocked by how


convincing and expansive the evidence for eliminating meat and dairy from diets really was. “I just thought, ‘Enough is enough,’” he said. “We’re talking about a diet that can not only prevent, but can reverse many degenerative diseases.” The China Study, written by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his son Thomas M. Campbell, summarizes the results of the China Project, a survey focused primarily on research in rural China. The project cited more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between dietary factors and disease and is often called the

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most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Campbell’s main conclusion was that people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic diseases. For example, he demonstrated that cancer growth could literally be “turned on” by animal protein. Forks Over Knives relied heavily on information from The China Study, and on research done by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., a prominent researcher at the Cleveland Clinic who has shown that heart disease can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, by switching

individuals from animal to plantbased diets. Despite the amount of evidence on how much healthier a vegan diet can be, most nutritionists still advocate a balanced meal complete with animal protein. Last month, the USDA released new dietary guidelines in the form of a diagram called MyPlate. While the diagram does emphasize eating more fruits and vegetables, it features a separate section for both dairy and protein (protein from either meat or vegan sources, such as soy or legumes.) And many people, including some nutritionists, do recommend meat and dairy as sources of nutrients such as calcium and protein. Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, the founder of Real Nutrition NYC near Madison Square Park, said that animal products are not at all necessary to maintain a healthy diet, but that in order to be a healthy vegan, you have to be more diligent about your diet. “People say they’re going vegan, and they grab lots of carbs because it’s easy and cheap,” she said. “But it takes a lot of work to make sure you’re getting the nutrients from the food you choose to eat.” For instance, Shapiro explained that Americans tend to think they need more protein than they really do, and it’s actually easy for vegans to get an adequate amount. They just need to know where to find it—in foods like tofu, seitan, beans, lentils and nuts. “It’s a really dedicated lifestyle,” Shapiro said. It may take more than a few pop-up shops and new vegan businesses for New Yorkers to consider committing. Still, Wendel said that his Forks Over Knives is starting to change the minds of New Yorkers and people around the country little by little. It has had steady audience approval ratings of over 90 percent, and the movie’s Facebook wall is covered with the comments of recent viewers swearing off meat and dairy for all time. “It’s going to be one of those things where we’re going to look back in 100 years and think that these behaviors [eating animal products] were bizarre,” said Wendel. “We’ll say, ‘Wow! Back then, not only did they drink the milk of another species, but they went around convincing themselves that there were health benefits!’”

N ew s YO U Li V e B Y

July 28, 2011



Healthy Manhattan

Healthy Alternatives for the Grill Fruits and other unexpected grilling options for outdoors and in BY PAULETTE SAFDIEH HILE A SELF-MADE dinner can significantly cut calories, lighting up an apartment-friendly grill instead of a frying pan can do it best. With some minor tweaking, a summer meal can be more than high-fat burgers and sweet marinades. Foods that aren’t typically cooked outdoors, like tempeh and pineapple, can be grilled to heart-healthy perfection with just minimal effort. “Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to compromise taste,” said Vladimir Grinberg, owner of East Village restaurant The Organic Grill. Grinberg and his staff know the benefits of healthy grilling first-hand. “When my mother had cancer, she read an article about macrobiotic food. It suggested that people who changed their eating habits had more time to live,” Grinberg said of his first exposure to wholesome eating 10 years ago. At the time, being healthconscious wasn’t trendy and widespread. Besides Angelica’s Kitchen on East 12th Street, vegans and health nuts were limited in dining out options. “I was a virgin in the field. I decided to learn more about it so I could cook for my mother,” said Grinberg, who soon after decided to open the restaurant. The mentality behind The Organic Grill was recognizing that vegan ingredients like tofu and tempeh don’t necessarily make something healthy. Vegetarian restaurants often fry their proteins and drench the food in highcalorie sauces. Grilled foods, on the other hand, require fewer ingredients. “Our most popular dishes are the grilled ones,” said Grinberg of unique menu options like barbecued pizza (the dough is baked in an oven first) or paninis smeared with sundried tomato mayonnaise. Manager Julia Chebotar prefers a grilled panini to a classic one. “It gives great texture to the crust and bread,” she said. “The cheese melts differently—it’s less gummy. Not to mention, it eliminates unnecessary oil and the vegetables give off their own aroma and juice.” Like the crew at The Organic Grill, Rich Wachtel is a grill enthusiast who has a no-holds-barred approach to summer’s preferred method of cooking. Since starting the D.C.-based just over a year ago, Wachtel and his contribu-




July 28, 2011

tors have posted innovative recipes featuring everything from avocado to sushi. “It’s a one-stop shop for grilling adventures from around the country,” said Wachtel of his site, which regularly posts product reviews, recipes and video how-tos for approximately 10,000 monthly visitors. “The goal is to bridge the gap between amateurs and professionals. Anyone can do it!” Monthly contributor Rebecca Risser advocates that “anyone” can mean city folk, too. While Wachtel prefers cooking up beefy burgers in his suburban backyard, Risser prides herself on being an “urban griller.” When this Texan made the move to a D.C. apartment, she found ways to make grilling conducive to her cramped city lifestyle. Products like stovetop grills are sold at Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot for convenient, indoor grilling. To get the ultimate smoky taste of an outdoor barbecue, Cuisinart makes portable, tabletop grills ($150 on Amazon). Risser insists that although your barbecue may lack the backdrop of a lush green lawn, it can still have the same superb taste. For first-time grillers, Wachtel suggests using your iPad for some assistance. Apps like the Weber Grilling App can set timers, provide recipe ideas and help you keep track of your own creations. Remember, it’s all about trial and error. “Be fearless!” encouraged Wachtel. Chebotar agrees there is no need to fret. “Almost anything can be grilled. People just need to be willing to try something new.” She suggested a sesame-crusted tempeh burger with grilled onions for a fresh take on barbecued burgers. Tofu and seitan are also versatile protein options, since they absorb flavors really well. Ultimately, not everything has to be a burger—lots of fruits and vegetables work surprisingly well on the grill, too. “Those high in sugar and fat work best,” said Risser, pointing to her grilled avocado recipe from the Grilling with Rich site. Watery produce, like Brussels sprouts, should be brushed with olive oil beforehand in order to cook properly. Fruits with a lot of sugar caramelize when cooked on the grill, making a quick and savory dessert. With the right gear and creative ingredients, a three-course meal courtesy of your portable grill is within reach. N EW S YO U LIV E B Y

Streamlining Early Detection By Emily Johnson The specialists: Director of Anatomic Pathology and Director of Breast Pathology Division, Dr. Ira Bleiweiss, and Chief of Breast Imaging, Dr. Laurie Margolies on using teamwork to conquer cancer Both of these breast cancer veterans have been working in their fields for more than 20 years. “Early in my career, I perceived a real need for quality images and quality patientcentered care where all aspects of the patient’s experiences are paid attention to,” says Dr. Margolies. That’s the mission at Mount Sinai’s new Dubin Breast Center, part of The Tisch Cancer Institute, where every department involved in every step in a patient’s case is in close proximity to facilitate better care. The pathology team diagnoses between 25 to 40 breast biopsies a day, and they confer with the radiologists on every one. Due to the stellar reputation of Mount Sinai’s Breast Pathology division, radiologists throughout Manhattan continually send biopsies to Dr. Bleiweiss’ team, and he additionally performs numerous second opinions for patients, clinicians, and pathologists both nationally and internationally. “I would conservatively estimate that I see a thousand breast cancers a year,” says Dr. Bleiweiss. He likens their specialties to working backstage. “Running the show is essentially what we do. Basically, we’re guiding the hands of the surgeons.”

Who’s at risk? “There’s literally nobody who doesn’t know someone affected by breast cancer,” Dr. Margolies says. The average woman in the United States has about a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, and the risk increases with age. Even men can have breast cancer, although this is comparatively rare. Over 207,000 American women a year will learn they have breast cancer, while just over 1,000 men will.

Diagnosis In breast self-exams, you might notice a hard lump or patches of skin with a texture like an orange. Others report a more subtle “thickening.” Bottom line, get to know your breasts so if anything changes, you’re more likely to notice. Even regular self-exams, however, should not take the place of mammograms. A patient who notices a lump or whose health care provider notices a lump can be seen in the Dubin Breast Center, where she will experience its patient-focused environment and care while she receives a mammogram and ultrasound. Often a minimally invasive biopsy is needed and these can be performed right in the Dubin Breast Center under ultrasound or mammographic- stereotactic guidance.

An example of the Dubin Center’s patient-focused design is the special biopsy table that was designed to minimize the discomfort of the procedure. One of the strengths of the Dubin Breast Center lies in streamlining this process from start to finish. “Coming for a mammogram itself is stressful,” Dr. Margolies says. “Then the biopsy is even harder. Here at Mount Sinai we get our pathology results back the next day. The average wait time around the country is about a week, and those days and hours are palpably painful.” She tells a story of one woman who felt an abnormality in her breast and came in on a Wednesday for an ultrasound, which was abnormal. By Friday night she had a diagnosis of cancer. It was mere weeks from first imaging to reconstructive surgery. “Even if, medically, days and weeks don’t impact survival, once a woman knows that there is a problem, life stops,” says Dr. Margolies. “The not knowing—not knowing if an abnormality is cancer or not—is incredibly painful.” One of the strengths of the Dubin Breast Center lies in streamlining the time from detection of a problem to diagnosis and definitive treatment.

Breakthroughs in Mammography and Pathology Recent breakthroughs in mammography now allow doctors to catch cancer earlier. There are methods that allow radiologists to find more abnormalities that are cancer, while simultaneously accurately identifying normal breast tissue. One example of new technology was recently installed in the Dubin Breast Center and complements the state-of-the-art digital mammography and ultrasound available at the center. 3D mammography, tomosynthesis, was approved by the FDA in February 2011 and Mount Sinai has the only such technology in Manhattan. With 3D mammography, the breast is positioned the same way it is in a conventional mammogram, and the imager moves around the breast to take multiple images that result in many thin images of the breast. For example, one 2D image is now complemented by 40 or 60 thin images. This allows the radiologist to see through overlapping tissue to find some cancers that a 2D mammogram might not and to decrease the number of abnormalities detected that are not cancer, which can create significant anxiety. This new 3D mammography makes breast cancers easier to see in dense breast tissue – a structural condition that can exist regardless of breast size or age. Research suggests that early detection lead to the best outcomes. A recent study of patients in their 40s, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Risk for Distant Recurrence of Breast Cancer Detected by Mammography Screening or Other Meth-

ods,” 2004;292(9), found that those who detected their cancers with mammograms had a higher rate of cure than those who found it by themselves. The advent of minimally invasive biopsy techniques has also made a huge difference to patients who want to avoid unnecessary surgery. “In the old days everything was surgery,” says Dr. Bleiweiss. He takes out a slide with a tissue sample on it; it’s about the size of a grain of rice. “But at the Dubin Breast Center, every aspect of diagnosis and treatment is built around a model of patient-centered care and patients now have many options.” It is rare that pathologists at hospitals meet directly with patients, but at the Dubin Breast Center, this is frequently the case. Dr. Bleiweiss’ compassion and his ability to help patients understand the pathological changes that are occurring in their bodies have not gone unnoticed. “If patients want a simple explanation or an in-depth scientific description, I’m always available to speak with them.”

Questions for your doctor Stay informed about your treatment, and make sure you know all of your options, from the earliest stages of diagnosis to the final stages of chemotherapy and reconstructive surgery. There are some decisions, like those regarding surgery, that you will need to be a major part of. “Equally informed people will sometimes choose different treatment options given the same facts.” Very intelligent people make very opposite decisions,” says Dr. Margolies. “Some people who could have a lumpectomy choose mastectomy. It’s a very complex decision guided, in part, by personal preference.” Don’t underestimate the power of staying informed; it can give you a feeling of control in a situation where it’s easy to feel helpless.

What you can do Self-exams are important, but for optimal chances of recovery, cancer should be detected before it even gets to the point where you can find it yourself. Whether you are having a screening mammogram or require more advanced diagnostic breast imaging, choose your health providers wisely. Look for up-to-date equipment and radiologists who are passionate about breast imaging, who specialize in breast disease and work with experienced breast pathologists because the complicated nature of breast pathology means there can be a great deal of uncertainty in diagnosis. “Breast pathology is one of the most difficult areas in pathology because it’s so variable,” says Dr. Bleiweiss. “It’s basically a pattern diagnosis under the microscope; it’s how the cells relate to each other, like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”

For more information on the Dubin Breast Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, go to

July 28, 2011



Isabella House: New Opportunities and a Renewed Sense of Life


hen she came with her daughter to look at Isabella’s apartments for independent seniors, Mary was not in the best of spirits. Her husband of 43 years recently died and her best friend just moved to Virginia to live with her son and his family. Left alone in the home where she had raised her children, Mary found herself overwhelmed by daily chores and reminders of years past. The rain on the drive didn’t help. She only agreed to accompany her daughter to Isabella House to silence her, “Mom, you have to do something,” speech. They arrived just after lunch. After an overview and a tour, Mary and her daughter were invited to participate in a pottery class. Mary had never seen a kiln before and all she knew about pottery she had learned from arts and crafts shows on cable TV. For the first time she handled clay and formed it into creative shapes. She was surprised at the ease of the clay — and the fun she was having. She also met the other students who told her they too had taken up pottery for the first time when they came to live as residents at Isabella House. As the afternoon progressed, Mary felt more comfortable. She liked the people she met and

was impressed with the genuine warmth of Isabella House. She saw a model apartment and was impressed with the size and the panoramic views of New York. She was invited for dinner and got to meet even more residents and hear their stories of life at Isabella. It turned out to be a surprising and heartwarming day after all. As she was preparing to leave, the director invited her to come for a trial stay to see if she would really like living as a resident at Isabella House. Mary agreed — and was happy to see that her daughter liked the idea as well. Mary did come for the stay, and moved into Isabella House a few months later. Today, she is a proficient potter, has taken up pen-and-ink drawing, is a regular in the Walking Works Wonders Program and had made many new friends. Her daughter is happy as well. Those monthly visits are something both of them look forward to now. Mary is just one of our many Isabella success stories. The senior living facility in northern Manhattan has thought of everything to enrich and enhance an independent senior’s life. For more information or to arrange a visit, call (212) 342-9539.

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Recipes Brussels sprouts (GrillinG with rich) 2 cups Brussels sprouts 1 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. lemon juice Salt to taste BBQ rub Remove outer leaves from Brussels sprouts. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, BBQ rub and salt. Cook for 5 minutes on stovetop grill, flipping once in the middle. If grilling outdoors, make sure the grates of the grill are close enough together to prevent any sprouts from falling through. tempeh KeBaBs with rosemary tahini sauce (Daniel lima, heaD chef at the orGanic Grill) 4 1-oz. slices of tempeh 4 onions 4 slices of tomato 4 slices of green peppers Alternate all ingredients on skewers and grill evenly on each side.

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For sauce: Mix 4 oz. tahini with garlic, rosemary and oregano to taste.

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• w e s t s i d e spirit

Cut the apple, pear and peach into quarters and brush with some light butter or margarine. Cut the pineapple into slices and do the same. Grill over medium heat for 5 minutes on each side. Flip halfway through. Remove from grill and cut pineapple into cubes.

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Ph: 212-342-9539 July 28, 2011

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Healthy Manhattan

Treating Allergies, Naturally


Herbs can sometimes work better than medications BY ALAN KRAWITZ For thousands of city residents who suffer from watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, wheezing and other debilitating symptoms that can accompany seasonal, environmentally-based allergies, prescription medications are not always the answer. Many popular drugs that are prescribed for allergy relief can leave users feeling lethargic or anxious, in addition to a range of other undesirable side effects. Increasingly, both urban and suburban allergy sufferers have begun turning to herbal remedies in an effort to treat their allergies more naturally and with fewer side effects. “In many cases, herbs can do a better job of treating allergies without the side effects,” said Dr. Peter Bongiorno, a naturopathic doctor who practices near Union Square. Allergies, which are the immune system’s overreaction to harmless substances such as dust, flowers or pollen, can be controlled by supplements that help to the block chemical reactions that result in allergy symptoms. Bongiorno, along with other herbal remedy experts, says that compounds such as quercetin, found in red wine as well as in many fruits and vegetables, helps to block the release of histamine in the body, which causes inflammation and subsequent allergy symptoms. “Quercetin, along with blueberries and citrus fruits, is very effective at blocking histamine in the body and shutting down the body’s over-response to certain innocuous substances,” said Bongiorno, who credits a severe dairy allergy as a kid with providing the impetus for his later study of herbs and natural medicines. Tom Nash, head of the herbal medicine department at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Manhattan, believes strongly in using Chinese herbal formulas to treat a variety of allergies. “Proper herbal treatment for allergies should come in two phases,” said Nash, who believes in first treating the symptoms of an allergy and then embarking on a secondary regimen to help strengthen the body’s own immune system in order to prevent the development of allergies in the first place. Nash, who both teaches and supervises at the college’s student clinic where We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m

aspiring experts of Chinese herbology learn their craft, is not a strong proponent of prescription or even over-the-counter remedies for the control of allergies. “There really aren’t many prescription medications that are very effective in treating allergies,” he said. “What’s available for allergies is mainly hit or miss.”

Tom Nash’s overriding recommendation for people is to always try herbs first, due to the side effects that usually accompany prescription medications. “You can always go to prescription medications if herbs don’t work for you,” he said. Nash’s overriding recommendation for people is to always try herbs first, due to the side effects that usually accompany prescription medications. “You can always go to prescription medications if herbs don’t work for you,” he said. He added that most pharmaceutical or Western medicine has its roots in what the Chinese have used for medicine for nearly 3,000 years. Calling the past year a terrible one for allergy sufferers, Nash related that, back in May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the pollen level in the New York area has been the highest since they started tracking the levels. “I’ve had patients come to me who usually are never bothered by allergies and all of a sudden they’re having cold-like symptoms that are in fact allergies,” he said. Dr. Sheilagh Weymouth, a Manhattanbased chiropractor and professional herbalist who practices holistic primary care, said that certain herbs known as “adaptogens” help to balance the system and make people less vulnerable to immune system over-responses. “The great part of herbs as opposed

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Caring for a loved one?



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July 28, 2011

to prescription medications is that they work with the body’s systems and not against it,” said Weymouth. She said that these adaptogen herbs, which include American Ginseng, Bacopa, Ashwaghanda and Rhodiola, help to strengthen the body against immune responses, which in turn cause allergy symptoms. As for treating the symptoms of allergies, Weymouth said that a wide variety of herbs can relieve various allergy symptoms. For example, she said that numerous herbs have strong anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, similar to many OTC cold remedies.

“Horseradish root and turmeric are very effective anti-inflammatory compounds while eyebright, bayberry and Echinacea are effective against allergic rhinitis,” she said. Moreover, Weymouth said that it’s important to treat allergies. Often, if they are allowed to linger and progress, they can turn into bacterial infections and allow viruses to take hold. She stressed the importance of bolstering the immune system with adaptogenic herbs long before the allergy season starts. “The closer we get to nature,” Weymouth says, “the closer we get to ourselves.” N ew s YO U Li V e B Y



A Lesson in Charisma


alternates between Callas reminiscing to the audience or probing old wounds in her mind, and her interactions with the three students who have been brave (or foolhardy) enough to sing for her, Ms. Daly can only do so much. In the hands of Sierra Boggess, one wonders how the role of Sharon, a student furious over Callas’ casual cruelty, netted Audra McDonald a Tony Award in the original production. Her climactic confrontation with Callas isn’t as devastating as it seems intended to be; Daly looks as if she could snap the whippersnapper in two and then file her nails with the bones. And Alexandra Silber is playing the comedy of her meek singer too hard, killing her laughs and turning the role into a pantomime of nervousness. As the less confrontational men, a pianist, a stagehand and a tenor, Jeremy Cohen, Clinton Brandhagen and Garrett Sorenson understand that Master Class is a diva vehicle, and shade their performances accordingly. Master Class grinds to a halt at the end of both acts for Callas to take center stage and recreate long-ago conversations that are supposed to humanize the temperamental La Divina. Neither Daly

Joan Marcus

By MaRk PeikeRt nless you’re already familiar with the world of opera and the life of Maria Callas prior to attending a performance of Master Class, well, playwright Terrence McNally doesn’t have much interest in catching you up. His 1995 play, set at one of the master classes Callas taught at Juilliard in the ’70s, thrives on delighting culture vultures by not talking down to them. You get a pat on the back if you recognize that “Sutherland” means Dame Joan, and that “Ari” is, of course, Aristotle Onassis. If you don’t know either reference, the bitchiness that runs through the play like an undercurrent will presumably keep your attention from wandering. And it does, at least most of the time. Tyne Daly, an unlikely choice, plays Callas with all of the lip-smacking aplomb of a born diva, a role she didn’t seem ideally suited for. But as a theater artist, she recognizes the holes in McNally’s play for what they are, and works to fill them with an oversized personality and some bewitchingly delivered zingers, particularly those at the expense of poor Joan Sutherland. As for the rest of the show, which

Sierra Boggess (left) and Tyne Daly in Master Class. nor director Stephen Wadsworth can make these sudden excursions into memory believable or organic. Backed by recordings of the actual Callas, Daly switches from character to character, obsessively recalling her tortured love affair with Onassis. Never mind that Callas’ thrilling recklessness with her voice ultimately left it in ruins; McNally is more interested in her tempestuous love life (including a much-older husband) than

the choices that left her vocally bereft. One would think that a once-in-acentury career like Callas’ would be enough to hang a play on, but instead we wander down the soap opera-ready byways of a woman undone by her own passions, delivered in soliloquies rather than folded into the classroom conversations, where they wouldn’t feel so hamfisted. Callas—and audiences— deserve better.


Sweet Secret of Sauternes

The challenge of making the delectable dessert wine


began thinking about the refreshing, complex and sweet dessert wine Sauternes last week when I was throwing out the moldy food at the back of my refrigerator. Let me back up a bit and explain myself. I have been known to occasionally forget about a rogue container or two of Kung Pao Chicken in the far corner of the icebox. That is why I force myself to do a clean sweep two or three times a year. This time I found grapes. At least, that’s what they were at one time. Now, they were something akin to slightly wet raisins. The stem seemed to weigh more than the fruits themselves, and a powdery white growth had overtaken the whole bunch. I cringed as I ran to the trash to dump the things, but then I thought about what I was really holding. What had happened in my vegetable crisper was the same basic thing that happens to grapes naturally in some of the most renowned wine-growing regions of the world. The most famous example is Bordeaux, near the Gironde river, where We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m

the grapes to make Sauternes are grown. And it all starts with the challenge of making a dessert wine that is sweet but also has a moderate amount of alcohol (Sauternes must be 13 percent at least, by law). Most dessert wines are either ridiculously high in alcohol (sometimes 19 to 20 percent) or very, very low (around 5 to 6 percent).

By Josh Perilo The sweet wines that are low in alcohol tend to be lighter in body and are sometimes slightly fizzy. The sweetness is achieved by stopping the fermentation process before all of the sugars have converted to alcohol. This is the technique used for Moscato d’Asti, which I profiled a couple of weeks ago in my column. These wines are pleasant and delicious, but nowhere near as complex as a Sauternes.

Then there are the dessert wines that really pack a punch with the alcohol content, the most famous being port. Originally intended to ship for long journeys in less than ideal conditions, port was designed for durability. And it turns out that the two things that act as natural preservatives for a wine are sugar and alcohol. High alcohol levels will also kill yeast cells. So, halfway through the fermentation process, when the grape juice is still sticky and sweet, the producers of port dump massive amounts of what they call “neutral grape sprits” (essentially brandy) into the juice. This ups the alcohol content, maintains the high sugar level and gives port that unique dark, sweet and warm flavor profile that is so appealing. Not too summery, though. That brings us back to the banks of the Gironde River. In the summer, the weather around the banks of this river becomes, at times, unbearably humid. The area known as Graves (pronounced GRAHV) hugs the riverbank and produces many of the white wines that are

exported from Bordeaux. The Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes are blended to make pleasant wines with floral qualities and a refreshing acidity. But something happens to many of those grapes that are grown close to the river. They get infected with a white, powdery fungus. It is called Noble Rot (or Botrytis Cinerea) and it destroys all of the grapes. At least, that’s what it would probably look like to anyone but the vintners. To them, it is a godsend. These grapes have been naturally raisin-ated, and the juice (what’s left of it) has become so concentrated that, when enough is collected, it literally resembles syrup. This juice is fermented in small batches and, because the sugar content is so high, even when fermented to 13 percent alcohol or higher, there is still a massive amount of sugar left over. This gives Sauternes the alcohol content that adds to the complexity of its flavor profile yet still keeps it light enough to enjoy on a hot summer evening. So the next time you’re throwing out that shriveled bunch of grapes, think about the winemakers in western France, who would cringe to see you do such a thing. Follow Josh on Twitter: @joshperilo.

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Where to Beat the Heat Places to cool off when the temperature rises

of senior citizens. Adults 50 and older are at a higher risk for heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke because of the physiological changes that occur with aging, according to the American Geriatrics Society. The elderly are more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change the way they respond to heat and are more likely to take medication

that prevent their bodies from temperature regulation through sweating. For more information about the signs and risks of heat-related illnesses, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website ( During the hot and

Caitlyn bierman

By Marley Gibbons New York City in the summer can actually be a wonderful place to be. People head out of town on vacation, the lines are shorter, the days are longer— the frantic pace seems to slow down a notch. There are outdoor programs, activities and spaces to enjoy. But with the season comes, at times, unforgiving heat that can be dangerous to the health

A cool down station at the Manhattan Valley Senior Center.

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July 28, 2011

humid summer months, it is very important to keep in touch with your neighbors, checking in with each other on a daily basis. Everyone should make sure to hydrate with non-alcoholic, caffeinefree beverages and wear light clothing and high-SPF sunscreen. If you don’t have air conditioning or are itching to get out of the house but stay out of the heat, there are plenty of places to keep cool uptown. When the heat indices reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit for two or more days or 100 for one day, the Office of Emergency Management issues an evening announcement of a “heat crisis.” The OEM then works with the Department for the Aging and the New York City Housing Authority to activate “cooling centers,” air-conditioned spaces that will be open to the public on the next day of fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk conditions. Manhattan has 62 Department for the Aging senior centers, Salvation Army community centers and other public spaces that double as cooling centers on scorching days. Check the OEM website after a heat crisis is announced to find the center closest to you, and make sure to call ahead to get their hours of operation. Two West Side senior centers always welcome folks who need a cool place to sit and have a cold drink, even when it isn’t an official EOM heat crisis. Encore Community Services at 49th Street and Broadway serves lunch free of charge and offers activities such as tai chi and painting classes. Anyone can participate in physical therapy, dominoes, arts & crafts and yoga at the Manhattan Valley Senior Center on 106th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues. On the East Side, the Lenox Hill Senior Center on East 70th between First and Second avenues is open seven days a week and offers educational classes, transportation services and activities for seniors. The senior center at Saint Peter’s Church on 53rd and Lexington plays movN ew s YO U Li V e B Y

New York NY 10018 (212) 284-9724 Fax: (212) 268-0502 email: seniors cc: ies, holds dancing and language classes and provides meals. The Department of Aging website has a senior services search engine to locate services by typing in your zip code. But even less extreme heat can leave the elderly in danger of heat-related illnesses, or of extreme boredom in confined air-conditioned living rooms. The Hansborough Recreation Center on 134th between Fifth and Lenox avenues has an indoor pool and you’ll find an outdoor Olympic-size pool at Highbridge Park on 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Check out the New York City Parks Department’s website to find a pool in your neighborhood. Take caution, though—a frigid pool, bath or shower is a great way to cool down, but quick, extreme temperature changes can lead to dizziness or headaches. A quiet way to spend the day cooling down is to find a comfortable place to sit and read a good book. The New York City Public Library locations on West 100th, West 115th, West 124th, East 58th and East 96th streets are all air-conditioned. Check online for daily activities and more locations around the city. Catch a movie in the cool darkness of a theater or do some window shop-

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Unfelt americana

Captain America is propaganda gone confusingly wrong. By armond White Captain ameriCa : the First avenger

Directed by Joe Johnston Runtime: 125 min.


he giveaway scene in Captain America: The First Avenger is its misconceived segment where newly made-over steve Rogers (chris evans) is enlisted to join “the most important battle field of the war.” it’s a world war ii advertising campaign, a bond-selling tour (“star-spangled Man with a Plan”) that the moviemakers confuse/disguise as pure, silly showbiz. yet the trite routines where a costumed Rogers (in red, white and blue “captain america” drag) prances with dancing girls and mimepunches a mock hitler are no different from the film’s elaborate set-pieces combating nefarious hydra (nazi) troops. This showbiz is propaganda gone confusingly wrong. For example: when steve Rogers becomes sexless captain america and leans forward to kiss British allied agent Peggy carter (hayley atwell), she


+ +

says “wait!” and plants a big one on him in a moment that passes blandly. Memories of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom recall how spielberg understood the romantic humor of such a prioritized pause and sold it. For director Joe Johnston, it’s just another shot to get in the camera. Johnston is a pro; he executes Captain America: The First Avenger better than the hacks who made Harry Potter 7 and X-Men: First Class—meaning Johnston’s scenes are visually thought out and move rhythmically and efficiently—yet without any panache. But Captain America lacks conviction more than it lacks panache. several action montages look like trailers for Grindhouse, not expressions of ideas about heroism or americanism. Johnston is simply selling the Marvel comics franchise, which, at this stage of the cultural dumb-down, is sadly more important to consumerist audiences than meanings or feelings. in this moment of convictionless movie-going, Captain America lacks the



fun that comes with belief in the essence of its premise. The comic originated in 1941 as an exploitative but gungho response to evil, with its first cover depicting captain america socking hitler on the jaw! But in today’s pop culture, good vs. evil has been blanded into idiotic shades of gray, and americana has been made suspect. Ultimately Johnston and evans are selling an anachronism. steve Rogers develops from a Benjamin Button-style cgi dork to a pecs-forward athlete with Ricky nelson eyes—termed “a new breed of super soldier.” yet the culture no longer believes in soldiers (not even when pitying iraq or afghanistan vets suffering PTsD). audiences who yawned when aaron eckhart movingly enacted the wasP soldier icon in Battle: Los Angeles are now stuck with evans playing a blanded-out version of the hunkiness he already satirized in Scott Pilgrim. evans runs with a dancer’s grace, like he did in Cellular, but his wasP heroism here is not just anachronistic; it’s a white elephant.

Chris Evans in Captain America.

cinephiles who swear by Manny Farber’s old dictum about useless, over-budgeted “white elephant” movies should recognize this Captain America as a bloated summer epic whose hero wears unfelt sign, shield, stars and stripes. There’s no regard for patriotism or the flag, just loyalty to comic books—and to action montages (including a nifty aerial dogfight that prolongs the story with after thoughts of Pow!).when all of these bland Marvel comics franchise movies blur together in memory, it won’t prove that they amounted to one great epic master narrative, but that they’re all indistinguishable.

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GO TO:Deadline WWW.SEIU32BJ.ORG TO VOTE15th. Nomination is Wednesday, September For more information contact Jessica Christopher at 212.268.8600;,

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What Charters and Public Schools Have in Common?


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

Unions will need to analyze role, charters will need to adhere to rigorous standards


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

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Medicare and Social Security Aren’t Bargaining Chips

To the Editor: As members of Congress and president Obama seek a resolution to the nation’s fiscal woes, seniors in New York and around the country must not be sacrificed for the sake of a stronger balance sheet. programs like Medicare and social security are vital to seniors and must not be used as bargaining chips in negotiations over the nation’s debt limit. Half of all seniors rely on social security for 50 percent or more of their income and

July 28, 2011

impossible conditions. We have watched the governor and the Legislature strip our schools of needed resources and seen conditions only worsen. there are those who think our teachers unions are keeping us from achieving educational reform. they are not. they are no more than an amalgam of teachers who fight for their rights. Of course, things have gotten out of hand. the indefensible is commonplace. the main problem is that, no matter what the union and some fuzzy-headed education professors say, it is harder to fire a bad teacher than it is to get to the moon. if the unions can be faulted for anything, it is for letting things get to a place where the inevitable reforms have to be forced on them. But, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been known to intone, “it is what it is.” As we used to sing on the camp bus, “We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here.” We should have learned that, human nature being what it is, some will inevitably take advantage simply because they can. We read of a few corrupt charter school administrators who are so anxious to show good results among their students that they break the rules. they make sure that only those who are likely to succeed are admitted to their schools, when the admissions process should be run by lottery if there are more applications than available spaces. Others are accused of just

plain stealing and hiring by nepotism. the truth is that if we do not have people really holding educators—any educators—to standards, any system can be corrupted. Let’s face it: some public schools are better than others because they are run by people who care—and so are some charter schools. All of the evidence is not in yet. it is common practice in some charter schools to have teachers put in longer hours and adhere to a longer work year. We can begin to see that all of this will shake out. the unions will have to examine their role in making schools better—not only for teachers but also for the students, the parents and the communities. the charter school movement will have to maintain rigorous standards and those charters and the old public schools that are not doing their jobs will have to be closed. it takes guts to do that, especially when a hundred people are screaming at you because they have been turned into an organized mob by a few self-serving charter-crats. For their part, the governor and the Legislature will have to find the money to fund our most essential need: the education of our kids. Alan s. Chartock is president and CeO of WAMC/Northeast public radio and an executive publisher at the Legislative Gazette.


Medicare beneficiaries and that the promise of social 40 already pay an average security—which they have of $5,500 each year in paid into all their lives—will 2 out-of-pocket costs for always be honored. their medical benefits. the nation must deal with Any loss of benefits its debt crisis. And seniors or increase in costs understand that hard choices would prove catamust be made, but arbitrary Summer strophic to countless spending limits, privatization TreaTS seniors, robbing them plans or plans that would of their financial secureduce benefits are not rity and health at a time acceptable. when they are most in need of support. Balancing the budget is important to social security did not contribute to the the nation’s long-term well-being, but nation’s debt. does it really make sense for protecting Medicare and social security it to be included in debt negotiations now is essential to the immediate well-being taking place in Washington, d.C.? of the nation’s seniors. they must not seniors deserve peace of mind. they become bargaining chips. Marilyn Pinsky need to know Medicare will always provide AARP NY StAte PReSideNt the affordable health care they depend on Pets:


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July 21, 2011

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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.

By Alan S. Chartock there has been a spate of articles recently about alleged wrongdoing in specific charter schools in New York. these instances mirror the inevitable wrongdoing that we hear about in our old-style public schools. in both cases, it is almost inevitable that some rotten apples will spoil a good idea. public education, be it in charter schools or in the old-style schools, is our best hope. the charter schools model was established as one way to challenge our earlier model public schools to do better; in some cases, this is already happening. We know that our future is tied to the well-being of our kids. if our kids are not well educated, they will be unable to compete in the world economy. if the kids in india and China can do advanced mathematics and our kids can’t, the United states and the state of New York will be on their way to becoming second rate. Let’s face it: rich people can spend a lot of money on exclusive private schools for their kids. some of these places cost around $40,000 a year. the success of these schools is just another example of the rich getting richer, like at the end of the Monopoly game. For really smart kids in New York, there is the option of meritbased public schools like Bronx science, stuyvesant and the LaGuardia High school of Music and Art and performing Arts. We all know what the problem is: too many of our kids are left to try to learn in

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Moore thoughts

Getting Beyond the Grocery Grind How a visit to the brand-new Fairway got me thinking about food shopping By Christopher Moore There was a fuss over Fairway. “They’re giving out T-shirts,” a man said to his companion while walking last week on the northern side of East 86th Street. “Wow,” she responded, as they both looked south. “There’s a line to get in.” Indeed, crowds traveled under the green and white balloons surrounding the entrance at 240 E. 86th St., between Second and Third avenues. Brochures, lollipops and sponsored copies of the Daily News all heralded the story: a familiar West Side institution now has an eastern outpost. New Yorkers certainly have an emotional connection to the spots where they do their food shopping. But the grocery grind gets complicated fast. Granted, options abound, including FreshDirect. Somehow that outfit was better at delivering boxes than sticking strictly to my list, so I went back to the streets. Some stores are close to

my heart, like Zabar’s. Last year I got to interview Saul Zabar right there in his natural element, watching him taste and spit out coffee samples. He talked believably about his exacting standards and passion for keeping prices reasonable. He won me over. His store did too. Some bigger chains leave me feeling they are generic types, like the Smelly Store, the staple that’s frustratingly close to my apartment and has arguably the best prices. Not the best experiences. The checkout people seem perpetually angry, treating me as if I’m their parole officer. The produce looks like it was culled during the Clinton Administration. Smelly Store is for emergencies. A better choice is the Expensive Store. We go there a lot. I say “we” because my partner needs to pay when we choose this place. I can’t afford it, although somehow I shopped there for a half-decade before realizing that tooth-

paste costs something like eight dollars. Expensive Store is especially easy to navigate because we are the only New Yorkers who shop there. Within five years, though, our local Expensive Store will do a Borders and close. I like the Old Pretentious Store, the one that has fine, fresh fish. All that’s needed now is someone to stand behind the counter and sell the fish. Understaffed, this place has fantastic single meals to go. Do not look here for the basic, boring stuff, like brandname cereals, sodas or kitty litter. Some Saturdays, though, I can convince myself that if I can’t find it, I shouldn’t be eating it or buying it anyway. Relatively new to the scene: the New Pretentious Store. The big chain pushing healthy options. It’s revitalized the local real estate scene, become something of a hangout and made us feel good about the hipness level of our ’hood. Here, healthy looks tasty. I go crazy. I buy foods I don’t even like. Once home, though, I dream of trading that

second batch of romaine lettuce for a bag of Doritos or a can of Coke. Into the breach comes the newest Fairway. On the East Side branch’s Day One, I went over to see the scene. Alas, these familiar signs were not for me. This meat counter would never be mine. I was a pretender to this East Side palace. My Fairways were and are the West Side ones, one up at 125th Street (home to the fabulous freezer room!) and one down at 74th Street (grocery shopping as Olympic competition!). I live between them. Luckily. Happily. And, yes, sometimes warily. Because of the ferocious crowds drawn to these shrines, they can be a tad scary to visit. When I get fearful, though, I remember wise words from a shopper. He wrote how the insanity simply amounts to part of the New York experience. He refused to be wary of the crowds. I don’t have his guts, but I share that sense of the city. Sure, we are what we eat. But we’re also where we shop. Christopher Moore is a writer and adjunct professor living on Manhattan’s West Side. He is on Twitter (@cmoorenyc) and available at


Hot Topic

Whether or not to talk weather By Jeanne Martinet Last week I was waiting for the elevator, preparing to go outside and brave the scorching “heat dome” (as many weathermen dubbed it), when I realized I was not only steeling myself for the oppressive blast of heat but also, in a much more minor way, for the inevitable chitchat with my neighbors about the temperature. “Hot enough for you?” someone was sure to remark, or, “I don’t remember it ever being this hot before!” As our physical environment is something we have in common with the people around us, presumably these comments are the result of a natural impulse to bond with others. But does it help us or hurt us to continuously talk about hot it is? Outside in the nightmarish 104-degree swelter, people were dragging themselves around, looking dazed. Eye contact between strangers was almost nonexistent. People moved slowly, unsmilingly, like zombies. Things seemed blurry, as if everyone was underwater. At mid-day on the Upper West We st Si d e S p i r it . c o m

Side there were relatively few people out—it had the feeling of ghost town, as though half the population had been wiped off the planet. Earlier in the day I had heard one newsman call the heat wave “Heatmagedden,” which at the time I thought was pretty lame considering how many “-geddens” we have had thrown at us lately. But I had to admit it did seem a little like the end of the world. Broadway resembled a war zone, with stragglers totally focused on survival. Once you were outside your building there was definitely no room for pleasantries; no one had any energy for unnecessary interaction. Since Victorian times, discussing the weather has always been considered a socially beneficial pleasantry, although these days the subject can quickly become political over the issue of climate change. But when the weather is causing so much discomfort, it is no longer really a pleasantry. It’s more of the “misery loves company” category.

Here’s the thing: Do we really feel better when we commiserate? When we are experiencing physical pain, like a backache, many experts say it is better to try to get our minds off of it rather than dwell on it. So many situations in urban life are like that; we can easily see a crowded subway car as pure torture or, if we try hard, we can find something about the experience that is interesting—an unusual-looking person, an overheard conversation—or, more likely, just think about something else until we get home. Just consider it: If every person in the city had a backache, would it really help us all to discuss it? It would if someone had a solution or interesting information regarding backaches. So the next time you are moved to discuss the current heat wave, why not mention that, according to the New York Times, the temperature record for New York City was set in 1936, when it reached 106 degrees. Or that while studies show that aggressive or criminal behavior increases with the heat index, they also show that when it gets really hot—100 degrees or so, especially when it is humid—crime actually goes down. Or offer the latest information about when the temperature is supposed

to go back down to more human levels. Simply complaining about the heat only makes it feel hotter. It’s another thing altogether to talk about the heat after you’ve made it through, when you are safely back in the relative cool of your apartment. When you are back in the bunker—that’s the time to bond. Call up your friends who have been out there. Compare war stories. It will make your AC feel that much better. When I returned home later that day I ran into a worker in the elevator. He beamed at me. “Having fun in paradise?” he said, with a positively beatific smile. “Ha, ha. It’s a little too warm for paradise,” I replied, assuming he was being sarcastic. “Not at all,” he said, with an even wider smile. “It’s perfect—everything is perfect the way it is. You just decide it.” Wow. It seemed to me that he really meant it. I myself could only hope I might some day attain that kind of spiritual perspective. On the other hand, I couldn’t help wondering: Was this guy truly enlightened or had he just been out in the heat too long? Jeanne Martinet, aka Miss Mingle, is the author of seven books on social interaction. Read her blog at

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July 28, 2011


West Side Spirit July 28, 2011  

The July 28, 2011 issue of West Side Spirit. The West Side Spirit, published weekly, is chock full of information—from hard news to human in...